DSLR Lenses On Mirrorless Cameras Blog Post

DSLR Lenses on Mirrorless Camera

Yo! If you’re here at this blog, you may be on the cusp of getting a mirrorless camera. And likely wondering if this is the way to go especially if you’ve already invested heavily in DSLR cameras and DSLR lenses.

To answer your question quickly, THE answer is YES. Mirrorless cameras are worth the investment for various reasons and it does not mean you also have to buy the accompanying lenses immediately too.

To read the parts that are most pertinent to your interests, please refer to the table of contents above. You can click through to those areas that will provide you the most value for your questions. Otherwise, humor me as I get into my background in this area.


How To Use A DSLR Lens On Mirrorless Cameras Pinterest Pin

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As a Canon photographer, (yes, I’m one of those), I started out with a DSLR camera body.

In particular, I was blessed to be able to purchase the Canon 5D Mark IV brand new, and with just the full frame camera body sans kit lenses (that typically come with a package deal like you would see on Amazon) it’s still a pretty penny to pay.

Canon DSLR Camera

I paid $2500.

I know! Starting as a beginner photographer that is huge and not a lot of people can afford it.

SO, I understand that as photographers, whether this is a hobby or side hustle you’re trying to grow into a business or a pretty well established business that you’re considering upgrading camera gear in, every purchase you make is. NOT. cheap.

You have to do your due diligence in research before making a financial move that could be really wise for the future of your expenses versus something you’re not ready for and could backfire financially.

When the mirrorless systems began to pick up steam in the photography and videography scene, I was not into photography.  But bruh, I am into them now!

Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless History

To bore you with a little history, the earliest mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor has been argued to be the Leica M9 in 2009. Before that, oddly enough, it was Epson (yes, hugely known for their printer brand) in 2004 who came out with the first true consumer mirrorless camera. Though it had a 6.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, this idea of mirrorless technology was starting to gain ground.

It was Sony with their Sony A line that took first place in changing the game in mirrorless systems. The Sony Alpha 7 And Alpha 7R also known as Sony A7 and A7R are considered to be the pioneers for full frame camera sensors in the realm of mirrorless technology.

Sony A7 Series Mirrorless Cameras
Sony A7 Series Mirrorless Camera Body Back View

Other camera manufacturers who entered the mirrorless game seriously in 2018 with the introduction of their mirrorless full-frame cameras are Canon with their a line (the Canon EOS R) and Nikon with their Nikon Z7.

Canon broke ground into mirrorless technology in 2012 with their Canon EOS M, with the added bonus of compatibility with interchangeable lenses. The one that everyone is likely most familiar with is the Canon EOS R.

Front of Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

From there, it has just completely taken off with mirrorless systems seemingly now, being the first dream choice for aspiring professional photographers, albeit, likely not being the affordable reality.

For most of this article, we’re going to focus on the Canon line since that is one of the most popular brands of choice and honestly, the one that I have the most experience in.

The big question here is if you can use your DSLR lenses on a mirrorless body. And the answer is a resounding YES, and starting out, that’s what I would highly encourage you to do if you’re making the transition from DSLR to mirrorless systems.

So let’s talk how first and then why you should do this.

HOW to Use DSLR Lenses on Mirrorless Cameras

If you just purchased a new mirrorless camera or plan to purchase one, but you have only DSLR lenses, plan to purchase a lens mount.

A lens mount is an adapter that is designed to allow your DSLR lens to attach to your mirrorless camera system and achieve similar, if not the same results of a mirrorless lens.

This piece of equipment has two sides. One side is for the DSLR lens to attach and the other side for the mount to attach to a mirrorless camera body.

The Different Sides Of A Lens Mount Adapter

WHICH Mounts to Use

There are all types of lens adapters to fit different types of lenses to different camera types. So it is imperative that you do your research to purchase the right adapter.

In other words, purchase the mount that will attach your specific type of lens to the right mirrorless system.

For example, I have EF Canon lenses which are full-frame lenses for full frame DSLR camera bodies. I now have a mirrorless Canon body, i.e. the Canon EOS R camera. So the mount that I will need must be compatible with both.

I will need an adapter with an EF mount and mount for the Canon EOS R system.

With Canon, there are 3 different types of adapters (at the time of writing this article) available for bridging the gap from full frame Canon DSLR lenses to mirrorless cameras.

A Simple Mount

The first and lowest cost adapter for Canon DSLR to mirrorless systems is the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, starting at about $129.

This mount works with both EF and EF-S lenses to EOS R cameras. The EF stands for electro-focus and the EF-S stands for short back focus.

EF-S lenses are actually for APS-C DSLR cameras which have crop sensors and are not full frame.

The Canon Mount Adapter
The Canon Mount Adapter Sides


Pay attention to the letters or acronyms of your brands lenses and cameras. They inevitably stand for something. In this case, these letters give you an idea about the sensor size compatibility which is important for matching to the correct camera body for the appropriate camera sensor size.

So, the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R works with both types of lenses, EF and EF-S lenses to work with any camera of the EOS R system.

Drop-In Filter Mounts

Then there are Drop-In Filter Mount Adapters for the EF-EOS R systems with two options. The Drop-In Variable ND Filter A and the Drop-In Circular Polarizing Filter A.

The Drop-In Variable ND Filter A allows you to use a variable ND filter from ND3 to ND500 with a one-size fits all compatibility.

Drop In Variable ND Filter A Adapter

The Drop-In Circular Polarizing Filter A allows both EF and EF-S lens to work with the EOS R camera but has the added bonus of allowing you to slot in a circular polarizing filter at the same time.

Drop In Filter Mount With Circular Polarizing Filter A

You’ll be able to save on purchasing multiple filters to fit various lens diameters but it’s one size fits all.

My only caution with this type of filter is the lack of quality with customer experience. With the variable ND filter, there is a big complaint about weird color casts at a higher ND and the circular polarizing filter has several issues that prevent it from being a top option of choice. A big one is having to have an extra “clear filter” that you have to purchase for an additional $129 because you must still have a filter in the unit in case you want to shoot without a polarizer.

For these reasons, I would not recommend investing in this type of filter, but I definitely recommend investing in the next one.

The Control Ring Mount

And finally, there is the Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R Adapter, starting at about $199.

THIS. Is where it’s AT.


Control Ring Mount For Canon
Control Ring Mount Adapter Side Views

This mount has compatibility with both EF and EF-S lenses with the EOS R camera but has the added bonus of a built-in control ring to provide quick access to camera functions.

In your camera’s menu option, you can customize that control ring to control whatever setting that is best for you. I keep mine on ISO so with a quick flick of my fingers, I can adjust my ISO to whatever I need it to be.

For many Canon users, this is going to be worth the $200 bucks because the mount works great, has added functionality to it to make your camera use more efficient and will save you money by reducing the need to purchase an RF lens.

Why brings me to the next section.


What reasons are there to use these lens adapters?

#1 The main reason is affordability without sacrificing image quality.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that purchasing a new mirrorless Canon camera means you will have to also purchase new mirrorless lenses.

And that is NOT true.

You can keep your older lenses and use them with this new system of cameras by using the right lens adapter.

#2 The second reason is it gives you time to research on what new mirrorless lens you may want to invest in first.

As you likely know by now, specific lenses are used for specific reasons. A wide-angle telephoto lens like a 16-35mm is likely to be used for landscape photography, architecture and real estate. But a 24-70mm f will likely be for variability needs in scenarios that you need to adapt in quickly like family photos or wedding photography and videography.

Different Canon DSLR EF Lenses

Before jumping off the deep end into throwing big bucks at a new mirrorless camera lens, take your time. Investigate what lens you may need the most before purchasing one.



This is what I have learned about photography and videography. It absolutely can be an expensive undertaking but it can be affordable. You just have to make wise decisions.

And investing in one of the best mirrorless cameras is doable by starting with the camera body first and then the lens later.


By using the adapters!

Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter
How To Use A Lens Adapter With DSLR Lens And Mirrorless Camera
How A Lens Adapter Works

It Simply Is Possible: Go Mirrorless With Your Old Lens

To wrap this up dear Photography or Videography colleague, please know that you can take the leap with a mirrorless system without having to jump into a new collection of lenses to match. And it’s not just me saying this either. You can read a snapshot summary here by Lensbaby.

Whether it be Canon’s R system of cameras or Nikon’s z system cameras, or Sony or what.ev.er., the mirrorless body is becoming a standard in the camera industry.

Sooner or later, if you’re serious about this stuff, you’re going to take the leap.

Especially for Canon, there are just so many reasons why mirrorless cameras are worth the investment. The camera sensor is a 45 megapixel full-frame CMOS compared to a 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, like that in the 5D Mark IV.

The mirrorless body is smaller which means its more light weight. So, it’s going to be easier to travel around with and use on a daily. Arguably, that’s one of the big reasons photographers and videographers love Sony. Their mirrorless system is compact and easier to use all day.

But we’re a Canon family around here. So let’s get back to it.

Canon Mirrorless Cameras
Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera Bodies
Canon EOS R And R5 Cameras

Just kidding.

We love all reputable manufacturers for this industry.

Anywho. For mirrorless, the mechanical shutter gives a higher range of high-speed continuous shooting up to 12 fps and 20 fps with the electronic shutter vs 7 fps. The autofocus (AF) areas are higher, I mean, we can go on and on why mirrorless is breaking barriers.

But don’t miss out on all of these amazing qualities because you’re fearful of breaking the bank. A mirrorless Canon camera does not require RF lenses to work. Yes, there is a reason for RF lenses and why you should invest later on (like better image quality), BUT you’re not going to lose quality by using a lens mount.


Long story short. Take the leap.

Even if you have a heavy background in the DSLR system, get that new mirrorless camera body system. Just do the right research and purchase the appropriate lens adapter so you can take your time building your future with a whole new mirrorless system of lenses without losing quality or use of your old system.

It works. AND, it’s worth it.   

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