Going Mirrorless – From Sony A99 to Canon M6
Yep, that’s right. I’m transitioning to Canon, and mirrorless. What does that mean? I’m moving from the Minolta/Sony system that I’d been with since the 1990’s, to Canon; and I’m starting with the Canon EOS M6, the Canon 15-45mm, and an adapter for Minolta/Sony Alpha mount to EOS M-mount. Here’s the start of that story.
I started with Minolta (the MD-mount system) in the 1990’s. My first real camera was actually a Seagull, but the camera and mount system was a licensed remake of the Minolta MD system. Then, when I found myself in Korea in 2000 and 2001, I found that I had missed some great street photos because I was simply too slow setting the camera, prompting me to switch to auto-focus, and I stuck with Minolta.
In 2005 or 2006, I decided it was time to switch to digital, and by that time Konica and Minolta had merged, and so I got the Konica-Minolta Alpha Sweet (aka Dynax/Maxxum 5D in other parts of the world). Then in 2006 KM went into partnership with Sony. Sony had collaborated successfully with Carl Zeiss for video lenses, Ericsson for phones, and such. Perhaps they expected to develop a Konica-Minolta Sony camera. It was murky what actually ensued, but it looks like KM dumped their camera division on Sony and ran. Minolta, in inventing the worlds first autofocus system, had infringed the copyrights and patents of Texas Instruments, and spent most of the 1990’s in courts. It seems they wanted to offload that liability and save the company at the cost of their camera making pride. From the 1930’s to 1990’s, Minolta lenses were considered second only to Leica (and some instances better). Minolta had a fantastic reputation. Up until the late 1980’s, the top brands were clearly Nikon, Minolta, Leica, and Hasselblad; not Canon. The advent of the digital era and Minolta’s legal problems changed all that.
The Minolta/Sony to Canon M-mount adapter
First of all, all the glass (lenses) I’ve invested in over the years are not wasted. I can still use them with the K&F Concept adapter. At the moment, the Canon M-mount system is far from mature, and so there is a distinct lack of quality glass at the moment. Sony has taken nearly ten years to finally release some zoom lenses with f2.8 capability, and I hope Canon won’t take so long to get to this stage of maturity. In the mean time, what can I do for both quality glass and wide open apertures? I have some wonderful glass from Minolta, the original and first batch of auto-focus lenses in the world of any brand, including the 50mm f1.4 and 100mm f2 macro; both still are stunning even by today’s standards. I also have a Sony 70-300mm zoom lens, and a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens. Most exciting of all, I have a Lens Baby Composer 50mm. These will work, but only in the manual mode. The K&F Concept adapter is not electronic, it’s mechanical. So you will only have manual focus (so only for lenses with a manual focus ring) and it has an aperture ring so you can manually adjust the aperture in the lens. However, in the Canon M6, you need to set the camera to allow for the shutter to work in the “No lens attached” mode. Instructions are provided here: http://support-hk.canon-asia.com/contents/HK/EN/8202418700.html. Once, you’ve got this set, then you can shoot without a problem.
Of course, you can also get a Canon native adapter to fit L-mount to M-mount lenses. These will have electronic communication, so you can have auto-focus and electronically controlled aperture. Eventually, I will get some high quality L lenses, mostly for the auto-focus and wide open apertures, and so I can use them on the 5D or 6D that I plan to get one day.
This photo above shows that a shallow depth of field is possible on the M-mount, despite there being no native lenses capable of f1.4. Note, the crop factor of the APS-C sized sensor makes this 50mm lens and equivalent of about 70mm focal length, adding intensity to the depth of field.
The following photo is of the Sony 70-300mm G lens, with the adapter on the Canon M6. As you can see, the size differential is so big that the camera does not even touch the table! The size difference is simply hilarious.
Currently, there are no native telephoto lenses for the m-mount that go beyond 200mm in length. Additionally, there are currently no high quality lenses for this mount, except for perhaps the Canon 22mm f2. It is expected that two things will happen later this year or next; Canon will release a full-frame m-mount mirror less camera, and high quality glass (hopefully zoom lenses with at least f2.8 capability). The following photo was taken with the Canon M6, K&F Concept adapter, and Sony 70-300mm G lens. The main issue with this set up is that the adapter is mechanical only, which means manual focus, and manual aperture control. I found myself constantly fiddling with the focus ring. Also film cameras had a split-plane system for focus confirmation, digital cameras have a green-square confirmation, in the “no lens attached” mode the Canon M6 shows nothing; so all focusing is a combination of guessing and hoping.
The following photo is the first one from the Canon M6 with its own native lens, the Canon 15-45mm f3.5-6.3. Soon after the photo was taken, it was transferred to iPad via the camera’s own Bluetooth connection, where the photo was lightly processed and uploaded to Instagram; mere minutes after that train had passed.
The Canon EOS M6 is a brilliant little camera. If I had have known how great it was, I would have got it a long time ago. The images are not perfect, but are really, really good. The images are bright, clear, with great colour reproduction, and good-enough sharpness. It is very small and very light weight, so as a travel camera, it’s a no-brainer.
The big questions I have is, if Canon does bring out a full-frame m-mount camera, what does that mean for the Canon m-mount lenses that I have? Are they for APS-C format m-mount, or will they work fine on both full-frame and APS-C? Will the full-frame m-mount camera be in my price range, and worth the upgrade? Will there be a 24-70mm f2.8 lens for m-mount? Should I still consider getting the Canon 5D MkIII or MIV, or 6D, or just commit to m-mount exclusively?
In other news, BIG news. In private communication with Lens Baby, they suggested the Lens Baby 35mm Burnside may be available for m-mount for special order. However, I’d still like to wait and see what happens with the full-frame m-mount issue, and if I would still prefer to get an L-mount camera.