2009
10.24

The use of so-called alternative glass on Canon EOS bodies has been popular for some time, and sometimes the reasons are compelling and the reward is great. However there are also people experimenting with medium format lenses on Canon EOS cameras via an adapter, perhaps in the hope of achieving something closer to medium format levels of detail. Unfortunately this is not the case. Medium format lenses resolve more detail overall mainly because they have a much larger image circle and use much larger pieces of film, or larger digital sensors. However, the amount of detail resolved per millimeter may even be less than a good 35mm format lens.

Using medium format lenses on a Canon makes little sense to me for the following reasons:

– medium format lenses are generally larger and heavier than the 35mm format equivalents of the same focal length
– medium format lenses are generally slower (smaller maximum apertures)
– medium format lenses are generally more expensive
– you will generally lose functionality such as AF, EXIF, auto-aperture, etc

There are two notable exceptions. It makes sense if:

– you already own the medium format lenses, or
– you need the extra image circle because you are using a tilt/shift style adapter

13 comments so far

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  1. Hello Graham,

    I agree completely with what’s written here. I will be getting the Mirex TS adapter (for Hasselblad, because the Mamiya lens version cannot be mated to the Nikon F mount) and I will be starting with the 120 macro, assuming that this will be one of H.’s sharpest (plus a very nice complement to the Nikkor 24 PC-E).

  2. Very few of the best Hasselblad lenses can compare with good 35mm ones. But in the case of using them for tilt and shift via Mirex adapter, I have found Distagon 50 FLE a much better option than Canon TS-e 45, with consistent image quality even if fully shifted on a 1DsII with nearly insignificant CA, while the Canon TS-e 45 image quality degrades quickly to the borders when fully shifted with very noticeable amount of CA, sometimes horrendous and very difficult to remove. Canon needs to redesign this lens in the same way they did with the TS-e 24II. I also like Hasselblad Planar 3,5/100, but the diferences with Canon TS-e 2,8/90 are not as significant. TS-e 90 is a very consistent lens.

  3. I have tried Hasselblad Distagon 60/3,5 on Canon EOS 1Ds II via Mirex TS Adapter and I am extremely pleased with the results. This lens is really good for tilt and shif work.

  4. Hi,

    I’m very interested in using the Mirex adaptor with Hasselblad Lenses for stitching panoramas. Is it correct that the Hasselblad 50 Distagon is equivalent to the Canon 45 TSE in terms of aspect? Sorry I’m just trying to get my head around the conversion. I know on medium format an 80mm lens is equivalent to about 50mm in 35mm format so I would have thought that a 50mm MF lens would be equivalent to about a 28mm or so. Thanks

  5. Andrew, a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens. The angle of view only changes if the sensor/fim size changes. The main difference between a Hasselblad 50mm and a Canon 50mm is that the Hasselblad has a larger image circle. You could try shooting with a Canon 50mm lens on a Hasselblad and it would give the same angle of view as a Hasselblad 50mm but it would get dark and blurry in the corners. Conversely if you shoot with a Hasselblad 50mm on a Canon camera, you will get the same angle of view but you won’t run out of image circle in the corners. In fact there will be plenty of image circle to spare, which is why you can shift the lens and still cover the Canon sensor.

  6. Tats an in depth details about medium format lenses on Canon EOS cameras. Great blog and information about the medium format lenses.

  7. What about Lens Bokeh? I would think that should be the main question….

    • Russ, the lens bokeh which people associate with medium format is partly a function of the larger sensor size. When you use an 80mm medium format lens on a full frame Canon, for example, it become a mild telephoto, and to fit the same subject into the frame you need to take a few steps back, which reduces the background blur.

      Or perhaps you didn’t mean the quantity of background blur, but the *quality*, which is a property which varies from lens to lens, according to its design. In that case some medium format lenses might excel but so do many 35mm format lenses.

  8. Hi,
    Is there anyone who can help me out ?
    I have been using Schneider Kreuznach 140-180/5.6 & 90mm/ 4
    Macro lenses for my medium format Rolleiflex 6008 with digital ack of Phase One. But due to the rechargeable battery problem on Rolleiflex body, i couldn’t use these expensive ones for several years. So I would like to find any mounting adapter to enable to use the lenses on my Cannon 5D Mark III. In this sense, if you could give me your advice to find its mounting adapter, it would be greatly appreciated. Look forward to having aby clue for solution… thx

  9. Hi,
    Is there anyone who can help me out ?
    I have been using Schneider Kreuznach 140-180/5.6 & 90mm/ 4
    Macro lenses for my medium format Rolleiflex 6008 with digital ack of Phase One. But due to the rechargeable battery problem on Rolleiflex body, i couldn’t use these expensive ones for several years. So I would like to find any mounting adapter to enable to use the lenses on my Cannon 5D Mark III. In this sense, if you could give me your advice to find its mounting adapter, it would be greatly appreciated. Look forward to having any clue for solution… thx

  10. Dear friends, im looking forward to decide if investing or not on a Fotodiox for using my 4 Mamiya Lensses (180, 90, 65 , 37 mm) on my Canon 5dMk2 but since i live in Venezuela its very difficult for me to invest using dollars thats why i would really appreciate your help deciding if its a useful idea. I work for Advertising, Products, Action and Artistic Portraits.
    The Fotodiox its not expensive and i could venture into the experiment but have been looking for info and images and haven’t got a final veredict if its useful and productive imagery the one resulting on those combinations.
    For Canon I have the 70-200 F2.8 Series L, and the 50mm F1.8 Ultrasonic. Im planing on buying a Zoom 24-70 Series L But want to wait first to see if the http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/995277-REG/fotodiox_rb67_eos_p_dc_mamiya_rb67_lens_to.html does something good for me.
    Kind regards to all of you. Your mexican-venezuelan friend http://www.erikdavidgalindo.com

  11. Dear friends, im looking forward to decide if investing or not on a Fotodiox for using my 4 Mamiya Lensses (180, 90, 65 , 37 mm) on my Canon 5dMk2 but since i live in Venezuela its very difficult for me to invest using dollars thats why i would really appreciate your help deciding if its a useful idea. I work for Advertising, Products, Action and Artistic Portraits.
    The Fotodiox its not expensive and i could venture into the experiment but have been looking for info and images and haven’t got a final veredict if its useful and productive imagery the one resulting on those combinations.
    For Canon I have the 70-200 F2.8 Series L, and the 50mm F1.8 Ultrasonic. Im planing on buying a Zoom 24-70 Series L But want to wait first to see if the http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/995277-REG/fotodiox_rb67_eos_p_dc_mamiya_rb67_lens_to.html does something good for me.
    Kind regards to all of you. Your mexican-venezuelan friend

  12. But since medium format lenses are designed to project much larger image circles than 35mm sensors can accept, you would cut out the corners and only get the center of the image, which even in excellent lenses, usually has better image quality than the edges, so even though you may not get a sharper center than with a full frame lens, the corners could possibly be brighter and sharper, right?