Nikon has made mirrorless cameras for a few years now, but it was not until the introduction of the Nikon 1 – J5 series of mirrorless cameras before it had great reviews and took off in the mirrorless market.
For years it has been the two big heavyweights in DSLR duking it out while Sony came in and stole the mirrorless market. So as such they are now playing catch up in this segment. The introduction of the Sony Alpha series sparked the market for others to try the mirrorless category, Nikon has been one of the slowest to adopt this type of camera, they tried for a few years with the Nikon 1 series, the J1/2/3 and the V1 series did not really take off. It was a niche market for the devices, the DSLR owners mostly stuck to their guns and only dabbled in this mirrorless as a hobby.
The Game Changer for Nikon:
The Nikon J4 was a good mirrorless alternative for the imaging company, a lot of people who are mostly prosumers got this camera but yearned for something more, something a little more powerful with some hard-core DSLR type features to make it a heave hitter.
Then the Nikon 1 – J5 was release and everyone raved about it, it looks like the company had finally listened to their users and gave them what they wanted in a small compact package of the J5.
While this was a great thing for anyone who had wanted a good mirrorless from Nikon but still thought that it wasn’t good enough, they now had a camera that was very usable, controls were all there in the right place, the body was redesigned, the sensor was upgraded it was almost magically perfect.
Lenses for the J and V series:
There were quite a few lens that will work for both the J and the V series, built specifically for the E type mount. There was a solid 18mm, 10-30mm, 100mm etc that would mount directly on to the body of the 1 series and is quite sharp (from captures seen online).
But then there are those who switched from the DSLR type cameras to a Mirrorless that sill had their F mount line of lens, what do you do with those lens in this case? Do you sell them and invest in all E mount lenses, do you keep them to use with the older DLSR bodies you might have or buy all new E mount lens? This was a decision most had to make when trying to make the switch to the Mirrorless world.
In Comes the FT-1 Adapter
Nikon made a great decision on behalf of their users, they decided why that we should not have to sell all of our existing gear and lenses to go out and make a switch to mirrorless and buy all brand new camera and lens to go with that camera. Instead they make the Nikon FT-1 lens Adapter.
This adapter would take the existing lens that would mount on a DSLR F type mount and reduce that down to the smaller E mount of the mirrorless and it is a wonderful thing.
This mean that we don’t have to sell our old stuff and go buy new ones, we can buy this little adapter which can be had from as low as $120 (used) up to about $275(new) and use our lenses as needed.
FT-1 Crop Factor:
The J5 which this was tested on has a sensor crop factor of 2.7 which means that the F lens mounted on the E type mirrorless will have a smaller field of view (pieces cut of from top and bottom as well as left and right sides. Because of this the wide-angle lens is not cut down into a zoom lens (in layman terms), to get to the an idea of what the actual focal length (mm) of these F mount lens would be, we have to multiply the lens by 2.7 to get an estimate.
A 35mm F1.8 would now be roughly 95mm lens but will still keep the F stops. Same for the zooms like my 18mm-55mm F4.5 would now be a 48mm-148mm F4.5.
Pros and Cons:
While using adapters to make a lens work on a camera that it was not natively built for can be tricky, with the FT-1 it makes it almost seamless. You basically mount the adapter on to the mirrorless, then mount your existing F mount lens on the adapter and that’s it. There is no settings to mess with noting to jiggle here and there to get it to work.
Right out the box scene metering and all of the electronic function works great because the FT-1 is built to pass through all electrical parts from the camera to the lens and back to the camera. So you can use the camera to change the F stops (which even though there is a crop factor, there is no loss of light), you can change the focus from auto to manual etc.
That would now bring us to the cons of this little adapter, when used the lens attached only Autofocus as centre weighted, what this means is the lens would only focus automatically to what is in the middle plane of the frame. This unlike the native 1 Series lens, you cannot tap on a part of the frame on the display and get the camera to focus on what you tapped.
So lets say you are shooting a scene where the is something you would like to focus on that is in the left third of the frame, to achieve an off axis focus, we would have to use the manual focus ring on the lens being used.
While it might sound cumbersome at first, using the J5 with the FT-1 coupled to a 35mm (native) F1.8 took just a few tries to get used to the Manual Focus (MF) so I could focus on something that is not in the middle of the frame. With a little time spent with it anyone could become a pro at the MF and also could cope and compensate for only having AF (autofocus) in the centre plane. Because the camera receives the electronic signals from the lens via the FT 1 to the camera body, the camera will display a focus lock signal on the the screen to let you know when the focus is good.
There is also a little feature that would allow the user to lock a scene then hit the OK button on the camera to enter Manual focus mode in the camera, which is actually the camera doing a digital zoom on the area you choose to manually focus on so you can get more granular and precise on the focus to make sure that you did get that focus locked correctly when doing it manually. Again this feature looked like a gimmick at first but after you get used to it, like the Manual Focus, it is very helpful to use.
There are many other videos such as the ones listed below that highlight the FT-1 on different camera bodies online. And also highlight the picture capabilities of the adapter with these cameras. So as such I will not be posting any videos on this, what you will see are pictures of the Nikon J5 with the adapter and a few of the lens I own attached to it, and a few sample pictures and videos shot with the combo.
As with all other articles, if there is any questions on how this combo performed, feel free to contact us with your questions, if it is something that we have not tried or not sure about, we will try it and report back as needed.
Below you can find a gallery of sample shots taken with the Nikon 18-55mm DX lens mounted on the J5 Via the FT1