For someone who writes about the latest and greatest camera gear, you might be surprised to find out how little new equipment I use in my photo work. Rather than using the latest RF mount lenses for my Canon EOS R, I have mostly stuck with older, adapted lenses from various film cameras I’ve acquired over the years. It’s for that reason my favorite piece of gear for the year is Kolari’s EF-RF mount adapter with a built-in variable ND filter.
My usual kit for photojournalism or motorsports work consists of my Canon EOS R with a Nikon Nikkor 50mm F1.4 AI, a Carl Zeiss 80mm F2 (originally attached to my Contax 645 camera) and a Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS lens, the first two of which are adapted from their respective mounts to Canon EF mount before being adapted to RF mount for my EOS R. If it sounds like a bit of a Frankenstein camera bag, it’s because it is. But there’s just something about using old, adapted glass that keeps me coming back for more and Kolari’s third-party EF-to-RF adapter allows me to get even more versatility from the adapted lenses than was previously possible when using them on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Until recently, I had used Canon’s basic EF/RF lens adapter when shooting with my older lenses. While it worked, and enabled me to shoot as I had with the adapted lenses on my Canon EOS 5D Mark III (which still serves as my back-up camera), I knew I eventually wanted to make the most of the shorter flange distance of mirrorless cameras. Canon makes its own EF/RF adapter with provision for drop-in filters, but after writing about Kolari Vision’s third-party option earlier this year, I knew that this adapter was the one I wanted to go with, due to positive experiences I’ve had with Kolari gear in the past. So, I placed my order for Kolari’s EF-to-RF adapter with its built-in 2–10 stop variable ND filter.
|I had the filter at roughly 3 stops for this image.|
As I’ve come to expect from Kolari gear, the adapter impressed me right out of the box. The construction is solid and the drop-in 2–10 stop variable ND filter almost feels over-engineered. Unlike Canon’s equivalent, which relies on plastic parts for its drop-in filter, Kolari’s is constructed of CNC-milled aluminum. This, combined with the quick-throw ring for adjusting the strength of the variable ND filter, makes for a wonderful experience that feels right at home with adjusting the aperture and focus rings of the manual adapted lenses.
For the first time ever,1 I was able to easily shoot wide open with both of the lenses in full daylight and make the most of their respective visual characteristics. This opened up a whole new realm of creative possibilities, and while I haven’t been to a motorsports event for a while, and have ceased freelance news assignments for the local paper, it’s already proven its use while out and about, and photographing my kids in the yard.
While I would argue focus peaking is the biggest technical advantage the switch to a Canon mirrorless camera has afforded me, the second most impactful change is the increased flange distance of the R-mount and the accessories that extra real estate makes possible.
1 The front filter threads on both of the adapted lenses are bent from decades of use, so front-mounted variable NDs were never an option.