AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

My review of the Rode PSA-1 boom arm was published today on Tools & Toys.

This was a fun product to review. As some of you may know, I recently launched a photography podcast alongside Josh Ginter and Marius Masalar, and choosing the right gear to get started was a crucial part of that process.

On one hand, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on gear, especially when there was no guarantee that this would be a profitable business. On the other hand, I didn’t want to sound terrible, either, and I definitely didn’t want to sound a lot worse than my two co-hosts, so it was a matter of finding the right compromise for me.

In the end I settled on borrowing an XLR microphone from my father’s FM radio station. It turned out to be an old Shure 10A dynamic microphone (now discontinued), which on paper is a rather basic model, but it just so happens to work incredibly well with my voice. I also needed to buy a Tascam US 2x2 audio interface to connect the microphone to my computer.

Being a dynamic microphone, though, the Shure 10A is extremely picky about my posture, and requires consistent technique to sound any good. It soon became clear that a traditional desk stand just wouldn’t do, so I decided to invest in the Rode PSA-1 boom arm and I never looked back.

The Rode PSA-1 is a great product: it is very solid, and it offers all the features of more expensive studio arms at a very reasonable price point. What’s not to love?

All things considered, I spent about $250 total for my setup, and I’m really happy with how well it’s working for me. I can’t recommend the Rode PSA-1 boom arm enough, especially if you own a dynamic microphone, or are planning to get one anytime soon.

As a side bonus, I recorded a short video for the review, where I go over the main advantages of having a boom arm vs a desk stand for your microphone. You can find it embedded below. I’m well aware there’s lots of things to improve as far as production goes, but for a first attempt at a multiple-camera video, I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

It’s not that bad, is it? Especially considering this was my first time ever working with Adobe Premiere Pro and I only had a couple hours to assemble the final cut before submitting the review to the editor. I cringe here and there every time I watch it, and there’s definitely a couple things I would have done differently had I had more time to work on the edit, but I think for a first attempt it’s pretty respectable.

If you want to read more about the Rode PSA-1 boom arm, head on over to Tools & Toys for the full review.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Matt Granger is abandoning the Sony E-mount system for all his professional work →

March 15, 2016 |

This wasn’t exactly surprising — Matt’s complained about Sony’s abysmal customer service before — but it is significant. Watch the linked video all the way to the end to get the entire story. Via Marius Masalar:

Matt makes a great point, and I completely agree that a company that treats their professional customers so poorly doesn’t deserve their business. There’s just no excuse.

That said, I can’t help but feel that the entire point of Matt’s video is rendered rather moot after Sony’s recent announcement that they’re launching a proper professional customer service network. Matt himself acknowledges in the video that this changes everything, but he then goes on to complain about his bad experiences with Sony’s previous customer care network.

I mean, I get it; he’s saying that if the new system is anything like the old one then it’s going to be no good for him and many other pros, but I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that will be the case. This looks like a completely new service with well-defined features, requirements and deadlines, although that 3-day turnaround time promise does seem too good to be true.

I think Sony deserves the benefit of the doubt here. Let’s give them a chance to prove that they’re really willing to walk the talk before writing them off, because the truth is, I don’t see any other company innovating like they are these days — with the exception of Fuji, but that’s a different category. If professional customers abandon Sony, then those fancy a7-series cameras are going to stagnate and eventually be abandoned sooner rather than later.

I do believe Sony is serious about their professional photography business, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I for one am willing to give them a bit more time to get it right. Of course, your mileage may vary and if your needs are anything like Matt’s, it does make sense to be skeptical. In any case, we’ll know soon enough.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Last Sunday I went hiking in Navacerrada, one of the tallest mountain passes in central Spain. It’s a gorgeous place, covered by pine forests as far as the eye can see, and it’s perfect for hiking, even in the winter.

This photo essay on Tools & Toys tells the story of how the day went, along with some nice landscape shots. It was a fantastic experience, and one I can’t recommend enough.

If you’re ready for a micro adventure, head on over to Tools & Toys for the full photo essay.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢
♤ ♧ ♡ ♢
♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Candid #4: “Canvas Snowman” →

March 09, 2016 |

In this week’s episode of Candid, we start off with a brief conversation on exposure compensation: what it is, why it’s there, and how to use it. Then we move on to the main topic of discussion for the week: camera bags. Lots and lots of camera bags.

Among other things, Josh and I share our experiences with ONA bags, and Marius is reviewing a new Wotancraft messenger bag. We also take on the eternal argument: backpacks vs. messenger bags. Good stuff.

As a personal note, this is easily my favorite episode of Candid yet. There are many fun, spontaneous moments during the show, and the conversation seems to flow more naturally than in previous weeks.

Oh, and there’s also the Bag That Shall Not Be Named.

Enjoy.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Spielberg in 30 shots →

March 08, 2016 |

Fantastic video montage by Jacob T. Swinney:

Before I knew what a director was, I knew who Steven Spielberg was. I believe that this is partially due to the fact that Spielberg has crafted some of the most iconic shots in all of cinema. Many filmmakers have that one signature shot that will forever solidify them in film history– Spielberg has dozens. This video showcases the work of Steven Spielberg in 30 memorable shots, one from each of his full-length films. From something as magical as a silhouetted bicycle streaking across the moon, to something as simple as tiny ripples in a cup of water, this is Steven Spielberg.

Via Coudal.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

March 05, 2016

Hello there, welcome to another issue of Morning Coffee.

Today I’d like to talk to you about one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.

Issue #36: Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief

I’ve recently started reading The Teeth of the Tiger, one of the most critically acclaimed novels by Maurice Leblanc, featuring gentleman thief Arsène Lupin.

The great thing about these stories is that most of them are now in the public domain, so you can download them and read them free of charge. The Teeth of the Tiger in particular is available on the Project Gutenberg site, and you can download it here.

If you like classic adventure stories, I can’t recommend this one enough. I still haven’t finished it, but so far I’m enjoying every single page like a 12-year-old.

Arsène Lupin first appeared in a story published in French magazine Je sais tout in 1905. The character would go on to appear in a total of 24 books, including novels and short stories, becoming one of the most important literary symbols in early-20th century France.

It’s hard to overstate Lupin’s role in the history of French literature. He is to France what Sherlock Holmes is to Britain: a national hero — or, in this case, antihero.

Lupin is also one of the greatest examples of a Robin Hood-type character: while he is no law-abiding citizen, those he steals from are always worse villains than he is. It’s clear he also possesses a strong moral compass, as he is often willing to give up his exploits to help an innocent in need.

Cunning, athletic, charming and with a larger-than-life personality, Lupin perfectly embodies the archetype of the infallible hero: no matter how dire the situation, or how unlikely the odds, he always finds a way out, and he always gets the prize. He is also an escape artist and a master of disguise, and can imitate any voice or forge any signature. It just seems there’s nothing in this world Lupin doesn’t excel at.

Reading Lupin’s stories is definitely a guilty pleasure. You know he’s not going to die, and you know he’s always one step ahead of everyone else, even when it doesn’t appear so. That allows you to simply relax and enjoy the ride, watching with a smile as all the pieces in his meticulously crafted puzzle fall into place eventually.

But through the years, Lupin has had to endure his fair share of suffering, too. A hopeless romantic, he’s been bruised and battered time and time again, and that has left him with just a hint of melancholy behind his world-conquering smile. This journey adds depth and layers to what would otherwise be the most one-dimensional character ever, and the stories are much better for it. Things never get borderline depressing, but there’s just enough drama to keep the reader emotionally invested. It’s an age-old formula that works like magic, which is why it’s still incredibly popular these days.

I love reading classic adventure and mystery stories, and together with Sherlock Holmes, Lupin is my favorite character. I’m certainly not alone in feeling this way, and Maurice Leblanc himself felt the two characters shared more than a passing similarity, which is why he went as far as to introduce Sherlock Holmes himself in one of his early Lupin stories.

The intellectual duel between sleuth and thief was, unsurprisingly, a resounding success, but Leblanc was later forced to change the detective’s name to Herlock Sholmes — which is totally different — due to a nagging copyright issue.

Of course, what with this being a Leblanc-written story and all, the fact that Lupin is painted in a slightly more favorable light is understandable, but even in the story’s context, that is something that could be chalked up to the age difference between the two men: when they meet, Sholmes is an old man, while Lupin is just entering his prime. Even then, Sholmes is still a formidable match for the gentleman thief, with most of their encounters ending up in a draw.

The rich world of late-19th and early-20th century France is a wonderful canvas for Lupin to exploit: with lots of hidden relics, political mysteries and vast fortunes to find, there’s always another target to hit, all while the comparatively inept Inspector Ganimard tries his best to stop him. Watching Ganimard fail time and time again is another guilty pleasure of mine, and one that I enjoy immensely.

Lupin is a refuge for those who dare to dream. He represents a grand ideal: the triumph of imagination over procedure, the power of charm versus duty, and the wonder of adventure in its purest form.

Now, while I love the literary Lupin, my first contact with the character was through his purported grandson: the cheeky Lupin The Third.

Lupin The Third is the main character in the eponymous 1960’s manga by Japanese artist Monkey Punch. The character reached worldwide fame thanks to the later anime adaptation in the 1970’s.

He is the greatest thief of our time, and he claims to be the grandson of the original Arsène Lupin. He sports a trademark bright-colored jacket — which changes colors across seasons — and drives a classic yellow Fiat 500. He shares many of the original Lupin’s character traits, albeit in a more modern, more humorous take.

This anime series was tremendously popular in Spain in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As a kid, I fell in love with everything about it, and now as an adult, I appreciate it in an entirely different way.

The realism with which some things like classic cars and cities are portrayed is fantastic, and it shows how much thought and care were put into designing and making the show.

The music, composed by Japanese jazz musician Yuji Ohno, is absolutely stunning, and while the show is certainly silly, there are also some adult undertones and even some sexual innuendo that obviously slipped by unnoticed by my younger self.

Speaking of which, 2012’s excellent mini-series The Woman Called Fujiko Mine did a fantastic job exploring those undertones in a darker, more mature way. This is no story for children, and it clearly shows how rich and varied the world of Lupin can be in the right hands.

And last but certainly not least, 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, which marked the directorial debut of Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki, was a delightful story about a captive princess, a hidden treasure, and a classic Miyazaki tale through and through.

The Castle of Cagliostro was Hayao Miyazaki’s first film as a director.

Just like his literary counterpart, the cultural impact that Lupin The Third has had in Japanese animation as a whole is profound. Characters like the massively popular Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop were clearly inspired by Lupin, and the show’s emphasis on having a quality soundtrack is something that’s been picked up by many others since then.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, since I started reading The Teeth of the Tiger I’ve been revisiting the anime, and much to my delight, I recently discovered two very interesting things about it.

The first thing is a live-action film based on the original manga that was released in 2014. It’s a bit silly in all the right ways, with lots of humor and impossible situations that are very true to the spirit of the anime.

This is definitely no Oscar material, but I thought the characters were very well portrayed, and the actors were all great in their respective roles. A popcorn-eating movie if I ever saw one, but hey, it’s a Lupin movie, so I’m not complaining.

The second one, and by far my favorite, is that in late 2015 we saw the release of the first proper Lupin The Third animated season in over 30 years. I started watching it yesterday, and I’m happy to report it’s good. Very, very good.

The story takes place in Italy, and begins with Lupin getting married. In the embedded opening theme below you can see that our protagonist is sporting a blue jacket this time around, but he’s still driving his trademark yellow Fiat 500, and he’s still very much the Lupin we know and love.

I think it’s safe to say, Lupin is back in style. Can’t wait to watch the rest of the episodes.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the week’s most interesting pieces of writing.

Top Five: Life and death in the App Store, doing a TED talk, visiting Old Town Panama, dissecting a photograph, and the Millenium Falcon

This week we have compelling pieces all around: about the App Store, photography, travel, movies and even the art of procrastinating. Enjoy.

Life and death in the App Store | Casey Newton →

This great piece over at The Verge has been making the rounds in our small tech circle all through the week, so chances are you’ve come across it already.

For those of you who haven’t, it’s the story of app developer Pixite, but it’s really about how the App Store’s business model enforced by Apple — no paid upgrades and no trial versions of apps — is hurting small and independent developers big time:

For all but a few developers, the App Store itself now resembles a lottery: for every breakout hit like Candy Crush, hundreds or even thousands of apps languish in obscurity. Certain segments of the app economy remain vibrant — ludicrously profitable, even. Apps for massive social networks, on-demand services like Uber, and subscription businesses like Netflix and Spotify remain in high demand. Then there’s gaming: Last year, 85 percent of all app revenues went to games, according to App Annie. Supercell, the top-grossing developer of Clash of Clans, reported revenue of $1.7 billion in 2014. (It spent $440 million on marketing.)

Doing a TED talk: the full story | Tim Urban →

This fun and interesting story on how a natural born procrastinator deals with the most terrifying assignment of all — preparing for a high-stakes TED talk that’s almost a year away. This hit a little too close to home for comfort, but it was still a wonderfully enjoyable read.

A guide to falling in love with Old Town Panama | Messy Nessy →

Here’s a nice article for those of you suffering from the travel bug these days:

Today, the Casco is entering its renaissance. Boutique hotels, hip eateries and nightspots are popping up all over town in between shells of dilapidated colonial townhouses squatted by several families settled into comfortable chaos. So many buildings look as if they might collapse any second– except they won’t.

I love the Old Town’s decadent air.

Dissecting a photograph: the split rock | Nasim Mansurov →

Even the simplest-looking photographs have hidden meanings and lessons for us to learn. This in-depth look at what is apparently just a picture of a rock at sunset shows you the many different factors that make for a compelling image. If you’re interested in learning about photographic technique, the rules of composition, and the importance of proper planning, this is well worth your time.

The complete conceptual history of the Millenium Falcon | Michael Heilemann →

You didn’t think I was going to leave this one out, did you? So amazing.

As a side note, I love this early-script description of Han Solo as “a cowboy in a starship — simple, sentimental and cocksure of himself”. Just perfect.

Afterword

It’s been an exciting week. Tomorrow I’m going on a hiking excursion to Navacerrada, the tallest mountain pass in central Spain at 1,858 m above sea level.

We’re going to be walking alongside the mountains with snowshoes and I hope to take that opportunity to capture some great pictures of the spectacular views.

As a bonus, this will be Miriam’s first time seeing actual snow. Madrid doesn’t typically get a whole lot of snowfall in winter, and as you can imagine, Venezuela even less so. She’s incredibly excited about the experience, as am I.

On the work front I’m currently finishing up my review of the Rode PSA-1 boom arm, one of the most popular choices among podcasters.

I love this arm, and with it I can record Candid comfortably and without worrying about my posture. It’s a wonderful investment, and I can’t recommend it enough. I have a lot more to say about it, so stay tuned for the full review.

Until then, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Ah, the wonderful world of adapted lenses. If you’re a Sony E-mount shooter, you’ve probably been down this road at some point, or are considering it now. The E-mount system is still relatively young, and there are a few gaps in the focal range for which no native lens exists yet. Trying to find a DSLR lens you can adapt seems like a great solution, at least on paper.

Moreover, recent Sony cameras like the a7 II1 and a7R II can use their on-sensor phase detection AF points with adapted lenses, meaning you should be able to retain near-native AF speed. Unsurprisingly, most adapter manufacturers are claiming just that, making it seem like a really attractive proposition.

So far, going the adapted lens route is looking like a no-brainer, but of course, things are rarely that simple in life.

The good news is, there are plenty of adapters to choose from, spanning a wide range of features and price points. The bad news is, there are plenty of adapters to choose from, spanning a wide range of features and price points.

Finding the right adapter to buy is a particularly tricky proposition, because it depends on a lot of unstable and/or vaguely specified factors: your existing lens lineup, your camera body, your requirements in terms of AF performance and EXIF data, and a few others. Some or all of them may change at any point, which could drastically alter the value proposition of any adapter.

To adapt or not to adapt, that is the question

You may need some guidelines to help you decide whether an adapted lens makes sense for you to begin with. Here are a few points you may want to consider:

Do you want to adapt lenses you already own, or lenses you intend to buy? If you already own the lenses you want to adapt, then the value proposition is a lot better, because you’ve already made the bulk of the investment. If you’re in the middle of a system transition, for example, the ability to keep using all of your existing glass on the new camera is a huge plus, and will make your life a lot easier.

If we’re talking about buying new lenses, however, the situation is a lot more complicated. Which brings us to my next question:

Does a native lens exist in your target focal range? If so, I strongly urge you to go with that one instead. Even if the native lens has a less-than-stellar reputation2 and there are some super-awesome lenses for other systems you’d rather use, I’d still push you to the native lens first.

The thing is, nothing beats the convenience, performance and reliability of a native lens. Using an adapter — any adapter — means accepting some hard compromises: reduced/poor AF performance, occasional flaring issues, lack of weather sealing, etc. Also, these may all be present at the same time. They often are.

If there’s a native lens you can buy, go with that one.

Are the lenses you want to adapt supported by your adapter of choice? This is a crucial factor, and one that must never go overlooked. Most adapter manufacturers maintain up-to-date registries of the lenses they support. You can check yours against those registries to decide.

The problem with adapters is, they’re all kind of hacky solutions. Neither Sony nor Canon license their AF technology to third-party manufacturers, so adapter makers need to reverse-engineer both systems in order to get their adapters to work.3 Clearly, the odds of something going terribly wrong at some intermediate point in the chain are significant.

Plus, if we’re talking about adapting a third-party lens from, say, Tamron, then the situation is even more hacky, because now we have two third-party manufacturer’s approximations of Canon and Sony’s AF technology instead of the real deal. I’m no expert in reverse-engineering, but that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Finally, is your preferred adapter firmware upgradeable? Given the many issues you’re likely to encounter during your ownership, the ability to upgrade the adapter’s firmware is a very important feature. More expensive adapters like the Metabones T Smart Adapter (Mark IV) offer this capability, and to their credit, Metabones has been very proactive when it comes to releasing firmware updates so far. If peace of mind is important to you and you don’t mind paying a significant chunk of money for your adapter, this is not a bad way to go.

However, even the Metabones adapter with its flashy price tag is unpredictable at best, and as more and more cameras and lenses are released in the future, that’s likely to remain true. And to be quite honest, I just don’t find it reasonable to spend $400 on an adapter; I would very much prefer to put that kind of money towards a lens instead.

Which brings us to the Commlite EF-NEX adapter.

On paper, the Commlite adapter offers almost the same features as the Metabones — except for the firmware upgradeability — for a whole lot less money.

I got this adapter because I wanted to use a Canon EF 35mm F/1.4 L USM lens I rented on my Sony a7 II during a recent trip to Paris. Luckily, that lens is officially supported by the Commlite adapter, so I decided to save some money and buy this one instead of the Metabones.4

The Commlite adapter currently retails for about $70. Should it perform as advertised, it would be a much, much better value than the Metabones.

Let’s take a closer look and see what we find.

Features

The feature set of the Commlite adapter is impressive for the price:

  • All-metal construction, including both the lens-side and camera-side mounts.

  • Removable tripod collar included.

  • AF support.

  • Lens-based image stabilization is supported, as is the camera’s IBIS.

  • Electronic aperture control from the camera body.

  • EXIF data transfer (aperture and focal length only). The actual lens model used is not transmitted to the camera, though, which means the built-in Lightroom profiles can’t be automatically applied. You can still manually apply the lens profile if you want, though.

Other than that last point, this is a comprehensive feature list, and it certainly points towards the Commlite being an impressive value. The only features that are missing, at least on paper, are weather-sealing and a user-upgradeable firmware. But at this price point, we certainly can’t complain.

Build quality

The Commlite adapter is very well built. It’s made out of a solid chunk of metal, and it has a textured matte finish that looks professional and discreet at the same time. On this front, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. This adapter looks about as well as these things could look, really.

Both mounts are chrome-plated, and feel similarly solid. On the lens side, there’s a red and a white dot that mark the proper mounting places for Full Frame and APS-C Canon lenses, respectively. On the camera side, a white dot does the same job.

There are gold-plated electrical contacts on both sides of the adapter, which are there to enable electronic communication between the camera and the lens, with the adapter acting as an interpreter.

The lens release lever is the only plastic part of the adapter, but this is understandable. It still feels more than solid enough, and performs its intended function without issues.

The supplied tripod collar is a nice touch. It’s also made of metal, and gives a much nicer balance to the package when you set the camera down on a desk, for example. Of course, it greatly improves the balance when used on an actual tripod, as well.

When mounted, there’s almost no play between lens and adapter, or between adapter and camera, giving the overall package a reasonably compact and robust feel. I suppose this could be slightly improved, but it’s perfectly reasonable as-is.

AF performance

This is where the spell breaks. Sadly, the truth is that, at least with the Canon 35mm f/1.4 lens, AF performance with the Commlite adapter is pretty poor.

It’s not just a problem of speed, either. That by itself is something I could have lived with, provided it wasn’t unbearably sluggish. It mostly is, but the real kicker is that AF accuracy is incredibly, maddeningly, excruciatingly bad, too.

This lens and adapter combination makes for one of the most frustrating photographic experiences I’ve ever seen. Even in stellar lighting conditions, the Canon lens would often simply refuse to lock on to anything. I tried, to no avail, to change the AF region from center lock, to flexible spot, to wide, and from single-shot to continuous AF. In every one of those cases, the lens would focus reasonably well on one shot, only to once again become stubborn in the next.

It’s quite difficult to explain this behavior with words, so I made a small video showing the adapter’s AF performance:

This kind of unpredictable behavior makes it impossible to trust this adapter to get the job done when it matters. For that reason, I would never use it for any sort of critical work where AF is a must.

By comparison, when I used the very same Canon lens on my venerable Canon EOS-3 film camera, AF performance was impressive: very, very quick to focus and dead on, even in dimmer lighting conditions. So clearly, it doesn’t appear to be the lens’s fault.

Of course, as you’ve seen in the video above, this unpredictable AF performance also applies during video recording, so there’s no way I would ever recommend this adapter if you need to use AF for video.

Your mileage may vary with other Canon lenses, but as far as I’m concerned, no matter how you look at it, when it comes to AF, this adapter is not a tool you can rely on in any serious situation. For what it’s worth, I also tested the adapter with my old Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, and the results were similar.

That said, if you’re willing to make the significant compromise of living without AF, there are several nice things to say about the Commlite adapter.

General use

The adapter’s poor AF performance pushed me to use manual focus for about 90% of the time it stayed on my a7 II camera, for both stills and video. The good news is, MF works brilliantly with this adapter.

The Commlite’s built-in electronic integration means you can just flick the AF/MF switch found on most Canon lenses and the camera will switch between autofocus and manual focus modes accordingly. This is a nice touch, and it would be super useful if the adapter was any good in AF mode. Alas, as we’ve seen, that is not usually the case.

Once in MF mode, all the built in focusing aids work exactly as they would with a native lens: peaking and magnification work wonderfully, and together they make for a very enjoyable experience. Alternatively, you also have the option to use the built-in depth of field scale available on most high-end Canon lenses.

Image stabilization also works like a charm, even for those lenses that don’t have built-in stabilization, like this Canon 35mm. And since the adapter provides electronic integration, there’s no need to manually enter the focal length for the camera’s IBIS to work. Everything happens automatically, which is another nice touch of this setup.

Aperture control is also a non-issue in practice. The camera’s aperture dial works perfectly well, and the camera recognizes the lens’s maximum aperture of f/1.4 with no problems whatsoever. And since Canon lenses usually don’t have aperture rings on them, there’s no possibility for conflicting settings here. Light metering is also excellent, and the camera captures consistently correct exposures without any issues.

Finally, the tripod collar gives you a nice mounting point that creates a much more stable setup, which is definitely a welcome feature, especially considering most Canon L lenses are quite large and heavy.

Final thoughts

All in all, the Commlite adapter is a nicely made product, capable of delivering a great user experience, provided you can live without AF. If you’re willing to put up with the adapter’s stubborn AF behavior, which means patiently waiting for lenses to lock focus on a regular basis, then I suppose there’s plenty to love here.

I realize this may be a case of bad luck, and performance with other Canon lenses may be much better. That may well be the case but the fact is, this lens is officially supported, and AF performance with it is still abysmal. Sadly, that gives me zero confidence in whatever Commlite says regarding other lenses.

Using the adapter in MF mode, however, is a pleasure. Everything works exactly as it should, and the entire process feels almost as nice as using a native lens would. In this mode, the Commlite adapter will give you access to a wide range of high-performing Canon glass that is not natively available for the E-mount system yet.

Given the affordable price of this adapter — again, only $70 — this is still a remarkable value proposition many people will be glad to consider. If you want to have a chance to rent nice lenses occasionally to take with you on a trip, or for a studio job where AF is not critical, this is a great and affordable way to do it.

Unfortunately, my guess is that, for most people looking to adapt Canon lenses, AF won’t be something they’re willing to give up along the way. And those people, I’m afraid, will have to keep looking.

For what it’s worth, other adapters like the Metabones might offer improved performance, but I’m still not convinced. The hacky nature of the adapter business makes it very difficult to trust these things to perform well into the future.

If you decide to go the adapted lens route, my advice is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons: that is, to keep using lenses you already own while you transition systems, or to make occasional use of exotic lenses that are not yet available natively for the E-mount system. Anything else, the way things are today, is asking for trouble.

If after reading this review you still think the Commlite EF-NEX adapter is the right choice for you, you can purchase it on Amazon by using one of the following affiliate links. Thanks for your support!


  1. Provided you have updated your camera to firmware 2.0 or later.

  2. Sony Zeiss FE 24-70mm F4, I’m looking at you.

  3. There are only two exceptions to this. Sony’s own LA-EA3 and LA-EA4 adapters were officially designed by the company in-house, which in theory should guarantee compatibility with Sony-made A-mount lenses at the very least. In practice, though, there are some caveats. In the case of the LA-EA3, there have been numerous reports of issues with 3rd-party lenses, including the Sigma Art primes, for example. The LA-EA4 is a different story, since the adapter itself includes its own phase-detection AF mechanism that overrides the camera’s. However, this adapter uses a translucent mirror mechanism that unfortunately means losing 1/3rd of a stop of light in the process.

  4. The native 35mm f/1.4 lens for the FE system isn’t available to rent in Spain, which is what made me look into adapted lenses. That said, if I were to buy a 35mm f/1.4 lens today, I would definitely go with the Sony lens.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Candid #3: Micro Four Nerds →

March 02, 2016 |

In this week’s episode, we talk about how different sensor sizes impact your photography and whether or not the size of the Micro 4/3 sensor will lead to doom or gloom for Olympus and Panasonic. To top off the busy week, Josh compares the infamous Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm to his new Zeiss Batis 85mm.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢