Could this much-lauded matchmaker create a relationship between my old Canon EF lenses and my Fujifilm X bodies?
Despite countless attempts and much trial followed by much error, I’ve never had particularly favourable results when pairing third party lenses with non-related camera bodies, and even less so when adapting them to mount.
Of course, there are many out here who swear by the oddball matches made between their new bodies and retro lenses, and in recent years there has been a profusion of very affordable and seemingly fast lenses come into the market, with many promising great results with the Fujifilm X system.
That said, I have to say that for my use case scenarios the realities of having to deal with incompatibility issues such as losing autofocus, aperture dials and the lack of certain information exchanges and function have more or less killed the third-party passion for me. Although I do admit that it certainly doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t dabble again in the potluck market of mix and match, but probably not for any fast moving or crucial-use scenarios such as in shooting sporting events.
Then again, in contradiction to this I do have my long-lasting quandary over my expensive and now virtually redundant Canon EF lenses – prime hunks of glass that have not seen the light of day too often since switching to Fuji 10 years ago.
Why not sell them and buy the Fujifilm equivalents you may well ask? Well, living in the humidity of the tropics, just about all of my lenses – Canon and Fujifilm – have succumbed to fungus, which has rendered them pretty well unsellable, and this is despite mostly being kept in a dry cabinet. It only takes a short while for damp to get into the lenses as well as the bodies (I have several Canons due to sensor fungus).
However, on the upside, the lenses are still mostly usable; it’s only in big blue sky situations when shooting above f/16 that any signs of lens fungus show, so obviously it makes good sense to make use of them, especially as the same could also happen to any news lens I buy into.
A while back I had a disastrous blind date with a Viltrox speed booster/adaptor, which failed miserably and left me all but consigned to the idea that making any real-world use of those Canon lenses would mean buying back into the system. Given the cost of doing so with the new RFs and the hit taken with being grounded for the past two and a half years, this is a hard one to swallow, especially as I haven’t shot anything that actually moves faster than a snail climbing up a ski slope in that time.
Last chance saloon meet-up with Fringer
Dressed in black with a silver and white trim, Fringer entered the room and the order at the bar came in at just under $300 all-in – a reasonable price given its perceived reputation.
A nice-enough box arrived in the post, although by this time I’d been stranded far from my Canon lenses due to a new COVID wave, so it would be a few months until I managed to get the Fringer and my prized 70-200mmF2.8 sent to me.
Out of the box, the build quality is good overall, apart from the release switch, which seems a tad tinny and fragile. Adaptors are fairly basic pieces of kit, with their magic being worked behind the scenes, mostly in how they connect and communicate with the electronics within the camera body and the lenses; in other words, getting them to communicate fluently in the same language.
To be honest I didn’t hold out too much hope in this adaptor being my EF lens saviour, at least not in terms of giving the lenses the same performance levels as they have on a native Canon body and, of course, in that respect I was right. This differential is not down to the adaptor, it’s simply because the X-T2 I’ve been testing this on is not as fast in the autofocus department as my older Canon bodies.
That said, I was very pleasantly surprised in that this adaptor actually does what it promises; it works well, even if it doesn’t turn the X-T2 into a speed monster when it comes to autofocus performance. Plus, it does have an aperture ring on the back, which is a little close to the camera for easy use, but it is better than nothing.
I spent a good amount of time running through the various settings and modes in both the lens and the Fujifilm, and also ran exactly the same tests with the Fujinon 55-200mm and various other Fujinon glass just to see how differently they behaved in the various modes.
The 55-200mm is something of a lounge lizard in terms of continuous AF performance, at least when out with the X-T2, and despite its extra stops of light, the Canon performed almost exactly the same use as the Fujinon lenses. This means that there is a very similar level of communication going on between the two lenses and the body, and that is a big positive.
The other good thing is that I regain that extra speed of the Canon lens, meaning that blurring backgrounds and attaining faster shutter speeds and lower ISO is possible with using the Canon and the Fringer. It also appears that the lens image stabilisation still works or at least it can be heard to turn on and off when activated.
Did the Fringer prove to be the game saver after all? For me, no, but that is not down to the adaptor, which I do have to highly recommend buying if you have EF lenses around. This is an adaptor that will allow your Canon EF lenses (I have not tested more than this one) to work as well as they can on a Fujifilm X Series body, but it seems that this alone won’t actually boost the autofocus performance beyond the capability of the body no matter how good the adapted lens may be.
Is bigger better?
One thing that really did hit home for me was just how damn big and heavy those EF lenses are. After not using or holding them for years that really does have me re-considering options, yet again. There’s no getting away from the burden of carrying those beasts around and it’s hard for me to believe just how I lugged a backpack full of them over mountains, through jungles and by bike for so many years. Is that a penalty I’m prepared to bear for thoroughbred, match-winning scenarios? Umm, probably…