menu

Vello Auto Lens Adapter Nikon F mount to Sony E-mount Review


Today we shall be taking a look at our first adapter that enables Nikon F mount lenses to be mounted on Sony E-mount bodies and transfer AF, stabilization and EXIF data.

These types of adapters have been around for some time for Canon glass but Nikon proved to be more of a challenge and this is the first to do this successfully at least in part as we will see in this review.

Construction

Starting with the build quality, the Vello adapter is generally well built and made of hard plastic with a metal front and back mounts. The adapter itself has no optical elements inside it is purely a mechanical and electronic adapter which is a good thing in this case as it will not degrade your image quality in any way.

The adapter is quite thick at 2.5cm or about 1 inch which is apparently needed to gain back the necessary distance from the sensor (yes DSLR cameras have a LARGE flange distance). It also has a foot with a 1/4″20 thread where we mounted an RC2 plate – just keep in mind that you won’t be able to mount an RC2 plate on your camera as well comfortable.

The only part which might be improved upon is the lens detach lock which is just a tad too plasticky for us but from our experience, it does seem to work fine.

Vello AF adapter – Nikon to Sony – opens a new world of lens options for stills shooters

Adapter limitations

Before we take a closer look at the adpater’s performance we need to match our expectations about what it can and can’t do.

We are looking at the B&H webpage for this adapter which seems to be pretty up to date and we are talking about the Vello LAE-SE-NFV4 Auto Lens Adapter with Firmware ver. 4 (if you have something else this might not apply).

Right off the bat we have some important limitations that apply to all the lenses that they tested and that appear in the table they made:

  1. All lenses were tested in AF-S setting with center point focusing (No AF-C was tested).
  2. AF function was tested for photo, video will not work properly.

Beyond that, you can see if you look closely in Vello’s table that there are certain lenses that work very slowly with AF and other lenses like older Nikon AF lenses that do not work at all.

These are just some of the limitations that you need to accept if you are considering this adapter.

It is also worth mentioning that the adapter only works with Sony cameras set to Phase Detection AF mode (we used the A6500 but A6300 and  A7RII and A7 II and although this is not mentioned we belive the new A9 should allso work just as well).

Tested lenses

Now that you have a basic understanding of some of the limitations of the adapter let’s look at its performance. We shot two targets at a distance of 1m (3ft) and 2.5m (8ft) in terms of  AF speed, hunting, AF accuracy, Image stabilization as well as the existence Exif information.

We tested using the Adapter on a Sony A6500 in AF-S mode and the following lenses:

Nikon Glass

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

AF speed – 3/5 – when 5 being the AF speed on a fast focusing Nikon camera like the D7500.

Hunting – 2/5 – lots of hunting especially in close up shots.

AF accuracy – 5/5 – when you nail the focus images are as sharp as this lens get.

Nikon 105mm – focus accuracy test – close target (1m) and more distant target (2.5m) below

Image stabilizationimage stabilization seems to work (image stabilization on the camera is turned off with this lens).

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

More macro options

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm F1.8G

AF speed – 4/5 – AF speed is relatively good although this lens isn’t very fast to focus with Nikon cameras as well.

Hunting – 4/5 – there seems to be very little hunting especially in good lighting conditions.

AF accuracy – 4/5 – accuracy seems good although our closer target was not 100% sharp, this might be the lens itself.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX test – close and far

Image stabilizationnone.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED

AF speed – 0/5 – AF doesn’t seem to work with this lens. Vello’s lens compatibility table doesn’t mention this lens at all.

Hunting – 0/5 – same.

AF accuracy – 0/5 – same (not point in showing a sample image – this just does not work).

Image stabilizationhard to tell with the lens not focusing.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

AF speed – 2/5 – AF speed is bad. This is an older kit lens and the AF motor doesn’t seem to work well with the adapter. Interestingly, Vello’s lens compatibility table marks this lens as working fine with their adapter – this has not been our experience.

Hunting – 1/5 – there seems to be a great deal of hunting with this lens.

AF accuracy – 0/5 – the lens struggles and doesn’t seem to be able to focus.

Poor AF with the Nikon 18-105mm lens

Image stabilizationhard to tell with the lens not focusing.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

AF speed – 4/5 – AF speed is o.k. much better at closer to 20mm. At 10mm it can be a bit hard to focus on smaller more distant targets (you don’t have this problem with a Nikon camera though).

Hunting – 4/5 – we encountered very little hunting (you might get some at 10mm).

AF accuracy – 3/5 – focusing on smaller target can be a bit problematic – especially at 10mm but even at 20mm so focus can miss from time to time.

Focus with the new Nikon AF-P 10-20mm lens at 10mm – not perfect

Focus with the new Nikon AF-P 10-20mm lens at 20mm – a bit better

Image stabilizationthere is no switch to turn IS off so we can’t really tell with this lens.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

Non Nikon

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

AF speed – 5/5 – the best performing lens that we tested with this adapter – focus very close to the speed it does on a Nikon body.

Hunting – 5/5 – we encountered almost no hunting (in good lighting conditions), even at 10mm.

AF accuracy – 4/5 – focus seems good although again focusing on smaller target can be a bit problematic – especially at 10mm but results are better than the Nikon 10-20mm.

Focus with the older Sigma 10-20mm f/4-f/5.6 lens at 10mm – good

Focus with the older Sigma 10-20mm f/4-f/5.6 lens at 20mm – even better

Image stabilizationnone.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

The best performing lens on our test – the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM lens

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C

AF speed – 4/5 – also a good performer although focusing speed is slower than on a Nikon camera.

Hunting – 3/5 – we encountered quite a bit of hunting at 400mm on smaller or more distant targets but less so at 300mm or below.

AF accuracy – 5/5 – focus seems perfect when the lens is focused and images are nice and crisp (thanks to the good optical characteristics of this lens – full review coming soon).

Focus with the new Sigma 100-400mm – very sharp

Image stabilizationseems to work fine.

Exif information – EXIF information about the lens is registered on the files.

Although this is an AF adapter we decided to try and test two manual focus F-mount lenses that we happen to have just to see what will happen.

Manual focus

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E, later silver version

We found out quickly enough that you simply can’t change the aperture – not from the camera and not from the lens. Trying to change the aperture from the lens resulted in (almost) no difference in exposure. So from our experience, this lens will not work with this adapter. Just use a mechanical adapter for this and possibly other MF lenses.

DZoptics KERLEE 35mm f/1.2

Again, just for fun, we tested the Kerlee 35mm f1.2 lens which we really love (see our full review on LensVid from a few months ago). In this case we still can’t change the aperture from the camera and there is no EXIF info of the lens in the camera files), but – you can change the aperture from the lens and it seems to work perfectly fine – so we can make this lens work for us – just as well – and with zoom and focus peeking – better than on our Nikon camera.

A remark on usage

On occasion, we ran into a situation where the camera didn’t seem to respond (we got a black screen). This was freighting at first but it seems to happen on occasion when you switch lenses with the adapter. We turned the camera off and on and if we need to remove the battery and wait for a few seconds and put it back in. From our experience, everything gets back to normal. We do hope that Vello will fix this glitch in a future firmware though.

Also, note that image stabilization on our Sony A6500 (sensor based IS) didn’t seem to work when the adapter was on the camera (although we need to run more tests to confirm this 100%).

Conclusion

The Vello adapter is a unique product on the market. Enabling AF with a relatively large number of F-mount lenses and although it has its limitations and does not work well with every lens as we have seen – it can still be pretty functional and to us at least it still seems a little bit like magic.

If you are considering this adapter we highly recommend that you check out photographer’s Brian Smith written review of this adapter – he tested quite a few lenses that we didn’t test (and we tested a few that he didn’t so these reviews are complimentary in a sense) and see if your lens work with this adapter and how well.

In terms of pricing, the Vello adapter isn’t cheap – at $400 this is certainly a significant expense. The way we see this – if you understand the limitations of this adapter, set your expectations accordingly and use the right gear – this can be a very useful tool – especially for stills shooters who have high-quality Nikon glass they want to use with their Sony E-mount cameras.

If you have old AF Nikon lenses, manual focus Nikon lenses or you are just more into video shooting – there are other – possibly less expensive options that might not give you AF, but at least in some cases (such as the Novoflex Nikon-to-Sony adapter for example) will give you aperture control from the adapter itself.

If you are shooting video, have old AF Nikon lenses or MF lenses like this one – there are better options

You can check out more LensVid exclusive articles and reviews on the following link.

Go to top
Shares
Read more:
Featured Video Play Icon
How to Use a DSLR Camera to Scan Old Film

This slightly old but still very useful video by dpBestflow examine the different hardware setups that are available for shooting...

Close