With the ever-present rise of digitalization, photography has and continues to change. Digital cameras have replaced film, providing novel ways of capturing images. Camera lenses have changed as well, replacing their classic counterparts. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck choosing between one or the other.

35mm lenses can be used on digital cameras. Albeit traditionally used on film cameras, new adapters and mounts for digital cameras allow older 35mm lenses designed for film cameras to be used on modern digital cameras.

The blending of old lenses with new cameras is an attractive feature for many photographers. The possibility opens up a new gateway for capturing the perfect photo. If you have a new digital camera that no longer supports your favorite classic lens, think again. With the right equipment, you can combine your favorites without a single issue.

How Can I Connect an Older Lens?

Before you begin connecting your classic lens, you’ll need a few materials. The key to connectivity relies on the following items:

Your digital camera is a complex device with simplistic features. The camera mount, which is an interchangeable opening on your lens, allows for the current lens to be taken on or off. The opening itself is measured in millimeters, and the attached lens must match that size in order to work properly.

Because older film camera lenses likely have different mounts, you’ll need the help of an adapter. Lens adapters allow photographers the ability to connect a lens to their camera that wouldn’t fit otherwise. This allows for older lenses to be used on newer cameras.

The adapter will fit snugly onto your camera, and you’ll be able to connect your older lens to it. If you’re struggling with fitting your lens adapter to your camera, you likely already have one on there. Be sure to take it off before you begin. Moreover, before you buy a lens adapter, let’s examine the best options for you.

Types of Lens Adapters

Lens adapters are available all over the internet. They come in the shape of a ring, often of a plastic or aluminum material. These adapters are responsible for allowing your camera mount to accept your previously unmountable lens. Without one, you won’t be able to connect your old lens to your digital camera.

As you go shopping for your adapter, you’ll quickly realize that there are two different types available. Continue reading to learn about the specific types.

Step-Up Adapter Rings

These types of adapter rings are larger and happen to be the most popular. Their name stems from their ability to increase the diameter of lens accommodation. This means that a 30mm ring will be able to expand to fit a 35mm lens filter. The advantages of a step-up ring are as follows:

  • Increases focal size for wider pictures
  • Allows you to experiment with lenses, old and new
  • Inexpensive alternative

Many photographers find themselves wanting to expand their focal range. Older 35mm lenses are known for their wide and realistic feel in pictures, closely mimicking what we see with the human eye. Step-up rings give you the option of using an older lens.

You aren’t limited to 35mm lenses either. With the proper adapter ring, you can expand your lens collection endlessly.

Also, adapter rings in general are inexpensive. They can be fragile, but so are cameras. As long as you aren’t handling your camera carelessly, you shouldn’t have a problem with a lens adapter.

Step-Down Adapter Rings

The second type of adapter ring is much less used. Called ‘step-down’ adapter rings, the device reduces the diameter of your lens accommodation. This narrows the field of your lens, providing for a more specifically controlled image. For example, a 25mm ring would fit a 20mm lens filter.

The advantages are as follows:

  • Can increase the depth of creative shots
  • Narrow diameters increase control
  • Inexpensive

Whereas increasing range will allow you to capture more, narrowing the field of vision may give you a different outlook. As they say, sometimes ‘less is more.’ Experimenting with narrower fields of vision could give you an effect you didn’t know you desired.

Having a smaller field also gives you more control over your shots. You’ll likely have to edit less, considering you have less to capture.

In addition, step-down rings are inexpensive depending on the material. Choosing a less expensive ring isn’t a bad idea depending on how often you plan on using the adapter. A more expensive one would be better for longevity.

Before you can use your lens or the adapter, you’ll need to connect it to the lens mount.

What Is a Lens Mount?

Every camera possesses a lens mount. It’s a fancy mechanism that allows you to attach your new lens or adapter to the camera. Lens mounts were once mechanical, which allowed the photographer the ability to connect a lens directly to the camera. With the digitization of cameras now, they are connected electronically.

Moreover, lens mounts are activated by twisting it to the left or the right. It focuses your lens in and out of view. Interchangeable, the mounts can be replaced and offer greater creative control.

I’ve picked out two of the best lens mounts for your classic 35mm lenses below.

Nikon Camera Lens Mounts

Known for their interchangeable lens mounts, Nikon (better known as Nikkor) lens mounts are available in diameters of 35mm to 46mm. Attaching your 35mm lenses isn’t a problem with this mount. And there are many different kinds available for your customization. All can work with your digital camera and old lenses.

  • AF-P: Quieter lenses that utilize pulse technology.
  • AF: Normal mechanics, interchangeable, great focusing lens.
  • AF-S: Super quick autofocusing mechanism with a quiet touch.
  • AF-I: Manual focus mount, allowing for lenses up to 40 years old.
  • E- Type: Electromagnetic technology providing auto exposure.
  • Legacy Type: Film-based technology, interchangeable.

Giving all of these lens mounts a try isn’t a bad idea. Each provides a different level of customization to your photography, although they can be pricey. Give a few a try with your old lenses to add your own personal touch to your photos.

Canon Camera Lens Mounts

Known for their top of the line mounts, Canon offers an enormous amount of flexibility when it comes to picking out the lens mount that works best with your camera. Canon’s lens mounts are also interchangeable. Old 35mm lenses will easily work on your digital camera with any of these mounts.

  • EF Mount: Electromagnetic properties, accurate sensing.
  • EFS: Wider angled, designed for 35mm, lightweight, and edgy.
  • EFM: Portable and lightweight, best for creative shots.

Canon mounts are just as versatile as Nikon. Giving these a try as well won’t hurt. The two companies allow for old 35mm lenses to work in ways arguably better than the traditional usage.


You’ve learned that there are so many different ways to use your old 35mm lenses on your digital camera.

From choosing lens adapters to choosing the best lens mount, there are so many options available at your discretion – of course, depending on your budget.