Wider, Brighter, Cheaper? Metabones Speed Booster + Nikon Manual Lenses

Last night I hit the town to test out the Metabones Speed Booster on my Sony NEX-5n with some old Nikon manual lenses.  For the uninitiated, the Speed Booster is the “Holy Grail” adapter that allows any NEX camera to accept full-frame Canon EF lenses and utilize their full width and brightness (a gain of 1 f-stop of light).  By reducing the size of the image circle, it essentially negates the crop factor of APS-C cameras.  While the math can get confusing, the results are not: your full-frame lenses are as wide and bright on a NEX camera as they would be on a camera like the Canon 5DMKIII. 

Almost.  You’re actually getting a 1.09x crop factor, but considering the original crop factor of the camera would have been 1.5x, I’m not complaining. And you can’t complain about the size:

Sony NEX-5n with Speed Booster and Nikon 50mm f/1.8

Sony NEX-5n + Speed Booster + Nikon 50mm f/1.8 pancake

The lenses I tested were the Nikon 24mm f/2 and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 pancake.  I use Nikon lenses because they are plentiful, sharp, cheap, and compatible with almost any camera body.  To fit them on the Speed Booster, I used  an additional adapter ring.

Nikon to Canon EF Adapter

Nikon to Canon EF Adapter

With this ring, you’re going from NEX to EF to Nikon.  In theory this type of adaptation could also work with almost any other type of lens, provided it doesn’t have rear-protruding elements that would scratch the Metabones adapter or short out the electrical contacts.  According to Metabones, dangerous lenses to watch out for include:

– Some M42 Screw-Mount Lenses
– OM 28/2.8
– OM 50/1.8
– Leica R 15/3.5

If you own these or similar lenses, definitely take precautions before using them with the Metabones Speed Booster.  Otherwise you’ll void your warranty if you damage it.

In my in-field experience, shooting with the adapted Nikons worked just as advertised.  My 24mm was wide and bright, and my 50mm was equally bright with a small footprint and lots of bokeh.

A few caveats:

– The lenses will focus past infinity with the Fotodiox adapter.  I have not tested other brands.
-The Fotodiox ring tends to stick to the lens, so my advice is to  just leave it on.  Get one adapter ring per lens.  They’re only about $15 apiece.
– According to other reviewers, you will experience vignetting with extreme wide angle lenses, and you will experience softness and chromatic aberration with lenses longer than about 85mm.

Other than that, I enjoyed the wider, brighter field-of-view with the adapter.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments or request other types of testing.

Update: New Test Video!

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Latest Comments
  1. Samuel Cabral

    I would like to see you testing a Pentax 50mm smc f1.7 on Speedbooster.
    It is my sharper 50mm lens (and a lot cheaper than nikon), but to fit on Speedbooster you have to remove the aperture lever on the lens (google “leverectomy”).
    I don’t know if you have one of those near you, but it’s worth a try!

    Congratulations for your blog!

    • Brandon Li

      Hi, I do not have that Pentax lens, but the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 pancake lens is optically superb and just as cheap. And it doesn’t require a leverectomy. Let me know if you perform a leverectomy…I’m a DIY guy but the concept of modifying a lens is still a bit unnerving to me.

  2. child01

    The SECOND most obvious QUESTION!!!
    About changing aperture!
    If I buy Metabones Speedbooster MFT-to-EF (releasing soon), I will get so wanted wider view on BMCC MFT!

    And when I need to change aperture, that’s what I’ll do:
    1. Remove Speedbooster
    2. Attach LiveLens MFT Active Lens Mount
    3. Set needed aperture
    4. Remove LiveLens MFT Active Lens Mount
    5. Attach Speedbooster
    … and need to do this every time I need to change aperture
    Am I correct?
    I think so! ))

    But isn’t it a bit dangerous to reveal naked sensor (dust and so…)?

    And does EF lens retain tuned aperture when after that I disconnect LiveLens MFT Active Lens Mount and attach my Speedbooster?

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