The Kipon EF Lens to Micro 4/3 mount smart adapter is a fairly big deal. Not just because it enables aperture adjustment for the electronically controlled EF line of lenses when adapted to a micro 4/3 camera body, but it has also bridged the proprietary technology to gain the use of full auto focus and lens based image stabilization capabilities. Having followed a fairly similar path into the micro 4/3 world as I would imagine many others, I came from a long standing investment in the Canon system. I still shoot my Canon full framers, and have compiled some very nice glass over the years that tends to sit on the shelf more often now that I shoot the micro 4/3 system. I’ve been waiting for a solution to merge my two beloved systems, and Kipon has produced it.
Enter the new, Kipon EF>m4/3 Smart Adapter. Come on in for some insight and my experience over the last month…
Firstly, thank you to Adorama for the loaner. Before purchasing this adapter, I wanted to make sure that it worked as advertised, and wasn’t just another semi-functional solution in the adapter game. As the only current distributor of the Kipon products in the US, Adorama is the go to for this particular adapter. They’ve been great to work with, and a solid retailer which I whole heartedly support. Thanks, guys.
Up until this adapter was released, those of us wanting to use our EF lenses on a micro 4/3 camera needed to either shoot them wide open, or use one of the adapters that had an unscientific and somewhat inaccurate aperture mechanism integrated into it. While there was the work around that I wrote about 5 and a half years ago HERE, using the DOF Preview method shown in the video directly below, we could “adjust” our lens’ aperture by doing so on an EOS camera, and removing it which keeps it stopped down:
Blast from the past! Man, was I stiff. Good to know the years have helped me relax into this whole camera review thing a bit. The catch with this method is that you need to keep a Canon camera body around if you ever want to adjust your aperture when using an EF mount lens adapted to a micro 4/3 body. Well, those days are finally over.
Let’s get right into it. Below, I’ve got a quick video showing the AF in real time. Shots throughout of varying subjects with all settings listed, finished off with my thoughts on where I feel this adapter succeeds and where it can be improved upon.
All shots throughout the article were taken with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Kipon Adapter.
In the video below, I use the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens fitted to the Kipon Adapter on the Lumix GX7, first in continuous AF, controlled via an AF point I was manually adjusting the location of by touch screen while recording, and single AF with a fixed point in the second test to show how this adapter is able to handle AF in low light. While this is showing the AF in video, because the micro 4/3 system uses a Live MOS sensor, video and still AF operate similarly in that they’re focusing on the sensor through a live feed, and results in video versus stills are similar enough to just show you how it does in live time via video recording, so have a look:
Simply put, the AF is quick, but not always accurate from my experience. To be fair, CDAF systems have always struggled a bit with continuous, tracking AF, and to be completely fair, ALL auto focusing systems, with the rare exception of high end pro cameras, struggle with tracking AF when a subject is moving toward or away from the camera, so the results in the video, to me, are impressive. The low light auto focusing speed and accuracy overall is also impressive to me as shown via the second setup in the video above, especially considering the AF speed comparatively via the other “smart” adapter I own which is the Metabones EF>Sony E mount, full frame AF adapter (see more on the Metabones for Sony adapter HERE). For comparison, have a look at that Metabones adapter using the EF 35mm f/1.4 L lens here:
The performance of the Kipon adapter creams the Metabones for speed but that brings me to firmware. Both adapters in the videos above are operating on early firmware. Updates have suggested that the AF performance for either have been improved upon, and unfortunately I cannot speak to that in the Kipon’s case as they only offer a Windows OS firmware update, which to me is a bit odd, and unfortunately useless as I don’t have easy access to a windows machine.
EF 35mm f/1.4L lens w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 400 – f/2 – 1/25sec
I have a small collection of Canon EF mount lenses, a few of which are currently incompatible with the AF function of the adapter. After communicating with Kipon, through Adorama, it is well documented in their Lens Compatibility List HERE which has an up to date, comprehensive list on which lenses are fully supported, and which are partially supported.
Before knowing about the list, I tried my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, EF 35mm f/1.4L, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF 1.4xII Tele-Extender, EF Macro 100mm f/2.8L IS and my EF mount Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f/2 manual focus lens. While I had the Kipon adapter, I also happened to be shooting with the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS lens (see my take on that monster HERE).
EF 100mm f/2.8L lens w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 200 – f/5.6 – 1/400sec (manually focused)
Of the lenses I own, only the 35L and 70-200L were fully compatible at the time of testing. All the others did just fine if I manually focused them, but AF did not work properly, or not anywhere near consistently with the other lenses showing severe front focusing when using AF most of the time. The Voigt, obviously being a manual focus lens was not able to be tested for AF, but did well otherwise regarding proper focus confirmation via peaking, EXIF data transmission, aperture control, et al.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens at 200mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 200 – f/5.6 – 1/800sec
Speaking of EXIF, while it is transmitted, I did find some oddities. Firstly, in most cases, the focal length of the lens, and aperture are listed twice. For instance, the 35mm f/1.4 lens would list as “EF to M43 35- 35mm F1.4- 1.4” which is a bit gratuitous, but at least I know which lens that is. The other oddity, was when shooting the 70-200mm zoom with a 1.4x extender effectively changing it to a 98-280mm f/4 lens, it would show the lens, more or less properly as “EF to M43 98-280mm F4 -4” but often listing the used focal length incorrectly and as a length not even available such as “24mm” or “16mm” which I’d assume just knocked off the “0” at the end. I did see this happen a few time without the extender too, but hopefully it has been, or will be fixed via the newer firmware I was unable to update to. Luckily, it did not affect the operation of the lens itself, and while it did in cases slow the AF operation down, the lens with the 1.4x extender did just fine, with certain cases exhibiting front or back focus when focusing at the extreme ends of the range at near the minimum focusing distance, or near infinity.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens + 1.4x extender at 260mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 3200 – f/4 – 1/15sec
I was impressed with the low light AF capabilities, and with how well it incorporated the EF lens’ image stabilization. The above shot was handheld at 260mm (520mm E-FOV) at ISO 3200, 1/15 second at f/4 using the EF70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens with the 1.4x Extender. Not the sharpest nor most compelling shot, but I was looking to see how well I could judge the low light AF capability as well as the lens based IS effectiveness when translated through this adapter…I was impressed.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens at 150mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 200 – f/2.8 – 1/500sec
Also impressive were the results from high contrast/backlit situations which can often times stump these CDAF systems.
EF 35mm f/1.4L lens w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 200 – f/1.4 – 1/1600sec
Now, low contrast scenarios were also pretty well handled as seen above with green on green. This was in pretty good light, but I’ve seen native micro 4/3 lenses struggle to pick something this fine out from a congruous background, so kudos Kipon, kudos.
One area in which I saw a problem, was when shooting in very bright light with the sun in frame. This happened while trying to shoot the 35mm f/1.4 lens on a sunny day, early enough in the morning that the sun was fairly low in the sky, and positioned well in frame when shooting in most any direction other than with it at my back. The lens went crazy, opening and shutting the aperture iris rapidly in what I assumed to be an attempt at regulating the amount of light coming through it. It wouldn’t achieve focus, and wouldn’t allow me to fire the shutter, effectively rendering the camera useless. This was a very specific scenario one day, but a scenario that I felt needed to be mentioned. I have no idea if this has been addressed with the firmware update, again not being able to implement it due to operating system incompatibility (hopefully Kipon will add Mac OS support in the near future), but I’d hope it will be remedied. Worst case scenario, this combo wouldn’t be usable under those very specific conditions, and I didn’t see this problem with my other lenses under similar circumstances, probably down to the fact that the f/1.4 max aperture let quite a bit more light through than my other lenses.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens at 150mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 200 – f/8 – 1/125sec
Using these EF lenses for a portrait shoot, I wanted to see how well they handled on the GX7 with adapter. I am very familiar with the 70-200 on my full frame cameras, so it was a good test for me to see if they operated similarly. Head shots are a common task, and I traditionally have a few lights set up where I need the camera to AF in ambient light levels hovering around EV4 or so. Not horrible, but certainly not a ton of light. Using the EF70-200mm, one of my go to’s for studio head shots and general portraiture, it did not miss a beat, and handled the setup wonderfully.
When you shoot for the stars, don’t be entirely frustrated if all you can hit is the moon.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens at 200mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 400 – f/8 – 1/400sec
In conclusion, this adapter is a pretty amazing accomplishment by Kipon, for system users in my opinion. Micro 4/3 system shooters who would like to electronically control the aperture on their EF or EF-S lenses while also gaining AF and IS support for a good selection of them, have a very compelling option. Hey, for video shooters who wouldn’t be using AF, the ability to electronically control aperture on their EF mount lenses alone is massive. The AF was mostly accurate on compatible lenses, and while not always perfect the EXIF data transmission was enough to know what and where I was shooting with a particular lens.
That said, this adapter isn’t perfect, and while there is hopefully going to be support added to more lenses as popularity and demand grow through firmware updates, the fact that there has been a firmware update since I sent this review unit back is a good sign. Hopefully both Windows and Mac users will be jointly supported soon. Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to track down a micro USB cable as they don’t come with the adapter, and if you don’t have a phone or device that uses one, you may need to search one out. There are different USB adapters out there as I have a couple different “micro” USB adapters used on my card readers and the like that have a different “micro” plug as well.
The compatibility is what it is. View the Adapter/Lens Compatibility List HERE to see if your lenses are supported, or to which extent they may be currently. Since sending the adapter back, they’ve added support via firmware for lenses like the 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens I have and was seeing problems with the AF operation, but seems as if they’ve added support for that one, which is awesome. Good to see a proactive system of support! All in all, while not without fault, it is a very cool addition to an ever growing system, further allowing access to more high end lenses usable for both stills and video for shooters who like me, may have been existing on both sides of the micro 4/3 and Canon EF system fence. It provides a fairly seamless bridge between the two, and while perhaps flawed, is the best option going for those of us wanting to shoot EF lenses on a micro 4/3 camera that I’ve seen, bar none.
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens at 70mm w/Kipon Adapter – ISO 400 – f/8 – 1/125sec
Thank you to both Alana and Shua at Adorama for the loaner, the support and the enjoyable banter as I worked my way through some of my questions and issues. Great folks to work with, and a great company to buy through. If you do choose to buy the Kipon adapter, Adorama is the only game in town to get this in the states, so visit them and see the Kipon EF to micro 4/3 AF smart adapter HERE. Buying through this link costs no more than it would otherwise, but would let Adorama know that you found it through my article, and would give me a small commission, so if you do choose to do so through my link, please know that you’re putting food in my kids mouths, shoes on my wife’s feet and camera gear in my hands with which I can continue to review here on the blog. Okay, maybe not nearly all that, but know that it adds up, and for that I am very grateful. Hopefully soon, I’ll be reinvesting some of that by buying this adapter for myself.
Thanks as always for the read. If you have any questions, I’d love to try and help answer them here or via the socials; Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram. If you would like to receive email notifications as I post new reviews, alerts on cool sales or general articles, please feel free to add your email address at the top right of the page here. You’ll get email alerts as new articles are released.