William Laviano Photography

New camera, old glass

One of my initial objections to digital photography had to do with how different it felt to shoot with most digital cameras that I could afford, compared to the satisfying feeling of a 35mm SLR, especially the (lack of the) sound and motion of the reflex mirror flapping up and down inside the body, with every exposure.

Back in 2010, when I first took the leap and bought a digital camera, a Lumix FZ35, I eventually came to understand that the tiny sensor was what was responsible for the un-film like depth of field. The lack of an optical viewfinder and shutter lag also contributed to my sense that digital photography felt like a major departure from what I was used to. If you're like me, then the tactile experience of the camera is a significant part of the overall magic of taking pictures, and it just wasn't the same with the $350 Lumix.

I realized that if I was ever going to fall in love with digital photography the way I had with traditional film, I would need a camera that was designed to mimic the look and feel of 35mm much, much more closely than the Lumix, or any camera in that class. Of course this meant spending a lot more money on a full frame DSLR, which would not only produce excellent quality digital images, but also maintaining the true focal length of 35mm lenses. The latter quality was something I considered essential to the goal of having a digital camera take the place of a 35mm film camera. After a period of time, I finally settled on the Canon EOS 6D and have been very happy with it. The 6D is Canon's first full frame DSLR aimed at the "enthusiast" market, which made it affordable while performing nearly as well in every way, as its much pricier professional models.


By now I've had my 6D for about three months but so far only ever used the stock 24-105mm zoom lens that I purchased together with the body. It's a great lens, but huge and heavy. After spending some time with my buddy Adam, who shoots with a 60D and often uses a 24mm Voigtlander pancake prime lens, I knew I had to get some adapters and start shooting with my old Pentax SMC lenses on the 6D body. I expected the lightness of prime lenses that were designed for 35mm film, coupled with their sharpness and shallow depth of field, to get me even closer to the feeling of shooting 35mm, and produce gorgeous images.

The Pentax SMC lenses require a little surgery before being able to be mounted on the Canon EOS body, but once that is performed, they can be mounted using any number of cheap aluminum adapters that are sold on eBay or Amazon.com. Mine is made by Fotodiox, but there are others and many are sold directly from China.



After altering my 24mm and 55mm, I took a bike ride down to Red Hook to test the Pentax prime lenses on the Canon.

Here are the best shots from my short afternoon trek. I must say that I am very happy with the results, both in terms of the feeling of the camera with the prime lenses (it's much lighter!), and the quality of the images. 

- William Laviano