Can You Use Canon Lenses With the Sony A9? Kind of…

There’s been so much buzz around the Sony A9 recently that I’m sure you’re aware of the camera even though I haven’t talked about it myself on this blog. The blazing fast 20fps autofocus system has many sports photographers excited, but Sony’s lens selection is currently, at the time of writing this, severely lacking. There’s no 300mm f/2.8, 400m f/2.8, 500mm f/4 or 600mm f/4. All lenses that are used in droves by professional sports and wildlife photographers – the exact people Sony are targeting with this camera.

Aha! You might say. The short flange distance of the Sony FE mount means you can use adapters to use any lens on this camera!

Well, hold your horses here…

Buried in the specifications of the A9 are some caveats. You cannot use continuous autofocus in the medium or fast speed setting if you are not using a Sony lens. That means that if you put a Canon lens on this camera, and want continuous AF tracking, you’re only going to get about 5fps, NOT 20fps.

The second thing is that it would appears as though the only functional AF points are some of the ones clustered in the middle of the frame, so that lovely grid of 600+ AF points that covers 93% of the frame is not what you’ll actually be able to use.

All of this was demonstrated very neatly in the following YouTube video by Dan Watson.

So, yes you can use the Canon lenses with the Sony A9 and something like the metabones Sony-Canon adapter, but what’s the point if you cant take advantage of the AF system and the speed of it? Those are the two main selling points for this camera! I know there’s a lot of sports and wildlife situations where single-shot AF works fine instead of continuous, in fact I usually work that way myself because I prefer to choose my composition instead of tracking with a subject, but there’s still times when continuous AF is necessary, and there’s no way I could use a camera that’s crippled in this way. I had considered testing an A9 myself with a view to having it as my backup camera, but having seen this video, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Where are your big lenses, Sony?!

Photo of author

Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

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