Through The DSLR Looking Glass

Many months after the introduction of innovative detachable-lens video cameras like Sony’s NEX-FS100U and Panasonic’s AG-AF100, digital single-lens-reflex cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D and Nikon’s new D7000 continue to enjoy robust sales among video shooters. Why? Undoubtedly, some of it’s simply economics. As the Great Recession and the sluggish economy continue in the U.S. and Europe, the modern fact of life is that many videographers and cinematographers still need new cameras, and DSLRs sell for around half of what competing video cameras sell for. It doesn’t hurt that a huge marketplace for DSLR accessories also has sprung up over the past few years, making it easy to outfit a still camera that can shoot video with many of the ergonomic advantages that used to be reserved solely for "real" video cameras.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G ED VR II lens is a fast telephoto zoom.

But other factors have come into play over the past few years, not the least of which is the abundant availability of dozens of interesting lens options for DSLR users. There are more new and innovative lens choices on the market than have ever existed before. The DSLR revolution has brought millions of new video shooters to the market, both amateur and professional. This has resulted in greater economies of scale than have existed in the lens market for many years.

The Canon EF 8-15mm ƒ/4L USM fisheye zoom provides ultrawide images.

There’s also a new, ever-growing crop of non-DSLR detachable-lens video/still cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 and the Sony NEX-5 that while not true DSLRs, they’re able to work with some of the same lenses used on true DSLRs. Let’s take a look at some of the options available for DSLRs and mirrorless still/video cameras.


The world of lens mounts and lens-mount adapters is filled with arcane and specialized terms, but here’s a breakdown of the most popular options available.

Nikon. Nikon cameras use the classic and extremely popular Nikon F lens mount. This mount has been basically unchanged for over 50 years, so there are millions of Nikon F-mount lenses out there, both manual-focus and autofocus versions.

Sony’s latest NEX camera, the NEX-7, offers an E-mount.

Canon. Canon currently has two mount/lens styles available. For full-frame cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, there’s a line of EOS-mount lenses available. For cropped-sensor (APS-C) cameras like the 7D, T3i and 60D, there’s a line of EF-S lenses. There’s one-way lens compatibility within the Canon DSLR family; the crop-sensor cameras can use the full-frame EOS lenses, but the crop-sensor-only EF-S lenses can’t be used on a full-frame Canon camera.

Micro 4/3. Micro 4/3 is a relatively new development in the market, first popularized in Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH1, but now has become a standard with many other still/video cameras by different manufacturers.

A-Mount and E-Mount. Both are proprietary Sony mounts used widely on Sony’s latest Alpha (A-mount) and NEX (E-mount) lines of cameras.