40 Year Old Lens On My DSLR

Ever since I bought my 30D in in 2007, I have been itching for a fisheye lens. I already have the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, and it has proven to be a great architecture lens in India and on the streets of New York. The 10-22 is a rectilinear lens though. It doesn’t have the intentional heavy barrel distortion that fisheyes do.

Unfortunately fisheye optics are extremely expensive. The excellent EF 15mm f/2.8 costs around $600 new, and it was released two years before I was born!

That is why I started searching for an alternative. I ruled out all autofocus fisheyes because they are just too expensive. I decided to pick up an M42 screwmount to EF adapter on eBay. Then I shopped around for M42 fisheyes. I considered the very rare Pentax Takumar 18mm f/11 M42 screwmount pancake lens for a little bit. It makes for some pretty funky results, but the price is just too high for the given image quality. The Pentax Takumar 17mm f/4 is also uncommon and expensive.

Then finally I found a peculiar 12mm f/8.0 M42 fisheye on eBay. This site has some pretty useful information on the lens. Apparently it was sold in the 60s under different names including Accura, Beroflex, Berolina, Panomar, Sigma, Spiratone, Universa, Upsilon, and Vemar. It is fixed focus and uses a “waterhouse stop” aperture control system where a circular disc with various size holes is spun around for perfect circular apertures of different sizes. Below is the lens and an EF adapter.

This is the lens with the 10-22mm and my smallest lens, the EF 50mm f/1.8 II.


To mount it, all you have to do is screw the lens into the adapter and mount it like any normal EF lens. I purchased a cheap $10 M42 to EF adapter on eBay. Some adapters have AF confirm chips that trick the camera so that you can get focus confirmation. I decided to hold out after hearing about problems with those chips shorting out some cameras.

The lens looks very small on my DSLR, but there won’t be any field of view problems. The 1.6x FOV crop actually works at my advantage and makes the fisheye into a full-frame fisheye.


Here is a sample shot. The lens isn’t very sharp and there is noticeable chromatic aberration. The sharpness might be fixed by getting a better adapter. The thickness of my adapter may not be exactly right. The results are still promising. Given better lighting and a more interesting subject, I could take some fun pictures.

For more information about mounting M42 and other manual focus lenses on Canon EOS cameras, go here and here.

For more information about fisheye lenses, go here.