Testing the LA-EA5 Lens Adaptor
The Sony LE-EA5 is a brand new adaptor, designed to maximise the use of A-mount lenses on the latest E-mount bodies, offering fast and accurate autofocus along with high speed continuous shooting.
Thanks to its built-in motor, it can even autofocus those A-mount lenses that don’t have one built in, while still taking advantage of the focal-plane phase-detection of the camera. All of this capability is concealed in a compact, elegant cylindrical design.
“I’ve been an avid Sony shooter for years, but having switched to E-mount bodies a few years ago, my old Alpha 99 II has been gathering dust in my cupboard. I’d amassed quite a few nice lenses over the years and although I’d gradually been replacing them as the E-mount system grew, there were a couple that I’d hung on to, in particular the 300mm f/2.8 SSM which was one of my favourite lenses for wildlife, and the 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II, which was always such a sharp lens. Naturally, I was very pleased when Sony asked me to test the new LA-EA5 adapter as it gave me an excuse to dust off my old lenses and see if they were as good as I remember them.
Sony Alpha 9 II with the LE-EA5 mounted on the 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II
I’ve gotten so used to the focus speed of my Alpha 9 II and 7R IV using my FE lenses, but I was eager to see how the cameras would cope with my older lenses via the adapter. My first location was in a forest near the village of Hulst. It’s a favourite of mine and I’ve been many times to photograph the beautiful red squirrels that thrive there and I opted for the 300mm f/2.8 SSM mounted on my Alpha 7R IV. The first thing I noticed about the new adaptor is how small and comfortable it is - it doesn’t have the bulky underhang that the old adaptors have.
© Gustav Kiburg | Sony α7R IV + 300mm f/2.8 G | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 640
I positioned myself near a pond and it wasn’t long before the squirrels put in an appearance and once I’d fired off a few shots, I almost forgot that I was using an old A-mount lens - the focus speed and accuracy were superb. I wasn’t sure how the animal Eye-AF would work either, but it didn’t fail to pick up the squirrel’s eye, and every shot was tack sharp. I prefer to shoot hand-held as it gives me the flexibility to quickly reframe when the squirrels are active, and the in-camera stabilisation coped with any slight movements from me with ease.
© Gustav Kiburg | Sony α7R IV + 300mm f/2.8 G | 1/400s @ f/3.2, ISO 800
A friendly bird also came down to the pond for a drink!
© Gustav Kiburg | Sony α7R IV + 300mm f/2.8 G | 1/640s @ f/2.8, ISO 800
My next port of call was Rotterdam harbour. There are often many speedboats active on the water and I was keen to see if my old 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II would cope with focus tracking a moving subject.
© Gustav Kiburg | Sony α9 II + 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II | 1/4000s @ f/4.0, ISO 400
As you can see I couldn’t fault the AF, and once it had locked on to the boat, it tracked focus accurately.
The last lens I wanted to try was my old Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II which was a fabulous piece of glass. I must admit, I haven’t missed this as much because my G Master 16-35mm f/2.8 is so sharp, but I was enjoying using the adaptor so much, I wanted to see how it performed.
© Gustav Kiburg | Sony α7R IV + 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II | 1/13s @ f/18, ISO 50
My overall experience using the LE-EA5 adaptor with my old A-mount lenses was extremely positive. All the lenses I tried reacted quickly and gave me precise focus, and what surprised me the most was the accuracy of the Eye-AF and AF tracking. For those photographers still sitting on their old A-mount lenses, the LE-EA5 is a worthy investment!
1. As of Sept. 2020, focal plane phase-detection is supported for SSM/SAM lenses on the α7 III, α7R III, α7R IV, α6100, α6400, α6600, α9, α9 II, and α7S III. Focal plane phase-detection is supported for lenses that do not have internal focus motors on the α7R IV and α6600.
2. STF lenses are manual focus only. Teleconverters are not supported.