A few years back I was using 35mm film lenses in half a dozen different mounts.
Sometimes on the film cameras they were made for, and sometimes on a Sony NEX mirrorless digital camera, with one of many adapters.
In no particular order, these are the lens mounts I recall trying –
Minolta SR (aka MC/MD)
After much experimentation with the NEX, and perhaps a hundred 50/55/58mm lenses (my favourite focal length), it dawned on me that there wasn’t actually very much between them.
And eventually, I grew tired of the shortfalls of the NEX (rubbish handling, exacerbated by needing an adapter for vintage lenses, disappointing cool colours, overly clinical CMOS sensor, the aloof experience of shooting with a Live View screen not a viewfinder) and sold it on anyway.
What I also learned through this period though, was that my favourite lenses were M42 mount.
And if/when I wanted more automation, the Pentax K range were a close second.
Which is a preference that has endured. In recent months I’ve returned to shooting DSLRs, and the Pentax K lenses again came to the fore.
Using just one lens mount has many benefits. But it also has a few downsides.
Here are my experiences of each.
When you use the same few lenses, you get used to them focusing the same way and amount, and the aperture ring moving in the same direction, not to mention knowing what kind of image you can create with them, before you even attach them to your camera.
It’s the same with the camera. Sticking to one mount, the cameras you use will largely be very similar in operation.
Put another way, more familiarity leads to fewer obstacles, and there’s far greater fluidity in the whole experience, something I greatly value in making photography an immersive and rewarding pursuit.
Kind of obvious, but you know when you only have cameras and lenses in one mount that any lens you pick up can be used on any camera you have.
Again I appreciate this consistency and simplicity, and just not having to mess about with adapters that always have some kind of compromise.
It’s more economical.
Regular readers will not be surprised to see a financial angle included in my pros argument!
But when you only shoot one mount, you don’t need five lens in each of 28, 35, 50, and 135mm, just so you have every one of those focal lengths covered in each mount.
Of course you need fewer camera bodies too.
One mount means you can have just one body. Or even a couple, so you have a back up, or one to set up slightly differently.
You can’t do that when shooting five different mounts – even just one plus a backup in each system means ten overall straight away.
Better quality equipment.
Again, I’m no stranger to a photography bargain, but I rarely buy cameras that are cheap and poor quality.
Only needing kit in one mount means you can invest more in the unique equipment you do buy, because you’re not buying three, five, ten different lenses and bodies that do the same thing, and needing to dilute your budget across them.
As you can see, the delights are plentiful.
But what about the dangers of using just one lens mount? Are there any?
Here’s what I’ve found.
It’s easier and more tempting to get another similar camera in the same mount, as you already have the lens(es) for it.
Buying a camera in a whole other mount, you might pause and consider what else you’d need (lenses, filters etc) to make it work, and the greater outlay (as well as the commitment to learning a new camera/system) might mean you don’t take that route, just sticking with the familiarity of what you have.
But when you already have all the lenses you need, it’s all too easy to pick up another body – even if it’s only incrementally different to one already have – because it’s cheap and there’s no additional investment in lenses required.
It’s easier and more tempting to get another lens in the same mount as you already have the camera(s) for it.
This is of course the flip side of the above, its equally seductive twin.
But again, buying a new lens becomes alluring because you start to wonder what it might be capable of with each those bodies you already own, and again there’s no hidden extra investment needed for a new body.
Overall, for me the delights of using just one mount far outweigh the dangers.
But you do have to be more disciplined in some ways to not get carried away with buying too many camera bodies or lenses, just because you can they can slip in so easily amongst your existing gear.
How about you? Do you mostly use just one camera system? What have you found are the pros and cons of doing so (or not doing so)?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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