When you have a camera with as versatile a lens mount as the Panasonic GH4, there are bound to be questions about compatibility.
Lens compatibility is relatively straightforward for most camera systems– you use the lenses designed for that system– end of discussion.
However, the GH4’s lens mount can be adapted for virtually any lens under the sun, which makes the question of lens compatibility slightly more complex. There’s a good chance a lens will work with the GH4, but what other gear do you need? What are the unexpected issues you might encounter? Which lenses are the exceptions?
Here are answers to the most common questions regarding lens compatibility for the Panasonic GH4.
- How do I use (Blank) lens with the GH4?
- How do I use Canon EF lenses on the GH4?
- Can I Use Canon EF-S lenses with the Metabones Speed Booster?
- Should I get the Original EF Speed Booster or the “S” Version?
- Should I Invest in Nikon or Canon EF Lenses for the GH4?
- What is the Best Legacy Lens Mount for the GH4?
- What’s the difference between a “full frame” lens and a “crop” lens on the GH4?
- Is Autofocus Supported for Adapted Lenses on the GH4?
- Can I shoot video without Autofocus on the GH4?
- Do Olympus MFT Lenses work on the GH4?
How do I use (Blank) lens with the GH4?
Answer: Identify the lens mount and find the appropriate adapter.
The GH4’s MFT lens mount is one of the most flexible mounts around, so if you have an obscure lens, chances are you’ll be able to be able to use it on the GH4 with the aid of a simple adapter.
Here is a simple 3-step process I use whenever I need to mount a new lens on the GH4:
- Identify the lens’ mount — Determine what type of mount the lens has so that you know what you’re working with.
- Search for adapter options for the lens’ mount — Get an overview of the available adapter options (example: “C-mount MFT adapter“)
- Evaluate Options and Buy Adapter — Check prices, manufacturers, and read reviews to determine which adapter is the best option.
You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of adapter options for most lens mounts. It’s important to know that not all adapters are created equal– there are a plethora of budget adapters out there, and while they’re cheap, they can also come with several issues (loose fit, no infinity focus, etc.).
After testing a wide range of lens adapters from various manufacturers over the years, here’s a shortlist of high-quality lens adapter manufacturers:
- Metabones — Lens adapters with solid build quality and innovative features.
- Ciecio7 (eBay) — Precision-crafted lens adapters.
- Novoflex — Solid adapters, but can be somewhat pricey.
If you follow these instructions and cannot find an adapter for your lens, you might have found one of the rare exceptions where a lens adapter hasn’t yet been made for that mount.
How do I use Canon EF lenses on the GH4?
Answer: All you need to shoot with EF-mount lenses is the right adapter.
In the GH4’s early days, your options for shooting with EF-mount lenses were severely limited. While there were a few adapters out in the wild, none of them provided in-camera aperture control and the active adapters required an external power source.
Cut to: Present day — the sun has risen over the land and using EF-mount lenses on the GH4 is now relatively straightforward. Here are the top two adapters:
- Metabones Canon EF to MFT Smart Adapter — An active adapter that provides in-camera aperture control and enables a lens’ built-in image stabilization.
- Metabones Canon EF to MFT Speed Booster — Similar to the Metabones’ Smart Adapter (in-camera aperture control and image stabilization support), but also features custom-designed optics that widens the lens’ field of view and increases the lens’ brightness by 1 stop.
Can I Use Canon EF-S lenses with the Metabones Speed Booster?
Answer: No. Canon EF-S lenses are not compatible with the Metabones Speed Booster.
The rear of Canon’s EF-S lenses extend further than standard EF lenses and can come into contact with the Speed Booster’s optics. As a result, Canon EF-S lenses are not compatible with the Metabones Speed Booster.
However, it’s important to note that only Canon makes EF-S lenses. All third-party lenses use the standard EF-mount regardless of whether they are designed for full-frame or APS-C sensors. This means that the majority of third-party EF-mount lenses are compatible with the Speed Booster.
Should I get the Original EF Speed Booster or the “S” Version?
Answer: Both EF Speed Booster adapters (original and “S” version) are fully compatible with the GH4.
Not long after Metabones released the EF Speed Booster, they followed up with a new “S” version. Is your original EF Speed Booster now obsolete? What’s the difference? Which one should you get for the GH4?
Both adapters have the same custom-designed optics, provide in-camera electronic aperture control, and support lenses with built-in image stabilization. The key difference is that the “S” version is compatible with Olympus’ OM-D cameras, while the original version did not fit properly.
In order to slim the adapter down enough to fit Olympus’ OM-D cameras, Metabones removed the jog dial and external power capabilities from the “S” Speed Booster. As a result, the “S” Speed Booster is not compatible with cameras that have passive lens mounts, such as Blackmagic Design’s Cinema Camera.
The GH4 has an active lens mount, so it provides power and allows for in-camera aperture control with either adapter. Both adapters are the same price and deliver the same image quality, so you just need to decide whether you need an adapter that can be used with passive lens mounts (original version) or one that can be used on Olympus’ OM-D cameras (“S” version).
Should I Invest in Nikon or Canon EF Lenses for the GH4?
Answer: Invest in EF-mount lenses for consistency. Invest in Nikon-mount lenses for future-proof compatibility.
Nikon’s F/G mount and Canon’s EF mount are two of the most common lens mounts for DSLR/hybrid cameras. Both mounts offer a huge lens selection that can be used on the GH4 (with adapters), but which mount is the best option? Which lens mount should you invest in?
Your choice comes down to whether your priority is consistency or compatibility.
Consistency: Canon EF-mount
EF-mount lenses have an electronically-controlled aperture. This allows you to consistently set the aperture to specific f-stop shot after shot.
In contrast, Nikon-mount lenses feature a mechanically controlled aperture that is set by a rotating ring on the lens adapter. This aperture ring does not the same level of exacting control over aperture as EF-mount lenses.
Nikon-mount lenses have a slightly longer flange distance than EF-mount lenses, giving them the edge in the number of camera systems that they can be adapted for (they can even be mounted on Canon cameras). As a result, there’s a good chance that your Nikon-mount lenses can be adapted for your cameras in the future as well.
Cameras come and go, but glass is forever.
Furthermore, the Nikon-mount’s mechanical aperture control is simpler to design adapters for than Canon EF’s electronically-controlled aperture. As such, adapters for Nikon-mount lenses for your current and future cameras will likely be available far sooner than adapters for EF-mount lenses are.
Further Reading: Speed Booster Showdown: Canon EF vs. Nikon
What is the Best Legacy Lens Mount for the GH4?
Answer: Canon FD-mount lenses are affordable but limited. Nikon F-mount lenses are pricier but are compatible with modern lenses as well.
One of the best things about the GH4’s highly adaptable lens mount access it provides to a huge back catalog of legacy lenses of now-defunct lens mounts.
Part of the fun is exploring this forgotten world of legacy lens mounts, but if your looking for a mount to build a set of lenses on, my top two picks are Nikon’s F-mount and Canon’s FD mount. Which of these legacy mounts is right for you depends on your particular needs:
Practically speaking, Nikon’s F mount isn’t really a “legacy” mount as it’s still in use today. Nikon’s modern G-mount is essentially the same as the F-mount, except that G-mount lenses don’t have a manual aperture ring.
What this means for you is that you can use vintage Nikon glass and modern lenses with the same adapter. Here are a couple adapter options:
- Metabones Nikon G to MFT Adapter — High-quality adapter for Nikon F/G-mount lenses. Features a ring to adjust aperture of G-mount lenses.
- Metabones Nikon G to MFT Speed Booster — Similar to standard adapter, but features custom-designed optics to widen the field of view and increase the lens’ brightness by 1 stop.
Thanks to their long flange distance, Nikon-mount lenses can be adapted to a wide variety of cameras, so vintage Nikon lenses tend to be in higher demand. As a result, used lenses in good condition can cost a pretty penny.
While Nikon has maintained lens compatibility for over half a century, Canon dropped support for their FD mount in the 90’s.
Thanks to cameras with flexible lens mounts like the GH4, FD-mount lenses have found new life. This is a good thing because there are some amazing FD lenses, and you can take full advantage of them with the GH4. Here are some examples:
As more shooters flock to flexible cameras like the GH4, prices for FD lenses are steadily increasing, but you can still find some nice deals on some great lenses.
Of course, the downside of the FD mount is that it is a defunct lens mount that has not been developed for decades. As such, some FD lenses do not hold up well to today’s standards of image quality. Nonetheless, if you want to build a set of solid prime lenses that cover the common focal lengths above, Canon’s FD-mount is hard to beat.
What’s the difference between a “full frame” lens and a “crop” lens on the GH4?
Answer: There are no major differences between “full-frame” and “crop” lenses when used on the GH4.
All lenses project an image circle that is designed to provide full coverage on the sensor. Initially, lenses were designed to cover a 35mm film frame (“full frame”), but as cameras with APS-C sensors gained popularity, much of the lens’ image circle went unused.
Lens manufacturers eventually released lenses that projected a smaller image circle specifically designed for these smaller “crop” sensors. These “crop” lenses require less materials, resulting in lighter, smaller, and more affordable lenses.
The important to note is that though the image circle is smaller for “crop” lenses, the focal length is the same as a “full frame” lens– there would be little difference if any between a “crop” lens and “full frame” lens with the same properties (focal length, aperture, etc.) when mounted on a camera with an APS-C camera.
As the GH4’s sensor is smaller than an APS-C sensor, images produced by both lenses on the GH4 would be virtually identical to each other.
Is Autofocus Supported for Adapted Lenses on the GH4?
Answer: Maybe. Some adapters provide autofocus functionality for the GH4.
While not all active adapters support autofocus, a growing selection of active adapters for Canon EF-mount lenses do provide autofocus functionality to varying degrees.
Further reading: How to use Canon EF lenses on the Panasonic GH4 – Get all the details on which adapters support autofocus with EF lenses.
That said, manual focus should be used when shooting video whenever possible. Even with native lenses, autofocus can result in abrupt focus shifts and focus hunting that can ruin a shot.
As a result, it’s best to become comfortable with manual focusing when shooting video, as that will ultimately deliver the most consistent and professional results.
Can I shoot video without Autofocus on the GH4?
Answer: Yes, in fact, shooting without autofocus is recommended.
Autofocus is nice when shooting stills, but for video, take a page from the generations of filmmakers who came before you and embrace manual focus when shooting video.
Though it may seem more convenient, autofocus is not perfect. Worse still, autofocus takes the control away from you. You never want to have to tell your cast and crew that you need to reshoot the last scene “because the AF got confused.”
Thanks to focus aids like focus peaking and screen magnification, manual focus actually quite easy with the GH4. In fact, these tools have made manual focus fun again and brought new life to my vintage lenses, as I’m sure they will for you as well.
Remember, friends don’t let friends use autofocus when shooting video.
Do Olympus MFT Lenses work on the GH4?
Answer: Yes, all native MFT lenses are compatible with the GH4.
If you come from a world of cameras where each brand is an island with its own proprietary lens mount (Nikon, Canon, etc.), Micro Four-Thirds may be a confusing concept.
Micro Four-Thirds (MFT) is a lens standard that several brands of camera and lens manufacturers have agreed to, allowing full compatibility between the cameras and lenses from these different brands.
Olympus and Panasonic are created the MFT standard, so Olympus’ MFT lenses work just like a Panasonic lens would on the GH4– autofocus, aperture control, etc.– it’s all there.
More Answers to Your Questions
Hopefully these rapid-fire answers helped to clarify some of the questions you had about lens compatibility for the GH4. Keep on sending in your questions and sign up for updates below to receive notifications when future guides and resources are available.
- Panasonic GH4 — One of the most flexible cameras on the planet.
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