What is a Conversion Lens? :: Digital Photo Secrets

What is a Conversion Lens?

by David Peterson 17 comments

A Conversion Lens extends the functionality of existing cameras by adding to the focal length range of your lens. A Digital conversion lens is a great way to expand your camera’s capabilities without breaking the bank. If you only have a few new shots in mind, and you don't want to upgrade your whole camera, get a converter.

Not every camera model will allow you add a conversion lens, and on some camera models you won't want to add one. Typically speaking, models toward the bottom end of the consumer spectrum will not allow you to use converters, but the models just one step down from a digital SLR will. If you have an SLR camera (or camera that already has an interchangeable lens), don't use a conversion lens.

Different kinds of converters

There are a lot converters on the market for many different kinds of point and shoot cameras.

The first class of converters helps you with your macro photography. These tend to be advertised with some kind of increase in magnification. The most common of these is the 2x macro converter, which basically doubles the magnification of your current point and shoot lens and get you closer to your subject with macro photography. These are a huge money-saver if you want to get started with macro photography and don’t want to shell out $500 for a digital SLR and another $500 for a lens. Most of these converters only cost $100.

Another type is the tele-converter lens that attaches to the end of your lens and increases the effective focal length by some factor. If your camera comes with a 3x zoom lens, a 2x tele-converter will turn your 3x lens into a 6x lens. This is quite handy when you’re shooting wildlife or faraway landscapes as the conversion lens will allow you to zoom closer than you would normally be able to. Just make sure you bring your tripod!

Wideangle and fisheye converters are also common. They effectively allow you to “zoom out” even further. If your camera can only zoom out to 50mm, a .50x wideangle converter will effectively give you a 24mm lens. A fisheye converter will get you close to the 6mm to 10mm range. They tend to bend the image into a spherical shape, leaving you with some pretty cool results. If you want an interesting and up-close perspective, you should definitely try them out.

Possible extra expenses

Usually the lens converter will tell you what cameras it works with. Make sure the type of converter you purchase is compatible with the camera you have.

Some converters will require you to purchase an extra lens adaptor that fits their lens onto your specific camera. The adapters usually aren’t that expensive, just another thing to consider.

Distortion issues

Some people complain of lens distortion with converters, but here are the facts. Every lens distorts what it "sees", even the super expensive ones. Most distortions are only really visible when your camera's aperture is set to a high number like f11 or f12. At high apertures, your camera picks up more sharpness and more of the image will be in sharp focus (greater Depth of Field). The extra detail makes the distortions visible.

If you notice the distortions, you can usually make them go away by opening your aperture (using a smaller F number).

Are converters worth the money?

At the end of the day, you’re probably wondering if you should buy one of these things. It all depends on your financial situation and previous camera model commitments. If you don’t really want to spend the extra money to get a full digital SLR, but you want to have a telephoto, wideangle, and macro lens on hand, these are great. Just realize that you won’t get the same degree of versatility with a converter that you would with an SLR zoom lens. Wideangle converters only give you a fixed length. Wideangle zoom lenses give you the entire spectrum.

In short, converters are an excellent choice for hobbyists who want to explore photography a little more. They don’t require a huge financial commitment, and they effectively expand your camera’s capabilities. They will help you hold out until you can afford that new SLR model you’ve been eyeing.

Most people think this post is Awesome. What do you think?


  1. Theresa Evans says:

    I have a canon sx40hs and needed a little more zoom, so I bought a zeicos 2.5 telephoto converter, but am getting a lot of distortion. Should I try to use it manually or can I use it automatically. I do not usually use manual mode, I either use automatic or scene. I didn't want to put out the money for a longer zoom camera, and thought this might give me a little more zoom. Can you give me some tips on what exactly I should do to get rid of the distortion? Thanks in advance for your help.

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Theresa,

      Unfortunately, you're always going to get some distortion with a telephoto converter. While they are cheap, they reduce the quality of the final image. The only way to make sure you have a much better photo when zoomed in is to purchase a camera with a longer zoom (or even better, a camera with interchangeable lenses so you can swap).

      There is one other option.... walk closer :-) But I know that's not always possible.


  2. Mariafe maglanoc says:

    Sir can I use a digital wide converter w/ macro 0.5x with my camera d7100 with 18- 105mm lens? Will it not affect the body of my camera? Thanks for advance response.

    • David Peterson says:


      Yes, you'll be able to attach a digital wide converter to your camera as long as the end of your existing lens has a screw adaption that will fit. Most removable lenses do, but it's worth checking.

      The converter will affect your image quality though, as I mentioned in the article above.


  3. prasanth kumar n says:

    i have canon eos700d and i have 18-55,55-255mm lenses,now i want to buy wide angle lense for close up shooting,which one is best one efs 24mm or wide conversion lens

    • David Peterson says:


      I personally like dedicated wide angle lenses over the conversion lenses because with wide angle conversions, the quality of the final image will suffer. If you have the funds, choose a dedicated wider angle lens.


  4. Juan Martinez says:

    I have a rebel t3 dslr, very diverse EF mount. I just purchased a Canon Wd58 0.7x Wide Converter. I have been reading this is for a camcorder/camera. I tested it out and it works well, however, I do not want to damage my camera body and kit lens, as this converter is extremely heavy.

    Should I discontinue use? Any thoughts?

    Btw, I just bought it today so I can take it back.


  5. Koh Hong Ee says:

    I have previously using a Canon camera model T50. After the introduction of DSLR camera, I purchased a Canon D600 camera. I have a Canon len FD 24mm 1:2.8 wide angle which is used in the previous T50 Canon model. Is there a possibillity of using this particular len ie FD 24mm 1:2.8 in my new D600 Canon camera? Is there such thing as a lens converter? Your assistance in advising my question is very much appreciated. Thanking you in advance.

    • David Peterson says:

      Yes, there are adapters available so you can use your old lens on your new camera. However, you may not get the results you want - older lenses don't have the machining quality of newer lenses and your photos may not look as good.

  6. Cait says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for the information. I have to buy a new camera and had to use my phone to take a picture of the moon last night. Broke my heart.

    I can't afford what I want, but this information is very helpful! Thanks!

  7. ian says:


    can I just remove the Macro adapter and change it to male to male adapter instead? can that be done?

  8. Abhijit Medhi says:

    Hi David,

    I have a DSC-H10 (SONY) camera.I am interested to use tele and wide angle converter lens for it.These converter lenses are not sold by sony.How is Besel lenses?



  9. Steven Kray says:

    David, I have the Lumix G3 with the 14-42mm lens and was seriously looking to get either a Rokinon fish eye from my Lumix or a converter, to get me 20mm (or lower, i.e. 15mm). On the 4:3 body a 10mm gets me 20mm, and the 7.5mm gets me 15mm wide angle or fisheye.

    this is for special unusual shots, and primarily for play. The price for the Rokinon is reasonable, but I was caught by your discussion about converters. Why should I consider a converter? Will I get better optics from the Rokinon or will the converter and Rokinon provide the same result and level of satisfaction.

  10. Gary Patane says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the helpful article.
    I have an additional couple questions.
    I have two cameras:
    An old Pentax k-100 with a Vivitar Series 1 70-210
    And a Panasonic FZ40
    I'm trying to get a better zoom distance to capture an eagle nearby. I'm to extend the distance one or both cameras can capture.

    My questions:
    For the Pentax/Vivitar combo is a 2x teleconverter both camera mount and lens specific?
    Is there some thing kindred to a teleconverter for a digital camera without detachable lenses? (ie the FZ-40)

    Thanks for any help you can offer,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *