Are Camera Lenses Interchangeable?

These days there are a billion camera lens options, and so little time to research which lens you need for your camera.

While lenses are interchangeable – in that a camera can use different kinds of lenses (standard, wide angle, macro, etc), they aren’t completely interchangeable, across brands and types of cameras. So finding the right lens can be much more complicated than picking one and attaching it to your camera.

Swapping out the lens that came with your camera is a great way to expand the uses of your camera and allow you to use your camera in different ways. Whether you have had your DSLR for a while and are just now looking to upgrade your standard lens to something fancier, or you are buying your first DSLR, we have written a simple guide to camera lenses that are interchangeable, and lenses that aren’t.

Camera Lens


If you have bought a DSLR from a major manufacturer, it’s likely that the manufacturer will have a range of lenses designed specifically for your new camera. Often, these lenses from major brands will only work with their brand cameras. So, for instance, a Canon lens won’t fit a Nikon camera.

This can be particularly frustrating if you have bought a new camera and can no longer use the old lenses from a different brand. While there are adaptors, they may not be worth it in the long run, as the camera won’t be able to use all the features of a different brand of lens.

Often, smaller independent brands make lenses that fit most common major camera brands. While they aren’t always as good as the ones made by the original manufacturer, they are a lot more affordable and can do the job just as well if they're high quality.

Camera Lens

Compact System Camera vs DSLR Lenses

These days you can get compact system cameras that can perform close to the same job as DSLRs. They are a more compact professional camera, and unlike compact cameras, give photographers the option of using a range of different lenses.

Generally, lenses that fit into your DSLR will not fit your compact system camera. Manufacturers usually have a separate range of lenses specifically designed for compact system cameras.

When buying a lens for a compact system camera, it’s important to check the specs. Independent brands may have adapters that will make it possible for you to use your DSLR lenses with your compact system camera, but the functions on your camera may be limited if you use an incompatible lens and an adaptor.

Camera Lens


The reason that lenses aren’t interchangeable across brands and camera types is mainly attributed to the mounts. While many third-party lenses clearly advertise which brand the lens is made for, often knowing the brand isn’t enough. Different cameras within a brand can have different mounts.

The Canon EF-lens mount has been around since 1987 and was designed for the EOS range of cameras. In 2003 Canon introduced the newer EF-S-mount which are used for cameras that use an APS-C sensor.

Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina manufacture lenses using the EF and EF-S mounts. Olympus, Kodak and Panasonic use the Micro Four Thirds mount. However it's a good idea to check whether the image stabilisation feature sits within your camera body or the lens itself, as it often operates differently for various brands.

Introduced in 1959, the Nikon F-mount is one of the oldest mounts still being used. Other manufacturers, like Fujifilm, make cameras compatible with this mount. The Nikon 1-mount was introduced in 2011 and is used for Nikon compact system cameras.

If you’re ready to buy a new lens for your camera, head over to the Camera House online store. We include the specs so it’s easy to figure out what lens you need. If you still need help, why not head instore and have a chat with our friendly staff? They'll have all the answers to your questions!