Sonntag, 21. Februar 2016

Best Canon FD lenses that you should consider

Rare Canon FD lenses
 

The Canon FD Lenses
Since the advance of mirrorless cameras and especially since the launch of Sony's A7 line of full frame mirrorless cameras, Canon's good old FD lenses are getting more interesting.
Prior to the launch of micro four thirds, these have been really cheap, but still today they are bargains, considering the performance of these vintage lenses.

In this post I want you guide you through the Canon FD System, especially the newer nFD versions. I've had a lot of them and still have. All of my recommendations are based on full frame, they might not count that much for APS-C or even micro four thirds system cameras.









The super budget Prime set
Get a used Sony A7 for about 700€ on the used market and three lenses for about 100 - 200€. A full frame set with 3 lenses below 1000€, not to bad, eh?

Canon FD 28mm 1:2.8 (20 - 60€)
Canon FD 50mm 1:1.8 (30 - 50€)
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.8 (60 - 100€)

Canon Lens FD 28 mm 1:2.8 - this one, together with the FD 50mm 1.8 are the cheapest and most common FD primes. Nevertheless they work great!
I had all of these primes and they are excellent performers considering it's price. You start with a medium wide-angle, to a standard up to a tele, all sufficient fast. They all share the 52 mm filter threads, are light and the 135mm has even an build in hood.
This is a great set to start and you can do a whole lot with it, landscape, street, portrait, low-light. In fact your Dad or grand father might have used mor or less the same focal lenghts for about 30 years.

The cheap and compact Prime set
This set is huge, what means you can pick the focal lenghts that suit your style the most. You definately don't need all of them.

Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8 (60 - 150€)
Canon FD 28mm 1:2.8 (20 - 60€)
Canon FD 35mm 1:2.8 (40 - 70€)
Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 (35 - 90€)
Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro (60 - 120€)
Canon FD 100mm 1:2.8 (60 - 120€)
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.8 (60 - 100€)

Pick 3 to 5 of these and you are set for the next years to come. Most of them appear quite regularly on the used market. All of them are good, with the 50 macro and 100 2.8 are even oustanding. They all share the 52 mm filter threads which is also nice.

The fast, compact, 52 mm filter thread set
Now it get's fast, expensive and desireable. This is a perfect set for photography and video. Especially videographers will appreciate the shared filter thread and appereance of all those lenses. So here you go:



Canon FD 24mm 1:2.0 (150 - 350€) hard to find
Canon FD 28mm 1:2.0 (100 - 200€)
Canon FD 35mm 1:2.0 (100 - 200€)
Canon FD 50mm 1:1.2 (200 - 300€)
Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro (60 - 120€)
Canon FD 85mm 1:1.8 (100 - 200€)
Canon FD 100mm 1:2.0 (200 - 350€) hard to find
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.8 (60 - 100€)

I have to admit, I haven't tested the 24 2.0. All have them are worth the asking price, but to get them all, you have to invest a serious amount of money. You also starting to hit collectors territory which explains why some of them are so expensive.

Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro & Canon FD 50mm 1:1.2L
Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro & Canon FD 50mm 1:1.2L, the best 50mm lenses of the system. Shot on Sony A7r with Tokina AT-X 90mm 2.5 Macro - Bokina

My suggestion of a perfect Canon FD Set wich is still affordable:

Canon FD 20mm 1:2.8 (150 - 280€) - better than the 17mm and still affordable
Canon FD 35mm 1:2.0 (100 - 200€) - my favourite walk around prime
Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 (35 - 90€) - Fast, cheap and not much worse than the 1.2 without L!
Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro (60 - 120€) - Opically the best and cheapest of the set
Canon FD 100mm 1:2.8 (60 - 120€) wide open sharper than the 85 1.8 at 2.8
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.0 (250 - 350€) Fast, huge and a Bokeh machine

Canon Lens FD 20mm 2.8 - the only FD superwide I would suggest.


For about 800€ this set provides everthing you might need. Pair that with a used A7 and you've spend maybe 1500€ for a really nice set. All of these items offer the best price performance ratio, while serving differnt photographic needs.


Canon FD 135mm 1:2.0  & Canon FD 85mm 1:1.2L
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.0  & Canon FD 85mm 1:1.2L, the best bokeh lenses of the system. Shot on Sony A7r with Tokina AT-X 90mm 2.5 Macro - Bokina



The Canon FD Super Deluxe Set

Canon FD 14mm 1:2.8 L - super hard to find, expect to pay more than 1000€
Canon FD 24mm 1:1.4 L - hard to find, about 700€
Canon FD 35mm 1:2.0 (100 - 200€) - my favourite walk around prime
Canon FD 35mm 1:2.8 TS (400 - 600€) - Tilt Shift (the first ever for 35mm film)
Canon FD 50mm 1:1.2 L (500 - 700€) - What a lens, compact, fast and sharp
Canon FD 50mm 1:3.5 Macro (60 - 120€) - Still in his set
Canon FD 85mm 1:1.2 L (600 - 1000€) - My fovourite FD lens ever
Canon FD 100mm 1:2.0 (200 - 350€) hard to find
Canon FD 135mm 1:2.0 (250 - 350€) Fast, huge and a Bokeh machine
Canon FD 200mm 1:4.0 Macro - Great and rare 1:1 macro lens
Canon FD 200mm 1:1.8 L - good luck finding this legend
Canon FD 300mm 1:2.8 L - from 1000€, quite affordable for a superspeed-telephoto
Canon FD 400mm 1:2.8 L - from 1400€, massive lens

A bunch of rare Canon FD lenses. 24/1.4L, 35/2.8TS, 50/3.5Macro, 50/1.2L, 85/1.2L, 100/2.0, 135/2.0, 200/4.0Macro, 400/4.5, 80-200/4.5L


So here you have it, that's the ultimate set and all together still very expensive. I hope you enjoyed my lists, let me hear what your favourite FD lens is.


Dienstag, 16. Februar 2016

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 - The Underdog

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 with Canon Extension Tube FD 25
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 with Canon Extension Tube FD 25. A really compact 50mm 3.5 macro lens.
Shot on Sony A7r with Canon Macro Lens FD 200mm 1:4


Introduction
In my opinion the Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 is one of the most underrated lenses on the planet. Maybe you already heard that there are no bad macro lenses out there. I haven't used all macro lenses, but I can tell you this one is definetly a sleeper.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 with Canon Extension Tube FD 25
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 with attached Canon Extension Tube FD 25.
Shot on Sony A7r with Canon Macro Lens FD 200mm 1:4


Due to it's 50mm focal length it serves as both, a standard walk around lens and a lens for nice close ups. I don't use it that much as a real macro lens and because of it's magnification ratio of "only" 1:2 it is not the best lens for this job. With an extension tube (Extension Tube 25 mm) it is able to reach 1:1 though. People often claim that the 50mm and 100mm FD lenses are 1:1 macro lenses, but they aren't. Maybe they get confused because these lenses have two magnifictaion scales. One for the lens itself and one for the use with extension tube. So yes, somewhere on the lens it says 1:1, but that scale starts at 1:2. The only native Canon FD macro lens which does 1:1 is the Canon Macro Lens FD 200mm 1:4. The reason why I love the 50 is it's flexibilty. The minimum focus distance let's you get close enough to get your desired frame. Actually it is one of the first lenses I recommend to my friends.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 / Sony A7r, this is my favourite shot with this lens and for such kind of close up work the lens is very well suited.
Specification
Lens Construction (group) 4
Lens Construction (element) 6
No. of Diaphragm Blades 6
Minimum Aperture 32 (22 S.S.C. version)
Closest Focusing Distance 0.232 m
Maximum Magnification 0.5 x
Filter Diameter 52 mm (55 mm S.S.C. version)
Maximum Diameter x Length 63 x 57 mm (65.8 x 59.5 S.S.C. version)
Weight (g) 235 (310 S.S.C. version)

FD vs nFD
Most of Canons FD lenses came in two versions, the older one (often called chromering) and the newer breechlock versions (also called nFD). I own the nFD version. There is no better or worse in general.
The older versions feel more solid and use metal for the body, but are also bigger and heavier. Mounting one of these older lenses is a bit more complicated, when you do it for the first time. The nFD version are mostly build with plastic, but a very good one, not that cheap stuff they use today. Most of the older chromering primes used 55 mm filter threads while the newer ones use 52 mm, like it's the case with the 50 macro. Another difference between the new and old version is the aperture range. The old one introduced in march 1973 goes to f22, while the nFD which hit the marked in June 1979 goes up to f32.
By the way, the older FD version says S.S.C. on the lens barrel which stands for Canons Super Spectra Coating. The mentioned it on the older Versions, because there have also been S.C. lenses. which don't have such a good coating. Since the introduction of the nFD lenses they left the addition S.S.C. out, all of the nFD's have S.S.C. so there is no need to write it on the lens anymore. Some say the nFD 50mm 1:1.8 lacks the Super Spectra Coating and is only S.C. coated. That may be true, but I haven't found any reliable information about that.

I like the newer nFD lenses better, beacuse they are lighter and some of Canons FD lenses (especially very nice ones) joined the line up later, and are only available in nFD version. That gives my FD lens collection the same look and feel.
In general most of the Canon FD primes have great build quality, regardless of the version. I can't tell much about the zoom lenses, as I only own the 80 - 200 L.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5, Shot on Fuji X-A1, don't remember the f stop. To get a shot like this (I don't consider this a great shot) you have to get ridiculously close, even when shooting crop sensors.


Focusing
Handling the FD 50mm Macro is a pure joy, it feels pretty light and focusing is buttery smooth. While focusing the lens extends significantly which might be a problem for serious macro work. A good thing though is the non rotating filter thread. From infinity to minimum focus distance the lens rotates about 310°. Manual focus on macro lenses is not downside, it's a big plus. I can only recommend to not buy an autofocus macro lens. In most cases you will have to focus manually anyway. The shallow depth of field in close up work (even with a 50mm 3.5 lens) is critical. You might say, well I can also focus my AF lens manually, that's true, but it's nowhere near as precise. If you will only own one manual focus lens, let it be a macro.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 fully extended. You can see the magnification scale for the use of the Extension Tube. Shot on Sony A7r with Canon Macro Lens FD 200mm 1:4


Sharpness
Most macro lenses are sharp and the Canon FD 50mm Macro is no exception. It is absolutly capable of resolving the 36 megapixel Sony A7r. The lens delivers sharp and crisp images full of detail. While it is sharp at f 3.5, the sharpness increases up to f 8. Past f 11 diffraction kicks in and you should only use these settings when you need that extra depth of field, without focus stacking. Corner sharpness at wide open aperture is not the strongest point, but is far from being bad.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5
Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5, Shot on Fuji X-A1 at f 3.5, this image shows that this lens can flare, but I pointed the lens directly into morning sunlight.

Flaring
The Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5 hardly produces flares, due to it's construction. The front element is only about 2 cm wide and is aproximately 4 cm deep recessed. You really have to try hard to produce any flares. In addition you can also use a lens hood to reduce possible flares even more. Usually the 50mm Canon FD lenses use the BS-52 hood, which also fits to the 50 macro. Strangely the mighty mir site claims the BW-52A is the intended hood for this lens. Which is usually used on the Canon 35 mm 2.0 and 2.8 lenses. I don't know if that is due to macro use. As I own both, lens and BS-52 I will investigate vignetting with this combination. I must admit, Ive never tried as flaring has never been an issue with this lens.

Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5
 Canon Macro Lens FD 50mm 1:3.5, see how deeply recessed the front element is. Shot on Sony A7r with Canon Macro Lens FD 200mm 1:4
Distortion
Forget about distortion there is a hint of pincushion distortion, but nothing you should worry about.

Other aberrations
To be honest, I can not find any flaw worth to mention.

Pricing and availability
Like any Canon FD lens, this one is also only available on the used market. While it is not that hard to find it is still a specialist lens. They appear quite regulary and most of the time in good condition. In Germany you have to expect 50€ to 120€, which is a steal considering it's optical performance.

Conclusion
I can highly recommend it if you:
  • are looking for your first macro lens
  • are shooting a mirrorless camera
  • need a sharp standard focal length
  • don't mind the f3.5
  • just want to experiment

Use on Canon EOS
This is maybe one of the only FD lenses which I can also recommend for EOS bodies, as long as you pick up a glassless adapter. You won't be able to focus to infinity, but you will get a dedicated macro lens for cheap. Forget aboout adapters with glass elements, as most of them will degrade image quality significantly.