01 02 03 Snapperific: Shooting a Canon EOS camera with FD lenses 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Shooting a Canon EOS camera with FD lenses

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Lulu. Canon 5Dmk2, FD 50mm 1.8 @ 2.8, Sliver Efex Pro
So I have a niggling frustration. I feel like I may not be alone.

I have a wonderful collection of Canon FD glass built-up over a number of years. It started when my father gave me the beautiful FTb QL with 28, 50 and 135mm lenses. Since then I have grown the system to include the wonderful F1N and lenses from 20mm to 300mm. These are great lenses. I used the 20mm and the FTb to create the images for The Vacant Heart, one of my favorite series of art prints. I often marvel at the detail in these prints. Crisp, beautiful grain in the Ilford XP2 400 Super comes across fantastically in the A2 prints for that series. They were all shot at F4-F5.6.

Rose Silhouette, Canon 5Dmk2, FD 50mm 1.8 @ 2.8 
And so here is my frustration: I cannot really use these lenses on my EOS bodies. This makes me very unhappy. I can only imagine how those people who had built up a really amazing collection of FD lenses felt back in the late 80's when Canon decided to move to the (incompatible with the FD mount) EOS mount. Me, I'd have lost my cool.

But fast forward to today and we have amazing auto-focus lenses on the EOS system. The FD lenses remain incompatible. They are in fact one of the most difficult lenses to use on a Canon EOS body. Ironic. They have too deep a lens flange distance to fit onto the EOS mount and so can only be used with an adaptor with a glass element to allow the lens to focus to infinity. Without the glass it is like a macro tube, not allowing for infinity focus. With the glass element you are faced with a 1,25 magnification of your chosen lens and quite hazy image quality wide-open.

I got the very nice Hama adaptor and decided to see if it was as dire as the internet had led me to believe. You know what? It's not. It's actually great.

Wide open, your lenses will be soft and hazy as reported. Use it as a creative effect I say! But stopped down a couple of clicks, the images are lovely. Unique even.

Self-portrait, Canon 5Dmk2, FD 50mm 1.8 wide open. focus on my eye, nothing is sharp...
Self-portrait, Canon 5Dmk2, FD 50mm 1.8 @ 2.8, focus on front of lens, super sharp, nice rendering of everything else. Must remember to smile in these...

You may not get bitingly sharp images till 5.6 or so, but you are rewarded with gentle and graceful images. In fact, the point of focus at 2.8 on my 50mm lenses is very, very sharp. At any of the lenses optimum apertures they are super sharp. Focus right on the less-than-ideal-for-manual-focus screens on the current EOS bodies and you will be handsomely rewarded. Oh, and focus is really enjoyable on these beautifully made old lenses. You need to invest in Zeiss to get this kind of tactile pleasure on your Canon now-days.

Using these as video lenses is great too.


Tiny Dried Roses, Canon 5Dmk2, Sigma FD 50mm 2.8 Macro.

But now, the manual-focus bug has bit and I may have to force myself to get an off-brand lens and use it with an adaptor that doesn't even require a little glass element. Like maybe a Leica or a Contax portrait lens. Oh, dear. This may get expensive. But fun.

Or (please listen oh Canon Photo Gods) I will eagerly wait for the impending Canon mirrorless model that will allow use of all these gorgeous old lenses without crippling them. I've been waiting on this for years. But it seems the wait might be just about over. Please Canon, really. It's time. And make it full-frame please.

Pablo, the super cute kitten, Canon 5Dmk2, FD 50mm 1.8 @ 2.8. Whiskers are sharp internet! 
 
Pablo, the super cute kitten, Canon 5Dmk2, Cosina FD 70-300mm F4.5-5.8 @F8, Even stopped down, this lens shows huge haziness... Whiskers are SUPER sharp though internet!  
50mm Face-off, Canon 5Dmk2, Sigma FD 50mm 2.8 Macro. Huge haze with this wide open but quite sharp...

50mm Face-off, Canon 5Dmk2, Sigma FD 50mm 2.8 Macro.  A bit of exposure, black point and contrast adjustment and things look swell.
Thanks for readin'.

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