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The 'best' FD lenses?

Paul Cooklin , Jun 14, 2010; 03:47 p.m.

Im looking at getting a Canon A1 as I was given a 3.5 macro and am lead to believe this is one of the better FD lenses. Before I buy in to the FD lenses, could anyone list the 'best' FD lenses from wide to tele, zoom, macro etc. Ive been reading that naturally some were better than others and as I dont know my way round the FD range Id like to stay clear of the not-so-good and aim for the better ones in their class.
For example, Ive read on here and other places that the 50/1.4 is sharper and has nicer bokeh than the 55/1.2
What do you have and which 3-5 would you recommend as a set for the A1.
Many thanks.
Paul
www.paulcooklin.com

Responses


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Frederick Muller , Jun 14, 2010; 04:44 p.m.

Some are definitely better than others. No worries, the same is true for other lines like Nikon also. You have a great lens in the 50mm f3.5 Macro. I have found the sharpest lenses in the FD lineup to be:

FD 85mm f1.2 L

FD 100mm f2.8 in Breach-Lock

FD 50mm f3.5 Macro in Breach-Lock

FD 24mm f2

I'm sure there are other excellent lenses in the FD lineup. I also like the Canon 35mm f2 Concave in Breach-Lock, but I haven't found it to be as razor-sharp as the ones I listed above. The macro and the 100mm f2.8 can be found at such reasonable prices I'd consider them "best buys". The 85mm f1.2L is so sharp it can beat a Leica 90mm APO Summicron. But you pay for it in weight and $. Other lenses are downright pedestrian. I've never been a fan of the FD 50mm f1.4 ... I've used it, but I far prefer the 55mm f1.2 Pre-Aspherical. And I prefer the f3.5 macro to either of those. Go figure. At some point you have to just try them out and judge for yourself.

Frederick Muller , Jun 14, 2010; 04:49 p.m.

By the way, I bet others will weigh in with their favorite off-brand FD mount lenses. Vivitar Series 1 made some outstanding optics. I have a Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f2.8-3.5 Varifocal that is terrific. Other lenses in that Series were designed to compete with FD lenses in both optical quality and build quality.

Stuart Gross , Jun 14, 2010; 05:27 p.m.

Paul Cooklin , Jun 14, 2010; 05:54 p.m.

OK, interesting. So, are you both saying that there are FD lenses which would equal or better a 24-105 IS USM L, for example. I realise 'better' is a relative term, but if you see what I mean.
The reason for asking is that although I have an EOS 1V, which as you know takes EF lenses, the prices of equivelant EF lenses are so high that they're prohibitive. I just thought that I could get myself a Canon A1 and a few primes which would more than suffice for a fraction of the cost of perhaps the 1.2 IS USM L or similar.

Kayam Rajaram , Jun 14, 2010; 06:05 p.m.

Paul,
In zooms, go with the 35-105 F3.5 (note that there are two versions of the 35-105 one of which the aperture varies) or the FD 80-200 F4 L.

Dave S , Jun 14, 2010; 06:08 p.m.

IMHO, go for the fast primes at all focal lengths.

First lens, a normal: 50/1.4 (or 50/1.2L if you shoot wide open and you have an extra $400)

Second lens, a short tele: any of 85/1.8, 100/2.0 or 135/2.0 depending on how you see. Go for the 135/2.5 if you're on a budget-- this lens is a howling ridiculous bargain. Go for the 85/1.2 if you're willing to part with about $650.

Third lens, a wide: any of 24/2.0, 28/2.0, or 35/2.0. If you shoot black and white, look for an early concave 35/2.0 (chrome nose or early SSC).

If it was me, and I could have only three Canon FD lenses, I'd probably go for the 35/2.0, 50/1.4, and 100/2.0. All fast primes, no L glass. Your mileage will certainly vary.

Frederick Muller , Jun 14, 2010; 06:16 p.m.

Apart from some things you can do with adapters, FD-land is pretty much film-land. But yeah, there is no question that if you are willing to shoot film, an A-1 and a selection of high quality FD lenses can beat a digital platform at lower cost. But you need to remember that image quality is a chain and that chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You need strong technique right up and down that chain.

Paul Cooklin , Jun 14, 2010; 06:17 p.m.

OK, so would my EF zoom be sharper/better at any length than the primes above in FD? (not considering max aperture differences).
What I mean is the 24-105 EF is fine, but it doesn't blow me away. It's useful and has been my general lens. I dont know any different though as this was my first lens in 35mm until I bought a 50/1.8 which is quite good for what it is. I tend now to use the prime where I can, when I can. If there's no benefit from the best lenses in the FD lineup compared to my 24-105 L IS USM, then I might as well stick with EF and buy as and when. Im not sure if Im making myself understood. Im trying to decide if buying in to an older system which has come down in price so much it makes sense to make use of the old (but very good) lenses or if they wont beat what I currently have, all things considered. I dont need AF all the time which I would be paying for in the EF lenses, amongst other things of course.

Paul Cooklin , Jun 14, 2010; 06:24 p.m.

@frederick - I only shoot film...I hve no digital comparison and am not interested in digital.
see paulcooklin.com :)


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