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Canon FD 50mm lens for reverse macro?

David McIntyre , Mar 02, 2005; 12:45 p.m.

I just learned about using a reversed 50mm lens for macro photography, and I thought I would try this with the Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 lens that came with my wife's Canon AE-1 many years ago. I read that it's possible to test the procedure simply by holding the lens in position, but I discovered that once I remove this lens from the AE-1 body, the aperture closes down to approximately f8, and the image I get (though greatly enlarged) is extremely vignetted as a result--all but a small circle at the center of the image is obscured. Turning the f-stop ring has no effect on the aperture opening. Putting the lens back on the AE-1 opens the aperture completely again, but a good half hour of poking and prodding failed to produce any way to open the aperture when the lens is off the camera body. Can I use this lens for reverse-lens macro photography?


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Bob Atkins , Mar 02, 2005; 02:12 p.m.

As I recall, getting Canon FD lenses to stop down or open up when removed from the camera involves pushing various pins and levers at the same time. I don't know if there's something commercially available that you can attach to the back of the lens to enable manual iris operation. You should be able to make something out of an old lens mount from a broken FD body though.

The other alternative is ito pick up any old 50mm lens that has simple iris control, like many of the old Pentax screw mount lenses. You can often find them for $10-$15 on Ebay or in used camera stores. Then you just need an FD mount to filter thread adapater so you can mount the lens on the camera ("reversing ring").

Rob Bernhard , Mar 02, 2005; 02:29 p.m.

On a recent dpreview.com thread I found out the solution for Canon FD lenses. You need to cut out the inside of the rear lens cover and keep it on the back of the lens. The lens cover will turn and let you open the lens up. 3rd party ones don't appear to work (at least the one I have only allows me to stop down, not open up)


Mark Wahlster , Mar 02, 2005; 09:26 p.m.

To stop down a Canon nFD lens you need either the afore mentioned cut up rear lens cap, A Canon FD Macro hood (pretty much a cut up rear lens cap) or a Diaphram adapter a small 1/4" X 3/4" plastic pc. that fits over the aperture lever and holds it in the same positon as if the lens was mounted.

Top view Macro Hood and diaphram adapter

Mark Wahlster , Mar 02, 2005; 09:27 p.m.

and again

Bottom view

David McIntyre , Mar 03, 2005; 09:21 a.m.

Thank you!

Thanks Bob, Rob, and Mark. This is exactly what I needed to know.

sylvain jourdain , Apr 06, 2005; 07:49 p.m.

late version of Canon FD 50mm 1:1.4 is one of the best lens for reverse macro, fast, very sharp n no vigneting at all.

As a mather of fact, you can't find a macro hood in the market, but you can hack one by simply using a genuine Canon rear cap. Make sure it can be fixt to the rear of the lens by filing it the way it can turn slightly clockwise until it stops and the lens release button pops out. So use the rear cap as a hood.

For the manual diaphragm control you have to lock the Stop down lever in the position as mentionned for the FD lenses which lack a chrome mount ring or chrome-mount-ring FD lenses at...


Pasle1er, (not the first)

Leo Mandy , Nov 23, 2005; 09:33 p.m.


I have this lens 50 1.4 FD, chrome. I have tried to flip the switch on the back of the lens (which closes the iris) and then tried to manually open the iris on the barrel, but it does nothing. I have used the breech lock as well, but nothing seems to work. Am I missing something? I intend to use it with a macro tube, but if this one doesn't work, I will send it back to where I got it and hold off on the tube for a while until I can get another one. any ideas?

Ric Kemp , Jan 25, 2009; 09:57 p.m.

Hi Mark,

are you saying the cut up rear lens cap will substitute for the diaphragm adapter lug please?

there must be 1000's of these adapters around since the heyday of FD, but finding one today is like looking for a needle in a haystack



Philip Arrington , Mar 06, 2009; 12:31 a.m.

Macro hoods are not easy to find, as someone else has pointed out; an alternative for reversing an FD lens is to use the macro-auto ring, which is an FD "mini-mount" that controls the diaphragm by attaching a cable release to the fitting on the M-A ring. This stops the lens down to the preset aperture. Probably not a great method to use without mounting the camera on a tripod, but the macro rings aren't as scarce as macro hoods..I've seen some on eBay and some of the online used camera stores.

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