Canon FD lenses are amazing lenses that have withstood the test of time. Even though some Canon FD lenses are over 30 years old, they still do an amazing job and take fantastic photos. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best Canon FD lenses currently available.
Now more than ever, FD lenses are a steal to pick up considering that purchasing a new set of lenses can cost quite a lot of money. You can pick up some second hand FD lenses for far cheaper and if you get a bundle of lenses, you’ll have a huge array of photographic opportunities in front of you.
There are quite a few types of FD lenses so we’ll check them out, and also talk about what to look for when getting a lens.
Why buy a Canon FD lens?
FD lenses are really easy to use and great for shooting video as the aperture adjustment and focus rings are fully manual. This gives you the greatest level of control, and if you’re shooting video, you can change the aperture and focus as you are shooting.
This is not possible to do with modern lenses.
However, this means there is a trade-off as well: since these are older lenses, there’s no autofocus, you’ll have to set the aperture manually every time, and there’s no image stabilization.
Additionally, because they’re older lenses, you’ll need to buy them second hand, and that means the body or the lens may have scuff marks and you’ll need to give them some TLC.
Best Canon FD Lenses: 9 to choose from
1. Canon 1:2.8 28mm lens
The Canon 1:2.8 lens is a fairly simple, straightforward lens. It’s not too fancy, but does the job really well. It’s made of a hard plastic called polycarbonate. Even though it is plastic, the construction is still very solid and when you hold it in your hand, it does not feel low quality in any way.
The tough construction makes the lens suitable for use in tough environments and it can easily survive a ding or drop here and there.
You should be aware though that the center of the subject will be extremely sharp and crisp, but the edges tend to lose a little bit of the focus and may appear softer or blurry.
2. Canon f/1.4 50mm Lens
Canon’s 50mm FD lens shoots really clear and crisp images and because of the manual focus and aperture, it’s ideal for videography. You can get an indie film effect really easily if you use this lens.
The aperture can go really high on this lens, all the way up to f/1.4, but at that point, the image will start to go soft. Even though you can go so high, try keeping it a little lower in the f/2 and f/3 range for ideal shooting.
It’s a little bit on the heavy side but that actually adds to the quality feel of it. Just be mindful of the weight when you attach it!
- Compatible with all Canon FD-Mount Manual Focus Cameras such as AE-1
- Manual Focus Only. It will not auto focus on any camera.
- Fast f/1.4 aperture
- Comes in either breech mount or bayonet mount
3. Canon 100-300mm FD Zoom
Number 3 on our list is an FD lens with zoom capability. The closest it can focus is 2 meters, which is quite impressive. Additionally, the magnification makes a huge deal.
Even though it looks quite imposing, it is in fact quite light and you won’t really notice the extra weight any more than you would on a similar sized lens.
The zoom is all the way from 100 mm to 300 mm. That makes it ideal for shooting really awesome portraits and even for wildlife photography.
4. Canon FD f/4.0 70-210mm Zoom
The next lens on the list is another zoom lens, but this time, the zoom is from 70-210mm. The above lens had a minimum focus distance of 2 meters, whereas this one can focus up to 0.44 meters close. The effective zoom is 3 times (70 x 3 = 210).
At 70mm, this lens is really good at capturing macro photographs, much more so than the 3rd lens on our list. As such, this FD lens falls in a sweet spot between something that’s capable of up close shots and can zoom quite a bit too.
The one issue is that in some cases, you’ll experience some aberrations.
- Medium telephoto to full telephoto
- Offers more than above average optical performances and easy portability
- Compatible with all Canon manual focus film cameras that accept FD-mount lenses
- Zoom ratio of 3X and closest focus distance is 0.44 meter
5. Canon FD f/4 200mm
This FD lens from Canon is another awesome piece of equipment in an already awesome lineup, partly due to the 7 elements inside. It focuses smooth, fast, and the focus ring allows you a high degree of accuracy
The glass used in this lens has a very high refractive index. It is ideal for shooting fast-paced action, such as sports or following a subject in a documentary.
Aperture wise, the lens performance is quite adequate and you’re able to capture a decent photograph even if light is a little scarce.
6. Canon FD 35-105mm Macro Zoom
Even for second hand lenses, you may find that the Canon FD Macro Zoom lens is a bit on the expensive side. Perhaps this is because this lens was just more expensive in general, or that it is now harder to find.
Either way, sporting a wide range of aperture and a fast shutter speed, it shines amongst zoom lenses. Wherever you’re shooting photographs and in whichever situation, this lens will not let you down.
Overall, it’s well built, solid, and you have two rings to adjust the zoom and the focus.
The macro mode can leave a little bit wanting some times, but on the whole, it’s great value and performance.
7. Canon f/2.5 135mm Zoom
This lens has been going strong for nearly 50 years! Even though the lenses are so old, you’ll still find most of them to be in great shape. This is one of the earlier lenses to be made of plastic, but even so, the build quality is really solid.
Plastic is light, so you can actually use this to your advantage as the lesser weight will let you carry it around with more comfort.
The manual focus ring is really accurate and you can fine tune as you wish, but at really high apertures, you may sometimes experience slightly softer pictures. For best results, you’ll need a more mid-range aperture.
- 135 mm f/2.5: introduced in 1971 as one of the first lenses in the new Canon FD mount.
- Like all of the very early Canon FD lenses, it does not indicate the type of coating on the front lens ring. All lenses from 1971
- (indeed, from the very early 1950s forward) were coated in one form or another.
- 135 mm f/2.5 S.C.: The marking for Spectra Coating (SC) was added in 1973.
8. Canon f/5.6 100-200mm 11150 lens
This Canon FD lens is a classic “budget” FD lens. It’s pretty standard by most respects, but you’re getting an FD lens for a pretty decent price that has a small degree of zoom functionality.
The maximum aperture only goes up to f/5.6, so if you’re shooting a lot of indoor or low light shots, you may struggle if you don’t use a flash.
It’s a pretty big lens (though not to the point where it is difficult to carry around).
Really, the only reason we’re recommending this lens is that it’s super inexpensive compared to the others and it’s FD after all.
9. Canon f/4 FD 35-70mm
Finally, the last lens we’d like to bring to your attention is the Canon f/4 FD 35-70mm lens. It’s a pretty old lens but it’s still going really strong even after all these years.
The max aperture is f/3.5 at 35mm, and f/4.5 at 70mm. While this is fine for most well lit indoor areas, in darker areas or at night, you’re not going to get good performance out of this.
Overall, it’s a really light lens that does the job well.
- Distance scale: (m) 0.5 (35mm at 0.5m, 0.08X magnification) (70mm at 0.15); 10 OO (ft) 2 – 30.OO
- Focusing mechanism: Rotation of front lens group
- Zooming: Rotation of zooming ring; Minimum aperture: f/22 . A
- Diaphragm: Automatic; Filter size: 52mm; Hood: W-62
- Length x max. diameter: 85.5mm x 68mm; Weight: 315g
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an adapter to mount this lens?
In most cases, yes. Since these are older lenses, they will not work without an adapter on newer cameras.
How much do Canon FD lenses cost?
Canon FD lenses can be found for quite cheap. Since you’re buying second hand, many of the lenses you’ll find will be quite a steal compared to brand new lenses with similar specs.
However, since they are older lenses, you’ll be giving up some of the advanced features like autofocus and stabilization.
What is meant by aperture?
Aperture means the amount of light being let into your lens. A smaller aperture number means the lens is open more, and a higher aperture number means the lens is less open, letting less light in. This is a point of confusion for many photographers!
Zoom lenses or prime lenses?
Zoom lenses and prime lenses are two different types of lenses. Which one should you get really depends on what and how you are shooting.
If you’re shooting closer subjects, a prime lens will do the trick just fine, and you’ll also be able to get bigger apertures. Zoom lenses are great if your subjects are far off and you need to get in close, but you will sacrifice the aperture a little bit. The more you zoom, the less the aperture will get.
Are FD lenses well built?
Back in the day, manufacturers used to build things to last! Most lenses had metal housing which was incredibly durable and could survive years and years. Ironically, newer lenses don’t have such a long lifetime because manufacturers use rubber and plastic parts to cut costs. Oh well!
There’s no doubt that Canon FD lenses are extremely high quality lenses and great for shooting video. If you use your SLR camera to shoot video, then an FD lens will give you a lot of flexibility and let you get really creative with your shots. Plus, with the wide variety available, there’s no limit to the kinds of shots you can create.