Videography technology has come a long way, developing at a rapid pace. A great example is modern lenses which offer the best image quality we’ve ever had so far. With new technology, however, comes a steeper asking price.
Recently, with the prevalence of mirrorless cameras and filmmakers gearing more towards manual focus than autofocus, we’ve seen FD lenses returning to the light spot.
The FD line of lenses was introduced by Canon in 1987. It was the precursor to Canon’s current EF format.
Due to their long history, FD lenses offer a wide variety of choices for videographers.
Add to this the fact that they are far more affordable than their EF successors and you got yourself a mighty attractive product for lens shoppers.
And a bonus is the vintage look the lenses possess.
This all sounds wonderful, but how do you pick a lens out of thousands of choices. Well, today in our comprehensive guide on Canon FD lenses, we’re going to tackle just that.
And just a quick note before we jump in: it should be obvious, but bears repeating, many of these lenses are hard to find. And some are quite rare. So consider that when searching places like Amazon.
We’ll list a few of our favorite lenses depending on your preferred focal length range and then we’re going to discuss what you should consider before buying.
Best Canon FD Lenses – The List
FD lenses have a rich history and a plethora of amazing choices for prospective videographers, so let’s check out some of the best Canon has to offer.
It’s commonly known that a lens with a 50mm focal length lens can be used for a number of different things.
Therefore, it stands to reason that you’ll want one in your personalized lens kit. For this, we recommend the 50mm f1.4 lens as the first FD lens you should own.
This lens is perfect for anyone who wants to take portraits or for videographers looking to shoot mediums.
The f1.4 aperture makes this a fast glass for those looking to do some portraits and medium shot coverage.
If you get an FD camera, chances are you’ll get a 50mm lens included.
However, if that’s not the case or if you go for a low price body with no lenses included you should definitely get your hands on this one.
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For anyone who is interested in portraits or medium shots, the 85mm lens may seem more appealing.
Many filmmakers swear by it as a superior focal length for medium shots. The Canon 85mm F1.2L certainly makes a strong case for this.
The case for this lens is made thanks to the large aperture clocking in at 1.2 which makes this a great lens for shooting outdoors.
Not only that, the lens produces a sharper image, understates parts that pop out, and more importantly blurs the background.
All of these quirks make the subject stand out in the frame which is what portraits and medium shots are all about.
The lens might technically be outdated, but the 85mm f1.2L is still popular because of the fact that it uses Canon’s Floating System. This makes it easier to maintain high resolution at closer focusing distances.
Moving away from medium shots, let’s take a look at a lens made for close-ups.
If you want to take intimate close-ups of people’s faces or detailed close-ups of objects we think there’s no better choice than the Canon FD 100mm f/2.8. It offers great value for its price.
The camera has a compact and light design thanks to the fact that it only utilizes manual focus.
It also performs really well, granting you shots that are dense with detail. The aperture might be slower than our previous choices.
That said, it’s excusable due to the static nature of most close-ups which don’t require much movement.
The biggest selling point of this glass is the incredibly low price. There are simply no lenses that can compete with the Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 at this range.
BEST CANON FD LENSES
What Are Canon FD Lenses?
Canon FD lenses are a series of SLR camera lenses manufactured by Canon Inc. Introduced in 1971, the first lens released was the 50mm f/1.4 L, and they were used on film SLRs until their discontinuation in 1995.
The FD system is an affordable way to get into shooting manual focus with your vintage gear – or just to give you more options for shooting.
If you’re looking for a lens that is as old school and iconic as the cameras that it was born with, then Canon’s FD lenses are perfect for your needs.
These lenses were popular in the 1970s because they were lightweight, compact, and easy to use. They can still be found at reasonable prices so if you want to get into photography but don’t know where to start this might just be what you need.
If you want to shoot wide-angles for establishing shots or anything of the sort, the Canon FD 24mm F/2.8 S.S.C is a great choice.
It offers pristine image quality and vibrant colors in every shot. We believe that there is no superior 24mm lens on the market.
Should you use the Canon FD 24mm F/2.8 S.S.C on an APS-C sensor body you’ll have a 35mm FOV, this makes it a good choice for doing some street videography.
However, if used on a full-frame body, the lens shines bright in wide-angle shots.
Overall, the Canon FD 24mm F/2.8 S.S.C is a great lens for filmmakers looking to capture intimate close-ups with great detail and rich colors.
It also helps that the lens is priced incredibly well so that any filmmaker can afford one.
We’ve pretty much covered only lenses with a single fixed focal length. If you’re a zoom aficionado who’s worried that there aren’t any zoom lens options for FD cameras, don’t because the format has plenty to offer.
Case in point, the Canon 100-300mm f5.6.
The zoom capabilities of this lens are quite impressive. It can focus as close as 2 meters to its subject.
Moreover, the magnification factor should sell anyone on this lens. Although the lens looks overwhelming at a glance, it’s surprisingly light.
For a lens that zooms from 100 mm all the way up to 300 mm, it is reasonably priced. This makes it great for filmmakers looking to shoot some sports events or wildlife.
Although if 100mm to 300mm sounds like too much for you, consider our last offering.
BEST CANON FD LENSES
Advantages of Canon FD Lenses
• They are currently one of the most affordable high-quality lens systems on the market.
• Users can easily change between auto or manual focus for different types of shots and subjects.
• Canon FD Lenses give photographers access to a wide variety of focal lengths, from ultra-wide angles to long telephoto.
• The quality of these lenses is superb because they were made when things used to be built to last.
This is another FD zoom lens. This time, however, it only covers 70mm to 210mm. This benefits the lens at the minimum focus distance is 0.44 meters close as opposed to 2 meters. It has 3 times the effective zoom.
At 70mm, the Canon FD f/4.0 70-210mm Zoom is excellent as a macro lens.
This in conjunction with its ability to zoom makes it an excellent choice for wildlife photography as it can nab some pretty gorgeous images.
While the lens can suffer from aberrations that could appear in the frame at times, it’s still an excellent lens.
If you want both a macro and a capable zoom lens at once, the Canon FD f/4.0 70-210mm Zoom is just the thing you’re looking for.
Best Canon FD Lenses – Buying Guide
Let’s take a look at the specific considerations that you’ll encounter when looking at purchasing Canon FD lenses.
Prime Vs. Zoom
Zoom lenses are pretty self-explanatory. The lens allows you to zoom in on the subject for better framing. They are versatile as they allow you to take images in different aspect ratios and modes.
The tradeoff is that you’ll lose some resolution and detail the more you zoom in. Also, the fact that zoom lenses can do a lot of things well, doesn’t mean they can do any of them exceptionally well.
Prime lenses are the opposite. You can’t zoom as there’s only one focal length. While they’re not as versatile as zoom, they are more consistent in their image quality.
The limitations don’t set the prime lens back. Instead, they force you to move around the scenery and come up with more interesting solutions rather than lazily zooming in all the time.
With all this said, let’s take a look into some of our favorite telephoto lenses for Canon we’re sure will please even the pickiest of photographers.
How much coverage do you want your lens to do? Ask yourself this before you buy a lens. The focal length is measured in Millimeters.
The bigger the number the smaller the physical space a lens can cover. Don’t be afraid to get lost in all the numbers, you can usually categorize the focal lengths in certain ranges.
Lenses that are 25mm or are somewhere in this ballpark have the widest coverage. You can capture scenery in full or a body within a physical space.
This is a good focal length for those shooting landscapes or architecture.
42.5mm or so is what we’d call medium range. For cinematographers, this is what they’d use for a medium shot or a medium close-up.
You can capture the head and shoulders of your subject. This is good for making a subject stand out in a frame.
Finally, we have a 60/70mm focal length. This is perfect for shooting close-ups. You can focus on the intimate details of your subject.
Things like facial features or the finer details of an inanimate object really stand out in this focal length.
Aperture tells you how fast a lens is. It also lets you know the amount of light allowed into the lens.
Aperture is measured in f-numbers like f/3.5 or f/4. The larger numbers indicate a slower aperture.
The smaller the number, the more light a lens can take in and the better it performs in low-light situations.
So yes, the bigger the F-number the slower the camera will be. Usually, lens kits will have apertures around f5.6.
This is simply too slow and will make your shooting experience less than optimal.
You’ll notice that most of our lenses range at 1.8, this offers the fastest and best performance especially, in low-light conditions.
Best Canon FD Lenses – Wrapping up
This concludes our guide on the best canon FD lenses. Hopefully, we’ve covered everything you wanted to know.
Hopefully, by now you’ll have a better idea of which lenses you want to get and which ones you may not need.
Just remember that the price of a lens doesn’t matter as much as what you want it to do.
FD lenses are especially cheap which makes them easy to get. Just make sure to set your expectations straight.
There’s no autofocus or image stabilization in these lenses which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means you have to up your game when using them.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick your first FD lens for your Canon and get to work on your next masterpiece.