7 Amazingly Affordable But Awesome Canon FD Lenses to Drool Over

If you still have a nice Canon FD mount camera lying around, we invite you to pair it with any — or all — of these awesome lenses. 

Not so long ago, we gave a rundown of Canon FD cameras for photographers thinking of going back to their film roots, and for first-time film photographers looking to purchase their first 35mm SLR camera. Now, it’s time to pair them with some of the best Canon FD mount lenses. If your FD mount camera is still missing a great lens, or you’ve been thinking of adding one (or two) to your arsenal, we suggest keeping an eye out for these lenses.

As always, let’s touch base on a little something about this popular Canon mount. According to Wikipedia, the FD mount was introduced by Canon Japan in March, 1971 alongside the Canon F-1 camera. It was the interchangeable lens mounting system for Canon SLR cameras until 1987, when the Canon EOS series came out. It endured until 1990 with the release of the Canon T60, the last FD mount camera, and ended with production of the Canon New F-1 in 1992. In its 21 years of production, Canon made 134 different lenses for the FD mount, ranging from 7.5mm to 1200mm in 17 different focal lengths and 19 zoom ranges. That makes the FD one of the most extensive series of manual focus lenses ever made.

50mm F1.4 S.S.C.

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With 50mm being the classic focal length with many different applications, it’s a no-brainer to have a 50mm f1.4 lens in your collection of FD lenses. With its widest aperture being f1.4, this standard lens is versatile glass for those who want to get started with portrait photography. Many FD cameras out there still come with a 50mm lens, but in case yours does not or you just decide to get a cheap body only, this one one of the first lenses you should definitely get. The 50mm f1.4 S. S. C., which mir.com.my says is an advanced standard lens based on the esteemed FL 50mm f1.4, is especially worth getting as it produces clear images not only in stopped-down metering but in full aperture metering as well.

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85mm F1.2L

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If you’re really into portrait photography, the 85mm is another great focal length you should try, especially if you plan to do a lot of shooting outdoors. As the folks over at Weekly Imogen have pointed out in their comparison video, it produces less distortion, compresses bulging parts, and render a lot of the scene out of focus. All these qualities let you make the portraits really about the subject. This fast glass, despite being technologically outdated, mir.com.my tells us that the 85mm f1.2L remains popular for being the first telephoto lens to use Canon’s Floating System to ensure good resolution even at the closest focusing distance of 0.9m.

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135mm F2.5

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Wikipedia tells us that there were several different versions of the Canon FD 135mm produced. Two of these were in the original or “Old FD” style with a silver locking ring for the breech lock mount, and three in the “New FD” style with the entire lens barrel rotating to lock the lens in place. As with the early FD lenses, the original 135mm f2.5 the type of coating wasn’t indicated on the front ring but all lenses from 1971 came with some coating. Two years later, the 135mm f2.5 C came out, indicating the marking for the new Spectra Coating.

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24mm F1.4 S.S.C.

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If you’re looking for a versatile wide-angle lens, a 24mm lens is your best bet. Wide-angle FD lenses come in 24mm to 35mm, but for applications like landscape photography, you’re best getting the 24mm f1.4  S.S.C. if you have the budget for it. According to mir.com.my, it features extremely high-quality performance with the fastest lens speed for lenses of its kind. It also has an aspherical surface that compensates for some aberrations and improves the flare correction, resulting in photos with high contrast and resolution. It also adopted a built-in floating system for preventing field curvature that typically happens when shooting from a close distance. This lens also allows for shooting close-up photography from as close as 30cm, which should be interesting for portraits.

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200mm F2.8

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Need to take advantage of the extra reach of a telephoto lens and the sharpness of a prime lens? The New FD 200mm f2.8 lens, according to mir.com.my, is a versatile, high-performance telephoto lens especially great for shooting stage, portrait, travel. sports, and documentary work. Noteworthy features include glass with a higher refraction index, a rear-group focusing system for smooth and easy focusing, reasonably good performance for low-light photography, compressed perspective, and greater scope of shallow depth control.

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35-70mm F3.5-4.5

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Is your vintage lens collection still missing an affordable and compact zoom? For starters, consider the New FD 35-70mm f3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom lens, which mir.com.my says boasts of high-performance optics in a small and lightweight package. In fact, it was equipped with the world’s first three-group zooming system that reduced the size and weight while keeping the impressive optical performance of Canon’s earlier two-group zooming system. It was the world’s smallest and lightest zoom lens at one point, providing a feel and dimensions of a 50mm lens. It also allows macro photography throughout the entire focal length range, providing a minimum film-to-subject distance of 39 cm, with magnifications of 0.11 X for 35mm and 0.2 X for 70mm.

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70-210mm F4

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Lastly, if the focal lengths above aren’t enough for you, you can go for the 70 – 210mm f4 instead. As noted by mir.com.my, this versatile New FD lens provides the focal length of four fixed focal length lenses: 85mm, 100mm, 135mm, and 200mm. It’s fairly lightweight and compact despite the zooming ratio of 3:1 and has very good aberration correction despite its short length. You can also do macro focusing at 44cm with this lens by setting it to 70mm.

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Cover photo from the eBay listing by knobuyuki777