Canon FD Lenses

DSCF0936_2342x1562 It is a bit strange for me to be writing about Canon.  I think some of the folks over at the Nikon forum I frequent sometimes, would have a heart attack!

To be honest, I don’t care what you shoot with.  What matters is what you produce with your camera. Actually, I nearly bought a Canon when I bought my first DSLR.  I have a Canon Elura 100 and the first camera that I was able to call my own, was a Canon.

So, why do I say it is a bit strange for me to write about Canon? For starters, I no longer own a DSLR.  Secondly, the two cameras I use now, are Fuji.  What the heck does Canon have to do with anything?  More to the point, what in hell do Canon lenses have to do with Fuji? Have I got you scratching your head now?

Okay, so here it is in a nutshell:  The Fuji X-E1, X-Pro1 and X-M1 can all use lenses from Canon, Nikon, Leica, Voigtlander, ContaxG, Sony/Minolta, Pentax… okay, I will stop there.  There may be a few more, but not worth listing.  I think you get the picture. No, Fuji has not developed a mount that can miraculously take on all these different mounts.  That would be nice, but it is never going to happen.  However, and this is nothing really new, you can buy adapters to mount these lenses on a Fuji X camera.

Many people who are going to the Fuji X system, are either dumping their DSLRs completely or using the Fuji as a secondary camera. For the folks who are getting rid of their DSLRs, they are left with some lenses that they did not sell.  Other people who have been using Nikon or Canon for many, many years, are left with a bunch of glass that would otherwise sit there and collect dust.

The people who are using the Fuji as a secondary camera, are wanting to use their DSLR lenses instead of investing money in a bunch of new Fuji glass.

As I said before, adapters are nothing new.  They were not all of sudden born on the dawn of the Fuji X system.  However, because of the popularity of cameras such as the X-E1 and X-Pro1, companies who make lens adapters have been very busy churning out a new line of adapters for the X mount.

If you look around, you will find adapters from numerous companies.  However, please keep in mind that not all adapters are made the same.  Without geeking-out, an adapter is about more than attaching a Nikon lens to a Fuji camera.  It is about precisely filling that void between the sensor and the element on the back of that Nikon lens.  If this void is not filled precisely, photos will most likely not come out right. There is a more “geeky” explanation to the above, but I think my simple translation serves it’s purpose.  In the end, you don’t want to go el-cheapo on an adapter.

On the other hand, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars either. Before we look at some of the adapters that I have come across, let’s look at lenses.

I have no idea what you may have hanging around in regards to lenses; therefore, I will talk about what my situation is. I sold everything that I had that was Nikon.  Therefore, I am left with nothing that I could possibly use with my X-E1.  With my X-E1, I have one lens: the 18-55.  This lens is a little gem and is quite versatile.  However, investing in more Fuji glass is rather expensive, even more so then if I were to buy new Nikon glass.  I knew this before I bought the camera, so it is not a surprise to me.

To give you an example, the 55-200 from Fuji will set you back $700.  Buying the Nikon equivalent would set you back about $300 if you were to get a good used one.  Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon lens is all plastic, where as the Fuji is mostly metal.  Optically, they most likely perform the same – I am leaning more towards the Nikon in regards to the better of the two. What am I to do?

In reality, I can not justify spending (at minimum $500) hundreds of dollars on extra lenses that I may not use all the time.  Before I sold my Nikon gear, I had a 35mm, a 70-300mm and a 400mm sitting around and not being used.  It was not because I did not like them, it was because I was changing as a “photographer”.  I was becoming more interested in other subject matters.  These subject matters did not need big telephoto lenses. I can only use the 18-55 for so long before I start to want some other options.

A prime lens would be nice and something that would go beyond 55mm would be nice as well.  Fuji has a bunch of primes out there already, but they are far from being cost-effective.  To give an example, their 35mm is $600.  My Nikon 35mm cost me $240.  So, the Fuji is a 1.4 and the Nikon is a 1.8, big deal! The more than $350 difference is the big deal.

What is the solution:  The solution is to not spend hundreds of dollars and instead, look towards Canon.  The reason that I have turned to Canon, is because their FD lenses are very cheap price wise and there is a good selection of them as well.  Yes, there are used Nikon lenses out there also, but they are slightly more expensive.

What is a Canon FD lens:  The Canon FD lenses are from the film days.  The FD mount was introduced in 1971.  It served as Canons SLR mount until 1987 when the EOS series of cameras came about with their EF mount.

Over the 21 years of production, Canon produced 134 different FD lenses, probably the most extensive manual focus lens line ever made.  This is why there is a good selection of them today.

The reason why they are so cheap, is because anyone with a Canon (D)SLR from the last 20 years, will not be able to use them without an adapter.  Further, anyone buying a Canon DSLR today, will most likely not be interested in using them since they are completely manual.  This makes them almost worthless…  except to me and other Fuji users.

Are they any good: YES.  From my research, these FD lenses are very well made and their optics are wonderful.  What more needs to be said. To give you an idea of how much these Canon FD lenses cost, take a look at the Canon 135mm.  On B&H, they have it for $49.95.  A 28mm F2.8 is going for $79.95.  Both these lenses that I have mentioned, are in excellent condition.

Adapting the lens to the Fuji:  This is the crucial part of the equation.  As I mentioned before, don’t cheap-out on the adapter.  I would say anything in the $50-70 range will be fine.  You can spend a lot more, but I don’t know how much better the adapter will be.

Some of the manufacturers that I have come across in my research are: Kipon, Novoflex and Fotodiox.  These are the brands that I have heard good feedback about.  The Novoflex is the most expensive one of the three, coming in at $219. Personally, the adapter that I have my eye on, is this one: I like this one, not only because it is a reasonable price, but also because it has a built in tripod foot.  This will come in handy if I were to ever mount a long lens.  This will take the weight of the lens off of the X-E1 mount and put it solely onto the adapter, which will be fastened to the QR head of your tripod.  All the camera will be doing, is hanging onto the adapter.

Before I buy anything, I am going to have to explore how manual focusing works out for me on the X-E1.  I did fine with my 50 AF-D on my D5100; so in all honesty, I don’t think I will have much issue with the Fuji.

Adapting Canon FD lenses to my Fuji is going to be fun and most importantly, it is going to be a very cost effective way to expand my lens choices.  Though, I might get a few weird looks.

Thanks for looking.

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