Canon FD Lens + GH4 + FotoDiox ND Throttle Adapter Samples

So today I decided to shoot a few samples with the new FotoDiox ND Throttle Lens Adapter. The version I have mounts a Canon FD Lens to a Micro Four Thirds camera, and in these samples i'm using my Panasonic GH4. If you're familiar with 'Variable ND Filters' here's a few things to keep in mind while watching the video below (make sure you choose 1080 HD settings).

#1: Not once did I ever see the dreaded 'X' cross hatch while performing any of these tests. Even when going to it's extremes. I don't care how expensive your ND filter is, with certain lenses you'll eventually see this phenomenon when placing a Variable ND Filter to the front.

#2: Image quality did not appear to degrade as much as other ND filters when I tested my 200mm F/4 lens (which on GH4 is over 400mm). Even expensive 'Variable ND Filters' have trouble maintaining sharpness when placed in the front of lenses past 200mm.

#3: Stare closely at neutral areas like the 'whites' and 'black' areas. This filter in my eyes did not show a strong Magenta cast as most 'cheap' Variable ND Filters would. If anything maybe there's a bit of green, but nothing I would complain about for such a cheap lens adapter.

Now whether or not you have beef with the FotoDiox company is none of my business, but there's no denying that this adapter does what it claims and I think it does an excellent job for the price. There are certainly benefits to adding a Variable ND filter 'behind a lens' as opposed to the 'front of a lens' and it shows in these examples. Referencing the video above not once did you ever see weird 'cross hatching' as the nd filter rotated between it's extremes. It also maintained a fair amount of sharpness when used with a 200mm F4 lens which again on a GH4 is equivalent to 400mm+ on a full frame.

Below you'll find 'Frame Grabs' from the video, but you can click on any image below for a larger view.

Frame Grab Samples from Video with GH4 / White Balance Locked to Daylight Setting
FotoDiox ND Throttle FD Lenses

FotoDiox ND Throttle Birdhouse

FotoDiox ND Throttle Leaf

FotoDiox ND Throttle Clips

FotoDiox ND Throttle Flower

Obviously there are a few pixel-peepers who will nitpick these examples, so here's a bit of advice. If you're the type to complain about trying to get the best quality out of your lenses, then you should not be looking at Variable ND Filters. Instead you should invest in 'Static ND Filters'. A static ND Filter will always provide the best image quality over the most expensive Variable ND filters money can buy.

In summary FotoDiox is offering up a very nice solution for the convenience of using Variable ND Filters combined with a variety of Lens Adapter Mounts all for under $100 dollars. At this time, I can't speak about the quality of using these adapters for Canon EF, Minolta, or Nikon lenses, but i'm personally very very very satisfied with the results I can achieve with my sub $50 dollar Canon FD Lenses.

One of the 'CONS' of course with this type of setup is that it will not allow you to use a 'Focal Reducer' or 'Speed Booster' which might be a hard trade off for some people. So hopefully these short examples are enough reference for concerns such as a questionable loss of sharpness, color shift and or color cast. Once again take a look at the examples, and leave your comments below about whether you think the product delivers to your expectations.

FotoDiox ND Throttle Adapter
find-price-button FotoDiox ND Throttle Variable ND Lens Adapters

33 thoughts on “Canon FD Lens + GH4 + FotoDiox ND Throttle Adapter Samples

  1. @George - I love old lenses. They have more 'character' than super sharp overly coated lenses. But the problem when working on some projects is that with old lenses as you swap back and forth, the image is hard to match up. Not just the color contrast and saturation, but also the 'look and character'. With newer lenses (especially cinema lenses) they are designed to match so as you cut camera angles or swap lenses throughout your project the look and feel of the video remains similar.

  2. George

    Hi! I know this video came out ages ago but I was wondering what you think of the canon FD 20mm? Whats it's like? Is is sharp, is there any spherical abberation, is it well made? Would you suggest buying it?? (I use the GH4)

  3. Jan

    Okay thanks emm.
    its definitly a problem with the ND filter. very disapointing if you keep in mind that this filter costs about 200 dollars. i think there is no possibility to change that fact. so i need to look for another filter like the ND throttle. Thanks a lot emm.

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Jan - I'm not sure what you mean by a 'trick'. If you get sharp images from the FD lens without the ND, then the problem is the ND that you are using. No way around that. If your images are 'not' sharp without the ND then you have a problem with your lens to body adapter. The flange distance is probably off.

    I like fd lenses and I have seen some amazing stuff with them but you may want to try the Fotodiox throttle. It is one filter that every single FD lens will be able to take advantage of, no thinking about filter sizes.

  5. Jan

    Hey Emm,

    Thanks for your answer. I know about the problem with the vario ND filters. Even with wide angle and zoom lenses. But im satisfied with the results of my new panasonic and olympus lenses. But there seems to be a specific problem with the combination of the gh3 + canon fd lense + vario ND filters.very blurred image. No matter with witch lense you try. I tryed it with the the 135mm and 50mm canon fd. same results. I'm really interesstet in thes topic because i realy like the canon fd lenses. But without ND filter they are useless and I'm hoping to find a trick to circumvent this problem without buying new filters.
    thanks emm

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Jan - You want the sharpest, use a static ND not a variable. If you want less issues with wide angle or even zoom use the fotodiox that adds it behind the lens.

  7. Jan

    I've got an panasonic gh3 and I'm using canon fd lenses. Las week i decidet to buy an vario nd filter (rodenstock). I've tested it with my olympus 9-18mm ode my Pansaonic 20mm. Works fine. But there is a problem. When i adapt it in front of my canon fd lens i lose a lot of sharpness. It's impossible the create an sharp image.
    Are there any experiences in with that?
    Thanks a lot

  8. Willian Aleman

    About my two previous questions, please never mind, I have a direct answer from Fotodiox. Both answers are positive.

    I already ordered one.

  9. Willian Aleman

    Two questions:
    I would like to know if the Nikon to MFT VND adapter version work with the
    Nikon F mount or if it only work with the G lenses?

    Second, since the description of the Nikon adapter to MFT specifies that it works with Blackmagic Pocket camera and no other, does the Nikon adapter work with the BMCC 2.5K MFT?

  10. Martin D

    @Emm ...sounds good about the resolution and color. I wouldn't be using the Canon version, I'd be using the Nikon adapter. I'd hope the adapter rings were tooled the same you know?

    Thanks again for the hard work!

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Martin D - There's a good amount of travel with the ND adjustment ring. It's not easy to turn so it won't automatically shift while moving the camera around (unless you put your hand on it). It's still new, so I can't say if it gets loose over time, but at the moment there's plenty of friction in the ring. There seems to be different models with different features (like built in iris), but i've only tested this Canon FD adapter to MFT which only has a Variable ND. As you've mentioned about your return with FotoDiox, if you feel it's worth a shot at least you know you can always return it if you're unsatisfied. But i'm really enjoying mine as it offers great resolution on my lenses and no real color issues.

  12. Martin D

    Did you get any creeping with the adaptor's adjustment ring? ...did it stay put, after acquiring proper ND setting.

    How much total movement, from one extreme to the other, did you have with the ND adjustment ring? It appeared that the adjustment ring could only be adjusted over a very small distance inch or so? Didn't know if that was the case or not ...or if you had any difficulties.

    I don't have any gripes with Fotodiox, but those were issues that I had with a previous adapter. Kind of looks like the same tooling on this adapter's adjustment ring. Yes, Fotodiox was good to me with my return.

    Emm, I enjoyed your review and thanks for the hard work.

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Jason - Metabones is a lens adapter, but it is also a Focal Reducer. When you put a very large lens from a Canon EF (or other camera) over a very small sensor (like MFT), only part of the image hits the sensor - so that's why it's 'cropped'. The Metabones speed booster 'Focal Reducer' has special 'correcting optics' that takes more of the image from the lens and squeezes it down so that more of the image is hitting the smaller sensor.

    If you have ever taken a magnifying glass to burn stuff using the sun, as you move the magnifying glass back and forth that little light can be concentrated to one spot. Basically the image coming through a lens is just light and a speedbooster focuses more of that incoming light into a smaller area (on the sensor). So with a MetaBones Speed booster you gain more field of view and also extra light which is why you get an extra stop in your aperture.

    Metabones is not an ND Filter. ND Filters are used to block out light. If you are shooting outdoors on a bright day and open up your aperture to say F/1.4 you will have wayyyy too much light coming in and the image will be white 'blown out'. Some people don't want to change their shutter speed, so the only option is to use an ND filter to cut out the light (like window tint or dark sunglasses). The ND Throttle is a 'variable ND filter'. As you turn the filter it actually gets darker or lighter, so it's convenient to carry around instead of carrying several ND filters that vary in darkness.

  14. Jason


    so it does adopts EF, FD lens to 4/3 for $100? even with the nd filters on it?

    then why would people want to buy metabones for $600? just curious... maybe i'm misunderstood the concept of these products...

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Southerndude - I don't think that is possible. Cameras should really have it built in like the high end cinema cameras i.e. Canon C100, FS700,etc. You can do this with other large lenses because they need to be positioned (adapted) further from the m43 sensor to focus the light properly. The small MFT lenses are designed to be pushed right up to the sensor without an adapter so there is not enough physical space to add something like this.

    The best solution is that camera manufacturers add this into our camera bodies and we would never have to deal with external nd filters again.

  16. Emm: Compression,that explains the macro-blocking. I'm not a pixel-peeper, but that macro blocking caught my eye because it seemed to move around a lot and the fact the it was on a lighter background made it more visible.

    Do they make one of these ND adapters to just use with M4Thirds lens, that way one would get the benefit of VND being behind the lens?

  17. Got one of these for my A7S.

    It does get internal reflections. Some are really strong. So not the best as far as adapters go.

    That being said, it can be used artistically. I see some use for it.

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @Southerndude - Could be a lot of things, but possibly from compression. The video was lengthy so I chose a high compression to get it up on youtube.

  19. there's no way to use this adapter and switch off the ND completely, right ? so whenever moving from outdoor to indoor shooting, you'd have to take it off and use another adapter, correct ?

  20. Emm

    Post author

    @OldCorpse - Yeah i'll see what I can do about skin tones. I just don't have a lot of time right now to dedicate to this one product. I just wanted to throw something up quick to clear up any concerns about loss of sharpness and color shifts.

  21. OldCorpse

    Hi Emm - I wasn't being critical, honest! Sorry if it came across that way. I'm just genuinely curious. Of course, when I buy I also do my own tests, I just thought in case you might be playing around more with this one, you might try a couple of things - but no "demand", also mentioned that if anyone else has it and wants to try, those would be my suggestions. The only reason I made the suggestion is because that's what your site is - for discussions of products... no? Thank you, as always!

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @OldCorpse - Regardless of what experiences people have had with previous products from FotoDiox, I believe they were able to get refunds from their purchase if they weren't satisfied. I bring this up because we all have different needs and use cases, so it's a good idea to check with the retailer about their return policies in case you're not satisfied.

    Sometimes we can do research for months about products, or we can simply try products on our own to see if it meets our needs. Of course it's always helpful to deal with a company that allows us to return products if we're not satisfied. I do this all the time with B&H, Amazon, etc.

    FotoDiox advertises a 14 day return, 2 year warranty on products. So if it didn't work out, i'm not sure what there is to complain about. That's a pretty generous offer for people to test products.

  23. OldCorpse

    Thanks Emm, for the tests, and as always, we should use our eyes to evaluate the images and not just rely on what someone says. Looking at these, I can't see anything wrong with the ND throttle. However, all my non-m4/3 lenses are Nikon mount, so I guess I'd have to stipulate that it'll be the same effect as with your Canons.

    Your tests were completely valid, no question. However, if you had a chance and it would not be too much trouble, it would be interesting to see a quick test done on a color chart (I'm not worried about resolution - based on your test, I think that's one worry that can be put to rest). Or even more to the point, my main worry about VNDs is skintones. Even with my top quality Heliopan, sometimes people's faces can look a bit plastic - it's hard to pin-point what's responsible for that effect, but it might be down to the angle at which the light hits. Now, I realize it may not be practical for you to shoot skintones, I just thought I'd mention it in case someone else wants to upload some skintone tests.

    The other thing I'd be curious about is what happens when you move the camera around. An ND filter (or any glass for that matter) looks at its best when the light hits straight on - but when it needs to travel through the glass at an angle, that's when distortion and color shifting can happen, because the light is travelling through more thickness of glass. So when you move the cam around, funny things might happen... as you say, you have to be careful with reflections from beams of light hitting at an awkward angle, which is always a danger the more pieces of glass are put on.

    Anyhow, good test, and certainly I wouldn't worry about resolution at least. Thanks!

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @Claire McHardy - Go for the Metabones Canon FD to MFT Speed Booster. I've seen some really great stuff from that combo.

  25. I would love to be able to use my FD lenses from my canon A1 to shoot. Is there a speed booster for the Panasonic that uses FD lenses and is it any good?

    I have canon L series glass but I would imagine that using FD glass gives you a serious size and weight advantage over the L series in certain situations. What would be your favorite FD adaptor to date. Is this it?

    Do you enjoy shooting with FD lenses?

  26. I own the A7s. So the only time i use the speed booster is when i am using the 120fps mode. it only lets you shot in aps-c crop mode. So i like to bring it back to full frame with the speed booster. I only use it on special occasions but i have it for when i need it.

  27. Emm

    Post author

    @Daniel Hughes - If you've got a speed booster, I think it's going to be hard to let that go. I think i'd rather use a speed booster over an ND filter.

  28. I look forward to your tests. Like myself and many others its hard to invest in another adapter or VND when i already own a adapter with iris control, a speedbooaster, and a Tiffen VND. So for me it really has to make sense to invest into another system. Like the saying goes. If it's seems too good to be true then it probably is. for fotodiox i hope this saying doesn't apply to them. but only time will tell.

  29. Emm

    Post author

    @Daniel Hughes - I'm doing all this from my backyard, but next time I get a chance to grab the rest of my filters from the office i'll definitely do a test against the other ND filters. I already know it's not going to be pretty when I throw it over my 200mm F/4..

  30. I think it looks good from your samples. But i also thought my 5d mark iii looked good until i compared it to my a7s. sold my 5d immediately. Don't want the same thing to happen if i buy this product. It would have been nice if you would have compared this to another VND. Tiffen, Heliopan, Genus, ext.... Is this something your planing on doing in the near future? I think the biggest question everyone has is how much sharper or non sharp is this in comparison. that's really the ultimate test. I really like how the fotodiox has no X hatching going on. they definitely have the upper hand in that department. but i also know where not to use my current VND for best performance. I think ill hold off on purchasing this product Un till there is more information out there.

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