The Cheaper Road to a lens with F/1.2

Canon 85mm F/1.2L FD Manual Focus Lens

Canon FD mount lenses designed originally for older film cameras are a beautiful option for many video shooters. Not only are they wildly popular with DOF adapters to be used with standard camcorders, you'll find DSLR bodies such as Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, Nikon, and new Canon DSLR's adapting these older lenses to get wide apertures on the cheap. The controls are completely manual to set aperture and focus. Many enjoy shooting these older lenses simply because the focus rings work better for pulling focus in video mode.

There's a bunch of different adapters to mount these FD lenses to just about any camera. For Canon this i'm using one which has an extra piece of Optical glass to correct the image and prevent vignetting at wider angles. For other cameras, i'm not sure if the optical glass would be necessary. If you've got an FD lens adapter story to share, post your comments here.

find-price-button Canon FD Lens Adapter with Optical Glass for Correction

It's also pretty sharp, but not too sharp and often giving a very vintage feel with your footage. The look from these lenses will definitely give artistic video shooters a bit more of a creative documentary feel with a slightly softer high contrast look. Here's a good example video that was posted (now 2 years ago). You can catch groups on both Vimeo and Flickr all dedicated to older FD and FL vintage lens styles. The current EF auto focus 85mm F/1.2 runs for close to $2,000 dollars. Look carefully and you'll catch an 85mm F/1.2L FD mount (yes L lens) for less than a third of the EF mount price. Of course F/1.2 should provide you with a beautiful image, but it's not your only option. There are many other other great FD lenses to be adapted including F/1.4, F/1.8, F/2.0 with all ranged from Fisheye Wides to Super Zooms.

So if you're looking to get more Depth of Field on the cheap with a nostalgic look, check out the many FD and FL lenses available most starting auctions at under $5 dollars.
find-price-button Canon FD Mount manual focus manual aperture Lenses

Related Posts:
Canon FD 200mm F/4 Video Sample

31 thoughts on “The Cheaper Road to a lens with F/1.2

  1. M42 mount lenses work perfect on EOS Full frames and crops

    Pentax K mount lenses work perfect on EOS Crops (hit mirror on full frame)

    Fotodiox adapters worked great for me

    FD lenses only work if you have one of the super rare adapters made by canon that have a high quality glass element built in....

    take my word for it...don't buy FD unless you have an FD camera...I learned the hardway.

  2. jed

    im looking towards m42 lenses on my 550D, what are comparisons of these with FD lenses, i heard its not a good idea to add these lenses on 550D

  3. Emm

    Post author

    @westage - For my Canon I'm using a Bower adapter with Glass. For the GH2 it's a FotoDiox with no Glass.

  4. cheetah

    Just sold all my FD lenses and adapter. I never got any satisfactory results from them. Nikon & Vivitar Ai/Ais lens will be my next test lens.

  5. Ok, I'm new to this old lens thing but it's very interesting. Can someone point me in the direction of an adapter for Nikon (D90)? Also, any good suggestions for old lenses would be great!

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Paola - The adapter I have will work to mount it, results always vary depending on the camera + adapter + lens.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @F-Stop Loss @Steve Oakley - FD lens mount information has been out long before Digital Video. Different adapters to different cameras, combined with different lenses, = different results (remember even Panasonic Sony and others can use different lenses). There are even shooters using DOF adapters like the Letus

    For DSLR's or INC's - Some adapters are designed with optional glass to correct for infinity and some don't. Just like forums, there are usually plenty of response comments to any article posted on this website you should consider. On this particular article, there's probably over 20. You definitely can't make an FD lens into an EF lens, but sometimes grabbing three solid built lenses for $50 bucks is a steal so i'm not sure what you'd expect. Here's a good overview from Caleb and please read the comments to his video

  8. F-stop Loss!

    I just can't believe that no one has pointed out yet that the adapters with optics to allow focusing to infinity REDUCE THE LENS APERTURE BY ABOUT ONE STOP! So if you put one of those on a f/1.2, it effectively becomes a f/1.8!! And keep in mind that it will lack autofocus, suffer from flare and internal reflections, and require stop-down metering. Sure the build quality might be nice being metal and all, but with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 coming in at under $100 it hardly seems like an FD mount lens is worth the trouble for that focal range.

    @cheesycam - Maybe a little more research/full disclosure would have been in order for this post. I feel that you are tricking people and that this post should be updated.

  9. I tried one adapter and it would not give me infinity focus with a 50 1.8 FD I had laying around. sent it back. I've been using all OM / vivitar glass now that focuses the right way, and the adapter for OM needs no glass. it would be nice that it worked, but reality is, it doesn't. so except for macro-ish use, FD glass just doesn't work well.

  10. Shaz

    OK here's the problem with FD lenses. I have 4 FD lenses; 28mm (F2), 35mm (F2), 55mm (F1.2) and 135mm (F2.5) and i use an adaptor ring with the optical glass.

    All these lenses have Spectra coating on them which makes the lenses green. Unfortunately the optical glass in the adaptor (2 pieces of glass, one is positive and one is negative) is NOT coated at all. In fact its just a cheap piece of crap. I went to an Opticians and they checked the optical glass out and gave me the info. To replace those small pieces of glass with excellent new glass which is coated with spectra fully, will cost around €350 here in Germany (optician said they may even use zeiss glass). This will then give your adaptor a perfect sharp picture at the faster apertures. Hence you can use them at f1.2 without any soft haze.

    Im still debating getting it done or whether i should sell my lenses and just buy 2nd hand EF L series zoom lenses.

    Anybody wanna try it?

  11. I bought one of these adapters after salvaging a 300mm f/4 FD that a neighbor was throwing away.
    I got the adapter with the optics because I wanted infinity focus on a lightweight telephoto.
    Instead I got a lens that (with optics) will focus to infinity but vignettes even wide open. Combined with the lack of crisp sharpness, it makes photos or videos have a Holga-like effect.
    Without the optics, I cannot focus to infinity, but there is no vignetting. The image is still not razor sharp, but it's a pretty good macro.

    It's a great lens for vintage, macro or novelty effects, but it's not a go-to telephoto. Might have different results with an L series 300mm FD

  12. Pingback:

    Canon FD Lens 200mm F/4 » CheesyCam

  13. Dietrich

    You can get a great deal on fd lenses but take them for what they are, I like the look, but with the wide open aperture, the bokeh just looks oddly exagerated. And everything will be soft. But I love the long FD zoom I have.

    Also remember there is a 1.2 crop factor, so on a 7D that makes it a 1.92 crop factor so my 300mm zoom is actually closer to 600mm.

  14. Emm

    Post author

    People are trying to compare them to true EF lenses that are designed specifically for digital. You'll never get as sharp an image, but that's not really the point. There are wedding videographers still charging tens of thousands of dollars to shoot in old 16mm, because they love the look. People are adapting 100 year old lenses to a 5D Mark II. DIYers are making pin hole caps to get that vintage feel. Sure it's not going to be as sharp as an EF, but there's a certain look it provides that you don't need to tweak in post to get. It's affordable and the nostalgic look is still captured in 1080p. I think it's a great option and I'll throw some footage up as an example soon.

  15. I really don't get why everybody is so against the FD lenses in a EOS body.
    Never used them but I searched 5d fd in vimeo, and there are some really nice footage with FD lenses.
    Emm have you had any major problems with them?

  16. I'm looking for a cheap lens that can create good video of bike races. The action may be 50-100 yards away. With the kit lense for the t2i I can cover from about 30 feet and closer pretty well, but I want to be able to cover more of the race. I don't mind manual aperture and focus. I actually like that idea. Any ideas guys?

  17. I've used the 50mm f1.4 FD lens on a Canon 500D and shot this video for a festival.

    It's not bad, but at f1.4 and that little glass adaptor, it flares to much I guess. but not bad for the investment, I would not recommend it though for Canon, for others, with an adaptor with out the lens in it, go for it.

  18. enrik

    Don't get these adapter, I bought one to use with my old FD lenses, results are almost unusable, light reflects inside as crazy and things are sharp only at 4.0 or higher. Just does not work.

    Believe me

  19. John Kantor

    Let's just say No to ludicrously shallow depth-of-field effects. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.

  20. lolicht

    for me the fd to eos adapter with glass give results that are more unuseables than dreamy ! I'v got a 50 1.2 FD and without the piece of glass it give tack sharp pictures, unfortunately only for macro purposes. A site like cheesycam might be the good place to do a review of the DIY options for adapting an eos mount on the FD's, I'v seen some tutorials in various places but none convinced me to go for such a surgery ..

  21. jason

    the extra glass in the FD adapter is a deal killer. I like my old Pentax lenses for this purpose.

    I do have an FD adapter without the extra glass, it's great for super sharp macro shooting. You can't focus further than 10 inches though.

  22. terry

    I LOVE my 50mm 1.4 FD. I wouldn't be able to afford a EF 50mm 1.4. Only but 1.4 and 1.2 lenses. Most 1.8 lenses you can get EF mount for a decent price. I got a Canon AE 1, 50mm 1.4 and a 28mm 2.8 for $75.00 off Craig's list. Happy hunting!

  23. I've always been curious of these lenses. Would you possibly be able to do a roundup post of which old lenses are the best for the price?

  24. I own an Olympus OM 55mm f1.2 and it's my favorite and most used lens.

    I've written a review about it in my blog: (With some 7D test footage too)

    I went with OM rather than FD because FDs can't focus to infinity on digital bodies.
    This is actually not such a big issue, I've been using this lens for many months and have never needed to focus to infinity with it. (mostly shooting people)


  25. Keith

    I would love to use FD lenses but that extra piece of glass in the adapter just doesn't sit well with me. I recently picked up a Nikon 35mm f2 and an adapter from kawa mall on ebay. The Nikon is now one of my favorite lenses and it cost just over $100. The adapter for the Nikons doesn't require the extra glass and are exceptionally sharp.

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