400mm f/2.8 L FD

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by doug herr, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. Does anyone have experience with this lens? I'm looking for info
    regarding optical and mechanical quality, and I'm also having a
    hard time finding a typical selling price. I'm considering one
    formerly used by a photojournalist with a mount converted to
    another brand of camera. Thanks!
  2. http://mywebpages.comcast.net/starka/CanonFD_ebay2.htm

    try this link to determine the price.
  3. Its a fabulous lens. It has to have the filter in the back end of the lens to complete the opticics. It also needs the additional clip-on lens shade which is part of the package as well as the lens trunk thats supposed to be with it.
    I would not consider the bastardized lens that you describe however! Wait for some place like KEH to come up with one. You can even call them and put in a request for one of these. At the present time they don't have one but they do have the FD 500 4.5L which is a lighter lens and from what i've seen, better optics. I use both at various sports events. You will absolutely need to use the heaviest monopod that some of the monopod manufacturers make, like Manfroto for example.

    here's a link for you:

  4. Whats this pro used, mount modified, 400 2.8L selling for? Whats the mount been modified to mount on to, Cine camera or slr? Is the body still in white finish or has it got camo tape on it?

    In Canon FD mount and in nice shape the 400mm 2.8 lens is a bit more rare and trades hands the least of all the big white prime lenses.

  5. The lens was modified to a Leica SLR mount (the camera system I'm using) retaining auto-diaphragm and meter coupling. I haven't seen the lens yet so I don't know what its condition is. Thanks for the links and comments.
  6. Sweet. I've never seen a Leica mount modified example. And with aperture coupling, very very cool. I'd guess $1,000 could be a great deal for you then. I paid $1,620 for my EX+++/Mint- 400 2.8L with bag cap and extention hood and trunk and I remain happy with last year's purchase. 400mm 2.8 is the fastest prime at that focal length ever made and thats why it weighs in at 13 pounds. It originally sold new in the trunk for $5,400. Slightly less than 200 per year were produced.

    Good Luck!

  7. Incredible results from this lens! Don't anticipate carrying it too far and the monopod is a must. I suggest you see the lens to make sure the mount is okay and that it will focus properly. If you cannot see it, make sure that you have the option to return it and hopefully the shipping won't cost an arm and a leg.

    In the winter I bought a real beater for $1000 USD on eBay. The mount is loose, I had to fix up the extra hood, the sliding hood has a big chunk out of it, the body is heavily marked up, I had to clean the first 2 elements......and it is the best telephoto I've ever had! Far superior to the 400/4.5 and 300/2.8 Fluorite. Depth of field at f2.8 is tiny but wow does it ever make your subject stand out. I never really knew what bokeh was until I "shot" my son in some soccer games in the spring. You can check several photos in my folder but because of my film scanner the real quality of this lens cannot be seen on the net.

    Works extremely well with the 1.4x-A and results with the 2x-A are certainly useable but noticeably softer. I am sure it would be fine with a Leica 1.4x converter.

    I've never had a lens that focuses as nicely as this one either. Very smooth and the travel seems shorter than most, and it has that handy little lock as well.

    On the auction site good ones go for around $1600-$2000. Don't see as many as a couple of years ago though. There is one or two on there now. The stores charge $2000-$2500, when they have them. Yours should be discounted because of the mount change.

    Good luck!
  8. It's a benchmark performer, it just doesn't get any better-or much bigger!
    The focus mechanism on all these IF lenses can get a bit gummed up eventually making the action less smooth. Fairly simple clean-up.
    I've seen plenty of mount chop-ups (I use FD lenses on my Nikon F5)but rare to keep the auto diaphragm, though with fast long teles its often not a problem as you'd tend to want to use it wide open anyway.

  9. I recently obtained one of these in excellent shape at a very reasonable price (this fellow underrates his items).

    I find the performance equal to my 300mm f2.8L lens. Both wide open are unbelievable! Doing portraiture with this lens is unique: the distance puts the model completely at ease and you can see the individual vellus hairs on the ladies' upper lips!

    I would be interested in knowing about the fairly simple clean-up
    on the IF that Steve Phillipps mentions.
  10. Joseph,
    When I said "simple" I didn't mean to imply a do-it-yourself job, but for a repairman it's quite simple. All you do I seem to recall, is undo the ring that holds the front element in place and 1 bit after another unscrews allowing access to the focussing mechanism. This just then needs cleaning and oiling. Well worth it to get a gritty focus back to as new.
    Where are you based? You should have a good engineer near you, probably cheaper than sending back to Canon.
  11. Thanks for all the responses and comments. It took some negotiating and haggling but the lens was shipped to me yesterday evening and will arrive early next week. I can hardly wait to use this beast! [​IMG]
  12. Until recently my photo equipment toolkit for wildlife has emphasized portability. My most-used lens is the Leica 400mm f/6.8 Telyt, a simple two-element achromat designed in the late 1960s. It's light enough to carry all day without fatigue, with the right viewfinder the sliding focus is quick and accurate, and in good light the shoulder stock included with the lens makes a tripod unnessesary. With one limitation its optical performance is everything I could ask for: sharp, excellent flare resistance, bright neutral colors and pleasing bokeh. The weaknesses are field curvature (normal for this lens design) and a slow maximum aperture.
    A few months ago a one-of-a-kind Canon FD 400mm f/2.8 L converted to Leica reflex mount became available. As much as I despise being tied to a tripod, the f/2.8 maximum aperture opens up a lot of possibilities for me so I bought the lens.
    I've been using Leica equipment for over 20 years so I was curious how well the 400/2.8 stacked up against my exising equipment. I don't get too excited about minescule differences between lenses but overall performance, both optically and handling in the field, are a big deal to me.
    I compared the Canon lens with my two most similar Leica lenses: the 400mm f/6.8 because it's a comparable focal length, and the 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt because it's a similar optical and mechanical design, using low-dispersion glass, internal focus, and incorporating a protective glass plate in front.
    I shot a few test exposures of detailed items in my yard. Looking through the viewfinder my initial impression was that the Canon was actually a shorter focal length than the 400/6.8 because I could see a wider field. Small differences between nominal and actual focal lengths are normal; Leica used to engrave the deviation from nominal focal length on the barrel of the lenses. I checked a few lens test websites and learned that two versions of the EF 400/2.8 were actually 382mm and 392 mm so it seemed reasonable that the FD lens could be shorter than 400mm. However when the I looked at the slides there wasn't any difference in field of view. What happened is 'mirror cut-off' with the Leica lens. The exit pupil of a long focal length lens, unlike a telephoto lens, is a long distance from the camera body so the light rays are much closer to parallel than the telephoto. The light from the top of the image was missing the mirror so the view through the finder was cut off at the top. The Canon, being a telephoto design, didn't cause mirror cut-off (the 280mm Leica lens is also a telephoto design). Score one for the Canon.
    My test slides were made with Provia 100F with the lens on a tripod, camera's mirror pre-released, and using the self-timer to trip the shutter. The results:
    sharpness: Both the Canon and the Leica 400 gave exemplary results. There are probably small differences if I look hard enough but these will be masked by field conditions.
    color: excellent saturation, no differences in color transmission detected.
    bokeh: If you don't know what this is I suggest searching photo.net. Both lenses produce smooth background bokeh, with the Canon lens possibly smoother at comparable apertures.
    distortion, vignetting: not tested, but no obvious problems were found.
    flare: for the flare test I compared the Canon with the 280mm APO-Telyt, one of Leicas finest lenses. The Canon's flare control was exemplary, essentally the same as the 280mm APO-Telyt.
    For the optical parameters that matter to me the Canon lens will do quite well. No complaints. I've seen some test photos comparing the older Leica 400mm f/2.8 APO with the current EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS, supposedly a better lens than my FD, and the Leica lens has the edge at maximum aperture but then its present market value is $4000 more than I paid for the FD lens.
    mechanically: this is where the Canon was disappointing. It's a very solid lens and I have no doubt it will give me many years of service but the ergonomic design and tactile feedback fall short of the Leica lens' standard. Where the Leica 280mm APO-Telyt's internal focus is buttery-smooth, light and well-damped with good stiction from the rubberized focussing grip, the Canon's focus requires more force, isn't as smooth, has a bit of play, and the stiction of the rubberized grip isn't as good. Aside from this the tripod mounting foot is too low to allow me to grip the focus from below so I often had to grab it from the side and turn it in numerous small increments where with the Leica 280 I can keep my hand on the tripod (or monopod) head and use just thumb pressure for fine or coarse focus. After some field work I found I could fine-focus the Canon the same way but with considerably more force. It just ain't as nice in this area and I might miss some photos while fiddling with the focussing ring. The built-in portion of the hood is very kewl, the hood extension pops off too easily.
    All in all I'm very pleased with it and there's no doubt it will open up many new possibilities for me. Keep watch of the 'new photographs' page on my website www.wildlightphoto.com.
  13. The Canon FD 400mm f2.8L was never very good. The same optical design was used in the Canon EF 400mm f2.8L for EF/EOS mount. This optical design didnt have any fluorite elements. These lenses were replaced by Canon EF 400mm f2.8L II with fluorite element. This MkII was excellent lens.
    Please read review of MkII EF lens here at my website:

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