Canon Breech Lock Mount vs. Bayonet Mount

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by friskybongo, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. I'm looking to buy a 50mm f/1.4 Canon lens for my (soon-to-arrive) Canon A1 camera. I used to have a Canon 50mm f/1.8 bayonet mount lens and it was rather "plastic-y" though optically it was fine.

    I'm wondering if the older breech lock lenses had a better build quality compared to the bayonet mount versions. By better build quality I mean more metal, less plastic; more solidly built.

    Thank you.
     
  2. By better build quality I mean more metal, less plastic; more solidly built.​
    By that criterion pretty much everything since 1970 has been downhill. No doubt there are some that will agree with that, but I personally think that your premise is flawed.
    There were, for example, some consumer zooms that Canon made in the late 80s and early 90s that have no visible metal at all in them - even the mounts are "plastic". I have got some of these and they still work just as well as any brass, aluminum. etc. lenses.
    In any case, for your A-1 you will find the FD(n) lenses much more convenient, and, I think, just as durable as any of the older FL or whatever mount lenses. Those are the lenses with the "green A" setting on them.
    I will grant you, however, that if you decide to hit the plastic lenses with a sledge hammer, they are more likely to crack while the metal ones will bend out of shape. I do know that if you drop a plastic barrel lens onto a hard surface, it usually is more likely to survive than the older ones.
     
  3. More of a concern is coating, which gets better as the years go by... so if it were me, I'd look for the FD 50mm f/1.4 SSC.
     
  4. The FDn bayonet mount lenses had the same SSC coating as the SSC marked breech lock lenses. The earlier SC marked lenses were only single coated.
    Both are pretty reliable and well built lenses.
    The major problem with both is oil creeping into the aperture mechanism. -Its hard to check it, because when the lens is unmounted the aperture is locked into a closed position. You have to use a rear cap to 'start' the lock mechanism and then turn it all the way into position. Then you can flick the aperture mechanism.
    The FDn bayonet lenses are imho the easiest of any system to mount/unmount. The older ones are pretty easy as well, but the ring sometimes moves prematurely.
    One downside is that the lens mount is actually pretty complicated, so that makes repairs harder. Both fall into this catagory, but the FDn is moreso.
     
  5. I have used the full range of both the older breech lock and the newer FDn lenses extensively over the years. I have found no durability premium with the older lenses. The primary quality you gain with the older lenses is weight. Some like the heft, some don't. I didn't. Some fell in love with the older chrome-nosed lenses which do look sort of cool but don't really add anything outside the cosmetic look. With a few notable exceptions, the pre-SSC, concave front, chrome nose 35mm f/2 and 135mm f/2.5 come to mind, the newer lenses were lighter, just as durable and often slightly better performing than the older series. Also, older lenses are..well..older and more likely to have need of service.
     
  6. To me, the older lenses are much better built, but I find the mounts unnecessarily fiddly. Breech lock lenses tend to get hung up when I remove them from my cameras too.
     
  7. Both are good and have strengths and weaknesses.
    The breech lock ring lenses felt more solid, but the later pushbutton release FD lenses didn't feel inferior. To me it just felt like a move toward more modern materials, not necessarily a bad thing.
    The breech lock ring mount may have been the strongest on any SLR. But they could be loosened if not snugged up tightly. The pushbutton lock was more convenient. I tended to use the breech lock lenses on the FTbn and the pushbutton types on the T70.
    And the breech lock lenses weren't too difficult to disassemble and reassemble. The pushbutton lock lenses were trickier.
    The S.C. Canons were so good I didn't notice any real difference with the later multicoated lenses. One of the best lenses I've ever owned was a humble 35mm f/3.5 S.C. Canon - sharp, contrasty, flare resistant, no significant barrel distortion. Great landscape lens or anything that didn't require a fast lens.
     
  8. Louis, my criterion for deciding whether to get an FD or FDn lens is the lens's condition (elements, blades and barrel), and not its vintage. In some cases, the optics and coatings were improved in FDn lenses, but in most cases, including that of the 50/1.4, the optical formula and coatings were unchanged.
    Of course, some of the faster primes (e.g., 24/1.4, 24/2, 28/2, 135/2) and all of the best zooms (e.g., 20-35/3.5 L, 28-85/4, 35-105/3.5, 80-200/4 L) were only available in FDn versions.
     
  9. I have a 28/2 FD SSC which I really like. I do not have the later 28/2 New FD so I haven't compared them. From my experience the 28/2.8 FD SC is a better lens than the later 28/2.8 New FD. I have a 135/2.5 FD SC. I don't think I have ever seen a Canon FD or FD SSC 135/2.5 with a chrome front. The change in coating from the Canon 200/4 FD to the FD SC is dramatic. The older lens is not good at all in flare situations. Over time the plastic covered guide rails in some of the New FD lenses became worn. I have seen this in several examples of the 35/2 New FD. The later 35/2 FD SSC with the convex front element and the minimum aperture of f/22 has a similar optical design and is also a very good performer but is much better built than the New FD.
     
  10. I have a 28/2 FD SSC which I really like. I do not have the later 28/2 New FD so I haven't compared them. From my experience the 28/2.8 FD SC is a better lens than the later 28/2.8 New FD. I have a 135/2.5 FD SC. I don't think I have ever seen a Canon FD or FD SSC 135/2.5 with a chrome front. The change in coating from the Canon 200/4 FD to the FD SC is dramatic. The older lens is not good at all in flare situations. Over time the plastic covered guide rails in some of the New FD lenses became worn. I have seen this in several examples of the 35/2 New FD. The later 35/2 FD SSC with the convex front element and the minimum aperture of f/22 has a similar optical design and is also a very good performer but is much better built than the New FD.
     
  11. The breech-lock mount was very strong, and the mechanism was simple. The bayonet action FD was complex in order to get the breech-lock principle to mimic a standard bayonet. One photo magazine of the time did a teardown and thought it looked a little flimsy, less able to take knocks. I have no doubt that the original is stronger.
    But the bayonet FD works well, in my experience, in fact I thought it was really slick. It is in my opinion strong enough for any reasonably careful user. I was originally concerned most about wear in the bayonet mechanism, but I never heard of any problems in that regard, and I didn't own Canon long enough to see for myself.
     
  12. Oops, left some info out of my earlier post.
    The reason I avoided using the breech lock FD's on the T70 was because the T70 had a metal collar screwed into the body. There were some problems with those metal mount collars loosening on the T70 and T50. I was concerned the breech lock ring would put too much strain on the bodies so I used 'em only on the FTbn. Not sure whether that was a valid concern.
     
  13. Yay, photo.net time out error. %p
     
  14. The FDn lenses are both lighter and smaller than the original FD lenses. I prefer to mount the chrome-ringed FD lenses on the older and heavier Canon bodies such as the FTb-QL and the EF, and the smaller FDn lenses on the lighter A series bodies and my T70. It's a matter of proportion, balance, and personal aesthetics for me.
     
  15. I like to use the Fd chrome nose and the fl lenses on my FTb when I'm not going to be in a hurry. In the streets, or crowded areas, I prefer to use the Fdn as it's lighter-quicker to use on the Ftb.............
     
  16. The typical FDn lens is not beat up enough in use to reveal its weakness, if any, relative to its breech lock counterpart. Canon probably ran some early durability tests to rule out future lens failure publicity about the FDn series.
     
  17. UPDATE
    I’ve decided to purchase the bayonet version. Based on the various replies, I concluded that I couldn’t go wrong either way. My decision was based on aesthetics (black lens on black body), smaller size (52mm thread) and weight. Thanks to all for your valuable input and experience.
     
  18. All I can say is the older breech lock lenses have been a lot easier for me to clean blades and crud between the elements. The newer bayonet types such as FD 50mm f1.8 reveal a lot of cost cutting efforts but that was true of many other brands as well after the mid 1970's. In some cases it's cheaper to just buy/replace some (but not all) of the more common 'cost cutter' FD lenses rather than try to repair them.
    Best not to drop any lens on a hard surface. Even the plastic ones can jump the focusing helicoid rather easily and that's not an easy fix.
    As a collector of fine vintage cameras it's nice to match the earlier Canon SLRs with the proper mostly heavier metal & glass lenses they came with. As a user the newer and lighter FD 'plasticy' lenses do have several advantages.
    My interest in Canon SLRs pretty much ended with the first F1, FTBn, TX, and EF. In my mind the period of the AE series and later models just aren't very collectible so I don't care to hang on to more than a few more modern Canon bayonet lenses - one's a nice FD 24mm f2.8.
     
  19. for what it's worth, my 2 cents on the FD vs FDn, breech vs bayonet mount. I have both, and enjoy them on certain cameras only. My AE-1 program bodies are silver and black, and I use the older breech as the weight component works for me; i.e not too heavy. I have an FDn 50mm 1.4 I use on my T-90 to keep it as light as I can, since the body is fairly heavy to start with. I also like an all black camera, and FDn mounts on both the T-90 and A-1s are a bit stunning, although I know looks aren't everything. And from a lens coating standpoint, while I've been told time and again the coating on the FDn 50mm 1.4 is the same SSC coating on the breech mount lens, I always think there was a shift from slightly warmer to slightly cool when Canon developed the FDn mount. As I said, this is just my 2 cents. It's obviously the photos produced from such lenses that matters most. Side note: @Gary Turner, yes I have the FD 24mm 2.8 with the SSC coating and it is one of my most used and favorite lens in my bag.
     

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