Canon FD Super Telephoto Lenses

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by danac, Jun 9, 2022.

  1. Has anyone ever owned or used a Canon FD 400mm f/4.5 SSC MF or Canon FDn NFD 500mm F/8 Reflex Mirror lens? There are some very nice ("near" mint) examples from Japan on ebay for less than $400 USD. I've been thinking about getting one of these for black and white nature photography.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2022
  2. I have the FD 500 mirror lens. I really don't like this lens when mounted on a FD film camera, but absolutely love this lens when mounted on my Leica digital. I'm guessing the better resolution of the Leica sensor brings more detail out of the image than what film can.

    One thing about a mirror lens, be aware of the donut-like highlights this lens produces. Personally, I like the look, others hate it.
  3. SCL


    I owned the mirror lens along with 3 other brand ones. The Canon was well made, but not as sharp or contrasty as the Tamron (Adaptall) one. I generally find the donut rings unappealing. The other thing I found with the mirror lenses, I always needed to have them on a tripod, which defeated the purpose of their small size and light weight for carrying around. But I encourage you to get one if you find one in good condition and price and try it may fall in love with it.
  4. I briefly had a 500mm FDn reflex, and it was fine. Not spectacular, but good.

    You should remember that Nikon F mount lenses of this sort are easy to adapt with a Nikon F>Canon FD adapter. Since everything is manual anyhow 'it don't matter none' and prices may be less. The adapters are widely available for 13-25 $US

    I'm a big fan of the Reflex-Nkkor 500mm f/8.
  5. I own both and use them on my Sony A7III. The 400mm is really very sharp and the internal focusing makes it a joy to use. My copy is the nFD version that takes the 1.4x extender making it effectively 560mm, at the cost of only one stop. The 500mm mirror lens is nice for its relatively small size and weight but it is less sharp and lacks contrast and is of course fixed at f/5.6. Only if size matters I take the mirror lens.
  6. Looking at online reviews of the 500mm mirror lens, the rings occur sometimes and not others. Why is that? The aperture adjustable FDn 400mm f4.5 with a Canon 1.4-A extender seems like the more practical of the two though. 560mm is very appealing.
  7. The amount of light and the angle on the out-of-focus highlights seems to be one factor in the "donuts". You can usually see what is happening in the viewfinder if you watch carefully.

    Like all policemen, by the way, the East German Stasi liked the donuts from the Carl Zeiss Jena mirror lenses. ;)
    petrochemist and dennisbrown like this.
  8. I'm not sure the 400/4.5 & 1.4x A combo will work, due to the projecting front element of the converter hitting rear baffles on the lens.
  9. A pic taken with the FD 500 mirror lens, on a Leica M240. Lens on tripod. I forget what ISO I used. The donut highlights are subtle, but there.

  10. I had the Canon FD 400mm f4.5 SSC and used it on my T-90. It is one of the most unappreciated lenses along with the FD 80-200mm f4 L. The two 400/4.5 lenses are identical and mine was very sharp and contrasty. I remember my disbelief when I realized it was very significantly sharper than my FD 200/2.8. Yes, the internal focusing was brilliant, as I had had the non-IF 200/2.8 for a good 12 years before adding the 400. I quickly cut the baffle from the rear so I could use it with the 1.4x-A. It performed very well with the 1.4x-A too. Eventually replaced it with the 300/2.8 Fluorite which was awkward for my kids' sports since it lacked IF, but upgraded pretty quickly to the FD 400/2.8 L. For motor racing I used the 400/4.5 with the 1.4x-A, then upgraded to the 300/2.8 and 2x, but did not see a truly significant improvement, until the 400/2.8.

    These are all long gone, but I have since acquired the FD 800mm f5.6 L which is superb on the 5DSR, and I believe pretty much equal to the 400/2.8 and 2x. That says a lot for the 400/2.8.

    The 400/4.5 had at least one UD element and Canon simply did not do quite enough to give it the red line.

    If you can convert NIkon lenses easily the 400/5.6 ED is still likely more money, and the 400/3.5 ED would be about double, as would be the 600/5.6 ED. I had replaced my FD 400/2.8 L with the NIkon 400/2.8 ED AI-s, so I know these are all exceptional lenses too.

    I rented a Tamron 500/8 once for motor racing and it worked brilliantly well and responded well to the particular backgrounds I was faced with. Above you can see the effect of out of focus busy backgrounds, and they are very slow indeed.
  11. I do have a 400mm FD and love it. Mine can not (sn #131xx) be used with the 1.4x, but some can - (the newer FDn lenses?). Anyway it can be used with a 2x (A) which is much less expensive than the 1.4x.

    As for mirror lenses, I can't stand the donuts.

    You might also consider the FD 300mm f4.0. I have been highly satisfied with mine and it can be used with both extenders, singley and in combination.

    Both the 300mm and the 400mm should come with a tripod collar. Make sure it is included. Further, both lenses use drop-in filters. They are fairly easy to find and come in Yellow, Red, and ND. Sorry, no PL. And yes, the lens MUST include the 1x filter
  12. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    The 400mm f4.5 is an outstanding lens I have had 3 or 4 of them over the years settling on the 400mm f4.5 nFD I have now I use it with both the 1.4X and 2XA I also use it with my Olympus OMD-10E which is a 4/3 format digital its basically a hand holdable 800mm with the high ISO of the digital and the in body stabilization. I have also had the 500mm f4.5L FD and the 600mm f4.5L nFD and while I thought the 600mm was nothing to be bragging about it could have been my sample. The 500mm f4.5L was outstanding. But with the addition of the 4/3 format body I just didnt need that much glass.
  13. I wouldn't call those doughnuts subtle, but the subject is attractive enough to make them bearable!
    I have taken a few where the bokeh is more distracting, but the vast majority it hardly shows at all.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2022
    nail33 likes this.

  14. You can easily cut out the baffle on the mount to use the 1.4x-A. Just do it in a manner that the filings don't go into the lens and then vacuum them out. FDn does not have the baffle.

  15. Unfortunately the 600/4.5 is not an L, even though it is white. My research over the years has always pointed to the 500/4.5 L being vastly superior.
  16. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Yea I think I got typing to fast. The 600mm f4.5nFD I had had been beat pretty good had spray paint all over it and after hours and hours of clean up and having my local old school camera repair guy go through it. It produced very uninspiring images so I moved it along.
  17. subtle donuts (doughnuts)

    Two images taken a few minutes apart on the same film with the same 500mm mirror lens (Reflex Nikkor)
    MO-StL-MBG.jpg Turdus-americanus.jpg
    petrochemist likes this.
  18. Subtle or not, doughnuts are EVIL :)
  19. Only if you're using a mirror on a mirrorless :)
  20. I continue to use the FD 400f4L, 400 f4.5SSC and 300 f2.8L lenses, all of them with excellent results and....with my canon F-1 and T90s

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