coming back to FD

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by darin_cozine, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. My first SLR was a Canon AE1.
    I traded that in for a AE1p, and then did the same for a T70, which I still own. I have always admired the FD lenses, it was the Nikon camera bodies that lured me away. The high shutter speeds and aperture priority were too tempting. But you get over that.
    After trying a bunch of different manual focus film cameras, I am coming back to the FD system. The bright lasermatte screens, the easy lens mount, and the inexpensive yet high-quality lenses call for me.
    For less than $500 I bought the following lenses: 17mm f4, 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.2, 85mm f1.8. All of these are in fantastic condition.
    I should have some results posted for you shortly.
  2. I completely agree with you. The wide range of lenses, ease of operation and availability of lens adaptors aloow me to try different lenses. Therefore, I recommend my friend's son to try Canon Fd to begin his film photography.
  3. My first SLR was a Canon AE-1 as well (although my very first camera was a Voigtlander Bessa I 6x9). I traded in the AE-1 for an FM2N, which is a remarkable machine but has a rather difficult to focus screen. Eventually I went back to the FD, but with the New F-1. Now here is a camera that is nearly perfect. I need, and it has - excellent focusing screens, match needle display and spot metering. To the best of my knowledge no other classical 35mm SLR camera offers this. By classical, I mean lever wound, manual focusing cameras.
    Cameras that offered spotmetering did it with some sort of LED/LCD display (Leica R, Olympus OM etc), and most of their focusing screens were not as good as the Laser Mattes. The 2-13 screens for the Olympus cameras are very good indeed, but the New F1 screens are better. Minolta Acute Mattes are simply the best in the 35mm world.
    It is a singular joy to work with the New F1: focus on your subject - this is achieved rapidly because of the excellent screen, even if your subject is in a black cat in a coal mine at midnight (I exaggerate, but you get the idea); turn the aperture or shutter rings so the needles match, or leave a gap for compensation - quick and effortless. The spotmetering screens (SE/SJ/SK) make short work of metering if you know how to use spot metering. Wave the spot over the range of brightnesses and watch the needle swing. You can visually compute an average and place the "circle" there quite effortlessly.
    All this requires much less effort and time (with a little practice) than the OM4Ti or such, where you keep pressing buttons for different metering points. It also is far faster than watching LEDs indicate + or - without telling you how much + or how much -, such as the Leica R6.2. Not to mention that if the focusing screen isn't good enough, your focus will be off, ruining an otherwise perfectly good shot.
    The only thing missing is mirror lock up; even though this is easily one of the best damped cameras out there, sometimes you just need the quiet, or the lack of mirror slap. And while FD lenses are very, very good; there are some better lenses out there, such as those for the Leica R. Think Apo Macro Elmarit R 100mm f/2.8, or the Summicron R 35mm f/2. Or the Zuiko 50mm f/2 or 90mm f/2 Macros. But the Canon 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical or 85mm f/1.2 L are easily as good optically as the best Leica or Zeiss designs. The 35mm f/2 is also quite fantastic, and I bought a like new version for $98 quite recently. The corresponding Summicron was $1000. The focusing feel of Nikon's lenses is sublime and the FD lenses don't achieve that standard, but then neither do Leica or Contax. Only Hasselblad and Rollei lenses in the medium format world have that distinction.
    No question about it, Darin - the FD system is a most excellent choice.
  4. Welcome back, Darin. Wade on in...the FD shootin' is fine.
  5. I'm so excited I'm leaving to pick up 14 rolls from a recent trip today.
  6. vfg


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    Share the good ones Darin.
    I have a couple of high end German cameras, a sizable collection of high end Japanese cameras, five complete Mamiya medium format kits of different sizes and shapes, 3 EOS camera kits and yet; its my T90 with either my FD 80-200 L or my FD 35-105 that's “always” riding in the seat next to me. I thought the digital age would bring about change, for me it simply isn't as satisfying as working with film.
  7. I donlt find that Nikkors focus any more or less well than Canon leses provided that both are in good condition. From what I have seen, a Canon F-1n with an L E screen is only slightly less bright than an F-1N with the PE screen. The F-1n has mirror lock-up and 12 degree spot metering. I would still say that a Minolta X-700 with a grid or plain matte screen is brighter than even an F-1N.
  8. Jeff, they all focus fine if you use the central area in bright light. Try focusing on a newspaper at 10 feet in a room that is lit with a single bare 60 watt bulb, making sure that you what you are focusing on is in the extreme corner of the screen.
    You'll find that it is trivially simple with the Rolleiflex 6008 Integral (with the original high-D screen) and the Minolta X700, slightly less so with the Hasselblad Acute Matte D; then slightly less so with Canon's Laser Mattes and Olympus' 2-4 or 2-13 screens; and much harder with the Nikon FM2N with its stock screen. I've done this experiment with these cameras side by side, repeatedly. I have very good corrected vision; and with the former you can actually see the image in exact focus. With the Nikons you have to apply some guesswork, or do something like move the focusing ring back and forth and try to settle on a mid point.
    Pentax LX and Leica R6.2 screens, while darker, are also surprisingly easy to focus with in reasonably bright light but become rather difficult in dim light with narrow aperture lenses.
  9. Jeff, sorry, I see you were also talking about the mechanical focusing feel: I have Nikkor AIS lenses that are much smoother than even the nFD 85mm f/1.2 L which I think has the best focusing feel of the nFD lenses. The Nikkors are smooth and require very little effort, almost like they are on ball bearings with some damping built in. nFDs feel like smooth helicals, as do Leica, Contax, Pentax, Olympus and others. Nikon is in a different class - up there with Rolleiflex 600x and Hasselbald CFi/CFE lenses. Just my opinion, of course.
  10. Welcome home.Don't sell that little T70 because it and the T90 probably had the best focusing screens ever offered in a 35mm camera.I'm always surprized this technology (laser matte) developed by Canon has never been given its proper due.This technology first appeared on screens released (around 1980) for the original mechanical F1 and just kept getting better with each new model series.As the eyes age or you do more work in low light you will find a early F or A series with a 'sandblasted' screen can be very difficult to work with unless you own a lot of really fast glass.Like most things in life you don't appreciate something until you have taken a walk on the other side of the street.
  11. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    If you want to talk bright screens for the F-1's you need to talk about the New F-1 *J* and *K* screens The super brights are just that super bright.
    I have a full set of the super brights and rarely ever use any others. Wonderfull when combined with a f2.0 or faster prime. With the 50mm f1.2L nFD it's like someone turned a flood light on.
  12. The screens get even better after Bill Maxwell treats them. I have two such treated screens.
  13. I just got a canon t90, my first slr actually, but I find the manual focus even easier than on my canon 40d dslr. I am amazed at how bright the viewfinder is. I had thought it would take some getting use to. I think film will be fun, I haven`t shot a roll yet. :) I have the 50mm f1.8, 28mm f.2.8, and a vivitar 28-85 2.8-3.5 variable focus zoom. The camera, 300ttl flash and the lenses were about 500 canadian dollars, a far cry from my canon 40d alone...

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