Old Lenses on New Cameras!

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jonpaul_hills, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. Hi there.
    I have been shooting film for a while now, and would like to buy a Canon digital camera to replace my old Canon AE-1. I have a significant amount of equipment for my film camera, and I know that you can purchase adapters to put the old FD lenses onto the new Canons, but I was wondering if anybody knew how the image quality would turn out in this situation. I would love to be able to just buy the adapter instead of buying a whole new array of lenses, but I have no idea how well the glass quality of the old lenses would compare with the new lenses. I'm not looking for professional level image quality, but I also would like to avoid taking "junk" pictures. If anybody has used the FD lenses on newer cameras and has advice, or knows anything about how well the image quality would hold up, I would love to know.
    Thank you everybody!
    JonPaul Hills
  2. The biggest difficulty with FD -> EOS is the necessity to use an adaptor with an optical lens to enable infinity focus. This significantly impacts the IQ of the resulting imagery. It is truly ironic that since Canon ensured that legacy glass is so difficult to use on modern EOS cameras that most people who want to use MF lenses on them choose Nikon, Olympus, or a variety of other lenses, on their Canon DSLRs.
  3. JPH, this is a frequent question on the Canon FD forum. An introduction to the topic is on Bob Atkins's site, here.
    There are actually a few alternatives, none of them good, as Marcus says.
    (i) Canon made an FD to EOS adapter with high quality optics, but it sells for about $1000 second hand, and it only works with longer lenses.
    (ii) Cheap adapters with inferior optics abound. You can get them on ebay. They perform poorly.
    (iii) The Elefoto adapter is probably better. It is reviewed by Bob Atkins at the link above.
    (iv) Certain non-SLR digital cameras with short registration distances work well with an adapter, but you are limited to manual focus and manual aperture control. This includes micro 4/3 cameras, and the Sony NEX series.
  4. zml


    There are no adapters to use FD lenses on
    EOS cameras, except:
    - long out of production adapter with
    optical elements meant for FD telephoto
    - adapter without optical elements which
    makes lenses usable only for macro and/or
    close focus (no infinity focus.)

    FD optics had a shorter registration distance
    than the EF system.
  5. The image quality will hold up fine provided you use a glassless adapter, but you'll lose infinity focus. And if you use an adapter with optics, the IQ will be degraded.
    If you're intent on using your FD lenses on a digital body, and want to shoot more than just macro, I'd recommend that you take a look at one of the new mirrorless bodies, such as the Sony NEX-7 or Fuji X-Pro1. And you might want to check out the Mirrorless Digital Cameras Forum here on photo.net as well.
  6. Thank you for the help everybody!
    My intention would be to use an adapter that does not contain any optics, so merely changing the mount. I am confused about the "loss of infinity focus" part. Is this saying that i will not be able to focus on things that are far away? Does this affect everyday casual photography, or is it just an issue with landscape photography? And can it be compensated for by simply shutting down the aperture?
  7. If you're using a Canon EOS digital camera, its lens registration distance is 2mm longer than what the FD lenses were designed for. If you add the thickness of a glassless adapter, well, even the thinnest ones are probably 3mm, which is an optimistic assumption. Someone here will know.
    So now you've got the equivalent of a 5mm extension tube on your FD lens, even with it set at infinity focus. If you've got a normal lens on your camera, you will only be able to focus about 60cm away. If you've got a 400mm tele lens on the camera, you can probably focus out to about 30 meters, which may be plenty for your purposes.
  8. Actually, relatively inexpensive FD>EOS adapters, some with removable optics for Macro use, are widely available on eBay and elsewhere. Last I looked non-focus confirmation (avoid the confirmation ones) were around $30. I'd guess the optical quality of the infinity focus ones is about worth $30.
  9. So would it be correct of me to say that if I purchase an FD>EOS adapter that contains optics, the infinity focus will not be lost?
  10. So would it be correct of me to say that if I purchase an FD>EOS adapter that contains optics, the infinity focus will not be lost?​
    Yes, but I don't know why you'd want to do that rather than, say, pick up some inexpensive EF primes to go with your new EOS DSLR.
    If you're really intent on adapting FD lenses to EOS, you should check out Ed Mika's adapters. He sells directly from his site, and on eBay.
  11. zml


    JDM: The "$30 adapters" are crap. And I'm
    being very charitable in my assessment...
  12. If you really are set on using your FD lenses on a digital camera, don't buy a Canon. Instead, buy an Oly or Panasonic 4/3 camera as they work fine with simple (glassless) mount adapters.
  13. Just to add to Mark's comments. The Ed Mika adaptors do work, do not include a glass element and provide infinity focus.
    I occasionally use my old FD300 f2.8 lens with the latest 0.5mm adaptor. Before a get a barrage of comments about
    flange distance and how this is "impossible" let me explain how.

    The old L series long tele lenses like my 300 F2.8 actually allow focus past infinity to correct for heating or cooling of the
    lens. The current EF lenses do the same. Ed's adaptors are impossibly thin (and a bit tricky to mount - it is best to keep
    them on the lens) the latest one is described as 0.5 mm thick. So with this adaptor you can mount and focus the 300
    F2.8 to infinity. While it may seem that Ed has solved the problem there are still two slight issues.

    Using the adaptor on shorter FL lenses will work but you do lose infinity focus - that said it does still allow some usable
    shooting. My old 85 F1.2 can be used out to about 8 feet with this adaptor.

    The IQ of the old FD tele lenses is not as high as then latest ones. For example even at F4 my FD 300 F2.8 is not quite
    as sharp as the 300 F4 LIS. That said the IQ is good as certainly fine for most applications - you need to pixel peep, crop
    a lot or print very large to see the issue. The old 300 F2.8 is soft like my 16-35 F2.8 II is soft - not like a bad super zoom.
    The colour and contrast of the lens also differs from today's lenses
  14. Thank you everybody for all the help! I've learned a lot! Ill look into the listed adapters and hopefully figure all this out.
  15. When I was facing the same decision, I choose the Sony NEX-5 (soon to be upgraded to the NEX-7), plus the Novoflex adapter. For me, the results have been very satisfying.
  16. The adapters may or may not be crap, but they do exist, which was all I said.
    I'd guess the optical quality of the infinity focus ones is about worth $30.​
    was also what I already said.
    So what's the beef?
  17. JDM the Ed Mika adaptor on a big white Tele performs very well and is worth more than $30 for infinity focus. As I
    explained thereis no lens and thus it does not change the focal length or impact the image.

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