Physical comparison of the big FD telephotos

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by alan_swartz, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. The question arose recently about 600mm and 800mm FD lenses adapted to Sony digital bodies. Several of us wrote comments in that thread discussing the sheer size of those lenses.
    Since I decluttered the FD closet this evening to retrieve zooms in response to Bill's 85-300 post, I decided to pretend Santa Claus had hit the jackpot with FD supertelephotos this year, too. Without entering into another of my extremely wordy posts, here is a lineup of the following New FD lenses for your comparative viewing pleasure:
    300mm f/4L
    300mm f/2.8L
    400mm f/4.5, ever-popular on the FD forum
    400mm f/2.8L, heaviest
    500mm f/4.5L
    600mm f/4.5, poorest
    800mm f/5.6L, longest in more ways than one
    New F-1 with 50mm f/1.2L for scale
    The phone camera exhibits some distortion, so the 300/4L appears a bit wider than reality. The hoods are collapsed, and the extension hoods are not included on the big white lenses.
    The most amazing? To me, the 300/2.8L and 400/2.8L. They will each produce an image that looks like it was shot with a 50mm. Just as free of optical artifacts as a standard lens, the only clues being perspective and depth of field. It's like having Scotty beam your subject right up to arm's length with no photographic compromise.
  2. Love it!
  3. Not only do I actually and truly enjoy seeing this lineup, but
    it also provides a certain level of satisfaction to see that I am not the only one who carries things a little far. ;)
    Thanks on all fronts.
  4. Nice review, but one is missing .... 200 / 1.8L
  5. In addition to their obvious IQ, the 300/4.0-L and the 400/4.5 teles are my most used lenses for 2 reasons:
    1) They happen to fit the majority of my nature / wildlife type shots;
    2) I don't have any of the others...LOL
    Quite a line-up you have there.
  6. I am curious to know if you have ever directly tested the 800/5.6 L against the 400/2.8 L with a 2x converter? If so how did they compare?
    I traded in the 400/2.8 L for a Nikon 400/2.8 AIS about 10 years ago. I could see no difference between them in image quality.
    I now often use the 400/2.8 with a 2x. With a bunch of 800/5.6 L lenses having hit the market at very reasonable prices over the last few months, and the ability of converting them with EdMika adapters, I have seriously considered this possibility.
    That is a very envious set of lenses. Gee...I thought Santa would give equally to us kids.
  7. Sandro, your 200/1.8 L is the rarest of the question at all!

    But Alan's collection of Great Whites is the biggest outside the Great Barrier Reef.
  8. John, in 2013 I used an EdMika-adapted New FD 800/5.6 L on a 1D Mk IV to shoot World Superbike practice sessions at
    Laguna Seca...the results were very well worth toting that brute from the parking lot to turn 2 and back. On foot!
  9. Sorry to cause envy. It wasn't my intent...guess I should have thought of that. I spent years collecting these, and probably hundreds of evening hours scouring ads and auctions trying to beat the prevailing prices, which I ultimately did. I bought these (naturally) before the bottom fell out of the FD market, but I still got the 300/2.8 and 500/4.5 for less than 4 digits USD at the time, and for not a lot more than the 300/4L or 400/4.5 were then going for.
    I think I posted many years ago that I will never own the 200/1.8 or the 150-600 because they simply got too insanely expensive. But I do have every other FDn lens Canon ever released, plus a smattering of breech lenses, a fair selection of "chrome noses," a small assortment of FL glass and a few R lenses. So JDM, you're not the sickest. In defense of the disease, I've had so much fun with them. No great photography, but great fun.
    Like Bill, when I actually go somewhere, it's usually the 300/4L and 400/4.5 I take simply because they can be handled without a loading crew. But when I do feel adventurous, and feel like I want to be suspicioned as an international spy, the white 300 and 400 are so, so amazing.
    John, I have not directly compared the 400/2.8 with 2X against the 800/5.6, at least not that I remember in a controlled situation. But I have a gut feeling that the 400 plus the genuine Canon 2X will at least equal the 800. It might surpass it. There are several reasons for that speculation. The 800 is hard to handle well, as we said in that other thread recently, due to its physical length. It's extremely susceptible to vibration. The 400 is half the length. It is also, I think, a much better lens before you apply the 2X--it's an astonishingly good lens. And, the Canon 2X is very good, too.
    Shooting either on digital, with the latitude to use high ISO's I never had on film, will change the game by several degrees. It'll be almost like getting free image stabilization.
    I am the last of the holdouts. Having really slowed down my shooting, and deliberately avoiding the new-digital-every-year phase of the industry, and putting money into other interests, I still do not own an EOS digital body, though I may make that move this year. My new iPhone is the most capable digital camera I have owned, actually. But I long ago did find a nice buy on the you-know-what lens adapter that Canon made in limited quantities. I've kept it in quiet reserve for the moment I do take the plunge, and that's why I've held onto all the big FD glass. If that day comes, then we'll make some tests. I have a brick wall. (Sarcasm intended.)
    The problem with the iPhone is that my carpet is dark green....
    And of course, Santa had nothing to do with this. I worked hard to pay for all of these!
  10. How much do you actually use these lenses ?
  11. Alan, you're the first recipient of the Imperial Order of FD Medal, with crossed filter threads and mold clusters. Wear it proudly!
  12. I used the FD-EOS 1.26x with the 400/2.8 L and 200/2.8 IF on a Canon 10D and EOS film body with Velvia 50, before switching to Nikon telephotos. It is at least as good as the 1.4x-A if not better! Matched with the 400/2.8 L it was superb. I sold the 1.26x it at its peak for well over $1000 USD which was twice what I had paid a couple of years before.
    Never say never about that 200/1.8. I found a Nikon 200/2 at a ridiculous bargain once and am still kicking myself for selling it!
    Thank-you, Rick and Alan for your comments on the 400 vs 800. I will put that idea on the backshelf...for now.
    Thank-you for posting the photo and instigating this discussion.
  13. >Sorry to cause envy. It wasn't my intent...guess I should have thought of that.
    Nah, we're all good here. But if you show photos (taken with these superteles, nacherally) of your supermodel girlfriend (whose father owns a brewery) then we may have problems. Kidding aside, that's an impressive collection. I've only once physically laid hands on an FD 800/5.6 and was frankly happy I'm too poor to be realistically tempted to buy one. Looks like a monster to handle. I'd have had to upgrade tripod legs, head, technique, etc.
    If/when you break down and come to the pixellated side consider one of the Sony A7-family bodies. I'm enjoying using my much more modest collection of FD glass on a regular A7.
    >So JDM, you're not the sickest.
    With respect, JDM is at least one of the sickest. Because of the mirror-lens thing. I was appropriately embarrassed about my mild mirror lens fetish, hiding in the figurative closet, and out comes JDM with lengthy postings about his mirror lenses. Thanks for normalizing that deviancy, Professor! Sheesh. It's not over. Surprisingly, I found the Tamron SP 350/5.6 at the local camera store over the weekend and bought it. For a reasonable price, yet, which is a good thing since I'm not terribly impressed with the first shots, but that was just screwing around handheld and indoors. We shall see.
    Thanks for sharing the above, Alan!
  14. Man-O-man, if only those had been under my Christmas tree this year!
  15. Ben asked how much I actually use these. Not too much, of course. The 800 more than the 6, 5, or 400, because we live in the country, have nesting hawks and animals and things at a distance and it was fun to pretend to be a wildlife photographer. This was a spectacular way to develop a razor's-edge respect for good wildlife photographers.
    In recent years, I've plunged headlong into late middle-age--make that face-first on the pavement--so eyesight has become a limiting factor. I also have extremely wide-ranging interests and tend to humor them (and finance them) in cycles. Some of my interests involve large and heavy objects, so I'm working on those while I still have the physical ability to do them. Therefore I've shot almost nothing for some time. So another timely answer to the question is, "I shoot these just as much as I do all the regular lenses."
    But I like to collect. I'm a profitless collector, rather than one who invests in mint items that will appreciate in value. I just like to have things for fun. I do have acquisition syndrome, and not just with photography gear. Some would call me compulsive, but I don't hoard in the sense of burying my living space or ruining anyone's life. Guests like seeing the stuff; it's like going to a museum where everything works or is being restored.
    This reminds me of the "lectures" some used to give on this forum and on Yahoo years ago. We were all supposed to be out shooting, not collecting. Well, no apologies from me. I like collecting, and if I only shoot a roll of Velvia every two years, so be it. I also refuse treatment for an illness that doesn't exist. Many who have some discretionary cash usually put it somewhere besides the bank.
    There's a new thread today where Gary's apologizing for buying another F-1. So what? Unless it deprives your family of food or shelter or some other necessity, enjoy it. Go make some art!
  16. """There's a new thread today where Gary's apologizing for buying another F-1. So what? Unless it deprives your family of food or shelter or some other necessity, enjoy it. Go make some art!"""
    I hope it did not come across that was meant to be more toung in jest. But you are correct. ...if the collection of anything deprives one or ones family of the necessities of life..then it could be a potential "issue"...otherwise have fun.
    I'm actually glad i won the bid on the second F1. My first one has great sentimental value for me. As mentioned, my late father in law gave it to me, and it has been on many of my mountaineering trips in my earlier years. If i can keep it going by ever needing to cannibalize the one i recently got then I would do that.
    Did i mention that I summited Mt Rainier with my F1 and the FD 35-105 tele zoom..My climbing buddies at the time thought I was nuts.....Probably were right. Lol.....Wow...I wish I was in 1/2 as good of shape now as I was back then.!!!
  17. I asked "how much do you actually use these lenses" because as a young pro I was taught by my mentor that the idea of professional photography was to build up your bank balance, not your equipment inventory, or your muscles carrying the gear about if you could avoid it.
  18. Which is why most people here don't make a business out of their usage of FD stuff !

    Alan, is you decide to jump into the digital wagon, consider the Sony A7, it's a huge game (as in fun) changer for us FD users. I even consider upgrading to the new A7II for the stabilisation feature: would be wonderful for using those big whites ! How about using that 800 without caring about vibrations !
  19. I am using the A7ii myself precisely because I fell in love with Canon FD lenses by accident. I have never used my 400mm F4.5 as much as I have after getting the A7ii...hand holding it with the IBS is just a beauty now. :)
    PS (I fell in love with Canon FD lenses because I had the sony 35mm APS-C lens which I had to sell due to financial issues so I needed something in the 35mm range or so while I could buy it back and I did not want to spend a I found a 24mm F2.8 for $60 and I was blown away buy its rendering....and today I have almost all Canon FD lenses aside from the Kit lens which I keep mainly for video.)

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