Which *slow* primes are worth keeping?

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by dave_s, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Hi everybody. The question is this: in your opinion, is there any advantage to keeping the slower prime when you also have the fast prime in that focal length?
    Background is as follows. For years I was a three or four-lens user, all primes. When the bottom dropped out of FD prices several years ago, I bought several more lenses second-hand. Over the years, through luck and bargain-hunting, I've bought the fast prime in most focal lengths, like the f/2 series. At this point I will probably never buy another FD lens.
    This means I have two or more lenses in most focal lengths, and some of them see little or no use-- like the 24/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8, 85/1.8, 100/2.8, and 200/4. Is there any reason to keep them? Do any of them have properties which beat the faster lenses?
    Just to pre-empt the two obvious answers. (i) Somebody will say the one-year rule applies to lenses, like it does to clothes, so I should clear the deadwood. (ii) Somebody else will say there's no point, because consumer primes have little resale value, and it's hardly worth the time and trouble.
    Your opinions?
  2. The 24mm: do you have the 1.4 or the f2? If the former, keep the f2.8, as the 1.4 ain't that good (YMMV).
    The 85mm: I would keep the 1.8. I have and use both the 1.8 and the 1.2. I LOVE the 1.2, but ... the 1.8 is a very sharp lens at f5.6 or f8, and it is so much lighter and handles much more easily than the 1.2, especially on an M4/3 or Nex 5 - and it's a lot less glass to shove in someone's face.
    Just to make the point about sharpness, here's a shot I did with the f1.8 + Nex 5 combo:
    Now here's a 100% crop:
    Don't have any of the others, so can't speak to them.
  3. In many, perhaps even most, cases, there is a good chance that the performance of the slower lens stopped down may actually be better than the faster lens, where compromises have been made to achieve the faster f/stop. Check for each lens at a site like Photozone.de where lenses are compared at different settings.
    I always kept my 50mm f/2 Nikkor even though I had bought the 55mm f/1.2 lens. Really fast lenses are like a trained cat. They often can only do the one trick, however good it may be.
  4. Slower almost inevitably means lighter (and smaller), a bonus for events where multiple lenses are desirable. Sometimes, that compactness enables shooting in tight quarters or through small gaps in walls and fences.
    Which ones are worth keeping? Any that have done good work for you, and any you haven't yet tried!
  5. Somne years ago I wrote an article for CameraShopper comparing slow and fast versions of Minolta MC Rokkors in the 28, 35, standard, 135 and 200 focal lengths. The faster lenses can be helpful in lower light even if the only advantage is making focuisng easier. Faster lenses are heavier, larger and more prone to flare. In good light I would rather use the slower lenses. The 35/2 New FD is not much larger than the 35/2.8. Still, I like the 35/2.8 and I have three of them. I have five 100/2.8 Canon FD lenses: two chrome front FD, an FD SSC and two New FD. Even though I have the 85/1.8 New FD I still like the 100/2.8s. They are all very good. In the 200mm focal length I have a 200/4, a 200/4 FD SSC and a 200/2.8 New FD (1st version). If the light is good enough I will still use the f/4 FD SSC. The 200/4 also works very well with extension tubes or on a bellows. You can get close with a 200/4 Macro but because of its design it is really only about 170mm at the closest focusing distance. If you need more working dostance the non-Macro f/4 is a good alternative. I have two 28/2.8 New FD lenses. They are good but the earlier 28/2.8 FD SC is better. My Canon 24 is an FD SSC with the chrome front. I find it very sharp. If I had a New FD f/2 or a 1.4 I would keep the slower lens for bad weather or rock climbing.
  6. SCL


    I personally would take duplicate shots with similar lenses on a sacrificial roll - subjects I normally shoot, and apertures I normally shoot. If there was a noticeable difference, I'd keep the one delivering better results and sell the other. If that didn't work, I'd revert to the one year rule. If it broke my heart to say goodby to an old friend, I'd just say "to hell with it" and keep them both :)
  7. Sorry, I sort of lost track which forum this was on in the midst of a thunderstorm and loss of internet (OMG!).
    Photozone won't do you much good for FD lenses, but you can try them out on your own, of course. The principle holds all the same, even if similar tests of the older lenses are hard to find.
  8. Dave, I'm in a similar situation as you, and tend to have multiple FD primes at any given focal length. The exceptions are the ultrawide primes, all of which I've now sold since I never shoot wider than 24mm.
    My rule of thumb is to keep the faster prime, which is usually a New FD, as well as a nice copy of the earlier, slower breechlock version. As for the latter, I'm particularly fond of the "chrome nose" versions, of which I have a few. For example, while I have the FDn 100/2, I also have a gorgeous copy of the chrome nose 100/2.8, which I cannot envision selling until I finally decide to let go of all my FD gear. Also, while I sold my later breechlock 50/1.8 years ago, I have held onto a pristine copy of the chrome nose 50/1.8.
    In a couple of cases, I have multiple versions of the fastest primes at the same (or close to the same) focal length; namely, the 50/1.2 L, 50/1.2 non-L, and 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical, as well as the 85/1.2 L and the 85/1.2 SSC Aspherical. And, likely because it's the prime that has often come with the bodies I've acquired, I have several copy of the venerable 50/1.4.
    As for comparative image quality between the faster and slower primes at any given focal length, I've never given it that much thought, probably because the IQ of FD primes seems to be so consistently good.
  9. I often opt for my Canon FL 28/3.5 over my faster FD 28/2.0 on my old F-1. The FL 28mm is smaller and lighter and is optically excellent. Of course when it gets dark I put on the faster, and bigger, FD28/2.0
    Jim B.
  10. I have two 28/3.5 FL lenses and I use them when I am in an FL mood but they are not nearly as sharp as the 28/2.8 FD SC. If I need a faster 28 I have the 28/2 FD SSC, both versions of the Vivitar 28/2 and, I thnk, a 28/2 Kiron.
  11. 100/2.8 is so small, looks like 50. I would keep it.
  12. It's like asking a crack addict which 'rock' he wants to keep and which he should give to his friend. The answer is of course 'keep both' and 'what friend?'
  13. I just kept mine as they have almost no resale value and are not worth the effort of selling. That said they don't get used. In my case the slow lenses are the 50 F1.8, 28 F2.8 (two copies - don't ask) and a 135 F2.8.
  14. My attitude would be that the lenses aren't eating anything, and if the faster lenses become faulty you have a replacement on hand that you already own that's a lot cheaper than paying to have the faulty one serviced.
  15. Thanks everybody, for all the responses. They're all good points. I think I have an idea what I'll do, and I appreciate the varied advice.
  16. They aren't worth keeping, you should just send them to me. ;-)
  17. I don't have personal experience with both copies of many of the lenses you mention mostly just one of each. Others have given you food for thought, which is always good. I can address one specific pair, though: the 200mm lenses. I used to own the latest version of the 200mm f/2.8 -- the new FD IF lens. And I currently own a new FD 200mm f/4 IF lens. The 200/2.8 was a great lens but mine had really severe chromatic aberration issues. Lots of green and magenta fringing, so I had to be very careful how I used it. With my 200/4, however, the fringing isn't an issue. So this is something to keep in mind. Compare how well corrected optically each focal length is with its counterpart, and this might lead you to conclude that it might just be worthwhile hanging onto a few of the slower lenses.
  18. In my experience aperture for aperture the slower versions of lenses are often better performers than the fast ones where the designs have been stretched rather than the whole lens be completely re-designed to make them faster.
    Many people who are new to photography that faster is always better and it's not always the case and in some cases photo technical quality has been sacrificed for speed, my Canon FD 28mm f2.8 aperture for aperture is a better performer than my FD 28mm f1.4 and cost many times more and unless I need the speed I tend to use the 2.8 one more..
  19. OK my 2 cents.. Keep the 24mm f2.8. While the 24mm f2 is reported to be slightly sharper, I have both and I cannot tell the difference even in greatly magnified prints. They are both excellent lenses.
    The 28mm and 35mm f2.8's are both good but not really fetching high prices so you have no real reason to sell them either. If you can find one, get the 35mm f2 and then sell one or both of these slower lenses.
    I did not see it on your list, but get a 50mm f1.4 in SSC or FDn version. Skip the f1.8 and f1.2 lenses. (the 50m f1.2 L is great but way overpriced.)
    The 85mm f1.8 and the 100mm f2.8. These are both good, sharp lenses in a similar focal length. Keep whatever you like best.
    200mm f4. A good lens but the 70-200mm f4 is just as good if not better and not that much bigger. *one good option is to get the zoom, then sell the 100mm and 200mm. Keep the 85mm for indoor/low light shots.
  20. Oh sorry I misread your post.. if you already have the faster lenses, there is no real reason to keep these. For the most part, the faster lenses are just as good as the slower lenses. The exception being the 50mm f1.2 non-L. And like I said before, The 24mm f2.8 is excellent so you may even want to sell your f2 as they are fetching high prices right now.

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