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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 19 Jun 2012 (Tuesday) 05:34
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FD vs. EF lenses - the difference in optical quality?

 
TweakMDS
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Jun 21, 2012 02:11 |  #16

Ltdave wrote in post #14600556 (external link)
Maybe its because im old and I like things in a traditional sense, but other than SOME of the new L lenses, I don't think there js an EF lens that matches its FD equivalent in IQ...

I don't believe plastic will EVER match glass for optical transmission quality and you know many of the EF and EF-S lenses have plastic elements in order to keep weight and cost down....

Maybe im just old....

I've never, ever heard of a plastic element in any EF/EF-S lens. Either you're going by hearsay or you've been looking at some very odd lenses. Even the cheapest lenses like 50 1.8, 18-55, 55-250 use glass. The difference is what sort of glass.

Back to the point of this topic. I'm sure some FD lense have mythical qualities. There's always a few gems in a lens line-up. As a whole though, I think the EOS line-up is better than the FD line up has ever been. With high resolution digital sensors, the tolerances of lenses became smaller and pixelpeeping made us all very aware of weaknesses of each lens.
Back in the film/fd time, it was much rarer do test shots and blow up your images to inspect the corner sharpness, especially since camera setting aren't saved on film, so you had to remember to write down your settings.


That said, I's love to see the 200/4 macro come back into an EF form ;)


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stover98074
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Jun 21, 2012 12:10 |  #17

I use FD lenses on a NEX - a 50 1.4 and a 135 2.0. Both nice lenses, both built well, both rather inexpensive. I am also using a 100 3.5 Canon RangeFinder lens on the NEX. This is a super small and sharp lens.

I have used this site to get information on FD lenses. http://fdreview.com/ (external link)


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Scatterbrained
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Jun 21, 2012 12:28 |  #18

Some of the FD lenses are stellar in the IQ department. With the exception of the 600SSC (I have one, it's ok, but not great) the superteles are great. I have seen shots with many of the fast primes that were incredible. One of the standout differences is in the glass. As was pointed out earlier, new lenses have no lead in the glass. Lead was used to aid in microcontrast. Now, you would think that they would be able to find a way to compensate, but I can say that the microcontrast and general sharpness of my 300 2.8 FD can be mind boggling. Lens coatings however are something that has advanced quite a bit, making the newer lenses more flare resistant and allowing them to transmit a bit more light. Oh yeah, there's that AF thing too.

If you're interested you should look up Ontarian on flickr (Ed Mika). You can see all of the work he's done to convert the best of the FD lenses to EF with DIY, reversible kit.


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2Stroke
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Jun 21, 2012 15:31 |  #19

Many thanks for all the posts.

So FD lenses are not worse than their EF successors and in some cases FD's are even better, right? I have some mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I am little confused - technology moved so far in last 40 years and Canon is unable to clearly beat their own predecessor lens series?!

But on the other hand, it makes me happy - though I was not born yet when Canon have stopped producing the FD lenses, they fascinate me. I really love vintage audiovisual equipment.

I think I should buy few FD lenses so far it is so cheap and easy to get.

Again, thanks for all posts and keep on going!




  
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ZoneV
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Jun 22, 2012 05:40 |  #20

2Stroke wrote in post #14612751 (external link)
...
So FD lenses are not worse than their EF successors and in some cases FD's are even better, right? ...

Some FD lenses are equal or even better, not all. FD 600 and 800 SSC seems to be not that good as the newer ones. I would avoid the cheaper FD zoom lenses - without having experiences.
Some (or even all ?) have more problems with their old coating, more flare prone.

2Stroke wrote in post #14612751 (external link)
...
On the one hand, I am little confused - technology moved so far in last 40 years and Canon is unable to clearly beat their own predecessor lens series?!
...

Lens design and manufacture has a lot to do with small tolerances. Very tight tolerances are good. But autofocus and image stabilisation needs fast and easy moving lens elements. To get this with good image quality seems to be hard work for the lens designers.

And to get the lenses perform without the "leadfree" glasses are a problem too. European glass manufacturer Schott and others are working to get a exeption for optical industry to use lead and other "hazardous" elements (external link) in those ROHS laws. It is very much work to build the same lenses without those elements - if possible at all. Learned that on an optics fair where I took part.

Current Zeiss lenses are very good - manual focus.
Samyang could build optical "good" lenses very cheap - with manual focus (and cheap plastic).


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xarqi
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Jun 22, 2012 16:51 |  #21

Bring on diamond elements I say.




  
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KCMO ­ Al
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Jun 22, 2012 17:31 |  #22

I used FD lenses for years on my old F-1 and T90. The design of the elements in fixed FL lenses probably has not changed all that much. The Zeiss Planars produced today are essentially the same as Planars of yesteryear, for example. Also, at least when the FD lenses were introduced, the build quality was very high--no such thing as plastic bodies or lens mounts.
What has changed is, as mentioned, glass and coating technology but all of my early FDs had the best coating available at the time.
The lens shown in one of the photos was the 55 f/1.2. I had an early, non-aspheric version and it was pretty much crap at large apertures. The 50 f/1.4 was excellent, however.
I think I have a couple sitting in a closet somewhere if anyone is interested.


Film: Leica M-4, Elan 7E, Rolleiflex 2.8f, Pentax 645 -- Digital: Canon Pro-1, EOS 5D Mk III
EOS Lenses: Sigma 24-70 f2.8 EX - Canon EF 17-40 f4.0L - Canon EF 24-105 f4.0L - Canon EF 35 f1.4L USM - Canon EF100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM - Canon EF100 f2.8 Macro - Other stuff: MR 14EX - 430EX - 580EXII - ST-E2 - TC1.4x - TC-80N3

  
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SteveInNZ
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Jun 22, 2012 17:56 |  #23

On the one hand, I am little confused - technology moved so far in last 40 years and Canon is unable to clearly beat their own predecessor lens series?!

Lens design and manufacture has a lot to do with small tolerances. Very tight tolerances are good. But autofocus and image stabilisation needs fast and easy moving lens elements. To get this with good image quality seems to be hard work for the lens designers.

This is the crux of the matter. The requirements for an autofocus and/or IS lens are the opposite to what a manual lens designer would choose. If you have to move elements around, you want them to be as light as possible and that means as small as the optics will allow. Otherwise it takes too long to move them or requires too much power.
The FD lens maker didn't have that restriction so the increases in technology have allowed the optical performance to stay at the desired level but you see the advances as increases in focus speed and IS.

When it comes down to it, you're going win/loose more sales based on focus speed and IS than on pixel-peeping. So you you see the technology gain, but indirectly.

Steve.


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ninobrn99
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Jun 23, 2012 00:32 |  #24

I just got my adapter in yesterday. The shots seem to be very soft with each lens. I'm sure that's due to the element in the adapter. I'm going to shoot a bit more with them so that I can really get an idea of how the IQ is overall. I do know that when shooting on film, these things were amazing!


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ontarian
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Jun 24, 2012 21:56 |  #25

ninobrn99 wrote in post #14619489 (external link)
I just got my adapter in yesterday. The shots seem to be very soft with each lens. I'm sure that's due to the element in the adapter. I'm going to shoot a bit more with them so that I can really get an idea of how the IQ is overall. I do know that when shooting on film, these things were amazing!

Optical FD-EF adapters are crap. Sorry, they just are, even the supposedly better ones. They are the reason I started reversibly "hacking" FD lenses in the first place and started selling my solutions to others who wanted the best IQ from the best FD lenses. To see what I mean, take the optical element out of your adapter, focus the lens to the infinity mark and take a picture of the farthest thing you can at wide open aperture (probably at only 5 or so feet away). Then screw the element back in and take the same picture from roughly the same spot, or move back a bit to adjust for the 1.25 crop factor of the glass. Now compare the two pictures. See what I mean? Waay nice vs. might as well shoot with an EF 18-55 kit lens.

cheers- Ed Mika




  
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ninobrn99
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Jun 24, 2012 22:22 |  #26

Yeah, I'm trying to figure out how to hack them myself. Until then, I gotta stick to the adapter.

ontarian wrote in post #14626993 (external link)
Optical FD-EF adapters are crap. Sorry, they just are, even the supposedly better ones. They are the reason I started reversibly "hacking" FD lenses in the first place and started selling my solutions to others who wanted the best IQ from the best FD lenses. To see what I mean, take the optical element out of your adapter, focus the lens to the infinity mark and take a picture of the farthest thing you can at wide open aperture (probably at only 5 or so feet away). Then screw the element back in and take the same picture from roughly the same spot, or move back a bit to adjust for the 1.25 crop factor of the glass. Now compare the two pictures. See what I mean? Waay nice vs. might as well shoot with an EF 18-55 kit lens.

cheers- Ed Mika


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Jun 24, 2012 22:30 |  #27

ninobrn99 wrote in post #14627119 (external link)
Yeah, I'm trying to figure out how to hack them myself. Until then, I gotta stick to the adapter.

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ninobrn99
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Jun 24, 2012 23:27 |  #28

Thanks for the link.


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Jun 25, 2012 00:14 |  #29

2Stroke wrote in post #14612751 (external link)
On the one hand, I am little confused - technology moved so far in last 40 years and Canon is unable to clearly beat their own predecessor lens series?!

Optics is a much older field than electronics or even photography. The Assyrians were making lenses in 700BC. The last 40 years isn't much in an already mature field.

Manufacturing abilities have improved, especially the ability to deliver in volume.


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ZoneV
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Jun 25, 2012 02:45 |  #30

ninobrn99 wrote in post #14627119 (external link)
Yeah, I'm trying to figure out how to hack them myself. Until then, I gotta stick to the adapter.

These cheap adapters with lens could work with longer and not very fast lenses good enough - as long one has not seen the full quality of the FD lenses :-)

Visit my DIY homepage - there are many FD-EF mount conversions.
The good optical quality (relative to price) is one of the reasons why there are more and more conversion How To's online.
And Ed Mika wouldn´t start his adapter work for bad lenses too.


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FD vs. EF lenses - the difference in optical quality?
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