Best Value Canon FD Lenses

Originally introduced in 1971, Canon (FD) lenses have a great reputation for build quality and optical performance. These lenses can be adapted to just about any mirrorless camera today.

The two main types of FD lenses:

  1. FD (first generation): breech lock, with silver locking ring on the mount. Metal build, heavier. What they look like.
  2. New FD (aka nFD or FDn): standard bayonet mount. Black, and plasticky. Lighter. All New FD lenses have the newer S.S.C. coating. What they look like.

We’ve narrowed down 134 FD lenses to just 17 – representing the best value for money today.

Wide angle lenses:

  • Canon 20mm F2.8 FD/nFD ($160):
    Center sharp wide open, but strong vignetting / soft corners. Good from f/5.6, excellent at f/8. Corners very sharp by f/11. Filter thread rotates. 305 grams.
  • Canon 24mm F2.8 nFD ($65):
    Center sharp wide open, but strong vignetting / soft corners. Great between f/8 – f/11. Poor flare resistance. Compact. 240 grams.
  • Kiron 28mm F2 FD ($60):
    Cheaper than the Canon equivalent, but optically great.
  • Canon 28mm F2.8 FD/nFD ($35):
    Usable wide open. Sharp across frame at f/8 (but soft corners). 5 aperture blades. Compact and lightweight – a bargain. 170 grams.
  • Canon 35mm F2 nFD ($150):
    One of the sharpest ever made for the mount! Soft corners wide open (stop down to f/8 for best performance). Good bokeh (8 blades). Compact. 245 grams.
  • Canon 35mm F2.8 nFD ($50):
    A bargain. Usable wide open (center is sharp), great across the frame by f/5.6. Not as sharp at closer distances. 5 apertures blades. OK flare resistance. 165 grams.

Normal prime lenses:

  • Canon 50mm F1.4 nFD ($100):
    A bit soft wide open, improves significantly by f/2 (resolution, bokeh, contrast). Excellent by f/5.6. Long focus throw, making it very popular for video. 235 grams.
  • Canon 50mm F1.8 nFD ($35):
    A perfect “starter” lens, especially if you’re using it with 35mm film SLRs. Usable wide open (but with poor contrast and busy bokeh). Excellent by f/5.6 across the frame. Prone to flaring. 5 aperture blades, 0.6 meters (2 feet) close focus. 170 grams.
  • Canon 50mm F3.5 Macro FD/nFD ($60):
    Good wide open, excellent by f/8 across the frame. 1:2 magnification (1:1 with 25mm spacer). Great all-around macro lens. 230 grams.
  • Canon 55mm F1.2 FD ($150):
    It’s large and heavy, but where else will you find f/1.2 at this price? Sharp wide open (low contrast, busy bokeh), improves significantly by f/2 (great contrast, smooth bokeh). Excellent across the frame by f/8. 565 grams.

Telephoto lenses:

  • Canon 85mm F1.8 FD/nFD ($170):
    Usable wide open, sharpens up nicely by f/2.8. Great for portraits (not so much for landscapes). Decent bokeh. 345 grams.
  • Tokina AT-X 90mm F2.5 Macro FD ($200):
    Even sharper than the Canon 85mm F1.8 above! Nicknamed the “bokina” for its excellent bokeh and rendering.
  • Canon 100mm F2.8 nFD ($100):
    Great little portrait lens.
  • Canon 135mm F2.5 S.C. FD/nFD ($50):
    Smooth bokeh, great for portraiture.
  • Canon 135mm F2.8 nFD ($60):
    Great for portraiture on a budget (no point getting the F3.5 as it’s barely cheaper). Usable wide open (great bokeh, but strong CA). Best at f/5.6. 400 grams.
  • Canon 200mm F4 IF nFD ($50):
    Sharp wide open, compact, and easy to focus (IF = internal focusing). A bargain! Some CA. 440 grams.
  • Vivitar 70-210mm F3.5 Series 1 ($60):
    Heavy, but very sharp and with decent macro capabilities. Great for portraits, sports, and wildlife (up close).

S.C. stands for “Spectra Coating”, while S.S.C. is “Super Spectra Coating.” Practically speaking, there is little difference. Get either variant.

Comprehensive Canon FD websites:

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