Posts Tagged ‘50mm’

Canon FD 50mm f3.5 Macro

50macroI love using old lenses on new cameras. Today I am writing about the Canon FD 50mm f3.5 Macro lens. This lens is an 80s vintage that is in very good shape. These macro lenses are now available for very reasonable prices. I bought this one for around $70 on Ebay and it is near perfect. I like the FD series lenses that were the second generation because they are a bit smaller and more compact. Canon purists often prefer the older, original “breech lock” mount with the chrome ring. That was technically one of the best lens mounts ever made, but those lenses were big and heavy. The EOS-M is a tiny camera.

Macro lenses are generally very sharp. They offer a flat field across the entire image, corner to corner. They are designed to keep that flat field while focusing very close. Although they are typically only mediocre at infinity focus this particular lens tends to be a solid all round performer.


I am able to shoot this lens on my Canon EOS-M mirrorless body with an adapter for old FD lenses. Unfortunately the FD lenses cannot be used on EOS DSLR bodies without an optical correction lens or they will be unable to achieve infinity focus. I surely do not wish to place any extra optics between my classic lens and the camera. The EOS-M has a more shallow lens to image plane so FD lenses work fine with them.

The APS-C sensor gives this lens an 80mm effective focal length. I bought it because my Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 is sometimes just to long. I use this lens to take pictures of products I list on Ebay so I don’t have to stand halfway across the room to get the shot. That is the practical use for this lens. The fun use is outside.


Today we saw a warm day in the mid eighties and what better opportunity to soak up some rays and make some images with an old 1980s lens. My first target was my car. There it was sitting in the driveway, glistening under the warm rays of sunny goodness beaming down from the heavens.

Macro lenses are really good at showing off all the flaws in things you don’t otherwise notice. That Chrysler logo looks beat to hell, but in reality to look at it you won’t know it. So I decided to use a little soften effect in Adobe Lightroom to take the edge off all those defects. Chrome trim on cars can be a lot of fun to play with. I will have to do a piece on crazy chrome here soon.

OK, enough of that. Macro lenses are often used to take pictures of plants and flowers. I 50macrotest-3can’t help but notice that my blueberry bush is looking good this year. Hundreds of little white flowers means hundreds of delicious blueberries this summer. I love delicious blueberries 😀  I will admit I gave the bush a little spray of water to add to that lush look. This little Canon macro lens is quite sharp and delivers fabulous color and contrast.

Back in the day I was a die-hard Canon shooter with all the great glass. I love these old lenses! I really wish I had kept a few of those old “L” lenses 😦

I took a shot across the street to check out the landscape distance abilities of the old macro and it delivered a crisp image off into the distance. These old lenses do require that the lens stop down to shoot and that can make for a dark image on the screen. But the LCD screen compensates and that is cool!


The Canon FD 50mm f3.5 Macro is a great lens and can serve a variety of purposes for a shooter using APS-C or micro 4/3s mirrorless bodies. Obviously you can take great close-ups. But it can also serve as a good portrait lens. This particular lens is only an F3.5 and if portraits is a big thing for you, a faster F2.8 model might serve better. Nikon made a great 55mm f2.8 Micro-Nikkor that could be a great alternative. You might find that those are not readily available in that under $100 range like the Canon.

So get outside and hit those yard sales. Maybe you will find an old lens you can use on your new camera body!







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The Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4


Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4

Carl Zeiss has been a the superb choice for photographers now entering the second century. These optics are brilliant designs that have stood the test of time and technology. Over the years Zeiss has developed technology to apply to these traditional lens designs including multi-coating. These optics continue to be featured as the lens of choice for premium brand cameras including Hasselblad and Rollei.

I have acquired a Contax Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F/1.4 lens and have thoroughly enjoyed using this lens on several cameras. I got the lens at the PhotoFair in Newark, CA. I bought it from a guy that brought his gear into the show to sell. The lens I have is a modern Planar 50mm from the 80s or 90s. This lens is not really about some classic bokeh or soft contrast without loss of sharpness or any of the other things we often enjoy by using vintage equipment. This lens is razor-sharp with amazing contrast and brilliant color rendition. It is fairly compact but a little heavy since it is built extremely well.


Muffin the Cat, Canon T2i 125th sec @ F2.8 with in camera flash through the Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4

I am not intending to wow you with comparison graphs or sharpness tests or any of that. You can go to a variety of quality sources for that kind of data. Rather, I would like to encourage you to try some of these older lenses if you can swing the cash, this one is a great start.

The photo at right was a snapshot of one of our cats. She was none too thrilled about me or my camera. This shot was with the Zeiss at F/2.8. I did not achieve complete focus but the 2.8 aperture provided just enough depth of field to keep the eyes sharp. the nose is a touch soft but that was my poor focus. The older I get the more I appreciate auto focus 🙂 But these old lens are all manual.

There is just something special about using a lens that is a direct evolution of a piece of photographic history. The Zeiss Planar design has found its way into some of the world’s most legendary cameras. Hasselblad cameras use an 80mm f/2.8 Planar as a standard lens. Rollei’s most sought after Rollieflex models feature the 2.8 Planar as well.

I have owned a Hasselblad and a Rolieflex 2.8 Planar E and I can attest to the value of this very sharp lens design. The modern Zeiss lenses offer the Zeiss T* multi-coating which is one of the best lens coatings ever made. I am absolutely overjoyed that I can once again use lenses I used to own or always wanted to own with our amazing versatile modern digital cameras. I always wanted to own a 50mm 1.4 Planar but I couldn’t adapt the Contax mount to my old Canon FD camera bodies. I had a 50mm f1.2 Canon, but I knew that Zeiss was probably a bit sharper or at least offered better contrast. That is really what this Planar 1.4 has, wonderful contrast and brilliant color rendition. Honestly, I think my Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 USM is just as sharp but it lacks that extra color and contrast that Carl Zeiss can deliver.

Over the years I have been blessed to have owned some very exotic photo equipment and lenses. But often the most fun I had, was dinking around with some old Leica or Canon rangefinder camera. My money gear was Canon L series glass, a Hasseblad and my trusty Linhof Tecknika, but I had a lot of fun with old vintage gear. Now thanks to modern digital cameras we can enjoy that old gear again. I bought a Nikkor 105mm F/2.5 today. I always wanted one of those, that is an awesome lens and I’ll write about that one in another post.

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