Canon (new) fd 50mm 1.4

Front view of a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 lens
Front view of a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 lens
Canon (n) FD 50mm 1.4

Focal Lenght: 50mm
Max Apeture: 1.4
Lens Mount: FD (nFD)
Min. Focus: 0.45 m
Filter Size: 52mm
Weight: 235 gr

LENS STORY

This lens took 6 visits to the same antique store, before it was in my possession. The shop owner couldn’t decide on a price.

My copy is in good condition, there are some spots on the rear element and a few odd dust flecks near the front, but as far as I can tell they don’t really affect image quality.

HANDLING

One of the strongest sides of the nFD 50/1.4 in my opinion is it’s size and weight. I hear you screaming at your monitor – “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FAST APERTURE?!” I am ignoring your outrage.

With a weight of 235 grams, this lens is a bit heavier than the Sony FE 50/1.8. , with the added benefit of being faster – it’s small enough that you can pop it in your bag and forget about it. (Don’t forget your adapter, been there done that. Multiple times.)

I like the build quality, it doesn’t feel cheap, the aperture and focus rings are smooth and pleasant to use. (Keep in mind I’m comparing this to lenses of it’s time, not 1 kg gram all metal lenses made to be passed down through generations.)

On a Canon FD mount camera it would be really small, but when you add a Sony E mount adapter, it gets as big as the Sony FE 50/1.8. 

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

I wrote this review when I had different categories in each review, so the structure is a bit different.

Wide Open (at f1.4): 
A dreamy, slightly lowered contrast look – it reminds me of shooting on film. The heavy vignetting adds to that old timey look. A lot of spherical aberrations. Sharpness is okay, but with the thin depth of field you might end up missing a few shots(or most shots.) I wouldn’t shoot it focused at infinity at 1.4 , unless you want slightly hazy looking images.

Stopping down (f2 to f8)

At f2, you get a wider depth of field and increased sharpness and contrast – this lens begins to shine. This is where I used the lens most for the month I shot with it. (Why didn’t I grab my 50/1.8 if so?) Vignetting is still visible.

Fast forward to f8 – This is where my copy performs best, sharpness is good center to corners and I feel comfortable at it. Vignetting is gone and contrast is good. 

Flare & Distortion

I find that flaring is well controlled, you can force flaring, which will lower your contrast, but hey, you can do that with most lenses. A lens hood improves things to the point where I’ve had no issues with flare. 

There is some barrel distortion, which you might notice when shooting architecture – but you usually don’t get a f1.4 lens for that, so I wouldn’t say it’s that much of a problem.

Colors & Contrast:

I like the way this lens renders colors, it produces vibrant and well saturated images. 
 
 Wide open, images have lowered contrast, giving images a hazy look. Stopping down does wonders for this lens and bring contrast to an acceptbable level 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I like the Canon (n)FD 50/1.4  – it’s a light lens, with reasonable sharpness and contrast and a lot of character. (for some reason I associate it with the color blue.) 

Compared to modern and other vintage lenses it’s not that expensive – it usually goes for less than than the M42 mount Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 

If you really must have a fast 50mm prime, this is as good of a lens as the next – but hey – do you really need that 1.4 aperture? That’s up to you to decide. I’m just some text on a screen