Finding the right 50mm lens to some can be as easy as navigating to the DXOmark website and searching for the optical greatness that can be found in a meriad of charts and graphs. Or it can be as easy as finding the most expensive Zeiss or Canon L series lens that can be found and just select 1 click buy and pay the price later. Recently I sold my Canon full frame gear along with L series lenses and switched to the Fuji Xeries system. More specifically the X-Pro2. But now I am left with a bit of a situation to deal with. I used to have focal lengths ranging from 24-200mm’s, now I have two primes. The 23mm f2 and the 35mm f2. I no longer have an 50mm focal length, which was my favourite for shooting portraits. I know what you might be thinking. The crop sensor on the Fuji would make a 35mm the close equivalent of a fifty. Well your probably right but the longer focal lengths tend to work so much better when shooting portraits. The second factor to deal with is the realization that my funds are limited and even More than that I feel challenged to create images with a minimal amount of gear, as a result this hopefully helps me with my G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome).
So what next then?
~ Here enters the Canon FD 50mm f1.8
There are countless Legacy 50mm lenses available left over from the days of film photography, probably too many to mention but over the next few weeks I will take the time to mention a few of the more common ones. The Canon FD mount has been around since it was introduced in 1971 along side pro level F1 camera body. The 50mm f1.8 however is best known as a kit lens that was paired along side the amazingly popular Canon A-E1. Fast forward almost 50 years and mirrorless camera technology has enabled us to adapt almost any lenses to the latest offerings from the likes of Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic and many others. The 50mm f1.8 was paired with a canon A-E1 when I I found it at my local Goodwill thrift store and adapting it was simple. There are a myriad of different adapters available through sources like Amazon or EBay, I often look for the cheaper ones and have really never been disappointed. Ultimately I am looking to find out which one of the legacy 50’s will make its home permanently in my camera bag. I will be looking at a few simple things. Sharpness, out of focus areas (BOKEH), colour rendition and overall handling and build quality.
Below are a series of images I shot through the whole range of apertures and the focus is between f1.8 & f16. For the purposes of viewing both BOKEH and sharpness take a look at each one and see what your thoughts are. All of the above images are in camera JPEGS (Provia Film Simulation mode) with no additional editing.You be the judge!
Next are 2 100% crop samples to illustrate how sharp the lens in Wide open and how sharp it is stopped down. As you will see at f1.8 this 40+ year old lens actually seem to resolve the sharpness quite well. If fact with a bit of sharpening it could rival many modern 50’s. However at f16 this lens is incredibly sharp yet still has a smooth natural feel that some modern lenses don’t have at all.
I think that what makes the Fuji System so great is there use of film simulation modes and honestly I think the Fuji system could make any lens perform well.
“Handeling & Build Quality”
Overall I would say the Canon FD 50mm f1.8 is a decent feeling lens. It has fairly firm and defined clicks between the aperture range and focusing is relatively smooth and easy to do. This lens is mostly plastic and to some people that may seem like an issue but it seems to be built well enough that it’s lasted almost 4o+ years. Would I recommend this as an adaptable lens. I sure would and with the average price on EBay being around $50 dollars how can you go wrong, that’s only a buck a millimeter. See some more sample images below and feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.