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I recently bought a manual-focus (since manual doesn't bother me) 100mm prime macro lens. However, I didn't notice at the time of purchase that it was an FD lens. (I'm a hobbyist; I didn't know Canon had actually changed lens mounts at some point.)

On the one hand, I kind of want to experiment with this guy. And quality FD lenses are relatively cheap on the used market, so if the adapters were worth it, I could probably get more (and more varied) glass. On the other hand, everything I read about the FD-EOS adapters is highly contradictory. As in, some people swear by them, and others think they're outright tripe.

I am still within the exchange period, and can easily exchange this lens for this 50mm prime that I'd been tossing up about buying anyway, as they are the same price.

Which would be the wiser choice?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Generally I'd say it's not worth trying to adapt an FD lens for the EF mount. The reason for this is that the EF mount has a larger registration distance, that is distance from the sensor the mount so that any simple FD to EF adaptor will act like an extension tube and you wont be able to focus beyond a few meters!

Canon produced an adaptor with a glass element which corrected focus distance but increased focal length by a factor of 1.1, could only be used with telephotos and decreased optical quality. This adaptor was mainly produced to placate those with a significant investment in long Canon glass and is quite rare. This is probably the reason people consider this type of adaptor to be "tripe". There are also third party versions of this adaptor which are comparable to the Canon one (i.e. still not that good).

However, as the lens in question is a macro lens, you could use a simple mechanical adaptor and the result would be a decrease in minimum focus distance, increasing magnification. So if you plan to use this lens for macro work then you should be able to adapt it no problem, however it wont be useful for anything else. A glassless adaptor wont compromise the optics so this is probably responsible for the mixed opinions on adaptors.

At the very least you need an adaptor with an aperture ring so you can stop down (almost essential for macro work) I think most of the glass ones do this, if you can't find a mechanical adaptor which will work the aperture for you, you can remove the glass from one of the other adaptors.

Incidentally, that 50 f/1.8 is well worth the price so I would leave it on the shopping list even if you keep the macro, for when you can afford it.

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Don't even think about it, exchange it.

Putting an FD lens on an EF body requires using either an adapter with an optical element (loss in image quality + focal length multiplier) or an adapter without an optical element (loss of infinity focus). Either way, if you want to use an old lens on your Canon, there is a huge selection of other cheap, decent glass - anything in an M42 mount, C/Y mount, etc. Just not Canon FD.

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The questioner is asking about a macro lens so loss of infinity focus might not be a problem. –  Matt Grum Jan 18 '11 at 1:07
    
Yeah, but his alternative is a normal prime, so I'm not too sure. –  Jędrek Kostecki Jan 18 '11 at 1:10
    
I do both, and was examining them for different purposes. :) –  John Rudy Jan 18 '11 at 1:44
    
A list of mounts that you can adapt to EOS is available at bobatkins.com/photography/eosfaq/manual_focus_EOS.html (I have M42, Nikon, and T adapters). –  drewbenn Jan 18 '11 at 5:22

Short answer: yes, but you won't like the results.

Longer answer: those old lenses sure are fun :) ... but you still won't like the results. Here are some details:

There are adapters, and you can by cheap glassless ones (that won't allow infinity focus -- they basically act like extension tubes) or adapters with glass to allow infinity focus but that have varying quality (depending on how much you are willing to pay -- Canon even made an extremely expensive official adapter, I've heard, decades ago to help pro photographers with the switch from FD to EOS).

Unfortunately, your quality will really suffer. When I got my 30D I bought a couple FD lenses (my crown jewel was a 135/2.8, beautifully small and responsive and light-weight) but in order to use them with my adapter I had to stop them down 2-3 stops in order to get good pictures without CA. I still loved using that 135, and in the right light I could still get a decent picture every once in a while at f/2.8, but for all practical purposes it was a 135/8 and it's hard to get excited about a 135/8 and want to take it out for pictures.

With the 135 and the glassless adapter, the maximum focus distance was about 6 feet. With a 100-300 at 300mm, the maximum focus distance was, oh let's say I was 15 feet from a house and I could just barely focus on something at the top of a two-story house so what's that, 25 feet? Somewhere around here there's also a question where I both calculated and experimentally determined the maximum focus distance of a 50mm lens with a glassless adapter (it wasn't pretty).

If I were you, I certainly wouldn't throw out your lenses: I'd spend a few dollars on a glassless adapter and consider spending a few more on an adapter with glass to allow infinity focus. You can use the glassless adapter to turn your wider-aperture lenses into macro lenses (I use one with a 35-70 f/3.5-4.5, but the smallish aperture makes focusing difficult and I'd like to get an f/2 or wider lens for that purpose), and the adapter-with-glass to run some experiments. But I'm sure that you'll get better pictures with a cheap all-plastic slow consumer modern lens (especially one with modern coatings, which also play a big part in image quality) that doesn't require an adapter than with your expensive-at-the-time fast lenses with an adapter.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news... and if you can prove me wrong, I'd love to hear it!

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I'd recommend exchanging it. I had a Canon FD 135/2.8, and it was a great lens, very light and fun to use, but I had to stop it down to f/8 to get sharp, CA-free pictures through the FD-EOS (with glass, for infinity focusing) adapter. I got some good pictures out of it that way, but a 135/8 lens isn't all that interesting. I kept an FD 35-70 f/3.5-4.5 to use as a macro lens with a glassless FD-EOS adapter, with extenders (as Matt Grum already suggested), and it works well although I'd prefer something with a wider maximum aperture to aid in focusing before I stop down to take the picture.

So although that lens will probably work fine for macro use (though you may find yourself wishing you had an f/2 lens when you're setting up indoors), I think you'll be so disappointed every time you try to use it for anything else, that you'll be better off just getting a different lens. Also, if you get it you'll probably want to get 2 adapters for it: one with glass and one without, so you're doubling your cost in adapters.

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