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Using old Canon film camera lenses on a 5D


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#1 Danny Haritan

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 11:07 AM

I own a Canon 5D Mark II and I also own an older Canon film camera with 6 various Canon lenses. I was told that these were Canon FD mount lenses and that I can use them but that I need a different adapter which has glass in it which degrades the image quality, and that adapter needed would be a Canon FD to EOS mount. Is it worth buying the adapter or a ring for my 5D to attach these lenses, especially when one of the lens is a 70-210mm 1:4, and I'm trying to save money not buying expensive lenses as of now.

Thanks in advance for your time and help.

-Danny J.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 11:40 AM

Lenses are designed to be mounted a fixed distance from the film or image sensor; the flange focus distance, which is usually maintained by the combination of design in the lens and mount. The problem is that the physical characteristics of the FD and EOS mount won't allow the FD lens to get close enough to the sensor; you physically can't do it, as there's metal in the way.

The upshot of this is that you can use a straightforward non-optical mount which is really just a mechanical adaptor, but the FD lens then won't ever be able to focus all the way to infinity and the focus distance markings will be wrong.

You can get adaptors that have optical elements in them which correct for this, but more glass inevitably equals more degradation.

Depending on what you spend on the adaptor, how good your FD lenses are, and your expectations, I suspect it might be quite possible to get results you're happy with. If you're interested in video work with the 5D, this greatly ameliorates the situation, since the video is fairly soft anyway, and likely to hide problems with a lens adaptor. They can have other side-effects, though, such as lens flare, edge softness and colour vignetting - test upfront and shoot test charts including a gray card to make sure you're happy, as the extent of these problems depends on both the adaptor and the lens you put on it. Some lenses "like" some adaptors better than others, and of course if you're in a small interior location you may not need to use an optically-corrected adaptor at all (bearing in mind the focus distance marks on the lens will then be wildly wrong).

Shooting stills is obviously a lot more demanding of glass. The 5D mark II is a really excellent digital stills camera and, almost unfortunately, likely to be a great testbed to show up the problems in your lenses. In fact, shooting stills would be a real acid test as to the lenses' suitability for video.

I have an EOS mount adaptor for some older Pentax lenses. Pentax has a longer flange focus distance than EOS, which seems to have been designed to be as small as possible; however, it is as we know longer than FD. Even though the Pentax lenses don't need additional optics, though, they do all uniformly vignette green due to their non-telecentricity. Some cameras may be able to fix this with lens-shading correction, although the catch here is that most mount adaptors don't identify to the camera electronically, so the camera can't automatically select a shading profile for that lens (though it may be possible to do so manually).

P
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#3 Danny Haritan

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 11:25 PM

Lenses are designed to be mounted a fixed distance from the film or image sensor; the flange focus distance, which is usually maintained by the combination of design in the lens and mount. The problem is that the physical characteristics of the FD and EOS mount won't allow the FD lens to get close enough to the sensor; you physically can't do it, as there's metal in the way.

The upshot of this is that you can use a straightforward non-optical mount which is really just a mechanical adaptor, but the FD lens then won't ever be able to focus all the way to infinity and the focus distance markings will be wrong.

You can get adaptors that have optical elements in them which correct for this, but more glass inevitably equals more degradation.

Depending on what you spend on the adaptor, how good your FD lenses are, and your expectations, I suspect it might be quite possible to get results you're happy with. If you're interested in video work with the 5D, this greatly ameliorates the situation, since the video is fairly soft anyway, and likely to hide problems with a lens adaptor. They can have other side-effects, though, such as lens flare, edge softness and colour vignetting - test upfront and shoot test charts including a gray card to make sure you're happy, as the extent of these problems depends on both the adaptor and the lens you put on it. Some lenses "like" some adaptors better than others, and of course if you're in a small interior location you may not need to use an optically-corrected adaptor at all (bearing in mind the focus distance marks on the lens will then be wildly wrong).

Shooting stills is obviously a lot more demanding of glass. The 5D mark II is a really excellent digital stills camera and, almost unfortunately, likely to be a great testbed to show up the problems in your lenses. In fact, shooting stills would be a real acid test as to the lenses' suitability for video.

I have an EOS mount adaptor for some older Pentax lenses. Pentax has a longer flange focus distance than EOS, which seems to have been designed to be as small as possible; however, it is as we know longer than FD. Even though the Pentax lenses don't need additional optics, though, they do all uniformly vignette green due to their non-telecentricity. Some cameras may be able to fix this with lens-shading correction, although the catch here is that most mount adaptors don't identify to the camera electronically, so the camera can't automatically select a shading profile for that lens (though it may be possible to do so manually).

P


Thanks for the help! I'll have to do some research and figure out if it's worth getting the adapter, or just save up for another lens.
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#4 Haridas Stewart

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 04:47 PM

Im not sure how much your set is worth, but i would consider the option of trading them for some old nikon glass. The way they are built gives you the perfect distance to the sensor (without extra glass elements) with even the cheapest adaptors that sell for as little as 10 GBP. I have shot with many and have been constantly blown away by the sharpness. I have even upscaled footage to 4k with hardly any loss of sharpness.

Haridas
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Visual Products

The Slider

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post