Canon New FD 50mm F1.4 lens review.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually it helps me a lot to start using unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.

FDN5014_exterior_24.jpg

Canon New FD50mm f/1.4 parameters:

Canon Camera Museum link

Marketed June 1979
Original Price 32,000 yen
Lens Construction (group) 6
Lens Construction (element) 7
No. of Diaphragm Blades 8
Minimum Aperture 22
Closest Focusing Distance (m) 0.45
Maximum Magnification (x) 0.15
Filter Diameter (mm) 52
Maximum Diameter x Length (mm) 63 x 41
Weight (g) 235

Additional information:

  • Some sources says that previous model Canon FD50mm F1.4 S.S.C. is optically the same with the tested lens
  • Tested copy is in the very nice condition, s/n 4510590

 

Canon New FD 50mm f1.4 optical design
Canon New FD 50mm f1.4 optical design

Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

 


Lens code name – Rory Mercury (ロリー·マーキュリ):

Rory Mercury (ロリー·マーキュリー Rorī Mākyurī) is a demigoddess and an apostle of Emroy, the god of darkness, war, violence, and death. Despite her antediluvian age, she has the appearance of a 13-year-old girl. Along similar lines, despite her delicate, petite frame, she is widely known as Rory the Reaper, Apostle of Emroy, who slaughters her enemies with her giant halberd with no mercy.

 


Sharpness – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.7m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 3 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-200, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved  the target to the next place. Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance. Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but test results looks correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

rory mercury 1.jpg

Scene preview:

FDN5014_b_res_close_previewNEW.jpg

Test results:

FDN5014_c_res_close.jpg


Sharpness – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-50. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings (Some single files have a slight light correction, for better visual convenience in comparison), then were cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

  • Bad weather is better for this test – because low-light is required for wide-opened apertures to slow down shutter speed.

Scene preview:

FDN5014_e_far_preview.jpg

Test results:

FDN5014_e_res_far.jpg


Vignetting:

(frames scaled – 300×200)

FDN5014_f_vignetting.jpg


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)

FDN5014_geometry.jpg


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

FDN5014_h_coma_aberr_.jpg


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)

FDN5014_i_chrome_aberr_.jpg


Long distance bokeh:

Test#1:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.45m, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real life photography the blur level will be less, see the next Test#2.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

FDN5014_k_bokeh_far_1m.jpg

Test#2:

Test conditions: lens was focused on 2m – ‘portrait distance’, houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

FDN5014_k_bokeh_far_2m.jpg


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 0.45m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real life photography the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)

FDN5014_m_dots_far.jpg


Other resources with reviews:


My overall conclusion about the Canon New FD 50mm F/1.4:

FDN5014_avatar

This is the first review of the Canon FD lens system on the site. And before I go to my opinion about the lens, I will express my opinion about the ‘accessories’. As you know, adapters are needed if mirorless camera is using. And I’ve tried adapters on many different systems, even very rare ones. So, Canon FD adapters – the most stupid that I came across. There is always a risk that the adapter’s locking ring will be shifted and the lens will stop responding to the aperture change. For tests, I just fixed the ring with scotch tape, but I do not know what to do when shooting, when I need to change lenses. Probably it need to buy adapters for each lens and wrap all with scotch tape.

However, the problems of the adapters do not affect the optical IQ of the lens.

This is the lens from the Top category of 50mm lenses. Perhaps not the best among others, but one of the best for sure, even by modern standards.
Each company had on its list a fast fifty-lens. Most of manufactured lenses had similar schemes, sizes, build-quality and even prices. Some of them continued to be produced in autofocus. And all the advantages of these lenses are also present in the tested lens – universal focal length, light weight, small size, good sharpness on the wide open aperture and excellent sharpness in the closed. Also, a beautiful drawing in the bokeh zone, and the ability to blur the background because it’s fast lens. Of course, aberrations are present, but amount is not more than on other analogs and quite acceptable for real photography. This lens can be the only lens in the bag of the photographer.
Ready for landscapes on F5.6. And completely sharp on F8. For other styles you can use it from F1.4, but still I would advise you to avoid an open aperture.
A big plus is the price of this lens in auctions – it is not overpriced, definitely.


This lens took part in battles:

FDN5014_MD5014_Battle__Avatar

 

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