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Canon FD 200 f2.8 or 300 f4?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by cmpatti, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. cmpatti

    cmpatti Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    After a year with the E-PL2, I've become fascinated with the idea of legacy telephotos. The idea that I can get a lens with the reach and speed of a full-frame 400 f2.8 or 600 f4 for less than 2% of the price is irresistible. (I recognize they are not comparable in other respects.) So I've decided to get one of these two lenses, which can be had for similar prices. I don't have any specific use in mind, except perhaps some high school lacrosse. I like the 200 f2.8 because it is smaller (5.5 vs 8 inches) and lighter (1.5 vs 2 lbs) and has a larger maximum aperture. I tend to think the somewhat shorter focal length will be more versatile, but I'm not sure. The main advantage of the 300 f4 in my mind is the tripod collar. I expect that lenses of this length will have to be on tripod or monopod quite often, and I'm not sure that the E-PL2 will do well mounted on a tripod with the 200 f2.8 plus adapter hanging off it.

    Anyone have any experience with these lenses or advice about choosing between them?
  2. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    They're both great, you just have to decide whether you want a lens that is effectively a 400mm or 600mm lens. If you're going to be doing more extreme wildlife, get yourself the 300mm f/4. For high school lacrosse, the 200mm is probably more usable, as the 300mm really gives a narrow angle of view on our cameras, and you'd have to step back pretty far. Since the price of these doesn't really change any more, consider buying both, using them for a month or two, and selling the one you don't like. If I'm not mistaken, they're both worth about $150-$200 each today, so even if you sell one and lose about $30, it's a pretty cheap lesson/rental rate.
  3. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    You could also consider buying the 200/2.8 and a 1.4x teleconverter to get to an equivalent 280/4. I don't know enough about Canon lenses and converters to know if there's a teleconverter that preserves the IQ of the 200/2.8.
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Only one 200mm f/2.8 is capable of being used with teleconverters. From:
    CanonFD FAQL
    "How can I tell the 200mm IF lens from the other ones?

    The quickest visual way to distinguish a 200mm f/2.8 IF nFD lens from any other 200mm f/2.8 is that it's the only one with a diamond pattern rubber grip on the rear of the built-in hood.

    Optically, they're pretty much equivalent; the IF version is considered the most desirable for two reasons:
    -the non-rotating, non-extending front element makes polarizers and Cokin holders easier to use.
    -the rear element is sufficiently recessed to allow the use of the FD 1.4x teleconverter.

    Besides, a good condition, quality teleconverter costs pretty much the same as these lenses, and the 300mm f/4 is superior to the 200mm f/2.8 with TC, but isn't that always the case? ;) 
  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have both those lenses in the modern EF version. They are both very sharp, it sorta all depends on what you plan to shoot. For me, 300mm (or equal) is about the top end for general usability. Anything above 300mm starts getting very specialized, thus used less often ... but when you do use it ... wow! (You're the man.)

    I'd go with the 200mm and 1.4x extender. I use a Canon 2x with my L lenses with no significant degradation of IQ.

  6. A lens the size of the FD 200/2.8 being suspended off the front of an E-PL2 on a tripod would concern me, although the camera may well be solid enough to handle it. If you do go the 200/2.8 + teleconvertor route for the extra versatility, be aware that every man and his dog made teleconvertors for the FD mount of varying quality. I wouldn't want to use anything but the genuine Canon version which has a protruding front element and limits the number of lenses that it can be used with.

  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Nic has an interesting point regarding weight. Always carry the camera from the lens, otherwise you may bend the mount on the camera.
  8. tamoio

    tamoio Mu-43 Regular

    The FDn 300mm f4 L is quite superior to both the 200 f2.8 (all versions) and the standard 300mm f4. I got mine for <$400 but they can be found almost anytime for around $450. While I don't like the FDn mount that much I find that the internal focusing versions are worth the potential hassles. If you don't need the speed there is a late version 200mm f4 FDn that is internal focusing and works with the FD 1.4X converter.
  9. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    You can get adapters with a tripod mount built in.

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