Canon FD 50mm 1.8 vs Panasonic 20mm comparison?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by agentjonny, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. agentjonny

    agentjonny New to Mu-43

    Apr 4, 2013
    Vancouver, BC
    hey guys-
    i've got an E-PL1 with the panasonic 20mm on it. i just found a canon 50mm/f1.8 the other day and was thinking about getting an adapter to try it out. i was wondering if anybody else happened to have these lenses and could tell me what to expect. i know the focal length will be different, mostly just wondering about low light and depth-of-field performance.
  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    As you mentioned the difference in focal length makes direct comparisons between these two difficult. I've got both and I enjoy shooting with each, although they're very different experiences (auto v. manual). As the apertures indicate low light performance wide open is going to be comparable. DOF well be shallower with the Canon, but that's merely a function of focal length.

    In short, they're both fine lenses but also very different.
  3. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Mike Barber
    Perhaps more importantly, one runs $30 and the other around $300.
  4. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    When stopped down to say F/4 the Canon will look quite good. At F/1.8 it will be softer than the 20 for sure, but you probably don't print or display large enough for resolution to be that big an issue. More noticeably at F/1.8 the Canon will be lower contrast than the 20 and will appear as if it has a slight haze to it. Still should be very usable and an adapter is quite inexpensive. I say give it a try.
  5. Judderman62

    Judderman62 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 24, 2013
    Greater Manchester
    I'm curious - why would it be hazy ?
  6. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    I just got a Soligor 28mm f/2.8 in FD mount with adapter. So far I really like it, though I haven't had much chance to play with it yet. $35 in total.
  7. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    Certain film lenses don't allow the light to strike the recessed photo sites of a digital sensor in the same way modern lens are optimized to deal with the digital sensor. The 50mm may, or may not exhibit this. I find it vary's from lens to lens when dealing with film lenses. I have a Vivitar 100-300 fd zoomer than has a ridiculous hazy appearence and is essentially junk, whilst the 80-200 Canon fd is perfectly fine and usable. You can also get haze if you put the adapter on wrong, or use a cheapo adapter that lets in pinhole amounts of light in between the mount and lens. I use the fotodiox adapters for FD, they're still cheap and work well, just a PIA to put on the nFD's.
  8. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I had several of the old 50mm lenses from Olympus, Canon, Nikon, and Minolta. The first note I will make is that they are not all the same. That may seem obvious but the differences can be significant, especially when opened up (low f-stop).

    I found the Canon FD 50/1.8s to be an excellent lens for the money. They were usable wide open and sharpened up quickly with one or two aperture clicks.

    There were photos with some of these old lenses that appeared to have a haze as suggested but not all of the lenses did this. I especially liked the 50/1.4 lenses. They seemed to be higher quality.

    My favorite lens was the 50/1.4 with a serial number greater than 1000000. These lenses had a wonderful warm glow to them and I found them to be almost as good at the 4/3 50 f2 lens.

    Bottom line of the long post, not all the lenses are equal but I would get a 50mm and start using it because they are fun to play with and cheap. If you don't like it for sharpness and/or you think it is not clear, try another one before you give up completely on this idea. Adapters for these lenses should be less than $20 a piece.
  9. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Spherical aberration was what I was thinking of. Not only does this cause loss of resolution to a degree, but it can cause a loss of micro-contrast as well. And that makes images look a bit hazy. Many fast legacy lenses, especially cheaper ones, suffer from this. It isn't the end of the world by any means, in fact special "soft focus" portrait lenses are designed to have controllable spherical aberration so you can add the haziness and "glow" that can appear around highlights as desired.

    Spherical aberration is very strongly dependent on aperture (goes as aperture number cubed) so stopping down even just a little can make it disappear.

    A few years back there were a lot more people using adapted legacy lenses because there weren't many primes for m43. This loss of contrast wide open was often mistaken for stray light caused by the presumed larger image circle of a lens designed for 35mm film being used on a m43 sensor of half the size. Some folks who knew just a enough to be dangerous would try to put a mask between the lens and the sensor to reduce the image circle and thus eliminate the stray light. This, however, does not work at all as intended. You can't restrict the image circle behind almost any lens with such a mask - the geometry just doesn't work, especially for a fast lens. What they were actually doing was unintentionally creating a new aperture stop behind the lens, that is they were unintentionally stopping down the lens with their mask. Because spherical aberration is so sensitive to aperture size this made the "haze" go away. Of course careful examination of their exposure data revealed they had actually created a new aperture stop, and examining the bokeh would reveal this as well.

    Anyway, very long digression. But the short answer is many of these inexpensive primes have low contrast when wide open that improves quickly once stopped down. Usually the cause is spherical aberration.
  10. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    I have a nFD 50mm f/1.8, and I love it. I think it's becoming my go to lens.
  11. Judderman62

    Judderman62 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 24, 2013
    Greater Manchester
    thanks for the explanations guys.
  12. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    You can get an adapter off for $10-12 Canadian and try your lens out. I think the FD50mm is worth that much to test on your camera.

    Must be the golden age for adapters. The FD adapter is one of the more complex and you can get one for either $10 USD or CA. Must be lots of CNC machines in China with excess capacity.
  13. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I have the FD 50mm f1.8 and I had the 20mm f1.7 Panny. There is no way to compare them directly, but both lenses can give you good results as well as poor results depending on the shooting environment.
    The biggest drawback of the 50mm Canon is the totally manual operation. You have to focus manually which can be a challenge at times. The 50mm focal length can be a real plus for some shots. I have taken some great shots with the legacy lenses, but generally I find them much softer than some of the native lenses.
    I say go ahead and try it, you have very little to lose and could have a lot of fun!
  14. WRay

    WRay Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 23, 2012
    Riverside, California
    Don't expect smooth bokeh with the Canon 50 f1.8.
  15. sinclair

    sinclair Mu-43 Veteran

    Not sure what your definition of smooth is, but this looks smooth to me.

    GF5 with Canon nFD 50mm @~f/2, 1/4000sec, ISO160. Direct from RAW, no PP.
  16. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    The FD 50mm should more properly be compared with the Olympus 45mm f1.8. They both serve the same function as a fast mid-tele prime. Nice for concert shots when you need a fast lens, and have the time to focus manually. This is helped a lot by the EM5 being able to do IS3200. Otherwise, 1/160 second and either f1.8 or f2.


    Got mine from for $5 and $15 shipping. Add a $20 adapter and you're 1/8 the cost of the Oly 45mm but maybe 3X-4X the weight.

    Outdoors, at f2.8 and lower, the 50mm (and most any other 50mm f1.8) hangs right with the 45mm.
  17. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Go check out the adapted lens archives on here. Everything you need to know.