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Help understanding Canon FD 50mm 1.4 lens differences?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by peripatew, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. peripatew

    peripatew Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    I'm looking at picking the 50mm 1.4 up, as I was recently gifted a Vivitar 24/2.0 and a Tokina 35-105/3.5~ FD mounts, both with a 55mm thread.

    I'd like to keep with the 55mm filter thread, but there seem to be a host of different 50mm 1.4 options. KEH lists several different things:

    BL II
    SCC BL

    I'm primarily wanting this lens for video, if that makes any difference.

  2. To the best of my knowledge there are three different variations of FD 50mm f1.4 lenses.

    Earliest and I think the rarest is the FD 50mm f1.4 "Chrome nose" breech-lock, signified by the unpainted front filter ring and hood mount bayonet.

    Second version is the FD 50mm f1.4 S.S.C. breech-lock. The chrome ring around the nose was gone and a red S.S.C. logo added to the front of the lens. S.S.C. stands for Super-Spectra Coating, which was the beginning of Canon's more sophisticated lens coatings. The earlier chrome nose version also has the same coating despite the lack of the badge.

    Last is the new FD 50mm f1.4 bayonet mount lens. This model is smaller, lighter, has a 52mm filter thread (55mm on the earlier models) and the breech-lock mount is gone, replaced by a bayonet style mount with a button release.
  3. peripatew

    peripatew Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Wow, great response!

    Is there a difference in optical quality, especially wide open?
  4. If I'm doing colour photos where I want to see sharp detail I wouldn't use these wider than f2. It's not really significantly less sharp at f1.4 but you tend to get a halo effect (sorry, I don't know the proper photographic term for this). However, black and white is much more forgiving of lens defects so if you're going for a grainy film look it's not so much of an issue.

    I have one of each of these. My chrome nose and new FD are both very good, and my S.S.C. not quite so good. The two early versions are optically identical in design so differences in performance are probably influenced more by age and sample variation than the design.

    Just to note two things. Firstly, don't rule out the new FD based on filter thread size. A 52-55mm step up ring will cost less than $2 on eBay, and secondly, I wish I had a Vivitar 24/2.0!
  5. rpress

    rpress Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 11, 2010
    I believe the halo effect is caused by longitudinal chromatic aberration. My Rokkor 50/1.4 does this wide open, too. At f2-8 it is very sharp.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. peripatew

    peripatew Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Ive been looking on KEH and they seem to have them all currently, so should I go for the original FD? Or a nFD?

    Would either of the focus rings behave differently for a follow focus with video?

    The Vivitar is in perfect condition! It's been locked away for 20 years. I'll let you know if I decide to sell it, I haven't seen many around.
  7. I would personally recommend the new FD based on it's size and weight. The bayonet mount is also less fiddly than the breech-lock. The older lenses feel a bit more solid and actually have a slightly nicer feeling focus and aperture ring but that is just my own subjective opinion. I don't do video so I can't comment on their suitability. A good example of either version will have have a nice, smooth focus ring with a rotation of about 210 degrees if that helps any.
  8. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    I have the older FL version, FD "Chrome-Nose" SC Version, and Breech-Lock 50/1.4 SSC version. The Breech-Lock versions are more substantial, and the SSC version has beautiful rendering.
  9. RedNumber5

    RedNumber5 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 13, 2010
    Antioch, CA
    One other difference between the breech lock version and the bayonet version is that the bayonet version goes to f/22 where the breech version only goes to f/16. Here are some links that might be of interest that I use when looking for specific information on FD lenses. It seems accurate enough but of course you'll have to make your own decision as to whether to use it or not.

    Canon FD Lens Resource

    Breech Lock 50mm f/1.4

    Bayonet Lock 50mm f/1.4
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