Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens (5 of 5)

In the past I’ve strongly recommended against using FD glass on modern Canon cameras. This is because the flange distance on a normal Canon DSLR requires you to use an optical adapter or in some cases a specially machined adapter that only works with some lenses and is very expensive for what it is ($70 or more). The optical adapter reduces the amount of light hitting your sensor, softens your image, and screws up your focal length and the other type of adapter only works at some focal lengths and requires you to modify your FD lens. Some will say that the second type of adapter works with all FD lenses and that’s sort of true, but it causes heavy vignetting which isn’t always desirable.

However with the Canon EOS-M, the flange distance is small enough that you don’t need an optical adapter. Instead you can use a very affordable FD to EF-M adapter which is basically just an open tube. The lens is placed close enough that it covers the entire sensor without any optical trickery and your F-stop, image quality, and focal length are left intact.

Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens (4 of 5)

Since the FD lenses were designed to use a reduced flange distance, the lens designers were able to achieve common focal lengths in a smaller package. In this case I have the Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens attached to the EOS-M body and you can see that it looks far more reasonably sized then the Sigma 30mm f1.4 on the EOS-M body. This lens effectively gives you an 88mm f1.2 focal range (55mm x 1.6) in a very compact and affordable body.

Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens (2 of 5)

Don’t get me wrong the lens is still large when compared to the ultra compact Canon EOS-M body, but for a focal length that’s comparable to a Canon 85mm f1.2 it’s relatively tiny. The price is also a lot easier to swallow. I paid $160 for this Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens and you can currently find it on ebay for between $160 and $300 depending on the condition. Sure it’s a little pricy, but an f1.2 lens for under $300 is still very affordable when compared to other options.

Canon 55mm f1.2 FD test shot f1.2 (1 of 1)

My wife was kind enough to sit in for this test shot and you can download the raw DNG file here. In the photography department most FD lenses and vintage lenses in general are a little soft with a bit of color fringing and some other random imperfections wide open and things start to clean up as you stop down. Still (pun intended) these lenses are completely usable for photography, just not as good as modern options. However in the video department scaling along with all the other random compression applied to the image coming from the sensor makes these imperfections negligible at best. Anything that would make you complain about the Canon 55mm f1.2 FD lens becomes a thing of beauty in video mode.

FD lenses aren’t the complete answer to all of your lens needs for the Canon EOS-M body, but they do cover the medium to telephoto range pretty well. I’ll be posting more lens options for the Canon EOS-M over the next few weeks and eventually follow that up with a full roundup of my top lens recommendations on a budget. If you play your cards right, I think a complete set of lenses, a Canon EOS-M body, some audio gear, and middle of the line tripod could be had for under $800. More on that soon.

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