Amateur taking steps, need lens advice

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Caipré, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. Caipré

    Caipré Member

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    Hello --

    For the past few months, I have enjoyed using my grandfather's Canon TL QL. The camera had a 50mm/1.8 FL lens, and I quickly picked up the 135mm/2.5 and a Hanimar 28mm/2.8. I'm growing in experience with these lenses, but I'm considering getting another.

    After a few eBay searches, I'm leaning toward a FD zoom, possibly the 28-85 or the 35-105 f/3.5.

    Do you have any FD suggestions?
    Is it worth it to get another lens (IQ, color, etc)?

    I'm looking for prices less than ~$80 -- the two that I picked up were $40 and $10, respectively.
     
  2. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    Get a fast 35mm in good condition ( eBay, Keh, etc)
     
  3. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello Caipré and welcome to APUG. Not familiar with the FD to give advise other than Canon glass is pretty good and worth getting.
     
  4. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    There's a lot of good, cheap FD glass out there, not all of which says "Canon" on it. I'm not generally a big fan of zooms, but I picked up a Kiron 80-200/4 for practically nothing, and it turns out to be absolutely surgically sharp. Keep an eye on the "non-manufacturer zooms" section at KEH; a lot of stuff goes through there, sometimes extremely cheap.

    Some of the Vivitar Series I lenses are supposed to be excellent as well, though I can't testify personally.

    -NT
     
  5. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Want to make good photographs? Forget the zoom.

    Get a 24-50mm prime lens and use that for a year straight. Then figure out where you want to be afterward.
     
  6. moki

    moki Member

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    +1 to what clayne said.
    You have to know, where you are going to know which lenses are right for you. What good is it, if we all recommend some super-wideangle while you prefer animal photography or a monster-zoom if you only like landscape and street?

    The 50mm is a good start and you can use it for almost everything - do so and you'll become a better photographer in a few more months or a year. I started out with an old 50/2,8 and used it exclusively for almost a year and it helped me greatly by concentrating on what's necessary and being pretty close to what I saw with my own eyes. Also zooming by walking keeps you fit :wink:


    Or if you already know exactly, what you like, tell us :smile:
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Zooms of that era are generally disappointing. I would second getting a fast 35 or the 85mm f1.8. I have the EOS version of the 85mm and it is a very nice lens.....perhaps my favorite.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Look up KEH, there are a fair number of FD lens for sale. The zooms lens are good but the prime lens are better.

    Jeff
     
  9. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    Advice, stop purchasing cheaper lenses, purchase a single focus lens such as a 35mm made for your Canon, spend a year and then decide what else you might like. What you have is GAS and it won't make you a good photographer. Your work will only be as good as your weakest link.-Dick
     
  10. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Why would it have to be an FD lens? I would go for an FL lens. An FL is of the same vintage as your QL body, and such lenses offer excellent performance. I used the 35/2.5 and 50/1.8, and was impressed with the results. Also, the manual stop-down feature on an FL lens is quite useful. Many do not like it, but I actually prefer being able to manually stop-down. It takes a bit of vibration out of your exposure. Once you are used to doing it, it will become second nature. I also suggest that, unless you truly need speed, avoid fast lenses. They almost always contain some type of compromise (usually in the area of distortion). I usually go no lower (faster) than f/1.8. Likewise, avoid zooms and become familiar with the various aspects of a single focal length.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2010
  11. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Just an obscure bit of trivia about FD lenses, if you are using the camera's meter. It was designed for FL lenses, which do stopped-down metering. The early FD lenses, in order to be compatible with the then-still-prevalent FL bodies, provide a way to put them in "FL mode" where moving the aperture ring actually stops the lens down as you turn it. You take the longer silver lever on the back and push it counterclockwise in its slot until you meet resistance and there's still a lot of slot left. Push a little harder and it clicks into place at the end of the slot. Now it's in FL mode (though you won't see the effects until the lens is mounted on a camera.) To take it out of FL mode, simply push the lever past the click stop the other way. Canon also made a couple of lenses that uses a little lever marked "L" to hold the silver lever in place rather than the click stop - I guess for space reasons inside the mechanism.

    Years later, Canon got rid of this feature, I guess because they figured the market for FL-capable lenses was no longer there and they could save money by not providing for it. When looking at actual Canon brand lenses, the way to tell the difference is easy: the lenses that can do FL mode are the older breechlock style with the silver lock ring at the mount. The ones that can't are the "new FD mount" style with the black mount and raised red alignment dot and the silver mount release button.

    If I were you I'd probably just get FL lenses - they work exactly like you're used to and can usually be had fairly cheaply. But the supply of FD lenses is far more plentiful so deals abound there too. Just make sure you get one of the older breechlock style if you're using your camera's meter.

    Duncan
     
  12. Andrew Horodysky

    Andrew Horodysky Member

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    Caipré,

    The above posts all contain excellent advice, from other photographers with lots of experience, and should be quite helpful to you.

    At present, you've got a good basic range of prime lenses. That being said, I would heed the recommendation of going for a faster 35mm. It's a great all-round moderate wide angle, and comes in use in most shooting situations. Also, use your 50mm as much as you can, as stated. If the QL takes FL lenses, stay with that, if you can... your decision. Don't get hung up on acquiring too much gear; you'll truly end up not using most of it. I, too, wouldn't go the zoom route (personal preference).

    Also, the above advice for checking KEH, http://www.keh.com, for used lenses is the best place to start. You can't go wrong with them. I have 3 FD lenses (35/F2, 50/F1.2L, and 100/F2), all purchased from KEH. I get about equal use from each of them, and have no plans to add on.

    Cheers,

    Andrew
     
  13. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    If I could only have 3 FD lenses for a Canon SLR, they would be the 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, and the 35mm f/2. IMO, that's all you need.

    If I could only have one, it would be the 50mm f/1.4.
     
  14. Caipré

    Caipré Member

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    I'm impressed!

    Thank you all for your responses; this is quite the remarkable community that you're all willing to help a new member and give your advice. There are many forums across the internet and the majority of them would have simply passed by a thread like this one. My thanks to each of you for taking the time to speak from your experience. I appreciate it, value it, and respect it!

    Per the suggestion of several users, I've decided to hold off a purchase for now, and I'll keep my eyes open for a 35mm or 85mm FL. It seems the 85mm is rarely available, and more expensive when it does come around.

    Isn't a 24-50mm a zoom lens? And if I may ask, what is the main advantage of a 35 or 85mm prime? For most situations, the same shot could be taken by moving forward or backward with the 50mm, correct? My logic in looking for a broad-range-zoom was that I could photograph both near and far without moving or changing lenses.

    I'm working on figuring that out! I take a variety of shots currently, from landscape to portrait to macro. I intended to use the 35-105mm as a walk around lens, but I understand that a perfect do-it-all lens doesn't exist.

    Forgive me Dick, but what is "GAS"?

    It does not have to be an FD lens, I simply found more options in FD than FL. Most FL lenses available on eBay are either 50mm or 135mm, both of which I already have. Can you explain the "manual stop-down feature"? I'm not sure what you mean, unless you're just talking about manually changing the aperture dial. Each lens I have has an "A" and "M" mark; my understanding is that the "A[djustable]" allows smooth dilation of the aperture with the control beside the lens mount while the "M[anual]" restricts the aperture to the marked stops. Is this correct, or is there more to it?

    @ frobozz Thanks for the interesting information, Duncan. If I end up with an FD lens I'll be sure to keep this in mind. :smile:

    @ a.horodysky Thanks for your remarks. I will try to stay with FL lenses if I can find the 35 or 85mm. To repeat my question above, what advantage does a 35mm give over a 50mm?

    Thanks again to everyone who responded!

    - Nick
     
  15. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    When I see the prices on some FD and FL lenses, I debate my decision - made years ago - to go with Nikon (since Nikon F-mount lenses are usable on their DSLR cameras, prices are noticeably higher than Canon MF lenses). As a landscape photographer, I am very interested in wides, and I have a friend who considers the Canon FD 20mm a superb lens - but at $300+, this is well outside your price point. Still, an ultrawide is one way to broaden your horizons!

    PS: GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome. We all have it to some degree.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2010
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Nick:

    1st - welcome.

    2nd - I understood clayne to mean a prime (I call them fixed focal length) lens with a focal length somewhere in the range between 24mm and 50 mm (thus 24-50mm).

    3rd - "GAS" (aka G.A.S.) means Gear Acquisition Syndrome, an affliction affecting one or two people here :smile: whereby one seemingly cannot stop oneself from acquiring more and more photographic equipment. Not that I would have any personal experience of this, of course :smile:.
     
  17. Simplicius

    Simplicius Subscriber

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    Nick
    Same advice as others , get a fixed lens 35mm or 50mm and use that alone,
    Zoom with your feet !
    happy shooting
     
  18. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Absolutely NOT! :wink:

    See, the focal length only affects the magnfication of the image you are seeing. Moving position changes perspective.

    For instance, imagine a beautiful scenic view, with mountains and a huge thundercould behind it and all that "glorious" jazz. If you were to move closer to that mountain the near-far juxtaposition (the relationship between the mountain and the cloud) would radically change.

    So, you'd want to get a telephoto (85mm+) to magnify that view to fill your frame, from that perspective. The same image would be in your shot if taken with a 35mm lens, but it would be much smaller, requiring more magnfication upon printing and thus, more grain, etc.
     
  19. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Canon Lens Question

    Duncan,

    There is no FL mode for FD lenses. As long as the FD's aperture ring is not set at 0 or A you can use it in stop down mode the same way you would use an FL lens in stop down mode. It is an FL lens which must have its A/M switch set to A for proper stop down metering. The 35-105/3.5 New FD is a decent lens. What I don't like about it is that even at the 105 setting and at its closest focusing distance you are still too far away from the subject for a tightly cropped portrait. The way the "macro" setting on the lens works, it is not useful for portraits. I do not have the 28-85/4 New FD. It is supposed to be a good lens. Some other good lenses in this range include: 28-90/2.8-3.5 Vivitar Series 1, 28-85/2.8-3.8 Kiron, 28-85/2.8-3.8 Vivitar, 28-85/3.5-4.5Tokina AT-X, 28-85/3.5-4.5 Vivitar (Ser. # 77XXX...).
     
  20. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    OK, I admit I've never owned an FL camera and am only book-read on this, but I'm reasonably sure of what I've read :smile:

    An FL camera does stopped-down metering. This means that the lightmeter in the camera is reading the actual light reaching it, which means that when turning the aperture ring the view through the viewfinder gets darker (the aperture is actually closing). This is as opposed to the later FD wide-open metering, where turning the aperture ring does not close the aperture, but rather moves a lever on the back of the lens that tells the camera's meter what the aperture is going to be when the picture is taken, and it does the electrical "math" required to take that into account versus the light reaching the meter.

    If you put an FD lens on an FL camera in its normal mode, then no matter what you do with the aperture ring the aperture is wide open, and the meter has no way to read the lever on the back of the lens, so there is no way to meter (unless you are planning to shoot wide-open.) The only way to successfully stop-down meter with an FD lens is to put it in FL mode so that turning the aperture ring actually closes the aperture as you do it. The "A" mode has nothing to do with it - that's for the later shutter-priority-auto-exposure cameras and finders.

    My understanding of FL lenses (having not used one, as I said) is that the "M" mode is for metering (moving aperture ring closes aperture) and the "A" mode is for composing and taking the picture (lens stays wide open until the moment of exposure, when the camera stops it down to the aperture set on the aperture ring.) Of course maybe I have that backwards? This would be one advantage of a real FL lens over an FD lens in FL mode: with the FD lens in FL mode once you are done metering, your lens is still stopped down to wherever the aperture ring is set and you have to compose and focus through the darkened view. (The equivalent of the FL lens' A-M switch is the click-stopped lever on the back of the lens - not quite as convenient to operate while shooting!)

    Duncan
     
  21. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Before I start, understand that I am not a fan of zoom lenses - modern fast, constant aperture models excluded. While these more modern lenses offer exceptional image quality, they are big, very expensive, and won't fit your camera anyway. Consumer quality zoom lenses compatible with your camera are big, heavy, slow, and offer only mediocre image quality. Good enough if you want only 4x6 prints. A disaster if you're looking to make some quality work. Forget them. There's a reason they sell so cheaply on the used market.

    You already have a 50 mm lens, so you're covered there. The Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lenses are all good. Stepping up to an f/1.4 optic gives you only 2/3 stop more speed that you'll rarely (and I do mean rarely) ever need. With only very few exceptions, none that fall within your criteria, all the 50 mm lenses I've seen do not perform exceptionally well when used wide open. For the best image quality, any of them need to be stopped down to at least f/2.8.

    I find the 135 mm. focal length to be a bit too long for the way I work. I'm assuming you're talking about the Canon branded lens here, and if so it is a really nice lens and pretty fast one for its time. Keep it. Personally, I prefer something in the 85 to 105 mm focal length. Since you already have the 135, I'd lean closer to getting something around 85 mm with a fast aperture of around f/2. With that lens, you'll be able to work close in enough to make really nice head and shoulders type portraits while maintaining a natural perspective. A 135 flattens things out too much and the 50 adds to much prominence to noses.

    At the wide end, I'm not that crazy about the 35 mm focal length. It will give you a wider angle of view than the 50 mm lens, but it's not different enough from the 50 mm lens to make it truly different. The 28 mm focal length is good, but even that looks almost normal to me. In wide angle lenses, I've found the 24 mm focal length to be the most useful. It's wide enough for working in tight places where you want some of the surround to be part of the composition, yet it's not so wide that everything looks distorted. At the same time, you can use it for the near/far wide angle look to good effect.

    That's my $.02 on the matter. My usual walking around kit contains lenses of 24, 50, and 85 mm focal lengths, and I'm rarely at a loss for anything else. So if you're bound and determined to get some more gear, consider an 85 and a 24; but don't go for the cheapest you can find. Get the original Canon lenses even if you must delay the purchase while you accumulate the necessary funds. They will serve you well over the long haul and will not disappoint.
     
  22. Andrew Horodysky

    Andrew Horodysky Member

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    Nicely said, Frank.