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  1. #1
    kwmullet's Avatar
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    Canon FD lens recommendations for infant & adult portraiture

    Hey all,

    I'm building my Canon FD lens kit. There's some lenses, like the venerable 85mm 1.2 L that are outside my price range for now, so I'll be getting an 85mm 1.8 for now.

    Our baby girl will be born in December, though, and I'm looking forward to filling the 35mm frame with little newborn hands, feet, ears and other features that aren't much bigger than a 35mm frame to begin with, so the as-yet-unpurchased 85mm 1.8 won't cut it by itself.

    I'd thought about getting an FD extension tube and using it with the 85, but if I'm going back and forth between max close-ups and more conventional distances, I don't need to be moving an extension tube in and out of the mix while trying to keep up with kiddos.

    So my thinking was to get the Canon FD 100mm F4 macro. I'm under the impression that it does continuous focusing down to 1:2.

    Any opinions on the FD 100m F4 macro, it's applicability for portraiture, and what other lenses might be contenders for the purpose? Adorama has a good price on the Vivitar 90mm 2.5 macro. I realize the Vivitar is more than likely more flawed than the Canon 100m f4 macro, but that extra stop of aperture will give me a brighter viewfinder and make it easier to focus quickly, also a consideration.

    Thoughts?

    -KwM-

  2. #2
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Kevin,

    I used Canon FTb cameras before 1979, and the FD 100mm f:4 Macro was the lens I used more than any other. When the owner of the shop where I worked in Dallas required that I use an R3 for a week so that I could sell them knowledgeably, I told him that I loved the lenses and camera, but wouldn't change because there was no 100mm macro available for the R system. He showed me a brochure about the new 100mm Macro Elmar-R, and that and the dealer employee discount program (50% of list, or 10% below dealer cost) sealed my fate.

    That said, I loved the 100mm FD macro and shot portraits with it, and used it with a lot of Kodachrome 25 before they took all the silver out in 1979. The lens was available with an extension tube that got you to 1:1, and went to 1:2 without it IIRC. I also always wanted the 100mm f:2 (or was it a 2.8? I think they made both and I wanted the f:2.) for available light portraits, but my budget wouldn't allow two 100mm lenses. If you can find that lens and a set of FD extension tubes, it might work well for you. I recall that it performed very well as a portrait lens. A neighbor of mine had one.

    The Vivitar 90mm f:2.5 Series 1 macro had a great reputation, although I never used one, so I can't speak from personal experience. You'd be correct about the faster focusing at f:2.5.

    The FD 135 f:3.5 I had was also a very fine lens, great contrast and sharpness. Those should be pretty well priced, but the close focus was about 5-6 ft IIRC, and I already had the 100 macro, so I didn't use the 135 for close-ups.

    Just to throw more confusion into the mix, and at a hefty price, take a look at the Cosina Voigtlander FD mount Apo-Lanthar Macro 125mm f:2.5, which goes 1:1 with no extension tubes. It's current production, reputedly well-built, and the very few reports and photos I've seen on the net have been very positive. It has good working distance, and is fast for snappy focusing.
    http://cameraquest.com/Voigt%20SL.ht...%20APO-Lanthar

    Hope this confuses things enough.

    Lee

  3. #3

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    I have the 100mm macro and it is a lovely lens but I find it too sharp for portraits - all the skin pores are on show! Also, at f4 it is a bit slow for available light shots. I like the 85mm 1.8 and also use the 135mm 2.8 which is relatively cheap and a nice lens to use. At f2.8 it is not so sharp but has a nice softness which really suits portraits.

    The vivitar 90mm 2.5 is also a great lens and I find it is quite soft at f2.5 which makes it nice for really close up shots of eyes and mouths etc. However, get to f5.6 and it is too sharp again. It is also quite a big and heavy lens and though it feel nice to hold, after a while it is a bit heavy if you intend to do lots of candid portrait shots.

    Just to throw in another idea - get an fd / m42 adapter and use some of the incredible super takumar (pentax) lenses with stopped down metering. The 100mm 2.8 super-tak is a brilliant portrait lens as is the 85mm 1.8. M42 lenses are really cheap compared to FD and are (in my experience) amazing pieces of glass.

    Paul

  4. #4

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    Kevin, you really have many choices here...more than it would seem. Check the Canon Museum Link , this is for the New FD Mount you can select the other from the drop down. They had a 85mm f2.8 Soft Focus that came out in the early 80's that was very popular. The 100's came in f/2, f/2.8 and of course there was the f/4 macro. The 135's came in f/2, f/2.8 and f/3.5 and that was just in the 'New FD' mount. Looking at the FD mount (not New) the 85's came in d/1.2 (wow!) and f/1.8 (the nicer SSC lens), the 100's came in f/2.8 (non-SSC and SSC) so you get the idea...lots and lots of choice's.

    Check with David Goldfarb here on APUG, he is a Canon user and seems to have very good knowledge of the product line...bet he can point you in the right direction. Enjoy and keep us posted.
    Mike C

    Rambles

  5. #5
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I've never used the FD 100/4 Macro, but it is the only Heliar type in the FD line, so how bad could it be?

    The Tamron SP 90/2.5 or 2.8 macro is another winner in that range.

    My favorite though is a Kodak Medalist 100/3.5 Ektar that I adapted for Canon FD (from a junker Medalist purchased from no less than George Eastman House--I wouldn't cannibalize a working Medalist, of course). Here's a little piece I wrote on the adaptation--

    http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/medalist/
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  6. #6
    kwmullet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    I've never used the FD 100/4 Macro, but it is the only Heliar type in the FD line, so how bad could it be?
    [...]
    So David, et al.,

    ignorant question -- I googled for a half hour or so and couldn't find a more lengthy definition, but someone mentioned in passing that Heliar = five element. Pardon my ignorance, but is that what Heliar means, and if so, the value is because the fewer surfaces the light passes through the better, or at least the less margin for error?

    -KwM-

  7. #7
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    If you look at the page on the Medalist lens that I linked above, that lens is also a Heliar type (5 elements/3 groups--2-1-2) lens. Heliars usually produce fairly smooth out of focus areas, but the sharp portion of the image seems to pop out of the background when it's done right. The strength of the effect depends on the focal length, subject distance, and aperture. I find that I prefer Heliars in the range that is a little longer than the normal focal length for the format, usually around f:8 at portrait distances.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  8. #8
    kwmullet's Avatar
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    Heeyyy... pretty cool, David. That's my Most useful Fact Learned This Week. :)


    I'd suspect the increased edge effect might go really well with Pyro development. Do you still use the lens? If I understand your description, you took a good Ektar from a bad Medalist and used a gutted Tokina lens as a mount and focusing mechanism? Were you able to retain infinity focus? That project has me thinking all sorts of nasty things about trying stuff with ancient brass grab-bag lenses and my F1.

    In fact, if memory serves, isn't there a LTM -> FD mount adapter? Wouldn't it be fairly straightforward to use not-so-comparitively-ancient lenses like my Jupiter 8 on the F1 with an adapter?

    I wonder if that's legal in Texas?

    -KwM-

  9. #9
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Kevin,

    LTM lenses have a flange to film distance of about 28.8mm. The Leica M mount is about 1mm less so that you can use an adapter to put LTM lenses on M bodies. The F-1 flange to film distance is about 42mm, so no adapter would allow the LTM lens to focus at infinity. I haven't seen one, but you might find an adapter that will put the LTM lens on the F-1 with only close focus capacity. I have seen adapters to put SLR lenses on Leica rangefinder bodies; one even has an RF activator ring that measures distance with the rangefinder that you then transfer to the SLR lens focusing scale.

    This is a typical problem when putting the mirror in an SLR body. The lens flange distance and lens design have to allow for mirror clearance. That's one of the reasons that people typically claim better wide angle lens performance for rangefinders. The rangefinder wide angle lens designs don't have to be retrofocus, but can be much more straightforward designs.

    BTW, while I'm typing, I don't see any reason to avoid the FD 100mm Macro for portraits. You can always degrade the performance to your desired degree with appropriate filters or other junk in front of the lens. I bet your new arrival will have soft, smooth, small-pored skin anyway. If grandma shows up for the shot with some degree of vanity, you can always throw on a filter. Then you get a very sharp macro as well, and not just a dedicated portrait lens.

    Lee

  10. #10
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    The focusing helical is from the Medalist, but the FD mount is from the defunct Tokina lens. Since the registration distance on the Medalist is much longer than the FD registration distance, it was no problem keeping infinity focus.

    I use it occasionally, but I'm not shooting as much 35mm as I used to.

    There is a LTM adapter to FD, but infinity focus can be a problem, depending on the lens. Enlarging lenses can work fairly well with this arrangement. You can focus adapted lenses with a bellows or one of the FD variable extension tubes (which are hard to find, but really neat if you can turn one up).

    There's a lot of info on lens hacking on Bob Monaghan's website. I had an article on lens adaptations on usefilm.com at one time, but I think it's not there anymore. It might be on some internet archive somewhere (waybackmachine or some such).
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

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