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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by clayne
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.
Originally Posted by moki
Forgive me Dick, but what is "GAS"?
Originally Posted by budrichard
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?
Originally Posted by FilmOnly
@ frobozz Thanks for the interesting information, Duncan. If I end up with an FD lens I'll be sure to keep this in mind.
@ 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!
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 rthomas; 06-30-2010 at 12:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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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 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 .
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Same advice as others , get a fixed lens 35mm or 50mm and use that alone,
Zoom with your feet !
Originally Posted by Caipré
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.
Canon Lens Question
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...).
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 :-)
Originally Posted by dynachrome
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!)