Did you know that you can save a ton of money and grow your video lens collection by buying old Canon FD lenses? You can find these for very cheap, I just saw a 50mm F/1.4 for under $100, that is a huge savings over the current Canon 50mm f/1.4 at around $400. The catch is that these old FD lenses require an adapter to use with your Digital SLR and they are manual focus only.
Some of you, many of you actually, will probably scoff at this tip. But the results don’t lie, for video (I would not recommend these for still photos) these lenses offer a huge savings over current lenses and still have decent performance (with a few caveats). For less than the cost of one new lens you can pick up an entire range of quality FD prime lenses that will greatly expand your capabilities over the kit lens that came with your camera.
Caleb Pike with DSLR Video Shooter did this video a while back explaining the benefits of these old lenses. The video itself is older, but its still completely relevant to today DSLRs and the quality of the lenses has not gone down at all. Check it out below:
I had always written off using any lens that I needed an adapter (Pickup an FD to EOS Adapter Here) to use in the past. I had heard many times over that the lenses were too soft, and did not perform well on new digital bodies. After watching this video though I think that these lenses get a bad rap, sure they are not the best you can get…..but for the price the few caveats to using them (1 stop of light loss, softer wide open, crop factor) seem minor to me.
Obviously if you have the money for quality new glass then this tip is not meant for you, but if you are new to shooting video and are looking to improve your capabilities on the cheap then these are a great option. They give you the opportunity to use focal lengths that you may not be able to have access to otherwise, giving you the ability to practice your craft on the cheap.
What did you think of the quality from the FD lenses shown in the video? What are your thoughts on using old FD glass to build out your first video kit, getting valuable practice without the cost of new lenses? Share your thoughts in a comment below.