A long, long time ago a fourteen year old version of myself found my dad’s old Canon AE-1.
It sat in a box, taped up, with old cords and other junk. It was gathering dust, which made no sense to teenage me because, well, it looked so damn cool. I was surprised to find the camera in good working condition, whirling to life and flashing green and red numbers through the viewfinder. I had no clue how to use it, but I sure tried. Through clever Ebay bidding in college I collected old FD lenses for it (the mount Canon used back in the 80s). Now they sit on a shelf next to my bed, collecting dust looking more like antiques than tools.
Eventually I made the jump to digital and now I shoot with a Canon 5D MK II. My camera bag is filled with L series glass. But those old FD lenses always caught my eye. What would happen if I threw those on the 5D? Was there a way? Would it even be worth it? What would happen and how much would an adapter cost? Well, I found out.
Fotodiox sells a FD to EOS converter for around $40. It seemed to good to be true. The adapter has a piece of circular glass in the middle of two mounts, one an EOS mount and the other a FD mount. It looks simple enough. It took about 30 seconds to stick an old Tamron lens to the adapter and start shooting. I’ve posted photos below, untouched. The adapter feels solid, no lens wiggle, and feels secure against the body of my 5D. The old Tamron lens I used is a 1:3.8 1:4.5/250, 75-250mm CF Tele Macro.
What I did notice was how difficult it was to get a sharp focus. I’m sure that’s a combination of using an old lens with the adapter, but getting a sharp macro shot was challenging. I also noticed the natural vignetting at 200-250mm, which I assume was the edge of the glass in the adapter creating dark rings around the image as it stretched through the long lens. Obviously all auto-shooting capabilities go out the window (focus and aperture), but I focus most of my shots in slow environments anyway. The nice thing about the price: buy a few adapters and leave them on your favorite, old FD lenses. Overall, the photos were fun, and it was nice to dust off an old lens. I wouldn’t take it on a pro-shoot anytime soon though, unless I had time and patience to spare. I suppose every tool has its use though. As for video, I shot a little and it looked fine, if anything a little soft (think Greta Garbo and Schneider Classic Soft).
I would say go for it, especially at its price point. It’s worth it for nothing more than turning an antique into an artistic tool!