Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Canon FD 20mm f2.8 - Second Outing

After more than a month of working mostly from home, I have started working in the office again. One of the advantage of working in the office is the opportunity to take pictures in my lunch hour.  The weather was relatively warm today so it was a good day to go out and do some shooting.

The 20mm lens may seem very wide but on the APS-C sensor, it's equivalent to 30mm; a mini wide angle. It's wide enough as a normal wide angle, but not so wide that's it's hard to control. The Canon 20mm f2.8 is quite a nice lens. I intended to test its edge performance today, so that I can compare it to the Sigma 19mm f2.8. At wide apertures, the Canon FD 20mm f2.8 seems a bit better at the corners. In fact, it almost as good as the center (not true outer edges of course, due to the crop sensor of the NEX-6), but the 19mm Sigma has an adge in the middle, which is very sharp at f2.8. I think the bokeh is also nicer on the Sigma at wide open. Over all, I enjoy using the Canon FD 20mm f2.8 lens. It's nicely build and focuses very smoothly, and optically very good.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & Canon FD 20mm f2.8. Click for larger.

Waiting - NEX-6 & Canon FD 20mm f2.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Taxis - NEX-6 & Canon FD 20mm f2.8.


  1. Dear Yu-Lin,
    thank you for the canon pictures. i like the color range and the definition in the car pic.

    i really, really hope, that the search for a "normal" wide lens will have an end in 1-2 years when affordable FF mirrorless will be on the market.

    i was lucky and bought a near mint Olympus Om 28/2 for a reasonable price and i am sure this lens will shine on a FF camera.

    prices are droppeng for e.g. a used EOS 5D II body around 1000-1200 euros. but they are not able to reach infinity with all this nice Leica mount lenses and Canon FD-lenses.

    for me products like the sony rx1 give hope, that it will be possible in the near future to have FF mirrorless cameras with a small lens registration distance.

    and then 24mm will be 24mm and all this nice high grade 28mm lenses (Pentax, Nikon ... ) will be 28mm again.

    greetings to canada and thank you for your good work and nice impressions of your hometown.


    1. Thank you Michael. I am also contemplating a 5D mark II, but as you said, it has limitations with manual focus lenses. I don't believe there will be affordable mirrorless full frame cameras for at least 5 years. Nobody but Sony seems to be interested in making a full frame mirrorless, and the price will be likely very high if it's ever made. In the mean time, keep your nice full frame lenses. One day, they will shine.

  2. The Bokeh in your first shot is lovely. I would love this lens, but I think it is one that hangs the mirror on my 5DII so no point getting one to have converted. I've heard that it is better than the present EF 20/2.8 because of the types of glass used.

    I too have recently acquired an OM Zuiko 28/2 for its wide bokeh on FF, but due to recent poor health and weather have yet to get out and about with it.

    Thanks for your entries, i always find them interesting.

    1. Sorry to hear about your poor health. Hope you will recover soon, as spring is just around the corner and it's a great time for photography! Personally I don't think it's worth the conversion cost for the FD 20mm f2.8 to EOS mount.

      If my OM 35mm f2 is any indication, the OM 28/2 should be a great lens. You will love it.

  3. Very nice performance by the FD 2.8/20 on these pictures. I also own this lens, as well as, the OM 2/28 and both are indeed really good... on film. I am yet to try them out with a digital camera. However, I think the OM 2/28's reputation is a bit over rated (and, unfortunately that shows in its price). Compared with the 2.8/28 the difference is really not staggering. Again, on film. Sorry, no experience with digital yet.

    Looking at the prices on the 2nd hand market there is a definite trend towards favouring faster lenses with more glass. What people often forget is that more glass is not necessarily the sign of better overall performance. In fact, from an optical viewpoint, the fewer the surfaces are the better. Having more lens elements is simply a design necessity to achieve that extra f/stop and to correct distortion which otherwise (i.e. in a slower lens) would not be there.

    I share Michaels's eager anticipation for a FF sensor mirrorless. Yes, the release of the RX1 gives rise for hope and the speed with which technology changes I think we don't have to wait for 5 years. My prediction is that we will see one next year. (Now my crystal ball was made in China, so don't quote me on this. :-)

    1. Most of the FD lenses are excellent performers and I am starting an FD/FL lens collection :)

      People want faster lenses because they get an extra stop or two in situations where light is not abundant. This was far more important in the old, film days where ISO is fixed (though you can push it somewhat), but now the high ISO performance of cameras are so good, there is little point for that extra stop. But, there are other benefits for fast lenses: thinner depth of field, and they are usually better made than the slower, more economical counterparts.

      Sony already makes a full frame NEX camera, the VG9000, but it's gear towards video and it is expensive. Full frame mirrorless, when available, is probably not going to be under $2000 for at least 5 years. That's my prediction anyway.