Saturday, March 1, 2014

Canon FD 200mm f4 - Photo Set

obakesan wondered how the rather expensive Minolta Rokkor-X RF 250mm f5.6 mirror lens compares to the very cheap Canon FD 200mm f4 lens. I always knew a mirror lens is a compromise in design; you can have very long reach in a small package and relatively lightweight, but with a fixed, slow aperture. Since I own both lenses, I thought I would give my thoughts on these two lenses.  This post is not a direct comparison; it's my impression from use.

Size: FD 200mm vs Minolta 250mm - Click for larger.

The advantage of the Canon FD 200mm f4 over the Minolta RF 250mm, of course, is it's more than 10x cheaper, and sharper at the same aperture of f5.6, and it has aperture control and a faster maximum aperture of 4. On the other hand, the Minolta RF 250mm f5.6 is about 3 times lighter, almost half the size, and is 50mm longer. This version of the FD 200mm f4 lens does not have the Spectra Coating (S.C), or the Super Spectra Coating (S.S.C) of the later FD lenses. It suffers from very heavy purple fringing, a problem that the RF 250mm f5.6 does not have. As old lenses go, the FD 200mm f4 is quite sharp, although I am not to crazy about its bokeh.

There is no question which lens I would like to shoot with. I prefer the Minolta for its lightweight and small size. This is the only reason people pay crazy money for it (OK, the image quality is decent too). If I wanted to carry this much weight, there are better alternatives out there than the FD 200mm f4.

Majestic looking duck - E-M5 & Canon FD 200mm f4 @ f5.6. Click for larger.

The Dock - E-M5 & Canon FD 200mm f4 @ f5.6. Click for larger.

City of Toronto - E-M5 & Canon FD 200mm f4 @ f5.6. Click for larger.

citi - E-M5 & Canon FD 200mm f4 @ f5.6. Click for larger.

Fellow Photographer - E-M5 & Canon FD 200mm f4 @ f5.6. Click for larger.


  1. Hey, thanks for the mention and the post :-)

    You say "If I wanted to carry this much weight, there are better alternatives out there than the FD 200mm f4."

    Did you mean in the 200mm focal length? Aside from the Minolta, what would you go for then?

    Mine happens to be I'm the last series, which has the best coatings, so fringing is better. I have a post on my blog comparing it with the Panasonic 45-200mm f5.6 and found that aside from the OIS on the Panasonic (very nice for video BTW) that the FD rendered colour better, vignettes less, transmits more even at f5.6 and has 4.5 up its sleeve (giving it a 2stop shutter speed advantage over the Panasonic).

    1. now that I've looked into the 725g weight of the version you have (vs the 440g of the version I have) I now understand what you mean about the weight.


    2. Yes the first version of the FD 200mm f4 is very heavy. It's 3/4 the weight of the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200mm f2.8 and a lot heavier than the petite Minolta 200mm f4.5, and even the Vivitar 200mm f3.5.

  2. The FD 200mm f4 looks pretty heavy and large compared to the OM200F5. I am pleased with the results taken with this lens. See some examples here: "" taken with A7r. All images OOC jpegs in full resolution available. Its weight is 380 grams 105mm long filter 49mm.

    1. perhaps this is irrelevant, but there are significant variations between the older FD and new FD 200mm f4 lenses

      I have this one:

      the older one is quite heavier

      I also have the OM200mm and its identical in almost every dimension and appearance.

      I had a similar issue with the older FD f2.8 compared to the new FD f2.8, the old FD was a brick and optically inferior to the new one

      ... just in case anyone is interested ...

      back to my box now

    2. I do not know much about FD lenses. The you noted above are F4 and F2.8 and all weigh over 600grams, are about 133mm long and own a diameter of 67mm. I also own a Takumar 200F2.5 that has a similar size and weight. It is optically excelent and and alsmost 2 stops faster - but I rarely use it because of it's size/weight.

    3. Except the new FD noted above which is f4, 440g and dimensions 63 x 121.5mm

    4. I have a 100-200mm f5 OM zoom, which I think is similar in size and weigh as the 200mm f5. Not a bad lens as zooms go from that era, and is very light compared to the FD 200mm f4. I also had both the SMC and non SMC Takumar 200mm f2.5, which I loved, but too heavy. Indeed it's one of the sharpest 200mm lens from that time.

  3. BTW: I like all your images above. My favourite is the bench - excellent shot!

    1. Thanks MWAK. I enjoy your flickr stream. I could see part of Munich without leaving my chair :)