Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Canon nFD 28mm f2.8

I always feel that the nFD 28mm f2.8 is an unloved child in the Canon FD family among other fast primes like the 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.2, 85mm f1.2, etc.  In camera shows, in flea markets, you will see them often selling at $20 to $30 each, all in like new condition.  The nFD 28mm f2.8 really is an underloved, undervalued, and it really deserved more respect. So far, I have picked up at least 3 of them. Who knows, when people wake up and discover how great these little gems are, I may even be able to make a positive return on investment, LOL!

Reflection of Canada Malting Silos - Canon nFD 28mm f2.8 & Sony A7

Part of the reason the nFD 28mm f2.8 lens doesn't get much love, is because 28mm is a meh focal length for most users.  It's too common and often the cheapest in the wide angle category, if you overlook the Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4.  The focal length sits between the ultra wide, normal.  It doesn't give you the impact of the 20mm angle of view, and is too wide for normal use.  But I kind of like this comfortable angle of view.

If you are looking for a very sharp wide angle lens that's cheap, this is the lens for you.  Compared to my Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8, the Canon is sharper at the corners and edges.  Even wide open at f2.8, it's sharp and usable.

Toronto Downtown at Dusk - nFD 28mm f2.8 @ f2.8 & Sony A7, ISO 1600

The cheap price does not mean inferior build.  In fact, this thing as nicely built as the nFD 50mm f1.2, with metal barrels and very smooth focusing.  The only niggle I have is the 5-blade aperture, but then again, it was not designed for shallow depth of field or close up with a diffused background. I am more than happy with  with it.

Canon nFD 28mm f2.8 on Sony A7

M.R. Kane - Canon nFD 28mm f2.8 & Sony A7 @ f8


  1. Perhaps another reason its in poor demand is that on m43 it is a bit of a KEH lens, with the OM 28f2.8 giving a better showing. Using it on full frame will allow it a better showing. I bought an nFD28 as my 2nd FD after my nFD50 and found that neither were as sharp as the OM versions on m43.

    I keep looking at the Sony, but have just put $99 onto the Panasonic 25f1.7 (which I eagerly await its arrival) if that lens is as good as I anticipate then my shallow normal search will be over for m43!

    From there it will he hard to tempt me into full frame digital.


    1. I notice that some cameras work better with older lenses, and the Sony cameras seem to work best with even very old stuff. The Leica-R Elmarit 28mm f2.8 is terrible on the Canon, but works really well with the A7.

      You are a more logical and clear headed person than I, otherwise I wouldn't be ended up with so much junk :) But, you know you want a full frame digital, even though you may not need one :)

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  3. Comment deleted as I see it was the R not an M lens ;-) oops

  4. The thing about the A7 that gets me is the lack of well priced native lenses. At least with m43 I'm comfortable with the primes I have as well as the legacy stuff. 300mm works well on m43 for instance. While I am enamoured of using my nFD 50f1.4 on the full frame I am not sure I want to eschew AF. Your reports of the standard zoom are not enticing either.

    1. I have to agree with you here. I really don't understand Sony's strategy. If it has a 50mm f1.8 (not the $800 Zeiss), sharp 35mm f2, 24mm f2.8 at reasonable prices, a lot more people will dive into the A7 series. The Sony 50mmf 1.8 E-Mount for APS-C is an excellent lens and they should make a full frame version. Having very good, but very pricy lenses will just limit the user base.

    2. worth mentioning is that now that I just recently bought an A7 I'm very pleased with how my FD50f1.4 works with it, and I don't really mind the lack of AF as I've come to prefer it with shallow DoF use anyway.