Canon FD 100mm F2.8 SSC Review

Canon FD 100 mm F2.8 SSC* review

 

So I’ve been searching for good quality portrait telephoto lens for my Sony A6000 quite some time now. At first I looked at Sony line up, but they don’t have 85mm on E- mount yet (Sony not Zeiss). There are beautiful and super sharp lenses from Zeiss (like the newly announced Zeiss 85mm F1.8), but that is a dream come true for me, cause these gems cost a lot. Let’s say in Europe (Czech) it costs around 1000 euros, so that was out of question.

So I was looking for something that would be cheap with good quality optics (so basically best bang for your buck). So at first I was really interested in the Samyang 85mm F1.4 lens (it is manufactured for many mounts including E-mount), this lens is amazing according to all the reviews I’ve watched and read. It costs around 300€ here in Czech Republic. That is really good price for a lens of this caliber. The review says that this lens is on par with Nikkor 85mm F1.4, which costs around 1500€. The only drawback with this lens is that it’s full manual, so its really hard to get the focus right, especially with wide open at F1.4. So I was quite afraid, because I’ve never used full manual lens before and I was not sure if I would spent my money efficiently. So eventually I decided to go with another route, because as a long time Canon user, I already knew about the old Canon FD mount and I remember that during my EOS time, I did want to buy a very sharp and beautiful Canon FD 50mm F1.4, but I decided not to, because all FD lenses were not totally compatible EOS and also other systems (something about focus to infinity problem – if I am wrong, don’t hesitate to comment below). This I think is also the main reason why these lenses are so cheap, even though their quality is superb (more on that later in this review).

Thanks to Mirrorless systems, this problem is already in the past and I was finally able to look deeper into FD lineup. So I did quite a research and watch/read a lot of reviews about the FD lenses on mirrorless systems. So after detailed research I was deciding between the Canon FD 85mm F1.8 SSC and the Canon FD 100 mm F2.8 SSC. The first one would be more appropriate for my situation, but it also costs more – around 200€. So that’s why I finally chose the Canon FD 100 mm F2.8 SSC instead. The problem with this lens is that, there are less reviews than the 85mm F 1.8 FD. The only review I found was written by Ken Rockwell and some mentions from photo forums. The good things is that all of them were positive. So I decided to get one and I bought my copy on Ebay for around 95USD with shipping, straight from Japan and boy I made a good choice.

So in this section I am going to make a short review of this beautiful lens:

Optics —-> 4/5

  • sharp wide open at F2.8, although not super fast like F1.8 or faster lenses
  • color rendition is superb
  • beautiful bokeh
  • great for portrait –> especially headshots and tight headshots
  • there is some chromatic aberration at F2.8, but can be easily removed in Lightroom or Photoshop

Build and Ergonomics —-> 4/5

  • its a Japanese gem (Made in Japan 1973)
  • build like a tank, the whole body is covered with metal, no plastic at all
  • focus ring is smooth, much better than newer lenses –> great for manual focusing, especially for video makers
  • because its full metal, its also a little bit heavier than newer plastic lenses, around 360 grams
  • only manual – so its hard to get the focus right, especially for moving subjects
  • full manual (focus and aperture), no metadata information about f-stop used
  • need a proper adapter to use
  • not good for fast actions like sport

Price/Performance —-> 5/5

  • superb quality lens
  • cheap price – I paid 95USD with shipping
  • fun to shoot with

Sample images:

2c0-1

Metadata: F2.8, ISO:320, Shutter speed: 1/200

 

2c0-2

Metadata: F2.8, ISO:320, Shutter speed: 1/200

 

Verdict:

This is my first full manual and also the cheapest lens I’ve ever bought, but it is also one of the best buy I’ve ever made. This lens is a gem from Canon and a must for every portrait photographer who are not afraid of manual focusing and want to learn. The quality of this lens is outstanding, after 40 years, its still performs as a champ. Even though the lens has no autofocus, no metadata information, I still love this lens. It makes me slow down a little bit and have a time to think about the composition, ISO, shutter speed and it is so fun to nail the focus.

HighRec

7 thoughts on “Canon FD 100mm F2.8 SSC Review

  • Thanks so much for the review. I got this lens as a set of three old FD mount Canon lenses. I am also surprised at the lack of coverage of this lens. I look forward to comparing it to the very heavily covered Vivitar Series 1 90mm.

    • Hey man, you are welcome, I am glad, that I could help. This lens is amazing, I love it so much. I also got a review of the Canon FD 50mm F 1.4 SSC coming :-).

  • I own this lens too and it is converted to native EF mount with the help of a kit (by EdMika) and used it on my 6D alot untill I got the amazing FD85/1.2 aspherical. It reaches infinity without any problems without correctional glass. Your review is very accurate and I am glad you took the time to do it.

    • Hi Mick,

      thanks for kind words, I am so glad that you like it! Yeah true that, this amazing lens is worth every penny, it is a hidden gem and canon still makes amazing glass.

      The FD 85/1.2 is an amazing lens, it a dream come true for a portrait photographer, it just blows the background with silky smooth bokeh. Hopefully, one day I will get my hands on one!

      Again thank you for your time to read my blog, wish you the best!

      Haiko

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