NEX-5N + Vintage Canon FD 50mm f1.4 S.S.C. & FD 75-200mm f4.5

Started Feb 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
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fox-orian
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NEX-5N + Vintage Canon FD 50mm f1.4 S.S.C. & FD 75-200mm f4.5
Feb 8, 2012

So, I used to have a Canon EOS 40D plus an assortment of lenses, and a PowerShot G11. I found myself taking the G11 out more often due to its sheer size convenience, but I was missing the speed and performance it lacked compared to the 40D. So I picked up a NEX-5N almost as soon as it was released. A camera with snappy performance and better image quality to boot compared to the 40D, and roughly comparable size to the G11. I ended up liking the NEX so much, I sold my entire canon kit.

One thing in particular that ended up intriguing me, was the near effortless ability to adapt just about any type of lens I wanted to the NEX. I never could easily affix older FD lenses to my EOS, so this opened up a whole new venture for me into finding high quality vintage primes for cheap. The two I've obtained so far are both canon FD lenses, the 1970's 50mm f1.4 S.S.C., and the 1980's 75-200mm f4.5. I picked up both of these lenses off ebay for $40 each. As far as I could tell, both of these are somewhat common to find, so I wanted to post some samples I took with these two lenses from a recent trip to Disney.

Thankfully, using full manual lenses isn't tricky on the NEX, despite having only one control dial and no viewfinder by standard. The focus peaking, (which highlights edges which are in focus,) is a big help. It eliminates about 95% of the guess work. The NEX's great screen is the other assistant. It's usually easy to tell when something isn't QUITE in focus, provided you have a good look at it. The NEX-5N also has an advantage over the NEX-C3, specifically the touch-screen. On the NEX-5N, you can touch the screen to zoom in and do a focus-check on that area. This is a MAJOR help, especially for shots you have time to focus accurately for -- like on a tripod. On the C3, you have to set "MF-Assist" to one of the face buttons to initiate it. If you're planning on using manual lenses with one of these cameras, I'd suggest springing for the NEX-5N over the C3 if only for this feature.

My thoughts on each lens are:

FD 50mm f/1.4 S.S.C. -

This lens remains on my camera for most of the time. Aside from it looking badass on the NEX, it's a great performer in real life. Focusing is silky smooth, 8 aperture blades for smooth undistracting bokeh, and great low-light performance (obviously.) It gets a little green/magenta chromatic abberation as well as some softness at f1.4, but not at all unusable. These problems disappear completely by f2.0. This is just a fun lens that opens up a lot of cool creative opportunities you can't get so affordably from the current line of E-mount lenses. I got it in remarkably excellent condition, with completely clear glass and a no external damage except for a minor amount of paint loss on the aperture ring. It was well taken care of by its previous owners.

FD 75-200mm f/4.5 -

I was debating getting this lens versus the older 70-210 f/4. Both were available on ebay for the same price, but the 75-200 ultimately won me over for its more compact and lightweight design. Unlike the older 70-210, this one physically gets longer or shorter as you zoom, making it overall smaller when packed away. The 70-210 has a zoom/focus ring that slides up and down the lens body for zooming, and remains an overall constant size. The 70-210 is roughly the same size as the 75-200 fully zoomed. The 75-200 is about 2 to 2.5 inches shorter when zoomed in. It also has several elements made of plastic instead of metal, which assists in it weighing less. Since the NEX is a rather small camera, these were important factors, so when the lens is mounted I can overall hold it better. Optically I have no complaints about the 75-200. The constant aperture is great, though f/4 would have been nice to have, but not necessary I think. Even at f/4.5 the lens exhibits only a small amount of green/magenta CA and little softness. A lens like this does make you wish the NEX had image stabilization built into the body, as the 200mm end of things can be pretty shaky when hand-held. It makes low light shooting near impossible, making this lens great mostly for bright / daytime situations where you can get shutter speeds of at least over 1/100. Still, when paired with a tripod, this lens can do some pretty great things. The particular one I got from ebay was extremely well taken care of. It doesn't have a single imperfection on the body casing, and the glass is completely clear. You'd swear it's never been used.

The adapter I use is the Rainbow Imaging FD & FL to NEX.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XY6HYS/ref=oh_o03_s00_i00_details

Located at the link above. So far, the adapter has worked wonderfully for me on both lenses, no complaints at all. I need to pick up a second one so I can keep one on each lens at all times. It's easier to change the lens on the NEX body outright than to switch each lens on the adapter.

So, ALL that said, here's a select bunch of 100% unaltered samples using these lenses!
(All photos were taken hand-held.)

These following photos were taken with the FD 50mm f/1.4:

These following photos were taken with the FD 75-200mm f/4.5

Hope this was helpful to some of you!

Canon EOS 40D Canon PowerShot G11 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony Alpha NEX-C3
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