Why do older camera lenses have faster F-stops?

Started Apr 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: f1.8 equivalents...

SergioNevermind wrote:

Hugowolf wrote:

SergioNevermind wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

SergioNevermind wrote:

Let's talk about good, bright oldies.

I don’t see much to talk about it considering fast and bright lenses aren’t history. The perception that leads to this thread largely stems from a switch from 50mm “normal” prime for a kit lens (typically f/1.8 to f/2.8) to kit zoom lenses (24-70, 28-80 etc). In fact, let us look at Canon lens lineup:

Ultra-wide (14mm to 20mm):

FD mount had f/2.8 and f/4

EF mount has f/2.8

Wide-angle (24mm to 40mm):

FD mount had f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 and f/3.5

EF mount has f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8

Normal (50mm to 55mm):

FD mount had f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2 and f/3.5

EF mount has f/1, f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.5

Short Telephoto (60mm to 135mm):

FD mount had f/1.2, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.5, f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4

EF mount has f/1.2, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8

In other words, the very premise of the OP is mere perception.

Maybe my "perception" is that a Canon AE1 came with a 50 f 1.8 as NORMAL  lens, and an A1 maybe with a 50 mm f 1.4, but today any entry level DSLR will came with an f3.5-5.6 normal kit zoom.

It was unthickable to use manual focus with such a dim lens as a standard.

No it was not. My standard lens in the 1970s was a Canon 35-70 mm f/4. I never used AF with it because there was no AF. Manual focus was just fine.

Brian A

Two ring zooms let you focus at 70, and then zoom out to 35 for the wide angle shot.

Was it easy for you to focus at 35 f 4.0?   Sincerely.

I used an FD 35-105 f3.5 (two rings too, one for zooming and one for focusing) and at 35 in dim light ...... well I was younger and my sight was far better than now. The AE1 had no diopter adjustmwnt and was fine for me, which nowadays is not.

What I believe is autofocus made things much simple for dimmer lenses. And this aptitude has been exploited to build cheaper and dimmer standard lenses for newer entry level cameras.

Canon AE1 program was an entry level, at 300 dollars in '86.

f/4 wasn't out of the ordinary at the time. Not all lenses were fast. There were quiet a few slower lenses that existed.

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