This is the last manual focus 50mm f1.8 produced by Canon. According to what I have dig out from the Internet, Canon had made a total of 10 different manual focus 50mm f1.8 lenses, spanning across 4 generations of Canon lens mount! They are list below:
- R 50mm f1.8 (1959, R mount – first Canon SLR mount)
- R 50mm f1.8 II (1960, R mount)
- R 50mm f1.8 III (1963, R mount)
- FL 50mm f1.8 (1964, FL mount)
- FL 50mm f1.8 II (1968, FL mount)
- FD 50mm f1.8 (1971, FD mount)
- FD 50mm f1.8 II (1971, FD mount)
- FD 50mm f1.8 S.C. (1973, FD mount)
- FD 50mm f1.8 S.C. II (1976, FD mount)
- FDn 50mm f1.8 (1979, New FD mount)
The 4 different lens mounts (R, FL, FD and FDn) above are all breech-lock design. They all have the advantage of reducing surface wear of both the flange and the mount on the body and their designs are pretty much unique to Canon as far as I know. Mounting R, FL and FD lenses requires only the rotation of the flange ring instead of the whole lens body while FDn lenses are mounted pretty much the same way as the more common bayonet mounts which is much faster and easier (at least for me). FDn (or New FD) lenses are often just called FD as many consider them to be the same “family” as the older FD lenses although officially for Canon, they are two different generations of lens mount.
Well, enough history (boring right? especailly for non-Canon fans…) for now and let’s talk about the FDn 50mm f1.8 in the photo above. Being the last manual focus 50mm f1.8 from Canon, it is also the lightest among the 10 and well known for its high image quality. Moreover, it is cheapest among all the FD lenses. This is the reason I like this particular lens and for the same reason, I am a fan of many other entry-level standard lenses. It is because regardless of manufacturers, almost all of them are the cheapest among their own line of lenses but on the other side, their optical quality are comparable (or many of the times, way better) to professional mid-range zooms of the same brand.
I did not buy this lens because of its reputation in image quality. It is simply because it was sold with the camera (the T70) I bought. In fact, I would prefer that the camera came with a 28mm or 35mm so that with my old FDn 135mm f3.5, I can complete a minimal kit with just two lenses. Anyway, at the same time I ran a test on the T70, I was of course also testing this FDn 50mm f1.8. Although film used is ASA400, I can still tell the lens is pretty sharp at least down to about f4 (the close-up of the door, as I can remember, should be f4 and about 1/60 sec.).