Canon FD 35mm Tlit & Shift ReviewRead More
Here is the 20s version : If you really really want a f1.2 lens for Sony mirror-less system, go for this lens. Beware of the weight.
This is a series of articles about alternatives lenses I've used and I recommend. The second lens in the series is Canon FD 85mm/1.2L.
Ever since I bought my first serious full frame digital SLR camera, a Canon EOS 5D back in 2005, I've been using alternative or non-original-manufacturer lenses. For Sony Mirror-less A7 series I've been using Canon FD lenses for a while now. I love to do portraits for personal albums and occasional wedding-photography sessions. Sony still had not come up with the Loxia and Batis line of portrait lenses yet. And I needed a portrait lens for my A7ii. And who does not like lovely chunk of glass with f1.2?
Why this lens -
When you hold this lens you realize this is a serious piece of glass. Sample I purchased was in superb condition as can be seen from the following images. It is a canon L lens and it oozes quality and fine craftsmanship. And it is a f1.2 lens. You can get some delicious bookeh.
You will need an adapter to use this lens Sony or Fuji digital cameras. You can buy a cheap one off eBay however I recommend adapters by Novoflex or Leitax. The Leitax is a fantastic option if you want to stick to a certain camera brand for a while. I use novoflex adapter for all my Canon FD lenses. For this lens as it has aperture priority or operating in manual mode, just press the locking button to release the aperture to any aperture setting that you want. I've always used this lens in aperture priority to start with to check if it is mounted correctly. It is a good idea to check if the exposure doubles or halves when you change the aperture, which is on the lens, manually. One can then move on to manual metering mode if it suits your style. I do.
As soon as I received the lens I decided to do some flowers photography in our garden. It was mid-summer and all sorts of flowers were in bloom. Good test for shallow depth of field this lens affords and also sharpness wide open. These were taken on a relatively breeze free evening which is near impossible if you live on an island called as UK. All shot wide open and using canon 500D diopter for close focusing. Bit of drizzle and over-cast conditions before the shoot helped to bring out the best colors possible.
What is Good -
- Sharp as a Swiss knife. Even wide open. It only gets better stopped down.
- F1.2 and the bookeh it affords.
- Quality is evident.
- I bought the lens mainly for portraits however could not use it as often I should / could have. I always went for the shallowest DOF possible at f1.2 or may be f2. It is very difficult to focus at this aperture. I missed few shots. I'm used to manual focus lenses including large format lenses however this is partly use error and partly "it is not a bug but part of the package" issue.
- The aperture setting on FD lenses can be tricky at times. It also depends on the type of mount on the lens. My 50mm macro and 35mm TS lenses are different to this 85mm.
- CA can be an issue however I could easily correct it in Lightroom.
- This lens is heavy. It is almost front heavy on Sony A7 series cameras. Not sure how it can work well with Fuji.
Here is the 20s version : If you happen to own a Canon DSLR, just buy this lens. You won't regret.
This is a series of articles about alternatives lenses I've used and I recommend. The first one has to be the one which was very dear to me for over a decade since I purchased it.
Ever since I bought my first serious full frame digital SLR camera, a Canon EOS 5D, back in 2005 I've been using alternative or non-original-manufacturer lenses. One such lens I got to know about was Olympus Zuiko 35mm SHIFT. I was able to buy a multi-coated sample off eBay and this was my go-to lens for many many years.
Why this lens -
A unique lens which offers shift option in two planes, so called omni directional shifting: 10.4mm to each side, 12mm up and 13mm down. In total of about 83° maximum shift - allowing you to make three overlapping shots to make a panorama and/or avoid converging vertical lines. The lens is amazingly sharp at its best aperture, around f8/f11. Mine was almost always set to f11. I've made some fine images using the shift+rise feature which would have been impossible otherwise. Even though the lens does not offer a tilt function, like Canon FD 35mm TS lens, the rise+shift is a brilliant option. I've used it for many woodland images. I often used shift-up (rise) function to avoid key-stone effect and then shift in horizontal plane to get three overlapping frames to make a panorama.
You will need an adapter to use this lens on Canon or Sony digital cameras. You can buy a cheap one off eBay however I recommend adapters by Novoflex or Leitax. The Leitax is a fantastic option if you want to stick to a certain camera brand for a while. The diaphragm has to be preset manually and used with stop-down metering. I did not have an issue with this as I was coming from 4x5 large format camera at that time. I was used to taking up to 15-20 minutes to set up the camera and still deciding not to make any images. As you can see in the following image one can use omni-shift by moving the lens in the groves.
For the following image I made in Bavarian National Park, I was standing on the soft ground in the lake. Any other position was impossible without hip-waders and even then getting the perspective I wanted would have been impossible. I liked how the reflection of größer Arber was mimicking the dip in the tree line. The scene did remind me of a certain Harry Potter sequence. Thanks to the rise function I got enough room above the "island tree" and shift function was used to make three overlapping images.
What is Good -
- All Olympus Zuiko lenses are tiny. I mean you would not believe tiny. This is not an exception for a shift lens. Amazing how this was possible in the 70ies.
- Very sharp optic at f8-f11
- Of course, the omni-shift
- This works brilliantly on EOS cameras I've tested. Classic 5D, 500D and then 6D. However I've switched to Sony A7 series and due to relatively less flange focal distance (I think) there are unavoidable reflections which reduce the contrast in the images considerably. I tested it on A7ii and the issue is not seen. However you may want to test it before taking it for a serious photography assignment.
- The diaphragm has to be preset manually. Very easy to forget.
- CA can be an issue however I could easily correct it in Lightroom.
- Lens flare can be a problem - as mentioned in some forums. However I rarely used this lens in conditions which would test this. I made the following image as part of the OTWTW project. I did not notice any flare here. So can not really comment.
Few more images as a gallery. Please click to view large.
Here is the 20s version of this article : This camera is a fantastic alternative for an experienced large format user who needs a light weight alternative for backpacking. Inexperienced or people new to large format may get frustrated by lack of precision in some movements.
I'll be honest, both Alex and Ben Horne have done a much better job of explaining various functions of the camera. I would urge you to view those videos in case you are looking for an in-depth review and how to use this camera. Ben's recommendation as a good light weight field camera has without a doubt helped the sales.
While the generation I of this camera had some serious issues and I agree to most of them, the second generation is very refined. I used this camera for a portrait session and some architectural shots and here are my impressions.
First session at home.
The Good -
- Rotating back - amazingly clever and simple design and engineering.
- possibility to use roll film back despite the light weight of the camera.
- Weight - under 1 kg this is one of the lightest large format camera (4x5) there is.
- Price - £250. Fantastic for someone to give it a go. I mean you can easily spend more on film and development within a year.
- Functions - no light leaks, good front axis movements.
- Novelty factor hence many people buying it. And so the possiility of more film available. Kudos Maxim and Co.
Not so Good -
- Ground glass is not protected. One must take care while carrying/backpacking
- Variability is the enemy of manufacturing. There are some tolerance and manufacturing variability issues. Mine was replaced free of cost by Maxim. Check the forums - there are still some issues which need addressing. A 6-sigma study will help iron out quite a few them easily and help make the third generation even better. #Intrepidcameraco give a shout if you need help. As of now you are in the same boat as Tesla motors. One can get away with lots of things gone wrong due to novelty factor. (Yes, I'm an engineer by trade and attribute engineering is my specialization).
- When you insert the film holder you need to give it a push. This is may mean moving the camera and potentially focus. For my shoots I had all the time so not a problem. However for landscape photography when light is changing fast this could be a problem. It only happened twice so not a huge deal perhaps and potentially user error on my part.
- Ground glass is good if you have a bright lens and it is a bright day. Anything like f8 and you must invest in a Fresnel lens. There is a good discussion on Intrepid User Group on Facebook.
One must also understand that while the folks at Intrepid are very friendly and passionate about their product this company has grown. That means there will be issues with communication compared to say a year ago. They are also into production stage of their 8x10 and recently moved to a new place. It is great to see the film user base increasing and demand for LF camera going up however Maxim and Co are now very busy - expect delay in your delivery. If you happen to be on the wrong side of the pond this could mean - waiting. For long time.However they are very friendly and often will take care of production variability.
Some more good reviews and information on the internet
Alan Brock contemplating selling his Shen-Hao
Some images made with Intrepid camera recently. Using my favorite Ilford FP4+ film at ISO 100, handheld meter and strobes. It was then scanned using Epson V750 and Vuescan.
Straight out of the camera. Zeiss Loxia Planar 50mm is luminous. FE55 is clinical. It is good to have a choice. Both are sharp. Plenty.
Carl Zeiss Loxia 50mm
- Manual Focus Par Excellence
- Smooth fall-off of sharpness
- Makes A7x So much Leica like
Carl Zeiss FE55mm
- 3D Pop
- Auto-focus (compared to Loxia)