Canon 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 FD Lens

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The Canon 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 FD zoom Lens is a very nice addition to anyone who is thinking of buying a good quality manual focus system. Many people are selling their old 35mm film cameras at good prices, and you can pick up a bargain at unbelievable prices.

If you decide to buy Canon, perhaps something like a AE1 Program, or best the Canon T90, which is one of the world’s best manual-focus cameras, is built like a tank, and yet has almost everything else automatic, 3 motors, only uses 4 size AA batteries, which has a spot metering feature if needed, and with it’s companion flashgun, the 300TL, flash spotmetering through the lens! – (I bought one for about £176 for a little-used camera, working flashgun, and several working lenses including a Macro-Zoom on Ebay recently), this lens is a peach to use with the T90 or any FD camera, in all modes on most cameras.

It always feels strongly made though I understand the body is made from a very good quality plastic, it has a good medium wide to short portrait coverage, is very light, and focuses quite close. The lens coatings are good, and flare not a problem. I owned one in the Nineteen-eighties, and regularly used it for studio flash pix, at f8, and got lovely 16x20 inch prints from it.  I used it for weddings too, and scenic shots, and it didn’t ever let me down. I never found it hard to focus, even though it has a smaller aperture than an f2.8, being a bright and crispy looking picture. I didn’t ever find Chromatic Abberation a problem with it either - maybe because of the plastic element. I bought one last year, went digital and sold it, then regretted it, and am re-tooling for Canon FD – always good lenses if actually Canon. I do NOT recommend other makes – in my experience they are not as good optically. I am selling about four currently

The lens has a big focus ring with a nice feel to it, a narrower zoom ring which feels equally good, and has unusual travel while focussing and zooming, with the filter tending to retract into the lens slightly at one end of the travel, which I always found novel – you have to remember to pop it out to unscrew and change filters. The lens hood is a nice bayonet one, and the lens has at least one element in it made of  an optical plastic material, which helps it to be a very light lens. In this time of plastic spectacle lenses, my cataract implant plastic lens which is nothing less than superb, plastic lens elements are nothing new, but when this lens came out, it was remarkable.  I have nothing but praise for the lens, and have just bought one on ebay again to complement my new T90 – (seller said he had never used it, so very blessed – I hope to use it for the last 25 years of my life, as I am just retiring age now). One thing to remember about film photography though, is that ‘serious’ digital SLR cameras are now so advanced, and the image processing so refined, that it takes a good film to equal the quality of the digital sensors, with less noise, or grain, purer colors, and the capability to be manipulated easily to produce glowing pictures easily. My sincere recommendation is to use Fuji Film for colour purity, and especially Velvia, which comes the closest to any film I have ever used to perfection, vivid saturated colour, and extremely fine detail. Technically, I understand it approaches theoretical perfection too. When it came out, it knocked Kodachrome out of the marketplace, and has not been surpassed to my knowledge. I needed to get a film camera to produce slide shows for Victorian and ageing photos, and so the choice of camera.

If you are going digital, get at LEAST 10 MEGAPIXEL, as hower fine the lens resolves detail, if the pixels are bigger than the fine detail, it will NOT record. The best digi camera now available is almost certainly the 21.1 megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III for fine fine detail, the 12.1 megapixel Nikon D3 for fine grain and amazingly low light good pix up to ISO 12,800 or even 25,600 on Boost, or the Nikon D300, the best current prosumer 12.3 megapixel camera for a cheaper price, and same low light quality, though only up to ISO 6400. The sensor though on the D300 is smaller than 35mm film

To check this out, go to Digital Preview, and have a look at the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, and go to the bit where it shows you a pixel-level shot taken on its 21.1 million pixel 35mm size sensor. Then compare it with a less pixel camera, and you will find less fine detail is recorded, though the lens used is the same. With film, 35mm is always the same size, and quality and detail comes from how fine and detailed the lens reproduces the image in front of it. So, good lenses always show better pix! With the 35-70mm being such a good all-rounder, I  shall use it more for copying big pictures, paintings, or scenery, which it does very well. Good shooting all!


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