The 5 Best Canon F-1 Camera Lenses

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 25, 2020
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Best Canon F-1 Camera Lenses

The Canon F-1 is an awesome film camera. This post will discuss the top 5 lenses to use on the Canon F-1.

Additional details are below, but here's the list of lenses if you are limited on time:

  1. Kit Lens - Canon FD 50mm f/1.8
  2. Wide Angle Lens - Canon FD 28mm f/2.8
  3. Portrait Lens - Canon FD 100mm f/2.8
  4. Zoom Lens - Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
  5. Macro Lens - Vivitar 90mm f/2.8

Below the best Canon camera lenses, are broken down by type of photography and cost. Loads of superb lenses available used, a handful of them are collectible.

Kit Lens and Standard Primes

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8

The Canon FD 50mm F/1.8 lens was the "kit Lens" often sold with the F-1. The 50mm f1.8 is budget-friendly, easily found for sale online, and has very good picture quality.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 Camera Lens

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 Lens

  • The "classic" setup as it can be considered the original kit lens.
  • Great value.
  • Light and compact.
  • Widely available.
  • 55mm filter threads.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A 50mm camera lens is an ideal choice for several types of photography. The areas of photography comprise portraits, street, architecture, travel, casual use, and landscapes. This is the most popular focal length that is paired with the Canon F-1.

It is a small, well balanced, and light lens. The lenses weigh anywhere from 170-305g, with older versions being heavier. The new FD version, which was the last to be developed, is the lightest.

Additionally, Canon released 2 versions with larger apertures for the FD lens mount.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 Lens

  • Outstanding optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings.
  • Widely available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster, but that comes at the cost of additional weight. It costs more than the f1.8, but not by very much.

The 50mm f/1.4 comes in 4 copies. The "new FD" variant is the lightest and newest of the bunch.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.2

Canon FD 50mm f/1.2 Lens

  • Outstanding optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings.
  • Widely available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A large, heavy, and challenging to focus lens. Shot wide open, photos will not be sharp. Stopped down, you're not going to notice a major difference between it and the f/1.8 or f/1.4.

There are two versions, both are costly. The cost of the lens is because of collectibility and rarity, not optical performance.

Alternative Standard Lenses

If you have a preference for other focal lengths, here are additional alternatives. Expect to have to spend a greater amount than you would for a 50mm lens with a similar aperture.

Canon FD 35mm f/2 SSCAmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 35mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 35mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 55mm f/1.2AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Wide Angle Lens

Canon FD 28mm f/2.8

Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 Lens

  • Great combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings.
  • Widely available.
  • Inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A popular focal length for street photography is 28mm. However, the most prominent use for wide-angle lenses is landscape and architectural photography.

My top pick is the Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 mainly because of the low price, ease of finding a copy, and top-notch optics.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

In terms of price, the relationship is simple. The larger the field of view, the higher priced the lens will likely be. Faster versions also sell for substantially more.

Weight will change based upon the characteristics of the lens. You'll find lenses from 170g to 500g. Faster apertures will also mean that those lenses will be sizeable and will make the camera more challenging to hold.

Canon 7.5mm f/5.6 FisheyeCanon 24mm f/2
Canon 14mm f/2.8LCanon 24mm f/2.8
Canon 15mm f/2.8Canon 28mm f/2
Canon 17mm f/4Canon 28mm f/2.8
Canon 20mm f/2.8Canon 28mm f/3.5
Canon 24mm f/1.4

Portrait & Telephoto Lens

Canon FD 100mm f/2.8

Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 S.S.C. Lens

  • 85mm alternative.
  • Great value.
  • Inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 85mm lens wasn't as big of a deal in 1971 when the F-1 was initially released. Instead, the 135mm focal length was the first choice for a portrait lens.

For capturing portrait photos with the Canon F-1, there are a number of short telephoto lenses to select from. The 100mm f/2.8 lens is one of the most affordable options readily available.

An 85mm lens will be the most expensive, with 135mm lenses making up the middle of the price range.

Since all the Canon FD telephoto lenses will be manual focus, they are smaller sized than EF versions. Not surprisingly, something like the Canon FD 85mm f/1.2L is going to be large and hefty due to the amount of glass in the lens.

Expect low prices for the Canon FD 100mm f/2.8. There is a 100mm f/4 macro version of the lens. It is going to will cost more and is not your best option for portraits as the lens needs to be stopped down.

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

In addition to that, the Canon FD 135mm f/2.8 is one of the lowest-priced prime lenses you can find. You will be required to dig through a large amount of listings for third-party 135mm lenses that aren't anywhere near as good as a Canon lens.

There are a bunch of 85mm lenses to choose from out there. The highest-priced is the Canon FD f/1.2L lens. A less expensive alternative is the Canon FD 85mm f/1.8 lens, but it is still appreciably high-priced as opposed to the other telephoto lenses mentioned earlier.

Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 LCanon FD 85mm f/1.8
Canon FD 100mm f/2Canon FD 135mm f/2.5
Canon FD 200mm f/2.8Canon FD 200mm f/4
Canon FD 300mm f/2.8Canon FD 300mm f/4
Canon FD 400mm f/2.8Canon FD 400mm f/4.5
Canon FD 500mm f/4.5Canon FD Reflex 500mm f/8
Canon FD 600mm f/4.5Canon FD 800mm f/5.6

Canon F-1 Zoom Lenses

Canon FD 35-105mm f/3.5 & Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5

Canon FD 35-105mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

  • Ideal focal length range for most photography.
  • Excellent value.
  • Physically large.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

  • Covers a popular focal range.
  • Great for portrait or wildlife photography.
  • A rare time when a third-party lens is the best.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The convenience of pairing a Canon F-1 along with a zoom lens is tempting. Getting to use a range of focal lengths with no need to switch a lens is nice.

Be aware that all of these are older zoom lenses.

  1. Photo quality will probably not be high-quality when shot with the largest aperture.
  2. Either or possibly both ends of the focal range often have a large amount of lens distortion.
  3. Zoom lenses contain considerably more parts than primes, so they are more susceptible to problems.
  4. Zooms are larger and generally weigh more than primes.

Alternative Zoom Lenses

In terms of prices, almost all vintage zoom camera lenses will probably be bargain-priced.

Canon FD 70-210mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 80-200mm f/4LAmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 28-85mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Macro Lens

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 & Vivitar 55mm f/2.8

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • My favorite vintage macro lens.
  • Available in multiple lens mounts.
  • Incredible value.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • My second favorite vintage macro lens.
  • An excellent choice for close-up photography.
  • It does not need an extension tube to reach 1:1 magnification.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 2 suggested macro lenses were manufactured by Komine in Japan. The lens was also released under assorted brand names. Quantaray, Panagor, Spiratone, Rokunar, and Elicar are brands you might see on a copy of the lens.

There is a Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review and a Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review.

For shooting at lifesize magnification (1:1), the 90mm lens is going to be the superior choice because it has a larger working distance.

The 55mm lens is top-notch for table-top and close-up photography.

Alternative Macro Lenses

Canon FD 50mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 100mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Canon FD 200mm f/4AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Used FD Camera Lens Prices

Prices are frequently changing. For the past several years, interest in film photography has been growing. Due to this fact, prices have slowly climbed.

The best option is to check pricing from different online stores. Immediately purchase a good deal whenever you see one because the best deals are purchased the fastest.

What Lens Mount Does the Canon F-1 Use?

The Canon F-1 makes use of the Canon FD lens mount. Canon used the FD mount for film cameras built from 1971 through 1992.

Here is a list of all of the film cameras that have a Canon FD mount.

The Canon FL lens mount was preceded by the FD mount, which was implemented from 1964 - 1971. FL mount lenses will work with the F-1, but you will be required to use stopped down metering.

Standard Lens Cap Size

The standard lens cap and filter ring thread diameter for Canon FD lenses are 55mm.

Utilizing a standardized filter thread size is nice due to the fact that you are only required to get hold of and bring 1 set of filters.

Some zoom and telephoto lenses have bigger filter ring thread diameters as they have substantial front lens elements.

FD vs FL Lens Mount

Front and rear of a Canon FL mount lens.

The Canon FL mount was made before the FD mount. You can use FL mount lenses on the FD lens mount, and FD lenses can be used on the FL lens mount.

What Canon FL lenses do not have the feature to automatically do stop-down metering. This means that the lens is required to be stopped down with the depth-of-preview switch to ensure the F-1's light meter to show the proper value.

FD vs new FD Lenses

Canon FD vs Canon new FD lenses

The entire body of the new FD lens rotates to lock onto the F-1. Whereas original FD lenses have a breech-lock ring at the rear of the lens that needs to be tightened in order to mount a lens.

New FD and FD lenses are interchangeable with one another. There will be no compatibility issues.

Occasionally you will find new FD lenses referred to as FDn lenses.

The switch in the design of the breech-lock ring was on account of complaints. A small number of customers suffered from lenses getting jammed on a camera mount.

If you are not familiar with mounting an FD mount lens to a camera body, don't fret. Just simply take it slow and do not force anything.

Telling FD and FDn Lenses Apart

You can easily tell new FD and FD lenses from one another. New FD lenses have a silver button located on the barrel of the lens, where the lens mounts to the F-1.

The earlier FD lenses have a ring that is required to be rotated after the lens is put on the camera to lock it into place.

More Canon F-1 Camera Resources

There is no more additional information on the best Canon F-1 lenses. Soon after additional info on the camera is put onto the site, it will be linked to right here.

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