The 5 Best Canon AL-1 Lenses

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 27, 2020
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Best Canon AL-1 35mm Film Camera Lenses

The Canon AL-1 is an incredible film camera. This page will go over the top 5 lenses to use with the Canon AL-1.

Additional details are further down, however here's the list if you are in a rush:

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

Listed below the top Canon camera lenses, are categorized by area of photography and cost. Many superb lenses readily available, a few are popular with collectors.

Kit Lens and Standard Primes

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8

If you don't already have it, your first lens should be the original "kit lens" for the AL-1, the Canon FD 50mm f/1.8. The 50mm f1.8 is plentiful, has very good image quality, and is cheap.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 Lens

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

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

For a 50mm lens of photography, a 50mm camera lens is an excellent choice. The types of photography comprise landscapes, portraits, travel, everyday use, architecture, and street. This is the most frequent focal length that is paired with the Canon AL-1.

The lens is light, small, and well balanced. The lenses weigh anywhere from 170-305g, depending on the version of the lens. If you want the lightest lens, look for the new FD version.

Canon also released 2 faster 50mm lenses for the Canon FD camera mount.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 Lens

Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 Lens

  • Outstanding optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings.
  • Widely available.
  • Be on the lookout for condition issues.

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

At the additional cost of weight, the Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster. It costs more than the f1.8, but the difference is minimal.

You can find four versions of the 50mm f/1.4. The "new FD" copy is the lightest and newest out of the choices.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.2

Canon FL 55mm f/1.2 Lens
This is the closest lens I have around.

Canon FD 50mm f/1.2 Lens

  • Has a large maximum aperture.
  • Large and heavy.
  • Not a good value.
  • Hard to find in good condition.

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

A big, heavy, and difficult to focus lens. Expect soft photographs when shot wide open. Stopped down, you aren't going to see a big difference between it and the f/1.8 or f/1.4.

The two versions of the lens are pricey. Optical quality is not the driver of cost. People yearn for the lens stemming from rarity and collectibility.

Alternative Standard Lenses

If you like other focal lengths, here are several other possible choices. You should expect to pay additional money than you would for a 50mm lens of similar speed.

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/3.5

Canon FD 28mm f/3.5 Lens

Canon FD 28mm f/3.5 Lens

  • Great combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Available in good condition.
  • Reasonably priced.

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

A 28mm focal length lens is often used to shoot street photography. However, lenses that have a larger field of view than 28mm are the most used for architectural and landscape photography.

My recommended pick is the Canon FD 28mm f/3.5 as a result of the cheaper price, ease of finding a copy, and excellent optics.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

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

The weight will vary based on the qualities of the lens. You will find lenses from 170g to 500g. Faster apertures will also mean that those lenses will be sizeable and cause the camera to feel unbalanced.

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

Portrait & Telephoto Lens

Canon FD 100mm f/2.8

Canon 100mm f/2.8 FD Mount Camera Lens

Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 Lens

  • 85mm alternative.
  • Great value.
  • Inexpensive and easy to find.
  • Light and compact.

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 85mm lens wasn't as significant in 1982 when the AL-1 was originally distributed. Rather, the 135mm focal length was a more popular lens for portraits.

If you want to take portrait photos with the Canon AL-1, there are a variety of short telephoto lenses to select from. The 100mm f/2.8 lens is one of the least expensive options obtainable.

An 85mm lens will cost the most, with 135mm lenses coming in the middle of the price bracket.

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

Anticipate affordable prices for the Canon FD 100mm f/2.8. Additionally, there is a 100mm f/4 macro version of the lens. It will certainly cost more and is not the best option for portraits as it needs to be stopped down.

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

Another alternative, the Canon FD 135mm f/2.8 is just about the lowest priced prime lenses you can get. You will have to search through a large number of results for third-party 135mm lenses that definitely are not anywhere close to as good as a Canon lens.

You will find a few 85mm lenses available. The hardest to get is the Canon FD f/1.2L lens. A less pricey substitute is the Canon FD 85mm f/1.8 lens, but it remains a great deal more expensive than the numerous other telephoto lenses described.

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 AL-1 Zoom Lenses

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

Canon 35-105mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

Canon FD 35-105mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

  • Ideal focal length range for most photography.
  • Excellent value.
  • Physically large.
  • Hard to find in good condition.

Check prices at: Amazon, eBay, KEH, Adorama

Vivitar 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

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.

Check prices at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The convenience of pairing a Canon AL-1 with a zoom lens is enticing. Getting to use a range of focal lengths without the need to change a lens is advantageous.

Bear in mind that all of them are older zoom lenses.

  1. Image quality will probably not be sharp when shot wide open.
  2. There can be a significant amount of distortion at one or both ends of the zoom range.
  3. Zoom lenses are built with a greater number of parts than primes, so they are more vulnerable to damage.
  4. Zoom lenses are usually heavier and larger than prime lenses.

Alternative Zoom Lenses

When considering pricing, most older zoom lenses will likely be cheap.

Canon FD 70-210mm f/4 AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
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 made by Komine

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

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

Check prices at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens manufactured by Komine

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.

Check prices at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The two suggested macro camera lenses were built by Komine in Japan. The lens was also released with several brand names. Rokunar, Elicar, Quantaray, Panagor, and Spiratone are names 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 photographing at lifesize magnification (1:1), the 90mm lens will likely be the better pick because it has a greater working distance.

The 55mm lens is great for close-up and table-top 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

Lens prices are continuously changing. For the past few years, the desirability of film photography has been rising. Because of that, prices have slowly gone up.

To end up with the lowest price, check out a number of online stores. Instantly pay for a fantastic price in the event that you come across one because it can be a long time before more appears.

What Lens Mount Does the Canon AL-1 Use?

The Canon AL-1 works with the Canon FD lens mount. Canon used the FD mount for film cameras released from 1971-1992.

Here is a page with every one of the film cameras that use a Canon FD mount.

The FD lens mount replaced the Canon FL mount, which was utilized from 1964-1971. FL mount lenses are compatible with the AL-1, but you will have to use stopped down metering.

Standard Lens Cap Size

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

Utilizing a standardized filter thread size is smart because you are only required to get hold of and carry one set of filters.

Several 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 preceded the FD mount. You are able to use FL lenses on the FD lens mount, and FD mount lenses can be used on the FL lens mount.

What Canon FL mount lenses lack is the ability to do auto stop-down metering. Which means FL mount lenses are required to be stopped down by pressing the depth-of-preview switch to ensure that the AL-1's light meter to display an accurate value.

FD vs new FD Lenses

Original Canon FD mount lens versus a Canon New FD mount lens.

The whole new FD lens rotates to lock onto the AL-1. Compared to original FD lenses which have a breech-lock ring at the rear of the lens that needs to be rotated to be able to secure a lens.

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

Often you will see new FD lenses referred to as FDn lenses.

The modification in the design of the breech-lock ring was due to complaints. A small group of camera owners had lenses getting stuck on an FD camera.

If you are unfamiliar with attaching an FD mount lens to a camera body, don't be concerned. Simply just take it slow and don't force anything.

Telling FD and FDn Lenses Apart

It is easy to tell new FD and FD lenses from one another. New FD lenses are going to have a silver button located on the outside of the lens, where the lens mounts to the AL-1.

The original version of FD lenses have a ring that needs to be rotated after the lens is mounted to lock the lens into place.

More Canon AL-1 Resources

That concludes the best Canon AL-1 lenses. Right after more information on the camera is put onto this website, links will be here.

Best Film for the Canon AL-1

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