Getting a 50mm f1.2 lens for a third of the price: FD to EF mount conversion

When fine art photographers take pictures, they usually go one way or another: either they want focus throughout the whole image (mostly the case when it comes to landscapes, seascapes and architecture), or they want very shallow depth of field. This is the case for macro photography, tilt photography, or even more street life and portraiture.

Here are a couple examples of almost infinite depth of field (left) or shallow depth of field (right, where only the lighthouse is on focus and the foreground out of focus) taken from my own portfolio. Please note that I chose a shallow depth of field on the right image to accentuate the effect of tilt (the article explaining tilt photography is under development).

Land's End One

If you want a better idea of shallow depth of field applied to portraiture, please check out the amazing photographs of Eric Lafforgue on his website.

 

I know, I know.

I am not a portrait photographer, and I will probably not branch out any time soon. But I love blur (often called bokeh BTW), and I have been developing a few projects that will require insanely shallow depth of field, which means a lens that allows me to do that.

Now, how do you get shallow depth of field? Well, I won’t go into the details, but to keep it simple, the wider the lens aperture, the shallower depth of field. On a side note, large aperture lenses collect more light, and so people often refer to them as “fast” lenses (because you can use a faster exposure time).

This sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? What’s not so cool is the price of such lenses. For instance, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 retail for about $2200 and $1600 (USD) respectively.

Before you start pulling your hair in grief, let me tell you a secret: you can get old FD lenses from the 1980’s for a third or a forth of that price… and use Ed Mika‘s conversion kits in order to use them on your new EOS (or Sony E mount, via an adapter) cameras. So now we’re talking, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Which brings me back to my original point: these last few days I’ve been working on such a lens (FD 50mm f/1.2) to convert it to EF mount (meaning the new Canon EOS mount. I was not as straightforward as I though, and I needed to place the lens in a vice (YIIIIKES!!) and drill a few screws out using a milling machine (YIIIIIIIKES!!!!), but here is what I got at the end of the day:

Coverted 50mm1.2 1Coverted 50mm1.2 2

And guess what the best part is? IT WORKS!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

You will find below a couple test shots with the converted FD 50mm f/1.2 wide open:

My work desk, with a familiar picture in the background, and a new one on the laptop. My faithful EF 24mm TS-E lens on the desk: (focal point ~50cm away, f/1.2, 1/3 shutter speed, ISO 100)

50mm 1.2 test shot 1

An image I captured in a historical graveyard in Cambridge, MA (USA): (focal point ~1.5m away, f/1.2, 1/125 shutter speed, Formatt Hitech IRND 3 stops, ISO 100)

Graveyard

So now, we’re talking ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m currently waiting for the big brother: the FD 85mm f/1.2 and will convert it as soon as I get it.

Maybe some actual Fine Art Photography with them soon? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

If you want to know more about Ed Mika’s conversion kits and buy one yourself, please follow this link or go directly on his eBay store.

 

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