Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 – Review


Characteristics


  • Lens Mount: nFD
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Manual
  • Construction:
    • Lens Groups: 4
    • Lens Element: 4
    • Aperture Blades: 6
      • Straight
  • Min. Aperture: 3.5
  • Max Aperture: 32
  • Min. Focal distance: 1.3 m
  • Filter Size: 52 mm
  • Length: 85 mm
  • Weight: 325 gr
  • Hood: Yes, attached to the lens.
  • Price (used): USD 20- USD 70 / Jan - 2021

Introduction


As Canon Lenses go, the FD line up is legendary. Producing astonishingly good lenses that rivals today standard ones, and we are talking of lenses that were fabricated almost 40 years ago. This lens does not seem to falter when paired with a high resolution sensor, and its capable of producing amazing images taking into account its limitations.

So, let’s see how this lens behaves.

  • All the photos in this review are from a Sony α7 II camera.
    • 24mp full frame sensor.
    • On body stabilization

Updates:

April 05 of 2021

  • Added images for bokeh comparisons at different f-stops

Construction


Adapter


Adapting this lens to mirrorless cameras is as easy as getting the right adapter. A “nice” and budget recommendation is a K&F adapter, although there are pricier ones. 

Handling


This lens is easy to transport and handle due to its light weight. This is because of the plastic and metal construction that it has, which could lead you to think that it feels flimsy, but it is the opposite. The construction of this lens has stood the test of time and the possible abuse that it can entail.

Manual Focus

In this regard, my copy has a little play in the focus ring, nevertheless is good enough to focus accurately. Focusing takes a little bit more than half a turn from close range (1.3m) to infinity. This could complicate precise focusing, but is achievable.

Bokeh


We have a long focal length, a minimum distance of 1.3 meters and a maximum aperture of 3.5. With that in mind, the bokeh produced by this lens is lovely when you manage to have a big separation between your subject and the foreground. Personally I don’t find it distracting, regardless of the background.

When the situation is right it can blend seamlessly in the photo and give an overall dreamy tone to the image. Take a look at the samples to get an overall idea of this.

Distortion


The applied profile is “Canon FD 135mm F2.5 SC” as there’s no native profile for this lens.

As such, the lens has a visible fall off in the corners, but is easily fixable with the profile and can be adjusted further if necessary.

Before: No profile. / After: Profile applied.

ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/3.5 - 1/250sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 - 1/125sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/8 - 1/60sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/11 - 1/30sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/16 - 1/13sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/22 - 1/25sec - ISO-320 - 135mm

RAW photos are developed in Lightroom with the profile Canon FD 135mm F2.5 SC.

Sharpness


  • At f 3.5 it’s fairly sharp from corner to corner, but the extreme corners suffer a little bit.
  • The sweet spot for sharpness is between f 5.6 and f 16. You can get usable results beyond that, but refraction kicks in and the image get degraded overall.
  • Overall, a really great performer, when taking in account the little details.

Full image at f/3.5

Gallery


Photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening, added texture or clarity on them. Just a taste of what can be achieved with this lens.

Conclusions


This lens was a surprise, a good one. The low weight , low cost and great image quality just add to the overall good feeling that this lens gives. Granted that’s not a perfect one, the f/3.5 doesn’t help with an spectacular bokeh, or taking low light photos, At most, f/11 it’s the higher usable stop. Beyond that, refraction creeps in and images become pretty ugly. But for a light telephoto lens, for hiking or traveling, works wonderfully.

Where to buy?

  • Buy: Ebay *
    • * : Affiliate Link