Canon FD and K35 Legendary Cine Lenses on a Budget

September 11th, 2020 Jump to Comment Section 3
Canon FD and K35 Legendary Cine Lenses on a Budget

The new YouTube episode of Media Division is out and it includes interesting information about vintage Canon FD lenses. Media Division’s host Nikolas Moldenhauer compares the rare Canon FD with affordable alternatives, but also with the expensive Canon K35 cinema primes. He shows how to cine-mod a lens and how to buy Canon FD glass online. Interestingly, a big chunk of the episode takes place in the 1986 movie “Aliens”.

If you are a filmmaker, Media Division is a must-follow YouTube channel in my opinion. The man behind Media Division, Nikolas Moldenhauer, releases a new episode only every once in a while – yet, when he does, it is worth it. Back in April 2020, when Media Division released a 50-minutes episode about shooting with an ultrafast f/0.7 lenses, we published an article with a short interview with Nikolas. Now, Media Division has released an even longer episode about Canon FD Lenses. Counting almost 85 minutes, it includes a lot of useful information and is presented in an entertaining way with the help of the movie “Aliens”.

Canon FD and K35 Legendary Cine Lenses on a Budget – Media Division

This is not the first time Nikolas inserts himself into iconic scenes from famous movies. You might remember his episode about Contax Zeiss Lenses, where he lectured Jack Nicholson about the lenses in “The Shining” (1980).

This time, Nikolas spoofed James Cameron’s “Aliens” (1986) and I have to admit, he went a step further and used more scenes than last time. You don’t often see someone talking about vintage Canon FD lenses while having a conversation with Sigourney Weaver. It’s even more impressive that Nikolas recorded his scenes alone in his living room during the Corona lockdown.

Aliens Spoof. Source: Media Division

He mentions the importance of matching the lighting in each scenario with the scene from the movie. He then used Adobe After Effects and Filmconvert Nitrate to seamlessly insert himself into the “Aliens” scenes.

Aliens Spoof – Behind The Scenes. Source: Media Division

What I find quite useful is the comparison of the very rare and very expensive Canon K35 Cinema Lenses, the legendary Canon FD stills lenses and their affordable Canon FD alternatives.

Nikolas also included a statement from the Australian cinematographer Benjamin Dowie, who has been using a set of cine-modded Canon FD lenses for his work.

Adapting Canon FD Lenses

Unlike some other vintage lens mounts (Nikon, M42), the Canon FD has a shorter flange distance than Canon EF. This means that there is no easy way to adapt these lenses to the popular Canon EF lens mount, which is used with cameras like the Panasonic EVA1 or Canon EOS Cinema line.

Adapting Canon FD lenses to mirrorless lens mounts with a short flange distance (like Sony E, FUJIFILM X, Leica L, Canon RF, etc.) is easy, as there are affordable mechanical adapters available.

Canon FD Lens Modding. Source: Media Division

There are also FD-to-EF adapters with optical elements that can make mounting a Canon FD lens on an EF mount possible – even with infinity focus – but, as Nikolas states, they significantly reduce image quality and can’t be recommended.

The options are either professional lens modding by a company like CinMod, or trying a DIY solution with one of the kits available.

Canon FD Thorium Yellow Tint. Source: Media Division

Nikolas also talks about radioactive Canon FD lenses with Thorium Dioxide in some lens elements. He comes to the conclusion that the amount of radioactivity is not dangerous for humans nor for camera sensors under normal conditions.

Canon FD Thorium Heal Process. Source: Media Division

Thorium Dioxide, however, introduces a yellow tint on the lens element over time, which shifts the colors and lowers the light transmission. The yellow tint can be healed using a cold UV light source. A simple and affordable LED lamp from IKEA proved to be useful for that, although it needs a lot of time.

Canon FD Buyer’s Guide

Nikolas did not forget to also include a buyer’s guide at the end of this episode. He mentions a handful of useful tips for potential Canon FD buyers – like what is important to think of when buying lenses on eBay.

I especially liked it when Nikolas explained how to spot the difference between a Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 non-aspherical and aspherical lens. This might help you spot a scammer trying to sell a wrong lens.

Aliens Spoof. Source: Media Division

My personal conclusion of this episode is that it is possible to replicate the look of expensive Canon K35 lenses with a much more affordable Canon FD. Also, I might try to modify my Canon FD 50mm lens to a Canon EF by myself.

As always, Nikolas included all relevant links in the video description, so you can go check them out. You can also consider becoming a member of Media Division and supporting future episodes.

What do you think about the latest Media Division episode? Do you use vintage lenses? And do you prefer Canon FD or other vintage lenses? Let us know in the comment section underneath the article.


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