Canon FD and K35 Legendary Cine Lenses on a Budget
Media Division Canon Fd Featured.jpg

The new YouTube episode from Media Division is out and contains interesting information about old Canon FD lenses. The moderator of the Media Division, Nikolas Moldenhauer, compares the rare Canon FD with affordable alternatives, but also with the expensive Canon K35 cinema prime numbers. He shows how to cine-modify a lens and how to buy Canon FD glass online. Interestingly, much of the episode takes place in the 1986 movie "Aliens".

If you're a filmmaker, Media Division is a must see on YouTube in my opinion. The man behind the Media Division, Nikolas Moldenhauer, only publishes a new episode every now and then – but if he does, it's worth it. As early as April 2020, when the Media Division published a 50-minute episode about recordings with ultra-fast 1: 0.7 lenses, we published an article with a short interview with Nikolas. Now the Media Division has released an even longer episode on Canon FD lenses. It counts almost 85 minutes, contains a lot of useful information and is presented in an entertaining way with the help of the film "Aliens".

Legendary cine lenses from Canon FD and K35 on a budget – Media Division

This is not the first time that Nikolas has inserted himself into cult scenes from famous films. You may remember his episode on Contax Zeiss Lenses teaching Jack Nicholson about lenses in The Shining (1980).

This time Nikolas forged James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986), and I have to admit he went a step further and used more scenes than last time. When talking to Sigourney Weaver, it is not often that anyone talks about old Canon FD lenses. It is even more impressive that Nikolas recorded his scenes during the Corona lockdown alone in his living room.

Aliens parody. Source: media department

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

Aliens Parody – Behind the Scenes. Source: media department

What I find very useful is comparing the very rare and very expensive Canon K35 Cinema Lenses, the legendary Canon FD still lenses, and their affordable Canon FD alternatives.

Nikolas also included a statement from Australian cameraman Benjamin Dowie who used a set of Canon FD film modified lenses in his work.

Adjusting Canon FD Lenses

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

Fitting Canon FD lenses to mirrorless lens mounts with short flange spacing (such as Sony E, FUJIFILM X, Leica L, Canon RF, etc.) is easy because affordable mechanical adapters are available.

Canon FD lens modding. Source: media department

There are also FD to EF adapters with optical elements that allow a Canon FD lens to be mounted on an EF mount – even with infinite focus – but as Nikolas notes, they significantly reduce image quality and are not recommended .

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

Canon FD Thorium yellow tone. Source: media department

Nikolas also talks about Canon radioactive FD lenses with thorium dioxide in some lens elements. He concludes that the amount of radioactivity under normal conditions is neither dangerous for humans nor for camera sensors.

Canon FD Thorium Healing Process. Source: media department

However, thorium dioxide over time creates a yellow tinge to the lens element which shifts colors and reduces light transmission. The yellow tint can be cured with a cold UV light source. A simple and inexpensive LED lamp from IKEA has proven useful for this, although it takes a long time.

Canon FD Purchasing Guide

Nikolas did not forget to include a shopping guide at the end of this episode. He mentions a handful of useful tips for potential Canon FD buyers – such as what to consider when buying lenses on eBay.

I especially enjoyed when Nikolas explained how to tell the difference between a non-aspherical and an aspherical Canon FD 55mm f / 1.2 lens. This can help you spot a scammer who is trying to sell the wrong lens.

Aliens parody. Source: media department

My personal conclusion to this episode is that it is possible to recreate the look of expensive Canon K35 lenses with a much cheaper Canon FD. I could also try converting my Canon FD 50mm lens to a Canon EF myself.

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

What do you think of 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 comments section below the article.

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