Review: Canon new FD 24mm 1:2.8 on Sony a7

There are many manual lenses above 28mm which work quite well on modern cameras like the Alpha 7 but not that many wide angle lenses perform good enough on modern cameras.

The Canon nFD 2.8/24 is one of the sharpest, affordable wide angle lenses and I think it can be a good solution for budget-oriented Sony Alpha 7 users.

A German version of this review can be found on phillipreeve.de.

Sample Images

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/8
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution

Specifications

    • Diameter: 62mm
    • Length:  45mm
    • Filter Diameter: 52mm
    • Weight: 240g
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 6 (slightly curved)
    • Elements/Groups: 10/9
    • Mount: Canon FD

The Canon new FD usually sells for around $85 at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it for around 60€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Versions

Canon made three different 2.8/24 FD lenses.

  1. The Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8 chrome nose was introduced in 1971 and is heavy at 410g. It has the less effective S.C. coating.
  2. The Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8 S.S.C. was introduced in 1973, it is very well build and a bit hefty at 330g.
  3.  The Canon (new) FD 24mm 1:2.8 introduced in 1979 has the new mounting system and it isn’t built as solid but at 240g it is notably lighter. This review is about this version.

The FD S.S.C. and new FD  feature a floating focusing design but the nFD version has one more element.

Canon also made a very big and very expensive FD 1.4/24 L as well as an FD 2/24 which is quite expensive too.

Compatibility

You can use the lens on a wide range of old Canon FD-mount film-cameras like the Canon A1 or AE-1.

Because of the flange focal distance of Canon FD lenses, all adapters for DSLR cameras either contain an optical element which will reduce image quality a lot or cause you to lose infinity focus. I wouldn’t bother to use one of those adapters.

Mirrorless cameras have a much shorter flange focal distance and  you can buy adapters for Fuji-X, Sony-E, Micro Four Thirds and Samsung NX which won’t degrade image quality or lose infinity focus.

I usually recommend Sony Alpha 7-series cameras for  use with older manual lenses because they are the only ones with a full frame sensor and in my experience most lenses work best on the larger sensor. In my eyes there is little reason to use this lens on an APS-C camera; 18-55 Kit lenses will give better results.

Here are links to adapters to mount the Canon FD 2.8/24 to Sony E-mount cameras: Amazon.com | Amazon.de (affiliate links).
I use an expensive Novoflex adapter (link to my review) but the cheaper ones usually work well enough.

Build Quality

Canon_nFD_24mmf2p8-2

Build quality is good by today’s standards but if you compare it to other manual lenses the lens feels a bit cheap.

The lens is mostly metal but some parts like the aperture ring at the front plate are made from plastics. All the markings are engraved.

Size, Weight and HandlingCanon_nFD_24mmf2p8-7

The Canon FD 2.8/24 is a small lens and is very well balanced on my Sony Alpha 7.

The focusing ring travels 90 degrees from 0.3m to 1m and a further 20 or so degrees to infinity. I think that’s a very reasonable focus throw. I would have wished for a little more resistance though; it is a bit too smooth.

The aperture ring has half-stops from f/2.8 to f/22 but it requires too much force to move it and the clicks aren’t distinctive enough so it can be a bit hard to select the right aperture stop just by feel.

All in all operation works well enough but other lenses handle a bit more pleasant.

Canon_nFD_24mmf2p8-8

Lens Hood

I don’t own the original lens hood, its name is “BW-52C”.

Close Focusing Distance

0.3m isn’t very close for a 24mm lens. Thanks to floating elements sharpness doesn’t suffer as you focus closer.

Image Quality

Vignetting

Notable at f/2.8, greatly reduced by f/4 and invisible in practical applications from f/5.6.

Canon_nFD_24mmf2p8_vignetting

 

Flare Resistance

The flare resistance is actually quite good for a lens of its age. There is a little bit of contrast loss and some ghosting can be provoked but I have seen much worse from other lenses.

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution

Distortion

There isn’t too much distortion but since it is a mix of barrel- and pincushion-distortion I wasn’t able to fully correct it in LR.

DSC09763
Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/8 | full resolution

Chromatic Aberations

There is a moderate amount of lateral CA which should be corrected.

I didn’t test for longitudinal CA because it doesn’t really matter in a wide angle lens.

Bokeh

Unsurprisingly bokeh is not a strength of this lens. This is typical for a wide angle lens.  Since you won’t use this lens to isolate your subject very often this shouldn’t matter too much.

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/4 | full resolution
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/2.8 | full resolution

Sun Stars

Not good, not bad. I wish this lens had more aperture blades than just 6.

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution

Sharpness

Canon_nFD_24mmf2p8

The Canon nFD 2.8/24 is very sharp in the center from f/2.8. Stopping down to f/4 makes the center excellent.

The midframe region is good from f/2.8 but benefits from stopping down to f/4 as well.

The corners show decent resolution at f/2.8 but very low contrast. For very good results it makes sense to stop down to f/8 and they are best at f/11.

cropf8
Sharpness at f/8 is very good across the frame

Conclusion

Pros

  • Very sharp across the frame from f/8
  • Size and weight
  • Price

Average

  • Flare resistance
  • CA

Cons

  • Bokeh
  • Build quality
  • Corner sharpness at wider apertures

The Canon FD 2.8/24 represents what I have come to expect from Canons non-L nFD lenses. Image quality is class-leading  (the competition beeing 70s and 80s, 24mm lenses) with very good across-the-frame sharpness from f/8, only the distortion could be a problem for some applications.

Mechanics are okay – the focusing experience is still better than with Sony’s FE lenses but other manual lenses are more pleasant to use.

I think the Canon FD 2.8/24 is a good solution if you are looking for a small and affordable lens for landscape photography. Stopped down to f/8 it is very sharp across the frame. Flare resistance is decent and the small size and low weight are a big bonus for longer hikes.

I wouldn’t recommend this lens for architecture photography because of the distortion. I also wouldn’t recommend it to people who put a lot of value on great build quality and a pleasant focusing ring.

All in all the Canon nFD 2.8/24 is a good solution for photographers on a budget who are focused on the output of their lenses. If your focus is less on the output and more on the experience of using your lens then there are better solutions.

The Canon new FD usually sells for around $85 at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it for around 60€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).
If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. I will earn a small commission on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything. Thanks!

Full ResolutionSample Images: Canon FD new 2.8/24 on Sony a7

All images are processed in Lightroom from Raw. Many more samples in my Canon nFD 2.8/24 flickr album.

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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/2.8 | full resolution | note the annoying coma in the corners
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/8 | full resolution
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/11 | full resolution
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Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/24 | f/2.8 | full resolution | note the soft corners

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

40 thoughts on “Review: Canon new FD 24mm 1:2.8 on Sony a7”

  1. 1. The affiliate links show amazon, but they points to ebay.

    2. I dont understand “[…] Unsurprisingly bokeh is a strength of this lens […] “. , because you list Bokeh under the Cons.

    I think that’s a beautiful bokeh.

      1. Dear Philipp, I just discovered your website. I am so pleased to meet another old lens user with A7.
        Your pictures with the 24 2.8 lens are very nice. I must admit I never get such nice pictures especially with sun stars. What is your secret for settings ? as well as night skies ?
        Last question: wich lens do you recommend for faces ? I have a 50 1.4 canon fd , pretty happy with it but I wish i can do better with a 85 or 100mm lens. Otherwise prices of 85 1.2 canon are too heavy for my wallet !! if you have another last secret… regards. Laurent.

  2. Englisch ist und bleibt wohl nicht meine Sprache erster Wahl. Ich geb mir zwar Mühe, aber in diesem Fall ist es für mich zu kompliziert. : -)

    Du hattest ein “not” vergessen, was mich irritiert hat. Ich habe in der Tat aber schon schlimmere Bokehs gesehen. Ist halt etwas swirly und unruhig, aber im Ganzen find ich es nicht so schlimm.

      1. Danke, ich benutze teilweise auch den Google Translator. Wenns aber speziell wird, dann hilft der auch nichts.
        Werd ab jetzt wieder englisch schreiben. Muss ja nicht perfekt sein. 🙂

  3. I really enjoy your reviews Phillip. Seems very similar to the Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f/2.8 which I use quite a bit. I’ve been considering trying to pick up something even wider, but just don’t quite know which direction to go.

  4. Have you compared against the Minolta MD 24mm F2.8?

    I think it holds up pretty well, but is more expensive and people tend to complain about field curvature?

    1. The are two optically different versions of the MD 2.8/24. I have tested the older and bigger MD Rokkor with 55mm filter thread and I think it is clearly less sharp than the Canon, built quality is nicer though. And then there is the MD version without the Rokkor name tag and with 49mm filter thread. I haven’t used that personally but going by other user test it seems to be as good as the canon optically.

  5. Ich kann deine Erfahrungen 1:1 bestätigen, es war ein gutes und kompaktes Weitwinkel für Landschaftsaufnahmen an der A7.

      1. Yes, that was the reason. I must admit, that I liked the handling of the manual lens more for landscape purposes.

        Therefore I preordered the Loxia 21mm f/2.8 now, that will probably replace the FE 16-35mm f/4.

        1. I guess for me the Loxia could replace the 16-35 as well, I don’t really need the whole zoom range. But I would miss the image stabilizer. The much nicer handling, better built quality and smaller size as well as the faster aperture are tempting.

          1. I think both lenses could have a place in my bag – i just can’t afford it. Sometimes, the FE 16-35mm impresses me, sometimes it leaves me with mixed feelings. For example when I forget about the field curvature and use the autofocus or when I forget to turn off the stabiliser. I can’t blame the lens for it but maybe it’s just not my style of shooting then.

            One more observation: I tend to use 16mm and 35mm most of the time. That indicates, that I am to lazy to choose the desired focal length wisely. In review of my last journey, the 16mm turned often out to be too wide, I had to crop the image then.

            When I look where I came from (FD 24mm f/2.8 for example), the invest in the Loxia is far bigger than in my whole manual lens portfolio. I hope it can hold up to the glorious first impression reviews by the Zeiss-sponsored photographers.

  6. Very similar findings to mine Phillip. A very good lens, but with negatives for handling, i.e., v. tight aperture ring and “slop” in focus. (really shows in direction change in magnified view, even with mint, little used copy)
    Also, in my comparisons with several 24mms, the nFD showed a yellowish cast that wasn’t flattering! (I probably would never have noticed it but for the direct comparison.) In it’s favour, the nFD showed the best depth of field of the lot, compared at each aperture, making it very good for landscapes.
    Eventually though, I preferred the MD 24/2.8 (ø49mm) and the OM 24/2.8

  7. @ Dan Hawk

    Looking for something wider, you may consider a Olympus Zuiko 21mm f3.5, very small and sharp, but has the dreaded red ring flare depending on the position of a strong light source in the frame. See here: http://www.stefanrohloff.de/20_olyspecial.php?en=1

    Or the Minolta 21mm f2.8, which was tested by Philip too, if I remember well. Needs to be stopped down for good corner sharpness, but the mechanics are excellent.

    I own both, but I prefer the Oly’s low weight for landscape photography and the Minolta for focus transition when filming.

  8. Hi Phillip,
    es gibt insg. 3 Varianten:

    1. Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8 (Chromenase)
    2. Canon FD 24mm 1:2.8 S.S.C.
    3. Canon nFD 24mm 1:2.8

    Grüße

  9. Have you had the chance to compare this lens to the Sigma Ultra Wide II 24mm/f2.8? I remember you were using the Sigma some months ago…
    Cheers

  10. I had bought a Canon nFD 24mm f2.8 on the bay but my wife offered me a Minolta MD Rokkor 24mm f2.8 for my birthday, so I need to keep the MD and sell the Canon (I had just bought a Hoya HD UV filter 52mm…). Canon great optical state but focusing ring a bit loose as stated above.

  11. Having now tried the Minolta MD 24mm, it is much higher quality standard than the nFD Canon in everything mechanical (focusing ring so precise and smooth, aperture ring, metal…) aspect and pleasure of use… no contest. However, I am not the right person to assess the optical quality (which may also vary with each lens as opinions seem to be quite diverse) .

    Also I spent the week end in Paris and only took with me a newly acquired Rokkor 20mm f 2.8 (it cost me only 130$, so could not resist despite your assessment) and a 85 mm f 2.0 as I could walk with my A6000 around the neck and a lens in the pocket (both very light and compact). This gave me eq focal lens 30mm and 128mm and gave me beautiful pictures (without assessing optical quality).

    A major advantage I found with digital versus film photos now that I have acquired a proper camera is the high sensitivity who delivers beautiful night shots. The wide range also gives great flexibility for aperture choice

  12. Hello
    Wich lens you recomend at 20mm or less for landscapes and night photografy?? Manual and cheap like this.

    thanks!!!

    1. No classic 20mm or less which will perform well for night sky photography, because they all need to be stopped down a lot to perform well. I would go for the Samyang 2.8/14.

      1. I have the Samyang in my Nikon fx. Is good but too much distorsion, and for this loss To take a lot pictures.
        Thankss for your anwers

  13. Hi Phillip !
    I feel quite desoriented when choosing between this lens, the Canon FD 24mm F/2.8 and the Contax Zeiss Distagon T 25mm F/2.8 to mount on my A7RII. You had both lenses so which one would you recommend ? Architecture and landscape photography are my purposes, including interiors / design photography. I already own the amazing Batis 18mm, which does 75% of the job, but I need a 24/25mm to complete and unfortunately can’t afford the Batis 25mm yet. Any advice from you very welcome! Greetings, Emmanuel

  14. Phillip
    I would really appreciate if you could recommend me a wide angle for use in interiors and portraits (lifestyle)
    I have a sony alpha 7 II and already I spend a lot of money on zeiss 35mm 1.4.
    But for small spaces I need a wider lens. Thanks for your help

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