Review: Canon FD 2.8/135

Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8-10

The Canon FD 2.8/135 is a lightweight and affordable lens. On my Sony  a7 it performs very well as a portrait and landscape lens.

Sample Images

Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-9
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution
Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-18
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/4 | full resolution
Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-16
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

 Specifications

    • Diameter: 62mm
    • Length:  80mm
    • Filter Diameter: 52mm
    • Weight: 395g
    • Close Focusing Distance: 1.3m
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 8 (slightly curved)
    • Elements/Groups: 6/5
    • Mount: Canon FD

The Canon  FD 135mm 1:2.8 usually sells for around $40-60 at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it for 40-60€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Versions

Canon only made one 2.8/135 lens with FD mount. It is part of the “new FD” generation so it is easier to mount than older FD lenses. You will find people referring to it as nFD or FDn.

Canon also made 2/135, 2.5/135 and 3.5/135 lenses but  these will have different qualities than the FD 2.8/135 in this review.

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 you 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 the use with older manual lenses because they are the only ones with a fullframe 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 a 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_135mmf2p8-8 Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8-7 Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8

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 or high quality plastic, I am not quite sure. Some parts like the aperture ring at the front plate are obviously made from plastics. All the markings are embossed.

Size, Weight and Handling

Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8-11

The Canon FD 2.8/135 is a medium sized lens and not too heavy at about 400g. It is very well balanced on my Sony Alpha 7.

The focusing ring travels about 200 degrees from 1.3m to  infinity. I think that’s a very reasonable focus throw. I would have wished for a little more resistance though, it feels a bit too loose.

The aperture ring has half-stops from f/2.8 to f/22 but it requires too much force to move it if you ask me.

All in all operation works well enough but other lenses handle a bit more pleasant. The Canon new FD 2.8/135 feels a little bit cheap.

Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8-12

Lens Hood

The Canon FD 2.8/135 has a small integrated hood.

Close Focusing Distance

CanonFD135mmf2p8_closefocusing
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

The Canon new FD 135mm 1:2.8 has a close focusing distance of 1.3m which results in a reproduction ratio of 1:7 which is about average for a 135mm lens.

The lens is a bit softer at f/2.8 closer distances than at longer ones and I would stop down to f/5.6 for very good sharpness.

Image Quality

Vignetting

Notable but not excessive at f/2.8. Reduced a lot by f/4 and gone for all practical purposes by f/5.6.

Canon_nFD_135mmf2p8_Vignetting

Flare Resistance

Flaring can be a problem with the FD 2.8/135. I couldn’t provoke any ghosting but in a worst case scenario you will see a painful contrast loss. A longer more effective lens hood than the one built in might help with this issue.

CanonFD135mmf2p8_closefocusing-2
Sony a7ii | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | default settings in LR
Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-13
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-14Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | shaded with hand

Distortion

A very small amount of pincushion distortion which should be irrelevant for about any application.

DSC08589
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/8 | full resolution

Chromatic Aberrations

There is a moderate amount of lateral CA and you should correct it in your raw converter.

Longitudinal CA is quite obvious in some scenes and much more of an issue than lateral CA because it can’t be easily corrected.

Bokeh

The Canon FD 2.8/135 draws a very pleasant bokeh and this is one of it’s biggest strengths.

DSC08473
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8

The cat-eye effect can be seen at f/2.8 but it isn’t too pronounced. Stop down to f74 and it’s mostly gone.

Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-4
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

The Canon FD 2.8/135 has 8 aperture blades. So  out of focus highlights stay very round when you stop down.

Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-5
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/5.6 | full resolution

Sharpness

Canon_nFD _135mmf2p8

The Canon FD 2.8/135 is very sharp in the center from f/2.8, stopping down to f/4 makes the center excellent and it becomes softer again from f/11.

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

The corners show good resolution at f/2.8 but very low contrast, for very good results it makes sense to stop down to f/5.6 and they are best at f/8.

So the Canon is a sharp lens and you can sue it at f/2.8 without hesitation. Stopped down to f/5.6 there is little to complain about. 

Compared to

Canon nfD 2/135 – I never had the chance to compare both lenses but I have seen quite few very nice images FD 2.8/135’s bigger brother. It is a  bit expensive though and much heavier.

Minolta MD Rokkor 2.8/135 – Both lenses are similar in size and performance, I think the Minolta is a tiny little bit sharper. I prefer the Minolta’s build quality but the Canon has 8 aperture blades and focuses a bit closer. It is also  130 grams lighter.

Minolta MD Zoom 4/75-150 – A very interesting lens which is as sharp as the Canon but more versatile. For landscape photography I would prefer the Minolta.

Canon FD 4/80-200 L – Much more expensive and quite a bit bigger. But it is a bit sharper and most importantly it overcomes the FD 2.8/135’s biggest weakness. it is very well corrected for CA.

Conclusion

good

  • Bokeh
  • Good sharpness from f/2.8
  • Size and weight
  • Price
average

  • flare resistance
not good

  • build quality
  • CA correction

The Canon FD 2.8/135 is a good lens optically. From f/2.8 it is sharp across the frame. The bokeh is very nice and makes this lens a very good solution for portrait photography.

CA is the only real optical issue I found can be a annoying for some scenes but for portraits and distant landscapes it shouldn’t be a problem. You also might find that the FD 2.8/135 feels somewhat cheap and other lenses are more pleasant to use.

So all in all the Canon FD 2.8/135 is a very capable lens and I can recommend it with only a few reservations. 

The Canon FD 135mm 1:2.8 usually sells for around $40-60 at ebay.com (affiliate link).
In Germany you can buy it for 40-60€ 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 Resolution Sample Images:  Canon FD 2.8/135 on Sony a7

All images are processed in Lightroom from Raw. Many more samples in my Canon FD 2.8/135 flickr album.

Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-17
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution
Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-8
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Canon nFD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution
DSC08219
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution
Canon_nFD_135mm_f2p8-2
Sony a7 | Canon FD 2.8/135 | f/2.8 | full resolution

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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.

8 thoughts on “Review: Canon FD 2.8/135”

  1. Hi Phillip,
    Would really love to see you try out the Konica AR 135mm f3.2. It’s cheap but in my eyes it’s a magic lens. Would be good to see how it’s holds up to your fd

  2. Hi, Phillip
    Always love reading your review.
    I wonder if there are significant differrent between the MC and MD Rokkor 135/2.8?
    In my country, the MD version is really hard to find.

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