Photo: Shooting with a Chinar FD 28mm f2.8 Prime


I was recently at a local resale shop and I found this 28mm prime for $10. It has an FD mount so you need an adapter for an EF mount. I brought it home and snapped a few pics, then set it aside as it was winter and that is the season in Portland that things get set aside.

However, yesterday was beautiful here in Portland so Julie and I decided to go hike Angel's Rest Trail on the Columbia Gorge. This is a nice little two-and-a-half mile hike that ends with a fantastic view of the Gorge. Last year we did the same hike, but I brought my Canon 17-55 f2.8 which ended up being too bulky. I thought this would be a good time to try out this little lens and butch up on my manual shooting skills. It's very small and light, and because it's pretty wide at 28mm and I shoot with a 60D, it hits that 50mm sweet spot. My 50mm 1.4 is a great lens, but the crop sensor makes outdoor shooting feel a little claustrophobic.

Lots of unintended light blooms and soft focus.

Once we got out on the trail I realized the FD to EF Adapter was missing a screw which made the mount very loose. Secondly, I realized the aperture ring wasn't changing anything on the lens, I was stuck wide open at f2.8. I decided I didn't want to mess with it out on a dusty trail, so I decided to just work with it. When I got home I realized there is a small spring loaded mechanism on the lens mount that needs to be primed when you put it in the adapter. Check your equipment before leaving the house!

These two "problems" turned out to make some interesting photos. Most of my shots were very soft in general, but it was concentrated on the lower left of the frame. I'm blaming that on the adapter ring being loose, operator error, or just a soft lens. We'll see what happens when a new adapter arrives.

Being stuck at f2.8 wasn't too bad. I shot mostly in shutter priority and kept my ISO at 100.

You can see the focus issues caused by the adapter on the left side of the frame here. 

However you can get a fairly sharp shot with this lens.

Shooting with this lens was a fun exercise that challenged me to keep the camera in manual mode and be quick with my focus. I came back with a lot more junk photos than a more experienced photographer would have, but that's the perks of digital photography. It was also an opportunity to do some editing to turn an otherwise plain shot into something a little more interesting.

As shot RAW.

Brought out the detail and added a graduated filter to bring back the sky color.

If you have a DSLR, don't overlook older Canon and Nikon lenses. A $10 prime lens is a great deal, especially if you only have a kit lens and can't afford the 50mm 1.8 or 1.4. You can pick up an FD 50mm 1.8 for as little as $5... just be sure to check your equipment before you leave for the day unless you want an extra challenge.