Canon FD 200mm f/4 Macro is the kind of lens I wanted Olympus and Panasonic to release for quite some time now. In my mind smaller sensor formats, like micro four thirds and Nikon 1, are perfectly suited for macro photography – especially for skittish macro subjects, such as damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies. It’s a real shame that neither Olympus/Panasonic nor Nikon have released a long macro lens for their respective systems. In absence of such a lens, the best option is to get a legacy lens and a suitable adapter and focus manually.
As soon as I saw a Canon FD 200mm f/4 Macro lens being offered at limundo.com – which is basically a local Serbian version of ebay – I knew I had to have it. This Canon lens is anything but a ubiquitously available lens, which is why it’s much more expensive than its non-macro sibling, the Canon FD 200mm f/4 S.S.C. It sells for 250 Dollar/Euro and more, depending on condition, on ebay Germany and ebay US. In mint condition it can cost as much as 400 bucks. I was very lucky and snatched this lens for 85 Euro. There are some tiny scratches on the lens barrel, especially on the built-in lens hood, but not too many. More importantly the lens elements are crystal clear, with no scratches or fungus. Mechanically the lens is in superb condition. It came with its tripod shoe and both rear and front lens caps. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase! I use the lens with a Canon FD to M4/3 adapter made by Big-is Ltd.
Let’s see now what this bad boy can do.
The lens is sharp, but not amazingly so at f/4. It is very sharp at f/5.6 and f/8, though. This being a full frame lens, there is next to zero vignetting on my Olympus OM-D E-M10. I have no idea whether it is prone to barrel or pincushion distortion, but I would be surprised if it was. This is a macro lens after all. The only thing I don’t like about it is its tendency to CA wide open and even a bit at f/5.6 and f/8. Fortunately this can be reduced or even corrected entirely in post processing.
As for using the lens, you have to keep in mind that this is a big and heavy lens. It is 19cm or 7.5” long, has a diameter of 6.5cm or 2.56” and weighs 800g. Handholding it is definitely a challenge. Stabilizing the 400mm equivalent FL is a huge challenge for the 3-axis IBIS in my OM-D E-M10 – it helps, but feels overwhelmed by the massive camera shake this lens brings about. In addition, nailing the focus is anything but easy. Although the lens has an exceptionally long focus throw of 270°, it can be hard to acquire focus. Still, despite all of that, it’s such a joy to be able to shoot skittish macro subjects from a large distance. The close focus distance of the Canon FD 200mm f/4 Macro is 58cm or 1.9 ft from the focal plane mark on the camera and 32cm or 12.6” from the front of the lens. If you haven’t tried shooting macro with a lens like this, you most definitely should!
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