800mm lens

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I was all set to get a 500mm f4.5L FD lens, when I saw an 800 f5.6 for sale. I quite fancy it as most of the wildlife I photograph is very wary and will not allow a close approach. I work as a wildlife cameraman and when I use a 600mm on my film or tape cameras I get the equivalent of about 1600mm so am used to working at a distance and letting the action unfold, so I quite like the idea of a comparably long stills lens. Is the FD800 5.6 REALLY BITING sharp? How does it handle? Any experiences? Cheers, Steve

-- Steve Phillipps (steve@redvixen.freeserve.co.uk), January 28, 2002



I use the 500mm f/4.5L FD lens myself (though more conventionally than you - on T90s and an F1N!) and fine it an absolute joy to use. I'm sure you'll be aware that the 800mm f/5.6L has a very different focusing system, which might initially be a bit offputting. I've never actually used the 800mm, though did handle one in the shop I used to work at.

Interestingly, I believe some of the most converted lenses to C mount (I think - is that the motion picture mount??!!) appear to be the 400mm f/2.8L and the 150-600mm f/5.6L (from what I've seen and heard about). The latter uses the same rotating knob focusing as the 800mm, so it can't be that problematic.

I would imagine that the 800mm on its own would be slightly crisper than the 500mm with 1.4x convertor, though the latter combination is still known for suffering very little with the 1.4x.

Hope this is of some help. Regards, Joel

Incidentally, I saw your posting on new FD lenses. I'm in New York on holiday at the moment, and have been trying to find some good FD equipment while I'm here. It's drying up! B&H have fewer new lenses than Ffordes (though cheaper for 35mm TS), but I did manage to pick up an almost mint F1N-AE plus drive FN + battery pack for $500, which I'm rather pleased with. There are still plenty of brand new Hi- power NiCD pack FNs here - let me know if anyone needs contact details for these.

-- Joel Price (joelyp@hotmail.com), February 04, 2002.

Thanks Joel.

I do intend to use the 800 or 500 for stills (like you on an F1N). On my film camera I use Nikon 300 and Leica 105-280, plus my Zeiss 10:1. The mount is "PL", the "C" mount was the old standard used on Bolex cameras and the like.

I have seen the 400 2.8 and the 150-600 (a big wildlife film-makers' favourite) but the most common is the 300 f2.8, with 2x converter. It may be interest to some, that to put stills lenses on film and pro- video cameras it's usual to put a "universal" mount system on the lens. This involves literally sawing off about 2 inches off the back end (including the iris assembly) and bolting on a strong screw thread-I know this sounds a bit crazy!. Onto this you can put a mount for any stills camera, film or video camera or whatever. There's a stills photographer that has done something like this with a Canon 800 and put it onto a Contax AX to give it autofocus (the Contax autofocus system is in the body and not the lenses). Now that's an interesting idea!

If anyone's interested in this conversion post it here and I'll give more details.

Best wishes


-- Steve Phillipps (steve@redvixen.freeserve.co.uk), February 04, 2002.


I'm not sure if you are considering the 300mm f/2.8L with a 2x convertor (for which, incidentally, you need the 2xB rather than the 2xA), but I've never really been that convinced by results I have obtained with it. This could, of course, be operator error (!) but the most I would want to stretch the 300mm would be using a 1.4x, which probably drops it short of the focal length you are looking for. Pity really, as you can pick up used 300mm f/2.8L lenses relatively cheaply compared with the 500mm and 800mm (have just seen a couple of near-mint 300mm f/2.8L lenses in New York for just under 1000 pounds).

Depending on where you saw the 800mm for sale, the shop might consider hiring it to you for a weekend for a few percent of the sale price, refundable if you purchase it. They'd probably want a deposit on your credit card even if they go for the hire.

The most interesting lens I've heard converted to some kind of cinematic mount was when the shop I worked for was asked to supply a dozen (!) 14mm f/2.8L lenses for that purpose. Presumably the reason was the high degree of correction in the lens to prevent too much of a fish-eye look while still giving extreme wide-angle. How many lenses would they need like that, though?!

-- Joel Price (joelyp@hotmail.com), February 04, 2002.

Anybody knows a fear market value for used canon 800mm 5.6 L lens ?


-- (filmco@sympatico.ca), April 24, 2002.

http://www.delanet.com/~starka/CanonFD_ebay.htm Try this for prices of canon fd stuff. David

-- David Presson (davpress@hotmail.com), April 26, 2002.

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