Canon FD 15mm f2.8

I’ve been enjoying my FD 20mm so much that I’ve forked out for its 15mm cousin.

Canon FD 15mm f2.8 on a Sony A7r.

Canon FD 15mm f2.8 on a Sony A7r

It’s a heavy old thing, with a massive protruding glass element at the front. There’s no way to fix filters to it, so it’s got yellow, orange and red filters built in, set with a ring at the front of the lens. Useful for film, largely irrelevant for digital.The metal lens cap is a deep dish of a thing. This is a lens that really needs its lens cap.

Build quality is typical FD. Solid, functional. Nice.

Image quality is good. It hasn’t quite got the super-sharp punch of the FD 20mm, but then I haven’t used it much yet; it could be waiting for me to find it.

The main thing about this lens is the super-wide, fisheye field of view. This lens is not rectilinear. Everything curves unless it is on the vertical or horizontal axis. The image does fill the full frame though. You don’t get the circular pictures of wider fisheyes.

I build a lot of stereographic projections, so I’m used to odd views of the world. Generally these views only emerge after much stitching and processing. Here the distortion is right in your hand.

I took the lens for a walk yesterday and spent a lot of time at ground level photographing odd stuff that was lying around on the racecourse.

Feather. I really like what the strange plastic bokeh has done to the trees in the background. Canon FD 15mm f2.8 on a Sony A7r.

In the evening I went to my friend Horacek’s house and continued my habit of taking portraits with unsuitably wide-angle lenses.

Mr Horacek. I deliberately focussed on his foot. Mistake, should have gone for a narrower aperture and got the whole lot in focus. Annoying. Canon FD 15mm f2.8 on a Sony A7r.

Mr Horacek, again. The view is so wide you often find your feet in the shot. Here you can see my foot in the shot. (Yes, I’m wearing my wife’s pink crocs.) Canon FD 15mm f2.8 on a Sony A7r.

Is it a great, all-purpose, carry-around-all-the-time lens? No. The view is just too odd. At more than three times the price of my 20mm (which was a bargain) it’s not going to be the best bang for your money lens either.

Does it dish up an interesting new way of looking at the world. Yes, in spades.

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