The Canon FD 24mm

I mentioned in my post on the test shoot that I ran into issues with the Canon FD while shooting. The issues I ran into were twofold. One, despite my light meter readings, everything was way over exposed. And two, focusing was more difficult, I felt, than it should’ve been. After a few shots during that session, I packed the lens away and resolved that I’d take a closer look at what was going on sometime after the shoot.

I did. And this is what I learned.

First off, I was never actually changing the f-stop on the lens when I thought I was. Every shot I took was at f/2.8, no matter that I was turning the aperture ring and setting it to f/4 or f/5.6 or whatever. I had just assumed that, like any other lens I’ve ever used, turning the aperture ring would adjust the blades to the correct aperture. I mean, that’s pretty basic functionality, yeah? That assumption, actually, was what led me to the problem: the blades weren’t turning.

When I got home from the shoot, I grabbed the lens, held it in my hand and spun the ring. Nothing was changing; the blades weren’t moving. In fact, I couldn’t even see the blades. Bizarre. I knew I didn’t buy a lemon. It was listed as functioning. How had I overlooked this?! So I did a little googling. And that’s when I found this informative video.

Basically, there’s a small little locking lever on the back of the lens that needs to be depressed. If it isn’t, then the aperture is going to stay in it’s current position and never change. It applies to any lens, I assumed, with the same design since this was exactly the problem I was experiencing and exactly the solution I needed.

But there was one more small problem that took me more than a minute to solve: fitting the Zhongyi mount adapter onto the lens. While the lens has helpful guides (yellow and red dots to indicate where to drop the lens in and where it locks), the yellow dot is a little off. If you attached the lens with the yellow dot aligned, you’ll be forever popping that little lever up. Took me a minute but I found that if you attach the lens into the adapter as far to the right of the yellow dot as you can and then turn the lock, then everything’s copacetic and you’ll have control over the aperture. Otherwise, it’s just never going to happen.

So everything I was shooting with this beautiful 24mm lens prior to uncovering the problem and the necessary solution was all shot wide open at f2.8. Which explains why my shots during the test shoot were over exposed and why getting focus was so difficult. I’ve since, obviously, fixed the problem and now everything is coming up exactly as it should.

2 comments

I have a cheapo ($12 ebay) 26mm that has the same problem. That little lever keeps the lens wide open to give you the brightest (optical) viewfinder, but is supposed to release and stop down to the selected f-stop immediately as the shutter is pressed. I’m sure having the adapter is affecting that as well.

Yeah, I just had to be really careful in putting the adapter on. But I finally got it working without issue. Such an obscure little technical detail.

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