artaphot FD400mmf45 DSC03155


CANON FD 400mm 1:5.6 IF

(6 lenses / 5 elements)


Canon nFD 400mmf56 small


CANON new FD 400mm 1:5.6 IF

(6 lenses / 5 elements)



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I currently own 14 FD bodies and over 40 Canon FD lenses and a dozen third party FD mount lenses. I have over the last 30 years owned a least 100 FD mount both Canon and third party lenses. I know this system well. I have a 400mm f4.5 nFD and I have a 500mm f4.5L S.S.C. and I can tell you that the resolution from these two lenses is so close that in a 3' X 4.5' slide projection I can't tell which lens took which photo.

The 400mm f4.5 is with out a doubt the best Bang for your buck you can find in a 400mm lens that will work with your Canon FD outfit.

I have shot with it now for a little over four years and NEVER have I been able to blame the lens for a crappy shot. If you were to ask this question over at the Canon FD group on Yahoo (the largest FD based discussion group on the net) you would be flooded with recomendations.


OH and I have owned the Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO and of the two excellent condition examples I had neither would produce a decent photo ...

The best 400mm lens made for the Canon FD sytem is the 400mm f2.8L (sells for approx. $1400.00-2000.00) the second best is the 400mm f4.5 S.S.C. or nFD (the S.S.C. may need a simple modification to fit the 1.4X-A extender due to having a rectangular light baffle in the rear that interfear with the protruding front element of the 1.4X-A) The nFD version has this corrected.

Mark Wahlster


The FD 400 f/4.5 uses low dispersion and not ultra-low dispersion glass so you get close to L performance. This was the world's first lens to employ internal focusing and I'm sure Canon wanted to make a splash with it. If it really needed ultra-low dispersion glass then I'm guessing they would have used it. At this time, Canon already had three other tele-photo lenses with Fluorite elements so like I said, if needed, it would most likely have gotten it.

This lens is sharp wide open and at f/5.6 through f/16 you will get professional results if long tele-photo techniques are used. Resolution is strong and contrast is above average. The lens is very usable wide open and at f/5.6 it's extremely satisfying. At f/8 I'm sure it is close to the limit of what a 400mm lens can do.

However, when attaching a tele-converter the lens will need to be stopped down. If you're using the 1.4x the lens should be set to f/5.6 and when using the 2x-A set the lens to f/8 for best performance when maximum shutter speeds are needed. Wide open performance with the 2x converter is similar to an inexpensive third party zoom so don't waist your film, just stop it down and you'll be fine. If you don't use tele-converters the FD 400 f/4.5 will be fantastic.

When using tele-converters with the 400 f/4.5 you will see slight color fringing, worse with the 2x-A than the 1.4x. If you project the slide or scan and Photoshop it there is no reason to be overly concerned about this. The fringing is not any worse than an ultra-wide angle lens. Flare control is not as good as it could be.

Gregory Nichelson