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Nikon AI(S) vs Canon FD for Video (GH2, GH1)?
  • While there is some stuff about comparing these two lens lines regarding photography, has anyone done any comparisons between these two lens sets for video, specifically, the Gh2 (or gh1)?

    The pricing of these lenses seems to be getting closer by the day (FDs seemed to be cheaper a few years ago). But apart from the way the focus turns, is there much of a difference between these lens lines for video work?

    Specifically, I'm interested in IMAGE QUALITY / DIFFERENCES.

    I've heard some people say they like the contrast and rendition of Canon FDs (Hunter Richards, I think), and that Canons tend to be a little "warmer" in color than Nikons. Wouldn't white balancing cancel out that effect?

    (I know that there is the L series of FD... but we can leave that issue to the side unless you think it is important.)
  • 30 Replies sorted by
  • In reality it is a matter of opening. The old optical lenses Nikon equals current canon.
  • This is a comparison I'd be interested in seeing...

    After getting my GH2 a few months ago, the price difference had become small enough in some cases that I actually ended up going the Nikon route instead of the Canon FD route, and I don't regret it. I picked up a Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AI-s off of eBay for ~$60, and more recently I was lucky enough to find a practically pristine 28mm f/2.8 AI-s off of Craigslist for just $150. Though highly subjective, I'm amazed at their sharpness and color rendition.

    Probably not a big deal, but it may be worth noting that functionally, Nikon lenses focus "backwards" to infinity comparison to other lenses as far as I know.
  • @Grue
    the nikkor 50mm 1.8 AI-s is a really great lens. And actually it is much better than the nikkor 1.4 which is much softer but has an extra stop for lowlight. I own the nikkor 50mm F1.2 AI-S which is of course much more expensive than others but it's worth it for me as it's very versatile. It is insanely sharp at f4 like your nikkor 1.8, it is good in lowlight at 1.4 but it's coolest feature is that it is absolutely unbeatable by any of the nikkors at f1.8 up until f3. It is the sharpest nikkor lens at F2 ever made and I love it. Generally nikkors are really great and all the lenses I get , I get in nikon mount as it's very versatile. you can easily use it with canon bodies, nikon, M4/3, and any other mount.
  • The most used focal lengths will be in the normal lens range (20-28mm) and the portrait telephoto (35-40ishmm). 50mm focal length is of relatively limited value to me on m4/3, as it's a sort of odd telephoto length (100mm equivalent on 35mm photography).

    Part of what I'm curious about is the whole issue of lens **"color rendition"**. I'm guessing that even with white balance there will be a difference among lenses in terms of how saturated certain colors are, whether some colors are tinted one way rather than another, etc. Can anyone point out some good reads on this?

    Also curious about getting knowledgable about **contrast ratio** in lenses.
  • @feha Appreciate your posting, but it is a little off topic. We are concerned with *comparisons* between the two.
  • @qwerty123
    Sorry, i never used Canon lenses on GH2 , but i liked Nikkor except the focal length becomes 100 mm
    I'll remove the link to video ...
  • I use many older manual Nikkors and Canon FD's...particularly with anamorphics. There are good versions of both types...and there are mediocre ones. I had a Canon 5D2 for a year before the GH13 and found that although the new Canon lenses were very sharp, they suffered from the "Pink disease"...a magenta color bias when compared with the identical Nikkor lens (I also used a D700 for still work therefore many lenses). I did comparative tests with 16/15mm 14mm; 17-24/18-35mm; 20mm; 50mm; and 80-200/70-210mm.

    I like the color reproduction of the older FD lenses better. Both the Nikkor Ais and Canon FD's will do a great job via cheapo Chinese mounts...much better value than the new Canon lenses with the complex/expensive mounts...and as far as I'm concerned, better color rendition. The FD's from the 70's and 80's are particularly well made metal bodied lenses and for the most part optically superb.

    Also consider the old (Zeiss) Contax lenses...in some ways better optically/mechanically than the Nikkors or FD Canons...but their price is also going up on Ebay because of this.

    The finest 20mm Nikkor-mount lens you will find is the new Cosina made Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f/3.5 Aspherical SL II. It easily outperformed my Nikkor 20mm Ais; Nikkor 20mm AF; and Canon 20mm AF.

    Cosina made many of the "Zeiss Contax" lenses when production shifted for Germany to Japan...and still made the new Zeiss lenses for Nikon and Canon mounts.
  • @Skeptikal That's somewhat helpful.

    Do you or anyone know of any actual tests (preferably video) comparing Canon FD vs Nikon AI(s)? I've only heard people *say* they like the color rendition (and contrast) of the FDs better, but it's hard for people to make judgments without *seeing* any comparisons. And some of us cannot afford to shell out the cash to get both to test. (There are some video tests I've seen but they are not good: usually comparing different focal lengths with different aperature openings, etc.)

  • It's been ages since I did my own test's and I've deleted the test photos when I sold the 5D2 and the D700...but I see that a website I relied on back then is still going:

    http://www.16-9.net/lens_tests/

    You are correct...meaningful tests have to be well controlled to eliminate extraneous variables. I did the tests all on the 5D2 via Nikon and Contax adapters to eliminate the differences in CMOS/processing.

    Results for still tests will apply equally to video...and there must be many out there on the Web.

    Have a look also at http://www.kenrockwell.com/...he's over-opinionated but entertaining...and he does good real-world tests.

    Don't worry too much about color matching between FD and Ais...they cut together quite well. The still photo tests will provide good, relevant info about their relative strengths and weakness in terms of resolution, contrast distortion, flare MTF etc.
  • @qwerty123 I am using frequently old manual Nikkor lenses as well as Canon FD lenses. Are you still searching the answers? It was more than 6 months ago when you asked....

  • @tetakpatak I could use the feedback. May be others as well :)

  • In terms of optical quality, many Canon FD and FL prime lenses are very good even for today's standards, some are excellent. Since the introduction of mirrorless µFT and NEX cameras, old Canon lenses are constantly winning popularity and the prices are ricing- some of them like fast, popular lenses have reached virtually their old prices (inflation not accounted) like when they were still in production:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060228063807/www.canonfd.com/pricelists/pricelist1986.pdf

    Unfortunately, there are barely any in-depth reviews regarding FL and FD lenses and none of them covers whole Canon's production line.

    On µFT and NEX cameras, the adapters for FD lenses are in most of cases perfectly usable also for FL lenses: if the vertical shift (for full-aperture) is a screw, it can be removed within seconds.

    IMO, Canon FD lenses worked simply the best on Canon's SLR cameras they were made for. I still use them on my T-90. They reproduce fine on the µFT sensors, but less good on APS-C sensors (like Sony Nex-7) where wide angle FDs show their flaws. Canon FD zoom lenses in general don't perform on digital bodies as good as the modern zoom lenses do, I void using them.
    The multi-layer "Super Spectral Coating" (S.S.C.) is superior to "Single Coating" (S.C.) and it was introduced already during first generation of FD lenses (with breech-lock). The glass of the second generation lenses, "new FD" (which are mounted like bayonet-mount, by rotating whole lens) is coated in general with S.S.C but it is not ingraved on the front anymore. There are only few exceptions, like allegedly the nFD 50mm f/1.8 lens.

    After all the years, I own a small collection of old Canon FD and FL primes, from wide to tele. I will list now the lenses I know very well. My short comments are regarding usage of those lenses only on the µFT cameras (GH1 and GH2) with crop factor x2, both for still photography and for video:

    • FD 17mm f/4.0: well built lens, neutral colors performance, not so sharp, lots of purple fringing in the corners, nearly unvisible in videos but well visible in stills, stopped down it gets even worse. This lens is rectilinear, that feature makes it very interesting for videographers
    • FD 20mm f/2.8: prone to flare, colors neutral, quite sharp for vintage lens (but very soft if directly compared to Panny 20mm f/1.7), lots of CA in the corners, similar like 17mm
    • FD 24mm f/2.0: excellent lens, CA well under control and unvisible in videos, this is razor sharp lens with good contrasts and performs well even by full aperture
    • FD 24mm f/2.8: also very good and very sharp lens, cheaper variant of f/2 version (for half price 95% of value, good deal) excellent lens by all means, it has vibrant color reproduction and great performance already from f/4.0 onwards
    • FD 28mm f/2.0: another good wide prime, very sharp, good contrasts tad of lateral CA in the corners barely visible for video, more visible for stills (easily correctable)
    • FD 35mm f/2.0: the one with concave front element is the famous lens made by slightly radioactive Thorium containing glass. It is allegedly one of the sharpest Canon FD lenses ever made. I can't confirm any of its excellent reputation- maybe I own a lemon sample but mine is just an average lens by all means, nothing special about it. It doesn't flare but it has bit of lateral CA all over, especially in the corners
    • FD 35mm f/2.8: small, cheap lens- stopped down to 4.0 and further gets excellent IQ. I prefer it to expensive f/2 version, but it's pity that it has only 5 aperture blades, bokeh of light spots behind the focus looks bad, so I recommend this lens only for daylight shootings
    • FD 35-105 zoom f/3.5: beautiful, very solid built lens, but not so practical for videos (not parfocal) otherwise it is a good lens but the primes beat its performance in its whole focal range
    • FD 50mm f/1.2: only the aspherical, "L" version is good (and expensive), other f/1.2 versions are expensive and get good after stopped down to 2.8 or more so why buying them? Big problem of all f/1.2 lenses is focusing them properly, even on µFT sensors it isn't easy (by f/1.2 the DOF is equivalent to f/2.5). The "L" version hasn't got nice bokeh, so I can't mention any good reason to own also this lens
    • FD 50mm f/1.4: soft color reproduction, blur and unsharp open stopped down from 2.8 gets better. This is popular lens, but its optical performance isn't stellar. Old Minolta MC Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 PG costs less and beats the peformance of this Canon lens by all means: in contrasts, sharpness, colors reproduction and bokeh quality
    • FD 50mm 3.5 Macro: truly superb lens, tremendous sharpness and excellent contrast even widely open. Beautiful vivid colors, no CA at all, no distortion. No field curvature (typical for macro lens), so flaten objects (like walls) will be fully in focus by proper positioning of the lens. This is one of the cheapest and lightest lenses around 50mm
    • FD/FL 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical: excellent lens (radioactive), very sharp and with excellent contrasts. Bokeh in background is tad sharp, but didn't bother me. I regret I've lost my sample
    • FL 58mm f/1.2: wonderfull piece of glass, superb build quality, stopped down from 2.8 its IQ gets excellent for video, (not as good for stills), this lens has nicest bokeh of all Canon's f/1.2 lenses I know (I only don't know the famous 85mm "L") and I would call it almost "hidden gem" because it is comparable with much more popular (and expensive) Nikkors and Rokkors 58mm f/1.2
    • FD 85mm f/1.8: excellent portrait lens, by open aperture it is indeed sharp, but at same time it makes wrinkles look unvisible so the skin looks younger, stopped down to 4.0 or higher this lens gets razor sharp, impressive change. Beautiful bokeh, great contrasts and colors reproduction. I prefered this lens to f/1.2 version for softer open aperture and much lighter weight and lower price (and for sharpness by open aperture I already owned Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 which outperforms the Canon f/1.2 anyway)
    • FD 100mm 2.0: top class lens, crispy sharp & beautifull picture without any distortion, no CA, great even open - what can you wish more? Excellent build quality, very solid and compact, heavy lens
    • FD 135mm 2.8: sharp in the centre, nice looking picture, good IQ, if I didn't own the 100mm/2.0 I would use it more often
    • FD 200mm 2.8 is excellent mid tele lens and one of the best price/performance lenses one can find for the µ4/3 cameras, it is still quite cheap to find even on ebay (regarding the fact it is a very fast tele lens).

    Vintage Nikkor (Nikon) non-Ai, Ai and Ai-S lenses are cosiderably more expensive than most of other vintage lenses for two reasons:
    - Nikon has never changed its F-bayonet mount
    - Nikon has never changed the flange focal distance of its F-mount lenses
    Regarding the fact that Nikon's flange-to-film distance with its 46,5mm is longer than by most of other brands, Nikkor lenses are perfectly adaptable to many camera bodies with simple mechanical F to x-mount ring adapters.

    The third reason why Nikon is more expensive is of course high quality of many their lenses. There are fortunatelly many good reviews regarding ald Nikkor lenses, and it very important here, because not all Nikkors are top quality in terms of optical performance. Their producing line offers lenses for everybody: from consumers to high-end pros. But when you know which lens to buy and if you're lucky to get good sample, you've got a high-end quality for bargain price if compared to Leica or some other brands who offer the lenses in this quality range.

    I've been using Nikon and Nikkor lenses since mid '80-ies and as rule of thumb I would just say: Nikkors reach their full quality when stopped down: on FF or APS-C sensor or film, the best results are around f/8 to even f/11 for slower lenses but on the µFT sensors use only 1-2 stops as after 3rd stop the diffraction will start to be visible due to physical limitation of the µFT sensor. For videos, even 4 stops work fine, but your exposure and ISO will have to be adjusted to light loss. Here are some of the Nikkors I know really well:

    • Nikkor 28mm f/2.0: beautifull lens, superb IQ, sharp and wonderfull bokeh. Bit of barrel distortion and vignetting which won't bother on the µFT sensor, but mind that this lens has coma which doesn't disappear even when stopped down to f/5.6, so be careful in the night shooting with street-lights etc.
    • Nikkor 28mm 2.8: (only the very last Ai-S model): superb lens, tremendous sharpness and no distortions, can be used almost like macro with amazing results and usable DOF. It is still produced, costs ca $500 new. In terms of optical quality, all earlier 28mm f/2.8 models by Nikkor are inferior to the Ai-S one
    • Nikkor 35mm 2.0: superb lens, image excellent even open, on the µ4/3 performs as good as much more expensive, famous f/1.4 variant. This lens has great bokeh behind the focus and is nearly free of coma. Stopped down just a bit, in-focus light spots are getting a star-form
    • Nikkor 50mm 1.4: there are 28 (!!!) pre-AF 50mm f/1.4 models, all are OK or good on the µ4/3 in focus, but none of those lenses is great, IMPO. The bokeh makes big difference: try before you buy. At f/1.4 IQ is miserable, full of flare, unsharp and blurred all over. From f/2.8 onwards gets excellent for video. Personally, I don't like any of the 50mm Nikkors faster than f/1.8 as they are full of flaws, distortions and they have some breathing
    • Nikkor lenses 50mm f/1.8 and f/2.0 are in general much better. They are sharp on the µFT senors and even sharper on bigger sensors. From f/2.8 onwards those lenses beat the performance of all 1.2 and 1.4 Nikkors and one can have them used for bargain price. By f/1.8 go for earliest Ai-S samples and by f/2 mind its cheap 6-bladed diaphragm so void to use it where ghosting could occur (like strong light spots behind your subject), but otherwise is is a fantastic lens, possible best Nikkor's 50mm in terms of contrast, corner-to-corner sharpness and it is free of CAs and flare
    • Nikkor Zoom 50-135 f/3.5: rare and nearly unknown excellent zoom lens with sharp and contrasty image, excellent IQ from f/4.5 onwards, parfocal (one-ring zoom, though)
    • Nikkor 55mm 3.5 Micro Auto (non Ai): one of best macro lenses I ever used. Doesn't work on newer Nikons, but it still does work on all µFT cameras. Actual Nikon's model 60mm f/2.8 ED G N is Nikon's best macro lens I ever tried and on of overall greatest Nikon's lenses, just amazing (but I never mount it on µFT cameras and it is off topic)
    • Nikkor Zoom 80-200 f/4.5: excellent lens, much cheaper than Canon FD 80-200 4.0 L but I can sign it performs as good on µFT cameras. This legendary lens was one of first zoom lenses who performed as good as the primes. Crispy and contrasty even wide open, parfocal (one-ring, though...). The ring gets too loose with time, but it can be easily repaired in the service
    • Nikkor 85mm f/1.4: now it gets very serious: this is a dream lens by all means: straight from f/1.4 onwards it has wonderful IQ, it is sharp and contrasty and the bokeh is... a dream! Its bokeh is as creamy like legendary Rokkor 58mm but optical performance is overall much better: unbeaten. Ai-S was excellent, "D" even better, but the best of all of them is actual "G" variant, it is optically even improved and has no coma at all, even widely open. This is a perfect lens, I don't know what else to say about it. It is not cheap, but its price is a real bargain for what it offers.
    • Nikkor 105mm 2.5: legendary, Nikon's classic- one of the greatest ever produced IMO. It has excellent IQ even wide open, and from f/4 onwards it is just perfect: wonderfull bokeh, tremendous sharpness and colors performance and no flaws
    • Nikkors 135mm: all are really good, f/2.0 is allegedly a dream lens, but it is scary big and heavy, so the f/2.8 is probably better option for the µFT cameras. Mind that f/3.5 variant of 135mm Nikkors performs on the µFT about as good as f/2 or f/2.8 but it costs next to nothing
    • Nikkor 180mm ED f/2.8: truly superb lens, it is one of the very best tele lenses I ever tried, tremendous sharpness on all cameras where I used it, great contrast and no distortions, free of CAs straight from f/2.8 onwards
    • Nikkor 200mm 4.0: late models without letter "Q" are amazing lenses, great IQ even when wide open, just beasty at f/5.6, this is a dream lens
    • Nikkor 300mm 4.5: ver."H" is unpopular tele lens, Nikon ceirtanly made better tele primes than this one, but this is probably the best deal you can have for less than 100$ in this focal length, turns to excellent outdoor lens stopped down a bit. Its IQ (use tripod, it has excellent collar) IMO performs nicer than the Panny 100-300 at its long end. Version "ED" of this Nikkor has first-class optics, if you find one in good shape.

    Hope my experience with the vintage Nikkors and Canon FD lenses will be helpful to some of you, fellows.
    (updated and formatted 2013-03-02)

  • @tetakpatak Thanks for the detailed review.

    Did what you typed got bungled into two massive paragraphs? It has become little difficult to read. I don't why the indenting do not work. You may edit the post by adding '+' at the beginning of a paragraph, so it will be converted to bullet points and provide some relief while reading. May be there is a better way.

    Anyway there is a lot of information and appreciate it.

  • My brother offered to send me an old Nikor 200/4 lens to try with my GH2. I'd like to know what kind of mount adapter I should look for. Are there more than one kind for Nikor lenses of this vintage?

    BTW, I'm using a very cheap ($30) adapter from ebay for my Canon FD mount 50mm and 28mm lenses, and it seems to work fine. I'm hoping I can get by with a similar cost adapter for the Nikor lens. Any advice / suggestions would be appreciated.

    In addition to my legacy Canon lenses, I currently have Panny 14-140mm, 14mm and 20mm lenses. Any clues about how the Nikor 200/4 will compare to my current lenses?

  • That Nikor 200/4 is one hell of a long ass lens on this camera! Better have that puppy locked down with zero breeze! You can use the same kind of cheap adapter for the Nikon mount glass too. The quality control is not the best on these but try one and see if it works. I went through 3 brands before I found one I liked and worked on all my N mount glass.

  • I use a set of Nikon AIS primes since they are cheap, optically excellent, mechanically wonderful and are built like a tank. I've used newer AF lenses and the feel of the focus ring just puts me off entirely, no competition.

    About 6 months ago someone loaned me their Canon 28mm F/2.8 AF brand new lens, so I compared it to my 28mm F/2.8 Nikon AIS. I mounted both on the GH2 as a reference and found that the Nikon matched the Canon for sharpness and contrast. You could barely tell the images apart. So without taking into account edge sharpness and falloff, since I couldn't see the edge of the lens, the Nikon lens made 20-30 years ago matched a brand new Canon lens. The Nikon actually had more pleasing bokeh as well as it has 7 aperture blades. I think the Canon had 6. Have not had any other lenses to compare so not conclusive, but it's great to see the old AIS lenses holding up today.

    Have never tried an old Canon FD so can't comment on that.

  • Thought I'd jump in here add my 2 cents on a topic I love. Bit of background, I have been shooting Canon FD since it was announced back in about 1972 or so. At the time, my best friend was firmly in the Nikon camp, so he and I had endless debates over this topic. We also shot hundreds of rolls of 35mm B&W. Over the years I stuck with Canon and eventually built up a collection of about 30 lenses which are today all the FDn style. My main point of this is that from that era, both the Canon and Nikon were on average pretty much equal. Each had their star players. The Canon 35mm f2 (esp the thorium element version), the 24 f1.4, the 35-105 f3.5 were all highly regarded. I don't remember too much of the Nikors other than to say they were all good. Compared with todays computer designs and optimized for digital sensors, maybe not as much, but I really enjoy being able to shoot both stills and especially video using some of my old favorites.

  • I described so many lenses here months ago, but didn't say clearly what do I think about comparing old Nikons vs old Canons directly:

    Both Canon FD and MF Nikon lenses perform in general about same good for video shootings on GH1 & GH2. But old wide angle primes are in general less good than modern ones IMHO. For video they are still OK, but for the stills most of them have mighty CA's. I have tried recently many of my old MF wide primes on bigger APS-C sensor (Nex-7 and its mighty 24MP sensor) and there they perform even worse than on the µFT, especially wide Canon FD primes perform quite bad in the corners.... but this gets off the topic now. The flaws of wide primes are less visible on 1920x1080 so those same lenses are quite good for videos, though. From 50mm onwards, vintage Canon and Nikon lenses are in general very good for video purposes.

    It is rather matter of taste who prefers Nikkors, or who prefers Canons. In general, Nikkor lenses have just a bit colder colors than Canon FDs, IMO. For video, I don't see quality differences in general, while for still photography I prefered Nikkors very clearly since ever. But both are excellent, it is not possible to say that either Nikon or Canon lenses are better.

    Good thing about the µ4/3 cameras is that one can use perfectly well the lenses with good centre and less good corners (as we don't see the corners), such lenses are much, much cheaper. FD lenses are getting more expensive from month to month, "L" FD lenses are already out of reach for smaller budgets. Nikkor lenses are more stable though also their prices raised since µ4/3 and Nex cameras were released. As adapters one can use top class ones just as good as cheap ones, just beware of bit smaller DOF on cheap adaptors which almost always overthrow the point of infinity focus.

  • No other posters mentioned super-tele, mf lenses for video...so I'll mention my two recent buys and some comments. I've shot nature video for 23 years with a huge range of setups from modest Panasonic 200CLE, to recently, 3-chip Sony broadcast HD cameras with Canon 40x HD lenses (w/2x built-in extenders!) and enormous O'Connor tripods. The university that "gave" me that setup for several years recently lost funding for outside shooters and do all nature video in-house. Bye-bye massive, but amazing nature filmmaker setup.

    I had to come up with my own affordable solution that shoots great video. The timing couldn't have been better, as the DSLR video explosion was upon us. I started in 2010 with a Canon T2i and am now using the GH2 (and am thinking very seriously about the GH3). At first I rented huge Canon primes for projects, then found decent performance with a borrowed Canon 100-400 zoom. Since returned to it's owner, I absolutely wanted to replace it with a better quality, still affordable lens.

    I found a Nikon ED 300mm f/4.5 in very good condition for only $200 and with an inexpensive Fotodiox converter on my GH2, was well-equipped for birds and wildlife. There is minimal/tolerable color fringing, but stop down to f/8-16 and it mostly goes completely away. The downside of this lens is focus is opposite broadcast video lenses, which may be merely annoying for someone who sets up controlled shots, but is absolutely flummoxing (may not be a word, but still I persist in wanting to keep "flummox" alive and well) for a nature shooter who needs to react to a moving bird...half the time I instinctively turn focus "backwards" or hesitate to think about the direction of focus ring turn. Anyway, both options are a major fail when attempting to get the fleeing bird!

    Last week I bid on a mint-condition Canon fd 400mm f/4.5 SSC and got it for <$400. It focuses "properly" for video, is lightweight and on the GH2 is a downright monster for wildlife stuff. There is minimal/tolerable color fringing, but stop down to f/8-16 and it mostly goes completely away. Once again, Chinese adaptors are very inexpensive.

    Traditional video lenses have iris rings on the lens barrels. Videographers using pro-style gear always shoot in full-manual mode, both focus and iris and are composing the shot and following the action, too. When shooting wildlife in a natural setting, you may have to shoot the moving creature while reacting quickly to changes in light/dark. Having the manual iris ring located on the lens barrel is much easier to turn with the left hand vs taking the right hand off the panhandle to roll the iris wheel on the camera and then moving the right hand back to the panhandle...all the while attempting to smoothly follow the critter flying, running or moving unpredictably. Older/legacy/vintage telephotos have manual iris rings on the lens barrel. However, newer Canon lenses and some other major brands have camera-controlled iris. This is a major disadvantage to smoothly filming wildlife movement and manually adjusting iris, when necessary.

    I took the Canon 400 to Willcox, AZ a couple days ago to film Sandhill Cranes. When I watched the footage on a 5 year-old Sylvania HDMI screen, was stunned by the sharpness and color rendition. The details of feathers is resolved as well as any pricey prime I've rented. This lens is a keeper...my primary prime! I can only imagine the cost of these lenses going up, so if you want to bring distant objects much closer or nearby objects seemingly under a microscope, get an affordable super-tele, mount it on your GH2/DSLR-of-choice and shoot away.

    Google the lens you're interested in, read the reviews, bid on it, buy from a super-high score (99.5-100%) Ebay seller with a return policy you can live with, check on craiglist.org or even buy from a camera store selling used lenses. My experience with the biggest camera store in the Phoenix area was they had a Nikon 300mm f/4.5 non-ED lens, pretty beat-up for $299 and were willing to sell it after some conversation for $249...Still $50 more than the same model lens I got a week later on ebay. Except, their beater wasn't ED glass, the focus ring was very difficult to turn and the lens was, uh, a beater! As always, buyer beware!

  • Thanks, everyone, for all the great info on Canon vs Nikon. I, too, have used both for many, many years -- and now on a pair of hacked GH2 cameras.

    But I've had to pick one (Nikon, since I own more of their lens) over the other (Canon, as nice as they are) since, as earthwhile already mentioned, they focus to infinity in opposite directions -- and it was driving me crazy!

    My questions is (kind of off topic?): Does anyone make a "follow focus" whose rotation can be reversed? I.e. set it one way for Nikon lens, and the other way for Canon lens -- so that you always end up rotating in the same direction no matter what lens you use ?

  • I started with both FD and Nikons. Since I still own a Canon body, I ended up selling the FD in favor to Nikon. I thought the FD's were nice considering they have a solid feel and mine were well dampened.

    For my shooting style, I prefer it lighter and quicker to flick. The optics on the Nikons are great on the GH2 and just as awesome on my Canon body.

    my lens: - Nikon 28mm F2.8 AIS (awesome lens with awesome close focusing, makes it super fun to walk around with. And makes me want to try the 24mm version) - Nikon 50mm F1.4 AIS (great low light, I tried the F1.8 and F2 versions, just got this for the extra stop in low light, but use it at F2.8 or up usually otherwise) - Nikon 55mm F2.8 AIS Macro (tack sharp of course, not much else to say) - Nikon 135mm F2.8 AIS (dam it's sharp)

    I own a Canon 24-105 F4, which is the cheapest L-Series zoom, but I find it good for all around shooting. But with the GH2, I want to keep it light and discrete, the Nikons help in that field and give an awesome picture. Also with the focusing direction, I had a Tamron zoom for Canon and found later that it focused in Nikon direction after buying the Canon 24-105mm.

  • Earlier post updated and formatted

  • Thanks for the excellent read and suggestions!

  • Good work @tetakpatak excellent write up of lenses.