[Lens Review] Canon FD 28mm f3.5 – A Well-built Wide Angle Lens

JANUARY 25, 2023
[Lens Review] Canon FD 28mm f3.5 – A Well-built Wide Angle Lens

A while ago, I had the fortune to acquire an old Canon F1 attached with its fantastic Canon 50mm FD lens, which I reviewed the lens before. Using the camera is such a pleasure that I got myself a Canon 28mm f3.5 FD lens to cover the wider angle with the camera.

After using it with digital and film cameras, here’s what I feel about the lens.

Build and Handling

The lens has the following technical specification:

  • 6 elements in 6 groups
  • Weight: 250 grams
  • Filter size: 55 mm
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.4 m
  • Aperture: 6 blades, f3.5 to f16 in half stops

As always, with lenses from the film era, the build is amazingly sturdy. It is made of metal, so it unsurprisingly feels quite heavy for its small size.

But using the lens out in the field is such a joy. The focus ring turns smoothly, and the aperture ring makes that soft clicky sound when rotated. You can’t help but admire the build quality.

Image Quality

Distortion is quite minimal in this lens. I have no complaints when shooting architecture with it. The lines stay straight without noticeable curves.

According to other sites, when shot wide open, the vignetting might be quite apparent. However, I found no such thing in my observation. Even when shooting against a bright blue sky, the vignetting is conveniently controlled.

Canon 28mm f3.5 is a lens made between the 70s and 80s, and its production has been discontinued. The copy that I own has S. C. carved onto its front element, as you can see in the picture below. It stands for Spectral Coating, which is said to reduce flaring and ghosting and enhance contrast.

Of course, it can’t be compared with today’s coating technology as the said lens still produces flares throughout, especially with a strong light source around.

Being an f3.5 lens on a wide focal length, don’t expect a dramatic subject separation from the background. Even so, this lens does quite well in rendering the out-of-focus section, as seen in the two images below. From a certain distance, the background blurs a bit in a circular fashion, similar to the effect produced by a Helios lens.

More in this series…


Score: 6/10

Yes, I like this lens on my Canon film camera, but I’m not too keen to recommend it mounted on digital cameras. It’s fine as it is as a film lens, but it kind of struggles to shine with a digital sensor. I would also say that it lacks a certain vintage characteristic akin to Pentax Takumar lenses.

Nevertheless, I will still be using this on my mirrorless body occasionally for day-to-day street photography because I really like the feel and handling.

More Samples

Let me know what you think


Related Tags