Full-Frame FD-mount DSLR 1/2

When Canon moved to autofocus lenses in 1987, with the first EOS cameras, they orphaned the popular FD-mount lenses that had been produced since 1971. Due to the very short 42mm flange focal distance (FFD), these lenses can not be used on camera systems, such as on Sony Alpha, Nikon F or Pentax K mount. As the mount has been rendered obsolete, high quality lenses can be found very cheaply. For film users who prefer manual control. the FD series offers an excellent  option.

For a short time after the introduction of the EOS system, Canon offered an optical adapter, allowing the using of telephoto lenses on the new mount. However these adapters are rare and very expensive. Third-party adapters can be found cheaply on Ebay for the EOS system, both with and without additional optics. The optical adapters reduce image quality significantly, and the purely mechanical adapter, due to the longer 44mm EF mount FFD, are unable to reach infinity.

With the introduction of the Micro Four Thirds system, with its 20mm FFD, and 2X crop factor, FD optics can finally be used without optical correction. However, the high crop-factor limits the depth-of-field effects achievable, and the halving of the filed-of-view prevents wide-angle shots. Several companies and individuals have converted the more expensive FD lenses to the EF mount. 

I have collected several of the better FD lenses for use with my Panasonic G1 and Canon F1-N. Not wanting to make permanent modifications to my lenses, and really wanting a digital full-frame camera for the narrow depth-of-field, my only option was to modify the camera!

I used the Kodak DCS Pro 14N, a Nikon F80 based camera, using the Nikon F-mount, with a FFD of 46.5mm, first sold in 2003. The 13.98 MP camera has a 24x36mm CMOS sensor, and lacks a Moire filter. This missing filter results in a very sharp image, equivalent to a high MP camera, at the expense of Moire patterns of textured surfaces. The camera I purchased was extremely cheap, due the failure of the autofocus system. Stripping the camera down revealed the foundations to the F-mount ring. 

Using sharp pliers, I removed the majority of the mounting, the autofocus system, and the aperture-control mechanism. I regularly powered-up the camera to determine what gears and mechanism were needed, and which could be discarded.

The wide neck of the FD mount meant the front shell opening had to be widened. This was done with a dremel.

The SLR mirror had to be shaved; this was done by gently removing the glued-in mirror, and using sandpaper to take off about 2mm of glass. Sharp plier were used to clip the same amount of material off the plastic mirror frame.