Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender Review
You can watch my video review of this lens on YouTube at the following link:
Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender Rear View
Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender Front View
Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender With Front Cap
Compare images taken with the Canon FD 300mm f/4 lens on its own and the same lens with the Canon FD 1.4x-A teleconverter. The following images were all taken from exactly the same position using a tripod.
The first image was taken with an 18-55mm kit lens at its maximum focal length.
The second image was taken with the Canon FD 300mm f/4.
The third image was taken with the Canon FD 300mm f/4 and the Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender.
No cropping has been done so that you can see the variation in magnification. The images have been resized for the Internet, but this is how they came out of the camera. You should also see that the reduction in image quality using the FD 1.4x-A extender is barely noticeable.
On a trip to the USA in the mid 1990's I found a used FD 300mm f/4 lens for sale in a camera shop in excellent condition. Also for sale was this extender, and the previous owner had specified that the two items should be sold together.
I was very interested in the lens and, regardless of the sales condition, it seemed a good idea to buy the extender as well. I'm a big fan of Canon 1.4x extenders. You get a very useful focal length extension, you only use one stop of light, the lens works exactly the same as it does without an extender, and there is negligible loss of image quality.
In addition, they are small and light so adding one to your camera bag makes very little difference to the weight you are carrying around.
Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender
Canon FD extenders were quite picky about which lenses they would work with.
The 2x Extenders came in two flavours - A and B. The Canon Extender FD 2x-A works with lenses that have a focal length of 300mm or more and the Canon Extender FD 2x-B works with lenses that have a focal length less than 300mm.
As far as I am aware, the 1.4x extender only comes in the A flavour, meaning that it only works with lenses of 300mm or more. However, it won't work with every single FD lens over 300mm. You may also have problems with older FL lenses, the type that preceded FD lenses.
The optics inside the extender protrude at the front, necessitating the use of a special lens cap, and this protrusion is probably why the extender can't be used with certain lenses.
The good news is that the Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender works exceptionally well with the Canon FD 300mm f/4 and also, I assume, the L version of this lens.
Another benefit when using an extender/teleconverter is that you get increased magnification without increasing the minimum focusing distance. This provides the capability to take macro photos with your telephoto lens. To get more magnification you could try using some extension tubes to decrease the minimum focusing distance. I haven't tried this because I don't have any FD extension tubes, but theoretically it should be possible.
In recent years I have been quite disappointed with the amount of plastic used in some of Canon's EF-M lenses. The lenses are functional and plastic keeps the weight (as well as the price) down, but it's not the same as holding a finely engineered piece of camera equipment that feels solid and really well made.
The Canon FD 1.4x-A Extender is exceptionally well made. My converter was made in Japan, whereas a lot of prosumer Canon gear is now made in countries where labour costs are lower.
It is marked with the manufacturing code UD0500. The U tells me that it was made at Canon's Utsunomiya factory in Japan. The D tells me that it was made in 1989 and the 09 tells me it was made in September of that year.
It is mostly metal and glass with a little rubber and plastic. For its size it is quite heavy (210g) and feels very solid.
It has an FD breech lock mount, as opposed to the later bayonet mount. I find the breech lock mounts a little fiddly, but you soon get used to the procedure for attaching and removing them.
As I said above, I am a big fan of 1.4x teleconverters/extenders. They are reasonably priced, small and light; they have virtually no effect on image quality and they decrease the amount of light by only one stop. There are lots of pros, with few cons.
What they give you, in effect, is two lenses for the price of one. If you have a 300mm f/4 lens, the addition of an extender will also give you a 420mm f/5.6 lens.
I'm not so keen on 2x teleconverters. The extra magnification is obviously useful, but they cost two stops of light and whereas the image quality degradation with a 1.4x extender is negligible, it is more noticeable with a 2x extender.
If you use telephoto lenses of 200mm or more and a compatible 1.4x teleconverter/extender is available I would definitely recommend investing.
As with all things in life, you pays your money and you takes your choice. In recent years a lot of cheap camera camera has appeared from China. Some gear is fine, but some gear looks dubious.
With the adapter that I use to attach my FD lenses to my Canon EOS M cameras, and also with extension tubes, there are no optics. Provided that the mechanical mount works and that any electrical signals are correctly sent through extension tubes there shouldn't be a problem.
Some manufacturers seem to have required quite reputable brand recognition, such as Yongnuo who make third-party flash units. These compete with camera manufacturers' own models and are priced very competitively.
However, I would be careful about buying photographic products from unknown manufacturers, especially if they contain optics. This could be something of a gamble.
The great thing about buying anything made by Canon is the peace of mind that it gives you. You know that the product will perform well, that there won't be a problem with image quality, and that it will work with other Canon equipment.
Having said that, bear in mind the comment I made above about this teleconverter not being compatible with every single FD lens over 300mm. If you already own a telephoto lens, or have one in mind, do your research first to make sure that there won't be any compatibility problems.
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