Canon FD Resources - Ultra-wideangle lenses
New FD 20mm f/2.8


New FD 20mm f/2.8 Lens

Its lens speed of f/2.8 is the fastest among 20mm lenses (Perhaps the Zuiko 21mm f2.0 is considered a stop brighter but it is at 21mm). The use of glass with a high refractive index corrects aberrations such as spherical, curvature of field and also astigmatism.

Canon FDn 20mm f2.8

This lens, too, uses the floating system for improved sharpness from its close 0.25 meter minimum focusing distance to infinity. Its extensive depth of field makes it ideal for commercial and industrial work.

Credit: Image courtesy of Allan Detrich ®. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer

New: Canon EF autofocus version of 20mm f/2.8.

Despite its fast speed and other strong features, the 20mm remains compact and light weight for utmost portability. It is an very interesting lens and often unrated by many photographers mainly due to its first exaggeration of perspective as compared with the common wide angle vision of 28mm or 35mm. This lens is perhaps the first lens that actually portrays a feel of the exciting world of Ultra-wideangle photography. In other words, you have to see the image produced by such a focal length through the SLR's viewfinder to see what I meant. Its most significant difference, however, is a maximum aperture of f2.8, one stop faster than that of the 17mm which at times can be of significant difference for available light photography.

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Obviously, the true sense of the lens is its great depth-of-field that can be generated with even a moderate aperture selection to ensure for broad coverage of subject in focus.

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The features of the FD 20mm f/2.8 wide-angle are much like those of the FD 17mm f/4, but with some important differences. Both are super wide-angle lenses, but the 20mm has a 10° narrower angle of view-94° compared with 104°. Also, the 20mm is about 55 grams (almost 2 oz.) lighter.

First, let's illustrate the relationship of angle of view to picture-taking. We'II use the standard 50mm lens as a point of comparison. The angle of view of a 50mm lens is 46°. Thus, the angle of view of the 20mm (94°) is slightly more than double. What is most important is that the 20mm takes in about four times the picture area.

The easiest way to understand this is to look in a viewfinder, first with a 50mm lens and then with a 20mm. For example, if you stood about four meters (about 13.1 ft.) from a subject using a 50mm lens (with the camera held vertically), you would record the same size image as at 1.5 meters (4.9 ft.) with a 20mm lens. With a 17mm lens you could shoot as close as 1 meter (39 in.) to record an image the same size as the one recorded with the 50mm lens.

With only a slightly longer focal length than the 17mm and a full stop more speed, the 20mm f/2.8 is a lens that is very useful for shooting in tight quarters under poor lighting conditions. It is in a small room with a fairly low level of illumination that a lens like the 20mm f/2.8 reveals its strongest attributes. A fast f/2.8 maximum aperture makes viewing and focusing much easier than with slower lenses. Thus with the 20mm you give up 10° in angle of view compared to the 17mm but gain an all important one -stop in lens speed. But the wide angle of view and high speed are not only suited for indoor shooting.

At only 305 grams, the FD 20mm f/2.8 is surprisingly light. In fact, at 55 grams lighter than the 17mm, it is an easy lens to carry and use. Its light weight and compact design enable you to handle it with ease. In certain situations, its deep depth of field allows you to shoot without even looking through the finder. You might, for example, be in a crowd and be forced to shoot by holding the camera over your head. Or you may want the subject to remain unaware that you are taking a picture.

Canon ultrawide 20mm f/2.8
An old but still very useful technique that most news photographer and photojournalists use with the 20mm lens is, first select the aperture and shutter speed combination that will give good exposure and at the same time prevents the effects of camera shake.

Credit: Image courtesy of Allan Detrich ®. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Canon FD 20mm f/2.8 lens
The distance setting should provide sufficient depth of field, covering the range over which you expect the action to take place. You can either literally shoot from the hip without raising the camera, or quickly bring the camera to your eye and shoot without focusing. The wide angle of coverage will help overcome lack of precise framing of the shot.

Tips: In any case, try to keep the camera level. Excessive off-center tilting can result in distortion of perspective.


Focal length: 20mm
Aperture ratio: 1:2.8
Lens construction: 9 groups, 10 elements
Coating: S.S.C. (super spectra coating)
Angles of view: Diagonal: 94° Vertical: 62° Horizontal: 84°

Distance scale: (m) 0.25 (magnification 0.13X) to 3 (ft) 0.9 to 10. OO
Focusing: Helicoid
Minimum aperture: f/22 A
Diaphragm: Automatic Filter size: 72mm
Hood: BW-72
Cap: C-72
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 58mm x 76.5mm
Weight: 305g

Older Version: Canon FD 20mm f/2.8 S.S.C.

Compared with rivaling Nikon's Nikkor, Canon excelled at this focal length as the Nikkor has only the f4.0, followed with a f3.5 and only introduced the f2.8 version very late in the early eighties.
Click Here to the dedicated page for more info.

EF 20mm f2.8.jpg
Current Autofocus Version: EF 20mm f2.8 USM

Technical highlight: Rear focus mechanism with floating effect is employed which moves the rear lens group to correct close distance aberrations Minimum focusing distance is 0.25m. Incorporated with a USM motor for quick focusing. Front of the lens does not rotates to enable convenient use of polarizing and other rotating-type of special effect filters.

Quick data for reference: Focal length and maximum aperture: 20mm f/2.8; Lens construction: 11 elements in 9 groups; Angle of view: 94°; Focus adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM; Closest focusing distance: 0.25 m; Filter size: 72mm; Length x max. diameter, weight: 70.6mm x 77.5 mm, 405 g

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