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Help - I inherited these lenses and would like to know more

Edinburg, TX

I don't know anything about film cameras but I inherited an old Canon A-1 camera and the lenses I listed below.

What I want to know is are these lenses compatible with a digital camera? And if so, which digital camera do you recommend?

Canon Lens FD 50mm 1:1.4 S.S.C.

Tokina Lens AT-X 28-85mm 1:3.5-4.5 (62mm)

Vivitar Lens MC 35-200mm 1:3.0-4.5 Macro Focusing Zoom (62mm)

Vivitar Series 1 Lens VMC 28-90mm 1:2.8-3.5 Macro Focusing (67mm)

Vivitar Series 1 Lens VMC 70-210mm 1:3.5 Macro Focusing Auto Zoom (67mm)

My cousin used to take landscape and astronomy photos. There are other lens filters and equipment in the mix that I didn't list. I know there is a Celestron telephoto lens that my cousin used but it's somewhere in the house packed away and we haven't found yet.

I currently use a digital Sony DSC H9 and also Panasonic Lumix FZ30 to mainly take photos of butterflies and other wildlife. I also do macro photography on butterfly and moth eggs and caterpillars.

I'd been thinking of purchasing a digital SLR camera this year but just never got around to it. So if these lenses can be used on a digital camera - do let me know - I'll go out and buy it!

Any suggestions and help ya'll can share would be greatly appreciated.

~ Cat

Chicago, IL

The Canon FD lens does not currently have a digital body that will seamlessly allow its use. The converter adapter required has an optical element in there that severely affects performance.

The other lenses were made in a wide variety of mounts, some are compatible, some are not, and without knowing which version you have it's impossible to say.

Chicago, IL

(If they all work on the A-1, then it's the same story as for the Canon FD).

Edinburg, TX

All the lenses fit the A-1 - guess that means they won't work on a digital camera without having to get an adapter...which will affect the performance. Bummer.

Rogue...I do thank you for your input. I guess I'm better off just buying a new DLSR camera that I can add telephoto and macro lenses to.

The Sony H9 is great but just doesn't have all the perks I'm looking for.
~ Cat

Chicago, IL

If you want the option of using older lenses - (albeit not the ones you have, and I feel your pain, I have boxes of FD canon lenses) - Look at either Pentax or the higher end Nikon bodies. Both mount vintage lenses from those makes pretty seamlessly.

Personally, I think the Pentax bodies are the best bang for the buck right now.

Edinburg, TX

Rogue...thank you again. I shall do some research on Pentax.

~ Cat

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Got a herd of old Canon lenses packed away with my old Canon. (I can't get rid of them, sentimental memories)

I got new lenses when I bought my Canon 300D right after it hit the market. I love my DSLR, would have another one by sundown if this one croaked.

Thumbnail by melody
Edinburg, TX

I came over from the dark side today :o)

I just purchased a Canon Rebel XSI. It came with EF-S 18-55mm lens and I added a EF 75-300mm lens. Won't have much time this week to play with it but will read the manuals during my free time. Will also have to look into getting additional macro lens for taking moth and butterfly egg and caterpillar photos.

Love that gray fur-face!!!! Nice kitty!!!

~ Cat

ps...turns out my brother has the same old A-1 camera so I gave him the whole kit and kaboodle of camera and lenses!


I have yet to see an equal quality camera that will out perform the famous A-1 but the world has changed. I doubt any professionals are shooting film except as a hobby or specialized work. The new cameras are simply a hoot.

Put a doubler on that 300mm lens and shoot a skeeter on the Mexican boarder from your back yard. Well almost. :)

Edinburg, TX


Too funny!!! However, I could easily do that from where I work :o)

~ Cat


Cat.............I have a 300mm 4.5 lens. By pushing ISO to 1200 I could shoot three frames a second with the modern day gym lighting. I have a health situation so have to get somewhere near the center of the gym high up and reach out there with the lens. Going to a 2.8 lens cost more than my camera but definately is a better choice if conditions demand the better pix it will deliver. I cover the grandson's wrestling, baseball and football. At age 12 last year he was undefeated in the league play wrestling. If he continues to develop I will get the better lens. Most of my shots are out there 75 ft. or more.

Edinburg, TX

Doc... WOW!!! Thanks for the input.

Bu doubler you mean a 2x converter?

Congrats on the grandson's sports prowess :o) Bet you've gotten some great photos of him in action!!! Those will be so good for him to reflect back on when he gets to be a granddad himself.

It's been raining most days since last week and drizzling constantly since I made my purchase. I don't want to take the camera outside just yet :o) We really do need the rain so I shan't whine too much.

So far all I've done with my prior cameras was photograph butterflies. We've got a butterfly count this coming weekend so I do hope the weather clears up! Will also work on getting some wildlife photos at the ranch. We get deer, javelina, various varmits and a nice variety of birds so hopefully I'll be testing the telephoto each time I drive out there.

~ Cat

Goldthwaite, TX(Zone 8a)

Pentax istD body is really good and all the autofocus lenses which fit the film cameras fit without adapters. Some manual focus lenses require resetting some camera functions, but they will work.

Clinton, CT(Zone 6b)

rogue_designer writes:

If you want the option of using older lenses - (albeit not the ones you have, and I feel your pain, I have boxes of FD canon lenses) - Look at either Pentax or the higher end Nikon bodies.

Thank you for the information. What higher end Nikon bodies would you recommend? My sister started picking up Nikon lenses in the 1970s. She has dabbled in point and shoot digital but wants to go Nikon . Actually brought her a subscription to Dave's a few days ago so she could ask what she needs to get to use what she has (or if she can use her lenses at all). How should she approach this? Shes not on a line much but will be reading this soon. Any information you can provide to "Dale42" will be appreciated!

Chicago, IL

david -

personally - I think the d200 is the best buy in Nikon bodies right now. It works very well with all Ai and later Nikon lenses. A lightly used body won't cost much more than a new d40x, and is miles ahead of it in terms of image quality, durability, compatibility and sheer awesomeness.

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