Would You Shoot Birds in the Brazilian Rainforest With a 300mm Manual Focus Lens Made in the 1970s?

Brazilian photographer João Burini just published a review of a very distinctive lens: the Canon FD 300mm f/2.8 Fluorite, a manual focus telephoto lens released in the mid-70s. “Using this lens is terrible, I wouldn’t recommend it,” Burini explains, while presenting truly stunning photographs from the Brazilian rainforests. Bokeh fans: brace yourselves.

As this lens review explains, several features make this a less-than-desirable option when it comes to photographing wildlife. If the ghosting and aberration aren’t enough to put you off, the focusing throw is quite incredible. Despite this, Burini’s images are remarkable. “I can’t recommend it for birding,” Burini is keen to emphasize. “The usability is f*@^% terrible.”

If you fancy picking one up, you’ll need to find an adapter and start hunting secondhand dealers. There don’t seem to be any available on eBay right now, so you may have to be patient. If you track one down, be ready to pay the postage: this lens weighs over 4 lbs (1.9 kg) thanks to its metal construction. However, given its tank-like build, the seller can probably just stick a label on the side and drop it straight in the mailbox.

Have you shot with this lens? Do you own one and still use it? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

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20 Comments

I own the 400mm f/4.5 S.S.C. And I've used it for birds, but it's not what you want for anything in flight.

Andy Day's picture

Ha! Why does it not surprise me that you own such a lens. 😂

It is SO much more impressive than my Olympus OM-System 300mm f/4.5.

Though I also have a Vivitar Solid Cat 600mm f/8, which is terrifying in its own way!

That is the only thing I shot birds with in the 70's! 😂

Kidding, but, in the 80's, all my lenses were manual, and I had no issues with sports or wildlife photography. I also did not have a 12 fps motor drive. I had a thumb, and a film advance lever.

“ Would You Shoot Birds in the Brazilian Rainforest With a 300mm Manual Focus Lens Made in the 1970s?”

Only if they gave me a generous day rate.

Marcio K's picture

I use a Contax/Zeiss 135mm 2.8 to shoot concerts using a m4/3 camera. It is absolutely amazing - but you need to know how to rack focus manually.

Qais Zureikat's picture

I own the Nikkor 300 f2.8 manual focus lens and its great for wildlife..it's not easy to focus and not hard also, it's even better with manual focus peaking in modern mirroless cameras and boy it's Sharp and has gorgeous bokeh
I'm a fan of vintage MF lenses

Corné van Oosterhout's picture

I had a Leica 280/2.8 for a few years, also a wonderful lens, but too bad I missed too many shots because of my bad MF. Sold it to a collector for more than I bougth it :-)

vik .'s picture

It should be good enough for a crap factor.

I'm not sure that's a joke or a misspelling.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Already done that. Nikon FTN and 300mm...but not in Brazil - in Vietnam and Thailand during the war...til I became a POW. I don't EVER want to be near humidity again, but I would like to go back and try to find closure....or at least try to make sense of it all. Hell - that will never happen.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Already done that. But not in Brazil. Nikon 300mm on Nikon FTN. It was in Vietnam and Thailand til I became a POW. It was an f4.5 though so maybe that doesn' t qualify for your article? I NEVER want to be around humidity again, but I would 'like' to go back to try and find some kind of closure or to try to make sense of it all. Hell - that will never happen.

This article brings back memories. In 1976, a year into my photojournalism career, I bought one of those. I remember the list price in Canada was $3,000, the same price as the new Honda Civic I had bought the year before. Canon had supplied the press pool with these lenses for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and sold them for $1,500 after.

I put it to good use on number of assignments, the first notable one being a cover photo for Maclean's, Canada's news magazine. The AD asked me to supply a good photo of a bilingual stop sign for a feature story on bilingualism. It took nearly the whole day to find a sign that wasn't faded, in front of a poor background or hadn't been hit by a snow plow.

I also used it to good effect for another cover story for Maclean's, when I attended the constitutional conference a few years later with the Prime Minister and the Premiers. Using the 2X extender that came with the lens I was able to obtain tight shots of all the participants from my vantage point, ektachrome 160 tungsten pushed one stop, I recall. The lens was easy to focus due to limited DOF, but less so with the extender at f5.6

ANDREW WILDER's picture

I have this lens. Unfortunately havent used it much. I dont think any MF lens is great for BIF, thats just stating the obvious. Ive used it for moon and some birds on the ground with sony a6k abd a7iii. I really like the look of the lens. Wish it had a much shorter MFD, but its super old so i cant complain.

Gabriel SAP's picture

Here's a bird shot in the Brazilian Rainforest With a 200mm Manual Focus Lens Made in the 1970's (Tokina 80-200mm f/4, with a Nikon D50 though)