Canon FDn 85mm F/2.8 Soft Focus

Short telephoto prime lens • Film era • Discontinued


FD The lens is designed for Canon 35mm film SLR cameras with the Canon FD mount.
n (Unofficial acronym) A new generation of FD series lenses without the breech-lock ring.
SOFT The lens features soft focus effect control.

Features highlight

9 blades


Production details
Announced:February 1983
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:CANON SOFTFOCUS LENS FD 85mm 1:2.8
System:Canon FD (1971)
Optical design
Focal length:85mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Canon FD [42mm]
Diagonal angle of view:28.5°
Lens construction:6 elements - 4 groups
Closest focusing distance:0.8m
Maximum magnification ratio:1:8.33 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:Aperture ring (Manual settings + Auto Exposure setting)
Number of blades:9 (nine)
Physical characteristics
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀70×85mm
Filters:Screw-type 58mm
Lens hood:Bayonet-type BT-58 (round)
Teleconverters:Canon Extender FD 2X-B → 170mm F/5.6

*) Sources of data: Lens Wonderland. Canon FD lens guide book (PUB. C-IE-097AZ) ● Lens Work. The Canon guide to interchangeable lenses and Single Lens Reflex photography ● Canon FD lenses sales guide.

Manufacturer description #1

This lens fills the need for additional soft-focus shooting capabilities in 85mm "portrait" lenses. Another major advantage is that it can be used for general photography as well. In the normal setting, high-contrast, sharp pictures can be photographed. Set in one of the soft focus settings, all types of aberrations other than spherical aberrations are minimized and the amount of light in the peripheral area is optimally compensated for. This ensures uniform brightness and a consistent degree of softening over the entire picture area. Varying the distance between the front and rear lens groups adjusts the degree of softening. There are four adjustment positions: normal, soft-focus 1, 2 and 3. Focusing can be accomplished while in the "normal" setting by turning the lens ring. Sliding the same ring outwards switches over to a soft focus setting.

Manufacturer description #2

This lens enables gradual changes to the amount of soft focus from the normal setting in general shooting. As the amount of soft focus is adjusted after focusing is achieved in the normal setting, the difficulty involved in focusing is alleviated, making the lens more user friendly through the adoption of 1 focusing ring system where focusing is achieved by turning the helicoid ring and soft focus is performed by sliding the ring linearly.

Functionally, by changing the space between the front and rear lens groups, the spherical aberration is created on the underside while other aberration changes are reduced, and the effective aperture is maximized to increase the marginal illumination, providing well-balanced soft focus throughout the entire frame.

In the normal setting, sharp definition with high contrast is also obtained through good aberration compensation, making the lens useful for general shooting.

Manufacturer description #3

A lens must have high optical quality in order to produce sharp, crisp pictures, and usually photographers strive for the most sharpness possible. This unique soft-focus lens, however, creates beautiful pictures by slightly blurring the image. Soft-focusing techniques are especially effective when shooting portraits and scenery, as they suffuse the entire scene with a soft, mellow atmosphere.

The most important point to keep in mind when using a soft-focus lens is that you are not shooting out-of-focus pictures. You must focus accurately, even though the resulting image is soft-focused.

A less expensive way to achieve a soft-focus impression is to attach a special filter to a conventional lens. This does not create soft-focus effects over the entire picture area, though; it merely causes halos around the highlights. Filters provide only a slight blur; to attain profound soft-focus effects consistent over the entire picture area, a dedicated type soft-focus lens is a must.

The strong point of this lens is that soft-focusing is done by varying the distance between lens groups, similar to the concept of a zoom lens. Precise focusing is thus possible in the normal setting, just as it is with conventional interchangeable lenses. In addition, the lens features excellent operability with its one ring operation system for both focusing and soft-focus adjustment.

The degree to which you will want to soften the picture will depend on your preference and subject. Normally, picture contrast decreases in proportion to the degree of softening. Various techniques can be used to compensate for this flattened contrast, such as increasing contrast with special lighting. Since aperture size greatly influences the softening effect, it is also important to carefully control the aperture setting. With all these factors to consider, adjusting the degree of softening to achieve optimum artistic results is certainly not easy to master. After practice and experience, however, you too can use the 85mm soft-focus lens to give your pictures an impressionistic mood.

Manufacturer description #4

This unique lens is ideal for photographers who desire to take "soft focus" portraits, especially of women, children and bridal couples. Its single control ring provides both focusing and continuously variable softening of focusing from normal for sharp pictures through four different levels. Similar to a single-control zoom lens in operation, the user simply focuses and then pushes or pulls to achieve the softening effect desired. This is accomplished by optically undercorrecting the spherical aberration while leaving a sharp core in the center.

Because of the total control of the soft-focus result, this makes the lens superior to the addition of a soft focus filter. In addition, this lens, when used in the normal (zero) position, is ideal for general portraiture, news and candid photography. (Note: the lens must be set in the zero position when employing the Quick-Focus system of the AL-1.)

Typical application


Fast full-frame short telephoto prime lens • Soft Focus lens

Soft Focus lens

Spherical aberration has been purposely introduced into this lens to produce photographic images that are sharp yet which have an alluring softness.

Because of the ethereal glow that can be achieved by using Soft Focus, the lens is ideal for creating scenes with a dreamy feel. It is also good for masking blemishes in portrait photography, leaving the model's skin looking flawless.

The effect of Soft Focus is a complex phenomenon that depends on focusing distance, distance to background, relative aperture etc. It is not the same as an out-of-focus image, and cannot be achieved simply by defocusing a common lens.

The effect can be approximated in post-processing but it is not as trivial as just applying a blur filter over the image.

Genres or subjects of photography (2):

Portraits • Travel photography

Adaptation to digital SLR cameras:

Not adaptableMore information

Not adaptable

In order to adapt the lens, the flange focal distance (FFD) of the lens mount must be equal to or greater than the FFD of the camera mount. This lens has the Canon FD mount with a FFD of 42mm. This is even shorter than the FFD of Canon EOS digital SLR cameras, which have the shortest FFD of 44mm of any modern digital SLR cameras. Therefore, this lens cannot be adapted to any digital SLR camera.

Recommended slowest shutter speed when shooting static subjects handheld:

1/100th of a second

Alternatives in the Canon FD system

///// Sorted by focal length and speed, in ascending order /////

Lenses with similar focal length and speed

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2


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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/2.8 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.