Any info on the Canon FL 55mm f1.2?

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by alf_beharie, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. I bought this lens on ebay for less than 40 GBP and I have converted it to
    Sigma SA mount so I can use it on my SD10.
    I have to say that its an awesone lens...Sharp even when WO, very low CA,
    fantastic bokeh and increadibly well built with very solid all metal
    construction, but I would like to know a little more about its history, for
    1) Was it a very expensive lenses when it was first released?
    2) Was it Canons best lens at the time?
    3) When was it first released?
    4) Is there any way to find out when my partular lens was produced?
    5) Was there a particular camera was it meant for?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Mine came standard on a Canon FT-QL bought in 1968 through the US military exchange system. It was probably a marketing point, offering a 1.2. as standard. I loved the lens, and stupidly sold it. I have yet to determine whether my 55mm FD f1.2 (chrome nose, non-Aspherical) is as good. It is quite sharp down to about f4 and has a sweet softness to it at wider apertures.
    was shot fairly wide open, maybe not at f1.2. The ship shot in my Virginia gallery was shot with this lens.

    For more info, google the Canon Museum.
  3. If you want to find the exact date your lens was produced go to:

    It works for FD lenses I hope it works for FL lenses,too.
  4. According to the Canon Camera Museum website this lens was introduced in July of 1968. It replaced the older 58mm f/1.2. The 55/1.2 FL would have gone out of production early in 1971 when the Canon F-1 and the FD lenses appeared. From what I can tell there were two different versions of this lens. They were optically and mechanically the same but the later model has sligltly different lettering on the front. I have the second one. The 55/1.2 would fit any Canon camera meant for FL lenses. These inlcuded the FX, the FS, the FT QL, the TL QL, the TL, the Pellix and the Pellix QL. An f/1.2 lens was popular with the Pellix models because the Pellix had a fixed pellicle mirror. Only about 2/3 of the light passed through the mirror with 1/3 being reflected up to the viewfinder. By using an f/1.2 standard lens with a Pellix you got the approximate amount of light reaching the film that an f/1.4 lens would give (assuming both lenses were wide open). The finder of an FT QL would still be brighter because a standard mirror with the silver coated on the front surface reflected more light than the pellicle mirror. The advantage of the pellicle mirror arrangement was that you had lower vibration levels at the time of exposure. Apart from some high speed motor cameras, Canon's last use of the pellicle mirror was in the EOS RT AF SLR camera.

    To see what the 55/1.2 originally sold for look at some camera magazines from the 1968-1971 time period. Was the 55/1.2 Canon's best at the time? Probably not. In 1968 Canon also upgraded its 50/1.4 lens from a 6 element model to a 7 element design. I think that both the 55/1.2 and 50/1.4 II designs were carried over into the first 50/1.4 and 55/1.2 FD lenses. The 50/1.4 II would have been a better all around fast standard lens. My 55/1.2 FL has been used on both FL and FD mount cameras. I do not find it particularly sharp wide open or near wide open. The only other f/1.2 standard lenses I have to compare it to are two 57/1.2 Konica Hexanons. I think the Hexanons are a little better. If you plan to use the lens much at f/1.2 you should know that alignment of the mirror, proper mounting of the lens, proper infinity focus setting and generally careful focusing are all important for good results. Even the best f/1.2 lenses will not give good results if these factors are not taken into account. In any case this is a beautiful lens and you should be able to have some fun with it.
  5. I trade mine with some other equipment for a Bronica S2 time ago. I only have good memories for that nice lens. I kept my Canon FT. Now I have a 50FL f1.4. Good lens too.
  6. Canon FT 55 FL f1.2
  7. I'd love to see a picture of the lens mounted to your Sigma dslr.
  8. Thanks for all the replies so far...I had a look at the baffle/bezel ring but could not find any numbers that would enable me to work out its age but from what I have learned here I'm guessing that its probably made in the late 60's.
    As for sharpness, I have to say this lens is right up there with my Carl Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar T* and it also has very similar performance in its bokeh and contrast...Its bokeh is so nice in fact that it leaves the Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Planar T* with its ugly ni-sen bokeh for dead!
    Anyway here are a few shots of the lens in question...unfortunately I only have one camera so I cant actually show the lens fitted to the camera:
    The front:
    The front and side view with lenscap fitted:
    The back with the SA mounting plate fitted:
    A back and side view:
    And one with the metal lenshood I have dedicated for it which was originally made to fit both the Pentax Super Takumar 135mm f2.5 and the 200mm f4:

    And here are a few pics I have taken with it:

    Now the same pic but with some NFL used in SPP2.1:

    And another with some NFL applied:
  9. Hi Alf, your posts here & there about this lens and your conversion work helped provide the inspiration for my own attempts - three so far to EOS mount and three more waiting. I've sold two and kept one that is on my old 10D all the time. I agree with most of your comments above.
    There is significant halation wide open that can be used to great effect for portraits, flowers and some landscapes, etc, but in low light my lens appears really nice and sharp wide open. Of course stopped down its a real beauty.
    The light collecting capacity is mind-boggling. This photo of a Green Tree Frog on my 365 blog was taken in darkness with just a little wind-up torch for light. (I would say most of the photos on Tweed365 are taken with the FL.)
    And the price! They can be bought for $200. There is also a plethora of FL/FD adapters for 4/3 format as well. What fun!
  10. I'm using a lot of old lenses primarily with a Sony NEX-5 (the universal acceptor of old lenses), but I'd also like to be able to use some -- like the FL 55mm f/1.2 I just bought -- on Sony A mount. Do you know how much can focus be adjusted by changing? I've got 1mm larger flange distance than EOS mount....
  11. Scott, I'm Ed from a Collingwood on the other side of the world. I'm about to start selling a conversion kit for the FL 55 1.2's to EF mount. We've made a prototype and the switch between FL and EF mounts will be easy and take 5 minutes either way with just a small phillips screw driver we will provide. We already make a glassless FD to EF adapter that gives infinity focus on the longest lenses, details here:
  12. For Scott. I like the tree frog pic. I use lenshoods on all my lenses, including the FL 55mm f1.2 and I never notice halowing...I would recommend you use a lenshood if your not already using one. I'm current using a flared out metal Pentax Super Takumar 135mm lenshood on the FL and it stays on the lens all the time.
    For Hank. You could have trouble. The FL has a registration distance of 42mm, 3mm less than your Sony. In other words to attain infinity focus you will have to move the rear element of the FL 3mm closer to your sensor. The only way to achieve that without using an image quality reducing optical adapter is to machine 3mm off the mounting boss (the bit the FL mounting plate screws onto) and then screw a Sony mounting plate on instead. Problem is, I'm not sure 3mm is possible. I had to machine 2mm off the mounting boss of my one and I dont think I could have taken much more off.
    For ED. Sounds like your saying your conversion kit allows a quickly reversable conversion?
    How is this possible...An additional optical element or two?
  13. Alf,
    Sorry for the late reply, no optics required, just three screws removed, FL mount taken off, brass EF mount put on and three smaller headed screws tightened in the same holes.
  14. Hi ED, thanks for posting the great video! I dont yet have a Canon EF mount camera but i'm planning on getting the 5D mk3, if and when its ever released, depending on its price, so I will bear this in mind.
  15. Update: It appears Canon completely failed to predict the specs of the Nikon D800/D800E so they only gave the 5D mk3 a very modest increase in resolution over the 5D Mk2...They also brought it out at a very uncompetetive price...I would not buy a D800 because it has a Nikon mount but I wouldn't buy the 5D mk3 either because its simply too little, too late and for too much money. Maybe I will have to wait for the 5D mk4 or mk5 before they have a camera that is actually worth the money again.

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