Canon 55mm f/1.2

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by jon_shumpert|2, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. I just bought a Canon Ftb at auction and it came with a 55mm f/1.2 lens. The lens is in excellent condition and the glass looks perfect. There is a yellow tint to the front element. I am curious if this is the coating or if it might be yellowing similar to some of the old Pentax Takumars? When looking through the lens there is no noticeable tint, which makes me think it might be the coating. Thanks.
  2. That's the coating. If you see no tint through the lens, all is fine. My FD 55/1.2 has yellowing although i feel it is slightly warm.
    It is an exxxxxcelllllent lens so care for it !
  3. correction: My FD 55/1.2 SSC has NO yellowing at all
  4. My FD 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical has an amber coating. The Pentax Takumars and earlier FD 35/2 SSC have yellow tinting due to their thoriated elements, which I believe the FD 55mm's do not have. But I am not entirely certain about this.
  5. For the 'thoriated elements" in the Takumars, there are many recommended fixes. most prominently, exposure to natural or artificial UV light, whether in confusion with fungus infestation, I know not.
    Another solution where there is a noticeable effect on color is to (1) live with it as a permanent warming filter, or (2) shoot only B&W with it.
    But I'm not at all sorry to post, yet again, an example of an extreme solution to the problem:
    (I think this is a new address for the item anyhow)
  6. The FD/FL 55/1.2 does not have thoriated or radiactive elements, i'm confident of this. I've "researched" this lens as far as i could on the net. It replaced the old Canon R 58/1.2 which might have had radiactive elements.
  7. Actually the FD 55mm F1.2 replaced the FL 55mm F1.2, which replaced the FL 58mm F1.2, which replaced the R 58mm f1.2. The two 55mms had identical optical formulas as did the two 58mms.
    All are well regarded high speed lenses, but are not as good as the FD 55mm F1.2 AL (or aspherical - same lenses just different designations).

    None of the 55mm have Thorium elements.
  8. @JDM: Ah, the freedom of the Antipodes. My OSHA-compliant American eye was shocked, shocked by the lack of protective eyewear on Mr Ayling's part.
    Slightly more relevant to the topic, there's a Youtube video floating around showing Geiger counts 60-70 times above background when "wanding" a Canon FL 58mm f/1.2 lens. I have a trio of those, all with apertures stuck wide open for some reason. I wonder if flying with those lenses, or better yet the thoriated Takumars, would result in even more quality time with the TSA.
  9. LOL!! "More quality time with the TSA!"
    Yes, the 55mm 1.2 aspherical is a superior lens. In fact, according to a very well written website, it is clearly superior to one of the Leica Noctilux-es and to the Noct-Nikkor.
    But the 55/1.2 asph was significantly more expensive. Also, i think the aberrations of the regular 55/1.2 are part of the charm.
    I wish i had a Canon 7 with the 50mm f0.95 lens !
  10. Mike Santos is totally correct, i just considered identical-optical-formula lenses as "same", even if they're not the same mount variation.
    Canon has a good reputation for leading 50mm lenses, way down to the 1950s with their Serenar 50mm lenses. The Canon FD 50/1.4 (breech lock) is something of a cult lens too, with wide reputation for extremely high contrast, sharpness, and resolution.
    I found the FD 55/1.2 as a very high resolution lens once stopped down, with low to moderately-high contrast depending on the aperture, and fair sharpness. In other words, very nice resolution at the expense of contrast.
  11. Yes, the 55mm 1.2 aspherical is a superior lens. In fact, according to a very well written website, it is clearly superior to one of the Leica Noctilux-es and to the Noct-Nikkor.​
    Flavio, could you please provide a link to this website. It's not Erwin Puts's Tao of Leica by any chance, is it?
  12. Erwin Puts' website is excellent! But the one i saw contained sample images, i think. Alas, it was many years ago, i can't remember now.
  13. I agree with most of the comments posted with one exception. I believe that some or all of the FD55mm f/1.2 aspherical lenses contain radioactive or thoriated glass. This earlier thread may be of interest:
    Also, check out this link for some radioactive lens test videos:
    The last video includes a test of the FD55mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical lens which might deter owners from sleeping with their lenses.
  14. Wow. Thanks for posting that video channel, Gordon.
    I knew about the 35mm concave being radioactive, of course, but not the 17mm or 55mm. The 35mm also seems much better known for (prone to?) yellowing/browning than either of the others. Anyone (who does not disagree) know why?
  15. Hi James,
    There are hundreds of lens glass compositions, be them thoriated, radiactive or not. So that's why ones degrade more noticeably than others. The Super-Takumar normal prime is an example.
  16. Here is a good explanation about the yellowing of such lenses. Go to the "color centers" part.
  17. Thanks, Flavio.
  18. I believe that some or all of the FD55mm f/1.2 aspherical lenses contain radioactive or thoriated glass.​
    Thanks, Gordon. The video to which you've linked provides definitive evidence that the 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical does indeed contain thoriated glass (given, of course, that it's not faked). I just wonder why the 35/2 SSC concave is always mentioned in conjunction with thoriated elements, while the 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical (almost) never is.
    I've now stored my 55/1.2 alongside my 35/2 in a metal filing cabinet in my basement. :)
  19. On radioactive Canon lenses please read here:
    According to my own measurements
    Canon FL 58/1.2 - radioactive
    Canon FL 55/1.2 - not radioactive
    Canon FD 55/1.2 SSC ASPHERICAL - radioactive
    Canon FD 50/1.2 L - not radioactive
    I never measured a regular (non asph) FD 55/1.2
  20. Like Jon, I also just recently won a Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 at auction. Mine is the original "chrome nose" model, so it's not the SSC flavor. I also own an FL 55mm f/1.2 and I have determined to my satisfaction that they have identical optical formulas. Glad to read that this is, in fact, the case.
    There is some noticeable chromatic aberration when shooting wide open with this lens, which I can tolerate pretty much. I also own an 85mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical, that has excellent control over aberrations, and I plan to add the 55mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical to my collection someday. But in the meantime I'll muddle along with a cool low-light optic.

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