FD 55mm f/1.2 SSC: aspherical vs non-aspherical

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by mark_pierlot, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. I have the FD 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical and consider it to deliver gorgeous image quality (though for reasons of portability I tend to use my FDn 50/1.2 L more). I'm wondering about the IQ (and current market value) of the non-aspherical 55/1.2 SSC. I'd really appreciate comments from anyone has experience with both of these 55mm's.
  2. The question I have for you Mark is how do your Asph and L standards compare? I have a lovely clean and clear example of the former, a real fave of mine.
    Of some interest perhaps? Note his comment in the Noct-Nikkor section. A little bit of myth busting...
  3. Rick, I find that my Asph has warmer colour rendition, and is perhaps a little shaper than the L. Their contrast is comparable. I confess, though, that I haven't conducted any side-by-side comparisons of them.
    Thanks for the link. I have read Puts's endorsement of the FD 55/1.2 Aspherical, but I hadn't seen his highspeed lens comparisons. Most enlightening. He also seems to have high regard for the 50/1.2 L.
  4. I have the chrome-nose non-aspherical FD55mm f1.2 (which has SSC coating) and a copy of the Aspherical, but I haven't yet done an IQ comparison test. However, I've noticed that my Aspherical, which has a 12/1975 build code, has the characteristic yellow tint that indicates the use of thoriated glass. The tint is not as heavy as on my concave FD35mm f/2 lenses.
  5. Is your 55/1.2 chrome front lens marked FD SSC?
  6. No, none of my first generation chrome-nose FD lenses have the SC/SSC markings.
  7. The FD 55mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical I've got has a T809 code, an August '79 build? It's very neutral in tint, call it crystal clear- whether this one's spent leisure time in a tanning salon or has non-thoriated glass I'm not sure. Gordon?
    It was cherry-picked from Kevin's Cameras so...ahem. It's sharp in every meaning of that word. The pricetag was too, carving a nice chunk from my wallet!
    Back to the standard FD 55mm f/1.2, on paper it appears to share the same optical formula, diaphragm blade count, minimum focus distance / magnification as the FL 55mm f/1.2. I'd like one of the FLs for use on my older bodies.
  8. It's only speculation on my part, but Canon may have eliminated the thorium glass on the later FD55mm Asphericals or, perhaps, your lens hasn't yet developed the tinting.
    My understanding is that the FL55mm f/1.2 and the non-aspherical FD55mm f/1.2 lenses are based on the same optical formula. I think it's possible that some of the elements of the FL version may have been multicoated, though, again, I'm speculating. By the way, I also have the FL55mm f/1.2 as well as the FDn 50mm f/1.2 and FDn 50mm f/1.2L lenses. I guess I have this thing for high-speed lenses.
    By the way, does anyone have any evidence that any FL55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lenses were ever made? This is not a typo, I'm talking about the FL version, not the FD. This lens was listed in the 1970 edition of Popular Photography magazine's "Photography Directory & Buying Guide" (actually published in late 1969). The guide indicates that the price was available "On request." The list price on the non-aspherical FL55mm f/1.2 was $165.
  9. One of the earliest F-1 dealer guides includes an FL 1000mm Fluorite amongst the system component illustrations, but it's never mentioned subsequently so it probably never met the light of day. I'll bet that FL 55 Asph is another "unicorn"...unless a prototype left the factory in a jacket pocket!
  10. Gordon, I asked the question because I have a 24/2.8 chrome front FD SSC. I have heard that there were some other chrome front FD lenses with the SSC marking. The speculation is that Canon has chrome rings left over and used some of them on lenses which were marked SSC. As I've mentioned before, my only f/1.2 Canon standard lens is a 55/1.2 FL.
  11. Jeff, I have never seen a chrome-nose lens with SC or SSC markings, nor have I ever seen a second generation "black-front" FD lens that did not have the SC/SSC markings. I know you've mentioned your hybrid 24mm lens in earlier posts. However, I must admit that I'm a skeptic, and question whether it left the factory in its current configuration.
    Did you purchase your lens new? Also, what is the build code on your lens? I have two FD24mm f/2.8 lenses, a chrome-nose with a s/n of 214xx and date code of M206 (Feb. 1972), and a black-front Bell & Howell/Canon SSC version with a s/n of 459xx and date code of N901 (Sept. 1973).
  12. I had the Canon FD 55/1.2 SSC. In some minor testing, and mostly at centre, I found it to be pretty much on par with the Canon FD 50/1.8. This observation agrees with Put's original article which dissappeared from the internet years ago. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of it. In Put's original article the Canon FD 50/1.4 was superior to the 55/1.2 SSC.
    I loved the heft of the lens and the incredibly bright viewfinder. Extremely well built. I would stick with the two lenses that you have since one is optically superb and one is extremely good and much lighter/smaller.
  13. Gordon,
    I did not buy the chrome front 24/2.8 FD SSC new. Other people who post on the Canon FD forum have seen this particular lens. Mine does not look like it has been modified in any way. It did have separation in the rear element group and this was expertly repaired by Ken Ruth. I find the lens very sharp. The serial # is 536XX. The build code is 0804. I used a reversed 28/2.8 Minolta Celtic MC (1st version) to read it. You mentioned that you have never seen a black front FD lens without SC or SSC markings. I have one of those too. It's a 200/4 black front FD with no SC or SSC marking. The coating is visibly different from the front. It looks like an FL coating. This does not count the 300/2.8 FL with the SSC coating. I also have a 200/4 FD SSC. In flare situations the non-SSC lens is not very good. There was an even earlier 200/4 FD lens, also with no SC or SSC marking. That must have been some kind of prototype. Its front was black but it had a silver ring a short distance from the front. I would like one of these to go with my chrome front FD lenses. If I remember all of them I have the 24/2.8 SSC, a 28/3.5, a 35/3.5, three 50/1.8s, a 50/1.4, two 100/2.8s and three 135/3.5s.
    I think Canon was trying to find its way with the cosmetics of the early FD lenses. The prevailing style at that time was some combination of silver and black. The chrome front FDs seem to clearly be a copy of the Zeiss lenses for the Contarex. Even when Canon discontinued the chrome front series it could not make its lenses all black because the mounting ring had the silver color. Only when the New FD lenses appeared did the all black theme work. I suppose Canon could have colored its FD mounting rings black as some third party lens makers did. The earliest FD brochures seem to show versions of FD lenses which were never actually made. They could have been drawn or mock-ups could have been made. One of the things I like about collecting and using and studying old cameras and lenses is that there is always something new to find out about something old.
  14. Jeff, what is the letter (i.e. year) code on your FD24mm f/2.8 lens?
    There seems to be some confusion on the cosmetic finish on the first generation FD lenses:
    • On all of the lenses that had the bayonet mount for a Canon lens hood, the bayonet ring was chrome plated for the entire production run.
    • On lenses that had built-in lens hoods, only the very earliest production runs had bright metal finishes on the textured portion of the lens hoods. I suspect that the change from hoods with bright metal trim to an all-black finish occurred within the first year of production. The initial batches of these FD lenses were made in late 1970 and may have been the only ones with the bright metal trim. Most first-generation FD lenses with built-in lens hoods, including your non-SSC FD200mm f/4, had all black finishes identical to the second generation SC/SSC lenses. A first-generation FD200mm f/4 lens should have a build code prior to March 1973 (i.e., earlier than N3xx) when the SSC version was released.
    • There were a couple of lenses with no bayonet ring for a lens hood and no built-in hood, the 7.5mm fisheye and the FD17mm f/4. Early Canon brochures show the FD17mm with a chrome filter ring, but I have never seen one with this feature. The deletion of the chrome finish may have occurred before production commenced. Early Canon literature shows the FD17mm with SC coating, but this lens actually ended up with SSC coating before the SSC version was released in 1973. I suspect that early testing identified a problem with flare, resulting in the upgrade in the coating and the deletion of the chrome filter ring.
    The point of this rambling is that not all first generation FD lenses have bright metal finishes at the front of the lens. More definitive methods for dating and identifying these lenses are the build codes, the automatic setting on the aperture ring indicated with a green "O" instead of an "A", and the absence of locking mechanisms on the breech ring and on the automatic setting on the aperture ring.
    With respect to the natural metal finish on the breech ring, this was a Canon trademark so I'd doubt that Canon ever considered changing the finish.
    When Canon was a much smaller company making rangefinder cameras in low numbers, using up older parts was understandable. The cameras were hand-made and the line between profit and loss was narrow. In the 1970s, Canon was a much larger company with mass production lines. I'd doubt that using up remaining stocks of obsolete parts was part of their corporate culture. Still, I suppose that mistakes do occur and that the odd hybrid could have made it past quality control.
    Changing the bayonet ring on an FD lens is a straightforward procedure and could have been done without leaving any indication that the modification was ever made. The chrome and black versions are interchangeable from the front of the lens with no modifications needed. Does the aperture ring on your lens have the green "O" or "A"? Also, does it have the locking mechanisms on the aperture ring and breech ring? When I get a chance, I'll pull out my FD24mm f/2.8 lenses and examine the coatings. The colors of the reflections may be a crude way to determine if your lens has SC or SSC coating.
  15. Another black front FD lens without SC or SSC markings is the earlier issue of the 135/2.5, which I believe had the SC coating like the later version that was marked SC.
  16. Gordon,
    The date code digits I gave for my 24/2.8 chrome front FD SSC are the only ones showing. The aperture ring has the green O and not the later A. The mounting ring is spring loaded. All of the older chrome front 24/2.8 FD lenses I have seen lack the spring loading. There is no obvious indication that the front ring has been changed. I have many FL lenses and the difference between the coating on these (not including 300/2.8 SSC) and FD SSC lenses is not hard to see. The 28/2.8 FD SC and 50/1.8 FD SC lenses are quite good. I don't know how much they would have been improved by SSC coating. These lenses as well as the 135/2.5 SCs were never made in SSC form. I have never seen a 200/4 FD SC so it's possible that the black front 200/4 FD has a pre-SC coating.
    The situation with the 200/4 FD lenses is similar to what happened with Nikon's 200/4s except that the timeline doesn't exactly match. The 20cm f/4 Nikkor does not focus as close as the later models and has a different looking coating. The 200/4 Nikkor Q has closer focusing and different looking coating. The 200/4 Nikkor QC has improved coating. Very little additional coating improvement was seen in the redesigned 'K,' the AI or the AIS models. I have a 200/4 AI and it's a nice lens but I don't find it any better than the QC.
  17. All of the first generation FD lenses, including your FD200mm f/4, had SC coating, with three exceptions. The exceptions had SSC coating from the start: the two FD55mm f/1.2 lenses and the FD17mm f/4. The FD200mm f/4 lens received SSC coating in 1973 when the second generation FD lenses began to appear. Thus, no FD200mm f/4 lens, whether black front or chrome front, ever had the SC marking on the ID ring.
  18. Here's a summary of the differences between my FD24mm f/2.8 lenses:
    Canon FD28mm f/2.8; s/n214xx; build code M206 = Feb. 1972
    • Bayonet ring at the front is chromed.
    • No locking pin on aperture ring; AE setting is a green "O."
    • No locking mechanism on breech ring.
    • Coating reflections when viewed from the front of the lens are purple in color.
    • Coating reflections when viewed from the rear of the lens are purple and yellow.
    B&H/Canon FD28mm f/2.8 S.S.C.; s/n459xx, build code N901 = Sept. 1973
    • Bayonet ring at the front is painted black.
    • Chrome locking pin on aperture ring; AE setting is a green "O."
    • Locking mechanism on breech ring.
    • Coating reflections when viewed from the front of the lens are purple and magenta in color.
    • Coating reflections when viewed from the rear of the lens are purple and yellow.
    The magenta reflections on my SSC lens are very prominent, and are clearly absent on my chrome nose lens.
  19. To take this discussion to an even higher level of absurdity, I weighed my lenses. Without the lens caps, the chrome nose lens is 442g and the SSC lens is 327g, a decrease of 24% or about 4 ounces. I would think that the replacement of some metal parts with plastic accounts for most of the decrease. Deletion of the chrome plating shouldn't account for more than a few grams.
  20. I weighed my 24/2.8 chrome front FD SSC using a Pitney Bowes electronic scale with a 5 lb. limit. I got 12.2 oz. If I use a figure of 28.349521 grams per ounce that gives me 345 grams. I think you meant 24/2.8 FD SSC. There was no 28/2.8 FD SSC.
  21. Yup, I meant 24mm.
  22. This is veering towards an off-topic comment, but this week I came across a seller who is building "custom" FD lenses. The lens I saw was a chrome-nose 50/1.4. The seller had replaced all the glass with SSC elements and swapped for the SSC name ring as well.
    So, if not previously, there are now going to be intentionally "mixed up" lenses out there, like this 50mm chrome nose SSC. It'll be funny when FD lenses get to the point of very old cars, and people start collecting parts lenses in order to build restorations of factory originals.
  23. Hi All
    I've got a chrome nose 50mm f1.4 and love it!. The lens is so sharp and it's light and compact when compared to the 55mm aspherical.
    Sorry to go off topic a bit but I always try to promote this lens as I just love it!.
    Best regards
  24. Thanks for the lively and informative thread, guys. My question hasn't really been answered, but in light of the ensuing discussion, who cares?
    I love this place.

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