FD f/1.2 85 mm L

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by christoph_hammann, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. The old Canon FD f/1.2 85 mm really is something special, isn't it? I never could set off objects against the background at far distances, but here ... .
    What are your experiences with this lens. Show some pictures done with it!
  2. I don't own an L. But I do own an 85mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical, which is the first of the series, and claimed by many to be the best of all Canon's 85/1.2s. I haven't had a chance to do any comparisons myself, but I've sure enjoyed mine. This is what the SSC Asph looks like:
    A couple shots taken at a photo shoot last January. Pics taken with my Canon F-1, using Kodak Elite Chome 100. Besides this guy with the 4x5, I was the only one at the photo shoot with a film camera :) Both shots at f/1.2.
    Gotta love those bokeh!
  3. I absolutely love this lens. I studied fashion photography at SVA in New York City in the early 1990's and the Canon 85mm 1.2L was my go-to lens every session. Unfortunately it didn't belong to me, I was borrowing it from a friend. Sold all my Canon FD equipment in the mid 1990's and switched to Nikon for the photojournalism work I was doing. About three years ago I started shooting fashion again and searched high and low for a good example of the lens. Finally found one and picked it up. Had to go out and buy a Canon F1n to use it with. Again, my favorite piece of glass. Used it on a shoot Tuesday.
    Can't say enough good things about it.
  4. These shots make me want to go study fashion photography.
  5. Tim, clever combination of depth of field and high key. That lens sure has a style of it's own, good to know it can be bent to one's will.
  6. Nice! At that focal length, there seems to be a huge difference between 1.2 and 1.8. I have always enjoyed my old Nikkor 85 1.8, and though I have an AF and the old non-AI version, the older lens seems to have a different "quality."
  7. There are various reasons that can account for a difference in image quality. Chief of them being optical formulas, number and shape of iris blades, coatings and coating formulas. With respect to the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lenses, the origina 85mm Aspherical has 9 aperture blades, whereas the subsequent ones have "only" eight. Some feel that the nine-bladed aperture provides more pleasing bokeh. Again, I can't really comment because I'm familiar with only the 9-bladed variety. All I know is, it provides a lovely smooth, creamy bokeh. But then, my FD 50mm f/1.4 SSC has eight blades, and I find that its bokeh are almost as smooth. I would attribute the "almost" more to the difference in aperture sizes than iris blades, but that's just my observation.
  8. The bokeh on this picture always impressed me. Very "painterly" ...
  9. The bokeh on this picture always impressed me. Very "painterly" ...
  10. Fortunate enough to discover an old 85mm f1.2 L at a camera market, I couldn't believe my luck.
    Deciding to dismantle it completely and dispose of the FD mount....as well as the scratched front element involved a fair amount of work, especially wrestling with its double helical focus mechanism. Amazingly a friend had bought a replacement front element back in 1988 and still had it wrapped in the original packageing, so for a measly $70 that was replaced.
    I cannot get over this lens...its bokeh is just plain gorgeous and as its permanantly EOS mount with infinity focus (confirm) it's so much more useful.
    Now there must be something more exciting than the neighbour's rose to shoot?
  11. Dean,
    Can you tell me about the process of switching the FD mount over to an EOS mount? I would be very interested in doing that as I could then use the lens for digital work.
  12. Hi Tim...it's a rather large task and I'd not want to do it very often! I removed all FD mount workings including the numerous tiny ball bearings and finished up with an aweful lot of pieces.
    The trick is to link the aperture ring so that it can be regulated. I used a EOS/Tamron adapter with confirm chip and you'll notice the extra little pin so it activates the switch on the early model EOS 1's.
    It took a little engineering to get infinity focus, even then it was only achieveable by disposing of the rear element! I found it made little if any difference to the close focusing ability of the lens, in fact tests made it look like there was a slight improvement in image quality when it was ommitted!
    If you need pics of the insides, let me know. I have now converted a 55mm f1.2 SSC and a 200mm f2.8 prime to EF.
    You'll need a lathe in order to perform this conversion......
  13. Thanks Dean. Think I'll leave it the way it is for now, but someday when film is hard to get, I might do the conversion.
  14. Tim, there are other ways to go about this. Dean's use of a Tamron-EOS adapter is rather unique, I find. If you google this topic, you'll find some links to how-to's. Just keep in mind that the conversion process will differ for each lens that you want to convert due to aperture linkage differences and whether or not the lens is breechlock or New FD. Some conversions are not at all difficult, while others require some machining to achieve infinity focus.
  15. Michael is correct...each lens is different and must be approached in a different manner. My 85mm was a the 'New FD' mount, not breechlock.....already having the EOS /Tamron adapter, it was the perfect candidate for the job, as it only required a little machining to fit inside the lens rear section after the original mount assembly was removed. It also has the focus confirm chip fitted. The uniqueness comes with designing the aperture linkage connection as the aperture lever slides in and out as the lens is focused. The method used here is very robust as everything is metal.
    A word of warning though...unless you are a patient fellow, DO NOT dismantle the 85"s double helical focus unit...unless you easily mastered the Rubik's Cube! I dismantled the whole lens assembly in an attempt to see if infinity focus was attainable via this route...it wasn't, although there is a good deal of adjustment available when you need to fine tune the finished modification.

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