A Visual Exploration of the Canon FL System


Canon FL lenses tested radioactive

50mm f1.4 (#15324) up to 770 cpm at the rear lens
50mm f1.8 (#58233) up to 450 cpm / 26 µSv/h at the rear lens
58mm f1.2 (#25516, #44528) up to 180 cpm / 10 µSv/h at the rear lens

Canon FL lenses tested non-radioactive

19mm f3.5 (#11404)
19mm f3.5 R (#13870)
28mm f3.5 (#49894)
35mm f2.5 (#57991, #67146)
35mm f3.5 (#30990)
50mm f1.4 I (#45231, #67058)
50mm f1.4 II (#105855, #169030, #186836)
50mm f1.8 II (#510473, #788954, #600493, #903701)
55mm f1.2 (#79823)
85mm f1.8 (#15246, #17330)
100mm f3.5 (#14043)
135mm f3.5 (#171757)
200mm f3.5 (#62431)
200mm f4.5 (#112626)

All information provided to the best of my knowledge. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation.

Lens Information

19mm f3.5

This lens is mounted and used with the quick return mirror fixed in the retracted position. A reverse Galileo type finder must be used and focusing is performed by measuring the distance visually or with an accessory rangefinder setting the distance scale.1

19mm f3.5 R

World´s highest quality super-wide-angle lens with the fastest lens speed of f/3.5 in its class. Because it is a retrofocus type, through-the-lens focusing can be performed, and the entire 96-degree fied of view can be recorded on film. Optically, the various aberration compensations are excellent. It is especially free of astigmatism and image distortion is held to less than one percent. Therefore, clear and sharp images are possible to the outermost edges, and overall sharpness is superb. It is a lens that is regularly used by professional photographers.1

A super wide angle lens which allows a photographer to see subject through the viewfinder of a camera. Before this lens, FL19mm f/3.5 was introduced in November 1965, which had the largest aperture in the world at the time as a super wide angle lens for 35mm SLR cameras. Although this lens had great attention from many photographers, the mirror of the camera had to be locked up when this lens was mounted, due to insufficient back focus. A separate optical viewfinder had to be mounted on the accessory shoe to confirm angle of view. The FL19mm f/3.5R was introduced the following year, employing inverted telephoto type optical system to ensure sufficient back focus for mirror operation. Thus this lens could be used without separate optical viewfinder for general use as a super wide angle lens. The "R" in the name stands for "Retrofocus (inverted telephoto type)".2

28mm f3.5

This Canon lens has a very short length of only 41mm and was designed for easy manipulation, small size and light weight. There is no loss in the quantity of marginal light because of the large front lens element, and spherical aberration and astigmatism are extremely well compensated. This lens, which is an intermediate between the 19mm and 35mm lenses, does not have an extreme perspective and is very handy for taking pictures of buildings or for indoor shots where space is limited.1

35mm f2.5

A retrofocus type wide-angle lens with a large aperture, passing a large quantity of marginal light because of the two large elements in the front group. This lens has very flexible characteristics in that soft delineation. And it is possible at maximum aperture while very sharp pictures are available when the aperture is closed down. The elimination of spherical and other aberrations, minimzation of flare and highly faithful reproduction of colors are the outstanding features of this lens.1

35mm f3.5

This wide-angle lens is the latest addition to Canon´s Compact Lens Series. The lens is light and compact in design. Its 64-degree angle of view and 35mm focal lenght for deep deth of field give the photographer an extremely good working range, especially for taking snapshots. Elimination of aberration, superb resolution and contrast are imparted to photographers by the theory of response function and the proper arrangement of the lens complement including a new type glass. The lens ensures crisp, sharp images even at maximum aperture.1

At the time of the release of this lens, 35mm lenses tended to be treated as the standard lens for snap shooting by professional photographers and ordinary users because of having a suitable wide-angle effect as well as a natural expression of perspective and deep field. This lens was designed with the aim of providing high performance, operability and a unique design able to respond to such demands of the times. Coma aberration and halo are eliminated while good contrast is maintained at full-aperture, in addition to maintaining high resolution throughout the entire frame. It is a retrofocus type with a 6-element in 6-group structure and a concave lens at the front, and that is also extremely compact and lightweight, weighing only 270g.2

38mm f2.8 FLP

This lens was developed for use on the Canon Pellix QL, the world´s first camera with a stationary mirror. It is a very compact lens with an overall length of only 21mm. Its construction is a variation of the so-called improved triplet type using a new type of glass. Very sharp pictures are available by slightly closing down the aperture, and uniform and high resolving power is guaranteed to the edges. Snapshots at close distances, to say nothing of scenery shots at infinity, appear natural.1

50mm F3.5 Macro

The correction of aberrations of this lens was severely pursued until they were almost completely eliminated. This lens is ideal for close-up photography, copying and macrophotography where high resolving power is required. It is also designed for high performnace in shooting ordinary pictures. A double helicoid design allows focusing and shooting from 0.5x to infinity and the shooting range is extended to life-size (1:1) with the use of the life-size-adapter accessory.1

50mm f1.4 (I)

A fast standard lens with a large aperture of f/1.4 Although a small amount of flare is sometimes recorded when lights are included in pictures of maximum aperture, flare elimination and sharpness increase when the aperture is closed down to f/2.8. Corrections of curvature of field, astigmatism and color aberration are excellent. This lens, which meets all photographic requirements, is the ultimate in standard lenses.1

50mm f1.4 II

The majority of standard lenses for single-lens reflex cameras today have the speed of f/1.4. This 50mm F 1.4 II lens is based on the FL 50mm F 1.4 design but has been improved a step further by enlarging the aperture, increasing the quantity of marginal light, and the number of elements to obtain richer and higher contrast. It also provides accurate color transmission.1

A newly designed high performance standard lens to replace the FL50mm f/1.4 (marketed in April, 1965. 6 elements in 5 groups, Gauss type). This new luxury Gauss type lens uses new type of optical glass for four lens elements out of seven elements in six groups. This lens achieves high contrast, sharp resolving power, optimum color balance and sufficient marginal illumination and it is considered as a norm of the following FD series lenses because of such high performance.2

50mm f1.8

A high quality standard lens of 4-component, 6-element construction that belongs to the so-called improved Gauss-type. It incorporates a new type glass for the rear element and the various aberration compensations are excellent. It is also the smallest and lightest of the FL standard lenses because its aperture ratio is held at f/1.8.1

A Gauss type standard lens for SLR cameras, developed based on the optical theory of S (screw) mount 50mm f/1.8 lens. This lens is applied as a standard lens for Canon SLR cameras from FX to TL, having automatic diaphragm control at full aperture mechanism in it. The automatic diaphragm mechanism remains fully open during focusing and composition to provide a bright viewfinder image, but must be stopped down for metering. It automatically closes down to the aperture setting when shutter button is pressed and automatically opens up again when the exposure is completed. This lens uses mechanical linkage for controlling this automatic diaphragm operation.2

50mm f1.8 II

This lens is an improved version of the original FL 50mm F1.8, already widely accepted as a leading standard lens in the world. The newly designed optical system has increased overall performances to marked degrees. Astigmatism has been eliminated by reducing the Petzval sum to a minimum and picture quality has been greatly improved, especially from the intermediate to the corner portion. Aberration caused by magnification has been reduced, providing stable performance for close-up photography.1

55mm f1.2

This lens has one of the highest lens speeds of any of the standard lenses used in single-lens reflex cameras, together with the FL 58mm f1.2 which is already on the market. The lens, belonging to the improved Gauss type, was developed by Canon to complete the series of lenses with higher resolving power and higher contrast. Utilization of four high-index glasses of a new type, together with a new design and positioning of the optical system, has completely eliminated high curvature of field and spherical aberration, resulting in greater center clarity, unusual for lens with maximum aperture opening of f/1.2.1

This lens replaces the FL58mm f/1.2 (released in March 1964) as a lens representative of Canon’s large-aperture SLR lenses. The use of large apertures has become the most widespread in standard lenses used as multi-purpose lenses for general shooting such as landscapes, sport, portraits and close-ups. But lenses in the class of a focal ratio of f/1.2 all shared the design problem of eliminating field curvature and flare at maximum aperture. However, as a result of many years of research and development at Canon, this lens shows striking progress in performance at full aperture like the FL50mm f/1.4II (released in May 1968). The optical system takes the 7-element in 5-group structure and 4 elements using new types of glass are appropriately positioned, sufficiently eliminating high-order spherical aberration and field curvature, while also coming close to completely absorbing the inner reflection that tends to occur in large-aperture lenses.2

58mm f1.2

This lens has the fastest lens speed of all standard lenses for single-lens reflex cameras. Despite its ultra-large aperture it is characterized by very little flare at maximum aperture and the various aberration compensations are excellent. Therefore, this lens is ideal for photographing subjects indoors in the evening or on the streets at night. Focusing through the viewfinder is very easy with this lens because of image brightness. Pictures hitherto dificult to shoot can now be taken easily with the use of this lens.1

85mm f1.8

Designed for a wide range of uses from portraiture to nature work as well as general, all-round photography, this lens provides faithful reproductions of scenes, exactly as seen with the eye of the user. The large aperture provides ample scope for available light photography and, when used at maximum aperture, some softness of the image adds to the pictorial quality, particularly when emphasis on the soft lighting quality is wanted in the final photograph.1

100mm f3.5

This lens has approximately the same magnifcation as the human eye. Thus, it is very convenient and is ideal for taking natural snapshots on the street or for portraiture. It has long been a popular lens among camera fans for its sharpness. The "100mm" is so highly reputed that it is "associated only with Canon" among camera fans. This small-size, lightweight, easy-to-use, superb lens is constantly used by many photographers.1

135mm f2.5

The 135mm focal length of this lens has an image magnification of 2.7x over standard lenses, and the appearance of its perspective is sufficiently effective for telephoto use. This large aperture lens has a wide range of uses, such as for portraiture and commercial photography, and is among the smallest and handiest of all lenses with which telephoto effects are available. This lens stirred up the single-reflex camera boom and today enjoys the greatest popularity.1

135mm f3.5

The overall length of this small-size, lightweight lens is only 83mm. As for lens speed it is only 5/6th of an aperture stop slower than the FL 135mm F 2.5 lens, with everything else being most similar.1

200mm f3.5

Intensely effective telephoto effects are possible even when hand-held. This lens has a built-in type lens hood and a completely automatic diaphragm mechanism. Compensations for the various aberrations are excellent, and the high contrast and superior resolving power of the lens are its other outstanding features. This lens is widely used for shooting sporting events, animal life and for news photography besides snapshots and portraiture.1

200mm f4.5

This representative lens of Canon´s compact series has many fine features which include small size, light weight, moderate price and high performance. Its aberration compensations are similar to the 200mm F 3.5 lens, having uniform resolving power all the way to the outer edges and almost no quality difference between maximum and minimum aperture openings. This lens, which faithfully reproduces color, is becoming increasingly popular among camera fans.1

1 Canon Interchangeable Lens Guide, 1968
2 http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/lens/fl/