Canon FD Lenses - Other Issues Part IV


Most likely, 95% of the people are not interested in the technical illustration of how a FD lens works. Anyway, below are a little history of how development of FD lenses progressed during its early days.

Canon f0.95 lens.jpg
The Canon breech Lock mount has gone through some significant changes and improvement over the years since it was introduced for the first time way back during the days of the original Canon F-1 in 1971. Prior to two generations of the FD lenses of breech lock and bayonet mount, there were earlier FL lenses in which we generally referred the mount as the 'A' mount. FL lenses with these mount are physically the same as those with the FD mount but their aperture control is completely manual, thus, for some selective FD bodies that enabled the use * of FL lenses, it can only be metered using stopped down method by mean of the depth of field preview button. Most of these older FL lenses came single layer coated as opposed to popular multi-layer coating.

<<<<---------- Prior to the FL & FD series, Canon introduced the World's largest aperture ratio for photographic lens launched with the Canon 7 in August 1961 - a screw mount f/0.95 lens * There do have some cases of exception such as the 38mm FL lens is specifically designed for the Pellix and should not be mounted on any other camera.

When the
original Canon F-1 was conceived, Canon had set about not only the development of a new professional camera system to take on the might of the Nikon F camera that was introduced back in 1959, but it had also structured a plan with the creation of a complete system that would anticipate and embrace its future upgrades in line with the significant progress in the development of optical technology. From the early days of the universal threaded mount of the Leica spec lenses (Canon used Nikkors for their Camera during initial stage) to their own Canonflex based R-series lenses which has a new bayonet mount with three outer lugs (spigot type) and later progressed to update with a newer improved mount (FX FL-series lenses) which provides automatic lens-side aperture control to the new series of the famous FD mount (With one more upgrade as FD II series - main feature being changed to instantaneous fit-and-lock type, enabling quick mounting and dismounting). The FD mount was eventually replaced by the current electronic signal transmission of the autofocus EF lens mount, introduced along with the first EOS camera, EOS 650, back in 1987.

Although the current EF mount doesn't provide any backward compatibility with the FD lenses (it is still permissible to use on the EOS body via a FD-EOS
lens mount adaptor but only limiting to fixed lenses of 200mm and above focal length). However, the fundamentally sound concept of the original design of the FD mount did lasted two generations before being totally "phased out" and replace with the EF mount.

KL Skyline.jpg (54k) Loading...

<<< 1997, KL in Haze.

The world's tallest building, The Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower in Malaysia was in a 'hazy mood, caused by a massive forest fire in the Indonesian Kalimantan Forest, thousand of miles away. A long telezoom was used to capture this image as archive.
As one of the worst affected economies in Asia during the Financial turmoil, deep in the inland forest area Indonesian Island of Kalimantan in the east and Sumatra Island in the west were set to blaze for more than a month. The haze carried by wind covered a big portion of South East Asian countries. Kuala Lumpur, away from both island thousands of kilometer away was not spared. Despite the forest fire was there for more than a month, even the hardest uncompromising environmentalists were kept silence over the matter and no aids or even consultancy were given to the Indonesian government Eventually, in a largest friendly mission sent abroad, our country Malaysia sent more than two thousand firemen to help the neighbour to put off the fire. It serves as a good lesson to all.

© 1999, Vincent Thian, an AP photographer. (The Associated Press)

The original FD design has some significant improvements over earlier FL lenses' design: Several new levers and pins, such as automatic aperture control lever, aperture signal pins (used for transmission of the F value at full aperture), aperture signal lever, and AE/Manual switch pin, are added. Furthermore, Canon has also applied the F-1's 1/100th of a millimeter standard of quality control manufacturing accuracy as the body of the original F-1 to the FD lenses.

But as most people have noticed, Canon was enjoying a tremendous success with many of the mid range models, but the Canon F-1 was using the Nikon F and F2 as their virtual 'enemy The camera was Canon first serious attempt to take on the Nikon in the professional camera market. Feature to feature, although Canon model was never short in many areas, in fact, there were some that even excel that of the competitions. But nevertheless there were still some apparent weaknesses in the system as a whole as compared. You can say lenses was one of them, Next, like the lack of a high performance film advance system like motor drive or power winder. (Canon has an lackluster motor drive system for the F-1 during early stages).

In relation to the most important segment in a professional SLR system, the early days of FD lenses has its widest lens in the wide angles section in a FD 35mm f2.0 S.S.C. while FD 135mm f2.5 S.C was its fastest telephoto lens. More than half of the early FD was not even applied with S.S.C. (Super Spectral Coating - Canon's exclusive multilayer coating process). But Canon did caught up very fast in its upgrades and by the time the
Canon F-1n, an upgrade to the original F-1 was introduced (1976) five years later after the debut of the original F-1, virtually of the FD lenses were already treated with S.S.C., Canon was a decade late in the professional SLR camera market than the Nikon, while the Nikon has the absolute advantage to patch up any weaknesses found with their Nikon F2 (1971), further, other companies such as Olympus introduced a trend setting Olympus OM-1 compact system SLR in 1971 and we also saw an aperture priority AE Minolta's XK in 1973 that these innovative products from competitions have even made life more difficult for Canon.

Fortunately, Canon has its lens mount to counter and fence off some of these threats from its rivals. Counting on their earlier successes in introducing Shutter-Priority AE in some of their earlier camera models, Canon was the one of the two main camera manufacturers that have their lens designed to accommodate the requirements of Shutter-priority AE and Programmed AE in the camera. Then they capitalized on the advantage with a genius stroke by coming out with a killer model, the Canon AE-1, which was the world's first camera to have all its functions totally controlled by a built-in micro CPU (Central Processing Unit). It was also well remembered as the world's best-selling 35mm SLR camera todate, with more than five million units sold worldwide ! Incidentally, the Canon A while older Canon FL series can also be used with stopped-down metering. The lens mount is Canon's proprietary Breech-Lock mount and all FD, FDn and most older FL and R lenses can also be used.

The early FD lenses were marked with either S.C. or in later stage - S.S.C. of which "
S.C." is short for Canon's "Spectra Coating" while "S.S.C." is referred as Canon's "Super Spectra Coating" and usually the letters were engraved in the front at the filter ring and painted in red. Another rare earth glass type (actually it is an artificial Fluorite glass developed in house through research) that can be referred to as FLUORITE, all lenses that have included with the fluorite elements were treated with S.S.C. Since most of these early FD optic were either single coated and improved considerably in later stages with multi layer coatings you have to careful examine them and put a proper price premium on the used market. However, the second generation of the FD lenses do not have that lettering and virtually all FDn lenses were multicoated (only the New FD 50mm f/1.8 was S.C. treated) and thus, Canon thought it need not to be explained further. Both of these two generations of lenses will work perfectly with all Canon FD-mount SLR cameras. In fact, Canon lenses have one way or another came with some backward-compatibility in its design as some of them can also be used on the older FL bodies.


The FD 35mm f2 SSC was its fastest wide-angle lens.
This is the fastest telephoto lens , a FD 135mm f2.5 SC
FL-F300mm f5.6. jpg (16k) Loading..

This FL-F 300mm f5.6, introduced before the FD in March 1969 has the distinction of being the world's first camera lens to incorporated a fluorite lens elements.

Along with other optical innovations, the resulting the FD lenses eventually have more compact lens design (Canon F-1 have a short back focus and because of this it has been possible to design lenses with the advantage of being more compact), with several newly designed mechanism (like Floating System), multilayer anti-reflection coating (The Super Spectral Coating lenses getting off the ground to broader range of lenses) and possible new development of special lenses (Fluorite and Aspherical lenses ). Backward compatibility was taken into consideration, thus, although the FD lens series has been developed to perform full aperture metering when attached to the F-1 or FTb, they may also be used for stopped down metering when attached to the FT or the Pellix.

55mmf1.2 AL.jpg (14k Jpeg)
Canon's first lens incorporating an Aspherical lens element with their exclusive floating element design. Note the blue 'AL' letters behind the lens designation. FD 55mm f1.2 AL SSC.

It was also the world's first SLR lens to incorporate an Aspherical lens element and also the adoption of the floating elements design, the Canon FD 55mm f1.2AL was introduced along with the Canon F-1 with three other 'standard' lenses at 50mm focal length, namely, the FD
55mm f1.2, FD 50mm f1.4, FD 50mm f1.8 and a FD 50mm f3.5 Macro Lens.

Note: The original FD lenses, may be slightly larger, heavier and have some cosmetic differences with the newer series, but they perform in virtually the same manner as the FDn lenses except that mounting is slightly different, meaning the user must turn a mounting ring on the lens.

The optical engineers at Canon have planned very well for the FD lenses even before they make their debut. (At a later stage, the FD lenses were also available in some focal lengths where the Nikkors don't have). However, the widest of the wide-angles was only the 17mm, followed by the 24 and 35mm. For the superwide & the wide angles, approximately every 10 degrees of angle of view would be provided with a lens to fit in the series
. As for the telephotos, Lenses are available for every 100mm of focal length including the popular group which comprises the FD 100mm F 2.8, the FD 135mm F 2.5 and F 3.5, the FD 200mm F4, and the FD 300mm F 5.6. Added to these are four compact telephoto lenses of the convertible front element type, the FL 400mm F 5.6, the FL 600mm F 5.6, the FL 800mm F 8, and the FL 1200mm F 11. Two lenses made of artificial fluorite, the FL-F 300mm F 5.6 (*) and the FL-F 500mm F 5.6. Within the standard lens category, The aspherical lens FD 55mm F 1.2 AL leads way along with another three more various options in lens speed of f1.2, f1.4 and f1.8. Special lenses included the Fisheye 7.5mm F 5.6 (which doesn't required Mirror Lock Up as compared with lenses like the Fisheye-Nikkor 6mm) while the original Canon tilt and shift TS 35mm F 2.8 lens, held the honour of being the world's first perspective control lens for 35mm format.

FD 100200mm.jpg (12k) Loading...
Besides, there is the Canon Macro FL 50mm F 3.5 Lens, the Bellows FLM 100mm F 4 Lens, and three zoom lenses, the FL 55 - 135mm F 3.5, the FD 100-200mm F 5.6, and the FD 85-300mm F 4.5.

The FDn 100-200mm F 5.6 was one of the early zoom lens with a fair zoom ratio of 1:2.

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Canon FD mount Camera Bodies:
A Series:
AE-1 | AT-1 | A-1 | AV-1 | AE-1 Program | AL-1
T- Series:
T50 | T60 | T70 | T80 | T90
F-1 | New F-1
Canon FL Resources
Pellix | FTQL

Lenses: Canon FL lenses | Canon FD lens resources

Canon EOS SLRs | Canon EF lens Resources


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