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

Mark Pierlot , Apr 17, 2010; 11:47 a.m.

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.


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Rick Janes , Apr 17, 2010; 12:09 p.m.

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...

Mark Pierlot , Apr 17, 2010; 12:19 p.m.

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.

Gordon Yee , Apr 17, 2010; 04:33 p.m.

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.

Jeff Adler , Apr 17, 2010; 06:10 p.m.

Is your 55/1.2 chrome front lens marked FD SSC?

Gordon Yee , Apr 17, 2010; 06:54 p.m.

No, none of my first generation chrome-nose FD lenses have the SC/SSC markings.

Rick Janes , Apr 17, 2010; 07:21 p.m.

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.

Gordon Yee , Apr 17, 2010; 08:03 p.m.

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.

Rick Janes , Apr 17, 2010; 08:23 p.m.

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!

Jeff Adler , Apr 17, 2010; 09:34 p.m.

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.

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