This is the FL 50mm f/1.4 introduced in April of 1965. This lens actually came in three versions of which this is the first.

The FL Series Lenses

Eyes for the F Series Cameras

When Canon brought out its first SLR in in 1959 lenses did not communicate with the camera body. But there was a problem: easiest focusing was done with the lens wide open but the iris had to be closed for the exposure. That involved the camera body sending a signal to the lens. The era of communication between lens and camera began.

The original Canon SLR’s, the Canonflex series, came out with a new lens mount called the “R” mount. Through the lens metering  still lay in the future but the photographer could set the aperture on

the lens but it would not close down. It remained at full aperture. Then when the shutter fired the aperture closed for a brief instant while the shutter was open and then it returned to full aperture.

Canon found a way to simplify the R mount and in April of 1964 they introduced the “FL” lens mount on the Canon FX camera. This was the introduction of the impressive F series of cameras.

As cameras developed Through the Lens Metering (TTL) became the next big thing and this had to be done at full aperture and what that aperture was had to be communicated to the camera. The FL mount could not do this. . And so in March of 1971 the FL Mount was replaced by the “FD” mount introduced on the original F-1 camera body.

The last camera body to have the FL mount was the Canon TL introduced in 1968. 1964 to 1968 is not a long time for something as basic as a lens mount to be offered but camera competition and development at this time was frenetic. The camera companies were leapfrogging over each other to offer new features. In all there were 33 FL lenses of all focal lengths brought to market in that short span of time.

The letters FL and FD apparently have no particular meaning and I have not seen any explanation of why these designations were chosen.

This lens design was based on the concept that the lens not turn as it was mounted on the camera so that the mating surfaces would not wear against each other and to simplify the engagement of the aperture pin on the rear surface of the lens. This was accomplished by putting a “Breach Lock Ring” on the back of the lens that turned without turning the lens to engage locking lugs on the camera body.

On the back (to the left) of this lens you can see the “Breach Lock Ring”. On the front (to the right) you can see the silver aperture setting ring.

The single pin on the back of an FL lens is shown. Note how uncluttered the back of an FL lens looks. The locking lugs on the Breach Lock Ring are clearly visible.

The distinguishing features of this lens, aside from the “FL” letters inscribed in the front lens ring, are the two silver rings, the Breach Lock Ring and the Aperture Selection Ring,  that are visible in the picture to the left and the single Automatic Aperture Pin protruding from the back of the lens. It is easily recognized.

The desired f/stop is selected on the Aperture Selection Ring but the lens remains wide open. When the shutter is pressed the camera body has a lever that engages the Automatic Aperture Pin and the lens shuts down to the previously selected f/stop. Then the shutter curtain is released, the exposure is made, and the lens reopens to full aperture. It happens in the blink of an eye.

This predates automatic exposure settings and so the only information communicated to the lens is that the shutter is about to fire and the lens must stop down. Thus a single pin suffices.

The neat clean appearance of the rear surface of the lens is a clear giveaway that this is an FL lens. So now you too can recognize what you are looking at when you hold an FL lens at a camera show!

The distinguishing features of this lens, aside from the “FL” letters inscribed in the front lens ring, are the two silver rings, the Breach Lock Ring and the Aperture Selection Ring,  that are visible in the picture to the left and the single Automatic Aperture Pin protruding from the back of the lens. It is easily recognized.

The desired f/stop is selected on the Aperture Selection Ring but the lens remains wide open. When the shutter is pressed the camera body has a lever that engages the Automatic Aperture Pin and the lens shuts down to the previously selected f/stop. Then the shutter curtain is released, the exposure is made, and the lens reopens to full aperture. It happens in the blink of an eye.

This predates automatic exposure settings and so the only information communicated to the lens is that the shutter is about to fire and the lens must stop down. Thus a single pin suffices.

The neat clean appearance of the rear surface of the lens is a clear giveaway that this is an FL lens. So now you too can recognize what you are looking at when you hold an FL lens at a camera show!

 

 

No.  Name Released Min.Aperture Blades Groups Elements Filter Weight
1  FL 35mm f/2.5 Mar 64 16 6 5 7 58mm 352gr
2 FL 50mm f/1.8 (I) Mar 64 16 6 4 6 48mm 228gr
3 FL 58mm f/1.2 (I) Mar 64 16 8 5 7 58mm 410gr
4  FL 200mm f/3.5 (I) Mar 64 22 8 5 7 58mm 660gr
5  FL 55-135mm f/3.5 Mar 64 22 8 10 13 58mm 780gr
6  FL 19mm f/3.5 Aug 64 16 6 7 9 58mm 150gr
7  FL 85mm f/1.8 Sep 64 16 8 4 5 58mm 445gr
8  FL 100mm f/3.5 Oct 64 22 6 4 5 48mm 278gr
9  FL 50mm f/1.4 Apr 65 16 8 4 6 58mm 280gr
10  FL 85-300mm f/5 Apr 65 22 6 9 15 72mm 1850gr
11  FLP 38mm f/2.8 May 65 16 6 3 4 48mm 210gr
12  FL 135mm f/2.5 May 65 16 8 4 6 58mm 645gr
13  FLM 50mm f/3.5 Jun 65 22 6 3 4 58mm 295gr
14  FL 19mm f/3.5R Nov 65 16 6 9 11 Series IX 500gr
15  FL 58mm f/1.2 (II) Mar 66 16 8 5 7 58mm 410gr
16  FL 200mm f/3.5 (II) May 66 22 8 5 7 58mm 680gr
17  FL 50mm f/1.4 (I) Sep 66 16 8 5 6 58mm ?
18  FL 135mm f/3.5 Sep 66 22 8 3 4 48mm 434gr
19  FL 200mm f/4.5 Sep 66 22 8 4 5 48mm 555gr
20  FL 28mm f/3.5 Dec 66 16 6 7 7 58mm 240gr
21  FL 100-200mm f/5.6 Dec 66 22 8 5 8 55mm 650gr
22  FL 50mm f/1.8 (II) Mar 68 16 6 4 6 48mm 280gr
23  FL 35mm f/3.5 May 68 16 6 6 6 48mm 270gr
24  FL 50mm f/1.4 (II) May 68 16 8 6 7 58mm 340gr
25  FL 55mm f/1.2 Jul 68 16 8 5 7 58mm 480gr
26  FL-F 300mm f/5.6 Mar 69 22 8 6 7 58mm 850gr
27  FL-F 500mm f/5.6 Jun 69 22 6 5 6 95mm 2700gr
28  FLM 100mm f/4 Sep 69 22 8 3 5 48mm 220gr
29  FL 400mm f/5.6 Sep 71 32 8 4 5 48mm 3890gr
30  FL 600mm f/5.6 Sep 71 32 8 5 6 48mm 5000gr
31  FL 800mm f/8 Sep 71 32 8 5 7 48mm 5360gr
32  FL 1200mm f/11 Jun 72 64 8 5 7 48mm 6200gr
33  FL 300mm f/2.8 S.S.C. Florite Feb 74 32 12 5 6 2340gr

FL Lenses in the Collection

Here are some of the FL lenses I have been able to acquire so far. It is a time consuming process to shop on Craig’s List and E-bay. And of course I am working on a budget. It would be no fun if I just went out and bought one of everything. Where would the thrill of the hunt be? I would miss the satisfaction of finding a good bargain.

I have more than you see here because it takes time and work to get them all listed.

FL 50mm f/1.8
Standard lens for the early F Series

Canon FL 19mm f/3.5

FL 19mm f/3.5
Super wide lens for the early F Series

Canon FL 50mm f/1.4 I

FL 50mm f/1.4 I
Kit lens Upgrade for F Series

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