Living a fantasy : Canon FL 55mm F:1.2

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by nianys, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    There are myth and fantasies that we sometimes have opportunities to make happen.
    Super fast primes have and almost cult status, as they are bigger, less common, more expensive than what we usually shoot with.
    Recently I decided to treat myself to a well regarded super fast 50is lens, the Canon FL 55mm F:1.2.

    The copy I bought is in mint condition, and a very beautiful item.


    It would have been pretty unwieldy on the 5N, but is actually rather well balanced on the 6. Obviously wide open, the DOF is *razor* thin, and achieving critical focus with moving subject is pretty tricky. Plus my kid was VERY active tonight, so I had a helluva tight getting it right.


    The lens is a bit low on contrast at max aperture (as expected, of course). However, sharpness is already quite good, and with a bit of PP files look very good.


    I really need to practice with this lens, which is pretty challenging, so be gentle ;)

    with a bit of added contrast it looks gorgeous in B&W.


    Here you can see how thin DOF truly is :

    And a last pic, shot with the Minolta MD 50/1.7 that I happened to be also testing today :
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    What a great series, Marla. Lens seems to be a winner in your hands.
  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Another nice series and a great lens.
  4. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    I am so jealous! But you know that already. How is the performance at f1.8-2? Mine is expected on Monday and comes with box and hood :p

    Could you take some tabletop objects with that razor thin DoF? I almost wish I had the FD version to compare now
  5. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    The FD version of this lens (SSC, non-aspherical) wasn't very good at f/1.2 but was good from f/2 and very sharp by f/4. From the looks of it the FL version is smaller in size.
  6. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Sorry, I haven't got around to shooting anything else than my kid (partly because I think that lens loves her !).
    Tonight I decided to test a few things on the NEX6, which I'm still getting acquainted with, as I got it late on Sunday.

    First, the 55/1.2 is certainly a powerful portrait tool. If you nail focus (which is really tricky due to the razor thin DOF), it's already adequatey sharp wide. It does lack contrast at maw aperture, but sharpness and definition are there.


    Wide open with critical focus achieved :

    At an intermediate setting between 1.2 and 2 (no clickable stop between those, so it's a bit of a guess, I'd venture 1.7 or 1.8) :

    At F2 :

    Now this gets interesting. I tried shooting the camera without flash, at ISO1600. WB is all over the place, but noise is very, very well contained (noise reduction set to LOW and NO PP denoising whasoever, jpeg file).

    And this is with the built-in flash held back in bounced position :

    Note this is 90% as good as the results with the external, bigger flashgun !! Unlike the GX-1, the 6 offers no way to hold the little flash unit in bounce position. I need to find a way to do this, as it gives excellent results without having to deal with the added bulk of the SB-600.

    Wide open with external flash again. This is typical of the soft creaminess at 1.2 :
  7. teefin1

    teefin1 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    Love them all, the one showing the LOVE 'tat' is adorable.
  8. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Thanks! Could you clarify what you meant here - are you talking about the built in flash being unable to hold in bounce position? I thought they were all bounceable / articulated? Or you have to physically hold it in place?
  9. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    i love your photos, all are great, you work very good with those 50mm :D
  10. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    That's it, it doesn't "click" in bounced position as it does on the GX-1, you have to hold it in place (very awkward). It works great though (better than the Panny's flash, it seems to have way more power) so I'm looking for a technique to hold it there. Any input welcome.
  11. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Thank you Freddy, and hope everything soon goes back to normal on your end. Thanks for sharing the beautiful after storm pictures.
  12. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    I think people with the NEX-7 were just using their finger to hold the pop-up flash in a bounce position. I don't think I've seen any gizmo to hold it there for you.
  13. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2012
    I have a NEX-7. I just hold it back with my index finger and press the shutter with my middle finger. You get used to it.
  14. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    My 55/1.2 arrived yesterday evening but my wife was out and I hadn't got home, so I had to go to the post office this morning to pick it up. Unfortunately I was then out till evening and got very little camera time with it.

    But wow, it is in amazing condition, it's hard to believe the lens is older than me :D and the DoF is crazy thin. Unfortunately it's pretty soft at f1.2 from my very brief experiments with it so far. But at the first stop after (f1.4?) it sharpens a lot and by f4 it is great. One thing though, the stops don't feel like double the light, not even close. There is a lot of diminishing returns below f2 in my opinion, don't know if that's because of the sensor, the crop, or whatever other reasons. It's still a fabulous lens though.
  15. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 25, 2011
    I read a study somewhere that said digital sensors have trouble below f2.8. So shutter speed being equal each stop below 2.8 does NOT drop your ISO a whole stop. My anecdotal usage seems to confirm this but haven't done any real testing.
  16. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    I don't know about the progression of light gathering within the 55/1.2, I only know that it seems to gather WAY more light than another lens, at SIMILAR F stops ?!? For instance, if I stop it down to F:1.8, I have to use ISO 200 for 1/160th, but if I swap another nifty still at 1.8, I need to bump the ISO to 400 to stay with 1/160th... The lack of clickable, or at list identified increments between 1.2 and 2 is a pain, you have to "guess" where you are. I stick the ring right in the middle and assume I'm anywhere between 1.5 and 1.7, and it's already amazingly sharp for such wide apertures.
  17. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Yes, I was just thinking this! At f2 it is definitely brighter than my 28/2 and it even seems brighter than the SEL 50/1.8 wide open - anecdotally. I am loving the fact that I can use ISO800 in my dimly lit house at night and don't need to go wide open either, unless I want to. This is priceless to me, I only wish they had 35mm versions.
    Yeah, I assume the first click marked with only a dot is f1.4 but there's a huge gap from there to f2. Wish it could have had some half stops there
  18. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Here's my unscientific shootout result:

    Above is the SEL50F18, below is the Canon FD 55/1.2, both are shot at F2.0:
    50_55 shootout.jpg
    Now the crops aren't perfectly accurate, hence the "unscientific" result, but I've swapped the two top right corners of each crop with each other, and the result shows the SEL50 on the FD55's background is darker, while the FD55 on the SEL50 is brighter (sorry for JPEG mangling, that is the forum's fault).

    Make what you will of that!
  19. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    Now some live shots:

    I love how it resolves this toy's very black fur in very dim conditions:

    Thin DoF money shot

    And doing what a portrait lens does best (pretty sure these were shot at f1.4)

    Check out the funky bokeh generated off woodshine:
  20. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    ^^x2 :thumbup: ;)
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