My Thoughts on the Canon FL 35mm 1:2.5

A few months back I discovered this lens at my local camera store. This is a beautiful lens. This is not a pixel peeper’s lens, but this lens can handle all kinds of situations.

To catch everybody up on the FL lens mount. The FL mount was the predecessor of the manual-focus FD lens mount. They share essentially the mount, but all the lenses in the series are a breech lock. FL lenses do operate on FD camera bodies, just without any automatic metering. Everything works just in MANUAL. You can keep the lens in A and the camera will stop down the lens when the shutter fires.

While aperture or shutter priority does not work properly, you can use stop-down metering to get your exposure. Each camera handles that a little differently. A quick Google search should help you figure that out.

Let’s talk about what’s so great about it and what’s frustrating about it.

The things that I like.

  • Easy to grab scalloped focusing ring
  • Easy to read aperture ring and distance scale.
  • Standard 58mm front thread.
  • I happen to like the breech lock.
  • Image quality.
  • Bright in the viewfinder

What I find annoying.

  • The Auto/Manual switch to activate the aperture.¹
  • The lens recesses too far into an adapter necessitating the removal of the aperture activation pin in the adapter. Which makes the previous gripe more relevant.²
  • It uses one of those dumb lens hoods that slips over the outside of the barrel and needs to be tightened with a tiny set screw.

Figure 1.

Most FL lenses have a very easy A / M switch. This stops down the aperture. The 35mm FL version that I have is not as simple. As you stop down the lens you have to make sure the switch is pushed all the way to the left.

Although this is inconvenient, it is only an issue if you are adapting the lens to a mirrorless camera.

Figure 2.

Note the pin the in the left adapter. This stops down the lens when mounted onto a mirrorless camera. The adapter on the right, I removed so I could mount this lens. Once that pin is removed you have to reinstall it to use FD lenses. If you are only using FL lenses with it, you must be sure to set the aperture switch to M. Then you are good to go.

The image below is to illustrate why you have to remove the pin. The lens mounts deep into the adapter and the pin keeps it from mounting properly.

Final thoughts.

It’s a good lens, lots of character (not optically perfect). I love using it. It feels good in the hands. Sure it’s a pain in the ass on a mirrorless camera. If you work slow, then this lens isn’t that much trouble.

Here’s a gallery of images shot with it.

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