Competitors of the Nikkor 1.2/55 mm. standard lens

In the 1960's many lens makers introduced fast prime lenses; and many did/could not! Leitz made very nice fast lenses for its Leica rangefinder cameras, but not for its SLR cameras (which were actually Minolta-clones). It was difficult to produce a fast lens (f/1.2 and larger) with a focal length of 45 - 50 mm. for SLR cameras. Many lens makers used a focal length of 52, 55, 56, 57 or 58 mm. in combination with a maximum aperture of f/1.2, f/1.4 - f/2.

The only manufacturers that introduced a standard lens with 1.2/55 mm. specifications were Canon and Olympus. Pentax and Minolta offered (since 1966) no 1.2/55mm. lenses but one with a focal length of 50 mm or 58 mm. in the late 1970's. Fuji introduced their fast Fujinon with a focal length of 56 mm. All others made use of a fast lens produced by Tomioka in Japan.


Tomioka Optical Company, founded in 1924, became member of Carl Zeiss Japan in 1974. It produced a very nice 1.2/55mm. lens in 42mm. screw mount (1971 - 1974) and so it did for well-known camera manufacturers like

Chinon (founded in 1948 in Japan, since 2004 owned by Kodak Japan), - Auto Chinon

Fuji (founded in 1934 as an offshoot of Dai-Nippon Celluloid, Japan), - Fujinon

Cosina (founded in 1959 in Nagano, Japan; since 2005 partnership with Zeiss), - MC Cosinon

Yashica (founded in 1945 in Japan and merged with Kyocera in 1983), - Auto Yashinon

Riken Kankosh Co. (founded in 1936 in Japan), - Rikenon

Vivitar (founded in Hollywood, USA in 1938 by Max Ponder and John Best; renamed in 1979 Vivitar, since 2008 owned by Sakar International) - Vivitar Series I - and camera distributors like

Photo-Porst (brand name: Porst; - founded in 1919 by Hans Porst, Nuremberg, Germany) - Porst Color Reflex - and by

Foto-Quelle (brand name: Revue; - founded in 1957 in Nuremberg, Germany and since 1970 the world's largest photographic retailer). - Auto Revuenon and Revuenon.

The Tomioka design has 7 elements in 6 groups, a filter size of 55 mm. Due to production improvements there are some differences in performance. The brand name Tomioka disappeared after the take-over by Carl Zeiss in 1974.


Canon introduced the following fast lenses (after it already had a 1.2/58 mm. in R-mount since February 1962):

Lens mount introduced elements in groups diaphragm blades minimum focus filter size weight
FL July 1968 7 in 5 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 480 gr.
FD March 1971 7 in 5 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 565 gr.
FD - AL March 1971 8 in 6 (2nd element is ground aspherical) 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 605 gr.
FD - SSCC March 1973 7 in 5 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 565 gr.
FD - SSCC - AL March 1973 8 in 6 (2nd element is ground aspherical) 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 575 gr.
FD - SSCC - AL March 1975 8 in 6 (2nd element is ground aspherical) 8 0.6 meter 58 mm. 575 gr.

Left: Canon FL 1.2/55mm. - Right: Canon FD 1.2/55 mm.



Olympus offered in the late 1960's a G-Zuiko Auto-S 1.2/55 mm. having an optical formula of 7 elements in 6 groups, of which the second group from the front had a concave element! This lens can be focused down to 45 cm., has a filter size of 55 mm. and weighs 310 gr.

G-Zuiko Auto-S 1.2/55 mm.


All lenses mentioned here can be used wide open without any restrictions. Overall sharpness and contrast - however - will improve (in some cases dramatically) when the lens will be stopped down with one or two diaphragm stops. Most lenses are at their best a f/2.8 - f/5.6; at f/8 and smaller performance will decrease. Field curvature is evident full open, as well as depth of field. Even compared with the fast Nikkor it is difficult to announce a winner! Under very critical circumstances the aspherical Canon lenses may give better results.