Super-Canomatic R 135mm 2.5

An image of a Super-Canomatic lens, front view with reflections on the lens surface
Front view of a Super Canomatic 135mm 2.5 lens.
Super-Canomatic R 135mm 2.5

Focal Lenght: 50mm
Max Apeture: 1.7
Lens Mount: M42
Min. Focus: 0.45 mm
Filter Size: 49mm
Weight: One Helios 44-2 (250 g)
Coated: MC
Year – 1980
Factory: KMZ
A/M switc

LENS STORY

This lens has been sitting in a box on a shelf for more than a year. 

Why, you might ask?

I picked it up on a whim – I had never read about a 2.5 Canon lens and I wanted to see what uncoated Canon optics could do. I was curious about the Canon FL mount as well.

This lens is heavier than any 135 lens I own. I feel even my 135mm 2.8 Pentacon is lighter, which is saying something.

I had some travel lined up and while pondering which lens to pick for the upcoming trip I decided I’d give it a whirl.

HANDLING

If you’re travelling light and don’t need something heavy to keep your bag/tent/friend pinned to the ground, don’t pick this lens. It’s massive and well built. The slightly flimsy Canon FL mount made me a bit nervous, since it felt a bit wobbly. With the Canon FL mount, you turn a ring to “tighten the lens” on the camera. There wasn’t a click or any lock to my adapter, so I ended up tightening it up as much as I could and checking on it every time I took the camera out of my bag.

The style of preset aperture baffles me a bit. You have two rings – the first one clicks for each aperture stop, while the other opens and closes the aperture. The thing is the first ring doesn’t limit how much the aperture closes on my copy.(could this be the intended purpose or is it broken?)
The first ring is there so you know where to stop when turning the second ring and close down. This means you need to take the camera off of your photo-taking face and fiddle with 2 rings if you want a specific aperture.

OPTICAL PERFORMANCE

It’s not a very sharp lens, wide-open, stopped down, I found sharpness to be lacking. 

Is that a bad thing? Not really, I found it performed really well when taking portraits and was quite pleased with the results. 

The lens does render color a bit on the cold side, so expect a blue-ish tint, which means skin sometimes appears a bit weird. It’s still fixable in post and gives images an interesting feel. 

Chromatic aberrations are surprisingly well controlled for a lens this old. You do see some wide open, but stop down and poof! they’re gone. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although the Canon FL 135 2.5 performs really well with portraits, it’s weight, inconvenient aperture ring and size alone would stop me from picking one up. 

For half the weight and better performance, you can easily get another 135 lens, which albeit not as light on the pocket, will be lighter on your camera bag.