Simmod Lens launches DIY conversion kit for Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L lens

Simmod Lens has announced the launch of a remanufactured glass rear element for the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L lens. The new product will be available as an affordable DIY solution.

About Simmod Lens

Simmod Lens supplies conversion kits to modify (“mod”) photographic stills lenses into cinema lenses more suited for video use. The company used to offer a mail-in lens modification service but now only supplies DIY kits. Their products include aluminum follow-focus gears, lens mounts and lens caps.

Why the Canon FD 85mm f1.2?

The Canon FD mount range of lenses was discontinued by the mid-1990s. However, many of these vintage lenses are highly sought after because of their high-quality optics and vintage look. As an L series lens, the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 is renowned for its optical performance. It is said to be super sharp, even wide open at f/1.2. It is a completely manual lens.

Why make a glass element for an old lens?

Simmod Lens used to offer a modding service to replace the FD mount on the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 lens with an EF mount. It was not offered as a DIY conversion due to the difficulty of removing the rear glass element from the lens. Because of the lens design, it was very easy to crack, chip or scratch the rear element while removing it. However, now that Simmod Lens can supply an affordable replacement, you can carry out the service yourself. Then if the lens element does get damaged, you can easily replace it.

Technical challenge

Simmod Lens faced a complex technical challenge when designing its remanufactured glass rear element. The formulation and specification for the FD 85mm f1.2 were not available from Canon.  As a result, Simmod Lens had to use an extremely complex manual glass-shaping process to match the original 40-year-old lens. The company also used modern measurement and manufacturing methods to replicate the lens successfully.

What we think

Old photo lenses can give your video a unique organic look. In comparison, many modern lenses have an overly sharp, clinical look. This is the reason that so many filmmakers use black mist-type filters to reduce highlights and lower contrast in their images. The new DIY kit from Simmod Lens means that you can use the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 without having to send off your lens for an expensive modding service. Of course, you still need to find your own copy of this fabulous vintage lens first.

Pricing and availability

The Simmod Lens FD-to-EF cine conversion kit for the FD 85mm f1.2 L can be ordered with the replacement element as standard. This means that if you do damage the glass element you don’t need to wait for a replacement to arrive before finishing the modification. You can also order the kit without the glass element and the glass element separately.

The full Simmod FD-to-EF Cine Conversion kit for the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L lens costs $330 including taxes and shipping. This includes a brass Edmika lens mount, the remanufactured rear element and a JIS screwdriver.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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