Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42 Mount Lens

Comments from MAWK piqued my interest about the Olympus M42 lenses.  I did some search on the web, and came up with a page about the Olympus FTL camera system. The 50mm f1.8 was one of the handful of lenses from the FTL system. MAWK is right. The FTL lenses were not made by, or at least, not designed by Olympus. Strangely, the more I looked at the FTL camera, the more it reminds of the Mamiya-Seiko 1000 series of SLRs. These cameras had a locking mechanism similar to the Olympus FTL, and they even look similar. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the FTL was designed/made by Mamiya-Seiko. Of course, I am only guessing here.

Back to the 50mm f1.8. The lens is quite small, though not pancake like small and it's all metal construction. It has a 50mm f1.4 sister lens that looks very interesting with multi-coating, but I imagine it's not easy to find one. All of the FTL lenses were never made in quantity, as it was a stopgap product.

I mounted it on the NEX-6 today and took some sample shots. I was going to do it on the full frame, but thought better of it. Too heavy and focusing is not as easy as with the NEX-6. Let's just say that I have not encountered any truly bad standard lenses. Really, it takes more effort to design a bad 50mm lens :) The lens is very sharp, even at f1.8, it's very usable, though the bokeh is not much to my liking, especially when the out of focus background has specular highlights. Stopping down to f8, it's very sharp and has good micro contrast.

Green leaves - NEX-6 & Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42 @ f1.8. Click for larger.
Silhouette - NEX-6 & Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42. Click for larger.

Infinity focus sample - NEX-6 & Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42 @ f8. Click for larger.

Bokeh - NEX-6 & Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42. Click for larger.

Captain John's - NEX-6 & Olympus FTL 50mm f1.8 M42. 


  1. Nice photos! I have a set of these lenses, but I haven't tested them yet because I am unsure how I want to deal with the pin...file it off or remove it completely. I guess another option would be to cut a slot into the adapter to make clearance for the locking pin...which did you do? Also, did you use the flanged adapter or the adapter without the flange?


    1. Hi Glen,

      I just filed the locking pin down. Much easier than find an adapter with a slot. But if you are keeping these lenses as collectables, I would probably not file it. I just used an M42 to EOS, and EOS to NEX adapter on my NEX-6.

  2. Hi Yu-Lin,

    Thanks for the quick response. I am not worried about the collectibility of the lenses...I actually have 2 of the 135mm...I'll keep one of them intact. I want to use the lenses for video because of the clickless I guess filing it is the easiest route. Did you have any resistance with the aperture ring once you tightened down the adapter, I've read it can be an issue?

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work - really nice images...after seeing your results I can't wait to file down those pins!!!