Data sheet: Canon EF 35 mm f/2

Pekka Buttler, 01/2024


The table below summarises the lens’ key specifications (measurements based on pictured sample):

Brand:CanonLens nameEF 35mm 1:2
Focal length(s)135 mmAngle-of-view263°
Maximum Aperturef/2In Production1990–2012
Lens mountCanon EFSubfamily (if applicable)
Length342,7 mmDiameter467,5 mm
Filter ring diameter52 mmWeight192 grams
Lens element count7Lens group count5
Aperture blades (S/R/C)55 SFocus throw180 °
Minimum focusing distance25 cmsMaximum magnification1:4,3
Has manual aperture ringNOHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• When Canon introduced its EF system in 1987, they initially offered only a handful of primes: a 15 mm fisheye, EF28/2.8, EF50/1.8 [data sheet], EF50/2.5 Compact Macro, EF135/2.8 Soft Focus, and EF300/2.8. In 1988–1989 the list of primes was added to with 4 pro lenses (EF50/1.0L, EF85/1.2L, EF200/1.8L and EF600/4*L and one prosumer prime (the EF24/2.8). The lack of a 35 mm prime was conspicuous.
• The Canon EF 35 f/2 was introduced in 1990. Importantly, this lens had no relationship to any of Canon’s earlier 35 mm f/2 lenses. While this lens used a 7 elements in 5 groups design, the previous FD 35 mm f/2 lenses had used a 9 or 10 elements in 8 groups design.
• Moreover, while the f/2 version of the 35 mm prime had previously been Canon’s premium offering, on the EF system, this lens was destined to be a prosumer offering.
• Being an autofocus lens built for the still current Canon EF mount, this lens does not qualify as legacy lens, but for me personally it is a bit of a classic.
• Besides a narrow (but functional) focus ring, this lens has a switch for engaging/disengaging the in-lens autofocus motor (the switch should be in manual mode for manual focusing). The lens does not have an aperture ring. That functionality must be supplied by the body (or adapter).
• As is typical for early Canon EF lenses, the rubber compound used for the focus ring has become sticky with age. Hence (as in the picture above) it has a tendency to gather dust and fabrics.
• This lens features a groove for attaching a lens hood. The Canon EW-65 II (not EW-65 C) is the lens hood intended for this lens.

History of Canon EF lenses

Canon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. Ever since the 1959 introduction of the Canonflex – Canon’s first interchangeable lens SLR – Canon has constantly focused on being at the forefront of Camera innovation. Often this has necessitated taking stock and redesigning both cameras, lenses and lens mounts. Unlike its arch-rival Nikon, Canon has not tried to integrate all novel features in the same lens mount, but has instead repeatedly launched new, modified mounts to facilitate new features, while still sometimes (but not always) managing to maintain some degree of backwards compatibility.

In short, the development of Canon SLR mounts can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1963: R-mount 6. Canon’s first SLR lens mount. Breech lock-type mount with aperture automation (camera is able to stop down lens for taking the shot.
• 1964–1969: FL-mount. Breech-lock type mount, physically similar mount as Canon R-mount, but camera-to-lens communication linkages somewhat different. Cannot communicate selected aperture to body (stop-down-metering only).
• 1970–1978: FD-mount. Breech-lock mount. FD lenses compatible with FL-cameras and vice versa. Manual focus lenses that communicate aperture information to camera, hence opening the door for automatic exposure (both shutter priority and aperture priority possible)
• 1979–1986: new FD-mount (a.k.a. FDn). Bayonet mount, backwards compatible with FL and FD mounts. Otherwise, as FD mount.
• 1987–today: EF-mount. Electronically controlled autofocus lenses that use an internal focusing motor. Compatible with previous mount lenses only using an adapter with optics.

Canon was not the first camera maker to introduce an autofocus SLR system (that honour goes to Minolta), nor was Canon actually in the top three (the runners up were Nikon and Olympus), but when Canon finally entered the AF race, they did so very thoroughly. Not only did they do so introducing a fully electronic mount (no mechanical interfaces, not even for aperture stop-down), but they also launched an impressive lineup of lenses. In the first years (1987–1989) after the introduction of the Canon EF/EOS system, Canon had launched 11 prime lenses (including a 15 mm fisheye, 24, 28, 50/1.8, 50/1.0, 50 macro, 85, 135, 200, 300 and 600 mm lenses), 12 zooms and 2 extenders.

Related versions

Canon has a long history of manufacturing f/2 35 mm lenses, that can be summarised (based on data from the Canon camera museum) as:

• FD 35 mm f/2 chrome nose (I) (1971–1971), 9 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 420 grams (concave front lens surface)
• FD 35 mm f/2 chrome nose (II) (1971–1973), 9 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 420 grams (concave front lens surface)
• FD 35 mm f/2 chrome nose (III) (1973–1973), 9 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 420 grams (concave front lens surface) [data sheet] 7
• FD 35 mm f/2 ‘S.S.C’ (I) (1973–1976), 9 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 370 grams (concave front lens surface)
• FD 35 mm f/2 ‘S.S.C’ (II) (1976–1979), 9 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 345 grams (convex front lens surface)
• FDn 35 mm f/2 (1979–1993 8), 10 elements in 8 groups, 55 mm filter, 8 blades, 245 grams (convex front lens surface)
• EF 35 mm f/2 (1990–2012), 7 elements in 5 groups, 52 mm filter, 5 blades, 210 grams [this lens]
• EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM (2012–), 10 elements in 8 groups, 67 mm filter, 8 blades, 335 grams


This lens can be used natively and retaining its full functionality on any Canon EF SLR – film or digital. Moreover, using the Canon EF-RF adapter, this lens can be used retaining its full functionality on all Canon RF mirrorless bodies.

Being an electronic aperture lens, the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable smart adapter. However, due to the age of its AF technology, AF performance with third party adapters may be somewhat hit-and-miss.

Moreover, a large range of special adapters (including speed boosters) for using Canon EF lenses on most mirrorless systems are available.

Using Canon EF lenses on non-Canon dSLRs is nigh impossible due to the combination of an electronic aperture mechanism and the Canon EF mount’s shorter than normal Flange Focal Distance.


1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.

2 Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens

3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.

4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.

5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.

6 The Canon-R mount should possibly be renamed to (or referred to) as the Canonflex mount to avoid confusion with the modern mirrorless mount that is sometimes also referred to as the Canon R mount.

7 According to some sources, the best way of identifying these ‘chrome nose versions’ are the serial numbers:
Version I: 10000–12199
Version II: 12200–20000
Version III: 20001– (The 1st S.S.C version starts at 50000)

8 While Canon had launched the EF cameras and lenses in 1987, manufacture of both FD bodies and lenses did continue. The date given here (1993) is based on the last date code I was able to find on eBay.

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