Canon Serenar 100mm f/2

The Canon 100mm f/2  Serenar lens is an “S” Mount lens, designed for the Canon Rangefinder cameras of the late 1940 and 1950s.  These lenses are compatible with the Leica Thread Mount (LTM) and, using a suitable adapter, can be mounted on many modern cameras like the Ricoh GXR.  They  were marketed by Canon starting January 1959 at the price of 33,000 yen.  According to the Canon Camera Museum, this series of lenses were named “Serenar” by a Canon employee in an in-house naming contest. The word “Serenar” was coined from “Serene”, the name of the sea on the moon (the Sea of Serenity) and an adjective meaning “tranquil”.

This lens is a “Planar” design – Planar being a registered Carl-Zeiss trademark for some of their lenses as well as a general term used to describe classic anastigmatic lenses design.  This particular Canon lens boasts 6 elements in 4 groups.  The iris is made up of 13 blades, with a minimum aperture of f/22.  Aperture stops are full stops f/2, f/2.8 etc.  The aperture ring has a very firm detent and clicks in place solidly.  The lens takes 58mm filters.  It is a large lens, especially by rangefinder standards with a length of 91 mm and a very solid heft to it – as one would expect from a lens made in the late ’50s, it’s a very solid lens – all metal construction that weighs in at 515 g.  The focusing throw is long – going from the closest focus distance of 1m to infinity is a few degrees shy of a full rotation.   It’s a single helicoid design, so the Aperture ring turns as one focuses.  The focusing scale has distances in both feet and meters, engraved into the metal of the lens barrel.  The meter markings are in a bright orange color.  In addition, the lens has depth of field scale too.

Here’s a top view of the 100/2 mounted on the Ricoh GXR:

and here’s a frontal view:

Here’s a series of images shot at different apertures that illustrate the oof renderings at a close focus distance of approximately 1m:

@ f/2:

@ f/2.8:

then @ f/5.6:

and then @ f/8:

It’s a lovely lens with a beautiful rendering.  I’ll have more to say about that soon.   Here’s an image that illustrates the out of focus (oof) rendering at it’s closest focusing distance of 1 m.  As you can see, it’s a brutally sharp lens – the white knight I focused on is rendered with extreme sharpness.  The foreground and background oof areas are pleasantly rendered.  Color rendition is excellent with good saturation.  Image was shot with the lens mounted on a Ricoh GXR M-mount module via a CV LTM-to-M-mount adapter.

Please click on the image to view a larger version:

The lens also renders expressive portraits.  This one was shot at about 1m, so it’s at the lens’ close focus limit.  It is very sharp though, to may not be the best for the soft, glamor-look portrait.

Please click on the image to view a larger version:

It’s a wonderful lens and definitely one that I’d love to use on my M9.  The challenge is that with an optical RF, I find that focusing lenses longer than 75mm is not very easy to do.  The central patch is too small and focusing fast lenses with critical accuracy is well nigh impossible  with any sort of reliability – for me, it’s a hit-or-miss effort, with more misses than hits.  The Ricoh GXR, with live-view and focus-peaking with magnification, offers a much better platform for fast rangefinder telephoto lenses like this Canon.


  1. Glen says:

    Always great to hear opinions about the lesser known older lenses — thanks for the very enjoyable write-up. I just got another lesser known: Sankyo Kohki Komura 105/2 LTM, also an older lens. Have only started using it with my Olympus OM-D and would like to use it more on my M6.

    • raaj says:

      Glad you enjoyed the write-up, Glen. Those Komura lenses can be great buys – they often go for very little and can be mounted easily on several m43 cameras, as well as devices like the Ricoh GXR. I believe the Komura 105/3 LTM is one of the Komura gems. Please do send links to images when you can – I’d love to see how that lens renders.


  2. Glen says:

    Raaj — only uploaded a few test shots so far:

  3. raaj says:

    Hi Glen,
    Love those images! Especially the ones from Nepal – the Gurkha images. You really should consider posting these on the forum. Look forward to when you upload the rest.


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