Vintage Canon Serenar Lenses

In the 1990’s my Dad was given some old camera equipment by a relative. At the time my father didn’t think much about it as it was an old camera bag with a rangefinder camera, some m39 mount lenses, and accessories. He wasn’t much interested in the camera, as he had more modern equivalents, and the lenses weren’t important either as they weren’t compatible. Fast forward 20 years later and it looks like a treasure trove.

What was inside the camera bag was a 1950’s era Canon III camera with three Serenar lenses – 35, 50, and 85mm – along with filters, some flash bulbs and original manuals. The lenses were in excellent shape – no scratches or signs of significant wear. Being a micro 4/3 camera owner, he knew they likely would work on his camera. After purchasing the m39 to micro 4/3 adapters he began to test and play around with them.

These lenses, a 35mm f/3.5, 50mm f/1.9, and 85mm f/2.0, are fantastically small, durable, and beautiful. They have a heft of a much larger lens, being built of solid brass, but are quite small by comparison with today’s auto-everything lenses. Being entirely manual they have no electrical or mechanical connection with the camera. You have to adjust the aperture and focus using solid-feeling rings on the body of the lens.

Me being me, I knew I would want to take these things apart and clean them. After 60+ years of mostly lying around the grease tends to dry out and stiffen. The lenses worked, but could use improvement. The apertures were a little tight and one has some stuff loose between the aperture and lens elements. I was afraid it was broken aperture blades, but it proved to be black paint.

Armed with my tools and cleaning supplies I set out to CLA these neat old lenses into like-new operating condition. My first post for the 50mm is here:

5 thoughts on “Vintage Canon Serenar Lenses

  1. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you,
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  2. Thank you so much for these detailed explanations. I got a 35mm f3.5 Canon Serenar a few months ago and was pleased with my first images. But after reading that these lenses could get some haze and/or fungus over time, I took a closer look under a magnifies and saw that it indeed had some fungus. Because of your instructions I was able to disassemble it and could (thankfully) clean the lens element that had the fungus. It’s reassembled and back on the camera. I’m now inclined to see if there’s a decent 85mm out there to add to the image making arsenal. Given their “character” it can be so rewarding using 70+ year old lenses. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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