I currently have a canon cl 8-120mm f/1.4-2.1 lens which uses the VL mount. Canon's goal appeared to have been to make this a standard system similar to the Micro Four Thirds system. See http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/history/canon_story/1987_1991/1987_1991.html (the section that mentions the VL mount is called Steady Refinement of Video Camcorder Technology).

I already performed many searches using Google and this website. So far all that I have found is that the flange distance is 20mm according to http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Lens_mounts.

I would like to be able to hook the lens up to a microcontroller and operate the lens. This will require having access to the pinout of the lens and a protocol specification in order to send commands to the lens. Does anyone have access to these? I do not have any cameras that use this lens system. I have access to only the lens itself. I added the reverse-engineering tag in case anyone has done any reverse engineering on the lens. I would like to hear about that as well.

Also I have read discussions about this lens and it seems that other people have unreasonable goals such as mounting this lens on their DSLR. Someone will then point out that the lens will not cover the entire sensor. To save everyone some time; I am already aware of this. I will use this for smaller sensors.

4 Answers 4


The Canon CL 8-120mm f/1.4-2.1 lens was designed to be used with the Canon EX1/EX2 Hi8 Video Camera with a VL mount.

Canon also had a EOS to VL mount adapter so EF lenses could be used on these cameras.

I would expect the pin arrangement should be the same as for an EF lens.

enter image description here

enter image description here

The bad news is that the sensor size for the Canon EX1 was 1/2" which is considerably smaller than Micro 4/3.

enter image description here

  • Thank you very much! This is the best answer in the world!
    – qwer_2002
    Oct 4, 2018 at 21:13

Canon CL VL Pinout - Camera Side

Pinout (from camera side in picture) and protocol (SPI like) used is quite different from Eos. It consists of 14 bytes : 2 for header and 3 blocks of 4 bytes for the tree units (AF,IRIS and ZOOM). There is a patent (EP0483822B1) discussing this.


enter image description here

This is very informative. And this is the only other piece of info I found about this lens. Someone modified it and made it usable (but no description) just the photo in Russian which I translated to English. So, if you do manage to make it work - let me know how you did it. Thank you.

  • cool lens, very underestimated. And the whole problem is in the brains of the lens, it understands only the video camera - its mother. But it’s fixable.
    – Charlie La
    Oct 21, 2022 at 17:22
  • I solved this very simple problem. I disassembled, threw out the brain board, after biting out the 7-pin connector from it, threw out a kind of electric magnet or a stepper motor (dunno) - a diaphragm control with a bunch of wires.
    – Charlie La
    Oct 21, 2022 at 17:23
  • By the way, the diaphragm without supplying a voltage is always closed. Brought out the slider to control the diaphragm manually. Two engines: focus and zoom soldered to the 7-pin connector and connected to the block. I made an adapter with 4 motor control contacts. This lens is for 1/2, 1/1.8 matrix size. As a camera, I use a runcam heading for a copter with an analog video output directly to the monitor. Similar lenses for outdoor cameras are much more expensive. On ebay they’re given away. If you do not want to bother with the adapter, take the converter and remove it from there.
    – Charlie La
    Oct 21, 2022 at 17:24
  • This I found on asome Russian forum and I actually think it’s from the same dude who posted this image, as the process described is the same. So, I myself did not yet try it.
    – Charlie La
    Oct 21, 2022 at 17:25

If you can't find pinouts the best approach is to buy a multimeter and try testing the contacts yourself to determine their functions.

Alternatively you could take the lens apart to view what components are used ic's etc... From there you might be able to find specific data sheets regarding the specific components and their uses!

It might also be a possibility as its quite and old lens their is no digital connection only analogue. In which case you don't need to worry about protocols only the specific voltages.

It might also be worth seeing if you could track down information regarding cameras that supported the VL mount as you might find a pinouts or data sheet.

Sorry I couldn't have been of anymore help.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.