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Canon 50mm F 0.95

Mount: Canon S( unique Bayonet mount specific to this lens)
year: 1960-1970(circa)
aperture range: F 0.95 thru F 16
7 elements in 5 groups, 10 aperture blades
Length (mm): 60mm
weight (g): 605

Adapter:  Obtained via Ebay  http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/182084450770?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT.

 

After almost two years of consideration I became  the owner of a Canon 50mm F0.95 lens.  I finally obtained one  reasonably affordably when a Westlicht Auctions in Vienna( where I live) were auctioning one at a time that coincided with my bank account having enough in it for me to bid.   This  rare  lens has a small but strong following  and is often found modified to Leica M mount. Exculding prototypes there are two variants   a range finder coupled and a TV version. The version I have is  Range finder coupled.

 

My long consideration  before purchasing was due to the combination of two important issues, cost and adaptability to my Sony A7rII.    I have made the mistake in the past of leaping to buy a legacy lens, due to the  enthusiastic reviews of others, and then finding it didn't perform in a manner I liked.  The "dream lens", as many have come to call it,  has many enthusiastic reviews  but very few cautionary tales. Noting the usual selling price from US$2000.00 through to US$3500.00 I was concerned that the hype might not match the "bucks" needed to obtain one.   The issues I was worried about before buying was Vignetting( a reported issue with Range finder lenses and FF E-mount cameras) and softness.   Well I got the lens and  now after nearly a month of ownership I can say clearly both those issues are present with the lens.  However I no longer care, I suspect every time I am out with this lens on my camera I am smiling.  Its important to be clear  this is no where near a perfect lens; its soft, it suffers from internal reflections, flare, spherical aberration, vignetting and its heavy and clunky( built like a world war II Tank).    If you want a sharp F 0.95 lens then you wouldn't want to go near this 1960s - early 1970s lens, instead  its either the Mitakon speedmaster or the Leica Noctilux you should be going for.   What I wanted, and got from the lens was the  dream like bokeh  and the 1930s film-star-glow the lens produces when wide open.    If you want a legacy lens with Bokeh and sharpness you would be much better off with the Minolta Rokkor 58mm F 1.2. The Rokkor will give you bokeh and  hair splitting sharpness, but what it won't do is give you the "glow".

 

The Dream lens seems to be a soft focus lens, a few years back  I owned the Rokkor 85mm Varisoft, and that lens is the only one that  I have used that comes close to what this Canon range finder lens does. Wide open, with the right lens -subject, subject - background distances, subjects, particularly faces, get a secondary glow about them that is reminiscent of the photos taken with the Leitz 90mm Thambar.  When you add in phenomenal subject background separation and  a unique buttery Bokeh this is a unique art lens.    It isn't for every one and I should mention one other significant fault: its size.  When adapted to M mount, Leica users find they have to use a credit card ( or similar) to operate the lens release button.  On the Sony A7rII  the necessary adapter frees  Sony users from that problem but for those with hands and fingers larger than Donald Trumps( sorry I couldn't resist)  holding the Sony A7rII with the dream lens attached is an issue. In the following photo I have marked  with two red lines, the gap between the lens barrel and camera grip.  That gap is uncomfortably small  and makes managing the lens Camera combination hard.   I am seriously considering getting the battery grip  to get around this irritation.

 

post-1054-0-83931200-1482063904_thumb.jpg

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The wide open stuff is just absolutely bonkers :-)   

   

I actually have lens of similar rendering, but it's 

85mm/1.5, and costs only a few hunnert USD. 

The "glow" wide open makes focusing at wide 

open hugely challenging even at 10X focus aid.

    

It does have a round aperture 16 blade iris and

overcooked spherical correction, and being 50 

yrs old it is also bulky and heavy. On a Speed 

Booster its 60mm/1.1 but then it will only cover

APS-C format, unless you're into making round 

images ... which kinda works well with the wide 

open rendering. 

  

It's a fun lens to mess with but I have not found 

a "legitimate" need, or application, for it yet. I'm 

allergic to blatant cliches, so it's a difficult quest. 

Acoarst, subtle cliches ... well, OK ... maybe ... 

Everything is to some degree cliche, otherwise 

human vision doesn't recognize what it sees !   

   

I gott a say, the 50 looks 200% cool on the a7-II. 

My 85 looks like a very sorry arranged marriage. 

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The lens, for me, has involved a significant learning curve.  Now  I only use it with he camera set to uncompressed raw.  The reason being is a significant part of the unique "charecter" of the images  produced by this lens is lost in Jpeg compression. I have taken to using an editing technique more applicable to medium and large format photography; before each series of shots I take one picture  with a sheet of white photocopy paper over the lens.  This creates a reference shot that I use in Capture one 9 pro for sony to create an LCC ( Lens Cast calibration) reference. I then apply it  to all subsequent shots in the Lens calibration section of the menu. This takes the guess work out of correcting Vignetting etc ( this lens does vignette). Here is a shot appropriate to the Season.

 

post-1054-0-27816100-1482308905_thumb.jpg

 

I will probably get told off by my wife for posting the next 2(actually three shots)   I mentioned at the start of this thread that the lens , wide open, produces a glow however, none of the previous photos really show it unless you know what you are looking for. Last night we were at a restaurant and I  took a number of shots.  The following picture is constructed from two crops one at F 0.95 and the other at F2.

 

post-1054-0-02517500-1482309121_thumb.jpg

 

The "glow" is present in the F 0.95 crop. It isn't just a matter of the lens beiing very soft at this  aperture.  The spherical aberration  produces a secondary soft image around/over a sharper image.   I believe , and am happy to be corrected, that  this dream lens was designed so that the periphery of the lens produces this secondary soft image.  When you stop down to F2  you shut out that secondary image. You can still see the bokeh is  acceptable at F2.   I would note that as soft is this lens is its aperture range  apart from the last two stops( F 11 & 16) compliments the diffraction limit of the Sony A7rII.   Here is the full photo at F 0.95:

 

post-1054-0-38859700-1482309564_thumb.jpg

 

Please note the glow is much more evident in the 8 bit Tiff,  the Jpegs above do no credit to the original Tiffs( as rendered from 14 Bit Raw by Capture one pro)

 

 

I understand( I am always happy to be politely corrected) that The glow can be enhanced by using the same techniques that were important for the Leitz 90mm Thambar that being backlighting of the subject.   The lens, despite resolving to a lower level than the sensor,  does work  satisfyingly well on the A7rII. However I should add my best shots are occurring at night and  so I suspect the lens may be a much better for the A7SII.

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Which 85mm f/1.5 lens do you own? Is it the old Canon rangefinder optic?  Or???

 

 

The wide open stuff is just absolutely bonkers :-)   

   

I actually have lens of similar rendering, but it's 

85mm/1.5, and costs only a few hunnert USD. 

The "glow" wide open makes focusing at wide 

open hugely challenging even at 10X focus aid.

    

It does have a round aperture 16 blade iris and

overcooked spherical correction, and being 50 

yrs old it is also bulky and heavy. On a Speed 

Booster its 60mm/1.1 but then it will only cover

APS-C format, unless you're into making round 

images ... which kinda works well with the wide 

open rendering. 

  

It's a fun lens to mess with but I have not found 

a "legitimate" need, or application, for it yet. I'm 

allergic to blatant cliches, so it's a difficult quest. 

Acoarst, subtle cliches ... well, OK ... maybe ... 

Everything is to some degree cliche, otherwise 

human vision doesn't recognize what it sees !   

   

I gott a say, the 50 looks 200% cool on the a7-II. 

My 85 looks like a very sorry arranged marriage. 

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Which 85mm f/1.5 lens do you own? Is it the old Canon rangefinder optic?  Or???

   

["Borrowed" product photo]:  

     

post-12551-0-32234300-1483587781_thumb.jpg   

    

Mine looks almost Exactaly like that, without the Exacta :-)  

    

Sorry, I was visiting Pun City and something must stuck 

to the bottom of my shoe ......

    

`

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That glow was obviously aimed at by several manufacturers for portrait lenses.

Minolta achieved something similar with the 85mm f1.7, which is quite dreamy WO, but gets really sharp when you stop it down beyond f2. The later 85mm f2 is sharper from the start, but doesn't have the magic glow.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That interior [a bar ?] is terrific. It really has a presence, delivering 

what seems to be the actually feeling of being there. I feel like I'm 

almost in that space as I view it. No needle sharp high rez, deep 

DoF image can deliver that feeling. The latter can only allow me 

to see, tho quite clearly, that which which I would see, were I ever

to visit the scene shown. Seeing detail clearly represented is a far

cry from feeling the feeling, a thing which your shot provides me 

without my having to physically visit the place.  

   

Jeez, I do hope I communicated what I meant ..... 

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  • 1 month later...

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