Living in Dreamtime. Re-Visiting the Canon Dream Lens, 50 f/0.95.

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Re-Visiting the Canon Dream Lens, 50 f/0.95

When we choose and buy our cameras some of us fail to realize that the heart of our camera is not our sensor or the camera body itself, it is the lens. The lens is what makes the camera “see”..it is what delivers the image to the sensor..it is the eyeball of your camera. The better the lens, the sharper your image, the more correct and richer the color saturation and you will also have the least amount of distortions. Choosing the right lens for your camera is the same thing as a painter choosing the right brush for whatever job they are doing.

For example, if I want a nice portrait lens when I am shooting a Leica M, it is hard to go wrong with a 90 Summicron APO. if I want wide angle, there is the Voigtlander 15 or Leica WATE. When I want subject isolation , a 50mm Summilux or Noctiliux fits the bill. Each lens delivers a different look, this is a fact. Some lenses are soft, have distortions and issues, yet they can still create a nice image. Some lenses create sloppy or horrible bokeh and others will give you creamy bokeh that just melts. Again, choose the lens for what you are trying to achieve.

Lenses ARE the heart of your camera system yet so many of us skimp on the lens. I wonder why? Why am I babbling on about this? Well, it is a longish story but one that I am happy to tell because the lens I am talking about today is a special one, and even a controversial one at times, but it is a beautiful lens to me regardless. One of those lenses you pull out when you want THAT look that only it can give.

Over a year ago, in June of 2013, I wrote a review on a unique lens that had gained a cult following of sorts. A lens that was known for having a crazy “dream like” rendering when shot wide open at its uber fast aperture of f/0.95. Up there with lenses like the original Noctilux or the Canon 85 1.2L. The Canon was a lens that I never saw in the flesh but was wowed by in photos (sometimes) that were taken by others using the lens. It was a quality that I never saw in ANY other lens, cheap to crazy exotic. While a lens like the Leica Noctilux is technically superior to this “Dream Lens”, it can not do what this lens does and vice versa.

The Canon 50 0.95 “Dream Lens” was originally made for the Canon 7 Rangefinder film system of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The 50 f/0.95 was the super fast aperture solution when shooting the Canon 7, and when you look on E-Bay or classifieds for this lens today you will mainly see it in the Canon 7 Rangefinder mount which is unusable for Leica M shooters unless it is modified for M mount use.

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There have been a few of these 50 0.95’s sent in for a Leica M conversion and some have been done horribly bad, some have been done pretty nicely, and some have been done superbly, as in, they could not have done it better. Some have even added a 6 bit code to the lens so the digital Leica M will recognize it as a Noctilux and apply corrections. Pretty slick.

To those who own this lens in M mount, they usually adore it and most say they would never sell it. Because of this,  you do not see too many out there in great shape with a proper M mount conversion because if you do sell your mint M mount copy, chances are it will be very hard to find another just as good, ever. I should know, that is exactly what happened to me. After writing my review over a year ago I had a flood of e-mails offering me crazy money to buy my lens. I loved it and did not want to sell but I usually love money more than gear and get it when I can (money), especially if it ended up where I actually made a few bucks. So I sold my last version over a year ago which was an 8/9 out of 10 for condition, focus and IQ. It was so so good!

Of course, after I sold the lens I missed it within 2 days, even with $3500 in my bank account from the sale. I regretted that sale more than almost any other sale I have made in my photographic life. WHY? Not because this lens was such a technological marvel, or super sharp or up there with the likes of the Noctilux. Nope. I missed it because when I was shooting a 50 Lux the day after I realized I would never again have that special look that this lens gave me. In reality, this lens is a special effects lens when shot wide open and when shot from f/2 on it is like a normal fast lens but very sharp and with a very creamy draw. But it is the wide open use is what gave this jewel its nickname of Dream Lens. It renders the background into a dream like blur. A watercolor effect almost. It is pretty amazing IMO. As I said, nothing like it out there and to be able to use it on a Leica M or Sony A7, in full frame, as it was meant to be shot but with modern ISO capabilities..wow. Take a look at the Flickr page for the Dream Lens, which has been up for years and funny enough, was started by Ashwin Rao! LOADS of samples there that will show you what this lens does.

So yea, I missed it after I sold it. Damn! Even though my last copy sold for $3500, and I had a few who wanted it at that price, and even one offer at $4000 that came after I sold it, I still regretted the sale.

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So I started my search for another MINT copy

Since the last sale I kept an eye on e-bay and some classified sites searching for the perfect copy of this lens. I was picky. I was waiting patiently for the “one”, hopefully a 9/9.5 out of 10 and I wanted a hood, cap and 6-Bit coding. I was ready to pay up to $3k for one and did see some on E-bay from China that were selling for $2800-$3000 but was hard to trust those sellers as you never know just how the lens will be. Will the focus be spot on for the RF? Will it be clean without scratches or haze or fungus? It was a chance and shipping from China to the USA was a little risky, though it could have and most likely would have worked out fine. Still, I waited until I came across one that was either local or close to it.

Then I found one…

Then, as I was ready to lose patience and jump to buy a “92 out of 100” rated dream lens on e-bay from a vendor in China I saw a a Facebook notification, as it was a sign.. it was a a post with images of a MINT M Mount Canon 50 0.95 with 6 bit coding. Hmmm. I even knew the guy, Jeff Warren, as he was at my last workshop in Nevada! He even lived in Los Angeles, a 5-6 hour drive from me. Jeff hinted that he MAY be selling in that Facebook post so I messaged him and we chatted, I thought for a bit and I bought it. He even sent it Fed Ex overnight, the same day, for no extra charge. I received the lens in less than 24 hours from the moment that I sent him the money via Paypal, 19 hours to be exact.

My main concern was that it would be off with the Rangefinder of the Leica because at 0.95 there is a VERY thin DOF. Any misfocus would be a nightmare as I have experienced first hand with a few fast lenses over the years.

Luckily it arrived and it looked amazing, a solid 9/10. The glass was/is perfect. No issues. I mounted it to the MM (no need for an adapter as this is M mount with 6 Bit) and fired away some shots. Perfecto! I mounted it to the A7s with a Voigtlander M to E adapter and even more WOW. Was so awesome shooting it on the A7s. Easy to focus with the large EVF and it felt really good on the A7s body. NOW THIS is a low light combo to dream for.

ULTRA THIN DOF at 0.95 – Sony A7s.  Some vignetting when used on the A7s at 0.95, that is the only issue. Look how TINY the in focus area is on the block wall. The rest is not lens softness, it is BOKEH, all out of focus due to the extremely small depth of field. 

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Regrets?

So after a couple of hours being happy as a newborn baby with a mouthful of milk I asked myself…”so, do you regret buying this for so much money“? My answer to myself was NO!! I was HAPPY, I was THRILLED, I was ECSTATIC. I told myself that I would not sell this one. But I have been here before, with many lenses that I swore I would never sell. None of them have tugged at me like this one though. Sure, I have owned them all – the Noctilux f/1 and 0.95, the SLR Magic 50 T 0.95 Hyperprime, the Mitakon Speedmaster and of course the Summicrons and Summilux lenses, which are all gorgeous and technically amazing. But this lens just does something special and while it is not an every day lens, it could be if you stopped it down to f/2 or f/2.8.

I am going to start using this lens with the A7s, MM and M in various locations and clubs shooting local live bands, which on many occasions shoot in near darkness to small crowds, ver small crowds. This is a lens that will do great things in these scenarios I think. I am also going to bring it out for certain portrait sessions, to add that extra flair and uniqueness that you do not see in many photos these days. I am not talking about just doing the whole shallow DOF Bokeh thing, but using it artistically and effectively.

I missed focus on this one with the A7s somehow, but I still like it 🙂 A B&W filter was applied in processing.

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The fact is that this lens brings us a “draw” that no other lens does. Period. This lens is also pretty rare set up in an M mount with 6 Bit coding. It is even rarer to find this in a 9/10 condition. I am vowing to hang on to this lens!! Hehehe. We will see.

When I wrote about this lens in my 1st review I mainly used it with the M 240, which also rocks with this lens. Since I did that review with the M, I wanted to focus on using it with the A7s and Monochrom this time around, so this is what this article will be about.

The Canon 50 0.95 on the Sony A7s. I also have my JB grip on the camera as well as a ARTISAN OBSCURA sticky soft release.

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First up, the Sony A7s and the 50 0.95

With the new Sony A7 series, particularly the A7s (my fave of the three) this lens takes on a whole new world of possibilities. For one, this classic fast lens can now be used on a full frame mirrorless camera with integrated EVF and up to insane ISO’s. Much like the Mitakon I reviewed a while back, this lens will make the A7s a true king of the night. At f0.95 and ISO capability up to 100k usable, there will be no light that you can not shoot in, period. Add to that the moody possibilities and artistic weirdness that the Dream Lens puts out and you can create images that not many others can even get close to in style and flash. Of course, you have to know your stuff..know what you are doing, otherwise the images will look bad, even VERY bad.

But use your skill to its fullest and you can create some interesting images that are worthy of framing. Images that people will see and say “wow, how did you do that”.

When this lens is on the A7s using the Voigtlander close focus adapter you can focus in VERY close. MUCH closer than you can when using it on the M or MM. This is invaluable and will even make the dream lens MORE dreamy. It is true, when this lens was given the name “Dream Lens” it was for a reason. Just take a look at my original review to see some dreaminess with the M 240.

When I used this lens with my well used A7s, I think it was the best ever match for this lens, and the good news for A7 shooters is that you do not need to find the rare M mount version to use this on the A7. you can now buy a standard Canon 7 version of this lens, of which they are plentiful on e-bay, and use a canon 50 0.95 to E mount adapter. This can save you about $1,000 when buying the lens if you only want to use it on a Sony A7 body.

After realizing this, I started to really realize how special the Sony A7 series is. I mean, I knew it was already but there is no other full frame system out there that can do what the A7 series does, especially the A7s. This is the 1st ever camera, full frame, that will allow you to use this Dream Lens and even use it with close focusing, AND nail focus due to the critical focus you can achieve with the EVF and magnification.

I love this on my MM and M but for the ultimate Dream Lens experience I think it should be shot on an A7s. End of story. After using it with the A7s I wanted to carve my name in the side to assure I never am tempted to sell it for some quick cash. 🙂 I did not do this of course but I have to say, I love this lens. Below are some images with it on the Sony A7s.

All images below are from the Sony A7s and Canon 50 0.95, WIDE OPEN. You must click on the images  to see them larger and in the correct way. If you do not, you will not see  them the way they were meant to be seen.

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As you can see this lens can perform well on the Sony A7s, in daylight or in darkness. In fact, I prefer it to the original Leica Noctilux f/1. It is sharper at the focus point and has a nicer draw for my tastes. It is also easier to hold and balance on the camera. The more I use this lens on the A7s and Leica cameras, the more I realize just how special of a lens it is. At the average cost of $3-$3500, it is a great lens to add to your collection if the look and capabilities it can offer are to your liking.

Using this lens on the MonochromSAMSUNG CSC

On the Leica MM this lens is a wonderful match as is any classic lens. I feel the Mono is at its best with classic glass over modern analytical glass and this Dream lens helps to round it all out. The IQ is stunning and while not like a Noctilux 0.95 in perfection it has its own Mojo going on that can not be denied.

Before I keep on going on about my love for this lens, I will say that not everyone will like this lens. Some will HATE it. Many like what I call “The Summicron Look”, which is clean, crisp, sharp and even. Many who love that look HATE the look of the Canon Dream Lens. They will say the Bokeh is awful and busy and the lens is soft (it is not soft though). So before you even think about this lens,make sure you LOVE what it does because if you do not then you will tire of it.

With that out of the way, using it on the MM is quite lovely. You lose the closer focusing of the A7s but you are shooting in pure B&W and this lens loves B&W. It has a nice micro contrast  that is gentle and allows your subject to pop while the edges and background just melt away into a fantasy land. Wide open it is quite crazy. Stopped down it is nice and smooth.

The main issue with users of the Leica M or MM is you want to make sure the M mount Dream Lens you find/buy is good with your cameras RF. Many old lenses are off, and if your lens or your camera is off just a hair, the lens will be a challenge to focus. If possible, test the lens before buying, which in 99% of cases is impossible I know.

The B&W from the MM and this lens is richer than the A7s with B&W. It’s a whole different style of shooting as well, much different. RF shooting is something that will be rewarding when you get out there and get those shots using manual focus and manual controls.

Below are a few shots with this lens on the Monochrom.

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Getting the most from the Dream Lens requires a few things..

If you choose to buy or use this lens or even if you have one and are thinking, “My shots do not look that good, mine are low in contrast and softer and do not pop like these”, then read on as I will tell you how to get this look from this lens. The Canon 50 0.95 lens is a lens with lower contrast than most modern lenses so when you process the photos you must do a couple of things to bring out the goodness in the files 🙂

First, PLEASE shoot RAW. This is not an OOC JPEG type of lens. For you to get the best from it you need to bump the contrast and add some sharpening as well. I shoot RAW and when processing the RAW file I bump the contrast slider up until it looks good without going overboard. I also mess with the shadow slider to bring out shadows that were covered by the contrast slider. I may also tweak the highlight slider if needed. Add some sharpening and convert that file to a JPEG. That is all you have to do, but when you do it take s an OK image and makes it into one that will be much nicer looking. To those who complain about this lens saying it is soft, low contrast, or has issues..well, you either have a bad copy or are not using it correctly. I recently saw a comment on a popular forum that was a reply to someone asking about this lens..the reply? ” that lens sucks. A coke bottle would give you better images at f/0.95. It was mostly a bragging rights lens by Canon that was made especially for the bling-bling gold Rolex watch, silicon boobs, Lamborghini owners. My thing is bigger than your thing kind of thing……..” 

It is safe to say that this person had no clue as to what they were talking about. 🙂 The lens is beautiful and sharp even wide open. In fact, I find it sharper wide open than the original Leica Noctilux F/1.

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My Original video on the Canon Dream Lens

I did a video over a year ago on this lens with my thoughts on it back then. If you missed it, take a look below:

Final Word on the Dream Lens

I will tell you what I told you over a year ago HERE in my original review…

If you lust after this lens, BUY ONE if you can find one in great shape. Prices have went up and will continue to go up. Mark my words. In two to three years this lens will be hovering around $5k for an M mount, mint, with cap and hood, 6 Bit coded, maybe more than that in 3-5 years. It offers just as much fun as the Noctilux 0.95 with more uniqueness for 1/3 the cost, 2/3 the size and 1/2 the weight. For me it even beats the old Noctilux f/1, which Leica created due to this very lens.

If you shoot a Sony A7 series camera it is so good on these bodies, a truly drool and lust worthy piece. If you shoot an M you can use live view for critical focus and on the MM it is a beauty. But do not expect perfection, not at all. This lens is not about being perfect. It has some vignetting, it can be soft looking if you mis focus and  the contrast can be slightly low if you do not tweak it. What makes this lens so sought after is the Bokeh, which is unlike any other lens ever made. You can really make some images that are very painterly with this guy.

At the current price of around $3200 for a mint M mount copy they will not be heading down or getting cheaper. If you like the look of the images here, in my original review, or on the Flickr group then this  is the only lens that will give it to you. Happy Hunting and if you own this lens, leave a comment letting us know how you like it, how you shoot it and what you shoot it on! Thanks everyone!

Steve

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55 thoughts on “Living in Dreamtime. Re-Visiting the Canon Dream Lens, 50 f/0.95.

  1. I have it and test it in canon7 and the result was amazing , there is some offer me to sell it, but i want to keep it for a bit. Cus i want to learn about analog photography, thanks steve for your review

  2. Hi, have you seen any of the RF versions vs. the TV versions? I read both reviews, but don’t know for sure if the RF is not as “good” .

    also, other than M and E mount, do you know any other adaptations it can take?
    I have been tracking it for 1 year now, and still haven’t figured out everything. I don’t own a leica or a sony, so i’m not sure what to do.

    thank you!

    [email protected]

    1. Do you mean RF as in Rangefinder Coupled for an M? If so, I had a RF Coupled TV version. I would buy the M mount as you can then use it with a Sony, or Fuji, or Leica or Olympus, etc.

  3. Hi, Steve
    I was happy with my Summicron 50, along with a Summilux 35 & a Summilux 75, untill I read this fascinating review. So I joined the quest. I have’nt found the dream lens yet but I got a Canon 50 f 1.2 in a perfect condition and, yes, it’s a dream, either on my M type 240 or on my M3. So, thanks a lot !

  4. PLEAS STEVE CAN YOU DO A VID OF THE 0.95 on SONY A series camera bodies??

    thanks, I would love to watch that!

  5. great stuff Steve, great insight into a very special lens – the canon 0.95. It was developed so easily by canon in the 60s and its unbelievable they made it and it does what it does so flawlessly. Back than Lecia’s f1 was the only competitor.

    Great samples , Lost Ammon, the canon ltm, f1.2 is also a wonderful lens.
    I have both the 0.95 and its little brother – f1.2. I got VERY LUCKY, I had initially spent $2000 on ebay for the 0.95, but last year at an estate sale I stumbled upon the 0.95! It belonged to a camera collector, and everything was on sale, Leica’s M2s, M3s, all ebay prices. among them the 0.95 lens, it was concealed in a canon 7 leather case and attached to the canon 7 rangefinder, price tag on the case read $250! I was so happy to find the lens when I did open the case, grabbed it right away, the price was off ebay but they had taken that off the camera bodies value. What luck! And than I find the f1.2 in its original brown leather case – it was $150. The 0.95 is in near mint condition, cosmetically its like NEW. The f1.2 is used but in great condition also, glass is perfect. What a day that was!

    Just wanted to share this, I know such things rarely happen! Just waiting and saving up for a mirror less FF to mount these wonderful lenses on.

    I have a full on love relationship with the lens, I know what it can do and it does it very well, the prob is focus, if you don’t get it right, you start hating the lens. Now with EVF, onscreen focus assist manual focusing has become easier but still a challenge @ 0.95. This lens is a black hole, it eats light like crazy, any camera sensor will love it. I like to keep ISO down and this does it very well. Its unique rendering of images is simply artistic. These theses (vintage f2s, f1.2s and f0.95s) take beautiful pics at night, the color just comes through!

    If you have one, its great, keep it and learn to manual focus, take time, its all in the composition and focusing that makes it so rewarding. Todays automatic cameras take that away from you.

  6. Hey Steve, I just found this review and I concur. I do have the dream lens’ little brother, the canon 50/1.2 LTM. I got one in a pretty good condition, glass + mechanics flawless, but it’s got a real backfocus on my M9 and I have no idea how to deal with that. If I keep turning the tube to the right over the spot where the RF signals focus – wildly guessing – I did get decent results. And these are so gorgeous that I can live with the flaw. I have bought an X-E1 to bypass this issue for the possibility of focussing w/ EVF and focus peaking, but I found the files so far away from what I got out of the M9 that I sold the X-E1.
    So here an example of what magic touch the deamlens has on M9:

    http://ruemarignac.blogspot.de/2014/10/tendre.html

    http://ruemarignac.blogspot.de/2013/06/quale-storia-tu-vuoi-che-io-racconti_9.html

  7. Hi Steve

    These pictures in your review are simply the best I’ve seen in any of your reviews, breathtakingly excellent.I love the rendering of this lens, but I will never be able to afford one unfortunately, on the A7s it’s fantastic.

    I bought a Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens recently but I am wishing that I had saved my money and gone for the A7s. I am still learning with the X-E2 and getting used to the EVF as all I’ve used before have been Canon SLR/DSLR (5D), but I don’t think I’m very happy with the output of the X-trans sensor. I don’t want to invest heavily in Fuji because of this, although the X-E2 is a nice camera to use.

    I Think this review has set my mind to getting the A7s as I can get an adapter to put on some of my Canon FD lenses, I have a very nice F1.4 SSC FD lens among others, but it won’t be anything like the dream F0.95 but I may win the lottery and be able to get one, you never know.

    Have you or any of your readers tried the A7s with Canon FD or EF lenses? Would appreciate some info especially regarding the use of EF lenses and the metabones adapter

    1. Care to wager $5000 on that? I will bet you right now, $5000 cash that this lens will NEVER get to $1000 in M mount and in good condition. Never. The one I had sold for $4500, and they are only going up. There is not a lens like it anywhere and it is a fantastic lens to own. Amazingly special. But if you care to make this wager official let me know as I’d love to take your $5k 🙂

  8. Thanks again for pointing out this outstanding lens. I want one of those phenomenal lenses so bad…but never found a good one. If anyone knows someone who wants to sell his lens…let me know.

  9. I wonder if b+w nd filters will fit properly — that is, not too close so that it touches the convex glass design? Anyone have experience with this? And, any suggestions as to what strength (i.e., 0.6 or 0.9) would be good for all purpose, daytime street shooting?

  10. I have had the lens for about 20 years. I went to my camera repairman told him that I was interesterd in finding an 0.95.and then out of the blue he called. I had a Canon 7 body but decided I wanted it for my analogue Leicas so he converted it for M use. I was unable to use it when I started using digital in 2003, my joy was beyond words when I discovered Micro 4/3. A digital M is just too great an investment. I have accumulated about 25 digital cameras- all brands. They produce great results and I love using new digicams. A digital M, though would be an investment with built in obsolesence. I use the lens on my Panasonic Micro 4/3 digicams. G1,G3 GF1 and 2 GX1 units. The results are great. I enclose links to 2 images. The first with an analogue Leica M6 wide open and the second an exposure at f2.0 on a Panasonic GX1.

    http://v-images.smugmug.com/Other/Leica-M-in-the-age-of-Digital/5238610_4Tf7tx#!i=318399509&k=29WjVS2&lb=1&s=A

    http://v-images.smugmug.com/Other/2012-VARIED/25522815_gSDGRq#!i=2271436592&k=TXSjTbL&lb=1&s=A

  11. Thaks Louis
    “I’ve made a very basic sharpness test between Mitakon, Summilux pre-asph and this Canon Dreamlens:
    http://coolframe.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/mitakon-speedmaster-50mm-f0-95-wow/
    (spanish sorry, altough threre is a “translate” button)

    For a 0.95 lens, it is plenty sharp, even in the borders.”

    I hadnt heard of it until you mentioned.
    A7s with the recently released native E mount Mitakon 0.95 gosh
    It be almost as Stanley Kubrik shooting Zeiss 0.7 in candle light.

    1. Yes, I’ve made some shots in real dark situations with this combo, ISO32000 I couldn’t believe how good is the quality !

  12. Nice re-review Steve!

    Let’s hope you sell this one and repurchase another so we can get a re-re-review next year 😛

    It’s weird with this lens in some shots the Bokeh is beautiful and in others it’s downright distracting bordering on awful, how does that work?

    It’s like some sort of Dr Jekyl/Mr Hyde lens.

    Needless to say that if I had a cool $3000US lying around this would be a lens purchase for me, otherwise I’ll stick with my trusty (now old) Fujifilm X100… yep the camera with the most useless manual focus ring ever.

  13. I’m looking for something crazy fast for my A7s, I think this one is out of my price range, I’l probably get the Mitakon 50/0.95. Is this the lens that drove you to sell the Mitakon 50 0.95? Love the OOF rendering. Looks like an awesome chunk of glass on the A7s.

  14. I went looking for one of these a few years back and balked at the price, but picked up the Canon 50/1.2 baby brother LTM. With an adapter and 6 bit coded I get a lot of the creamy softness and lovely bokeh. I love using this lens for portraiture and occasionally for street photography, though the latter requires a ND filter and zone focusing to get the best results.
    Some of these vintage lenses really draw beautifully.
    I’m shooting it now on the M-P, but also got some lovely results with a M to E mount adapter on the Sony A7.

  15. Hi Steve, as usual an excellent and ‘organic’ review. I have yearned for this lens for years….but alas, I cannot spring for this lens….like Jim mentioned above, I feel the older 58mm 1.2 Minolta has a similar look, especially on my A7….I was wondering, from a rendering standpoint, how does the might Canon render compared to the Mitakon .095? At around US$1000 it is a potentially interesting…especially if it renders OOF areas as nicely as the Canon and older Minolta. Thanks again for your site!

  16. You just don’t know how much I am regretting not having closed the deal the same day :)…but guess what I got the MS-Optical Sonnetar 50mm F1.1 MC – Black Paint / Special Edition instead :)…and remember your promise if you decide to sell

  17. Kind of like a hesitant love story. I think I know the exact feeling, I’ve had it with a few cars before. Just minutes after the sale has gone through and the car rolls away you get that instant feel of regret and the feeling that “this wasn’t quite right”!

  18. Just to add- I just bought a Canon 100/2 in Leica mount. This is the perfect companion to the 50/0.95. It will run much less money, well worth having. Shares much of the same optical design and finish of the 50/0.95. It uses much smaller 58mm filters. I need to load up the Canon 7, the meter is still accurate.

  19. It’s an amazing lens- i just traded off one that is now in Dag’s hands for a conversion. Canon had developed a new high index of refraction/ low dispersion glass that made it possible to do this lens with 7 elements in 5 groups. Nikon took 9 elements in 7 groups to do their 5cm F1.1.

    Mine is the RF coupled version on a Canon 7, both Mint. i just don’t have the heart to convert it. Might buy an A7 with a Canon 7 breech-mount adapter, which run about $100 on Ebay.

  20. Hi Steve, could be a winner for jazz club sessions as you said not necessarily fully open -I like the results on the MM . Looking forward to seeing some nice images from you in the near future.

    Best Wishes

  21. Great post ! Steve, I love this lens too. Perhaps you should try the Helios-40 in the A7S this is another special lens with its unique style 🙂

  22. Thanks steve. Itis indeed a great lens. Wish I could afford one but at least I know how it looks like thanks to you.
    With the A7s it is a real killer combo. What a great camera did sony gave us wiht the A7S. It is a monster !

  23. B-b-but Steve, you could have saved over two and a half thousand dollars, and bought a similar vintage Canon 100mm f2 in Leica fit, and stepped back two paces! (..Maybe not so easy inside a jazz club, but outdoors – simple.)

    It wouldn’t have looked so stupendously like a soup bowl, but would do the job. Back in the days of the Canon rangefinder, when film was ASA (..I mean ISO..) 400, or 800, or just possibly 1600, then you NEEDED f0.95 to shoot in a music club. But with the A7S reaching its stupendously high 400,000 ISO, you could shoot through a pinhole and still get usable shots!

    The old Canon 100mm f2 is a bit longer, much narrower, and much lighter than this f0.95 – it looks like the f0.95 pulled through a funnel – but is much less susceptible to flare, costs only about £150 / €200 / $250 on eBay ..and gives much the same look ..when you step back a couple of feet. Not only is the lens lighter, but it keeps your wallet feeling heavier.

    Though I shouldn’t spoil the fun ..I should say instead “have a ball with it – your photography’s great whichever lens you use!”

    1. Ive used the vintage 100 f/2, renders nothing like this lens, at all. And, it is 100mm and f/2, I use .95 for light. The MM needs ISO 10k at 0.95 in some of these situations. Shooting a 100mm would require even faster shutter speeds and ISO 20k, which the MM does not do. In any case, the 100 does not look the same as the 50 0.95 in its rendering. I could have also used my Jupiter 85 f/2, but again, not the same light gathering or signature. Id much rather spend $3k on this lens than $250 on a lens I would never or can not use for these situations. Funny as after this article I have had 6 offers through email to buy this lens from $2800 to $4800, and the reason is because if you like this look, nothing else will give it to you.

  24. Not my cup of tea at all. One of these lenses will also cost as much as the rx-1, and that is a camera with a pretty special lens too imo. That said, I am glad to see the opportunity emerge to use a variety of lenses not previously possible, many of them tested right here for my viewing pleasure.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. At last a post where I agree with Steve 100%! I have had one of these crazy lenses for about 15 years (mine was originally in Canon 7 mount, because I used to have a Canon 7s) and even though mine is in nowhere such nice shape as Steve’s, and even though I have a love/hate relationship with it, I CAN’T get rid of it because nothing* else does what it does. Yes, I’ve tried various ultra speed SLR lenses etc., and none of them are quite the same. I’ve even learned to love the exotic flare spots you get from the Dream when there’s a light source within the frame.

    In all honesty I very seldom use it… yet recently when I was picking photos for my portfolio website, I discovered that more than half were taken with it!

    Why is it special? To me it’s because while most lenses are designed to reproduce what the eye sees, this lens seems to reproduce what my MIND sees. Usually I blunder through life in a purposeful fog, but sometimes a moment happens when some little thing stands out with startling clarity against the whirling blur of experience. The Canon Dream lens reproduces that mental image better than anything else I’ve found. Dream really is an apt name for it.

    *I said there’s nothing else like it, and there isn’t, but I have experienced one other lens that has a different look but a similar quality of startling singularity: the 75mm f/1.5 Carl Zeiss (Jena) Biotar. Years ago I stumbled across a ratty one in Leica screw mount in a “junk box” at a camera show, and bought it for $20. It had a similarly frustrating quality to the Dream: most of the time it produced images that were just mushy and insipid, but occasionally something amazing would happen. Don’t waste your time looking for another one in Leica screw mount, as I learned later that only a handful were made, but they’re more common in Exakta mount and worth trying if you ever come across one. As Steve says about the Dream, though, it’s definitely a love-it-or-hate-it lens…

  26. Doggie by bench is magical.
    Guitar just with arms is wonderful.
    Both dreamy.

    I couldn’t afford the Canon. 95
    I got dreamy from Olympus 50/1.4 silver nose single coated (not the modern)

  27. thank for writing this review steve. i think this lens might be a little too soft for my taste, but this is just on the first impression. i will check out some more images in the flickr pool you mentioned.right now i am using the nocti 0.95 and the minolta 58 1.2, both great fast lenses.

    1. It’s pretty sharp at the focus point (see the shot with the 100% crop of the beer tapper) wide open. It appears and comes off as soft due to the very shallow DOF, but it is not soft at all.

    2. If the sample is good then it is sharp. There is a little “glow” wide open in every sample I tried but that goes off by f/1.4. It is awkward on a M camera (viewfinder gets blocked) but is rewarding when you persist. There are a few versions of these (all with identical optical make) which differ in coatings and construction (brass vs aluminum focus helicoid and such). The factory made M39 version has truncated rear elements to accommodate a RF coupling prong.

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