“Saturday In The Park” 2016. Mamiya 6, 75mm f/3.5 Mamiya G lens, Kodak T-Max 400 in D76 developer.
In my effort to be more active for you good people, here’s a shot and short article for today. Shot with a Mamiya 6 and 75mm f/3.5 Sekor. I actually shot this a couple of years ago before I sold the camera. It was in Central Park.
Speaking of “Saturday In The Park” I recently saw a CNN documentary which I think is a couple of years old, on one of America’s oldest and greatest pop/rock bands, Chicago. I loved their stuff from the 70s and 80s although admittedly they went into the “soft rock” category with the rise of (then) lead singer Peter Cetera, not that it’s a bad thing mind you.
I always thought the band broke up because of Cetera and his ever growing star in the 80s. But now I’m not so sure it was really a case of someone getting a big head or whether he and the band could just no longer get along.
Just like another great 80s band Journey, I’ll always associate Cetera’s voice with Chicago just as I associate Steve Perry with Journey.
Anyway, I’m drifting off course! Music just happens to be my other passion. I especially like rock and popular music from the 50s through the 90s. Not much for music after that 😀
The Mamiya 6 is a Camera Legend. I had a complete outfit in 2009 including the body, 75mm f/3.5, 50mm f/4, and 150mm f/4.5 telephoto. I started selling off the lenses first, then the camera and 75mm because I wasn’t using it enough and needed funds for other things. You know the deal 😊
I’ve always thought of giving the Mamiya 6 a formal write-up on these pages and I’m sure I’ll get to it one of these days, but I’m not sure I could write enough to do it justice. It’s a fantastic medium format rangefinder. In fact, if I had the funds I could easily talk myself into it again!
If you look at the photo, you’ll notice some blotches, most notably on the bottom right, a result of my imperfect developing. Not making any excuses, but many people actually do not mind, and some even “want” these imperfectons these days! Don’t believe me? You should see what people are liking on Instagram! I guess it’s part of what people today consider a part of that “film look.”
Back in the day, I don’t remember people loving imperfect pictures all that much, but since this shot is imperfect…ok, I’m cool with it! 🙂
I’ve always said and it’s worth repeating that T-Max 400 is a beautiful film that develops best in T-Max Developer. As I did not have any T-Max Developer on hand, I decided to take my chances with D76.
I’ve noticed that when in D76, the T-Max will have a tendency to produce streaks and blotches. Sometimes I get lucky and get a clean set, but T-Max 400 seems more finicky than other films and results with T-Max Developer are consistently smooth.
Well, that’s it for this morning. Oh one more thing, these are not all my kids! 😀
Ah can you believe that September is here once again? I know it’s played out but the title of that old Neil Diamond track just fits.
To me, and I guess many folks, September and this Labor Day weekend represents the bittersweet end of Summer.
So here this September morn, I have a couple images from my current camera of the week and that camera is the Canon EOS-1D Mark III.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III was released in 2006 and at that time, it was supposed to be the ultimate Canon sports and photojournalists camera.
However, that was not to be due to one fatal flaw…Unreliable AF. Reports from users and reviewers at that time revealed a camera with a seriously flawed AF system that was apparently getting a lower hit rate than the previous 1DMKIIN. Note this was mostly in AF Servo mode.
Disappointment was apparent when reading the forum postings of that time. Not just because the AF was bad, but because the image quality was so good! Such bittersweetness!
Don’t forget guys, I was on those forums just like you! Except, I stayed silent and just digested all the information 🙂
To their credit, Canon offered to fix any 1DIII cameras with these issues at that time, once they acknowledged the problem. The fixed cameras are often called the “blue dot” versions.
However, even after the fix, some people felt the camera was still having autofocus issues. And the 1DIII never quite got the accolades or respect that Canon sought. And so went down one of the potentially most amazing high speed cameras ever released.
I got my first one in 2015. I had it for a short time, but I did feel it was giving me random off focus images so I sold it quick. It may or may not have just been all in my mind! The problem with this camera is once the seed of doubt has been planted, it’s hard to get it out of your head.
Reecently, I found another one very cheap and decided to try it again. I would never make judgement on just one copy of a camera. I was very surprised when taking a series of my eldest child on her Razor, that the 1DIII kept up even as she picked up speed! It was probably too easy for this camera! I will probably put those sequences up should I do a future review on this camera.
But in case I don’t, just know that if you buy one, try to get it cheap or from a reliable dealer because there’s always a risk with this camera. However, it’s also possible that any 1DIII’s with serious issues should have been fixed by now
“Razor’s Edge” 2018. Canon EOS-1D MKIII, EF 135mm f/2L lens. I took this last week. Testing out the 1DIII. It’s a camera I’ve always wondered about, but stayed away from it due to its reputation for AF issues. I got rid of my first one due to those issues, but this one seems a keeper!
“Smile” 2018. Canon EOS-1D MKIII, EF 135mm f/2L. Zay now knows, somehow, when to give me the pose 🙂
“September Morn” 2009. Rolleiflex SL66, 80mm f/2.8 Rollei HFT Planar, Tmax 400 in Tmax Developer. Yes folks, I had one of these cameras too! Didn’t hold on to it long, but I do miss the silky smooth yet sharp images from that Planar lens!
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“Hotel City” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. There are so many hotels in this city! And so many beautiful hotels at that. This one is the Rizal Hotel near Manila Bay. I was very close to the building and despite having the GR-1 with its 28mm lens, I wish I had a wider lens. Yes, there is such a thing as not wide enough! 🙂
Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a fascinating, lively, and colorful place that in my opinion is better suited to color photography than it is for black and white photography.
“Mall Town” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Mall culture is alive and well in the Philippines. They love their malls! I hate to admit it, but I frequented many malls during my visit and they were all great. They take their malls seriously in Manila! 😊[[[[[[[[[[[[
However, as a B&W fanatic, you and I both know that everything looks good in B&W anyway 😀
With that in mind, I couldn’t help but take my Ricoh GR1 along for this recent trip.
Now you may or may not recall, but in the last post I mentioned bringing along two of the greatest point and shoot film cameras along for this trip.
I used those cameras with color film so that means the GR-1 was NOT one of those two cameras, despite the fact that it could easily be in that same list of “greatest.” So what does this mean? It means I hope you’ll stay tuned as I have more goodies and surprises coming your way!
This article will show some photos taken with the GR-1 and Kentmere 400 B&W film. I developed this roll in D76.
Looking back on the photos, I wished I had shot more than one roll with the GR-1. That’s the problem with taking too many cameras 😊 In fact, I could’ve easily used it as my only film camera and I would’ve been happy with that.
Here are just some photos from the trip. Not meant to be an artistic showcase, just the things I saw in Manila and some thoughts on them. Where I can, I will try to give you some commentary.
“Intramuros” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. This is the famous walled city at the heart of old historic Manila. I shot this through a dirty window using both the iPhone X and the Ricoh GR1. I was surprised at how much detail came through from both! The detail here is really limited mostly due to the film grain when compared to the iPhone photos.
“SALE” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. I love fashion photography but mannequins are as close as I usually get to fashion models 🙂
“BGC” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. A scene from Manila’s vibrant “BGC” district, a hip financial and social center.
“Manila Floods” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. It rained nearly every day of the two and a half weeks I spent there. They don’t call it the “rainy season” for nothing.
“OOMA Sushi” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Had a good meal here. Not sure why the man is smiling, but I certainly don’t know him! I just took a quick grab shot 🙂
“Lucban Church” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Heading out a couple of hours southeast from Manila, I visited the small municipality of Lucban in the province of Quezon where I saw this beautiful and historic church that dates back hundreds of years. This is the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church otherwise know as “Lucban Church.”
“Free Fall” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76. Youngsters having fun at this man made waterfall at the Vila Escudero, a resort about an hour away from Metro Manila.
“Night Lights” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 developer. The lights on the open air rooftop at the SM Aura mall in Manila. Considering this is ISO 400 film, I think the Ricoh GR1 did pretty good with this shot.
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Once in a while I like to upload photos, if only to remind myself that I love the art of photography as much as the gear. Though it might not seem like it, I do really love photography as much as I do the gear! 😀
Just like most of you, I don’t just take photos for reviews or posting. I take photos FOR LIFE! I document life first, then if I can use some of the photos in a review, why not?
The vast majority of the photos I take on a daily basis just doesn’t make it in. Oh friend! Why bore you with my life? 😊 I want to know about YOUR life, Brothers and Sisters 😘
So these are some shots taken recently, and some not so recently. Nothing artistic. Just random shots. Sometimes, it’s a snap, sometimes it’s a test. Sometimes it’s deliberate. Sometimes it’s by luck or chance. Like I said, ya never know. I’m sure this is the way it is for most of us photographers, us mere mortals 😊
One thing that I’m sure is that most of these images have not been posted on these pages. I try to include technical info and tidbits for you camera nerds out there cause that’s how I would like it too 😊
I also find it interesting to see what camera and lenses I was using then as opposed to what I am using now. It’s a way of seeing how one’s tastes may or may not have changed. Sometimes I find there’s not a lot of changes!
I think theses images may give you a glimpse as to what I am pondering on doing articles and reviews on. At the same time, you may see why I’m flustered deciding what to publish 😫
Not to sweat it though. Most of you regular readers know by now that this is how I roll. Sometimes it comes in waves. Then I need a mental break haha! I can’t do it daily man, I just can’t.
Definitely got some more interesting stuff to profile for you all, and also on YouTube too. Oh yes, don’t think your “Brother from another lover” has forgotten about YouTube!
I really don’t mind starting out slow there because I don’t want to upload videos just for the heck of it. Just like here on the blog, I realize what you post may be on for a long time so let’s make it count!
Anyway I thank you all for having a look! Appreciate your patience and support over the years. I think you guys are the best readers anywhere. And those of you who also blog are some of the most prolific bloggers around! I certainly can’t do what you do, but thanks for the inspiration! Have yourselves a great weekend!
“Night Buddy” 2018. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor. My late night buddy! Try writing an article with this one hanging around. At least tonight, she’s quiet…somewhat 🙂
“Noon” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor. Be forewarned friend. For when the clock strikes “Noon” your heart may be broken 🙂 Actually yes, her name really is Noon! Thanks for being a good and patient model, appreciate you!
“American Girl” 2018. Sony A7r (original) with Mamiya 55mm f/1.4 lens. This is a crop from a larger image. I was just testing this lens when I saw Baby sitting there, lazy and then the spirit of the late great Tom Petty hit me and I heard him sing…”She is…an American girl” 🙂 This is a great lens by the way!
“Vogue” 2011. Bronica RF645, 65mm f/4 Zenzanon lens on T-Max 400. Every time I look back on a shot from my time with the Bronica RF, I miss it!
“Text” 2017. Agfa Ambiflex, 55mm f/2 Solagon. Kentmere 400 film. Talk about great lenses, wait till I tell you about this one! 🙂
“Sunglass” 2015. Leica M4-P, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M, Tri-X 400. This was actually a night shot near Times Square. Considering that, the sharpness and clarity is pretty good I think. Can never go wrong with a Summicron lens! You can see the smoke or vape coming out of the man’s nostrils 🙂
“Purple Rain” 2012. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp. “An ocean of violets in bloom” as the Purple One once said! The original GRD remains one of my favorites 🙂
“Smoke ‘n Java” 2007. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp. The brutal art of coffee and smoke. Over ten years later and the GRD is still on rotation in my camera bag these days!
“Baloon Man” 2006. Nikon D70s, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. Cebu, Philippines. In my opinion, the Nikon D70s was one of the best cameras of its era, capable of crisp detail and rich colors. I plan to write an article on this Nikon gem.
“Baby It’s You” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC. New York City. Though the focus may be slightly soft in this image, the vintage Canon 35mm f/2 SSC is a great lens capable of sharp images. And if you’re reading Camera Legend, then you know this isn’t just ANY Canon 35mm f/2 lens! Of course, it’s the one with the concave front element and radioactive thorium 🙂
“Chase” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC lens. The original image was dark due to underexposure. Lift the darkness in post processing and the A7r shows its legendary dynamic range. Four years later, the original 36mp A7r still delivers the goods!
“Feed Me” 2011. Contax T3, T-Max 400 film in HC110 developer. The T3 is an amazing camera! I’m sure you wouldn’t mind another review, now would you? 🙂
“Times Square” 2017. Sony A7r with Canon 35mm f/2 SSC lens. The Baby don’t care if it’s Times Square or home. She naps when nature calls 🙂
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Howdy good people, how are you all? Hope everyone is good!
As for me, between trying to create content for the blog and for its YouTube channel, I think I may have dug myself into a hole that’s gonna be hard to get out of 😀
That’s because now there’s double duty for me on this front, and I could barely keep up with the blog alone!
Sorry for not being able to get back to you guys. Hopefully, I can catch up to you all this weekend. I do appreciate you all!
I’ve been working on this post as well as the video, spending all my free time on both. Just one look at the length of this article will tell you why I’m burnt out 😛
Since I’m a person who does not like pressure, I found myself shutting out the world by binge watching “Forensic Files” 😀
Do not watch this program, not even one episode because if you do, you’ll be watching for hours and get nothing done!
Anyway, enough rambling on nonsense let’s talk about the topic at hand…
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens.” While this may just be the latest among many reviews of this famous and legendary lens, I’ve actually had my copy for nearly ten years, using it on both film and digital bodies, and it has become one of my most cherished lenses, perhaps my favorite. And now I’m writing to share my experiences with you.
THE CANON DREAM LENS TECHNICAL INFORMATION
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 was introduced by Canon in 1961. According to the Canon online camera museum, “It had the largest aperture in the world for photographic lenses available in the market at the time.” It is affectionately known as the Canon “Dream Lens.” Today, the Dream Lens has become one of the most well known and coveted lenses of its era.
“Dreamtime” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open, I believe. Film was Tri-X 400. Baby Z getting excited to read about the Dream Lens maybe? More likely, she’s excited for Elmo 🙂
The lens has aperture stops from f/0.95 to f/16. The lens has 10 aperture blades and is a Gauss type design.
When seeking this lens, you will find it usually comes in two flavors. The standard version is rangefinder coupled and was made specifically for the Canon 7/7s film rangefinders. These cameras have a special mount to take the 50mm f/0.95 and to my knowledge you cannot use the lens on other film rangefinders, Canon or otherwise.
There is also a “Canon TV Lens” version. It says “TV Lens” on the front inner ring of the lens. Pretty much the same lens, but made for C-Mount and is uncoupled. It usually comes with a C-Mount ring attached to it.
As mentioned in my last post, I am including YouTube videos in conjunction with my postings, whenever possible to give our readers a more dynamic experience.
For those who want to cut to the chase, here’s the video from around 4:45 but if you watch the whole video, you might want to grab a cup of coffee and/or a snack because it’s nearly ten minutes!
The video is more of a summary, but this article contains much more information on the Canon Dream Lens.
Oh yes, there IS a reason for those shades and it has nothing with trying to be cool or uncool or whatever! I will divulge in a future posting I promise you!!
HOW I CAME ACROSS THE DREAM LENS
Before we go on any further, please let me say this is not meant to be a full throttle or technical review of the lens. I’m no optical expert. I have no optical bench to test optics.
I have to rely on what I see with my eyes, based upon my experiences. Between telescopes and camera lenses, I have spent over thirty years developing an eye for optics. But again, I restate that I am no optics expert. I see what I see and I leave it up to the readers to make the judgement to my opinions.
With that out of the way, let me tell you the story of how I came upon the Dream Lens.
In the early to mid 2000s, perhaps 2004 or 2005, I answered an ad on Craigslist and went to someone’s home to check out a camera collection for sale. I suspect some of our readers have been to a few of these 😊
Anyway, hidden in the pile of junk cameras was a dusty camera with a huge lens on it. That camera was the Canon 7 rangefinder and the 50mm f/0.95 Canon Dream Lens.
The fella wanted $600 for it, and me thinking it was too expensive for this dusty, dirty outfit, I passed on it.
“Nightmare” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens on Arista EDU Premium 400 developed in T-Max developer. I was focusing on the gorilla when he stuck his tongue out! The baby and mother added to this shot, I do not know them. Considering that the rangefinder on my Canon 7 was out of alignment, I got real lucky with this shot!
As you may or may not know, that price is a bargain compared to what this lens alone goes for today!
That was the seed that set me on a wild goose chase for this lens! It wasn’t until 2009 that I was able to find and afford a copy of my own.
Although the lens is not often seen in the real world, the Canon Dream Lens is not what I’d call rare, and it wasn’t that the lens was particularly hard to find that took me so long to get one.
I guess you could say it was a bad string of finances and timing. When I had the money, I couldn’t find one. When I did find one, I didn’t have the money. But it all came together in 2009.
SO HOW ARE THE OPTICS?
This lens is meant to be used wide open at f/0.95, but here is my breakdown…
At F/0.95: There is apparent softness upon first impressions. At wide open the bokeh is most dramatic, as expected and makes up for any impression of softness. Upon closer inspection on a properly focused image, it is actually sharp.
The DOF is razor thin at f/0.95 and focussing errors may account for at least some of the softness people complain about.
“Sweet Zay Jan” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ 0.95. Note, the baby started moving, as seen by her hands, but thankfully her face did not, allowing me to capture her sweet smile:-)
The “softness” possibly comes from lowered contrast and/or other optical imperfections. Images at wide open sometimes seem like they are enveloped in a thin veil of haze, but this is not noticeable in all images and most of the time, I don’t find it objectionable. This adds to that dreamy look, a glow that some have mentioned. Some of this may come from, again lower contrast wide open and/or poor flare resistance at this aperture. A lens hood helps if you’re wanting to minimize flare or trying to avoid lowering contrast further.
There is vignetting, noticeable on both film and digital. When I shot this lens wide open on the Canon 7, the vignetting was not objectionable. On the Sony A7R (original 36mp camera), it was more pronounced. I did not find it objectionable, but some might.
At F/1.4: The contrast increases, the slight haze dissapates, and the image appears quite a bit sharper than wide open. It could be comparable to other 50mm f/1.4 lenses of its era.
“Bundle Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ f/1.4. Sharpness is improved from wide open and the bokeh looks a lot less “funky” for lack of a better word 🙂
At f/2.8: Should be good enough for most purposes you would use any other 50mm lens for!
“The Dream Team” 2010. Rad and Frank, two great friends and photographers affectionately known as the “Dream Team.” Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ around f/2.5-2.8 on Arista EDU Premium. Note the bokeh is more subdued but still funky. Can the “Dream Team” ride again? 🙂
Stopped Down Further: Honestly, I see no point in evaluating this! Why? Because this lens was meant to be used wide open or stopped down slightly to get the famous bokeh effect it’s known for. It gets sharper as do most lenses stopped down. I never objectively tested it at say f/8, f/11, and f/16. It will never achieve Otus like sharpness, but then again, that is unrealistic. It’s probably as sharp stopped down as any other 50mm from the 50’s and 60’s.
“New Dream” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Even with ISO 100, the camera was giving me the max shutter speed of 1/4000th!
A NOTE ON BOKEH: SUPER FUNK
This lens is all about bokeh, or the background blur in the out of focus areas. Or to be even more geeky…the quality of the background blur. Honestly, there’s no real reason to get this lens for any else but bokeh!
“Radamon’s Dream” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Film was Arista EDU Premium 400. I think this is a good example of the Dream Lens’ bokeh at its funkiest!
Count on me to tell it like it is, while people goo and gah over the bokeh from the Dream Lens, it doesn’t always neccessarily qualify as beautiful, to me. But everything I love doesn’t have to be beautiful, and so I love it! 🙂
“Shoot The City” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Who says the Leica M8 can’t shoot low light? With a fast lens like the Canon Dream Lens, it sure can!
Light sources, such as night lights for example, look like “coma shaped orbs” as I’ve mentioned before from similar vintage lenses. Almost like gibbous or half moon shapes.
“City Lights” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95. This shot was taken across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The yellow lights in the back are lights from cars driving on NYC’s West Side Highway at night. This is an example of the “moon shaped orbs” I mentioned. This was shot at night, another reason to use a lens this fast!
It may not always be so pretty, but this is what draws people in to the images produced by this lens. In many ways, this is the closest on 35mm that you can get to that Aero Ektar f/2.5 look on a Large Format 4×5 Speed Graphic.
A lot also depends on the background. If there’s a lot of clutter, things tend to look worse. If the background is relatively clear, things will look better. I have been pleasantly surprised with some images where the bokeh looked neutral, even wide open.
“Dream Ride” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open. Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer. Note the neutral background at wide open. As with most lenses, the background determines a lot as to what the bokeh will do.
I’ve heard people call the bokeh from the Canon 50mm f/0.95 as beautiful, delicious, “bokelicious,” sweet, tasty, even nasty, horrible or ugly. I call it “Super Funk” because it is all this and more. It is whatever you interpret it to be!
Although it’s one of my favorite lenses of all time, I use it sparingly. I mean, I could use this lens every day but I would never post pictures from it every day. You will just kill the effect if you do. This lens should be considered an artistic tool in your arsenal rather than an everyday lens.
VERSUS THE LEICA NOCTILUX?
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 has increased in value over the years and prices are now trending from a low of $1200 to a high of $2000 give or take. Some unscrupulous dealers are trying to sell this lens for $3000 or more. This, to me, is way too high since that is approaching Noctilux used prices. The Noctilux goes for $5500-10000 on the used market, depending on which version.
Speaking of the Noctilux, some have labeled the Canon Dream Lens as the “Poor Man’s Noctilux.” Since the Canon came first, I’d say they should change that to the Noctilux is the “Rich Man’s Canon Dream Lens” 🙂
Comparisons? Well, I never owned a Noctilux, though I have two friends that have them. Based upon what I’ve seen from the Noctilux and the Canon Dream Lens, I’d say you can’t compare the two. It’s apples to oranges.
The Leica may be the technically better lens, while the Canon may be the more artistic lens in regards to the images it renders. Just like the film vs digital debate, my answer to the Noctilux vs Dream lens question is…None are better than the other. They are different.
THE NEW GOLDEN AGE OF CHEAP AND FAST LENSES: WHY YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THE CANON DREAM LENS
As a “community service” to my fellow photo gear lovers, I need to say this to help you avoid a potentially painful and expensive episode of G.A.S with the Dream Lens 🙂
Ok, so today in my opinion, you really don’t need it. You may want it, but you don’t need it!
Let me explain…
When the Canon 50mm f/0.95 came out in 1961, it had few if any competition. People were still shooting film exclusively and back then you can forget all about “low light, high iso” shots.
Today, we have companies like Mitakon, SLR Magic, Mieke, 7Artisans, Kamlan and a whole bunch of other companies making lenses at f/0.95, f/1, f/1.1, f/1.2 and when you combine these lenses with the amazingly low light capable digital cameras we have today, you could literally shoot in the dark.
Just as I saw over ten years ago in the telescope world, let’s thank our friends (mostly in China) for bringing us these super fast and affordable glass! I remember telescopes such as apochromatic refractors and large diameter Maksutovs from American manufacturers such as Astro-Physics and Meade being optically superb, but also expensive. The wait list for Astro-Physics APO refractors was in years, not months.
Then came the Asian optics around the early to mid 2000’s that started challenging the established manufacturers. Sure, they may not have been a real match for a finely crafted Astro-Physics refractor, but you didn’t have to wait years and the the price/quality ratio was good enough for a lot of people. Love it or hate it, these overseas optical makers are giving people what they apparently want! 🙂
MY MAIN POINT ON WHY YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THE DREAM LENS…THOUGH YOU MAY WANT IT! 🙂
To me, the Canon Dream Lens was a lens of compromised optical quality when it came out in 1961. Compromised by the technology of its time, and probably optically compromised as well to create a showpiece lens for which Canon could claim as the fastest photographic lens in the world at that time.
In the same way, you could say today’s cheaper (under $1000) fast lenses are also of compromised quality. They are here to deliver the speed people want, knowing full well people love “ugly” these days. People love “Super Funk” ie, swirly bokeh, orbs, distortions, etc.
There are lenses such as the $2999 Nocturnus which may have higher quality and that might be a good option for some, but again for me, when you get that close to $5000, I’d just rather just save a little more and look around for a used Noctiux, but that’s just me!
Finally, you might say, that’s good and all, but these lenses are NOT the Canon Dream Lens…and that is true! They will not deliver the images the Dream Lens does.
“Angel” (With Horns!) 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 on Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer.
As a counterpoint, I would say the Dream Lens will not produce the kind of images these new and cheaper lenses do either! When it comes to beauty or even “ugly” it’s all subjective really.
But if you have the money and you want the Dream Lens, I’d say…go for it! It’s the Canon Dream Lens baby! Gotta have it! 🙂
LEICA M CONVERSION
I had mine converted to M mount in 2013 by the great Ken Ruth of Bald Mountain. I’ve heard that Ken has recently retired from camera repair and modification work. Hope he enjoys his retirement, he deserves it. Personally, I’m sad to see him stop doing his thing. Sad to see someone of his skills leave the business. He was a true camera technician, a camera wizard, a Camera Legend! He did an awesome job on the M conversion on my lens.
There are others who will do this conversion today. One I know off hand is Don Goldberg aka DAG. I initially contacted him, but his wait list was so long and I found Ken. I’ve had interactions with Don in the past and based on his reputation, I’d have no hesitation having any work done through him.
Why should you convert it to M mount? Unlike many other things in life, having the Dream Lens modified for M mount actually increases its value!
The main reason I had it converted to M mount is because it opens up so many other possibilities such as using the lens on Leica M bodies, film and digital. Using it on any digital system that will take M lenses through adapters.
“Palm Beach” 2014. Leica M5, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens on Fuji Superia 400 color film.
In its native Canon 7/7s mount, you can still use it on digital bodies with the proper adapter/adapters. I used mine on a Sony NEX C3 (Aps-C sensor) for a few years before the conversion. I actually had second thoughts about doing the M conversion since I enjoyed using it on the Canon 7 for film, but when I looked at the possiblities available after the M conversion, I swallowed hard and went for it.
Keep in mind, once you do the conversion you can never use it on the Canon 7/7s again, unless you had it reconverted back which is impractical…or get another Dream Lens that is unconverted so that you can use it on the 7/7s…even more impractical, but I’ve thought about it! 🙂
The conversion cost me $300, but it could be lower or higher, depending on who you find to do the job. Get the best person you can because this is a precious lens and you don’t want some hobbyist screwing up your dream lens! 🙂
“Dreams” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open. Film was Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer. Ahh, is there anything sweeter than a little baby sleeping? Shhh…:-)
I hope these samples give you some idea of the kind of images this lens produces. As I’ve said before, it may not be a look everyone likes but it certainly has character! The Canon 50mm f/0.95 is a legendary lens that remains a highlight of lens design that helped cement Canon’s role as a Camera Legend.
It was, in hindsight, one of the first of many fast, speedy, and exotic glass that Canon would go on to produce over the years.
Please have a look at the video for additional information including why you’d want this lens and why you really don’t need it.
Sure it may sound like a shameless plug and ploy for you to watch the video but it’s not. At least it’s not meant to be!
When starting this article, I had just intended to post samples in order to save myself some work and time.
I figure if you’re really interested in this lens, you’d check the video too and if you’re not that interested, at least you’d hopefully look at the images on this post.
Instead, I ended up writing a lot more than I expected to. Kinda defeats the purpose of making the video and the article too. More work than I wanted, but I love you all so gotta do it!! 😊😘
Hey gotta go, thanks for listening and I appreciate you!
“Dream Baby” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens. With Baby Zay in the house, life is indeed a dream 🙂
WHERE TO BUY? PLUS TIPS ON GETTING ONE
If seeking the Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” prices are trending from a low of $1200 to a high of $2000 give or take. I did not include the $3000 plus lenses because I do not see them as legitimate prices. I do not want to help inflate the prices of these beautiful lenses because I was once in the position of someone who could only dream of such a lens so I know this feeling.
Though the lens is exotic, it is not considered rare. I see them almost every week for sale on eBay and elsewhere.
A fair price I believe will be between $1500 and $2000. To give you an idea of how these lenses have increased in value, I can only say I paid a lot less than this!
If the lens has been converted to M mount, it may fetch a little more. For the cheapest prices, seek out the unconverted version and just get a C-Mount to NEX or Micro 4/3 adapter and enjoy!
If you’re looking for this lens and can’t afford it right now, keep dreaming and be rest assured that one day, with a little luck (and save up some money, of course!) you can attain this dream of a lens! If I, a mere mortal, can do it, so too can you 🙂
Below are links from our affiliates to some great alternatives to the Canon Dream Lens. Buying from our affiliates is safe and cost you nothing extra to what you’re buying. It will also help us bring more reviews of the photography Camera Legends you want to see! Thanks for your support!
All of these lenses will cost you a lot less too! Again, no, they will not produce images like the dream lens. But then again, as I said, the Dream Lens won’t produce images like these lenses either!
The Konica Hexar AF is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Konica in 1993. The camera has a fixed 35mm f/2 Hexar lens.
Just as I stated about the Ricoh GR1 in my review, the Konica Hexar also came from the same unique era in the 1990s when manufacturers such as Contax, Nikon, Leica, Ricoh, Minolta, and yes Konica put out high end “luxury” point and shoot cameras, forever changing the way the lowly point and shoot camera was perceived.
The Konica Hexar is one of the greatest “cult” cameras of all time.
“Sunday Girls” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 developed in D76. Some Z sister love 🙂
AS A CAMERA
The Konica Hexar is an all electronic autofocus camera and relies on one 2CR5 battery for all its functions.
The camera features Aperture Priority, Program, and Manual modes. The shutter speed range is 30s to 1/250s plus T.
The 35mm f/2 Hexar lens is a fixed 35mm f/2 that closes down to f/22.
IS IT A RANGEFINDER OR A POINT AND SHOOT
Though the Hexar AF resembles a rangefinder camera, it is indeed a large point and shoot rather than a true rangefinder like a Leica M6 for example.
Don’t forget, back in the 1990s, point and shoot cameras were still considered “lowly” by elitist photographers. But even these folks knew what a great camera the Hexar was so they had to have it. So for those folks calling the Hexar AF a rangefinder probably made them feel better 😊
The Konica Hexar RF, a different camera, is an actual rangefinder. So remember…Hexar AF, point and shoot. Hexar RF, rangefinder.
IN THE HAND AND THE CONTROLS
While technically a point and shoot camera, the Konica Hexar AF is actually quite large in the hand. It’s roughly the same length as say a Leica M8 and almost as thick, but not as bulky as the M8.
The relatively large size of the camera may also be a contributing factor to it being perceived as a traditonal rangefinder.
Back in the mid to late 1990s when I used this camera most, I considered its large size an asset because I’m sure most people then saw it as a large, almost goofy point and shoot camera with the name “Konica” on it. This is mostly true for the black version. Surely it must be a cheap and “harmless” camera right? 🙂
That was back in the 1990s. Today, I believe people are even more camera savvy thanks in no small part to the internet and the resurrgence of interest in cameras and photography. In some ways it was better in the 90s wasn’t it guys? We had this thing all to ourselves 🙂
Ergonomically, I think the camera is excellent with a nice heft to the body. From the shooter’s perspective, the large dial on the top right hand side of the camera controls the aperture in half stops from f/2 to f/22.
Also on the top plate are from the Off/A/P/M mode dial, the up and down buttons, the self time button, the Select and MF buttons, and the tiny rewind button.
The body can be held in one hand if need be thanks to a nice right handed grip molded into the body. I’d take care that a strap is around your neck or hand if you do this because the camera can slip from your hand and drop, and you wouldn’t want that would you?
MY EXPERIENCES AND IMPRESSIONS OF THE HEXAR AF
I got my first Hexar AF in 1996 after reading an excellent and extensive review of the Hexar on a once great website called Photo.net but for some reason I can no longer find this review when doing a quick search for it.
“Meditation” 1997. Konica Hexar AF, Fuji Reala. The Hexar AF is capable of brilliant color capture, especially with a film like Reala.
Photo.net was one of the first sites on the internet truly dedicated to photography. They had great articles and forums. I would contribute once in a while, but mainly decided to stay a lurker.
The reason I say Photo.net was “once great” is that sometime in the past few years, Photo.net has gone through a complete renovation and is almost unrecognizable.
To be fair, it may still be great, I don’t know, but I no longer visit. Just like being used to the low budget Craigslist layout, I was used to the old school Photo.net platform. I don’t know if they have new owners or not, but the new platform does not, to me, have that down home feeling of the old Photo.net and is harder to navigate.
I know there are “crazy passionate” (as I like to say) people out there to whom saying anything sounding remotely negative will set them off. One person got angry because I called a camera he apparently liked a “brute.” What I actually wrote was that it was “an awesome brute of a camera” 🙂
So to avoid that let me say, yes I understand if I took a little time Photo.net is probably as great as it always was. However, I haven’t had the time to expolore it.
Anyway, I’m drifting off topic here, so let’s get back to the Hexar AF. As I said, after reading that excellent review on Photo.net, I had to have it!
When I got it, I truly had the feeling that I had something special in my hands. Much like the way I suppose that someone in today’s world feels when they hold a Sony RX1 or a Leica Q, etc, etc. Twenty two years later, I still get a special feeling when I hold the Hexar and use it.
HOW I USE THE HEXAR
The Konica Hexar AF is a purely electronic camera that relies on a battery for all its functions and uses dials and lots of buttons for its controls. Generally a no-no for me, but the great thing is I use the Konica as it was intended, which is that I use it as a point and shoot.
So if you’ll forgive me, I will not delve much (if at all) into some of its more complex controls. For example, you can set up the Hexar for manual focus or hyperfocal focus or what have you, but for that you need to rely on pressing a bunch of buttons all of which you need a manual or look up online on how to do it.
It’s not that it’s so hard, but for me, I don’t or never needed to bother with that because I never intended to use the Hexar in any other way but point and shoot 🙂
I don’t mean that in a negative way. The fact that the Hexar is a point and shoot allows me the freedom to concentrate on the light, subject, composition, etc, etc.
“Mr. Kodak” 2003. Konica Hexar AF, Kodak Ultra HD 400. The Ozarks, Arkansas. The Hexar AF’s autofocus worked well for this shot.
The great thing about the Hexar is that while it relies a lot on electronic buttons for a lot of its extraneous functions, it couldn’t be simpler to use, if you do as I do. Just turn it on, put it on A for aperture priority and control that nice large aperture dial, or (dare I say it) just leave it on P for Program mode, then it’s simple as pie. Just point and shoot folks, don’t overthink it!
The Hexar AF relies on active-infrared focus. In general, the AF is adequately fast and accurate. In low light situations, it may struggle if there’s no definable subject for the AF to latch on to.
Other times, it may seem like the AF is hesitating but this usually happens when the camera develops the dreaded “sticky shutter button” problem which we’ll discuss in “Issues” below. In general, the autofocus in the Hexar is very reliable even when the user themselves might be unsure it got the shot.
THAT LENS AND IMAGE QUALITY
It’s been widely said on the web for a very long time that the 35mm f/2 Hexar lens on the Hexar AF is a close copy of the pre Asph Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron.
In my limited time with the Summicron, I’d have to say I didn’t see it. Perhaps it was my copy of the Summicron but the Hexar lens appeared slightly sharper (probably more contrasty) than the Summicron, the bokeh less funky, which kind of makes sense since it is of a much newer vintage than the Leica. The Leica had more of a “look” to the images it produced though.
It’s also said that the Hexar lens may be closer to the 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor rangefinder lens. I don’t really see that either and I have the Nikkor. The Nikkor, like the Leica, has their own unique signature. And the Hexar does too.
For example, I would say the Hexar’s bokeh leans more towards neutral. Not bad, not great. Not unpleasant for most situations. The Nikkor has funkier bokeh that’s not exactly pretty, but adds to its “character.”
I’m totally convinced all these great old lenses earned their reputation as a result of the abberations and imperfections inherent in them, secondary to being a product of their time. In other words, a lens from the 50s or 60s as great as they were, will simply lack something an equivalent modern lens has, with all the advances made in coatings and computer design or corrections for optical errors.
But, and this is a big BUT friend…these abberations or “errors” are what make those old lenses produce such great images!! Whether it’s a look you love or a look you hate, these old lenses produces images that catches the eye. And again, I’m convinced it’s from their imperfections.
“Snow Heart” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 developed in D76. The Hexar AF is capable of excellent sharpness and lovely tones in black and white.
That said, the Konica Hexar AF lens is truly great! It’s sharp from f/2 and very sharp stopped down slightly. There is some barrel distorion in the near focus range, but it’s generally not a problem for me.
The lens exhibited excellent tonality and reproduces colors superbly especially with a good color film like the old Reala or Velvia. I generally prefer b&w when using older cameras, but the Hexar is one camera I wouldn’t mind using with color film.
My subjective impression is that the 35mm f/2 Hexar lens has a much more modern signature than the lenses it’s usually compared to. And it kind of makes sense considering the Hexar AF is a child of the 90s.
The fixed 35mm f/2 Hexar lens has a nice nifty pull out metal hood built in. Nice touch!
THE FAMOUS SILENT MODE
The Konica Hexar AF had one other thing beside that fabulous lens that made it famous. It was the stealthy “Silent” mode. Though I told you I hated using those electronic buttons, this one is so easy I’ll tell you how to do it.
Keep you hand on the MF button, turn the camera on, you should see a letter L on the top LCD. If you do see that “L” then that’s it! You’re in the silent mode.
In this mode, the camera is amazingly quiet when advancing film. In the 1990s used to take the camera with me to college downtown for night classes and sometimes I’d used it to take photos of friends making wacky faces in the classroom. I used to have to look twice at the film counter to make sure the camera actually took the shot. That’s how quiet it was.
You might say, why were you taking your camera to class anyway? Just to take photos of your friends making wacky faces? No friend, I actually took it with me because after class was over, I was free to walk around the streets of New York City. The wacky faces arose out of classroom boredom 🙂
Of course, in a truly quiet “you could hear a pin drop” room you may hear it, but for the majority of the shooting situations you may be in, the Hexar’s silent mode will impress.
“Sunday Girls” closer crop. My eldest would usually mess up my attempts at taking a candid shot of her by making silly faces but here she had no clue that I took the photo 🙂
Again, I always like to put it in today’s perspective and in the age of high quality cell phones and point and shoot cameras, the Hexar’s silent mode is kind of a moot point. Yet, when compared to some of today’s cameras, especially the DSLR cameras with their mirror slap, the Hexar in silent mode may be more silent and that’s impressive, especially for a film camera.
THE COOL FILM REWIND CATCH
One really cool thing I like with the Hexar is that when the camera rewinds the film down to “1” it gives you quite a pause, not sure how long, maybe a second more or less, but just enough time that you can twist the back door key open and catch the film before it goes into the cannister.
This is an awesome feature for me as I love to shoot half a roll in one camera and one roll in another.
The Konica Hexar AF has a top shutter speed of 1/250 which some may find limiting. How would this be limiting for you? Well, let’s say you want to shoot a model outdoors in bright sunlight. Let’s say you want to shoot wide open to get some background blur. The top shutter speed of 1/250 severely limits your ability to do the above.
It also limits the use of faster film in bright daylight. It’s almost impossible to get bokeh in bright sunlight with this camera, even with slow film as the lens begs to be stopped down in bright light.
In bright light, many cameras will already be begging for more than 1/250th of a second so you really have to use slower film and find a way to work around it, maybe use some ND filters.
For me, it’s not a problem because I’m not shooting in those conditions. I’m usually doing the opposite which is shooting in low or subdued light so the camera will rarely ever need to go to 1/250 for me.
The main issue I have seen with the Konica Hexar AF is that they tend to develop what’s known as the “sticky shutter problem.”
Let’s say you press the shutter button. Nothing happens. You press it again. It may focus or not. Eventually it focuses. Maybe not. Either way, you’re not sure what happened.
You most likely have the sticky shutter problem if you experience this. I know I have. In fact, my Hexar does this now.
From what I can gather, it seems most people think it’s a matter of the parts being worn from time and use and apparently there is a simple fix for it which will require you to disassemble, clean and reassemble parts of the camera. It’s said to be easy but I haven’t tried it yet. The tutorial can be found easily on YouTube.
Be forwarned. Some say it’s just a temporary fix and eventually the problem comes back and that you do eventually need to have it professionally repaired as some of the parts may need replacement. With Konica out of the camera business, I’m not really sure if there are many parts to be had.
Since mine is working intermittently, I’m living with it as is for now.
Some people have also complained of faulty electronics, ie camera dying for no reason but I’ve not heard much of this and have not experienced it myself. I’ve had two of these cameras. But that’s not to say it couldn’t happen. These cameras have been on the market for more than twenty years and if they’ve never been maintained, something is bound to happen sooner or later.
Other than that, and the odd off focus shots which happens with any camera, the Hexar is generally very reliable, but then again it IS an over twenty year old camera from a manufacturer who no longer makes cameras for general consumption so be forwarned.
The Konica Hexar AF is one of the greatest cult cameras of all time and justifiably so. It’s got a great lens and great ergonomics if used as a point and shoot.
The camera does rely on a lot of dials and tiny buttons if you want to delve into more of its feature set, but if you’re content to focus on getting the picture and letting the camera do the work, it’s the simplest electronic camera to use. And it delivers excellent, sharp images beautifully and easily.
The photos on this page do not illustrate all that the Hexar is capable of. I do have a ton of photos from this camera that sit in photo albums that I just haven’t had the time to scan, but I will continue to add photos to this review as time allows.
The Konica Hexar AF is a Camera Legend that is still very much in demand by photography enthusiasts and I wholeheartedly endorse it. It brings me back to a great time in life and won me over by delivering great photos time after time. Even today the Hexar continues to produce wonderful results and it’s a keeper in my book.
PRICE/AVAILABILITY/WHERE TO BUY
Though the Hexar AF has been long discontinued, it’s still relatively easy to find. Prices are trending from $450-800 US Dollars.
The Hexar was made in several different fits, Black, Silver, Classic, Rhodium. They’re all the same camera, just a different trim. The Black model appears to be the most common. The Classic and the Rhodium seem to fetch more on the used market.
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So you say you’d like a camera like the Konica Hexar but you prefer digital? Well, they never made an equivalent of the Hexar AF in digital form, so you’re out of luck there.
The closest modern equivalent I would say is the Sony RX1 series. Though I’m sort of bias towards my film cameras, I would say the RX1 and its reiterations are superb.
And since Sony bought out Konica/Minolta oh so many years ago in 2006, you could say the Sony carries that Hexar lineage, even though the lens on the RX1 is a Zeiss lens. But hey, that ain’t a bad thing is it? 🙂
“I, Angry” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Lightroom mobile app b&w “High Contrast” preset.
In keeping with my pledge/attempt to be more active, here’s a posting for today.
Cell phone digital black and white photography has arrived. Actually it’s been here for a while, but I’ve just never completely accepted it. Until now. Maybe 😊
“Kid” 2010. iPhone 3G 2mp and Hipstamtic app. I’ve been experimenting with cell phone photography for quite some time, going back to around 2001. It started out as a novelty, the early phone cameras were horrible but today the cell phone cameras are good enough for prime time.
In the days of film we had no choice but to shoot…film! 😊
But then in the mid to late 1990s a little thing called “digital” happened. Suddenly we got instant gratification and especially for photographers, things never looked better. Or so we thought 😊
In those early days of digital, color photography was already somewhat lacking so digital black and white was nothing more than novelty.
As the nineties turned into the 2000s, better and more capable cameras appeared and those of us experimenting with digital b&w were saying hey, this digital b&w thing might work!
“Little Girl With The Pink Balloon” 2011. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. I almost never do the novelty selective color thing, but here’s proof that I too fell for it at one time 🙂
I got my first copy of the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp in 2006 and that camera (which I’ve reviewed and praised often) made me totally accept that digital b&w had arrived and was more than acceptable to me as a person who shot b&w film exclusively for years. It was finally good enough, indeed more than good enough for me.
Flash forward to today. Cell phone photography rules the world. Cell phone cameras have gotten so good I often tell people these days that they could easily do away with the traditional small sensor digital point and shoot and just use their phones instead. And indeed, that’s my recommendation.
“New York Smiles” 2013. iPhone 5.
According to reports I have read, sales of digital point and shoots have been on the decline for years now, primarily due to the popularity of cell phone cameras for general photography.
As great as all this progress is, one thing I’ve not been convinced with or have not been converted to is using the cell phone for b&w photography.
“New Year’s Day.” iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app. I hate to use the same U2 line that I’ve been using for almost thirty years, but “nothing changes on New Year’s Day” 🙂
But now I think we are crossing this bridge too. Most of the b&w photos in this article were taken using my “old” iPhone 6s Plus with some of the popular mobile photography apps being used by today’s photographers such as Lightroom, Snapseed, and Argentum, the last is exclusively for black and white photography.
“Cold, Cold World” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Snapseed b&w filter.
“Freakzilla” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum app.
In comparison to b&w film, I don’t believe any of them can quite match the look of true monochromic film images, but then again, what digital camera really does? I’m sure some will say the Leica Monochom can, but to me, even after looking at many, many samples from the Leica MM it still looks like digital b&w images. Superb digital, heck maybe even “film-like” (at times) images to be sure, but on the whole, still quite digital. I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are many “crazy passionate” people (as I call them), who would probably be angry that I said Leica Monochrom images look digital, but I have the ultimate answer for that…
Is the Leica Monochrom a film camera? Or is it a digital camera? The answer is that it’s a digital camera, and there you have it 🙂
So back to the b&w cell phone apps. In many instances a lot of the popular presets appear too dramatic, too dark and contrasty. There’s apparently a lot of people that like that kind of look I guess. I do too, but not all the time. Other filters can appear too flat at times. Keep in mind, most of the popular apps offer you the option to edit the image, tweak the filter to your liking.
My workhorse film is Kodak Tri-X and in my opinion, this film does not natively produce such dark and contrasty images. There are films out right now that do offer that kind of look. I would say off the top of my head Japan Camera Hunter’s JCH 400 is one of the newer films that offer that dark and contrasty dramatic look.
Though none of the apps are perfect, overall though I’m quite impressed with them. I hate to say this, but my iPhone and these apps may replace my beloved GRD!! No, the camera’s not for sale, not yet anyway 😀
“Cool Car” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.
Another amazing thing to consider is back in the mid 2000s, before Lightroom came out, many photographers including myself were using Photoshop to tweak every picture to our liking. If you’ve been posting photos online since the early 2000s, you know what I’m talking about.
“Dreamtime” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, 50mm f/0.95 Canon “Dream Lens.” In the days of film, people “dreamed” of the day when they could have something easy like digital black and white on their cameras. They got it. They probably never dreamed of having it so easy on their phones. They got that too. But now that the dream has come true, do we really want it? 🙂
Flash forward to today. The cell phone camera and all the apps and filters available for them can virtually do all the work for you! And most offer some level of control, allowing the user to tweak the levels to their liking.
This is nuts!! I used to spend hours trying to get images to my liking and now we have filters that produces almost the same end result immediately? As I said, nuts!
I have friends who still think they need a little digital point and shoot which they see as a “real” or proper camera. Coming from a traditionalist mindset, I can understand this. But in all honesty, for most of your point and shoot needs, I think your phone might be all you need. Most phones today shoot fast, and they are really perfect for street photography.
To be honest, the cell phone cameras are getting good at almost every kind of photography! They are in constant use by everyone, nearly everywhere. Ironically, by being so “in your face” all the time, the cell phone cameras are perhaps the most stealthy, inconspicuous cameras you can use. Plus you have nearly endless editing options with the apps available. And let’s not forget to mention, the ease of uploading photos and videos for sharing to friends, social media or what have you.
“Strike A Pose” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020, manually tweaked in Photoshop.
As great as all that sounds, one thing you won’t get just yet is any props for your phone shots. I’ve said it here before, everybody knows how easy it is to get a shot with your phone and probably the most uncool thing to say to another photographer is…Hey, I shot this with my phone! 🙂
But just because it’s easier to shoot with a phone, does that necessarily mean it’s no good? I’ve said it before, it’s in human nature to want things the opposite of what you have. If it’s too easy, we want it hard. If it’s too hard, we want it easy. You can’t win with human beings 🙂
But with an open mind, you can begin to appreciate that a cell phone camera can be used like any other camera. Sure, the phone makes getting the shots easier but the actual photography, ie, the subject, the light, the composition still remains exclusively in the eyes of the photographer.
Some people worry that they won’t have the same level of control on their phone cameras. With today’s phones, depending on your phone and/or the apps installed in it, you can have almost complete photographic control on the camera in your phone. In most instances though, most of today’s phone cameras can deliver consistently excellent results. So much so that you needn’t really worry about fiddling around with the settings, as much as you’d want to. Cell phone photography is all about getting the picture, and in that way, it ironically stays truer to the original goal we all have of getting the shot than most cameras do.
“Brother Fro’s Ramen” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus and Argentum app. Brother Fro mentally debates whether he wants that ramen or not 🙂
“Empty” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.
“Calm Before The Storm” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.
And yes, should we finally get to the cell phones Achille’s heel, a thing we like to call “Bokeh?” We all know that’s a weak point for cell phone cameras. But with the recent “portrait mode” fad with the fake bokeh, heck the cell phone cameras are heading into DSLR territory! I’ve seen some really bad results but I’ve also seen some impressive results. I’m no fan of fake bokeh, but in some instances it’s getting scary good.
I know you truly traditional photographers out there, I’m not moving you one inch. You’re not convinced! Hey, it’s ok 😊
But for me, I see it. Cell phone has taken the world by storm and it’s been here for a while now, but I finally think I have to accept that cell phone b&w photography has arrived and it’s only going to get better. Keep in mind, the photos in this article only shows results from an iPhone and some modern apps. There are other phones and other apps out now that shoot b&w just as well or better. There’s also cell phones out there right now such as the Huawei P9 or Mate 9 that have a Leica Monochrome sensor in them. I haven’t even tried these yet, but I’m going to try to procure one for review.
“Playland” 2017. Rye, New York. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app.
So am I going all cell phone for photography? No. I won’t be giving up my digital point and shoots or DSLR for black and white just yet. I certainly won’t be giving up shooting black and white film.
As much as I have grown to hate developing and scanning it, I’m going have to chuck it up and do more of it. Film is the last organic thing left in photography.
“Morning Stretch” 2009. Zorki rangefinder (I forgot which model) and Jupiter-8 50mm f/2, Kodak Tri-X developed in T-Max developer.
Why bother shooting film if it’s such a chore? I don’t know about you, but I love the art! To paraphrase someone famous, I shoot film not because it’s easy, I shoot film because it’s hard (compared to digital). I love torturing myself 😊
Aside from the art, I do love the tactile feel of working a fine piece of machinery and manually controlling it. Many of our readers here, I know you do too.
But, if I want easy digital b&w (and I do sometimes want EASY) then I think I can do it with my phone! But it’s a love/hate thing. Just as the song said, “It’s a thin line between love and hate.” I love it because the results look pretty good. I hate it because something that used to give me a lot of pride, because it took a lot of work, is now too easy.
“Z Ten” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with native iPhone b&w filter.
“Nap-Kin” 2017. iPhone 6s Plus with Argentum b&w photo app. Buenos Noches!
In closing friends, today, there really is a thin like between black and white. As the famous wrestler Ric Flair once said, “Whether you like it or not, learn to love it” I may not love it yet, but I might end up following his advice on this 🙂
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“Sunday” 2017. Baby basking in the Sunday morning light with her YouTube nursery rhymes on her iPad. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.
Many of you who read these pages would probably know that I’ve always been a huge fan of Rollei and in particular the Rolleiflex TLR cameras. My favorite of course is the glorious Rolleiflex 2.8C with the Schneider Xenotar lens which I wrote about here.
Even though I’ve shot my many various Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords which were f/3.5 models, I admit I have a peculiar fondness for the 2.8 models.
It may even be some kind of unconscious snobbery, but I (as I’m sure many of you) have a thing for fast lenses and in the world of Rollei TLRs, f/2.8 is IT.
Now this is not something exclusive to the Rolleiflexes or TLRs, it’s everything! I mean, think of how many of you will perceive a 70-200mm f/3.5 zoom lens versus a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom? Of course, many will gravitate towards the f/2.8 version. That half stop means alot!! At least in the mind 🙂
But the fondness for fast lenses is not just something we want for no reason. For me at least, I prefer shooting in natural or available light, sometimes in less than ideal conditions. A faster lens would allow me to choose a faster shutter speed, minimizing the chances of blurry images. When you’re shooting at f/2.8 and ISO 400 film in dim or available room light, believe me, you’re going to want all the light you can get. There is a method to our madness, a reason after all!
With that in mind, and being that I already have the 2.8C model, I’ve always kept the 3.5F Rolleiflexes out of my mind. The 3.5F just like the 2.8F is also a top-tier model. Both also offer the option of either the Planar or Xenotar lenses.
However the problem for me was that these cameras are also nearly as expensive as the 2.8 models and if I were going to pay that price, I’d just get the 2.8! Now I got the 2.8 fairly cheaply back in 2008. I wouldn’t be able to get one these days with my current finances 😦
So how did I come across the 3.5F? Maybe a little luck and like I said many times before, the cameras come to me! I was looking for something else entirely when I came across an ad for a Rolleiflex 3.5F in what was described as “user” condition. The party said he was selling for his uncle. I asked for detailed pictures and negotiated a price of $200 which was all I could afford at that time.
When I got the camera, I got the sinking feeling that this might be a piece of junk! It looked a little shabby, but I felt I could clean it up. The main thing that troubled me was the shutter didn’t have a reassuring sound. It seemed all the speeds sounded almost the same, and very weak at that. TLR’s generally have soft, quiet shutters anyway, but this one somehow felt different. On top of that the camera didn’t feel as robust as I’ve been used to from my other Rolleiflexes.
“Brother Fro” 2017. Gotta love the hair on Brother Fro! Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer.
I came to the conclusion that the shutter speeds were not accurate, but I decided to pop some film in it and give it a try. Not expecting much, I just shot randomly around the house using my usual “kid test” that I’ve mentioned before. I didn’t think I’d have anything worthy of posting for you good peeps! I said might as well try some film in it before I put it on the shelf while saving up for a CLA.
When I developed the roll, I said…WOW! This lens is SHARP!! It may even be better than my beloved 2.8C.
“Sunday” 100 percent crop of the top image. Unaltered, sorry for the dust! But note the detail on the baby’s shirt and the fabric. It’s probably better seen on a computer versus your smartphone.
It’s not all positive though. I believe I was right about the shutter speeds not being accurate. They all appear to be a little slower than their rated speed. How much I can’t determine. Many of the images that should’ve been good were underexposed.
“Kodak” 2017. Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar, Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max RS Developer. An example shot showing the typical underexposure I experienced testing this camera. Admittedly, this is a bit of a tough lighting scheme and I’m probably to blame for my “guesstimation” exposure. But note the studio light to the right and the spoon on the table to the left. They are sharp. Oh, as a result of my imperfect development, somehow the word “Kodak” from the film strip is etched into this image, and seemingly in the right place for it! 🙂
But the ones that came out sharp, man they were sharp! And contrasty too. This lens made a better impression on me than the 2.8F Planar I tried back in 2004.
I’m going to try another roll in it. Maybe shoot some street with it. I think this lens would be great for that. Will keep you all posted. Till then, Happy Sunday! 🙂
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As much as I love the Huawei Mate, I would have to think the Apple iPhone X is this year’s hottest phone gift. It’s probably the hottest smartphone of 2017! Check the link below and seek out the best prices. Hope you score a deal on the ultimate Apple gadget!
For you traditional photographers, and I know you’re still out there, the hottest camera of 2017 has got to be the Nikon D850. If there’s one camera that can do everything, this is it! Check the link below and compare prices today to score a deal on this year’s Ultimate Camera gift. Your loving photographer will love you for it!
The Fuji Instax Square might be this year’s “got to have it” photography gift! It combines a digital camera with analog prints. The printer is built into the camera! And at $229.95 and up, it’s affordable! I’m tempted to get this one myself!
If you really love your significant other, and I mean REALLY love them, this would be that “above and beyond” gift! It’s the Fuji GFX 50S Mirrorless Medium Format camera. It offers image quality beyond reproach. Your loving photographer should not be asking for anything else after this one, and if they do send them to me and I’ll set them straight! 🙂
Happy Father’s Day to all you great fathers out there! While Father’s Day is generally a celebration of you, Daddy, any photographer/dad out there knows the best aspect of being a father is to be able to take photos of your greatest accomplishment life which are your kids. They are what makes you a Father in the first place 🙂
In celebration of this, here’s some photos of my beloved. While I have tried to shift to other subjects in recent postings in order to not “bore” folks who may not like kiddie photos, it’s the photos of my babies that inspire me most so please allow me today to indulge a little. In fact, it’s my tribute to these hard working kids because they are the ones who allow me to create reviews for you by being the main subjects for my camera testing 🙂
Thank you and once again, Happy Father’s Day to all you happy Papas out there and I hope you get some nice cameras and/or lenses today!!
Any Father’s Day tribute should start with Dad! This is a shot of my late Dad with Baby Zoe from 2008. Pentax K10D, Pentax SMCP-FA 35mm f/2 AL lens.
“Munchkin In The Tree” 2015. Canon EOS-1D Mark III, EF 135mm f/2L.
It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!
Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂
That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.
Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!
Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂
“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp
“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂
“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.
“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!
“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.
“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂
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