The Nikon D700 Revisited…The Ten Years Later Review

The Nikon D700 is a 12.1 megapixel, full frame Digital SLR released by Nikon in July 2008. Today, we will look back on the D700. I will share with you my impressions on its image quality, performance and its impact on the world of photography.

AS A CAMERA

There’s a lot of pages with all the specs but I’ll just list a few key features. The camera has a 12.1 megapixel full frame sensor. The shutter speed range is 30 seconds to 1/8000 plus Bulb. Flash synch at 1/250. It has a native ISO range of 200-6400 plus 100-25600 via boost.

My war-torn 200K plus D700 still kickin’ it! ๐Ÿ™‚

The D700 also has Live View but it’s first generation and it shows. It looks a little jittery and if you move it around there’s an apparent lag, but once on target it works fine.

The camera is capable of 5fps on its own and 8fps with optional grip. The camera uses the Nikon EN-EL3e battery.

The D700 is a pro quality DSLR and for all practical purposes is a more compact Nikon D3. There are slight differences between the D700 and D3 to be sure, but image quality is exactly the same as they both use the same sensor.

The D700 arrived on the market at a lower price than the D3, increasing its appeal and affordability to both professionals and enthusiasts alike.

TIMELINE

In 2007, Nikon released the D3, a professional 12.1 megapixel DSLR, and its first full frame digital camera. Their previous kingpin was the D2X/D2Xs a with its 12.4 megapixel APS-C sensor.

After years of stating that they would not make a full frame DSLR, and getting their hardcore base to rally around that, Nikon surprised everyone with the release of the D3.

In my opinion, the Nikon D3 is the camera that saved Nikon and brought it back, alive and kicking butt into the second phase of the digital revolution. But that’s a topic for another review. Today, we are talking about the D700.

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“Time Out” 2008. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. Baby gets into a hair pulling moment as a result of having to take “time out” ๐Ÿ™‚

MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE D700

I got my first D700 in July of 2008. Rarely do I get a camera in the same month it was released. So how did I come upon the D700? Simple, just like many of you, I climbed the ladder of camera ownership!

And what does that mean? Well, before the D700 I was using a 12.3mp Nikon D300 which was released with the D3 in 2007.

I was perfectly fine with the D300. In fact, I was impressed with its performance and the fact that it was APS-C didn’t bother me. I read about Nikon’s reasoning as to to why they were not going to make a full frame camera and even though I thought they were just in denial or just making excuses for why they wouldn’t make one, I accepted it.

Then the D3 came out and I was surprised and happy they made a full frame DSLR, but I just couldn’t afford the hefty $4999 price tag, even though the price was well in line with professional cameras of the time. So I was resigned and content to stay with the D300 as I already had a full frame Canon EOS 5D Classic.

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Gear Lustin’ in 2008! My two main digital cameras in 2008, the Canon EOS 5D Classic and the Nikon D700, seem to have come full circle in 2018!

In comes the photo forums…

As I’ve said here before, I was on the forums just like you guys! Photo.net, Rangefinderforum, Fredmiranda.com, etc.

I won’t say which one, but near the end of July of 2008, I saw a fellow forum member advertise a new D700 he had just gotten and wanted to sell for whatever reason. At over $2000, it was still a hard sell for me financially, but the fellow said he was willing to take a “D300 plus cash.” Hot dog! Bang! This might be my opportunity so I PM’d the guy and since he was local, all the better.

So I go and see the guy. We had some cool camera talk, checked out the cameras, and we had a deal. I handed over the D300 plus a little cash and I walked out with a near new D700! I hate to say it, but I said to myself…wow, Samster, somehow you managed to do it again! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, the love was short lived as I used the same ladder to climb up to a D3 in 2009 when G.A.S. attacked! I sold my D700 and eventually the D3 too.

I got the D700 again in 2016 when I noticed an unusually low price online. And the prices continue to fall making this a great time to try one! If you’re interested I’ll list the trending prices down below.

IMAGE QUALITY

In my opinion, the Nikon D700 is capable of superb image quality, especially at lower ISOs.

What I liked…

“Apples” 2018. Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and by having the same 12.1mp sensor, the D700 offers the same excellent image quality as its big daddy D3.

Rich colors and tones. A certain depth to the images that might be attributed to the sensor, the processing, etc. I can’t say for sure what it is, but I call it theย Magic Sensor.

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“Red, Green & Gold” 2008. Nikon D700, 110mm f/2 Zeiss Planar via adapter.

There’s also a pleasing balance of sharpness and smoothness to the images which make it perfect for portraits and people photography, one of my favorite forms of photography.

Of course, if you’re a landscape shooter you’d probably be better off with a higher resolution camera but you didn’t need me to tell you that! ๐Ÿ™‚

THE MAGIC SENSOR

I call the D3/D700 sensor the “Magic Sensor” because it just seems to bring images to life. I used to think it was just the full frame sensor, but now ten years later I know it is not, or at least not exclusively a result of the sensor alone but I sure believe the full frame sensor is a factor.

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“Magic” 2016. Nikon D700, 60mm f/2.8 AF-D Nikkor. The D700’s “Magic Sensor” seem to bring everything to life. Well, a happy smiling baby helps I guess! ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Uh Oh It’s Magic!” 2008. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. The 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor already offers decent bokeh but a full frame sensor takes it a step further making f/1.8 look even smoother.

There are cameras I have used in today’s world, such as the mirrorless Olympus OM-D EM-5 that also seem to provide similar, rich and colorful images despite the much smaller sensor.

So perhaps it’s a combination of sensor plus whatever processing the camera is doing to the images. Perhaps it’s just how far we have come in digital camera technology that some mirrorless cameras can achieve a full frame “look” that I have not seen in first generation mirrorless cameras.

I know what you’re thinking…it’s all in the lenses! That’s partially true, but in this case I’m not just talking about bokeh or shallow depth of field. Just the whole image, everything in it.

In these two cameras, the magic is comparable both in Jpeg and RAW.

PERFORMANCE

The D700 offers speedy and accurate AF as would be expected from what is essentially a D3 in smaller form. The Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus module with 51 AF points is more than enough to handle almost anything even today, in my opinion.

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“Gimme A Break” 2008. Nikon D700, 70-210mm f/4-5.6 AF Nikkor.

The 12.1mp sensor might seem small in today’s world, but if you’re not shooting detailed landscapes or billboards for some ad campaign you’re going to be fine with the resolution. The sensor in my opinion is particularly well suited to portrait and people photography but is also well suited to street or any other kind of photography you might aspire to.

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“Shoot!” 2008. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor.

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“Thoth” 2008. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. A NYC Central Park mythical figure named “Thoth.” Considering this tricky lighting, the D700 Matrix metering fared well giving a usable exposure that would look even better with a little work.

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The joy of taking pictures is contagious! Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor. Just look at the woman’s hair and skin. The D700 offers just the right balance of sharp and smooth.

The D700 is fine with modern AF-S lenses but is also “old school” in the fact that it can drive those old AF lenses that need to be screw driven like, for example, the 85mm f/1.8 AF-D lens.

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“The Kid’s American” 2018. Nikon D700, 85mmf f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor. The D700’s fast AF caught this young man before he ran off, which was a split second later ๐Ÿ™‚

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“Toto” 2008. Nikon D700, 70-210mm f/4-5.6 AF-D Nikkor.

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“Granny Love” 2008. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor.

The large and clear 95% coverage viewfinder also make it a good choice for using those wonderful old AI Nikkors. Do NOT use it with Non AI lenses or you may damage the camera and/or the lenses.

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“Noon” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor.

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“Night Buddy” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS, ISO 3200. The D700 does an excellent job at the “high” ISO of 3200.

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“Smile!” 2018. Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor.

Because of the superb image quality and the ability to comfortably use manual focus lenses, I view this camera today as sort of a Poor Man’s DF but without the ability to use Non AI lenses.

BOTTOM LINE

The Nikon D700 took the legend of the Nikon D3 to the masses and became a Camera Legend in its own right.

The D700 gave more Nikon users a chance to see what full frame digital was all about and in doing so, hooked users in with excellent imaging capabilities in a strong, robust body.

Even today in 2018, with all the full frame cameras Nikon has put out since 2008, the D700 is still highly regarded and is considered a digital camera classic.

If your goal is to capture great pictures and you’re not interested in 4K video, focus peaking, and whatever else today’s cameras offer, then the Nikon D700 will still deliver the goods and is one of the two cheapest full frame bodies you can get today.

ALTERNATIVES

The main alternative for the Nikon D700 is the 12.8mp Canon EOS-5D Classic. As someone who has used both extensively, I can say with confidence that you can’t go wrong with either! But if you really want me to nitpick, here’s what I have experienced with these two Camera Legend cameras.

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“Brother 700” 2008. Nikon D700, 45mm f/2.8P Nikkor. The Nikon D700 does well with manual focus lenses such as the 45P seen here which is why the Brother calls it the “Poor Man’s DF” ๐Ÿ™‚

The 5D images appear somewhat sharper, but the D700 has richer tones and colors. The D700 body is much more refined, feeling like a more mature product, as it should be for a camera from 2008 versus a camera from 2005. Autofocus is faster on the D700 as should be expected.

The D700 does better at higher ISOs. Images hold up better though I don’t mind the grit and “grain” of the 5D Classic images at IS0 3200.

At low ISOs, both cameras still deliver superb results showing that back as far as 2005 digital cameras were already awesome!

Again, if you’re invested in the Nikon system or the Canon system, that should be your main consideration and not the cameras themselves. Both cameras rock!

AVAILABILITY AND WHERE TO BUY

If you’re looking for the Nikon D700 (or the 5D Classic) this is a great time to pick one up! The D700 is plentiful on the used market so you shouldn’t have a problem getting one.

Prices for the D700 are trending now at $400-700 depending on condition, package, etc.I say just get the cheapest one you can as long as you buy from a dealer you can trust.

I’ve heard about the below $300 D700 bodies, but as of today, they are rare and most likely beater bodies. Average seems to be $450-525 USD for ones in good to excellent condition. If you’re going above $600, I would seriously consider one of the newer bodies, ie, D600, D610, or even the D3 of which prices have come down significantly in the past couple of years.

I got my latest one in 2016 for under $400. It was in cosmetically Good condition. Little did I know it had over 200K shots on it! But, knock on wood, two years later and a few thousand shots later she’s still shooting unlike myย bought NEW in 2012ย Olympus OM-D EM-5 which kicked the bucket last year at approximately 5K
shots.

The cheapest D700 bodies would probably be found on eBay (Direct D700 Link)

Alternatively, here’s your Canon 5D Classic link on eBay (Direct 5D Classic Link)

Another good place to find both is our trusted affiliate Here.

Thanks for reading and I’d be glad to hear from any fellow D700 owners!

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Photo Of The Day: โ€œApplesโ€ Nikon D700

The image above was shot with a Nikon D700 and 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor. This is not a gear posting however. It’s what I call a “Life” posting ๐Ÿ˜Š

Friend, it’s that time of the year again! Time to pick them apples ๐ŸŽ

This is the time when the “empire” state and the “Big Apple” really live up to their names ๐Ÿ˜Š

The kids enjoyed picking them apples and so did I but I wondered, considering the “fill as you can” bag cost us more than what I could get at the local store, it may be a little fresher but is it really any better? ๐Ÿ˜Š

Not sure but I did enjoy the apples! If you have an apple farm near you, time to go before it’s to late guys! Happy Sunday!

Canon EOS M 18mp (Original) Images

With the recent release of the Canon EOS R system, and the Nikon Z6/Z7 just before that, it seems that these big two Camera Legends have finally embraced the mirrorless camera segment.

Fans and critics (myself included) have complained that the big two did not give it their all when entering this market back around 2012.

Instead, their initial offerings, Canon’s 18mp EOS M and Nikon’s 10mp V1 and J1 respectively, seemed more like an appeasement to their base and to those who might otherwise have been enticed by mirrorless pioneers Olympus, Panasonic and/or giants like Sony. But this criticism seems to have been rectified with the new full frame mirrorless releases.

Today, we will look at some images from the EOS M, Canon’s first foray into the mirrorless camera segment.

The 18mp EOS M was praised for its APS-C sized sensor and image quality but criticized for its slow, subpar AF. Not what Canon fans expected.

As mentioned before on this site, I’ve had my EOS M since 2013. I only got one when they were having a close out sale which included body and the 22mm f/2 STM lens for under $300.

I’ve used it sparingly over the years. Somehow, I never sold it. The turtle slow AF was reason enough to sell it but I think it’s the camera’s image quality when combined with that superb 22mm f/2 STM that made it a keeper for me. All pics here, unless otherwise noted, were made with the M and 22mm f/2 lens.

Looking on these pics now, it does make me think quite hard about how I might acquire one of the new full frame mirrorless bodies from either Canon or Nikon ๐Ÿ˜Š

But don’t sweat it folks. I stand by my statements that I no longer crave the latest and greatest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider the new cameras once the prices come down ๐Ÿ˜€

There is something great about the older EOS M and you know what that is? Despite its slowish AF, the camera is capable of excellent images and…It can be found on the used market for MUCH cheaper than the new EOS R! Have a great day good peeps!

“Kiss” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Funnel” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. I’m not a huge fan of “state fair” type food, including funnel cake, but the light on that plate was delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

“Ride” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Note, the EOS M gives images that at first glance are reminiscent (in a good way) to photos from the latest generation iPhones, such as the iPhone X., in terms of color and sharpness. Of course, with an 18mp APS-C sensor, it also offers higher detail retention and resolution.

“Hey You!” 2014.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. This photo was shot using the built in “Miniature” Creative Filter. The filters can be fun if used sparingly.

“AMC” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Elmwood” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 18mp EOS M is capable of excellent night shots, low noise and good retention of details.

“Turbulence” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. In my opinion, the EOS M original is not well suited to action shots due to its turtle slow AF. But a shot like this is easy for the M ๐Ÿ™‚

“Boy Wonder” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 22mm f/2 STM is capable of nice portraits with good bokeh, provided your get in close and your subject can stay still for the shot ๐Ÿ™‚

“Primates” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines.

“What You Want?” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.using the EOS M’s Grainy B&W Filter.

“Ghetto Blaster” 2013.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Many people rave about the Olympus B&W art filters, but to me the Grainy B&W filter on the EOS M is better!

“Flower” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The versatile 22mm f/2 STM is capable of “florals with bokeh” as well as street work.

“Bottled Water” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines. They sure love their purified water in this country and in hindsight they were ahead of the game on this! But a lot has to to with not wanting to get sick from that tap water ๐Ÿ™‚

“Twisted Sister” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Farmingdale, NY. The pic says it all ๐Ÿ™‚

“AutM Leaves” 2015.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Hello, Goodbye” 2018.ย Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

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Recent (And Not So Recent) Images

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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? ๐Ÿ˜Š I want to know about YOUR life, Brothers and Sisters ๐Ÿ˜˜

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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

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 publishย ๐Ÿ˜ซ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

“Noon” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor. Be forewarned friend. For when the clock strikes “Noon” your heart may be broken ๐Ÿ™‚ 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” ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a great lens by the way!

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“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! ๐Ÿ™‚

“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! ย You can see the smoke or vape coming out of the man’s nostrils ๐Ÿ™‚

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚

“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? ๐Ÿ™‚

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚

“Buenas Noches” 2017. Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.2 AIS. Yes that means…Good night! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens Review Plus Samples

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

Since I’m a person who does not like pressure, I found myself shutting out the world by binge watching “Forensic Files” ๐Ÿ˜€

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.”ย Today, the Dream Lens has become one of the most well known and coveted lenses of its era.

123711090-1.yq57crJc.imgCanonDreamZoeLaptop072Pbase

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

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, thereย ISย 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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

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.

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“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…

“Twilight” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open!

At F/0.95:ย 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.

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“Day Dream” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens.

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:ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

At f/2.8:ย Should be good enough for most purposes you would use any other 50mm lens for!

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“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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Stopped Down Further:ย 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 qualityย of the background blur.ย Honestly, there’s no real reason to get this lens for any else but bokeh!

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“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! ๐Ÿ™‚

“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.

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“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!

“Zen” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open.

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” ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

MY MAIN POINT ON WHY YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THE DREAM LENS…THOUGH YOU MAY WANT IT! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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“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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

CONCLUSION

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“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!! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

ALTERNATIVES

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!

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7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Mitakon 50mm f/0.95

Mitakon 25mm f/0.95

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Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar Test Images

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Photo Of The Day: “Baby Fresh”

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For your Flashback Friday, here’s a shot from nine years in time, 2008. The gear used was a Pentax K10D and the awesome Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited prime lens.

At that time, I enjoyed greatly experimenting with flash and was using a portable softbox. Man, if you can see the detail on the original file you might be convinced 10 megapixels could be enough for anything! ๐Ÿ™‚

I may be weird, but more than just photographing a cute photo of my baby daughter, I wanted my lenses (especially the sharp ones) to reveal every pore, every detail and the 77mm f/1.8 certainly did! I think the glamour models would stay away from me ๐Ÿ™‚

This baby by the way is the same little girl two posts back that I shot with the Nikon D1, now nine years later. The Time Machine marches on!

The K10D is a great Pentax classic now and the prices have gotten super affordable. I did have some issues with it in low light or in high iso images, but this shot reminded me of why I loved it in the first place. And with today’s prices, heck it might be worthwhile seeking out another one! Happy Friday ๐Ÿ˜Š