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.

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“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!

 

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Mitakon 50mm f/0.95

Mitakon 25mm f/0.95

Iconic American Cameras Part I: The Argus C3

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I was looking to do something in honor of the 4th of July Independence Day holiday on Tuesday. I think classic American cameras don’t get enough spotlight.

I thought to myself, what is the most iconic American camera? What camera would qualify as an American Camera Legend? There have been quite a few of them, but for some reason none came to my head right away. When you think of iconic German cameras, right away you probably think of Leica, Rollei, or the early Contax cameras. Japan, you easily think of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc, etc.

American? First thing that came to my mind was Kodak, but Kodak was iconic mostly as an American film manufacturer. Sure they had a bunch of cameras too, but a lot of them were rebranded imports or cameras that were part American, part foreign (usually the lenses). It was films like Kodak Kodachrome or Ektachrome that made Kodak an American icon.

I thought of Polaroid too and certainly some of their cameras such as the Land Cameras or the One Step series would qualify. But again, a lot of the best Land Cameras had Japanese lenses on them.

The only one I could clearly say is an American Camera Legend is the Argus C3. Well, let’s say it might be the most iconic American camera in my collection. So if you can think of a more iconic American camera, feel free to let me know. I’m just saying this is the most iconic made in the USA camera in my collection.

AS A CAMERA

The Argus C3 is a 35mm rangefinder camera made by Argus of Ann Arbor, Michigan from around 1939 to 1966.

The camera features a 50mm f/3.5 Cintar lens which was made by other companies among them the most well known was Bausch & Lomb, another famous American optical manufacturer.

The lens can be removed and there are a few other lenses which can be used on the C3, though in my personal experience, I’ve never seen a C3 in the flesh with any lens other than the 50mm Cintar. The Cintar is actually the fastest at f/3.5 while the other lenses (35mm/100mm/135mm respectively) have a very slow and boring f/4.5 as their fastest aperture.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10 to 1/300 plus B and the lens as an aperture range from f/3.5 to f/16. The rangefinder focuses from around 3 feet to infinity and is coupled.

There were a few revisions to the C3, but I think they are all pretty much the same cameras or at least nothing really earth shattering in the revisions. The original “C” model has an uncoupled rangefinder.

IMPRESSIONS

The first thing that strikes you about the Argus C3 is the awesome retro look. But this isn’t a Fuji or Olympus digital camera dressed up as retro. This thing is from 1939 to 1966…it IS retro! ๐Ÿ™‚

Its nickname is “The Brick” and it does look and feel like a funky, chunky brick! In pictures, it looks smaller to me than it actually is in real life. I remember being quite surprised by the size of this camera when I first got it.

I remember seeing the camera numerous times on television, as a prop in print ads, and in movies, most notably in one of the Harry Potter movies.

It makes a great prop I must say!

IMAGE QUALITY

I know without pictures “it didn’t happen” but I’m not going to lie, I don’t have any photos from this camera that I’d consider remarkable.

The lens, at least on my sample, was of average quality and many of my shots were in poor focus or blank. The ones that were sharp seemed decent but nothing I’d call spectacular. Don’t forget, this was a camera designed and priced to sell to the masses, it was not and is not a Leica. I can and do blame myself for not producing decent pictures with the camera, but I don’t think the Argus C3 would mind if I blamed it too ๐Ÿ™‚

Sure, don’t get me wrong, you can get some nice pictures with it, but then again you can get nice pictures with almost any camera. If you want a camera to take those shaky, out of focus, softish hipster images, this might be the camera for you.

I’m not sure if the rangefinder was off or the shutter or something else I was doing wrong. It might just be my particular camera and lens. Nevertheless, it’s not a camera I’m really interested in putting another roll of film through as I have a lot of other film cameras to review!

PRICE & COLLECTIBILITY

The Argus C3 is a good example of “collectible” not translating to “expensive.” Argus made millions of these mass produced cameras and while beautiful (to me), it is not an out of this world picture taker. People know that and it shows in today’s used prices which can go as low as $10, though the average prices for these cameras seem to be trending at between $15 to $30.

The C3 is also a good example of a camera looking like it’s worth more than it is. I’ll bet on any given day, someone comes across one of these in their attics and knowing today’s appetite for anything retro, they probably think it’s worth a lot. Then they check prices on eBay only to be disappointed by the low prices these cameras command.

AS AN ICON

As I said at the start, the Argus C3 is an American Camera Legend. The camera sold in the millions and helped to popularize 35mm photography in America.

By doing so, they probably helped Kodak sell a boatload of film in the USA as well. So even though the C3 wasn’t and isn’t (in my opinion) a great shooters camera, it is indeed a legendary camera. A Camera Legend.

So if you’re a camera collector, and a patriotic American, you don’t just want one, youย needย to have one in your collection!

The looks alone will bring a smile to your face and amazement to your non camera knowlegeable but retro loving friends. Just think twice before you waste any film on it. My two cents! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Monday Mystery Camera: The Nicca 5L aka Nicca Type 5/ Tower 46

img_2191_77niccac

The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 with the 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount. A rare combination!

The Nicca 5L is a rangefinder camera made by the Nicca Camera Company of Japan around circa 1957.

Nicca wasย one of several Japanese companies that brought Leica screwmount clones to the market. The most well known of these clone companies is Canon, but there were also many more companies from Japan and the USSR. Nicca is said to be the predecessor to the Canon company.

The camera pictured above is the Tower 46. It is the same camera as the Nicca 5L/Type 5, but was sold in the USA by Sears Roebuck under their “Tower” brand.

AS A CAMERA

The Nicca 5L like most Leica screwmount cameras has two separate windows, one for framing and one for the rangefinder.ย The shutter speed range is 1/25 to 1/1000, plus B.

The Nicca’s main claim to fame is the winding lever and the Leica M type back, easier film loading than Leica’s screwmount bodies.

Stephen Gandy has a much more extensive write-up on his Camera Quest website, the online authority on rangefinder cameras. In his article, he says it “outshines Leica’s own renouned IIIg.”

I don’t have any experience with the IIIg, but compared to the IIIf I have, it is indeed better. The film loading, the winding lever, the beautiful, large and clear rangefinder all add up to a more pleasant user camera.

PRICE AND COLLECTIBILITY

The Nicca 5L is rare, but not ultra rare. Well, the Nicca version itself is quite rare. As I read on Camera Quest it’s “never been seen.” The Tower 46 (the one seen here) is the one you will usually encounter. If you ever see the Nicca version, let me know!

The Nicca is one of those cameras I bought but sold before I could use it. As I already had the IIIf, I preferred to keep the Leica, despite the Nicca being a much better user camera, as I stated above. Sold it when I needed to pay the bills. Of course, I regret it! ๐Ÿ™‚

I got the Nicca/Tower 46 for about $130 body only, which was a bargain. I don’t see them often, but when I do, I usually see this camera on auction sites, usually paired with the 5cm f/2 Nikkor sell for around $350-500. The 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount is more uncommon and sells for around $300-400 by itself.

Sometimes, people will try to pull for a lot more on that auction site, but as the Leica IIIg (the apex of screwmount rangefinders) go for around $400-700 at legitimate dealers like KEH, I can only say that the Nicca should not sell for more than that.

The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 is an awesome camera to add to your collection and I’m sure, to use. Someday, I will find another and this time, I’ll keep it!

Note: Sorry for the placement of the “cameralegend.com” logo. I now put it closer to the photos because I had found some of the content of my pages used without authorization. I usually hate copyright logos, but it only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone and it only takes seeing your work copied to make you think twice about it.