Photo Of The Day: β€œThe Fountain” Hasselblad X-Pan

“The Fountain” 2013. Hasselblad X-Pan, 45mm f/4 Hasselblad lens. Film was probably Fuji Superia but will update for accuracy if I can find the information.

Hello folks! Still here, still standing, better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor feeling like a little kid!

Ah, is that me or is it Elton John? πŸ˜€

Here’s the honest truth about my inactivity as I hate to say sorry all the time! I run about four or five different streams other than this blog so I’m spreading myself way too thin! Not just photography but music, etc. This is my baby of course and I really should just be completely on it! My apologies for not being able to give you my best at all times!

So today’s posting is really a test. I’m working on a review of the Hasselblad X-Pan, the panoramic Camera Legend. I am wanting to see if these images appear good on your screen. I feel X-Pan images are best viewed on a computer and not a phone. X-Pan images are large and long and they simply don’t have the same impact when viewed small.

I don’t mind telling you about doing an X-Pan review before it’s published because there are some very fine reviews out on this camera already as it’s been around for some time. I don’t see myself bettering any of these reviews, just adding to them.

At the same time, I would like to make a complementary YouTube video for it. But in all honesty, making a few cents if I make it to thousands of views is not inspiring so I’m not making it for that reason. I’m going to make it for you, my fellow camera lovers!

To have used a Camera Legend like the X-Pan is a blessing that should be shared, don’t you think? Have a great day camera freaks and see you soon! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“·βœŒπŸ»

UPDATE: I have checked it out myself and to me the image is way too small on the computer! Have to find a work around to show you larger images!

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Flashback Friday March 2018

Just a couple of random items for your Flashback Friday…,

I saw this photo on my desk. It was from a few days shy of 2 years ago, “3/26/16” and I was a bit surprised that it was not one, but two years ago!

It felt like yesterday when I shot Baby Zayda cheerfully eating her Cheerios. I also used this image in my Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic review. As I said in that article, I was not fond of the wallet sized photos but this shot is my favorite from it. Upon close inspection, Instax Mini files are sharp!

Anyway, the photo got me thinking about today’s subject…

Ah friends, is it springtime already? As the years go by and as you grow older, do you ever say to yourself…there are just so many springs left in your life?

“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.

As a kid and young adult, life seemed timeless and full of possibilities. As a middle aged man, the realities to what may lie ahead seem more real and though not yet urgent, the feeling is there that I have to do what I need to do and do it soon…whatever it is I need to do! I really am not sure what that is! 😊

Someone once said I was a nostalgic fool and indeed I am! But if memories are all we have, then what is a person to do but look back?

The beauty of looking through the eyes of a child is that you kind of relive at least some of your youth through their experiences.

“Sunset Park” 2018. iPhone 6s Plus, Argentum b&w filter.

I don’t know friends, I just see life flashing before my eyes. Kids growing up. Years going by faster and faster. Is it just me?

CONTAX AX VIDEO REVIEW

As a complement to our 2016 review of the CONTAX AX, the camera from 1996 that tried the titanic attempt to “autofocus” manual focus lenses, I have added a short YouTube video review of the camera.

You may remember the article as part of the “Tuesday Titans” series. On the video, I have changed it to the “Camera Legend TITAN” series so as not to be tied down to a Tuesday timeframe πŸ™‚

The video does include additional features such as tips on using the AF, and a video view of the ingenious autofocus drive mechanism.Β Hopefully it helps anyone who is looking at buying one of these cameras.

I plan to do more of these YouTube videos for other cameras already reviewed on our blog, if and when I can and then embed them directly into those specific articles.

Speaking of YouTube, I can tell you this will be an uphill climb. So many photography related channels! But I’m not so much concerned about the views or number of subscribers at this early stage because just like this blog, I am looking at it as a long term project.

Just like the articles here, I figure whoever will be interested in the cameras we have profiled will eventually stumble upon the video, as they have with the article since YouTube is apparently the second largest search engine.

Staying for the long haul is not a problem for me. I have dedicated myself to do this. Creating the videos, the editing, the time taken, even for my low budget videos? Now that is a little troublesome!

Anyway, this written blog will always be my base and so I thank you all so much for your support over the past few years. I wouldn’t be doing all this if there wasn’t anyone to write for! THANK YOU! πŸ™‚

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Fuji Instax Mini Kit

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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜›

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

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.”Β 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 πŸ™‚

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, thereΒ ISΒ 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.

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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:Β 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:Β 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 πŸ™‚

At f/2.8:Β 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? πŸ™‚

Stopped Down Further:Β 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 qualityΒ of the background blur.Β 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! πŸ™‚

“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” πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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!! 😊😘

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

New YouTube Project

Sorry for my inactivity friends, I have been working on a new pet project which is the Camera Legend YouTube channel. Between that, the blog, and family, I’m burnt out!

It seems the next logical step to bringing a more dynamic experience to our readers.

I initially hesitated doing it…for a couple of years in fact! Afraid to take the plunge, but now we have already posted a couple of videos.

People wish me good luck and I thank them. I’m well aware that most YouTube channels don’t succeed. I’m going in expecting to fail! Starting from zero, got nothing to lose πŸ˜€

I view this blog as my model for the YouTube channel. I never expected it to go anywhere but it’s gone beyond my expectations!

It’s not the number of followers as much as people telling me they found the blog while Googling or researching certain cameras. The fact that we have become a tiny fabric of that internet search for the cameras we have profiled is a humbling experience. Very thankful to the viewers and readers.

The YouTube channel is just in experimental stage. I’m not sure if I should be reserved or show some personality so I’m trying different things. I personally think people don’t want to see a robot speaking! Anyway I’m open to your thoughts and suggestions.

I also have to admit, I’m a little shy for putting myself out there in front of the camera. There’s always the thought…”Oh, am I not who you thought I’d be?”

The production is decidedly low budget. As I’ve mentioned here many times, I’m not a video person, though I might have to start learning.

I’m a photographer who loves natural and available light. I don’t like setting up studio lights, though again, I might just have to learn.

I really wanted this to be more like you going into a camera store and chit chatting with one of the employees in there. I used to do that; go in and chat with the sales people and always had a good time talking cameras!

Anyway, please have a look, if you have the time. Honestly, the “meat” of the video, which is the camera talk, I think only true camera nerds could sit through! Thank you in advance and thanks for being part of this new venture!

Best, Sam

 

Three Years Of Zay

“The Wild Child” 2015. Olympus OM-D EM-5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko lens. This photo was shot when the baby was around six months of age. Zay was blessed with a head full of hair as an infant! πŸ™‚

Howdy folks, how have you been? Hope everyone is doing great!

I’ve always felt that as fast as life moves, it moves even faster when you have children.Β As they get older, you get older and all of a sudden you begin to feel your age creeping in more and more! Is it just me? 😊

Well, my baby daughter Zayda just turned three this week and even though I try not to make family specific postings, please allow me to indulge for today 😊

Now, in looking over Zay’s pics over the past three years, I noticed most of the photos of her are overwhelmingly digital using either digital cameras or cell phone cameras.

Ten years ago when my first daughter Zoe was born there was a more ecclectic mix of 35mm, medium format, and digital images.

“As In A Dream” 2015. Kodak Retina IIIC with 50mm f/2 Schneider Xenon lens, T-Max 400 developed in D76. Zayda was around two or three months in this photo. Due to the camera having issues with overlapping frames, you can see a framed photo of big sister Zoe on Zoe’s right shoulder. I actually loved the effect here, hence the title πŸ™‚

Why such a big difference? No I don’t love one daughter more than the other! I don’t favor one more than the other, at least I try not to.

Upon self reflection I would say I’m getting older and now I’m just a product of the times we live in.

“Love Is In The Air” 2015. Canon EOS-1D 4.1mp, 50mm f/1.8 Yongnuo lens. Zayda was around five months of age in this photo. I was testing a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is a clone of the cheap but capable Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. The Yongnuo is even cheaper but quite a capable lens as well!

What I mean is that ten years ago, the birth of my first child was something I’ve never experienced before and I was eager to take as many shots of her early years as I could.

I was also ten years younger and had the patience to keep up with a baby and wait for the right moment to capture the images. I was also very eager to perfect my craft on film.

“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.

Flash forward to today. I don’t quite have the same endurance, mentally or physically, to wait for that right moment to capture that pose or expression.Β As most of you may know, photographing children requires a lot of patience. It will test your patience for sure!

“Smile For Me” 2018. Nikon D1 2.7mp, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor.

One must also take into account that the cell phone cameras are much better today and their convenience has made me a lazier person. I’m openly admitting this!

“Bright Eyes” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds 11.1mp DSLR, 50mm f/1.4 Contax Zeiss Planar MM.

But I’ve made a pledge to myself that in the next few months I will strive to capture the baby more often with my film cameras now that she is at an age where she’s more cooperative with posing or standing still for pictures.

If you’ll note the equipment used in these images, they are all made from cameras I’ve reviewed or spoken about.

“Softees” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400 in D76.

As for Baby Zayda herself, she doesn’t care if I photograph her with a film camera or digital camera or phone camera πŸ˜€

“The Baby” 2015. Nikon V1, 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikkor 1 lens.

In closing I just want to say Zayda, I love you very much! Perhaps one day you’ll read this and have a smile from it 😘

“Chicka-Dee” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020.

“Eye Spy” 2016. iPhone 6s Plus.

The Incredible New Fuji X-H1

Photo Of The Day: “Thumbs Up”

This photo was taken in 2015 with a Sigma DP2 Merrill. Due to the high sharpness from the 30mm f/2.8 Sigma lens and the unique Foveon X3 sensor, the Merrills make terrific black and white cameras, some say even rivaling the best monochrome digital cameras (wink) 😊

It’s not for me to say right now, but perhaps in another review. For now, I say Thumbs Up for Friday! Have a great weekend 😎✌🏻

The Konica Hexar AF

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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.

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“Sunday Girls” 2015. Konica Hexar AF, Ilford Delta 400 developed in D76. Some Z sister love πŸ™‚

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? πŸ™‚

That was back in the 1990s. Today, I believe people are evenΒ moreΒ 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 πŸ™‚

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.

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“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” πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.

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“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!

AUTOFOCUS

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.

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“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 theΒ MFΒ button,Β turn the camera on, you should see a letterΒ LΒ 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 πŸ™‚

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.

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“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 πŸ™‚

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.

ISSUES

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.

But…

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.

BOTTOM LINE

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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Sony a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

MODERN DIGITAL ALTERNATIVES

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? πŸ™‚

The Sony RX1R II

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