Good morning awesome war torn camera geeks! Today’s #flashbackfriday post is from #2008 and this is from one of my #regret files 😢 A little bit of a long read but if you love Leica you may find it interesting 😎👍
Ok so in this pic, I’m holding a Canon EOS 30D which is an 8mp DSLR that you can get very cheap these days. It’s a very nice camera but nothing really special in today’s world. But that lens…
The lens is the rarely seen Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux in R mount 😍 This was the ROM version and I got it for around $800 in 2008
My R collection was nearly complete at this point but the M8 was calling me so I put this lens up for sale in 2010 I think I tried selling it for $1000 but there were no USA takers. It was a couple of days before the end of the auction when an overseas buyer in South Korea offered me twice the price at $2K!!
I honestly stay away from selling overseas due to high risk of fraud but this person was VERY persistent and everything checked out. I sold it to him and I’ve never seen another 35mm f/1.4 Summilux R that I could afford in fourteen years! 😢
The price of this lens on eBay now is ridiculous from like $8K and up. This was one of my camera selling mistakes 😢
Listen, I’m glad the new owner was happy with the purchase. I’m glad I doubled my original estimate and made some money. My only regret is I didn’t get to spend more time with this legendary lens before I sold it. But now you know how I was able to pay for my M8!! 😍 I gotta work, I gotta hustle man. It’s not like I have an endless bank account 😎👍
Oh one more secret just for you guys…I love Leica and I think the lens was good but not great for my purposes. It didn’t really stand out to me, that’s why I sold it! Not worth $8K maybe not even $2K 😂
So in that sense I don’t really regret it but again I really didn’t spend as much time as I should have with it. Please note, this is not the M mount version that I’m talking about.
Learn from my experiences and stop lens lusting for these ultra expensive or rare lenses👍
Do you have any camera gear related regrets? I’d love to hear about it! Have an awesome day guys! 😎📸❤️👍
Good morning you awesome and voracious war torn camera geeks! Today we take a look at what time has proven to be one of the most unique and enduring digital cameras ever produced, the Epson R-D1.
The Epson R-D1 is a digital rangefinder camera introduced by Epson in 2004. It is the world’s first digital rangefinder camera.
The R-D1 sports a 6.1 megapixel, APS-C sensor with a 1.5x crop factor. The camera has a Leica M mount. The body was built by Cosina and is based on the Voigtlander Bessa R series of film cameras.
My Experiences With The R-D1
I bought my R-D1 in 2006. Before that, I had been using a Voigtlander Bessa R3a. While I loved that camera, it was also the first camera that I learned to repair in some way.
Specifically, the rangefinder was way off on my copy and while inquiring with repair shops about getting the rangefinder fixed, I decided to try and adjust the rangefinder myself. Credit should be given to all the great tutorials I found in the photo forums. Remember, YouTube was not around in 2005-2006.
Sadly I sold the R3a shortly thereafter to fund something else. Looking back now, I should have kept it, not only because I was really proud of how well I adjusted the rangefinder but also because the camera now commands twice the price on the used camera market.
Anyway on the the R-D1! When it was introduced in 2004, I remember that the introduction took the camera world by surprise primarily because almost no one saw it coming. Everyone expected that Leica, the company synonymous with the rangefinder camera, would be the first to come out with a digital rangefinder. As history has played out, Epson did it first and Leica came in second with the M8 in 2006. The R-D1 will always be remembered for beating Leica to the punch!
Funny enough, when I had the Bessa R3a film camera, I thought it was a great camera but not something special like the Leica M bodies I had handled. Now even though the R-D1 is based on the earlier Cosina built Bessa cameras, the R3a is close enough to make this comparison. And what I can say is while the Bessa R series film bodies did not feel particularly special, somehow in the digital form of the R-D1, it feels extraordinary!
Perhaps this is because it actually feels like a film body with a digital sensor in it, which in essence is really what it is especially considering the R-D1 was introduced in 2004. At that time, some camera companies were still producing digital cameras built around or inspired by their film counterparts as opposed to later on in the decade when they started building digital cameras as pure digital cameras.
I got my R-D1 as part of a trade plus cash deal. I responded to an ad in photo.net one of the internet’s first photography sites. The seller had an R-D1 listed in excellent condition and I offered a trade with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS which was my first L lens.
I can’t remember exactly but I think the total value of the deal was close to $1600. The R-D1’s introductory price in 2004 was $2999. Thank goodness prices dropped sharply by the time I got my R-D1 in 2006.
As with many of the cameras I have bought over the years, the R-D1 was a camera I lusted for but never seriously thought I would ever acquire due to its high price tag. But somehow, some way I got the camera.
Also, contrary to several comments people have left me on YouTube, I didn’t actively seek out many of the cameras I’m reviewing now because they were legendary. Most of the cameras I have reviewed were the hot cameras of their day when I bought them, just like the R-D1. But in the case of the Epson, it should have been easy to predict this camera would be a future Camera Legend as it is the world’s first digital rangefinder.
For a much more dynamic experience here’s my 16 year in depth review video!
Epson R-D1 Key Features & Issues
While there are many things that make the R-D1 so appealing I would identify three key features as the most alluring. The analog dials, the film winder/shutter cocking mechanism and the large, bright 1:1 life size viewfinder.
The analog dials were made by Seiko, Epson’s parent company and they’re not just there to look pretty, they serve a purpose.
The large hand is the “shots remaining” indicator. It goes from 0 to 500. Please remember the R-D1 and R-D1s can only take 2gb SD cards. The R-D1x can take 32gb. Otherwise they are all the same cameras.
The “R-H-N” indicator on the right is for RAW, High and Normal image quality selection.
The area on the left that starts with an “A” and has symbols below is the white balance indicator.
The main issue I have seen on the R-D1 is the loose, peeling, or missing rubber grips. While it may not look pretty, it is purely cosmetic. You can always find some camera leather to patch things up, although I must say I could not find any pre-cut R-D1 leather.
On my copy, the rear LCD has begun to fail after sixteen years and the rangefinder has had to be fixed twice for going out of alignment. I sent it to Steve’s Camera out in California, a well known shop that fixes the rangefinder on the R-D1. I’m not sure if he’s still fixing them but here’s his contact if you want to investigate:
Steve’s Camera Service Center (310) 397-0072
Please check out my YouTube video for a visual accounting of these issues as well as the R-D1’s most alluring features.
The photos below represent just a small fraction of the images I have taken during my sixteen years with the R-D1 but hopefully they will give you an idea of the images the camera is capable of producing.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE R-D1, R-D1s, AND R-D1x
Epson produced a couple of upgrades to the R-D1. The R-D1s included a JPEG + Raw mode and a quick view function. The original R-D1 could be upgraded to have these features via firmware update.
Is It For You?
As cool as the Epson R-D1 is, recommending it as a good buy is harder than you might imagine. Why? Well, the reason is because of what I call the “Nikon D100 Dilemma.”
What is the Nikon D100 Dilemma?
The Nikon D100 Dilemma
What does the Epson R-D1 have in common with the Nikon D100? I know you hardcore camera geeks know this! But for those who don’t, these two cameras share the same 6.1mp Sony CCD sensor. The sensor is also found on the original Pentax *ist D and maybe other cameras? It apparently is not the same sensor as the D70 of 2004.
The Nikon D100 is a digital slr that was introduced in 2002. The 6.1mp APS-C sensor in this camera was considered very good in its day, but was arguably surpassed by the 6mp sensor in the Nikon D70.
So if the Epson R-D1 has the same sensor as the D100 what then is the problem?
Well, whether it’s a “problem” or not is up to you but the main quandary here is that the Nikon D100 can be found any day of the week with prices trending @ $25-50 USD. The Epson on the other hand is trending @ $1600-2500 depending on condition and on the model (R-D1, R-D1s, R-D1x).
Although as a bonafide hardcore camera geek, I would pick up another R-D1 if mine were ever to break and I had extra money laying around, but even for this camera geek who knows the specs and knows the risks, the price difference between these two cameras with the same sensor is hard to ignore.
The R-D1 is unique in everything else in comparison to the D100 except at its heart which is the sensor.
So What’s The Fuss About The R-D1?
The thing that makes the Epson R-D1 so compelling even now in 2022 is the user experience.
The Seiko made analog dials are pretty and they serve a purpose (check out the video for specifics). The analog winder serves to cock the shutter. The 1:1 viewfinder is large and glorious and sort of makes up for the R-D1’s short rangefinder base. The ability to use Leica M mount lenses from Leica, Voigtlander, and other manufacturers is topping on the cake.
All these factors add up to the most film-like experience one can get from a digital camera! And I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who grew up on film and has used digital cameras since the dawn of digital. Even today, with all the great digital cameras out there, no other digital camera gives such a unique film like experience when using it.
My Nikon DF may look retro but I will admit before doing a review that it does not really feel like a film camera to me the way the R-D1 does.
Note, I didn’t say the images from the R-D1 were inherently film like. Sure you can get film like images out of its 6.1mp CCD sensor but it would be disingenuous of me to hype it up and make it more than what it is. If it was the most film like sensor then everyone would be saying the Nikon D100 or the Pentax *ist D produces “incredible film like images” but no one says that about those two cameras.
The R-D1 can make film like images, but it’s more likely the result of the post processing skill of the user and the lenses used, rather than the sensor which is not unique to the Epson.
Is The Epson R-D1 Worth It In 2022?
Whenever someone reviews an older camera, especially on YouTube, the “in” question is “Is It Worth It?”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for at least 90-95 percent of the people shooting digital cameras today, the answer would be NO.
A 6mp digital rangefinder from 2004 with a 2002 era sensor with no modern amenities such as live view, focus peaking, or 4k video is hard to recommend, especially when it will cost you nearly $2000.
In a 2022 world where gas prices are sky high, with inflation, with a war in Ukraine, with people starving, etc, etc, where the same money could get you a used Leica M8 or M9 or add a little more and get an M240 or a Sony A9 or Nikon Z7 it’s damn hard to recommend the R-D1 to the general photo enthusiasts.
If it had a unique sensor, that would sway me towards a recommendation.
However, the R-D1 was never about the sensor alone. What makes it unique is the user experience.
If you are a true HARDCORE camera geek who knows the risks and are willing to take it and you know a little something about the R-D1 or if you are an old school film fanatic shooting digital then I can heartily recommend the camera!
In my opinion it is a unique camera and one of the most fun digital cameras, if not the most fun digital camera in my collection.
The Epson R-D1 was an anomaly when it came out. In 2004, no one ever expected Epson, a company known for printers and scanners, to come out with a digital rangefinder. They beat Leica to it. Today, it’s still an anomaly. In my opinion it is one of the greatest digital cameras ever made yet most of the general public and even some photo enthusiasts don’t know it, thus making it one of the greatest cult cameras ever.
But there’s are reasons why it commands high prices on the used market. Many many photographers and camera collectors love this camera! Its uniqueness sets it apart.
Even now, nearly twenty years after its introduction, I feel it’s still the most film like experience one can get from a digital camera.
The Epson R-D1 is a digital Camera Legend that, while having a good but not unique sensor, offers the user a unique experience in the digital camera world.
The experience, the fun factor makes me want to shoot it. That is something that can’t be said for so many of the digital cameras I have used.
And if a camera inspires you to shoot, then it’s a good camera in my book. But the Epson R-D1 is not just good, it’s great!
Since Epson never came out with another R-D series camera, the R-D1 will always be unique as the world’s first digital rangefinder sporting the Epson name and for some people that may be a good enough reason to get it.
Good morning you awesome camera geeks! Today for your Throwback Thursday I’m just sharing with you a YouTube “Shorts” playlist.
Now in case you don’t know, YouTube recently rolled out a feature called “Shorts” in which users can put out videos that are 60 seconds or less, in vertical format.
I’m not sure if YouTube ever mentioned this but it seems obvious that this was done to counter videos by rival Tik-Tok.
Anyway, I started using it for fun and also as a way to give a little spotlight to cameras and lenses I own or have owned, but have yet to fully review.
If you haven’t seen these already, the items spotlighted so far are: the Leica R8, Minolta TC-1, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L which I referred to as my “most unused lens,” Topcon Super D, Canon Dream Lens and EOS RP, and my famous or “infamous” $20 dollar Vivitar PS-20 point and shoot and maybe others I don’t remember off the top of my head!
Why don’t just make full video reviews of these items? Well, I’d love to, and some are half done but time constraints from work and family prevents me from finishing these projects sooner. I don’t make any money on YouTube yet so I need to give priority to my real job 😍
Plus, now with a little YouTube experience, I can sense that while a camera like the Topcon Super D or Graflex Norita may appeal to a small cult, they will be largely ignored by my viewers until I have a larger subscription base so I’ll save them until they can be properly appreciated.
Nothing worse than putting a lot of time into videos that will get little views! But yes, I know it’s better to post something than nothing at all so I’ll keep trying 😎😍😎👍🏻
FUNNY PHOTO OF THE DAY
I love an app called Snapchat! The girls think I’m getting old because it’s an “old” app. Is time moving so fast that a five or six year old app is old?! All I can say is…I still love it! 😍❤️😍
Good morning camera geeks! Today’s YouTube video is perhaps my shortest! And surprisingly no words from a guy who seems to be able to gab endlessly 😀
This is not part three of “The Lonely Art Of Film Developing.” That is part of a longer series on black and white photography. I was almost done with that video but allergies and lack of time has set me back.
But I didn’t want my subscribers to wait as long as I used to make them wait for a new posting and I had this video already made months ago. I never posted it for some reason or another. I guess I was waiting to do a full M6 review but I knew that would take forever so I posted it tonight as a way of saying thank you to the camera geek faithfuls so they have something new to watch. I have a bunch of videos I made and never posted. This is just one of them.
The Leica M6 is perhaps the most popular Leica camera in the world. They sell every one of them! Have you ever noticed an M6 go for sale on your favorite camera dealer’s website and within a day, sometimes hours, it’s guaranteed to be gone.
This is a testament to the M6. It’s a great and reliable camera. It’s an icon. It’s a Camera Legend!
However, its popularity is more complicated than just the fact that it’s a good camera. It’s a mesh of several factors, ie, the resurgence of film, it’s a Leica, it was at one time “affordable,” it’s been reviewed ad nauseam, it’s been touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread and oh yes, the hipsters love it!
All these things and more have worked in the favor of the M6 driving up the prices and continuing to cement its legend.
In many ways, the rise of the Leica M6 reminds me a lot of the Canon AE-1. Two totally different cameras I know, but both have benefited from similar circumstances. And yes, hipsters love the AE-1 as well!
Like many cameras before, I’m just so glad to have bought it at an earlier time when the prices were sub $2000.
Anyway today is not a Leica M6 review. Today’s video will show how easy it is to load the M6 and it is EASY!! It is in no way intimidating like older Leicas.
Extra Tip: Once you have the film secured in the camera, just start taking shots, no need to wind to “0” to get that first shot. If you do it this way, you may be able to get a couple extra frames from the M6!
If you are thinking of getting an M6 or just got one I hope this helps! Thanks for reading and watching and have a great week my friends!
I’m not a rambling man and I’m certainly don’t know what a “Rambler” is but I do know it’s cool old car!
This I believe is an AMC Rambler, and I know it’s a cool old car but other than that I don’t know much about it. If you do, please let me know!
I found this while walking to visit some friends in New York. You never know what you might find in NYC!
I used my trusty Leica M8 and the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 that I acquired only three months ago. The image was processed with NikEfex. More and more I’m lovin’ this lens! And you might have heard that the M8 is the next best digital camera to the Monochrom for b&w images? Well, I’ve never used the Monochrom but they call the M8 the “Poor Man’s Monochrom” and I’m inclined to believe it! Have a good, safe day folks!
Good morning everyone. Wow it seems the world as we knew it has changed profoundly since the last posting.
The fear and anxiety surrounding the current COVID-19 Coronavirus has gripped the world. In this current state it seems to me that doing another camera review would be trivial.
People are pretty much fearing for their lives at this point. Not only the possibility of getting sick but also the disruption to the normalcy of everyday life.
In countries hardest hit like China, where the outbreak began, people in specific regions such as the Wuhan epicenter have been under a mandatory lockdown. Italy, also hard hit with the coronavirus, has done the same. Now Spain and perhaps a few other countries.
In the USA and specifically here in New York, it’s just beginning to get bad. I’ll tell you something, in my five decades on the planet I’ve never experienced anything like this.
I thought 9/11 was the worst I’ve seen but this coronavirus pandemic may be even more scary because it’s possible to catch this virus anywhere.
We all know the theories about how this started. It’s thought that the virus was born in a Wuhan wet market where exotic animals were being slaughtered for customers willing to pay for superstitious beliefs not based in science.
If true, I say come on man! Leave those bats and pangolins alone! They were not meant to be eaten by human beings. For God’s sake stop this nonsense.
I also wonder if climate change has opened up an environment where germs and viruses could thrive.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to preach about the environment to you. I don’t know if human activities lead to climate change. For all we know, the Sun could have grown just minutely and even that could be enough to affect our climate.
What I do know is that here in NYC, this was the mildest winter I’ve ever experienced. I’m not a fan of the snow so I can’t really complain but I do find it very disturbing. When you think of the long term effects it’s downright scary.
I mean, back in the 80s and 90s when I was growing up, the winters were cold and sometimes brutal but there was a rhyme, reason, and predictability to the seasons that made it a beautiful thing.
Today, just like everything else it seems, the weather patterns here on Earth seem like a “play it by ear” thing. Now you never know from one day to another what the weather will be like.
To me it’s obvious the climate is changing and pretty rapidly. Friend, if you can’t see it and feel it, I think you’ve got your head in the sand.
Anyway I’ve never been one moved enough to write about it but after only one sprinkling of snow this winter I’m more inclined than ever to do my part to save the environment and to help our planet from this downward spiral.
Anyway, everybody please stay alert and be vigilant about minimizing your chances of catching this notorious COVID-19 Coronavirus. It’s so far the biggest worldwide crisis I’ve ever seen.
Technical Note: These two images were taken with the Leica M8 and 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens which has been touted by some as a “Summicron” copy but for under $300. I’m not ready to make any conclusions but I will say the lens has been impressing me! More pics to come!
Good day you guys! Well, they always say all your best laid plans can go awry. And yes, that is what happened to your buddy Sam here!
Just when I was on a roll cranking out three videos in a month (a lot for me!) and working on the next one, I came down with either a nasty cold or a mild flu. I don’t know because I didn’t go in to have it evaluated. All I know is it started up slow, and then all of a sudden BAM! Coughing, sneezing, fever, etc.
It’s funny because a couple of months ago, I got the flu shot, which I needed for work. Now in the years when I didn’t get a flu shot, I never got sick. So is it because of the flu shot? Or is it perhaps, as a friend said to me, perhaps I’d be sicker if I didn’t get the shot? Food for thought!
Today, I feel much better but still not quite 100 percent. This whole episode taught me the value of not taking your health for granted. I mean, I was always somewhat health conscious but one thing I took for granted was sleep. I always got by on very little sleep. Like less than four hours a night sometimes.
But I would see friends get sick, catch the cold or flu, etc, and I never did so I wondered if it was just genetics. Anyway, I found myself up late editing videos for YouTube. I mean my Contax T video is like 95 percent done yet I found myself continually editing and reediting parts. And it’s not like it’s going to be a masterpiece video or anything!! I’m kind of like Kanye when he dropped the last album, haha, just edit and reedit till the last minute. But the lack of sleep caught up to me and my immune was down I guess.
Anyway, needless to say, all the videos I was planning have been pushed back a bit. But to make it up to all who read the blog and subscribe to the channel on YouTube, here’s a video you didn’t see coming! Why do that? I don’t know, I like throwing things out of left field, keeps it interesting I think! 🙂
YOUTUBE UNBOXING VIDEO
Here’s my Christmas gift unboxing video! In order to save time, and also to keep me from getting sick again, I’m going to keep this article short because everything is in the video already.
WHY AN UNBOXING VIDEO?
I have done a couple of unboxing videos but in general, I do not do a lot of them. That’s because I usually don’t buy my photo gear new, so I don’t usually have the box and its extra contents. But on the rare times I do buy new I figured someone might like to see it.
Now, I was never a big fan of unboxing videos. I don’t really get the appeal. Yet, there must be something to it because there’s a guy on YouTube with millions of subscribers who does nothing but unbox stuff! Granted, his videos are very nicely produced, but I guess he has the money now and the time to do that.
WHAT AM I UNBOXING?
The 7Artisans 35mm f/2 in Leica M mount has gotten a lot of press with some calling this $289 lens a real challenger to the legendary Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron. Is it a true Summicron killer? Stay tuned to find out!
Well, since you guys who follow the blog are the backbone of my world, I’ll let you know what it is. It’s the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens in Leica M mount. If you look online people have been comparing it to the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH or IV versions! For a lens from China that cost $289 (I got it for $260) that is a mighty high complement!
Anyway, I’ve always been curious about the lens, but I needed another 35mm lens like I need another camera so I waited until the right moment. I sold my 35mm Summicron IV “King Of Bokeh” a long time ago and didn’t hold on to it too long because I already had the 40mm f/2 Summicron and the 50mm f/2 Summicron. And at that time in my life I was fascinated with bokeh lenses and a 35mm f/2 lens just doesn’t give you dreamy backgrounds like a 0.95 lens.
Anyway just like you guys I go through thick and thin times, financially, and this was a “thin” year. Money’s tight.
So I sold off a bunch of stuff just to make sure I had enough to buy gifts for my loved ones, and with the money left over (which wasn’t a lot) I got myself this lens. You know when Sam is happy about a $260 lens, it’s a “thin” year! 🙂
In all seriousness, I do understand that $260 is a lot for many people, and in hard times, it’s a lot for me too.
But as photographers, camera lovers, etc, we ALL know that photography is no doubt an expensive hobby but $260 for a lens that is supposed to rival the $2000 plus Leica Summicron is a steal. If it can even approach the Leica in any way, it has done its job and done it well!
I have already put the lens on my trusty Leica M8, a camera which I’ve had since 2010, and am comfortable with. It’s my only digital Leica in fact. Anyway, I am using it first on my M8 so I can get results to you guys sooner so stay tuned.
Can this lens compete with the Leica at a steal of a price? I know what other people have said, but as always, I’m curious to find out for myself. We’ll see. Thanks for reading and catch you in the new year camera lovers!
CURIOUS? GET YOUR OWN, IT’S CHEAP!
If you would like to try this lens for yourself, click on the link from our trusted affiliate below. You will find it for the usual price of $289. But if you browse around a little bit, you might still be able to find it for $260!
***USED CAMERA TRENDS***
I have noticed that the 50mp Hasselblad X1D-50C has gone down in price and you can now find them used for around $3000 USD! That is a heck of a deal for a camera with superlative image quality. If you ever wanted to get into high fidelity imagery and try your hands at Medium Format digital, this might be it!
Good morning guys! Hope you don’t mind if I indulge a little in celebrating and wishing my daughter Zay a very Happy 4th Birthday!! A wonderful child, couldn’t ask for a better baby, we’ve been blessed. Love you lots kid 😍🎂✌🏻
Sorry if you’ve seen some of these pictures before but they just happen to be some of my favorites among many.
Time marches on so fast! Sometimes I get sick when I remember like yesterday it was 1999 and now you telling me it’s twenty years later?!
Friend, it doesn’t get any slower. In fact, anyone above the age of forty can tell you it moves faster every year! Cherish the day and take lots of pics!
Zay at three months. 2015. Canon EOS 5D Classic, EF 50mm f/1.8 II.
“Lost” 2016. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M.
Zay at around four months. 2015. Leica CM, Ilford FP4 in D76.
Zay & Zoe, 2016. iPhone 6s Plus.
“A Portrait Of Zay” 2016. Olympus OM-D EM-5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens.
“Eskimo Pie” 2019. iPhone 6s Plus
FUJIFILM, FUTURE REVIEWS & COSMOS?!
I posted this a couple of days ago, sorry for the late update. In our latest “Trends” video, we look at the news that Fuji will be raising the prices of their films by thirty percent. I’m not too happy about this. Yes, I understand they are a business and prices do not stay the same forever. However, a thirty percent increase is pretty steep and in my opinion, they haven’t felt the love for the “film” portion of their name for a long time now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually get rid of all their 35mm and 120 film and focus squarely on their Instax line which makes them a lot of money.
I will also show you some of the cameras and lenses that I plan to review. Actually, I already have drafts for most of them! My issue is that I tend to be too cautious with what I say or write so I just keep editing. I just want everything to be accurate. This explains part of the reason why it takes so long between reviews. Sorry about that! My reasoning is that once these reviews come out you cannot take back what you said so you must get it right!
Thank you guys for reading and as this is the last day of February, I guess I’ll see you all next month!
If you’ve been through as many cameras as I have, chances are you’re going to forget some of them! I know some of you folks have been through this!
Here’s a shot from a few years back. I’m going to say maybe 2010 or 2011?
Because it was out of focus, I never posted it and in a moment of brain fog I had a hard time figuring out which camera it was.
I originally thought it was a Yashica GSN or Olympus SP or maybe even a Nikon S series rangefinder, but I quickly figured it wasn’t one of those.
I posted this a couple of months ago on my Instagram account to see if other camera lovers would chime in and help me figure it out.
I think everyone who chimed in made an educated guess and I was impressed with their answers. I came to the conclusion that it was probably a Leica M3 based on a guess of what I was shooting with at the time.
So what is this “Mystery Camera” in the blurry photo? As it turns it really is the Leica M3! The M3 and 50mm f/2 Summicron-M.
As it turns out, I had another frame that I scanned and hadn’t seen in years. I cannot locate the original negative but I’m willing to bet this photo was sequential to the above photo. The hair might look different but sometimes I part my hair out of my eyes 🙂
I’m not sure if you can see it here but the “M” can be partially seen above my right middle finger. And the lens says “Leitz Wetzlar” very clearly.
The smaller rangefinder windows in the blurry photo is just an optical effect, an optical illusion.
I always tell people, even though I doubt they believe me, but my camera selfies are not a narcissistic love fest! 🙂
Firstly, I’ve done them for years as a way of checking critical focus. Secondly, as in the case here, they help me remember the camera and lens I used! And the fact that people like looking at photos of cameras? Well, that’s just an added benefit!
Howdy good people, how are you all? Hope everyone is good!
As for me, between trying to create content for the blog and for its YouTube channel, I think I may have dug myself into a hole that’s gonna be hard to get out of 😀
That’s because now there’s double duty for me on this front, and I could barely keep up with the blog alone!
Sorry for not being able to get back to you guys. Hopefully, I can catch up to you all this weekend. I do appreciate you all!
I’ve been working on this post as well as the video, spending all my free time on both. Just one look at the length of this article will tell you why I’m burnt out 😛
Since I’m a person who does not like pressure, I found myself shutting out the world by binge watching “Forensic Files” 😀
Do not watch this program, not even one episode because if you do, you’ll be watching for hours and get nothing done!
Anyway, enough rambling on nonsense let’s talk about the topic at hand…
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens.” While this may just be the latest among many reviews of this famous and legendary lens, I’ve actually had my copy for nearly ten years, using it on both film and digital bodies, and it has become one of my most cherished lenses, perhaps my favorite. And now I’m writing to share my experiences with you.
THE CANON DREAM LENS TECHNICAL INFORMATION
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 was introduced by Canon in 1961. According to the Canon online camera museum, “It had the largest aperture in the world for photographic lenses available in the market at the time.” It is affectionately known as the Canon “Dream Lens.” Today, the Dream Lens has become one of the most well known and coveted lenses of its era.
“Dreamtime” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open, I believe. Film was Tri-X 400. Baby Z getting excited to read about the Dream Lens maybe? More likely, she’s excited for Elmo 🙂
The lens has aperture stops from f/0.95 to f/16. The lens has 10 aperture blades and is a Gauss type design.
When seeking this lens, you will find it usually comes in two flavors. The standard version is rangefinder coupled and was made specifically for the Canon 7/7s film rangefinders. These cameras have a special mount to take the 50mm f/0.95 and to my knowledge you cannot use the lens on other film rangefinders, Canon or otherwise.
There is also a “Canon TV Lens” version. It says “TV Lens” on the front inner ring of the lens. Pretty much the same lens, but made for C-Mount and is uncoupled. It usually comes with a C-Mount ring attached to it.
As mentioned in my last post, I am including YouTube videos in conjunction with my postings, whenever possible to give our readers a more dynamic experience.
For those who want to cut to the chase, here’s the video from around 4:45 but if you watch the whole video, you might want to grab a cup of coffee and/or a snack because it’s nearly ten minutes!
The video is more of a summary, but this article contains much more information on the Canon Dream Lens.
Oh yes, there IS a reason for those shades and it has nothing with trying to be cool or uncool or whatever! I will divulge in a future posting I promise you!!
HOW I CAME ACROSS THE DREAM LENS
Before we go on any further, please let me say this is not meant to be a full throttle or technical review of the lens. I’m no optical expert. I have no optical bench to test optics.
I have to rely on what I see with my eyes, based upon my experiences. Between telescopes and camera lenses, I have spent over thirty years developing an eye for optics. But again, I restate that I am no optics expert. I see what I see and I leave it up to the readers to make the judgement to my opinions.
With that out of the way, let me tell you the story of how I came upon the Dream Lens.
In the early to mid 2000s, perhaps 2004 or 2005, I answered an ad on Craigslist and went to someone’s home to check out a camera collection for sale. I suspect some of our readers have been to a few of these 😊
Anyway, hidden in the pile of junk cameras was a dusty camera with a huge lens on it. That camera was the Canon 7 rangefinder and the 50mm f/0.95 Canon Dream Lens.
The fella wanted $600 for it, and me thinking it was too expensive for this dusty, dirty outfit, I passed on it.
“Nightmare” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens on Arista EDU Premium 400 developed in T-Max developer. I was focusing on the gorilla when he stuck his tongue out! The baby and mother added to this shot, I do not know them. Considering that the rangefinder on my Canon 7 was out of alignment, I got real lucky with this shot!
As you may or may not know, that price is a bargain compared to what this lens alone goes for today!
That was the seed that set me on a wild goose chase for this lens! It wasn’t until 2009 that I was able to find and afford a copy of my own.
Although the lens is not often seen in the real world, the Canon Dream Lens is not what I’d call rare, and it wasn’t that the lens was particularly hard to find that took me so long to get one.
I guess you could say it was a bad string of finances and timing. When I had the money, I couldn’t find one. When I did find one, I didn’t have the money. But it all came together in 2009.
SO HOW ARE THE OPTICS?
This lens is meant to be used wide open at f/0.95, but here is my breakdown…
At F/0.95: There is apparent softness upon first impressions. At wide open the bokeh is most dramatic, as expected and makes up for any impression of softness. Upon closer inspection on a properly focused image, it is actually sharp.
The DOF is razor thin at f/0.95 and focussing errors may account for at least some of the softness people complain about.
“Sweet Zay Jan” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ 0.95. Note, the baby started moving, as seen by her hands, but thankfully her face did not, allowing me to capture her sweet smile:-)
The “softness” possibly comes from lowered contrast and/or other optical imperfections. Images at wide open sometimes seem like they are enveloped in a thin veil of haze, but this is not noticeable in all images and most of the time, I don’t find it objectionable. This adds to that dreamy look, a glow that some have mentioned. Some of this may come from, again lower contrast wide open and/or poor flare resistance at this aperture. A lens hood helps if you’re wanting to minimize flare or trying to avoid lowering contrast further.
There is vignetting, noticeable on both film and digital. When I shot this lens wide open on the Canon 7, the vignetting was not objectionable. On the Sony A7R (original 36mp camera), it was more pronounced. I did not find it objectionable, but some might.
At F/1.4: The contrast increases, the slight haze dissapates, and the image appears quite a bit sharper than wide open. It could be comparable to other 50mm f/1.4 lenses of its era.
“Bundle Up” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ f/1.4. Sharpness is improved from wide open and the bokeh looks a lot less “funky” for lack of a better word 🙂
At f/2.8: Should be good enough for most purposes you would use any other 50mm lens for!
“The Dream Team” 2010. Rad and Frank, two great friends and photographers affectionately known as the “Dream Team.” Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ around f/2.5-2.8 on Arista EDU Premium. Note the bokeh is more subdued but still funky. Can the “Dream Team” ride again? 🙂
Stopped Down Further: Honestly, I see no point in evaluating this! Why? Because this lens was meant to be used wide open or stopped down slightly to get the famous bokeh effect it’s known for. It gets sharper as do most lenses stopped down. I never objectively tested it at say f/8, f/11, and f/16. It will never achieve Otus like sharpness, but then again, that is unrealistic. It’s probably as sharp stopped down as any other 50mm from the 50’s and 60’s.
“New Dream” 2014. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Even with ISO 100, the camera was giving me the max shutter speed of 1/4000th!
A NOTE ON BOKEH: SUPER FUNK
This lens is all about bokeh, or the background blur in the out of focus areas. Or to be even more geeky…the quality of the background blur. Honestly, there’s no real reason to get this lens for any else but bokeh!
“Radamon’s Dream” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Film was Arista EDU Premium 400. I think this is a good example of the Dream Lens’ bokeh at its funkiest!
Count on me to tell it like it is, while people goo and gah over the bokeh from the Dream Lens, it doesn’t always neccessarily qualify as beautiful, to me. But everything I love doesn’t have to be beautiful, and so I love it! 🙂
“Shoot The City” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ wide open! Who says the Leica M8 can’t shoot low light? With a fast lens like the Canon Dream Lens, it sure can!
Light sources, such as night lights for example, look like “coma shaped orbs” as I’ve mentioned before from similar vintage lenses. Almost like gibbous or half moon shapes.
“City Lights” 2018. Leica M8, Canon 50mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95. This shot was taken across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The yellow lights in the back are lights from cars driving on NYC’s West Side Highway at night. This is an example of the “moon shaped orbs” I mentioned. This was shot at night, another reason to use a lens this fast!
It may not always be so pretty, but this is what draws people in to the images produced by this lens. In many ways, this is the closest on 35mm that you can get to that Aero Ektar f/2.5 look on a Large Format 4×5 Speed Graphic.
A lot also depends on the background. If there’s a lot of clutter, things tend to look worse. If the background is relatively clear, things will look better. I have been pleasantly surprised with some images where the bokeh looked neutral, even wide open.
“Dream Ride” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open. Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer. Note the neutral background at wide open. As with most lenses, the background determines a lot as to what the bokeh will do.
I’ve heard people call the bokeh from the Canon 50mm f/0.95 as beautiful, delicious, “bokelicious,” sweet, tasty, even nasty, horrible or ugly. I call it “Super Funk” because it is all this and more. It is whatever you interpret it to be!
Although it’s one of my favorite lenses of all time, I use it sparingly. I mean, I could use this lens every day but I would never post pictures from it every day. You will just kill the effect if you do. This lens should be considered an artistic tool in your arsenal rather than an everyday lens.
VERSUS THE LEICA NOCTILUX?
The Canon 50mm f/0.95 has increased in value over the years and prices are now trending from a low of $1200 to a high of $2000 give or take. Some unscrupulous dealers are trying to sell this lens for $3000 or more. This, to me, is way too high since that is approaching Noctilux used prices. The Noctilux goes for $5500-10000 on the used market, depending on which version.
Speaking of the Noctilux, some have labeled the Canon Dream Lens as the “Poor Man’s Noctilux.” Since the Canon came first, I’d say they should change that to the Noctilux is the “Rich Man’s Canon Dream Lens” 🙂
Comparisons? Well, I never owned a Noctilux, though I have two friends that have them. Based upon what I’ve seen from the Noctilux and the Canon Dream Lens, I’d say you can’t compare the two. It’s apples to oranges.
The Leica may be the technically better lens, while the Canon may be the more artistic lens in regards to the images it renders. Just like the film vs digital debate, my answer to the Noctilux vs Dream lens question is…None are better than the other. They are different.
THE NEW GOLDEN AGE OF CHEAP AND FAST LENSES: WHY YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THE CANON DREAM LENS
As a “community service” to my fellow photo gear lovers, I need to say this to help you avoid a potentially painful and expensive episode of G.A.S with the Dream Lens 🙂
Ok, so today in my opinion, you really don’t need it. You may want it, but you don’t need it!
Let me explain…
When the Canon 50mm f/0.95 came out in 1961, it had few if any competition. People were still shooting film exclusively and back then you can forget all about “low light, high iso” shots.
Today, we have companies like Mitakon, SLR Magic, Mieke, 7Artisans, Kamlan and a whole bunch of other companies making lenses at f/0.95, f/1, f/1.1, f/1.2 and when you combine these lenses with the amazingly low light capable digital cameras we have today, you could literally shoot in the dark.
Just as I saw over ten years ago in the telescope world, let’s thank our friends (mostly in China) for bringing us these super fast and affordable glass! I remember telescopes such as apochromatic refractors and large diameter Maksutovs from American manufacturers such as Astro-Physics and Meade being optically superb, but also expensive. The wait list for Astro-Physics APO refractors was in years, not months.
Then came the Asian optics around the early to mid 2000’s that started challenging the established manufacturers. Sure, they may not have been a real match for a finely crafted Astro-Physics refractor, but you didn’t have to wait years and the the price/quality ratio was good enough for a lot of people. Love it or hate it, these overseas optical makers are giving people what they apparently want! 🙂
MY MAIN POINT ON WHY YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THE DREAM LENS…THOUGH YOU MAY WANT IT! 🙂
To me, the Canon Dream Lens was a lens of compromised optical quality when it came out in 1961. Compromised by the technology of its time, and probably optically compromised as well to create a showpiece lens for which Canon could claim as the fastest photographic lens in the world at that time.
In the same way, you could say today’s cheaper (under $1000) fast lenses are also of compromised quality. They are here to deliver the speed people want, knowing full well people love “ugly” these days. People love “Super Funk” ie, swirly bokeh, orbs, distortions, etc.
There are lenses such as the $2999 Nocturnus which may have higher quality and that might be a good option for some, but again for me, when you get that close to $5000, I’d just rather just save a little more and look around for a used Noctiux, but that’s just me!
Finally, you might say, that’s good and all, but these lenses are NOT the Canon Dream Lens…and that is true! They will not deliver the images the Dream Lens does.
“Angel” (With Horns!) 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 on Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer.
As a counterpoint, I would say the Dream Lens will not produce the kind of images these new and cheaper lenses do either! When it comes to beauty or even “ugly” it’s all subjective really.
But if you have the money and you want the Dream Lens, I’d say…go for it! It’s the Canon Dream Lens baby! Gotta have it! 🙂
LEICA M CONVERSION
I had mine converted to M mount in 2013 by the great Ken Ruth of Bald Mountain. I’ve heard that Ken has recently retired from camera repair and modification work. Hope he enjoys his retirement, he deserves it. Personally, I’m sad to see him stop doing his thing. Sad to see someone of his skills leave the business. He was a true camera technician, a camera wizard, a Camera Legend! He did an awesome job on the M conversion on my lens.
There are others who will do this conversion today. One I know off hand is Don Goldberg aka DAG. I initially contacted him, but his wait list was so long and I found Ken. I’ve had interactions with Don in the past and based on his reputation, I’d have no hesitation having any work done through him.
Why should you convert it to M mount? Unlike many other things in life, having the Dream Lens modified for M mount actually increases its value!
The main reason I had it converted to M mount is because it opens up so many other possibilities such as using the lens on Leica M bodies, film and digital. Using it on any digital system that will take M lenses through adapters.
“Palm Beach” 2014. Leica M5, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens on Fuji Superia 400 color film.
In its native Canon 7/7s mount, you can still use it on digital bodies with the proper adapter/adapters. I used mine on a Sony NEX C3 (Aps-C sensor) for a few years before the conversion. I actually had second thoughts about doing the M conversion since I enjoyed using it on the Canon 7 for film, but when I looked at the possiblities available after the M conversion, I swallowed hard and went for it.
Keep in mind, once you do the conversion you can never use it on the Canon 7/7s again, unless you had it reconverted back which is impractical…or get another Dream Lens that is unconverted so that you can use it on the 7/7s…even more impractical, but I’ve thought about it! 🙂
The conversion cost me $300, but it could be lower or higher, depending on who you find to do the job. Get the best person you can because this is a precious lens and you don’t want some hobbyist screwing up your dream lens! 🙂
“Dreams” 2010. Canon 7 Rangefinder, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens @ wide open. Film was Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max Developer. Ahh, is there anything sweeter than a little baby sleeping? Shhh…:-)
I hope these samples give you some idea of the kind of images this lens produces. As I’ve said before, it may not be a look everyone likes but it certainly has character! The Canon 50mm f/0.95 is a legendary lens that remains a highlight of lens design that helped cement Canon’s role as a Camera Legend.
It was, in hindsight, one of the first of many fast, speedy, and exotic glass that Canon would go on to produce over the years.
Please have a look at the video for additional information including why you’d want this lens and why you really don’t need it.
Sure it may sound like a shameless plug and ploy for you to watch the video but it’s not. At least it’s not meant to be!
When starting this article, I had just intended to post samples in order to save myself some work and time.
I figure if you’re really interested in this lens, you’d check the video too and if you’re not that interested, at least you’d hopefully look at the images on this post.
Instead, I ended up writing a lot more than I expected to. Kinda defeats the purpose of making the video and the article too. More work than I wanted, but I love you all so gotta do it!! 😊😘
Hey gotta go, thanks for listening and I appreciate you!
“Dream Baby” 2015. Sony A7R, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens. With Baby Zay in the house, life is indeed a dream 🙂
WHERE TO BUY? PLUS TIPS ON GETTING ONE
If seeking the Canon 50mm f/0.95 “Dream Lens” prices are trending from a low of $1200 to a high of $2000 give or take. I did not include the $3000 plus lenses because I do not see them as legitimate prices. I do not want to help inflate the prices of these beautiful lenses because I was once in the position of someone who could only dream of such a lens so I know this feeling.
Though the lens is exotic, it is not considered rare. I see them almost every week for sale on eBay and elsewhere.
A fair price I believe will be between $1500 and $2000. To give you an idea of how these lenses have increased in value, I can only say I paid a lot less than this!
If the lens has been converted to M mount, it may fetch a little more. For the cheapest prices, seek out the unconverted version and just get a C-Mount to NEX or Micro 4/3 adapter and enjoy!
If you’re looking for this lens and can’t afford it right now, keep dreaming and be rest assured that one day, with a little luck (and save up some money, of course!) you can attain this dream of a lens! If I, a mere mortal, can do it, so too can you 🙂
Below are links from our affiliates to some great alternatives to the Canon Dream Lens. Buying from our affiliates is safe and cost you nothing extra to what you’re buying. It will also help us bring more reviews of the photography Camera Legends you want to see! Thanks for your support!
All of these lenses will cost you a lot less too! Again, no, they will not produce images like the dream lens. But then again, as I said, the Dream Lens won’t produce images like these lenses either!