Canon 50mm f0.95 – A Lens has Emotional Character

A Lens has Emotional Character

Canon 50mm f0.95

More than a dream lens to me

Canon 50mm f0.95 – A Lens has Emotional Character

History of this Dream Lens

Fastest lens ever in the market at that period of time in 1961. It was also known as a “dream lens”, as it is four times faster than the human eye. The lens was constructed in Gauss type with 7 elements in 5 groups. Alright, time to share my thoughts about this lens.

Took me 10 years for this upgrade

The background story is that I have owned a Canon 50/1.2 LTM when I first started using Leica back in 2010. I picked it simply because I couldn’t afford a Canon 50mm f0.95 at that time. I spent years shooting with this lens with Leica M8 and I learned that Canon LTM lenses have unique characters. There were times that I came across this lens in different camera stores and have done some test shots with this dream lens but at that time I tried to stay away from that soft and narrow Do simply because I think it is not sharp enough.

Recently this lens came to my mind again while I was looking at Daniel Zvereff’s work. Then I spent more time looking at pictures taken with this lens. Because I always remember Canon lenses perform differently on digital and film and it is very important to check the lens calibrated with right focus as it has to be converted from Canon 7 mount to M mount. After spending a month with this lens with photographs taken on both Leica M9 and film Leica. I would say it fits my philosophy to catch what I want – moody shots.

Sav, Kodak Tri-x 400 (red filter)

Long focus throw

When I was taking the first shot with the lens, it almost took me forever to focus from minimum focus distance (1m) all the way to infinity inside a busy MTR station and I missed the particular moment that I wanted to capture. This is probably the only downside of using this lens to do street photography. And this is the only thing I would pick on this lens.

Light and plant, Kodak Tri-x 400 (red filter)
Red filter @f8

Nisen Bokeh but Great for Portraits

Unlike Noctilux, Canon 50mm f0.95 has a serious “Nisen-bokeh” but not a disturbing type that will destroy my shots. It is quite comparable to petzval lenses with ultra-thin DoF and everything started to be blurred out of the focusing point with heavy vignette.

Marisa, Kodak Tri-x 400 (red filter)
Major, Kodak Tri-x 400
Chinese Calligraphy, Kodak Vision 3 5219 500T

A Lens has a character of Wild DNA

Exceptional mood for portraits, I couldn’t find the perfect word to describe this lens. Since it has the character of a petzval lens, it is easy to bring out your subject and when a shot is taken at F0.95. The most interesting part is the glow, it has a serious glow like the Summilux 35mm f1.4 pre-a or Summarit 50mm f1.5 from Leica. If you use it right it can produce moody or cinematic shots like how Noctilux does. It would prefer using Canon 50mm f0.95 indoor when using it outdoors, better put on an ND filter or a hood because it has notable flare under strong lights.

I have so much fun playing around this lens because there are so many unexpected elements and variables that might appear in my shots such as crazy flares, halo and bokeh. Even if you couldn’t get the shot in focus, it has that character to bring out the spirit. 

If you are looking for a lens that has a wild DNA, this is it!

Pier shadow, Kodak Tri-x 400
Pier guard, Kodak Tri-x 400 (red filter)

Film samples with Kodak Vision 3 500T 5219 pushed to 800

Digital Samples taken with Leica M9P

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  1. I concur with your impression of this lens. I have had one for about a year now and have enjoyed the results I get from using it both paired with my Leica M10 as well as with my Sony A7RII. It may not be as sharp as the Noctilux 0.95 but no one should expect it to be with a 40+ year difference between them. I really like the photos I’ve taken with the Noctilux but the Canon has that additional ‘magic’ sprinkled in there making it my preference of the two, especially for portraits…it’s also much more economical when purchasing one…preferably already converted to the ‘mount’ of your choice (Leica in my case) and finding one with a clean front element! I think it excels in both color as well as b&w. Of my 90+ lenses, it has a front-row seat when I reach for a lens to use for shooting fun photos of my 2 y/o who makes manual focus an adventure! Cheers, Dr. Scott

    • Thanks Scott, I am glad to hear that you also enjoy using this lens. Another lens that I would recommend is the Nikkor 50mm f1.1, I am still testing this lens and hopefully I will make a review later.

      Best Regards,

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