The incredible Canon 50mm f/0.95

Posted on by Bellamy

Just sometimes a very special lens comes along
And that lens is the Canon 50mm f/0.95. Despite popular belief, this is not a cine lens. It was originally developed by Canon for the 7 rangefinder system. And at the time it was the fastest prime lens available in the world, beating Leica to the punch…

This lens is often called the ‘dream lens’, in fact it has a flickr group dedicated to it by the same name. It has a reputation for producing a dreamlike effect, with ultra creamy bokeh. It is also an absolutely massive lens, with a 72mm filter diameter and weighing in at 605g. That is a hefty hunk of glass.

The lens was designed by Lens master Mukai Jirou, who also designed the Canon 35mm F1.5, 35mm F1.8 and 35mm F2.0 LTM lenses. It is a Gauss type lens, with 7 elements in 5 groups. It has a 10 blade diaphragm with a minimum aperture of f/16. Not good for bright days then.

About 19,000 of these lenses were made during the early 60′s to the early 70′s. Though I would wager that significantly less of them are around now. When this lens was released it was 57,000 yen, a massive amount of money at the time (almost a years salary apparently).
The price for this lens has tripled in the last few years, with the advent of the digital rangefinder, and it is only going to continue climbing. I would consider a lens like this to be an investment (much like the Noctilux f/1.2).
The cine lens of the same specs actually came after the rangefinder lens, and was produced throughout the 70′s. Apparently about 7000 of these were produced. Though again I imagine that there are hardly any of those lens now. You can tell the difference between the two as the cine lens has ‘Cine’ printed on the filter ring.

Some of these lenses have been converted by enthusiasts in M-mount lenses. This is a mixed blessing as some of them have been converted pretty badly and have horrible problems with the mount. The one you see in these pictures was apparently converted by Miyazaki san of MS Optical. Which means this has been converted by a master with an excellent eye for detail (I have been to his workshop and the guy is amazing).

I would love to post some pics taken with this lens, but seeing as I don’t have a digital rangefinder at the moment you will have to wait for them. Though I shall certainly get some at the earliest opportunity.

Make no mistake, this is no comparison to the Noctilux, but at around a third of the price it is certainly not a lens to be passed up. It is reputed to be a great portrait lens in the right hands, but you have to be aware of the extremely shallow depth of field. I will take a bit of getting used to.

I currently have one of these lenses for sale. You can see the lens by clicking here. Or you can send me an enquiry about the lens by clicking here.


8 Responses to The incredible Canon 50mm f/0.95

jason gold January 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

FWIW i owned the slower, earlier 50mm f1.2 Canon lens.It was very soft(and dreamy) wide open. Returned after being loaned to a friend, badly scratched on front element. Prior to damage, stopped down quite good. The 0.95 at the time only fitted the Canon RFDR model with special bayonet mount. The Leitz/Leica 50mm Noctilux was sharper but lacked the feel of these Canons.I sold my lens to another photographer whose front element was OK, the mount badly corroded. It was possible to get one good lens this way!

Mark August 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Just found this from a link elsewhere in the site – I was just wondering about the quoted price. Something doesn’t seem quite right there; I can’t ever imagine a time where 57,000 yen represented a yearly salary! Monthly, perhaps.

Minor pedantic point, anyway. I enjoy reading your site!

Keith August 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Hi, found your blog by searching for Mr. Miyazaki’s conversion rate. Is he still active? His website returns a blank page. How much did you pay for the conversion? I have friends going to Japan and I was thinking of sending my lens. No one knows how to convert the lens here in Philippines.

Karl April 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I am interested in this lens, I wondered whether it could fit 5d3 with an adapter (E mount to EOS). No clearance problems? anybody know?



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