Archive for June, 2014

oldcanon1.8onM (1 of 1)I decided to play around with an old Canon rangefinder lens from the 1950s on my EOS-M Mirrorless body. This is a rather famous lens and surprisingly you can find it fairly inexpensively. Canon’s Hiroshi Ito designed and patented this lens in late 40s early 50s and they produced it from 1951 to 1957. This lens is one of the most significant in the history of Canon because it represented that Canon had begun the move from Leica copycat to Leica influencer. This lens was sharper and snappier than the venerable Leica Summar 50mm f2.0 and it was a half stop faster to boot. This lens may have been a driving force behind Leica’s decision to use the more expensive and complex Summicron design of which they still use today. Even with the newer and more expensive Summicron f2.0, most observers feel the Canon performs on par with Summicrons of the 1950s and still delivers the extra speed.

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This lens is fully coated and tends to do a good job at reducing lens flare at least as well as others from the period. There are times when the 60-year-old lens coatings can’t handle the light angles and you get a face full of J.J. Abrams favorite effect. Overall however, this is just an outstanding piece of glass.

I love the bokeh you get with the near circular ten blade diaphragm. This is one of the things that draws photographers to these vintage classics. Most modern lenses feature a 5 or 6 blade aperture diaphragm that leaves out of focus highlights blocky and edgy. This lens has gorgeous soft swirls of out of focus background that looks as if it were painted on canvas. The bokeh is particularly creamy and delicious wide open with a sharp minimum focus subject and out of focus infinity highlights. It is a little less fantastic stopped down to 5.6 but still exceptionally pleasing.

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I can genuinely recommend picking up one of these fabulous lenses. Shop around and you may find a decent one with clean glass for under $200 but most examples are over $200 or really ugly. I bought one that was in great shape, the glass is near perfect, the coatings are bright and unblemished. Mine however has some oil on the diaphragm blades. Rangefinder lenses do not suffer like SLR lenses from this ailment since the lenses are manually stopped down. Eventually the oil will find its way on to the glass and that will become a problem but that could be decades away.

oldcanon1.8 (6 of 6)Don’t worry about minor lens blemishes they will not effect the photo quality. Mine also has a slightly loose focus heli-coil. Very minor but none the less a flaw. Overall this is a great user lens that looks good and performs excellent. Don’t buy a mint one at $400-$500 unless you are a collector. If you want to trek out into the world with this guy mounted on your Mirrorless body or your old school rangefinder take one that has a few blems and pocket the cash.

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IMG_0096On my last post I was dismayed that my new Canon 11-22 EOS-M lens had not yet arrived from Japan. Well, that’s all so last week because it has arrived. I now have an ultra wide-angle lens for my little EOS-M mirrorless body. The lens was spendy, but using the Tokina ATX 11-16mm f2.8 with the adapter on that mirrorless body was just too cumbersome. It completely defeated the purpose of the small body having this enormous lens mounted to it. Mind you, it did work, but it was HUGE!. Now I have a lens just a tick larger than the 18-55mm EOS-M lens that gives me all the ultra wide-angle pleasure I can ask for.

The lens performs well. Unlike my ATX 11-16mm which features a bright, constant f2.8 maximum aperture, this little lens has a variable maximum aperture that is f4.0 at the wide setting and f5.6 at the long setting. Since I will not shoot many photos beyond about 15mm with this lens I have effectively given up a full stop of speed in favor of a package that weighs about a quarter as much. Fair trade, I’ll say.


The Canon lens has another big advantage over the ATX Tokina as well. This lens is not nearly as prone to lens flare as the big and bright ATX. Lens flare can be tricky to fix in post processing and in fact it is often nigh unrepairable. This little combo is my new best friend when taking hikes in the woods or shooting cityscapes. It is small and lightweight with big wide-angle performance in a non-imposing piece of equipment. The Canon 11-22mm EOS-M is a sharp lens but not amazingly so. The color and contrast however are spot on with a rich palette and snappy contrast.


Why on Earth is this lens NOT sold in the US? Canon, what is up with that? Wide angle lenses are fun. You can walk around and find interesting subject matter in the most common of details. I shot a picture into a side view mirror on my car. The polished chrome complete with water spots and dirt provide an interesting abstract view. The lens was just a couple of inches away from the mirror.

I have always enjoyed using wide-angle and fish eye lenses to create unusual views of the ordinary. This small Canon EOS-M and the 11-22mm make a compact and fun package to tote around seeking opportunity for an abstract take on daily life.








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