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Posts Tagged ‘1950s’

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.

oldcanon1.8 (1 of 6)

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.

oldcanon1.8 (4 of 6)

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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