Shooting Dreamy Portraits with the Canon 50mm F0.95 Dream Lens

When the opportunity to shoot with the Canon 50mm f0.95 lens came, Mathieu Stern couldn’t pass it up.

Last time we followed the adventures of Paris-based photographer Mathieu Stern, he showed us what went down during his visit to the Camera Rescue center in Tampere, Finland. There, he did not only get to browse the largest collection of vintage cameras and lenses in Europe, but he was also able to shoot with some fascinating lenses — including the rare Canon 50mm f0.95 Dream Lens! If you’ve ever been curious about what shooting portraits with this cult lens is like, you should definitely watch this video!

Before sharing the shooting part, Mathieu presented a brief introduction to the famed Canon lens. Made in the 1960s, he mentioned it was more for technical demonstration and marketing gimmick than anything else. This is why only 25,000 units were made, some of which you can still find on eBay for around $2,000 to $4,500. As this lens was typically paired with the equally popular Canon 7 rangefinder camera, collectors and film photography enthusiasts are often on the lookout for listings of this package — like this set going for $3,000.

Mathieu paired this lens with his Sony A7III mirrorless camera (thank goodness for adapters) to shoot portraits. Since the aperture is extremely wide and lets in a lot of light, the lens is prone to massive flares. (Don’t shoot directly against the light!) However, the results can be pretty dreamy, as the name of the lens suggests. When shot wide open, the subject separation is incredible, and the background blurs into a painterly look. If bokehlicious portraits are your thing, you will be enamored by the results.

However, the lens doesn’t come without downsides. Mathieu demonstrated how problematic the focusing can be when you want to include more elements in the scene. Chromatic aberration is another issue. If you want to avoid these problems, just don’t shoot wide open; f2 will work great.

So, the bottom line? It’s great glass to play around with if you’re shooting portraits, but not really great for shooting wide open for anything else.

Don’t forget to check out Mathieu Stern’s YouTube channel for more of his photography videos and adventures!


Screenshot image from the video by Mathieu Stern