Thoughts about the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM lens
I’ve owned a good few lenses over the past 15 years and have learned over time that there is no holy grail when it comes to lenses. My favourite focal length is between 35mm and 58mm which would likely stretch to 60mm could I possibly justify trying the Hexanon 60mm f/1.2 but that will never happen. I have tried so many 55 to 58mm 1.2 lenses that I know there are only two to choose from. The Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 and the Nikkor Noct 58mm f/1.2. I also have a good number of 50mm lenses including the Canon 50mm f/0.95 ‘Dream Lens’ and the Mitakon 50mm Dark Knight. This feature is all about the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM lens.
Above: Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM lens on Sony A7s: 1/2000, f/1.5
35mm lenses hold a particular interest for me especially if fast and I own a good number of these although I’ve never owned a Leica lens (apart from a 40mm f/2).
Being a Sony A7 series user who pre ordered the first A7 on the day it was announced due to it being the exact configuration of a full frame camera I had been waiting for since buying a used Canon 10D in 2004 and disliked the APS-C sensor size and even when I bought a 5D in 2005 I was searching for a solution to use manual focus glass on a full frame digital sensor.
Size and functionality is important to me as is ergonomics and also the user experience when I’m using a camera for personal projects and use. If I could have a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art in RF lens size in manual focus and with an aperture ring then all would be perfect! It’s a truly incredible lens and never fails to amaze me. The Zeiss Distagon FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA is also a superb lens for a native Sony FE mount and one I use for my professional work but its also pretty large and heavy as is the Sigma. The Rokinon 35mm 1.4 appears to be pretty perfect with its nice render and aperture ring but again its large.
I’m not a lens collector, if I purchase a lens I intend to use it, it will not sit in a case for all the time I have it.
There’s actually very little review for the Canon 35mm f/1.5 rangefinder lens and this raised my curiosity even though I had not heard anything particularly positive about the lens. It’s not a relatively cheap lens likely due to the number of them available as to its optical performance, but hey it’s an f/1.5 right?!
Above: All Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM lens on Sony A7s: 1/1600, f/1.5
The lens is pretty small as per most of the the RF lenses and on my copy all feels good with aperture ring and focus is very smooth and free. I have it mounted on a Tinray close focus adaptor which required an M39 to Leica-M adaptor to use it. As you can see it looks pretty good as a combination.
Lens design is from the late 1950’s and the rendering really displays this when used wide open. It’s never really bang on sharp if you are used to using a modern lens but for me its sharp enough if you are careful at f/1.5. Centre frame is sharpest as expected but you can do a mild off centre composition and retain enough sharpness to make the shot. Focussing is easy after some practice and you realise that its never going to hit an extreme level of sharpness even when exact on focus. Contrast is somewhat low as normal for vintage lenses so focus peaking may not deliver the best results if used so I find magnification the best tool for accurate focus. Sony could do a lot to help us in the area of manual focus such as implementing a one press 100% magnification button that doesn’t switch off between shots, right now its 3 presses between shots to check focus. At f/1.5 in mild bright light there is a blur to the edges of the frame and brightly coloured or white edges will bleed beyond the edge. I haven’t seen any purple CA at all. More info here at Canon Camera Museum.
Stopped down the lens becomes quite sharp and you could say it doesn’t particularly matter which lens we used once we get past a certain aperture unless we are looking at number of blades and sun stars etc. Wide open is where my interest peaks.
It’s a gorgeous little lens to use and looks very sweet on the Sony A7 series especially the A7/A7s. In summary the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM lens is a little talked about gem which at the time of its design was considered very fast. It is quite collectable and there are not too many of them in circulation which skews the price somewhat. In my opinion it displays a uniqueness with it which will completely come down to personal taste.
Here are some images shot around Dubrovnik using the Sony A7s and the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM. Processing is to taste and whilst not to everyones taste it is what it is 🙂 I’m not into pixel peeping, 100% crops or shooting brick walls.
Above: 1/1000, f/4Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/2500, f/1.5 with close focus adaptor. Above: 1/100, f/1.5 Above: 1/400, f/1.5 Above: 1/60, f/1.5 with close focus adaptor.Above: 1/60, f/1.5 with close focus adaptor.Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/1000, f/4 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/8000, f/1.5 Above: 1/2, f/16Above: 1/2, f/16 Above: 1/2, f/16 Above: 1/400, f/1.5 Above: 1/800, f/16 Above: 1/800, f/16 Above: 1/800, f/16 Above: 1/800, f/16 Above: 1/800, f/16
Above: 1/800, f/16