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Canon 7 with its amazing f/0.95 standard lens

View of the top plate with its accessory

coupler fitted

The twin lens mount needed for the f/0.95 lens

1961: Canon 7 + Dream Lens

Here we have one of the last great 35mm rangefinder cameras from Canon, defined more than anything else by its standard lens. The focal length is the usual 50mm, but the maximum aperture is an incredible f/0.95. It became known as the Dream Lens and advertisements of the 1960s claimed it was four times more sensitive than the human eye.


The lens is made up of seven elements in five groups. The filter thread is a whopping 72mm, against most rangefinder camera standard lenses with threads more like 40-50mm. The camera body has an L39 mount, to take Leica screw-fit lenses, but this is surrounded by a second, larger bayonet mount to support the Dream Lens. 


This was the first camera from Canon with a built-in selenium meter coupled to the shutter control, with readings displayed in a window in the top plate. For added accuracy in focusing, the rangefinder base is half as long again as on previous Canon cameras. Because of its size, a small square aperture is cut out of the meter cell to accommodate the second rangefinder window.


The focal plane shutter is made from stainless steel sheeting, 0.018mm thick and covered with a specially-processed black plastic coating to make it resistant to heat, cold and moisture. It offers speeds of 1-1/1,000sec plus ‘B’ and ‘T' settings. The addition of a special accessory coupler compensates for the lack of an accessory shoe and also provides a flash synch socket.


The Canon 7 is a beautiful and  impressive camera, but it’s tempting to wonder if the true potential of the Dream Lens was ever fully realised, or whether Canon produced it for no better reason than to show they could.

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