Schneider Kreuznach Xenon 50mm F0.95 lens Review
I was searching for an ultra large aperture lens on the Internet and have found this very special lens. It is extremely rare and I can hardly find any samples online, so I decided to share some knowledge I learnt and experiences from using this unique lens.
Build Quality and Size
The Schneider Xenon 50mm F0.95 is made in Germany and Schneider is a highly reputable optics manufacturer. The weight and size is similar to the famous Leica Noctilux 50mm F0.95, it feels heavy and solid in the hands. It is densely made with all metal and built like a tank. The weight of the lens is about 700grams so it is a bit front heavy when you mount on a camera, which is the similar case with the Noctilux.
The Schneider 50mm F0.95 lens is a C-mount lens which is designed for cinematic usage and that is why it has very special characteristics. I bought a C-to-E mount adapter to allow the lens to be used on the Sony NEX-7. The angle of view of the Schneider 50mm F0.95 is about 33 degrees, although it does not cover full frame but close enough for APSC size sensors. I was very tempted to send this lens to a highly skilled Japanese technician who can modify this lens into the M mount, which can be used on my Leica M9 and MP but decided to hold off the modification for now. You may notice some vignetting on some photos but this can be a positive thing, which all depends on personal preferences.
The lens design is made of 6 elements in 8 groups and it contains 6 aperture blades. The closest focusing distance is 0.8 meters, which is not too far and not too close. The aperture range varies from F0.95 to F11 (as indicated on my lens barrel) and there are 3 versions of this lens. My lens is the latter version with the distance scale indication.
The Schnedier 50mm F0.95 is capable of shooting in super lowlight conditions, as it sucks in all the light available and it is perfect for night scene usage.
The rendering is very unique as defined by its bokeh, some people may not like the bokeh it produces but it has lots of characteristics. You can get extremely bokehlicious images and it has that “swirly” bokeh can almost sucks you! When shooting portrait with this lens, it provides almost painting-like quality that is very pleasing to the eye. Also when using it for Black and white photography, it offers that “film look”, which makes it very attractive for b&w purist shooters.
I have found the images are adequately sharp when shot wide open and the sharpness improves when stopped down.
The lens is very useful in low light conditions, which makes a big difference in practical use compared to my F1.4 summilux at night and it is all you need on a Sony Nex-7. It is useful for street photography when combined with the tilt shift screen on the Nex-7 that can be used like a waist-level finder; F0.95 allows a very fast shutter speed thus making the combination fast and discrete for street use. The rendering is very special with swirly bokeh that can almost sucks you in, which can even make boring subjects look very interesting. It is the perfect lens for portraits as it renders the image with painting-like characteristics that makes the background melts away. The Schneider 50mm F0.95 is also great for black and white shooting since it provides that almost “film look” on today’s digital bodies.
This lens is full of surprises and I am still discovering more characteristics each time I use it. It is a very pleasant lens to use both on streets and for portraits, I would recommend anyone that likes the images produced from this lens to hunt one down as it is quite rare!
For my Flickr Set by the Schnedier Xenon 50mm F/0.95 can be viewed here.