Video: Capturing video and portraits with a Canon 65mm F0.75 x-ray lens: Digital Photography Review

French photographer Mathieu Stern has built a large following on YouTube adapting distinct, vintage lenses to his mirrorless Sony cameras. He has used many wild lenses, including optics from night vision cameras, security cameras, early 20th century camera systems and even a lens he constructed himself using ice. You may also recall an article we published earlier this year in which Stern taught viewers how to create ‘anthotype’ prints using beet juice.

This week, Stern is back to his weird lens ways with a Canon 65mm F0.75 lens. It’s not just any old very fast lens, however, it’s an optic designed for use with X-Ray machines. Canon has made other X-Ray lenses, including a 50mm F0.75 version, but information about both the 50mm and 65mm version is difficult to come by.

Canon 65mm F0.75 X-Ray lens and Sony A7 III camera. Image credit: Mathieu Stern

In Stern’s video below, which includes a short video segment titled ‘The Witch’, we can see that the lens has a lot of character. The bokeh is interesting, with quite a bit of fringing. Stern goes on to say that X-Ray lenses, such as this Canon lens manufactured for Picker Corp., comes with neither a shutter or aperture ring.

Stern says ‘Using this lens is a nightmare. It’s a massive lens. It’s hard to focus, impossible to carry around and not a discrete option to shoot outside.’ To focus to infinity, he had to modify the lens. Further, there’s no good way to attach the lens to the camera so Stern assembled rails to move the camera toward and away from the lens to achieve focus. To avoid light leaks, he covered the camera and lens with black cloth.

Canon 65mm F0.75 X-Ray lens and Sony A7 III camera. Image credit: Mathieu Stern

In addition to making his short video, Stern wanted to try the Canon 65mm F0.75 lens for portraiture. There were, of course, usability challenges. ‘Getting a sharp result is almost impossible when the subject is moving even a little,’ says Stern. The results may not be tack sharp, and were certainly not easy to capture, but they certainly have style.

Portrait captured using Canon 65mm F0.75 X-Ray lens and Sony A7 III camera. Image credit: Mathieu Stern

If you like the above video and want to see more unusual lenses, visit Stern’s online ‘Weird Lenses Museum‘. There are many cool lenses in Stern’s ‘curiosity cabinet.’ It’s well worth spending time exploring. You can also visit Mathieu Stern’s website, follow him on Instagram and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

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