Mitakon 35mm f0.95 mk2 review

A few months back I decided that I wanted to pull the trigger on the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 mk2 for the Fujifilm system. I had read good things about the lens and seen some great sample images, so I thought to myself “why not!?” – So I ordered the lens from the official Zhongyi website since they had a small sale. Customs clearance was agonisingly slow! – 4 goddamn weeks! – Jeez Louise! – Oh well. It finally arrived some 3 weeks ago, and I’ve been a happy camper ever since.

I never meant to do a review of this lens, but when I posted stuff on Instagram from it, the questions inevitably arose. So I thought, what the heck! – It’s been a while since I did a non-Fujifilm gear write-up, so this is refreshing.

0.95

Let’s start right there, shall we? Zero point nine five. By now, it’s not as exotic a number as it used to be. This mostly because of the micro four thirds systems. With its 2x crop factor the lens manufacturers was suddenly able to make 0.95 aperture lenses at a smaller size. Not having to cover a 35mm full frame image circle, meant that these lenses could be made smaller while remaining relatively sharp at the edges.
The full frame 0.95 lenses are more exotic. We have the old Canon 50mm f/0.95 – called the dreamlens not because of its ridiculous price, but because wide open it renders VERY soft and dreamy. Then there is the Leica Noctilux. This lens will set you back a downpayment on a house! A nice lens, but damn expensive. Then there are SLR magic and some other brands, all those are also very expensive. But then there’s Mitakon!

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For a mere $499 I was able to pick up a 35mm f/0.95 that covers the APS-C image circle. Now thats a good deal. And as I have been witnessing ever since, the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 mk2 is one of those products where you really get something great for your hard earned money.

Now, the f/0.95 on the APS-C will give you a depth of field close to that of an f/1.4 lens on a 35mm full frame camera. So handling this lens will not be any harder in terms of nailing focus than using said 1.4 lens. It does have a huge advantage over the f/1.4 lenses. It will collect light as a 0.95 lens. Mitakon even writes in the packaging notes that it is a T0.95 lens. So it will really suck in the available light. – This means that you can use higher shutter speeds (one stop), or reduce ISO (one stop) to achieve the same exposure as you would with the f/1.4 mounted on a full frame camera when shooting both wide open. You will end up with the same exposure as the full frame when you take its added ISO benefits into consideration. So for all intended purposes you’re getting the exact theoretical parameters as a 50mm f/1.4 on a full frame.

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Build and Size

The size of this lens is one of it’s most fantastic traits. Its a little thinner than the Fujinon XF35mm f/1.4, and its about a cm longer. – This is quite good considering the extra stop of light that has to pass through the glass.

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The lens is a manual focus lens. This is of course what enables the smaller size, but Zhongyi really reworked the formula. The new optical design is an 11 element in 8 groups structure, including one extralow disperson element. This new improved optical formula is quite apparent if you compare this mk2 to the mk1 version which is both much larger as well as much softer when shot wide open. This lens is nowhere near the size of, say, the Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2. – So if compact and fast is your fancy, you’re in luck!

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The lens is heavy! It really weighs its part at 460g. This becomes much more apparent given its compact size. It feels like a very solid lump of glass and metal! This surprised me a bit when I took it out of the box. The exterior is made of metal, and it has a semi-matte finish. It has yellow and white distance markings. It has a 55mm front filter thread.

Now, I’ve read some reports that it is only held together by a tiny screw on the barrel. There is a screw there. as well as three minor screws along the focusing ring. I tried to tighten them, they didn’t budge…at all. So this is a non-issue for me thus far. But I havn’t exactly taken it to war yet! – So I cannot tell you yet how durable this lens is.

The aperture ring sits at the front of the barrel, and is clickless. This is probably great for those who do video, but me? I hate it! They should have made a click aperture if you ask me. I have not had any issues with it sliding out of place, but I accidentally grab the aperture  ring sometimes, thinking that I’m turning the focus ring. A force of habit so far, I know….but still. If it clicked, it would be much easier to tell them apart.

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A solution for this is a small piece of masking tape on the bottom of the barrel, locking it at 0.95 (cause why would you ever shoot it otherwise? 😛 )

The lens itself is multicoated, but it does flare quite a lot. The flaring is purple’ish. I recommend you to buy an aftermarked lens hood – cause Mitakon isn’t including one in the package.

The lens really looks right at home on the X-Pro2, and viewfinder blockage is minimal. (A small tip: You can use manual focus in the X-Pro2 OVF by using the small EVF pop-up window and then center focus using that)
It also looks great on the X-T2. Size wise it’s a match made in heaven for the Fujifilm APS-C bodies.

Image Quality

Alright. This is the interesting part. How well do this lens really perform? Is it more than just a gimmick of numbers? Is it really usable wide open at 0.95? Well, I’m here to tell you that yes this little lens performs WAAAAY better than its chinese production and small(‘ish) price tag suggests!

First of all I get bitingly sharp center focus from this lens if I nail focus. Its sharpness does falloff into the corners at 0.95. I would not recommend shooting corner action and landscapes with this lens wide open. But, seriously…who would even do that anyway. At f/1.4 its better at the corners, and at f/2 it’s completely usable for corner sharpness. Sweetspot sharpness-wise is at f/5.6. – But let me tell you this right now. For the Fujifilm-X system you buy fujifilms own 35mm f/1.4 or f/2 if you want better sharpness at these mid range apertures. You buy the Mitakon to shoot wide open.

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So, yes. The sharpness is great if you nail focus. It is actually not hard to focus this lens at f/0.95. Mainly because the contrast between the sharp, and very narrow, focus plane and the out of focus areas is so pronounced, making the focus peaking incredibly easy to use.

It focuses quite close at 35cm. This gives a bit of distortion to you portraits at this distance, but it makes this lens even more superior to the Leica M system rangefinder lenses that only focuses to about 70cm. At 35cm distance the f/0.95 DOF is so incredibly shallow that you have to hold your breath, and your model likewise to not miss the focus. (I had some fun with my kids over this! 😀 )

Well let’s talk bokeh! – ‘Cause face it! Thats the reason you’re here – you bokeh-addict, you! – The bokeh is VERY good. It’s so good that I decided I wanted to test it head to head with a lens that is quite infamous for its incredibly smooth and pleasing bokeh; The Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH.
I did a blind testing to a facebook group audience  ( I know…very scientific, right? – good thing I expect more from my medical literature 😉 )a while back and the results were 50/50 with regards to guessing which combo took which picture. Most of them even stated that regardless the equipment used they preferred the quality of the image shot with what was later revealed as the X-Pro2/Mitakon combo.

You can see the images for yourself and download them to view the EXIF. Then I’ll let you decide. They are very close. The bokeh of the Summilux is better if you ask me, but I like the sharpness and falloff of the Mitakon better. – One thing is for certain – take the price into consideration, and the Fujifilm/Mitakon combo is a no brainer. It’s costs less than 1/5th of the Leica combo.

I also took some shots to compare the image quality wide open between the Mitakon, the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 and the Fujinon 35mm f/2. – All of them shot at their widest aperture. This is just to show what kind of DOF one can achieve with the different lenses. These shots are jpegs straight from camera, only resized to 3000×2000 and exported. They are not standardised in any way or form, so take them for what they are.

I really like the look of the Mitakon for close up portraits. Shooting it wide open and using flash lights and an ND filter, renders some AMAZING looking images. – Who says you need medium format or full frame for this kind of DOF and tonality. I was really, really pleased with the outcome of these.

Samples

So to end this thing, here is a big pile of mixed sample shots. They’re mostly shot wide open, although for some of the street shots I used f/5.6 to give some DOF.

I have started using Capture One Pro 10 for all my processing, so all of the images below have been processed using that software. I love that software, and finally got around to switching my workflow to Capture One entirely. It works miracles on the Fujifilm RAF files, and the skin management tools (especially for my ginger children and their magenta skin) is out of this world. I will do a much more lengthy blogpost about my switch to capture one soon

A lot of images of my kids in this pile, but that is quite natural since I photograph them ALL the time! 😀

I hope you find this review helpful in deciding whether or not this lens is for you. Since receiving it over month back it hasn’t left my X-Pro2. It’s a bargain lens to say the least. It comes highly recommended. It’s sharp, has amazing bokeh and best of all it’s so much fun to use.

jr050680

42 thoughts on “Mitakon 35mm f0.95 mk2 review

  1. Reviews of this lens are quite rare so thanks for this one! I’ve been considering to purchase this lens for a while now because I’m looking for a FF-like DOF at medium focal length and focus distance (for environmental portraits and the like). Since Fuji apparently decided to push the development of a 33mmF1 to who-knows-when, the Mitakon has become a very attractive “alternative.”

    1. Hi Danny.

      It should. Although the focus peaking isn’t as pronounced on the X-Pro1 – And you better get a 55mm ND filter if you plan on shooting this lens wide open in the sunshine 😀

      /J

  2. Nice review and images. Your kids are so beautiful – you are blessed in many ways, but you know that! Anyway, it’s great to have those wonderful models at your supposed beck and call. (Just wait until adolescence! ;))

  3. Yes, thank you for reviewing this lens as these reviews are rare. I don’t know how you get your kids to sit still for you to take multiple shots .. much less with such a small focal plane!
    Now I have that lens itch that doesn’t go away until you’ve had the lens for a few days. This after already going to therapy for this lens. As soon as I buy one of these the Fuji 33 f1 will show up and that’s when my wife will put her foot down and have me committed!

  4. Like others have stated it’s great that someone we respect was a guinea pig of sorts for equipment that many see but have no real idea the quality of. It’s only too bad that you don’t somehow get royalties for all the lenses and equipment you no doubt help sell. Add this lens to the list of desirable equipment for us Fuji fans to hopefully one day add to our collections.

    Thank you kindly Jonas.

  5. Jonas great review on the Mitakon lens much appreciate it.

    If I can I would like to ask a quick question what made you switch to Captureone?

    Can you tell pros and one major con in using capture one vs LR? Thanks beforehand.

  6. Very nice review, Jonas! 😊
    Since you have some experience with manual lenses, can you recommend a lens like this one just 35mm-ish (FF-equivalent)?

  7. I have a MK1 version, and I like it a lot, but I have issues with color rendering, so I mostly use it in BW (acros).

  8. Cool review. I have the f1.4 35mm Fuji lens but somehow you’ve managed to tempt me to add this to my list too. Terrible! 🙂

    I enjoy reading your practical reviews. Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to do them

  9. Hello Jonas

    Your work is inspirational and that’s putting it lightly 🙂 Have you ever considers sharing your approach to your post production workflow? In particular color processing? The colors you use in your images are fantastic, very nicely done!! I would love to see how you go about this process.

    Many thanks!!

    Danny

  10. great review! Just curious, have you tried the Mitakon speedbooster with the Nikon 58mm 1.4G? I have this set up right now but that 1.4G is stinkin’ huge! Also I think that lens really isn’t that sharp to begin with but the speedbooster makes it a bit worse. This Mitakon 0.95 seems like a no brainer but just wanted to know if there were some advantages to keeping the nikon+speedbooster set up. Thanks!

  11. This is a great and really useful review! Your kids are lovely and so are your photos. I enjoyed very much reading your impressions. Thank you for sharing this, sir!

  12. Got it a month ago… it’s always on my xpro2! I Switched back to fuji last year. After a couple of years shooting with Leicas mainly M240+summilux 50, it feels like home again. The best and most rewarding manual shooting experience with an apsc lens so far! A focustab and a sliding metal lenshood could be really nice feature on viii.

    Olivier

  13. sorry if I’m possibly reposting.. when I hit to post button, i don’t see that it was done.. if you do get multiple postings of the same kind from me here, please just pick one and delete the rest.. sorry, again, for any reposting inconveniences.

    thanks for this review and your insights!

    I’ve been heavily considering this lens as well.. the price and the potential of the IQ from this lens is pretty enticing.

    I’ve held off because, for me, most of the sample images I’ve seen with this lens looked good, but they didn’t really impress me.. for what I was expecting an f.095 lens to be able to do.. BUT, I have to say you have the best sample images I’ve seen to date. I think it’s your skilled and practiced eye that composes the images very well and is able to take full advantage of the lens you are using to make the results shine.. IDK.. that’s my impression, and I have to admit now because of your review and lovely sample images, you’ve put me back in the somewhat difficult position of having to seriously (re)consider yet another lens to add to my Fuji collection.. and I thought I was done for a good while till the 80mm f/2.8 would be released.. this mitakon speedmaster 35mm f/.095 version 2!

    I’ve owned mitakon lenses before.. most notably, the M43 equivalent was the 25mm f/0.95 I had with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk2. For the relatively low price for solid build* and that f/0.95 aperture, it was totally worth it and beat out it’s more pricier competitor, the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95, by almost half the price, not to mention a lot lighter and compact, too. The optical quality at wide open f/0.95 is actually quite good and delightfully better than you might originally think had you not shot with it yourself and see with your own eyes. So, I agree with you basically on all points you wrote for the 35mm f/0.95 v2 lens here.

    * I’ll make a note the overall build is pretty nice, BUT, and I imagine it may be the same with 35mm f/0.95 lens you have, I feel maybe the aperture ring isn’t always perfectly lined up (but it still works as it should, visually it’s a little pet peeve).. and the clickless aperture ring.. I didn’t find it a big issue, cause as you you say, you buy and shoot this thing wide open, so as long as I check with a quick twist in the direction to be sure the aperture ring is set all the way to f/0.95, I’m solid. Still, that being said, I really wished they would have made it clickable… that’s where the Voigtlander was nicer.. it had an aperture ring that could be easily converted from clicking to clickless with a simple pull and turn. Seriously, I wish Voigtlander would make a Fuji X mount offering for some of it’s nice Nokton lenses it has done for the M43 system for so many years… just to have more competition for 3rd party lens makers for the Fuji X system.

    Yes, I think there’s an unfortunate stigma that something that cost surprisingly less AND is made in China has got be crap and you get what you pay for.. and, being Chinese, it sort of insulting .. especially when you think the Chinese basically invented lens optics.. anyways… I think in Zhong Yi’s case, quite the opposite, you get more than you pay for.. I’ll make a side note that Chinese knockoffs, such as with LV stuff, can often be just as good, and even exceed, the actual LV quality and craftsmanship itself for a lower price.. but, I digress… Zhong Yi is no knock off and I think anyone remotely considering such a fast lens should give them a chance.

    Anyways, thanks.. sort of.. now I have to figure out how to scrounge up a few more pennies to get this Mitakon for my X-Pro2..lol..

    1. Probably not. They probably just want to tell that it condenses it. Ever played with a magnifier in the sun?
      – but what do I know. I’m not the one who wrote the info. I just read it. 😉

  14. “This means that you can use higher shutter speeds (one stop), or reduce ISO (one stop) to achieve the same exposure as you would with the f/1.4 mounted on a full frame camera when shooting both wide open. So at the same DOF you get less shake or less noise.”

    Jonas, I think you are doing Fuji a disservice (in the long run) by saying things like this. FF cameras have about a one stop advantage in noise compared to APS-C. So when I use a one-stop-faster lens on APS-C I can lower the ISO by that same stop that I lost by using APS-C in the first place. This leads to basically an identical image (theoretically). If I want a faster shutter speed on the FF camera I can always just raise ISO one stop and I’ll end up with the same noise, DOF and shutter speed as on APS-C with the faster lens.
    So: using a lens one stop faster on APS-C gives me the same IQ as the slower lens would give me on FF, not better.

    The problem with these statements is that they lead to an anti-attitude with non-Fuji users who understand that it isn’t correct. It’s like when Apple pretends they invented something they didn’t or that Macs never crash and can never get viruses and always “just work”. It leads people to hate Apple and talk about the “reality distortion field” of Steve Jobs. Fuji reviews often try to distort reality also:
    – claiming things like “resolution and noise performance like a FF camera” while comparing to the ancient sensor of the A7II or by not considering the different ISO standards
    – making false claims about lens equivalence
    – praising the awesome skin tones and JPEG colours while ignoring the waxy skin problem
    – claiming DSLR-like or DSLR-surpassing AF performance for AF-C with every new camera or firmware

    These claims will lead people (who know better) to have an aversion to Fuji, which is already apparent in many forums.

  15. Great review!

    I’ve disassembled couple of Mk-II Speedmasters 35mm 0.95. Mechanics look much better outside than inside : ) However all parts are made from quite thick aluminum. Disassembling of whole lens is quite simple process, and most of screws look a bit thin ans small. I was actively using on lens for about year without any mechanical issues. Freezing the lens to about 10 F made focus/aperture rings rotation noticeably stiffer but still good. I’d love to see step aperture mechanism there and thinking on modding my second lens to introduce hard stops in 0.95 and 1.2 areas.

  16. May I ask you your incamera settings and are you using lens/vignette/colour incamera lens correction?
    Thanks and nice shots by the way!

  17. Well, you got it – “shoot wide open” – indeed that’s the thing.

    I stumbled on a 2nd hand Zonlai 35/1,8, about 500:- SEK. New ar Ebay for 130:-USD. It looked like a Fujinon 35/2,0, i.e. had a nice design which is not what Fuji have succeded with for the 27/2,8 or 35/1,4 IMHO..

    It is all manual, so it is a time journey for me with the X-T12 back to the old days I had with the Canon F1. But the focus with Canon was maybe a bit easier.

    The lens comes with a slight Chinese touch of cheap machinery, som faint oilfilm is visible at close up focussing. The aperture is non-click, just OK for me. The focus ring is too close to the aperture ring and not a one-finger, I reached the aperture ring too easy. Cure was easy, I found a rubber hair tie (hårband), fitted on the focus ring and with that extra 2 – 3 mm thickness I works perfect to do the one tonger focue. I actually replaced the hair tie with a Ebay purchase of a O-ring.

    But – how des the lens work? For its price it is a smash hit. Compared to the 35/1,4 I have to look hard in the corners to find a difference. Colors, hmm, not sure. Not the Canon FD’s warmth, not the Fujinonin clinical perfection but sure it is good and old school as I am, I feel more relaxed wioth a lens that not is a composite of glass and electronics with a whizz and a life as soon as for focus…

    I would like you to test it, Jonas! If in Stockholm area, gimme a call!

    -J!

  18. Just used the NIKKOR 50mm f1.2 AIS with my X-Pro2 beautiful bokeh costs little more than this, with a solid build
    and comfortable framing. Colour rendition and B/W are superb, the best I have seen so far.

  19. Thanks for the review. If you had to choose only one, would it be the Mitakon 35mm .95 or Voightlandet 40mm 1.4? (I think that’s the one you also reviewed or was it the 35?)

  20. Awesome pics and excellent review.

    Any thoughts on how it compares to a speed booster or lens turbo with a 50 f1.4?

    I like my SB w 50 f1.4 setup, but the SB is heavy and adds length.

  21. Very nice review. I love the pictures comping out of your talents. I feel that the lens help you to get the most of your skills. It shows well the capabilities of this glass. … I think I will buy it !

    If I may I would like just to comment, a 35mm f/0.95 on a system that give the same field of view than a 50mm f/0.95 on an other system will never be able to gather the same quantity of light. Because the pupil is (by definition) smaller. It size 36.8mm for the first one and 52.6mm for the second one. On same fov (photo) the quantity of light cannot be the same for a smaller hole, well we know it when we reduce the iris (pupil) size. This is from were the 1 stop difference cames between aps-c and ff.
    If interested I wrote a little memo about this because many people asked me questions about this : http://www.sylvainphoto.com/light-gathering

  22. Great review. I’m sold. You mentioned using an aftermarket lens hood. Do you have any to recommend? Huge thanks.

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