So here we are yet again. It doesn’t seem like a long time ago that I reviewed the Mitakon 35mm f0.95 mk2. But then again it is. It is also a long time ago that we first saw the initial prototype presented of the 65 mm F/ 1.4. The first time we side presented was alongside the 85mm f/1.4 back in spring of 2017. A lot has happened since and a lot of people actually thought that the Mitakon 65mm for the GFX was actually a “vapourware lens”. But here we are at the end of 2018, and I assure you that the Mitakon 65mm f/1.4 is indeed real and you can order it starting today.
You can do so at a ridiculously low price of $800! We are talking a medium format lens here! This is not rebranded full frame lens with a converter at the back of it! An these facts alone makes it a lens to consider if you’re a GFX shooter.
What has had the majority of the GFX community really interested is the fact that this is a proper fast aperture lens for the GFX system. With a field of view similar to that of a 50 mm lens on a full frame camera, as well as an aperture equivalent of f/1.1, this lens combined with the GFX medium format sensor, is probably the closest you’re going to get to the look of the old 6×7 Pentax combined with the 105mm f/2.4. Obviously this is a bit far-fetched but nonetheless it’s the closest you going to get.
There is a lot of talk of the “medium format look” and what that basically mean to a lot of people is a combination of a wide field of view and a narrow depth of field. For those of you who shoot medium format on a regular basis you know that there is much more to the medium format than those two factors. To me it is all about the subtleties in gradients, the tonality, and the information in the files at each end of the spectrum. But if you define the medium format look as the shallow-DOF / wide-FOV combo this lens will give you that look.
Disclaimer: I was sent this lens by Mitakon to test out and give my opinion on it. I am in no way associated with Mitakon, nor do I receive money from them. However if you find my opinion is biased, well then, so be it. There’s not much I can do to change your mind about that anyways.
Build and feel
If you compare the 65mm f/1.4 to the 35mm f/0.95 they almost look identical apart from the fact that the 65 mm is about twice the size of the 35mm. It has the same nice length to width ratio, and it looks like a proper nice lens.
When you first lift it from the package you will feel an enormous amount of heft. There is a lot of glass in this lens. The barrel is made from solid metal, and it has a clickless aperture ring at the front part of the lens. The aperture goes from f/1.4 to f/16.
At the back of the lens you have the native GFX mount, and in the middle that you have the focusing ring. The focusing ring is nice and smooth, but I would have loved for a more dampened stop at each ends of the range. It is rather metallic sounding as it is.
You also have a distance indicator and red and white numbering.
When paired with the GFX50R the combination gets a little front heavy, but it looks really really nice. Some people would find it to balance a lot better on the GFX50S. I don’t.
The coating on the front element is purple green and blue and it does a really nice job at keeping flares to a bare minimum. And when they do accord, they look quite gorgeous.
It has a 72 mm front filter thread and it has 9 straight aperture blades.
This lens is not an autofocus lens, it does not have contacts on the back of the mount, so you have no electronic transfer of any information from the lens to the camera. All in all this is a very simple piece of mechanics with some complex optics at the centre.
There is also no weathersealing in this lens. So I would not trust it with the monsoon rain!
Compared to the 63mm f/2.8 from Fujinon this lens weighs a lot more and it is about 1,5 cm longer in the barrel. It is not much longer then the 45mm Fujinon. So even though the size is sort of similar to the existing prime lenses from Fujinon the weight makes it feel a little bigger.
Now where do I start with this? The demand for resolution when shooting medium format is much higher than if you’re shooting APS-C. So whenever a third-party manufacturer decide they want to make glass for a medium format camera, the quality needs to be a lot higher. Resolving such a high resolution sensor is definitely a challenge for any lens and its manufacturer. Combine that with the fact that designing fast aperture lenses always results in less than optimal optical qualities wide open, and you can easily understand how big the challenge must have been for Mitakon to create the 65mm 1.4.
But I will tell you this right now, they did really really well. Obviously you do not get optimal sharpness wide-open, and obviously there is a little bit of vignetting as well, this is no different than any other fast aperture lens I tried…ever!
When you stop this lens down just to f/2, you get great sharpness across the frame and vignette disappears completely from f/5.6 and onwards. This vignette is not a hard vignette that we can sometimes see when coverting full frame lenses to fit the GFX. It’s just a basic normal soft vignette. I haven’t done any vignette correction on any of my images. In fact I most likely added some more vignette in some of them.
You don’t buy this lens to shoot at f/2.8 and upwards, because why would you? You already have the excellent Fujinon 63mm in that range. You buy this lens to shoot at f/1.4 or f/2! Now, when I say this, we obviously need to talk about the bokeh. And boy is it soft and good looking! The out of focus areas are so soft and nice looking when shooting at f/1.4 with this lens that it’s not even funny. It really gives you very pleasing bokeh wide open with no harshness to the speculars. When you stop down, however, the straight aperture blades will not give you round specular highlights. They will have an edged octagonal appearance.
The lens has its sharpness sweet spot at f/5.6. At this aperture is really sharp across the frame and I actually enjoyed using it for some landscape photography at this aperture. What is also worth noticing in that regard is that it’s sharp close to infinity. Usually this is where cheaper lenses struggle while they can easily keep up appearances at close range. Obviously sharpness drops the closer you get to f/1.4, but even at f/1.4 it’s plenty sharp in the center. A lot of times when I thought my images were soft it was actually because I did not nail the focus at the very shallow depth of field associated with f/1.4 on a 44x33mm sensor.
VS THE GF63mm f/2.8
I thought it would be quite relevant to put this lens up against the GF63mm f/2.8.
This small test is very un-scientific, since it is basically two shots shot at my dining room table at horrible lighting. The only thing I wanted to test with this set up was the sharpness parameter when both lenses were set to f/2.8.
When you look at it the Mitakon holds up really nicely, I focused the 65 a little further back than the autofocus did on the 63, hence there is a small difference in the sharpness of the eyelashes period but if you look closely and her iris and at the medial parts of her eyes you can clearly see that sharpness is almost the same. In the full-sized image you can clearly see the effect that the nine straight aperture blades has on the specular highlights when stopping down. In the package I also included a shot wide open f/1.4. The images are un-edited. They have only been put through Capture One for conversion from raw to JPEG.
Download the images full sized HERE
The Mitakon 65mm f/1.4 is a very good lens. For a medium format lens it is even very very cheap. For $800 you get really nice build quality, a native mount, bokeh and shallow DOF like mad. The lens is sharp and nice to use in almost all every day situations as well as portraits. It will give you some creative tools currently not available within the Fujinon native GF lens lineup.
You can buy this lens directly from Mitakon HERE
As usual all my sample shots have been edited as I see fit. I seriously see no point in me shooting brick walls! I’m not a reviewer per se, I choose to see myself as a photographer and I want to show you guys how I use this lens. You guys will use it much differently, and that’s the beauty of photography. I tried this lens under various circumstances to give as varied a sample pool as I possibly could. All images has been edited using Capture One software. Make sure to click the images in the gallery to see them the real way.