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Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster (Mark II) 0.95/35mm Review

Prime lens for SONY E-Mount (APS-C)

Lens released Feb.2016


High Speed prime lens for E-Mount cameras

High speed primes for SONY E-mount APS-C cameras are not so common, since the fastest native e-mount APS lens has f/1.4 (30mm Sigma), and f/1.8 is considered "fast" (35/1.8 Sony, 24/1.8 Sony/Zeiss).
The MITAKON is a redesign of the 2012 launched 0.95/35mm lens from Zhong-Yi, a Chinese optical company, covering APS-C sensor size, and available in FUJI X or SONY NEX mount. Weight is reduced from fat 680g to 460g. Obviously the optics has changed too. Smaller front lens (55mm filter instead of 58mm). A complex design of 11 elements in 8 groups, including 6 extra-low dispersion elements, claimed to reduce chromatic aberrations, distortion, and sharpness enhanced 33% to the prior version. There is a 50mm/f0.95 from the same manufaturer which covers full format and is larger and 50% heavier, plus a smaller 25/0.95 lens in 4/3 mounts available. The APS-C lens could be the best choice, since the lens is not as fat as the 50, and sharpness isn't a critical issue for a high speed lens, therefore no real need for a FF-sensor when the unsharp areas aren't much softer with FF than APS-C.


Diagram of the 50/0.95

The diagram of the predecessor: 10 elements/ 8 groups, enhanced Ultron-(Gaussian) type. The enhancement (four back elements on the right) makes these kind of lenses quite long.
The mark-II version is claimed to have one more element, plus it is 1/3 shorter, so I estimate design was changed radically.

Side by side comparison

Finish and Provisions

Finish of the MITAKON is a nice mate black with good visible engraved white letters, light-green feet and white meter scale. Made of 100% metal. No electric contacts, and therefore, no EXIF-data (other than the Zeiss Loxias, which brings very basic data: actual aperture, focal-length, no lens type information). This is a little bit sad, because when your are interested in lens and aperture information you need to work it separately with Apps like ExifMixer.
The lens comes in an odd leather covered styrofoam box, a Chinese printed paper and two caps. That's it.
There is no sun-shade/hood included. I'm fine with it when a lens is delivered without hood, as long as the lens don't need one and isn't prone to flare. Against backlite flare (the most common tpye), a hood is next-to-useless anyway. I doubt that the Zeiss Loxia 21mm/2.8 really needs a hood, which is delivered with one. With a lens of that length, a hood makes handling more complicated and the photographer more ostentatious. Remember, purpose of mirrorless cams is low-key action, as opposed to DSLR work. So I don't like hoods for RF or Mirrorless cams, except for very compact lenses when they really need them.
What I like much more for a lens than a hood, is a leather stuff bag to carry it in no-padded bags or pockets. Regrettably, the lens comes with none.



The MITAKON has a very classic handling with manual aperture and focus rings. Tested on my NEX-7 handling is better than the ZEISS Loxia lenses, except there is no finder loupe starting when turning the focus ring, which could make photographing with MF lenses a lot easier. The aperture ring (which has no stops) is pretty well damped, whereas the focussing ring goes very smooth. So it's quite easy to differ them blindly. Impression is a lot like LEICA, even if the letter printing isn't as beautiful. Like Leica (or Rangefinder style), the aperture ring is in the front position, what I prefer with MF lenses and manual diaphragm strongly against the Zeiss Loxia (or Fuji X) style.
Different from Leica (except the very old ones), the aperture step distances are not equalized, means the distances between f-stops goes shorter closing the aperture, and misses the f/5.6 and f/11 marking. So the way from f4-f/16 is short, and not precise. This on't bother me. Visibly intended use is between f/0.95 to f/2.8.
The black finish fits exactly to my SONY NEX7 (which I prefer to the newer models for it's metal body). It loooks and feels like a native made lens. Mounting the lens is easier as with the Zeiss, because the lens base has a good grip area instead of oversized rings, and it turns smoother. The quality feel is at least as good as Zeiss. It feels heavy and good balanced on a SONY NEX-7, though it's much heavier than the 35/1.8 SONY lens. With lens hood on the 35/1.8 mounted they are about the same in length. The base of the MITAKON is chromed, at least with the NEX mount version. The texture of the rings is less fine and feels more like steel than alloy, as with SONY and lenses. All outer edges are softly rounded, therefore provide a firm grip without indisposition, are less particle and dirt prone and so easier to clean. Overall, the metal work of this Zhonghy lens is better done than the Zeiss Loxia (which costs about triple price).


Focussing on the camera

Focussing is easy with the peaking or loupe function of the camera, but you need to turn it on manually. Sharpness is literally "jumping", other than with some vintage lenses. The lens focusses from 0,35m/1ft to infinity (more than most MF lenses) in less than a half turn (ca. 150 degrees), so it's neither too long than to short. There is a depth-of-field-scale (beginning with f/2). As expected, at f/0.95 or f/1.4 depth-of-field range is very limited.



This is a usefull "character" lens, sharp enough with nice bokeh. I have no direct comparison to it's predecessor, but from what I have read about version I performance, mark II is much improved. Right from f/0.95 the center is sharp. At f/2 it turns very sharp. At f/2.8 it's sharp to the edges, and from f/4 you can make architectural work with it. I see no "vintage" look on the pictures. Contrast is quite dense. If you open from medium aperture to f/0.95 suddenly, there is some color changing to magenta, so keep attention to white balance. Overall colors are quite nice. There is color fringing at sharp edges at f/0.95, but it's gone at f/2.8, and in summary quite low for such a fast lens. Low backlite flare for a highspeed lens. No hood needed really. Obviously inner surfaces of the leans are painted black, opposed to the first version which was low in contrast at backlite.
Talking about bokeh, there is no "swirl" or unruly bookeh. No noticeable spherical aberrations. Some coma is present wide open, but gone till f/4. The MITAKON renders unsharp areas in a way of "classic" Gauss-type-lenses, so I would guess the overall design is still Gaussian. I didn't detect any distortion (but this isn't a lens with primary focus in architectual work). Light falloff is high at large apertures, what can be expected with very fast lenses.

Schloss Weilnau


Green field

Arabian Horse


Overall verdict

After 3 months of usage this went to be my favorite lens on my NEX-7. I even prefer it to my former favorite Sony SEL35F1.8. Different from most other MF lenses I rarely miss a shot due to unsure focussing. The MITAKON is a joy to use, makes nice pictures full of character and looks great on the camera. I use it mainly at f/1.4-2.8, since the bokeh is quite nice on these apertures and the field of sharpness is large enough for most objects. Anyway, for stronger daylight you need to dim to f/2-2.8 even at 1/4000s, if you don't have a ND (gray) filter attached.

click for 1:1 crop

VW Kaefer Cabrio

Modern Volkswagen


Arabian Horse

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