Mitakon Speedmaster - the decent exposure

Mitakon Speedmaster

18.02.2015

I was interested in the Zhongyi Mitakon Speedster 50 mm F.95 the first time I heard or read about it. Another native 50 mm prime lense for the Sony A7 and in this case with a unique aperture of F.95. Great! I read lots of reviews on the net and the result out of this was, the Mitakon seems to be a unique sharp 50 mm prime lense with a analog look and a great bokeh. But on the other hand I saw pictures of a bad performing lense with a harsh bokeh. That brought me to the point that I have to test the lense on my own. Today the DHL man stood in front of my house to bring the the Speedmaster. I will not show you an unboxing video or pictures, you will find them if you want on youtube, but that is not in my focus. So let's talk about how that lense is performing. 

The first feeling when I hold it in my hands was, "what a heavy beast". But is seems to be a high quality beast. It feels very solid, the focus ring is great and the aperture ring too. To be honest, there is no difference in the build quality compared to a Zeiss ZM or Voigtlaender lense. Pretty good job Zhongyi!

But the look is nothing when the performance is bad. I mounted it on my A7 and I thought again, "wow what a heavy beast". The lense does fit smoothly on the E-mount and does fit very well, there is no wiggling or wobbling of the lense. Good job, again. 

I moved the focus ring and could focus pretty easy, both with the peak view, and magnifier option. I have the feeling that the manual fokus of that lense is working better than the one from the Zeiss Planar or Voigtlaender Nokton. But I don't have the two others anymore so it is just a feeling. But I have the FE 55mm here and for sure, the manual fokus of the Mitakon is by far better than the fokus by wire stuff in the FE 55 mm lens. 

I went out for a first quick and dirty test, ok, the weather was not perfect so the expectations have been on a realistic level. For sure I started with F.95 cause when I buy such a lense, I buy it to use it wide open. Otherwise I could just use the perfect FE 55mm made by Sony. So here a the first shots.


Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

I have to say something about these pictures, these are processed in Lightroom. What I would say so far about the Mitakon speedmaster is, that is has not the same contrast like the FE 55 mm. But with a little bit of postprocessing it looks quite good. Here are the same examples without and post processing, just to give you an idea what the lense is giving for an output.

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

There are a few things I can say and proof with these three photos, the Mitakon is a suprise in case of the bokeh. I had the Voigtlaender nokton with me out in the woods and it had problems with the leaves. Even when it has a nice bokeh in other situations, the Nokton was not good in this case. The speedmaster is doing pretty good in this challange. Another point for the speedmaster.

Another difference to the Nokton is, that the speedmaster is much better in case of corner performance. There is absolute no smearing even at .95.

What about the sharpness. All these pictures are shoot wide open, that means really wide open. There is only the expensive Leica with the same speed, but nothing like this in the SLR world for example. The Leica cost 9 times as much as the Mitakon. Just to have a reference. If you look at the first photo you can see there is enough sharpness even at .95. It might be not the right lense for the pixel peeper out there who wants to have a super sharp field from one end to the other, but in a lage print it would perform pretty well. And the sparness is not the main focus when you use F.95. And by the way I don't think that the Leica lense is 9 times as sharp as the Mitakon. 

Coming back to the bokeh. The bokeh towards the background is better, or smoother, than the one towards foreground as you can see here. But that is a typical behavior:

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

Mitakon 50 mm F0.95

And here is also a first comparison against the FE 55mm by Sony. Both shots at F2 to get a good comparisson. That is one drawback of the Mitakon that you have only the full stop marks and not the 1/3 marks in between.

Mitakon 50 mm F2

Mitakon 50 mm F2

FE 55mm F2

FE 55mm F2

For both sense at F2 the camera is giving the same exposure time. The angle is a little bit difference due to the extra 5 mm in the sony sense but I think it is a fair comparison. Colorwise both are pretty similar. There was no pp, directly out of the raw file. Maybe the color goes more in yellowish for the mitakon but I would have to test more to get a final result here. I have the feeling, and that is only a feeling cause I can't measure it, that the bokeh is softer in the Mitakon photo. Of course I will compare the sharpness of both lenses, both fokus in manual mode. 

Mitakon vs. Sony

Mitakon vs. Sony

So yes, the Sony lense is sharper, in 100% view. Will you see the difference in a print? I will check this, cause I doubt. In a regulat viewing distance not. But we will see. I will do more comparisons between the two lenses. I still have to find the "look" of the mitakon that was mentioned in a few reviews. It looks nice, but is there a significant difference between the two lenses? I will find out. 


So far I would say the Mitakon Speedmaster is a very nice lense. I would not recommend it to everybody, in that case the FE 55 is the better way to go for a single lense for all, request. But is seems to be a nice alternative, a nice toy to get a special look due to the limitted DOF. But let's wait for better weather and more photos.

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