The Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2 Sony FE Version Review

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The Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2 Sony FE Version Review

By Steve Huff

(all images here shot on a Sony A7II)

I have never been a 85 or 90mm lens kind of guy. While there are some GORGEOUS lenses in this focal length (Leica 90 Summicron APO, Leica 75 Summilux, Zeiss 85 Sonnar, Sony 90 Macro) I just always prefer a 35mm or 50mm, and sometimes a good 21mm focal length. When I shoot, my preference is to shoot people, and for people, I like to get in close to talk with them before I take their picture.

But even so, a nice 85mm lens has its place in my bag on occasion. Maybe I want to isolate a subject more, or get a little more reach than I am used to. Either way, two of my favorite 75-85 lenses have been the Canon 85 1.2 L lens, which is a beauty in all kinds of ways. When that lens is shot on a nice Canon full frame camera, the color, sharpness and Bokeh are outstanding, and unique. If I were rich, I’d have a 5D style camera and the 85L here just for those few occasions when I wanted that Canon 85L look.

The other lens I love is the Leica 75 Summilux. Not an 85mm of course but still a wonderful and beautiful lens capable of ethereal and organic renderings. The Leica 75 Summilux has been long discontinued and is one of those lenses that went from un popular to VERY popular after they released the M9. During the Leica M8 days, the 75 Lux could be found for $1200 all day long as no one wanted it on a crop sensor. After the M9 was released the prices went through the roof, and now a 75 Summilux will set yo back $3500+.

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So why am I mentioning a Leica 75 Summilux in a review meant for a Sony mount lens? Well, because this Mitakon 85 f/1.2 Speedmaster lens reminds me more of the Leica 75 Lux than anything. I am not saying it is just like the Leica, as it is not, but the rendering has that out there ethereal kind of vibe, and it’s way more Leica Lux than Canon or your typical Sony lens.

YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEW AND TO SEE IT CORRECTLY!

Here is a shot taken in NYC in the morning. I was walking and saw this stylish woman taking some shots of everything with her phone. She had style, spunk and personality so after this shot I asked her if I could take her portrait. See those below… But this one was at f/1.2 with the Sony A7II

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The Mitakon Speedmaster 50 Came first..which is better?

A while ago I reviewed the other amazing Speedmaster lens, the 50 f/0.95. You can read that review here as it is loaded with samples that show the character of that lens (and PopFlash.com sell them HERE). While not a competitor to the Leica 50 Noctilux, the 50 Speedmaster is a pretty damn fine lens for  the money. To see some amazing shots with it, click HERE.  So the first lens, the 50, for the money was stunning and comes in at about 11X less than the Leica Noctilux. $1k vs $11k.

This new 85 1.2 has grown on me the more I use it. First, I thought it was a tad dull as the contrast is low with this lens, and needs a boost in post processing to get that WOW POP we all love. Second, the color is a tad duller than I am used to with the mega lenses but again, easily fixed in post. After I figured out the signature of the lens, I realized just how good it was, again, for the money (it can’t be beat).

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As to which one is better, well, neither. Both have the same sort of signature and style, which as you can see in this review and the 50 review, that style is very “Bokehlicious” lol. The best thing to do if trying to decide between this 85 and the 50 is decide what focal length you prefer. That is all. Both lenses are built like a tank, literally. Both lenses are heavy and unruly, both lenses are manual focus and both lenses ship in a lovely hard shell case.

I prefer the 50 as it is my focal length but some may prefer the 85 and many may choose to have both, the 50 for normal shooting and the 85 for isolation or head shots.

1st shot was stopped down a bit to f/2.8 I believe..2nd shot was a close up of some red blood like water in the streets of NY and the last shot is wide open at 1.2 in my hotel room to show how well this lens is with subject isolation. All Sony A7II.

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Construction…

See my video below with the Mitakon 85 1.2 – It’s a dual video with a Sony lens but I also showcase the Mitakon so you can see how big it is and what I feel about it. 

Construction is quite good on the Speedmaster lenses. They are built SOLID and they are all metal, so yes, they are heavy and large. When I hold a lens built like this I think “QUALITY” as somehow, a heavy feeling just gives you that impression. SO yes, it FEELS amazingly well made like most Leica M lenses do. The focus ring leans more to the stiff side than loose, which I like and it has a long focus throw which is helpful for fine tuning the AF. The Aperture dial is solid but is clickless so no click stops. Many prefer this, especially for video work.

So for build it is top notch, and usability is nice a it gets for a lens of this type. As I said, it reminds me of my old 75 Summilux, just larger. :)

The three below, all wide open at f/1.2 on the Sony A7II – you must click them for larger. 

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DETAILS? With this lens? Sure!

Of course a lens like this will not give you corner to corner sharpness wide open, just not going to happen. This is one reason why Leica glass is so damn expensive..it is just about perfect. This lens, being a “fast budget lens” will not give you crisp sharp corner to corner goodness wide open at f/1.2. BUT!!! Stop it down a bit and wow, it sharpens up NICELY. The shot below is at f/4 and is VERY sharp.

CLICK FOR LARGER AND FULL 100% CROP TO SEE THE DETAIL AT F/4

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The CONS of the 85 1.2

Well, there will always be at lest one con, no matter how perfect a product is. Nothing made on earth is for everyone, so it comes down to personal preferences, needs vs wants and of course, cost. For me, the things I did not like about this lens was the WEIGHT and SIZE. I love small high quality glass, and this is a LARGE high quality glass. ;) It is heavy, it is BIG. So remember that. I also feel it could use a tad more contrast out of the box but this takes a few seconds to fix i post. Out of camera JPEG shooters may wish for deeper blacks and an image with more pop. Also, the color needs to be boosted IMO to give it that WOW pizazz.

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We can not expect perfection in a $799 lens but for the $799 that it costs, it is just about perfect. If it were $2000 I would have said no way, but at $799 it is a steal and a deal for anyone who wants an optic like this for their Sony, Canon or Nikon system.

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My time with the Speedmaster lens…

I have had this lens here for a while now and have used it sparingly, here and there as even when I review items, I tend to review what I like, and what I enjoy. What fun is writing about something you do not even like? The more I used the 85 f/1.2, the more I liked it..and today I love it. After quite a few shots under my belt I feel this is one of those lenses that are actually a deal. Fast glass is NEVER cheap, but when you get something built special like this, that is designed for full frame, and can be used on my Sony makes it a win win IMO.

This lens is called “The Dream Lens” by the maker, and is available on Sony FE, Canon EF and Nikon F mounts. AWESOME. The best part is? The cost is $799. Not $999, but $799, and to me, this is a bargain for what you get here as it will give you renderings much like a classic Leica lens for a FRACTION of the cost. While not up to Leica standards, it is 75% there and MUCH cheaper for the wallet.

This is a “Character Lens”  – full of those qualities that make people look at the results and say “WOW, how did you do that”?!?

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Where to Buy?

You can buy the lens direct from Mitakon HERE or check with PopFlash.com (not sure they have the 85 yet) as they are a dealer and sell the 50 0.95 all day long.  B&H sells the 50 as well HERE though its $100 more than PopFlash. Again, to see my 50 0.95 review, click HERE.

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45 thoughts on “The Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2 Sony FE Version Review”

  1. Hi, Steve!
    Thanks for review! There’s couple of questions I have. Does this lens has focus confirmation? When you’re tuning the focus ring, is Direct manual focus working or not?
    As far as I understand, Mitakon lenses have build-in dumb adapters. In other words a camera doesn’t even know whether lens is attached or not, and features like DMF will not work.

    1. There is no focus confirm on Sony Bodies. That would be a body thing, not a lens thing. Much different than a DSLR and I find it 100X easier to MF on a mirrorless over a DSLR. Its easy to MF with this on a Sony.

  2. Hi Steve, I enjoyed reading about this Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm lens. I’m fairly new to photography and I was wondering if this lens is only suited for full frame camera’s. I currently use a Nikon d7100 and this lens could really fit into my budget. Thanks in advance.

  3. One interesting comparison with the Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm would be the Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/85. I could not find any comparison of that two lenses on the internet. But the Zeiss has very good reviews also regarding colors and bokeh. Is there anyone who tested both lenses?

    1. A7Rii and A7Ii and A7s all have the same mount. The A7 and A7R have a weaker mount. Sony beefed it up staying with the S. I have no issues using the Batis on the A7II, S or RII. Same with Mitakon.

      1. Thanks Steve! I wonder what the guy that posted at DPReview is experiencing then. I do know that several E mount adapters will not fit correctly on the A7II and A7Rii unless you put a LOT of pressure. I own two like that.
        I am about to get the 50mm Mitakon then the 85mm so just wanted to make sure.
        Thanks!

        1. Ive had zero issues with that, but I only use very good and well made adapters. I can see if he bought some cheap adapter that was not up to spec, then maybe there could be an issue.

  4. Steve have you tested the Rokinon 85mm 1.4 vs this Mitakon by any chance?
    There is a BIG price difference there of course so I am wondering how close the Rokinon gets to this lens in IQ.
    I always wanted an FD 85mm 1.2 but now this Mitakon seems to make more sense unless the Rokinon is good enough to be close to it.

    1. I have tried the Rokinon, this one is much better in build, has much different Bokeh, is sharper even at 1.2 than the Rok at 1.4. Both seem good for the money, but the Rokinon is $300, much less.

    2. One more question…I can get a Canon FD 85mm 1.2L for cheaper than the new Mitakon…do you think it will be comparable in sharpness or is the new “technology” going to give the advantage to the Mitakon?
      I primary shoot FD glass on my A7ii.

  5. Steve would you use this lens on an A7s? Is the f1.2 blur-vision effect worth the price of admission on a camera that doesn’t need speed?

      1. ok then let me ask you this: Mitakon 85 or the tiny Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f1.5 ZM (for it’s unique rendering) or simply the Canon 85 f1.2 (huge I know) ? I used a Canon 85 1.8 recently with an adapter on the A7s and the rendering was gorgeous..like insanely surprisingly gorgeous.

  6. Steve, this one vs canon FD 85mm f1.2L?
    Which do you think is better for the money?
    (they are about the same nowadays)

  7. Fantastic pictures. There are so many great lenses for the A7 series to choice. And a couple of months more there will be more. :)
    Ac/Dc rules !!

  8. Curious, is this lens aperture coupled to the Sony Cameras? This is a problem for the Loxia lenses (or any Leica mount lenses) as well without a rangefinder, you have to focus with the lens wide open and then stop down as desired for proper focus otherwise. Otherwise the lens looks pretty good imho

    1. Odd, I have never had an issue with my Loxias, I have both, never an OOF shot at any aperture. But this is an all manual lens, so no, aperture will not be recorded.

    2. That nonesense has been drifting round the internet for a couple of years. If the evf/peaking/magnify view looks in focus at a smaller aperture then it is and the pic has no other physical option than to remain in focus. How could it be otherwise?

      Some may open up aperture to better concentrate on a more isolated subject then stop down (dslrs are harder to focus manually if there is no coupling for example) personally, with an evf, I’d rather see the dof I am going to get and magnify if necessary. The technique is a combination of choice and eyesight.

      1. it’s not “nonsense”, every modern camera does this… including the Sony with its native lenses. It doesn’t mean you can’t get good focus without it, just makes it more difficult. i was just curious, i still think it looks like a good lens, and most likely it would be used mostly wide open anyways.

        1. Every modern camera does what? We are talking about manual focus with an evf here. I am not speaking theoretically, I am sitting at my kitchen bench with a Sony A7s, Voigtlander M mount 40mm attached, taking nicely focussed (though very boring) shots at f5.6. I use a voigt 42.5 on my olympus as a nearly macro lens, always stopped down. There is absolutely no issue, don’t take my word for it, ask Steve, read any of his reviews, this one even, and see if he talks about opening up and stopping down to focus.

          The evf is a low res view of what the sensor is seeing. The camera wont do anything different when you press the shutter, it’ll capture the focus you manually set. You risk invoking focus shift if a lens has it with your method, not preventing it.

          DSLRs are harder to manually focus, I only ever did that with a wide angle Zeiss on a Canon which was fine but it had a focus confirmation beep and was canon mount anyway, so can’t really comment much further as whether your comments apply there.

          1. the sony a7 series does what every camera does, on aperture coupled lenses it leaves them wide open, and then stops them down when you take the picture to improve focus. they do have the option to turn it off (or on). for some people this is important. to others apparently not so much! when shooting wider lenses, like a 40mm, critical focus is really not that important.

          2. That may well be, but we are not talking about autofocus, in manual mode there’s an increasingly good evf, magnification, and a human being with some time to check…..

      2. Definitely not nonsense! Manual focussing is never 100% accurate, because humans are not 100% accurate, especially if you have to focus fast on moving subjects. If you focus at open aperture, circles of confusion will be bigger and focusing will be easier, especially considering the mentioned human accuracy constraints.

        They invented the automatic aperture more than 60 years ago. Do you really think they invented nonsense?

        1. “Manual focusing is never 100% accurate…” Really? So all the photos taken before auto focus was introduced never had accurate focus? This sounds so silly to those of us who learned photography with manual film SLR’s. When I really want to be sure about my focal plane and where my depth of field is located, I turn off auto focus and focus manually. Of course auto focus has brought benefits, especially in action photography, but to say that manual focusing is inaccurate is absurd. And focus peaking, as in the Sony mirrorless cameras, makes manual focusing even easier and, dare I say, more accurate.

          1. I fully agree with your comment. That statement is not accurate or badly phrased. Like photography started AFTER AF ….I did started with AF into photography but love buying Canon FD lenses and primarily shoot in MF so is not like I am taking out of nostalgia.

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