USER REPORT: Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 review
by Boris Liberman
I’ve been shooting Pentax since like forever. When I started back in Moscow in 1988 with my Zenit ET, little did I know that it was actually Pentax universal M42 mount. Since 2002, I am shooting Pentax cameras, and since 2005, I’ve gone digital. Recently, I realized that my RMS is too bad for me. Literally, after 1.5 hours of shooting with my Pentax K-5 and some lenses, my wrists would be in acute pain. So, also thanks to your site, I’ve gone m43… Funny, don’t you think – M42+1 = m43 :-).
I bought Olympus EM-1 and Olympus 12-40/2.8. Wonderful, wonderful gear. Just right for most of my tasks. However, I had to have a fast 50 mm (EFL) prime lens. I tried this and I tried that… Somehow, Pana Leica 25/1.4 did not get my heart beating. I admit, I also have Pentax A 50/1.2 which is a fascinating optic and I like shooting in low light. So, it had to be f0.95 lens.
Long story short – I bought Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95. Bought it directly from the manufacturer, and I should say that their pre-sales responsiveness is absolutely outstanding. Sometimes, I would get replies to my questions in a matter of hours.
By the way, the factory offers 5 years warranty on the lens.
Below is my opinion of this lens based on 900+ images that I’ve already shot with it. I’m not into measuring or shooting brick walls. Rather, photography is my hobby, so I do it for fun, as well as for pleasure of being able to give my photographs to my friends and share them with you on the web.
As you can see, this lens is really very small. In fact, it is surprisingly small for such a fast lens. In terms of ergonomics and materials, this lens is quite excellent. The only plastic parts is rear and front cap. The front cap is standard pinch-type design, and it is ever so slightly flimsy. All the lens markings are printed.
Both aperture ring which is stepless and focus ring are very smooth. Together with excellent EM1 flexibility of configuration, this lens is very pleasant to work with.
I have configured two buttons in front of the camera to the right of the lens to give me focus peaking and magnification on demand. This practically settles it. This configuration really feels like it has been there since the beginning of times. The buttons have different shape and hence I don’t have to think which one to press.
The rest of the images were processed in Lightroom 5.7 and Nik Color/Silver Efex Pro to taste. The aperture values are from my memory, since naturally, this lens has no electronics whatsoever.
In terms of image quality, this lens has character. There is some softness of the corners. There is some vignetting at apertures close to widest. Is it bothersome? Absolutely not! In fact, in my eyes, this lens punches well above its very modest price point.
Shot at f/5.6 or so
Shot at f/5.6 or so
Initially, when I tried this lens at infinity, I got slightly soft images. Then I looked very closely and realized that it does not reach the infinity focus mark by a hair. Bummer, I thought. Then, I decided I would work it all the way. Focus properly using the magnification and peaking event at infinity. As you can see above, there is no problems whatsoever with sharpness and resolution at infinity. In fact, the infinity focus limit is ever so slightly beyond infinity. When I was in touch with the factory I asked specifically whether the infinity focus is accurate. And I was told that I would get a properly calibrated sample. I am absolutely, perfectly, 100% happy with how it turned out for me. I’d rather I had a bit of play beyond the infinity just in case…
Shot at f/0.95
Here is my younger daughter posing on the backdrop of Tel Aviv high rise buildings. This came as a total surprise, but if you nail focus accurately, the lens will give you nice sharp center. No glowing. My Pentax A50/1.2 would glow at f/1.2 ever so slightly. This is nice effect, for example for portraits, but this little Speedmaster is really a master of wide aperture shooting.
Shot at f/5.6
Shot at f/2.8
Shot at f/2.8
Yes, this lens flares. It actually does it with grandeur and style. This is the first lens of mine, that I would consciously try to flare for me as part of the composition. Not saying it is something I am going to do always or often, but I have such a possibility. And yet again, sometimes, it does not flare, as you can see on the picture above, even if the sun is directly in the frame. The good thing about mirrorless, is that you see exactly what the camera sensor sees, and so decision can be made even without having to review the image on the back screen of the camera.
Shot at f/1.4
Shot at f/0.95
To conclude my little user report – I cannot possibly recommend this lens enough. Well made, pleasant to use, with excellent image quality that one can get from it. Add to it a very modest price tag, and you get a total winner here.
Just one word of caution. Please check the manufacturer web site, as some of the m43 cameras cannot be used with this lens.
Finally, please visit my photo blog at http://pentax-ways.blogspot.com/.
P.S. I also shoot Ricoh GXR-M with some Zeiss lenses and Leica to Pentax adapter, but that’s a different story.