USER REPORT: Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 review by Boris Liberman

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USER REPORT: Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 review

by Boris Liberman

Hi Steve.

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.

f/4

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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

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Shot at f/5.6 or so

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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

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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

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Shot at f/2.8

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Shot at f/2.8

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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

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Shot at f/0.95

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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.

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20 thoughts on “USER REPORT: Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 review by Boris Liberman

  1. I had this lens a year ago for two weeks. Too small to bee 0,95. Compared to Nikkor 50mm 1.4 and Oly 12-40 2.8 its a 1.4 lens. Very soft wide open and high cromatical aperation I could not correct with DXO. Maximal worth 100$.

    1. Bernard, I am sorry to hear that your sample wasn’t good at all. Either I got very lucky or you got very unlucky.

      As for the size and actual aperture. I honestly don’t care. This lens is small enough to justify and support the whole point of m43 system – small and light. It is fast enough and sharp enough wide open. Even if it is 1.4 lens as you say, it is still exceptionally good. Compare its size with PanaLeica 25/1.4 and it little Mitakon hands down.

      Finally, the manual focusing aids of EM-1 are just fine and shooting with this lens is pure pleasure.

      Like I said, I am sorry for you that you had to get rid of this lens.

      1. Bought the Panasonic 20mm which is really sharp and very small. Last year I used it together with the Panasonic 7-14mm and Olympus 40-150 2.8 for travelling and trekking. This combination is a bit havy but now fine when I use my bycicle. Now for travelling I use the Panasonic 7-14, the Olympus 12-100 and 12mm 2.0. Used this combinations also for my trips to Georgia (Europe) but I didn’t underexpose my pictures like Dan Barr in his postings.

  2. Wonderful images. I’ve considered getting this lense but I’m curious as to how difficult it is to use the focus peaking wide open? Can you focus on an eye in a portrait with only the peaking or do you need to use the magnification as well?

    1. Bill, I use the magnification most of the time if critical focus is necessary. Default magnification is x5 and it is enough for most applications. Only very rarely I’d go to x7.

      Having several years of experience working with Ricoh GXR-M and manual lenses, it is natural to me.

      However, if you never before shot like this, it may come a bit difficult. The way to get into this kind of camera operation that worked for me was to use manual focus with AF lens. Say, if you have 12-40/2.8 like I do – you can decide as a matter of exercise to shoot exclusively with manual focus. Then you would find the optimal set up that suits you the best.

    1. I hear you. You see, this lens combines excellent optics with very affordable price. And the size/weight are second to none. It really fits like a glove with the spirit of m43 system.

      Somehow, I doubt that rumored Oly 25/1.2 would cost less than USD 700. Taking a wild guess here of course. As well, it would most likely be AF lens, so it would be bigger and heavier.

      I’d gladly be proven wrong. Meanwhile, my little Mitakon does wonders already.

    1. It’s simple: Those (older) camera types with a “staircase structure” around the sensor are incompatible, because the lens protrudes into the camera, which interferes with that structure. All M4/3 cameras without that “staircase structure” are compatible.

  3. I also have it (as oly 12, 17, 25, 45, 75) on my Pen-F and this lens I like the most. Since I bought it – it sits on my camera 95% of the time…

    1. I am oscillating between this and 12-40/2.8. These are the only m43 lenses that I have and they suit me 99% of the time. For the remaining 1% I have Pentax 50/1.2 and Pentax 77/1.8…

      But yes, this lens is truly remarkable!

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