Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Zhongyi Creator 85mm f/2 Lens Review


Background

This was an impulse buy at a local camera store.  For the sub $100 price tag I took a chance.  I already have the Nikon 105/2.5 AI lens, but something told me to give this lens a chance.

Read on to see how it performs

1/100, f/2, ISO 1000 - PEN-F

Handling/Size/Weight

A much heavier lens than you'd think, but this Zhong Yi Mitakon Creator 85mm f/2 lens is all metal and glass.  It seems very non-descript when looking at it.

The aperture ring is click-less, with slight detentes to let you know when it has gone from one aperture setting to another.  It is a very smooth operating ring.  Aperture range is f/2 to f/22.

It is roughly the same size as the Nikon 105/2.5 AI lens, but might be just a slight bit wider in diameter.

The focus ring is smooth as well.

This lens is a native Nikon F-mount, but I have been using quite a bit on on the Olympus PEN-F.

1/640, f/2, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Image Quality

What can you expect from this sub $100 lens?   Well, I think you get more performance out of it than the cost would suggest.

It is a little dreamy at f/2, but as soon as you go to f/2.8 or f/4, the minute amount of haze is gone and it sharpens right up.

The bokeh is fairly good as well, rendering smooth backgrounds on all the sample images I've taken.

1/250, f/8, ISO 200 - PEN-F

1/160, f/4, ISO 200 - PEN-F


Focusing

This is the real Achilles Heal of this lens.  Yes, it is very smooth and you can be accurate for sure, but it takes almost 3 full turns on the focus ring to go from close focus to infinity.  It is a bit of a pain in that regard, but it might be of benefit for someone looking to use it as a video lens.

1/125. f/4, ISO 200 - PEN-F

1/1250, f/4, ISO 200 - PEN-F

Bottom Line

I've not had the lens long, but the images I've gotten from it I really like.  Would it be my first choice, not really...but it is fun to use and I like the rendering it produces.  New, these lenses run $200, so color me impressed by Zhong Yi.  So much so by this lens that I sprung for a Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 in micro four thirds.

One last thing of note.  I tried running this lens on my Nikon Df.  In theory it "should" work in both manual and aperture priority mode.  However, after doing some extensive testing - the Df metering system does not play well with the ZhongYi.

It does work fine in live view mode in aperture priority, though.  In straight up aperture priority mode, when shooting with the optical viewfinder - it always massively over exposes.  full manual mode is the only way to get it to work reliably.That is not an optimal way of shooting for me.  So, this lens will most likely be used for video on the Nikon D500 or as an adapted lens for the Olympus PEN-F.


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