Monday, April 17, 2017

ZY Optics Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 Lens Review

Image ©ZYOptics


Background

Dubbed the "Speedmaster" for its fast, f/0.95 aperture, this Micro Four Thirds mount manual focus lens provides a small size lens with fast aperture.  It's main competitor is the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95.  All images here are taken with the Olympus PEN-F.

1/100, f/0.95, ISO 6400

Handling/Size/Weight

Even given it's diminutive size, this lens is all metal and glass, making it a bit heavier than you would expect.  When compared to its main competitor, though it is smaller, lighter and half the price brand new.  The ZhongYi Optics comes in around $399 new, while the Voigtlander will put you back $799.

Many other reviewers have compared the 2 and I'll let you explore the internet for those.

The aperture ring is clickless, which, when used for photography can be a bit of a struggle.   Moving the aperture by feel is no longer possible and there are no electronic contacts in the lens, so the actual aperture value is not visible in the EVF.  Having the option to turn the clicks on and off, as in other lenses similar to this one would have been great.

1/6400, f/1.2, ISO 200
The focus ring is in the back and the aperture ring is toward the front of the lens.  They are close together and initially I found myself accidentally turning the wrong ring.  We'll see how long it will take for muscle memory to kick in and rectify that.

Focusing is well dampened and smooth.   Getting exact focus is quite easy for me.   I use a high intensity yellow peaking on the Olympus PEN-F.

Overall the lens feels quality, even with the very basic engravings on it.

For those who subscribe to the Micro Four Thirds ethos of small size matters, then this lens will definitely fit that.

1/640, f/4, ISO 200

3 Image stitched panorama
1/1000, f/4, ISO 200

Image Quality

Some people think that older lens designs, even prime lenses, are not as good as the modern equivalents.  There might be some truth to that statement if we get into a "measurebating" analysis.  I, however, do not fully agree.  While it might be true that on paper one lens may be sharper than another, there is more to a lens than the overall sharpness.  My belief is that there is a threshold of "sharp enough" or acceptable sharpness that is good enough for me.  The 105mm/2.5 AI lens certainly falls into that category and then some.

If we look at the lens at f/2.5, this is probably where the lens is at its weakest.  Even with that, the wide open performance is still plenty acceptable.  Stopped down even a little bit to f/4 and it is very sharp.

I find that I like the rendering of the Nikon 105mm lens as well.

Looking to the Speedmaster f/0.95, I found center sharpness was good to exceptional at all apertures from 0.95 through f/11.  The corners progressively get better as you stop down.

At f/0.95 I expected the lens to be a bit dreamy, like the other ZY lens I have the Creator 85mm f/2.  That does not seem to be the case though.  Optically, this appears to be quite a good performer.

1/4000, f/4, ISO 200

1/2500, f/4, ISO 200

Focusing

As stated previously, I use yellow focus peaking on the Olympus PEN-F.  That can be a challenge when shooting hand held at f/0.95 in low light situations.   Challenging - yes, impossible - no.  Use the zoom function to assist you as well.

The smooth focus ring makes getting exacting adjustments easy to do.

Close focusing distance is useful.  You are not getting macro close, but it should suffice for most peoples usage.

1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 200

1/100, f/1.2, ISO 640

Bottom Line

This is a fun, fun, fun lens to use.  For some people this would be a specialty lens, used for special occasions and most likely wide open.  

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