Thursday, 4 June 2015

Mitakon 85mm f1.2 first impressions and samples

Yesterday I received this lens from the good guys at and I immediately noticed the weight of that beast. It's heavy... to say the least, but a portrait 85mm lens of f/1.2 has to be big. That's just physics. The one I got is with the Nikon mount and I tested it on my Sony A7.

I immediately packed my bag and took it for a spin. I tested the lens at various apertures as I always do. Wink wink to the guys who recently criticized me for uploading only photos at open aperture. (more info at the end of this entry) Optical properties at f/1.2 are just breathtaking. Chromatic aberrations only appear at really contrastive parts of the photo (classic branch-in-the-sky case) and the sharpness is just crazy. I feel like the lens designers have been paying a lot of attention to those new 30, 40 and 50-something-megapixel cameras. In case of this lens though I decided to stop down a bit for some of the photos as it helped edge of the frame sharpness considerably. The centre sharpness is very very good across the apertures.

The bokeh is impressive. It's very smooth for the most part and outstanding sources or light are nicely eye-shaped if they are off-centre.  (As many as 11 aperture blades contribute greatly to that). The DoF is paper thin at times and your slightest move can ruin your focus so it's important to have that in mind. Breathe in and

bokeh at f/1.2
bokeh at f/1.4

Below are some sample photos for you guys, most of them at f/1.2, but some are stopped down a bit (not more than to f/2). The first couple of photos are wide open for sure, the following ones I'm not sure about to tell the truth. I encourage you to see details for some of the photos (links below them).

click for 1:1 detail crop

click for 1:1 detail crop you can see a fly and tiny webs

click for 1:1 detail crop you can see ants in detail

For enthusiast of stopping down fast lenses I did a comparison of f/1.2 and f/8. The in-focus area is perhaps a tiny bit sharper in the latter, but the main difference is considerable light fall-off at the edges in the wide open photo and lack of it when stopped down. This will happen with any fast lens.

What I like a lot about this lens is that you can slice out an object even if it's quite big and shot from quite far away. The background 'blur' makes the car stand out.

I adore a fast sharp lens more than anything else so when I someone spends a lot of cash on a lens I think it's fair to expect a lot from its open aperture performance and when the open aperture performance if top notch it doesn't make any sense for me to stop it down unless DoF is what you need.  An f/2 lens stopped down to f/8 will perform similarly to an f/3.5 lens of the same focal length stopped down to f/8. It may be an oversimplification, but there's a lot of truth to it. If a lens is not sharp at f/8 it just means that it is garbage and you shouldn't be using it.

Several 1:1 crops: