Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 – Review
The Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 has always had my attention due to it’s maximum aperture. I can’t imagine this lens having the best image quality, nor have much practical usage with it being manual focus. Also, at £650ish, the price of the lens is not considered ‘cheap’ in my eyes.
The maximum aperture is not something I’ve had much experience with as my fastest Nikon or Sony lenses are only f/1.4.
I say ‘only’ like f/1.4 is slow only because there are such lenses like the ‘Canon L’ Prime lenses which go up to f/1.2 and even some Leica glass that goes to f/0.95!
I am admittedly a ‘Bokeh-Whore’ and I love shooting wide open! I’ve always wanted to see if that extra step to f/1.2 would offer any benefit at all against an f/1.4, so when I got the opportunity to get my hands on the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2, I snatched that up real quick!
Upon receiving the box for the lens, I was actually quite surprised!
The box was quite hefty and the packaging was actually very premium.
A solid feeling case wrapped in leather with buckles and buttons to hold it all in place. You do get the sense some serious consideration had been placed in the design of the packaging and I definitely did appreciate this.
Although we only ever really look at the packaging upon opening the product and then store away the box, or in some cases dispose of completely, having such a premium box would definitely be worth holding onto.
Within the box, the lens was EXTREMELY snug within the interior foam and I definitely had troubles getting the lens out. It was actually pretty frustrating, but once it’s out, it’s out! Never put it back unless you’re selling it! lol
The lens is made of metal and has very smooth rings to operate the focus and aperture. The aperture ring is also clickless, which to some is a benefit, however for me as a photographer it was a little annoying to work with.
It was annoying to work with as there are no click stops and the lens does not communicate with the camera to let me know what aperture I’m at. So I wouldn’t know without looking at the lens ring. In real-world usage it may not bother me as much as I tend to shoot wide open anyway, but during my lens testing it was definitely frustrating.
The lens has a 77mm filter thread which surprised me a little as that matches the Sony 85mm f/1.4 filter size. I did expect the Mitakon to be larger as the aperture is wider, so I can only assume this lens will vignette quite heavily at f/1.2.
Depending on how you look at it, this lens is good and bad for image quality.
F/1.2 at this price, great! However, simply comparing IQ to Price, bad…
That’s just my opinion of course…
At f/1.2, the lens has quite significant chromatic aberrations which do not completely go away until f/4. The lens is also pretty soft wide open at f/1.2.
Generally speaking, lenses are softest at their widest apertures and for my personal taste, its a little too soft.
I maybe spoiled by the likes of the Sony GM and Sigma Art lenses, but here’s a comparison so you can see the sharpness difference wide open.
As you can see from the above example, sharpness is miles apart and chromatic aberrations is much more obvious on the Mitakon. No profile corrections have been done to the above shots, they are both RAW.
This unscientific test was done on a tripod and two things I noticed from the beginning is their focusing distance and field of view.
Both are 85mm and oddly enough, the field of view on the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM was slightly wider. Hence, why the above shot the one on the left is slightly smaller when both zoomed in 1:1.
Is this a problem for you? Only you can answer that. For me, not really as I didn’t notice the difference until comparing side-by-side.
Focusing distance however is noticeable. The Sony GM is 80cm, whereas the Mitakon is 1m. How does that translate in real-world usage?
As you can see, you can fill the frame much more with the Sony GM. This does allow for more composition options.
I did notice that the aperture markings weren’t aligned properly with the lens when turning.
With the ring turned to the far left at f/1.2, the shutter was at 1/400sec, I stopped down to what I thought was f/1.4 and noticed no exposure shift or change in Bokeh. So after turning the ring slightly more, I then achieved a shutter at 1/320sec and I can now see a difference in the image.
Going down in stops, it was quite consistent that the aperture markings were not aligned correctly. This could be due to a faulty unit, or it could be a testament to Mitakon’s build quality in general.
The Bokeh between f/1.2 and f/1.4 was surprisingly noticeable. I knew there would be a difference, but I did assume it would be very subtle. However, the background is much smoother at f/1.2!
Mitakon 85mm f/1.2 Speed Master @ F/1.2 & F/1.4, ISO100, 1/400&1/320sec
However, when you pit the Mitakon up against the Sony GM at their minimum focusing distance to see which lens can produce the shallow depth of field and has the most pleasing Bokeh I feel the Sony GM will win this bout.
Although the Sony GM Aperture is not as wide as the Mitakon, due to the focusing distance you can melt away the background much more.
The Sony GM Bokeh Balls are generally perfectly round, whereas the Mitakon definitely has some odd shapes amongst them.
The lens sets out to be a “Speedmaster” and it delivers! The f/1.2 does in fact offer you more light. It’s not one of those lenses which state a fast aperture but a slow T-Stop. The shallow DOF is noticeable between f/1.2 and f/1.4 at the same working distance. So it does what it sets out to do and you can’t fault the lens on that.
At £650 before shipping & tax (most likely to be £900ish at final cost), I think the lens is a bit steep for what it is. If you need that speed you have no other option… unless you shoot Canon that is…
As always, I leave YouTube videos for other reviewers who have reviewed this lens. If you have time, please do check them out 😉
Steve Huff @ www.stevehuffphoto.com
Miguel Quiles @ YouTube