Build Quality / Design
The Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 III is a manual focus lens with no electronic contacts. It is available in Sony E mount and also for the first time both Nikon Z and Canon RF mount.
The body is made of metal. The lens feel very dense and solid but the size is not too large consider it is a f/0.95 lens. There are many larger f/1.4 lenses in the market. Mount it on a Nikon Z6, it feels quite well balanced.
The filter thread is 67mm which is quite small for such a fast lens. The lens comes with a lens hood but since the review sample lens I have is a pre-production one, the lens hood is not the final design so I cannot say how good or bad the lens hood is.
Behind the filter thread is the declicked aperture ring. As a photographer, I definitely prefer aperture ring with clicks but otherwise the aperture ring is very smooth and total travel is approx 90 degree.
The manual focus ring also is also super smooth and it has a very long travel almost 360 degree. This is necessary for an ultra fast lens like this Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 III as the depth of field could be very narrow and you’ll need precise adjustments to get correct focus.
If you are worried about if it’s very difficult to manual focus a f/0.95 lens, I can tell you it’s actually not hard at all. With a decent electronic viewfinder like the one on the Nikon Z6, and visual assist aids like peaking and magnification, it’s pretty easy to completely nail the focus, even when shooting at f/0.95. Of course you and your subject will need to be stationary or almost stationary. Shooting fast moving object is a different story.
Overall, I’m very impressed by the build quality of the Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 III lens. It reminds me a lot of my Zeiss lenses, solid and well made. I love the buttery smooth manual focus. If I really have to complaint any something, it’s that I want to be able to switch the aperture ring between clicked and declicked operation, and the lens doesn’t come in that nice leather box like the Mark II version anymore. Instead the lens is shipped with a cardboard box instead.
For an ultra fast full frame lens that cost less than $1000 USD, you may expect the sharpness wouldn’t be that good at all at maximum aperture. But it’s not really the case for this Mitakon lens. The center sharpeness is good even at f/0.95, and sharpeness remains pretty decent to the edges, maybe until the last 10% or so near the very edge of the photo. If you are shooting portrait or most everyday photos you should be happy with the sharpness even when shooting at maximum aperture.
Bokeh is very important character for a fast 50mm lens. And the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 delivers very nice, round and smooth bokeh.
Below are some sample photos shot at f/0.95 and also f/2. I’ve also included a comparison photo shot with the Nikon AIS 50mm f/1.2 at f/1.2 and f/2.
As you can see the bokeh from the Mitakon is a lot smoother than the Nikon. The edge of the bokeh would dissolve into the background smoothly while the Nikon has noticeable highlight at the edges.
If you want out of focus background that melt smoothly, the Mitakon would be a lens for you.
When shooting photo at night at f/0.95, bokeh from point light source in background would look a bit unusual. There are two little tails at opposite end of the bokeh. A bit like galaxy shape. If you stop down to around f/1.4, then the tails would disappear and the bokeh would change back into more round and smooth shape.
Like it or not, you can look at it as an unique character of this Speedmaster lens
Vignetting is quite noticeable but not unexpected at f/0.95. Stop down to around f/2-f/2.8 then vignetting become greatly reduced.
If there is one major weakness of this lens, it would be the chromatic aberration. When shooting high contrast scenes at maximum aperture, it’s very easy to spot quite a bit of colour fringing in the photo, as you probably can see from the photo below. Stop down to around f/2.8 would remove most of the colour fringing but if you like to shoot at faster aperture, you would need to remove the colour fringing in post processing.
I was really impressed when I was testing the Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 II. An ultra fast full frame lens with nice metal construction that wouldnt cost a leg and an arm is something a lot of people wanted. However it was only available in Sony E mount which means a lot of us just can’t have it.
Now Zhongyi released the new version, while the Chromatic aberration and lens flare are still a bit more than what I would like to see, overall image quality and build quality are actually still very good especially once you consider it’s very affordable price tag.
So if you were already interested in getting the mark II but still haven’t buy one yet, the mark III could easily make you bring out your credit card. This is a lens that allows you to create photos normal 50 f/1.4 lens can’t do.
And if you are a Nikon Z or Canon RF camera owner, then you should be really excited about this lens as well. This is one of the first third party ultra fast lens available for your mirrorless camera system. Manual focus is very easy on a mirrorless camera so you could shoot at f/0.95 whole day if you want and still able to get very high percentage of sharp in focus photos.
I also really like the fact that the lens isn’t really that big or heavy (for such a fast lens). I was carrying the lens and my z6 with me almost everyday when reviewing this lens, even on the day I wasn’t expecting to take any photos.