I’ll get straight to the point: This lens is hands-down my absolute favorite lens that I’ve shot with on my Fujifilm X-T2. (Which, if you haven't read my review for that camera, you can do so here.) Hell, it may even be my favorite lens *ever*, but I want to give it some time before I stick with such a bold claim.
First off, I have to thank my friend Peter Price for making me aware that this lens even existed. We were discussing our lust for different lenses and I was complaining that, while I love my Fujinon lenses, they just didn’t quite have the narrow depth of field that I craved. I own both the 35mm f/2 and 23mm f/2. Their lighting-fast autofocus and weather sealing make them solid performers for street photography and travel, but when it comes to getting the background blur that makes your portraits really pop, they leave much to be desired. And yes, I do also own the 56mm f/1.2, and while it definitely achieves that dreamy bokeh I love, I was looking for a wider focal length that would allow for some more creativity with my compositions.
Just as I was considering trading my f/2 lenses for the f/1.4 versions, Peter brought another alternative to light: The Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 ii. “It’s super fast and has excellent bokeh. It’s worth a look,” he encouraged. Upon further research, I discovered that it was manual-focus only. “Nope, can’t do that!” I immediately thought to myself. I’ve never worked with manual focus only before. Sometimes I feel like I can barely nail focus with autofocus! But then I thought about it more. Maybe it was worth considering. After all, manual focus would force me to slow down with my shots, something that would surely improve my photography. Plus, the Fuji XT-2’s focus magnification and peaking would make things easier for me. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
After looking up a few sample images and reading dozens of rave reviews, I was sold. I ordered the lens that night and it arrived two days later. That was two weeks ago. Since then, the lens hasn’t left my camera. I’ve brought it to family gatherings, parties, and commercial shoots for clients. In every setting, it’s produced dazzling results. Let’s break down why this piece of glass is quickly becoming my favorite lens ever:
Build Quality: If you own the Fuji f/2 lenses, you know how lightweight and compact they are. This lens is a good bit heavier than the 35mm f/2, but it feels durable and sturdy on my camera, not bulky or burdensome. The focus and aperture rings have the perfect amount of resistance — not too loose, not too stiff. One important thing to note: the aperture ring has click less stops, so adjusting f-stops is buttery smooth. If you’re used to clicks, it might take some getting used to, but I appreciate the fluid and natural motion of twisting the ring and adjusted to it immediately.
As far as aesthetics, its matte black finish make it pleasantly resistant to fingerprints and smudging (coming from someone diagnosed with OCD, so this is a HUGE plus for me).
Optical Quality and Performance: Oh man, my reaction as I reviewed the very first image I took with this lens was one of pure joy and elation. I had long lamented how much I missed extreme background blur with Fuji mirrorless. That was the one thing I felt like I couldn’t achieve quite as well as my Canon could. Not anymore. The subject/background separation this lens delivers is superb. When shot wide-open (which, let’s face it, is why you want this lens in the first place), portraits look heavenly. There’s a decent amount of natural vignetting when shot wide open, but this is easily corrected in post-processing if you don’t like it. To me, the vignetting is a treat, and I haven’t felt the need to correct it.
Contrast and color rendition are very nice. I could probably post RAW images and they would pass for edited photos. Corner/edge sharpness is surprisingly decent at f/0.95, but becomes much better starting at f/2, and especially so at f/4 and higher. Chromatic abberation is barely noticeable, if it’s even there at all. I own the Canon 85mm f/1.2 and the Fujinon 56mm f1.2, and both lenses produce a good amount of purple fringing when shot wide open in direct sunlight. With this lens, I haven’t noticed anything, which seriously makes me wonder how the hell that’s even possible. I haven’t shot many backlit images in direct sunlight with it though, so perhaps that will change things, but for now I’m very happy with how it handles light when shot at f/0.95.
Many people have asked me how the bokeh and background blur compares to the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2. I don’t know if I could tell you which one has “better” background blur because they’re both amazing. Just keep in mind that when you take into account the ASP-C sensor, f/0.95 is equivalent to roughly f/1.4 on a full-frame camera. (For comparison sake, the 35mm f/2 is equivalent to roughly f/2.8 on a full-frame, so the difference in background blur between that and the Mitakon are pretty dramatic.)
Needless to say, I’m over the moon with the performance this lens delivers. The 50mm effective focal length is extremely versatile and I’m quite pleased with all the shots I’ve taken with it so far. If you don’t mind manual focus and you’re looking for dreamy background blur, buy it. You won’t be disappointed.
(By clicking on any of my above hyperlinks to the lens, I will receive a small commission on Amazon, at no cost to you. If you found this review helpful, please consider using my link to purchase the lens. Thanks!)
If you'd like to see more images that I've taken with this lens, check out my Mitakon gallery.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer you! And if you don't already, follow me on Instagram to see more of my work. Happy shooting. :)
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