These days it seems as if portrait photographers are concerned with two aspects of a lens above all else; sharpness and bokeh. To meet the needs of photographers who are looking for that ultra shallow depth of field and rich, creamy bokeh, companies like Mitakon have been releasing lenses in the f0.95 aperture range.
In this quick video tutorial, Sony Artisan of Light, and Adorama TV personality, Miguel Quiles, takes you through the basics and some best practices of shooting a lens with such a wide aperture. One thing that works to Quiles’ advantage is his use of the Sony A7 II, a full frame mirrorless camera.
As he notes, shooting super fast aperture manual focus lenses like the Mitakon .095 shown in the video is made so much easier thanks to tools like focus peaking and punch-in-focus. On a DSLR, tools like these are simply not available at all through the viewfinder, and only in a few cases in live view. This makes achieving tack sharp focus with a lens like this wide open on a DSLR a much trickier affair as photographers have to eyeball it.
Another tip, as Quiles mentions in the video, is to shoot with the lens on a tripod. This is not to prevent a blurred image due to a slow shutter speed as most portrait shooters would use a tripod for, but instead to eliminate any issues with missed focus due to the camera moving between achieving focus and the shutter firing.
When you get into super fast apertures like .095 even the slightest move is enough to throw off the focus, so staying steady is key to getting the sort of tack sharp results you are used to at F/1.2 and F/1.4 with AF lenses.
For those interested, the Mitakon f0.95 that Quiles mentions in this video is the newer Mark II version selling for $849 on Amazon (via Adorama) right now. But don’t get confused, there is an older Mark I version that sells for around $500 Mitakon has made significant improvements in the image quality and build quality of the lens in the Mark II version, so make sure to get that one if you want to give f0.95 portraits a try.