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Before you read our Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III review, I want to ground you and bring you to reality. Take all the hype you have about beautiful bokeh, the f0.95 aperture, and beautiful images. Now realize a very, very big fact of life: nothing comes without hard work, or smart work. Apply that to your hobby as a photographer. Let that sink in, because that’s the reality with the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III. You’re going to work for the shot and each one you get perfectly will be that much more meaningful to you. This is a lens that you have to do everything manually with. And more than anything, it’s a great reminder about the challenges of life.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is a pretty good lens overall. It’s built well, has beautiful optics, and will slow you down. Otherwise, you can use it with zone focusing and make great photos. Mitakon could’ve given this lens AF contacts and weather sealing, but they didn’t. Either way, also know that it pairs well with Kodak Portra 400.
Pros and Cons
- Metal exterior
- Good build quality
- Long and accurate focus throw
- Beautiful image quality
- Looks good on film and digital
- Built in lens good
- Rangefinder coupled
- It’s pretty affordable and varies based on the mount you’re using it with.
- Why no lens contacts?
- Still pretty big overall
- Totally unbalanced on a modern Leica M body
- Not weather sealed
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III isn’t doing anything specifically different per se. But it’s available for a multitude of camera mounts. So obviously, that means that it’s bringing a 50mm f0.95 to various systems. However, Mitakon missed a giant opportunity to really score a big one. They could’ve made this lens have weather sealing throughout the body and AF contacts while still being manual focus.
We tested the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 on the Leica SL2s and the Leica M6 TTL. Our roll of Kodak Portra 400 was developed at 37th Ave Photo Studio in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Tech specs are taken from the official product listing.
- Aperture Range: f/0.95 to f/16
- Four Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
- One Ultra High Refraction Element
- Stepless, Silent Aperture Control
- Manual Focus Design
- Depth of Field and Distance Scales
- 11-Blade Aperture (9 for L mount)
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.6′
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is a beautiful lens. But if you’ve ever held or used the Leica lens that this is trying to compete with, you’ll know that there is no comparison. So we start our ergonomics tour with the front of the lens. It’s got a built in lens hood that’s collapsible. This is a design I really wish more lenses had.
Here’s a look at the lens from the top down. We’ve got the distance scale and focusing ring towards the back. The measurements are very clearly labelled. Towards the front is the aperture ring. Thankfully this ring has clicks.
Of course, you’ll mostly use the distance measurements when you’re shooting further away or capturing a scene.
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III has a lot going for it with a few drawbacks. First off, it’s built to mimic a Leica lens. Granted, it’s still not at all German quality. But there is all metal on the outside and a functional aperture ring. Holistically speaking, this is a beautifully built lens. And if you mount it to a Leica M camera, you’ll be very satisfied. However, Mitakon had an opportunity to really take this to the next level, but didn’t. They could have made this lens weather sealed.
Further, the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is pretty large. Here it is next to the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1. Notice how much larger it is. By all means, I’d personally rather buy the 7Artisans lens just for sizing alone. And if you’re a Leica user, you’ll totally understand why. It’s smaller and lighter, which pairs so much better with Leica M cameras. The Mitakon is also very large because of four extra low-dispersion elements.
Ease of Use
Through and through, the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III isn’t for newbies. It works by manually focusing. It has an aperture ring. If you’re the person that uses a camera in Program Auto, then forget about it. Further, if you don’t know how to zone focus, you’d better start learning. Further, you have to slow down. So if you’re not careful, then move on. For the rest of us with more discipline and skills, you’ll be very happy.
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is focused manually. You can use the aperture ring and the distance scale to figure out the zone focusing patterns. There is a long but precise focus through, so you’ll be able to be pretty accurate. Use this lens with focus peaking and magnification combined. That will get you the most accuratley focused photos.
There isn’t a lot to not like about the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III. It boasts some wonderful colors. There’s certainly lens character, though not as much as I’d expect. And of course, the big reason why you’re buying this lens is for the bokeh.
Here’s a look at the bokeh from the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III stopped down to f1.4. I didn’t do f0.5 because this was shot on Kodak Portra 400 and the Leica M6. Focusing a lens that shallow on a rangefinder is super tough to do. Either way, you can tell that the bokeh is a combination of being hazy and creamy. It leans creamier for sure. Overall, it’s a beautiful effect. What you should also note is what’s happening here in the image. The lens coatings don’t seem to be giving off a whole lot of contrast. And honestly, that’s wonderful. I want a lens that delivers a vintage look. This is exceptional.
This image, too, was shot on Portra. And as you can see, the colors are vivid though not contrasty. It’s a very nice effect.
The photos from the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III in this section are done digitally. And you can surely see the lens flare. Personally speaking, I really, really adore this look. However, to be fair, I could see how it would annoy someone. I tried to remove it easily in Capture One 21, and it’s surely going to take some work. These lens flares help me believe that the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III has coatings that the Japanese manufacturers don’t use.
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III doesn’t start to get really sharp until f4. That’s totally understandable if you’re going for a more classic look. It was only 13 years ago that lenses really weren’t that sharp until you stopped them down that much. It’s totally a wonderful look. This also makes you shoot with much more intent.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, the Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show off edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Kodak Portra 400 (Unedited)
- Lens character is wonderful
- Fairly affordable
- Solid build quality despite a lack of weather sealing
- A classic look.
- A little large for a Leica M mount lens
- No lens contacts
- No weather sealing
I think that the Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is surely a beautiful lens. But I also believe that it’s got a look that not everyone will love in every situation. It can display a whole lot of lens flare, but that flare can also be beautiful. It doesn’t rely on contrast tricks to make it seem sharper than it is. And it’s a lens that you’ll have to work with to get a better photo. I put this lens in the hands of a buddy who immediatley scoffed at it because it’s a manual focus lens. He liked to machine-gun shoot portraits, which I think is just a waste of time and not creative at all. The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III is surely a lens for the creative photographer that takes their time and shoots less. I surely did.
This lens has a lot going for it but it also has things working against it. Why doesn’t it have lens communication contacts? And why couldn’t they find a way to make it fully weather sealed? Regardless, it’s still a pretty solid lens.
The Mitakon 50mm f0.95 III receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out on Amazon.