Project 21: Freaky Friday (the Mitakon 35/0.95 vs. the Fujifilm 35/1.4)

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Rey Spadoni

Today’s post constitutes both the completion of the 21st project of this 52 Projects Project and a mini-lens review and comparison.  As we noted in the announcement, Joey and I swapped lenses.  He popped my beloved Fujifilm 35/1.4 onto his X-Pro 2 while I used only his Mitakon 35/0.95 on mine.  In addition to sharing our images, we’ll also share our impressions of the lenses as well.

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Rey Spadoni
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Rey Spadoni
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Rey Spadoni

The ultra-fast aperture Mitakon impressed me with its heft and build quality.  The smooth, clickless aperture ring is buttery while the manual focus band is beefy and nicely dampened.  As this is a manual focus only lens, I appreciated the fact that it did not spin nearly freely as some other manual focus lenses I have tested seem to.  There was ample resistance and with Fujifilm’s focus peaking function engaged, I had no problem in use.

As for that aperture ring, I’m not a fan of a clickless design though videographers tout the benefits of being able to change F-stop mid record and not having to endure the noisy aperture changes.  But alas, you buy this lens for its 0.95 aperture and so that’s where I tended to keep it.  Occasionally, I stopped it down a bit to gain more depth of field and it complied nicely.  Note that this works perfectly well on the Fujifilm body but aperture values do not register (i.e., appear in the viewfinder).  There are no electronic contacts in the lens.  No matter, as simply looking down onto the clearly marked lens posed no inconvenience.

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Rey Spadoni

The straight barrel design and heavy metallic body reminded me of the 28mm lens on the Leica Q.  If you know anything about that camera, you’ll understand that that is not a small compliment.

As I noted, you buy this lens to shoot wide, wide open.  And in that regard, it did not disappoint, providing dreamy out of focus fall off.  0.95 doesn’t give you much room to work with so if you’re aiming for the eyes, take care to grab focus on them (or more precisely, on one of them) before pressing the shutter button.  It is easy to be off slightly and to, therefore, have your main subject in the fall off.

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Rey Spadoni

I found the images taken with the Mitakon to be punchy, contrasty and with a faint cooler tint.  The Fujifilm 35/1.4, to my eyes, seems to run a bit warmer.

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Rey Spadoni
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Rey Spadoni
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Rey Spadoni
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Rey Spadoni

All in all, I’d be happy to have the Mitakon in my kit, but alas, since I have and adore the Fujifilm 35/1.4 (describing it to Joey as “the lens I’ll never get rid of”), I can’t see having both.  If I didn’t have the Fujifilm, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this Mitakon.  The super shallow depth of field images are a certain, specific style and I did enjoy experimenting with it.  I don’t know that I’d want it to dominate the manner in which I capture, so for me I’d consider it as more of a specialty lens.  I am sure Joey would beg to differ as he uses it as a day-in-day-out shooter.  I suspect he’d praise its versatility.  I’m not so sure.  I do wish, though, that Mitakon would release similar lenses in different focal lengths for the Fujifilm mount.  If they had, I believe I would be all ears and my credit card would be pointed toward go.

Now for Joey’s images and impressions:

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Joey Spadoni
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Joey Spadoni
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Joey Spadoni
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Joey Spadoni

I know this lens; the 35mm f1.4 is a fantastic lens and I have enjoyed using it many times. I have grown accustomed to the Mitakon over the past year and a half with its excellent build quality, superb handling, dramatic shallow depth of field, and smooth focus ring. Despite the Mitakon being one of my favorite lenses, I found the 35mm f1.4 a welcome change this week. I could autofocus again which allowed me to photograph faster. We went on a great hike this past weekend and I brought my dog. I was able to successfully hold the leash while taking pictures predominately with one hand, something I never could have done with the Mitakon.

The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 is a classic Fujifilm lens. What more can I say that hasn’t already been shared? This lens takes excellent photographs and generates a certain look that is hard to describe. The images are definitely in focus, but they aren’t crystal clear; there is a soft and unique look to the images that I think is really interesting. I prefer to use the 35mm f1.4 with its square lens hood, something the Mitakon doesn’t have. The lens is also substantially lighter than the Mitakon, but doesn’t necessarily feel cheap.

I enjoyed this project. My dad loves the 35mm f1.4 so it was fun to walk a mile in his shoes this past week and take pictures with his lens.

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