A Mighty Mitakon: Return to Speedmaster (85mm f/1.2)

Full disclosure. I like:

  • Odd lenses.
  • Manual focus lenses.
  • Metal lenses built like handheld medieval weaponry.
  • Good value.

This explains my collection of old timey film lenses…

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…and my appreciation of Mitakons. First up was the Mitakon Speedmaster “Dark Knight” which was great on the Sony A7 I once had…

  • Random Neural Firing Afterthought Sidebar: I really, I mean really liked the “Dark Knight”. It was great fun and while I wish they made more mount variations I surmised from the short flange to internal lens bits (technical, I know) distance that it was never intended to accommodate a DSLR’s mirror box so this 85mm Mitakon was likely going to be my only option. Interestingly Mitakon makes this 85mm in more mounts than they usually seem to do (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony FE full frame). While not f/0.95, f/1.2 is nothing to sneeze at and while 50mm is my favorite practical focal length, 85mm is my favorite if I have room to back up. Actually bought this lens before I had originally intended since it seemed that the last to be released Pentax variants were drying up at retail sites with only Adorama having any available when I purchased this one. But as of this writing they are now backordered on all, but the Nikon mount. All mounts seem available at their own site, but at a higher cost. Amazon does not even list a Pentax version.  B&H charges the full price and also does not list a Pentax variant. Just now noticed that they call this lens ‘The Dream’? Preferred Dark Knight, as a Batman head, but OK. And we are back in 3, 2, 1…

…and then the twice bought Mitakon Creator 85mm f/2.0 which I still have.

So if I have an 85mm why do I want (not need) another? The number 2, f/2.0 specifically. I really like the creator, but having had a brighter 85mm in the past I was determined to choose another. Pentax has fewer choices than the big 2, but there are still quite a few. Reviews are helpful, but flickr has been the ultimate research tool above all others. While other new and old, manual and AF K Mount lenses produced some very nice photos the decision was an easy one after seeing this flickr album and I was sold.

Yamaha R1 - 21 Images Brenizer

Next up thoughts on dings I have read, pluses, a gallery link and some samples.

Dings:

  • The lens hood is ill fitting and comes in a second box.
    • Thoughts:
      • It has a lens hood. Many factory lenses do not come with one at all. Not a ding, but back when I was an Olympus adherent very few, if any, came with a hood. If I recall one zoom did, but few other zoom lenses and no primes that I can remember had one included.
      • The lens hood received is not a petal design like I have seen in a video review, but it seems to fit the bill compared to the hood that came with my previous 85mm.
      • Yes, it was difficult to put on the lens at first but after 10 or 15 repeated rotations on an off I brushed off the excess plastic hood shavings and it now fits fine. Then I set it aside likely to never see daylight again.

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  • Some have indicated they thought the padded pleather box was cheesy.
    • Thoughts:
      • <blink> <blink> Set it aside if it offends perhaps? Beats no box at all. I appreciate the effort.

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Pluses:

  • Like the Mitakons before it is is built like an all metal tank with etched and painted markings.
    • After getting this all I need is to prepare for the zombie apocalypse is a K-mount ax handle for the mother of all blunt instrument melee weapons.

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  • Great damping on the focus and (de-clicked) aperture rings.
    • Just enough focus throw and resistance to make fine focusing a breeze.
  • My one concern was wide open, thin DOF focusing, but it was not as difficult as I had feared.
    • Live view focusing with focus peaking is great from the start.
    • Film SLR required viewfinder focusing using the focus screen is a breeze.
    • At first DSLR focusing (focus screen would be a great help) wide open through the viewfinder was a challenge, but with a couple of days practice this became consistently accurate as well.
  • Sharp wide open.
    • Sharpness of some other lenses was suspect wide open at f/1.4, but this lens has great center sharpness at f/1.2.
    • Other than direct sunlight, decreasing vignetting, or wanting to get more than a sliver in focus there is no need to stop this lens down.
  • Great low light performance, pleasing bokeh and just amazing subject isolation.
    • Warning: Medium format adherents look away for a moment.
      • With the K-1 I had already started leaving my medium format film cameras at home, but with this lens I have also marked the Pentax 645Z off of my ‘way too expensive, but I still want it’ virtual wish list.
  • Wonderful colors and rendering.
  • Weighs like depleted uranium.
    • This lens mounted to the K-1 actually has enough heft to occasionally set off the no seatbelt warning light and beeps when on the passenger front seat.
    • Some would mark this as a ding, but I love a good sturdy lens and camera. May be part of the reason I am fascinated with medium format cameras.
  • Has nothing to do with taking a picture, but this lens makes for a gor-jus lens/camera combo film or digital.

So impressed with this lens that I did something I have not done before. Beyond adding a review I added this lens to Pentaxforums.com third party lens database so I could add a review. I am definitely pleased.

Here is my flickr album for this lens (film and digital) and below are a few samples. -ELW

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