Super-fast lenses are also super-expensive, and you may wonder if it’s worth investing all that money in a single lens. Perhaps you could get away with a cheaper version, right? Christopher Frost compares two f/0.95 primes to answer your question. In this video, he shoots with an $8,000 Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 “Noct” and an $800 Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 III to show you the difference between the two and help you decide whether or not you should invest in an extremely fast and expensive prime.
It’s hard to imagine that a ten times cheaper lens is equally good as the more expensive version, right? At the moment, the Mitakon lens is even on a discount, so it retails at only $659. But if it’s ten times cheaper, is it ten times worse? Well, not exactly. Christopher tested them both on his Nikon Z7 camera and shared his thoughts in the video.
For starters, both lenses are solid, with metal construction and a smooth focusing ring. They’re also both manual focus only. On the other hand, the Mitakon version has a clear advantage when it comes to size and weight. It’s almost three times lighter than Nikon and roughly two times smaller.
As for the image quality, the difference is huge between the two lenses at f/0.95. While Nikon remains sharp in both the center and the corners, the image taken with the wide-open Mitakon almost “melts,” especially near the corners. At f/1.4, Mitakon starts to catch up on the Nikon in the center, but it’s not there yet in the corners. But it’s not until f/8 that the Mitakon lens can compete with Nikon. And if you ask me, if you buy an f/0.95 lens, you want it to be corner-to-corner sharp way before f/8.
Christopher tests for vignetting and distortion next. At first glance, it seems that the Nikon lens produces more vignetting. However, it just lights the center of the image properly, while Mitakon makes it a bit darker. Despite side-by-side images being taken at the same aperture and ISO, the Nikon lens shots needed a faster shutter speed.
Another advantage of the Nikon lens is that it can get much closer to the subject and produce a sharp image even at the widest aperture. A close-up shot with the Mitakon lens at f/0.95 looks like a smudge. It’s only at f/4 that it offers comparable image quality.
Christopher also compares the bokeh of the two lenses. With f/0.95 lenses, you can’t skip this step, right? Nikon offers classic, neat, cat-eye-shaped bokeh at its widest aperture. Mitakon, on the other hand, produces a bit “messy” bokeh. We can say that it has “character,” and I quite like it because it reminds me of bokeh you get with some vintage lenses. At f/1.4, Mitakon’s bokeh balls get spiky, while Nikon still keeps its round-shaped bokeh balls.
Christopher concludes the video with the good old saying: “You get what you pay for.” The comparison between these two lenses certainly confirms it. However, he adds that Mitakon’s advantage is that it’s actually affordable to “most mortal human beings.” And while it’s not the sharpest lens there is, it will still get you some stunning images, although at smaller apertures.
So, while Nikon certainly has many advantages, would you invest $8,000 in a lens?