Good thing they decided on Freewalker rather than Streetwalker
The Mitakon (Zhongyi) 24mm f1.7 lens is made by a Chinese company ZY Optics, which was founded in 1984. Already producing a range of fast aperture lenses for Sony, Nikon, Pentax and Canon, at Photokina earlier this year they announced new 24mm f1.7 and 42.5mm f1.2 lenses for micro 4/3 and Fuji X mounts.
I already have a fantastic 23mm Fujinon lens on my X100s and though I have borrowed, used and lusted after the Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 for my X-T1 it costs nearly NZ$1400 and I really can’t justify that when I have the X100s. So when I saw the Mitakon 24mm in Fuji X mount for an introductory price of less then NZ$400 I decided that it was worth a try. Having pre-ordered on the ZY Optics website it was simply a matter of waiting.
I wish I could show the unboxing experience:
However the lens arrived in a padded envelope and comes with a soft material lens bag with a plastic clip for attaching to your belt or camera bag (I don’t think so…).
From the ZY Optics site:
Zhongyi Mitakon 24mm f/1.7 Lens
Lens type Manual lens
Max Format size APS-C
Focal length 24 mm
Lens mount Sony E / M43 / Fuji X
Maximum aperture F1.7
Minimum aperture F22.0
Aperture ring Yes
Number of diaphragm blades 12
Minimum focus 0.15 m
Distance scale Yes
Weight 246 g
Diameter 61.5 mm
Length 55 mm
Colour Black / Silver
Zoom method Rotary
Filter thread 49 mm
The lens body has an all metal construction and a good solid feel. There’s no lens hood and the lens cap is the worst sort of plasticky. The aperture ring is fairly narrow, click less and located close to the mount. The focussing ring is broader and has distance scales in meters and feet and a small depth of field scale. The front of the lens extends on closer focussing but does not rotate.
The red dot on the lens to align the mount with the camera body is small and hard to see. The mount itself though feels good and tight. As you can see from the photo above the distance between the f8 and f22 marks on the lens is virtually nonexistent. This, together with the lack of click stops on the aperture ring mean that setting a precise aperture is pretty difficult.
Of course the lens displays no aperture setting in the camera EVF (or aperture data in the image file metadata), but that’s not too much of a problem with the excellent X-T1 EVF displaying a WYSIWYG image. I have medium sized fingers and found the closeness of the aperture ring to the X-T1 body no real issue – might be different if you have large hands. The aperture ring moves smoothly as does the focus and both have just the right level of resistance, with the aperture ring being about twice as firm as the focus ring.
The distance scale on the lens is usable but the depth of field scale is too small to be much use at a quick glance, which diminishes the lens usefulness as a street photography tool, though not a fatal flaw.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the feel of the lens in practical use, the solidity and manual approach are a good match for the X-T1, at least as far as I’m concerned.
[All images are OOC jpg’s -Ns or By film simulations- with no post processing]
Colour rendition is very good. No complaints there.
Centre sharpness is good but not great at the widest apertures, needing at least f5.6. Edge sharpness is soft at all apertures but quite acceptable for most uses from f8. There is minor vignetting evident, but again not unacceptable.
The main issue is quite marked barrel distortion, though this could easily be fixed in post processing. The series below, mostly taken at f5.6 to f8 should give an idea of the sharpness and distortion:
Bokeh with the lens wide open are pleasing if nowhere near the Fujinon lenses:
Close focus is one of the surprising strengths of the Mitakon. With a minimum focus distance of just 15cm. I can see myself using this feature quite a lot.
At the price I wasn’t expecting too much but on the whole I’ve been pleasantly surprised. If you already have an X100 series camera or just want a 35mm equivalent lens for occasional use then the Mitakon 24mm is worth your consideration. Otherwise I would have to advise on saving up for the superb Fujinon XF 23mm.
- Solid build
- Good color rendition
- Close focus
- Wide aperture and bokeh
- Excellent ‘feel’ with the X-T1
- Clickless aperture ring
- Hard to read depth of field scale
- Barrel distortion
- Edge softness
All images © Simon Shaw 2014