Fuji 35mm f/2 WR vs Mitakon 35mm f/0.95

For many photographers, one normal lens is all you need. A normal lens reproduces a field of view that appears natural to the human eye. On Fuji’s APS-C sized sensors, a 35mm focal length is considered normal (it’s 50mm on full-frame and film cameras, though that field of view is technically longer than what is considered normal, thanks Oskar Barnak – creator of the Leica camera). As you probably know by now, there is no shortage of Fuji 35mm lenses to chose from (a simple Amazon search can be overwhelming). As a matter of fact, there are probably more 35mm-ish lens options than any other single focal length!

Fuji 35mm f/2
Bryce confused by all the 35mm choices – Fuji 35mm f/2.0 – Fuji X-T3

So how does one settle on a Fuji 35mm lens?

Just as with most things in life, the choice boils down to personal preferences. For my particular situation, I would consider the following for a 35mm APS-C lens (in no particular order): size, maximum aperture, weight, price, ruggedness, weather sealing, bokeh, IQ, autofocus vs manual focus.

Your list might be different but you will still be balancing and juggling with each point. The order of priorities you end up with will help narrow down your choices. You can get a cheap 7artisans 35mm f/1.2 (Amazon), an even cheaper Neewer 35mm f/1.2 (Amazon) or a ridiculously cheap Meike 35mm f/1.7 (Amazon), all full of  defects  character and be happy for the rest of your shooting experience. Or you can invest in the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon) for surgical sharpness. In my case I ended up with the two lenses that are featured in this article: the Mitakon Speedmaster 35mm f/0.95 Mark II (Amazon) and the Fuji 35mm f/2 WR (Amazon).

My Mitakon 35mm f/0.95

Why the Mitakon?

With the above values in mind, you might wonder why I would even bother with the Mitakon in the first place. It is much larger than the Fuji 35mm, significantly heavier, not as sharp, not weather resistant, more expensive and doesn’t even autofocus. The truth is that I had purchased the Fujifilm X-E3 (Amazon) with its great 18-55mm kit lens (Amazon) and adding the Speedmaster to that combo at the time just made sense:

  • Weather resistance wasn’t important at all since the X-E3 isn’t weather sealed.
  • I had been shooting mostly manual lenses on the Sony A7rII and another manual lens fit perfectly with the rangefinder.
  • I was afraid of missing the full-frame shallow depth of field after moving away from Sony.
  • The X-E3 is small and light enough that the size and weight of the Mitakon wasn’t as much of a concern.
Tomato and mayo-brûlée tartelette – Mitakon 35m f/0.95 – Fuji X-E3

Now that the X-T3 is a new part of my equation, the order and balance changed. Here is what this list might look like, at least from my perspective:

On Fujifilm X-E3On Fujifilm X-T3
ApertureSize
BokehWeight
SizeRuggedness / Weather sealing
WeightAperture
IQBokeh
PriceIQ
Autofocus / Manual focusPrice
Ruggedness / Weather sealingAutofocus / Manual focus
Amazon:
Amazon:

Let’s take a closer look at both lenses.


The Fuji 35mm f/2.0 WR

The Fuji 35mm f/2 is part of Fujifilm’s X-series collection of rugged compact primes: the 23mm f/2 (Amazon), the 50mm f/2 (Amazon) and the upcoming 16mm f/2.8. These three or four lenses could arguably be all you ever need to create an amazing photographic portfolio. They are all very small, light, weather resistant and tack sharp (though it’s reported that the 23mm is slightly softer at close range).

Justin – Fuji 35mm f/2.0 – Fuji X-T3

Image quality and personality

Honestly, there isn’t too much to say when it comes to the IQ of the Fuji 35mm since it’s so good. Images are sharp and contrasty across the frame at every setting (though yes, very close focus can get a teeny bit softer). The lens doesn’t have any visible vignetting and keeps distortions under control. Bokeh melts away smoothly thanks to nine aperture blades.

As for style and personality, it is just not as unique as the Mitakon. This Fuji 35mm is more of a precision drafter than an abstract painter.

Alice happy to pose – Fuji 35mm f/2.0 – Fuji X-T3

Ease of use

Combined with the X-T3’s excellent autofocus capabilities, the Fuji 35mm is a pleasure to use. It focuses quickly and precisely. It locks on to your subject’s eye and doesn’t let go (as long as your camera allows this to happen). The aperture ring is easy to find and use without looking for it. The lens focuses relatively closely though it seems to lose a little sharpness at macro distances. Speaking of macro, the Fuji 35mm is fully compatible with the Fujifilm extension tubes (Amazon: 11mm and 16mm) and allows for more than 1:2 magnification ratio.

Close focus – Fuji 35mm f/2.0 – Fuji X-T3

Build quality

Just as with IQ, there isn’t much to complain about when looking at the build quality. Fujifilm made this lens to be rugged and weather proof, it feels precise and solid.


The Mitakon Speedmaster 35mm f/0.95

On the other end of the photographic spectrum, we have the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95. Many consider this lens to be a must-have on the Fuji-X system. I would have to agree. Mitakon appropriately named this lens “Speedmaster” as it is one of the fastest lenses you can get for APS-C sensor cameras (save for the Ibelux 40mm f/0.85 – Amazon).

Little stroll in the sun – Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 – Fuji X-T3

Image quality and personality

With a wide open aperture of f/0.95, the lens combines razor thin depth of field with sharpness where it matters (center of the image), buttery smooth bokeh and light gathering capabilities that would rival any blackhole in this galaxy. This makes the Mitakon an excellent performer for extremely low light situations and portraiture.

This lens is interesting as it challenges what most value in a prime. In the lab, the Mitakon is probably one of the worst performers especially when compared to similarly priced primes. Corner sharpness is mediocre, especially wide open, coma is out of control, vignetting is intense and it flares like a J.J. Abrams Star Trek Movie. But that’s exactly what gives this lens an amazing personality! The images you will create using this hunk of metal and glass will be full of irresistible character.

Flares all over – Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 – Fuji X-T3

Ease of use

The Mitakon is, however, quite hard to use! The point of this lens is to shoot it wide open and as close to your subject as possible to accentuate bokeh. Its massive aperture makes it a real challenge to shoot, especially with moving subjects. The lens, of course, doesn’t autofocus nor does it communicate with the camera. Focus peaking helps but takes time. You usually have to zoom in to check if you’re in focus, zoom out to check the framing and finally hit the shutter. By that time, there’s a good chance you or your subject moved enough to be out of focus. This makes candid fast paced photography quite challenging and you will be sorting through many out of focus shots. The ones in focus though will be worth the well effort!

It’s much easier to hit the focus when the dog is sitting – Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 – Fuji X-T3

Manual focus isn’t always a disadvantage by the way. The additional time required for you to focus and frame your shot forces you to think about your image. This results in taking fewer but better photos.

I can spin a positive light on many of this lens’ shortcomings, but not all. The aperture ring for example is de-clicked and very easy to inadvertently spin to a different setting (at least on my sample). The de-clicked lens might be a plus for videographers but it isn’t ideal for pure photography. The clicks allow you to set your aperture by feel and keep it in place. With this lens, you have to take your eye off of the viewfinder to double check the aperture you’re shooting at.

Chris and Becky’s sweet vanagon – Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 – Fuji X-T3

Build quality

Despite my issues with the too-easy-to-spin aperture ring and the non-weather sealing, the lens itself looks and feels well-built. The barrel is all metal and the focus is buttery smooth. It’s also heavy as brick! Weight is a byproduct of fast lenses, as they require a lot of glass to correct aberrations. That mass of glass is another reason why this lens is only a manual focus lens by the way. Moving heavy elements with the precision and speed required for accurate focus at f/0.95 isn’t easy and would make the lens significantly larger and incredibly more expensive.


Final thoughts

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m not a lab photographer. If pure sharpness was my photographic goal, I wouldn’t be selling off my Sony A7rII in favor of Fuji’s APS-C offering. Don’t get me wrong, Fuji’s X-series cameras are amazing, but they also can’t quite reach Sony’s full-frame sensor performance. However, it really doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to creating compelling images and I believe Fuji is much more fun to shoot! And in my book, “much more fun” means many more keepers.

Jennifer in her element – Fuji 35mm f/2.0 – Fuji X-T3

So which lens do I prefer?

Well, I like them enough to keep them both. Yes, it’s not a very decisive conclusion, I know. However these two lenses are distinct enough that there is no confusion as to which lens to pack on a day to day basis. I hate carrying extra gear but I have nothing against owning it. The issue with owning too much comes when options are too similar. If I owned the amazing Fuji 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon), it’d be much more difficult for me to pick what to pack. In my case, if there is any chance of weather, long hikes or heavy bags, travel, fast moving subjects or critical sharpness needs, the Fuji 35mm f/2.0 is in my bag. If I have decent weather, more artistic freedom, more time, less gear needed and want a tool to create truly unique images, I pack the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95.

Mushrooms – Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 – Fuji X-T3

If my indecisiveness didn’t help you make a choice, maybe this summary table will:

 Fuji 35mm f/2.0 WRMitakon 35mm f/0.95
Image qualitySharp
Contrasty

Nice bokeh
Decent low light
Sharp only in the middle
Heavy vignette
Excellent bokeh
Amazing low light
Image personalitySurgical and predictableWild and fun
Size / weightSmall and lightMedium and heavy
Ease of usePrecise auto focus
Clicked aperture ring
Hard to focus
De-clicked aperture ring
Build qualityVery well builtWell built though sample dependent
RuggednessWeather sealedNot weather sealed
Price (at the time of writing)$349$499
Amazon

Objectively, the Fuji 35mm is the clear winner on most metrics. However, the balancing act I mentioned at the beginning of this article must be considered. The wild image results of the Mitakon could be much more important to you than weather sealing for example, tipping the balance toward the heavier of the two lenses.

I’ll leave you with a mixture of shots from both lenses, maybe you’ll be able to figure out which is which.

What’s your favorite normal lens by the way? Let us know in the comments below.

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15 Responses

  1. I’ve owned the 35 1.4 for years now. It’s probably my fav lens ever and the one with which I’ve made 70% of my shots. It isn’t perfect, but that little old guy has so so much character and it’s rendering is absolutely gorgeous.

    Two days ago, after reading dozens of articles of it, I’ve ordered the Mitakon. Will get it tomorrow.

    Nice review (and pics here).
    I think people who use Fujis are not looking for perfection but for real images with character. 😉

    1. Right!! And this Mitakon sure is full of character.
      Please share your thoughts and photos with us once you’ve played with it a bit. Would love to know what you think about it compared to the 1.4.

    2. I would love to know to know your thoughts on the Mitakon in comparison to the 1.4 – I sold my Fuji gear and moved to the a7riii and am having serious buyers remorse. Love the IQ, miss the Fuji experience. I am thinking of getting an x-t3 and one 50mm lens, either re-purchasing the 1.4 or trying out this Mitakon. Thanks in advance for any info!

      1. Hey Dennis, interesting to hear that someone has serious buyer’s remorse going from Fuji to a Sony a7rIII! It’s not all about IQ as you mentioned. (nice website by the way)
        As I mentioned above, I don’t have personal experience with the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon) but everyone who owns it seems to be in love with it. If you want an idea of what the Mitakon would look like, you have some options. Unfortunately, I think the official Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 for Sony was discontinued though it seems that some people sell it on Amazon. You’d get the same frame, but even more character than on the Fuji since it’s the same aperture but on a larger sensor. I owned this lens and while it was fun to play with, it was just too large and I preferred putting a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 (Amazon) on a Voigtländer close-focus adapter (Amazon) on the Sony. That was my favorite combo when I shot on my Sony a7rII and I do miss it some. You can also get an idea of the “character” by trying a SLR Magic 50mm f/1.1 lens (Amazon). I’ve also used those on my Sony and they were fun and full of “character” (aka image defects). In my experience, the Mitakon had much better quality than the SLR Magic. I have not tried the Kamalan 50mm f/1.1 (Amazon) but if reviews are the believed, it might also be worth putting on the Sony with an M-mount adapter. I believe this lens is better than the SLR magic but I don’t know how it would compare to the Mitakon.
        While I don’t have first hand experience with the Fuji 1.4, I can tell from your comment that you value user experience over IQ. If you enjoy the process of manual focusing, then the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 (Amazon) is a no brainer against the Fuji 1.4. However if manual focus is a pain for your shooting style, then user experience would suffer regardless of image IQ and the Fuji 1.4 wins the race. Honestly, if you get an X-T3 (Amazon), which is what I shoot, you can’t go wrong with the Mitakon. I’ll tell honestly, I hate having several lenses that cover the same focal length but I can’t get rid of either the Mitakon or the Fujifilm 35mm f/2 WR (Amazon). The f/2 is my workhorse lens and fits almost all the checkboxes of a perfect lens for the X-T3, notably size, weather resistance and image quality. It’s surgical though and doesn’t have the character of the Mitakon. I shoot both way more evenly then I ever thought I would. If I know I have time and the weather’s nice, the Mitakon is on the camera. If it’s nasty out, or I need autofocus or lab-like results, the f/2 is on the X-T3. It works way better than I ever thought it would! I’m not sure if all this helps you or makes it more confusing. Bottom line is this I guess:
        – Character: Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 > Fuji 35mm f/1.4 > Fuji 35mm f/2 WR
        – IQ: f/2 > f/1.4 > f/0.95
        – Features: f/2 > f/1.4 > f/0.95
        – Usability: f/2 > f/1.4 > f/0.95
        – Size/weight: f/2 > f/1.4 > f/0.95
        – Cost: f/2 > f/0.95 > f/1.4
        – Subjectively fun: f/0.95 > f/1.4 > f/2

  2. …”but they also can’t quite reach Sony’s full-frame sensor performance”

    Yep, they cant reach the performance of a FF in terms of DoF or low light noise, but in anything else i really hated my ex A7ii, even with native Sony/Zeiss lenses on it, never seen any of that FF advantages, not even the DRange, i think any first gen X-trans sensor is better in color rendition…

    From Fuji to Sony…finally sold the Sony, back to Fuji again…i would pay for more lenses like this Mitakon, or a newer faster fujinon, an f1 is on its way…

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I own a few 7Artisans lenses, use them on my PEN E-PL9. Once the front pops out at focusing, the front wiggles left/right like a tilt lens. Not good. Other than that, their optical performance is beyond reproach. Worth double the bucks.

  4. Great review! I agree with this article and went the same way. I had a chance to buy all three 35’s from the same seller. I tried and tested all of them until I came to a conclusion that the f2 and 0.95 were quite different to warrant having both. However, I ended up selling the f2 after a while though as I do have other Fujicrons in my arsenal and the f2 just simply didn’t get much use as I much rather prefer using the Mitakon in this particular focal length. Plus, the 23mm f2 is a great lens despite its quirks.

    1. Thanks and thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve actually wondered about these two lenses in the same way you have, preferring the Mitakon over the Fujicron. But I’ve had enough instances where the Fuji came in handy that I still have it. I have wondered about that 23mm though, read mixed things about it. Good to hear someone really likes it!

  5. Hi Guillaume –

    Nice article, thanks. A rather old page by now of course…

    I followed a link out of curiosity regarding this Mitakon. And the new Fujifilm 50 f/1.0 has reached testers, examples I’ve seen are beautiful. But it’s ~$US 1,500 and not an ideal focal length for me. As an ‘old timer’, Fujifilm’s retro style is like catnip.

    I keep two systems, based around a Fujifilm X-T20 for portability and fun, and a Sony a7RIII for detail in landscapes. And I do have a Fujinon 35mm f/2.0 WR, but my most used lens on that camera remains the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens.

    Why? Because it’s a terrific lens! I mostly use it around 22mm, but the flexibility and snappy focus never hurts. I know there is a faster and popular 23mm prime. But I have a manual Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 for the wide end, a truly fine lens to the corners @ f2.8. A least my copy is. ; )

    Regards, Colin

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Colin!
      I had that 18-55mm (it came with X-E3 kit I had purchased a while back) and it was indeed a nice lens. I wonder if you’d have the Mitakon on your X-T20 a little more if you tried a copy. I’m thinking your Fuji 35mm f/2 is just not “different” enough from your 18-55mm to warrant using it much. The Mitakon would be a different story altogether.
      To me, the 50mm f/1.0 is an amazing feat that completely misses the point of why I chose Fujifilm as a system, “I” being the key element here. I picked Fujifilm because they are able to deliver IQ in a small, versatile, ergonomic (think dials) and sturdy package. The images I’ve seen from the 50mm f/1.0 are great but I would probably never carry it when I go out. Plenty of other photographers wouldn’t have a problem with that though.
      Good to hear you have good experience with the Rokinon lens too, I had a 12mm that was great as well.
      Lastly I find it interesting that you mention “rather old page by now.” One of the most depressing elements about photography nowadays is the relative out-of-date status of the equipment. Quickly after a body hits the market, it becomes out of date. That’s the nature of our market of course but it’s a weird chase-for-the-best that we get in as consumers. A camera body that came out a couple years ago will blow out of the water any IQ from anything that someone has used for years, however their potential is rarely reached by most photographers. People will purchase the very latest at a premium when buying a used body that’s a generation or two older will still be a massive upgrade to what they already have. It’s weird and it seems that lenses have been able to not fall into that category too much. They tend to be relatively timeless but with our explosion of megapixels, some are falling back. The Fujicron 35mm f/2 and the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 are still plenty relevant today and will be for years to come. I hope my article will be as well 🙂

  6. Hello, I’ve moved from 6d to fuji recently for a more compact system that suits me. I got the fuji 35 1.4 and I’m quite disappointed with af, the eye or face focus doesn’t give good results in slow-moving subjects, even while steady. The AF C is not reliable with the 35 1.4 and the xt4, which make me unhappy, so I’m considering very much the mitakon, the images are always fantastic wide open. But as an amateur photographer, is it important ? maybe I should give more space to handle the fuji, or should I go full manual with the mitakon and get happy with the images ?

    1. Hey Vincent, welcome to the Fuji world.
      You ask a great, but VERY tough question I think. You’re also asking the right questions.
      I have never personally used the 35mm f1.4 but have read many people me opinions saying it’s one of Fuji’s best. However it is getting a little old and it’s AF performance (or lack there of) is well documented. The X-T4 helps but I think Fuji has always lagged a little behind the big dogs in always hitting focus. If you can live with it and know the limitations, I’m sure it can be a fantastic lens. But not everyone is happy with its performances, as you state.
      The Mitakon produces incredible and creative results. It’s image quality isn’t as good as the 1.4 on paper, but it has more character. That being said, it’s all manual and you will get WAAAAY fewer shots where you nail the focus then even with the 1.4. As soon as your subject moves, you’re likely to have missed the focus. It’s very hard to shoot wide open when focus is critical. When you nail that focus though, the results are lovely!
      It all comes down to what you can live with, especially as an amateur. As a pro, it could be an easier choice: if the 1.4 doesn’t hit focus enough, you have to find another solution since it’s your bread maker. Knowing what your gear can and cannot do is critical. I always know that the Mitakon is gonna be tough to use so I’m never disappointed with its performance in that regard. If I need AF, I carry the f/2 lens that I have. If I really want to do portraits, I don’t really use a 35mm as I think it’s too short and switch to my Viltrox 85mm. That being said, if I were to do portraits with a 35mm, the Mitakon would be my choice.
      I hope this helps!

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