As someone that loves shooting with small manual lenses on my APS-C Fujifilm system, I’ve been waiting for some nice affordable but compact lenses to come to our full-frame mirrorless systems that weren’t junk.
It seems like there is a void of good affordable 35mm manual focus lenses for the full-frame mirrorless system.
Voigtlander obviously has some great expensive stuff and Zeiss has a few very expensive lenses as well that are about the right size. But when looking at the cheaper brands like Rokinon, their lenses are often too big and up until recently. Most of their designs have been just DSLR lenses with extension tubes attached, those that aren’t are AF lenses for Sony.
Even the first round of Sigma lenses are just DSLR lenses. It even seems like a lot of the official Sony lenses are just DSLR designs since the rear element always sits at least an inch back from the mount. Very few of their lenses utilize the mirrorless flange distance like we’re seeing with the new Nikon and Canon mirrorless lenses or the Sony and Fujifilm APS-C lenses.
The first brand I thought that made some cool full-frame mirrorless lenses that were priced right was Kipon. They entered the scene about two to three years ago with their IBERIT lenses and they’ve been great and a ton of fun. They have refined their design a few times and now have a great built quality.
While those Kipon lenses are great, the big problem is they are only f2.4 and I’ve been waiting for something a little faster for shooting at night. I have some SLR Magic lenses, and while they’re growing and learning as a brand, their lenses well . . . yeah, I won’t go into it. SLR Magic and Mitakon are the same thing by the way.
Finally, last week something cool happened!
Yasuhara contacted me and they have a new lens that I think is just about what I was looking for. A high-quality small but fast 35mm prime. Perfect timing too because there is nothing else like it.
It’s looking like it could be the hidden gem I was waiting for.
Yasuhara Anthy 35mm f1.8 Coming
The team over at Yasuhara contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to try out a lens they’re working on. Sure, obviously. A Japanese third-party lens company, what could go wrong.
For those that don’t know Yasuhara, they made a cool little macro lens for the APS-C system that was very well received. Like the real deal macro lens with a 5:1 ratio. They also have a fisheye and a few EF lenses out there.
I exchanged a few Facebook messages with a member of their team no more than 20 words, it basically went something like this. “Do you want to review our lens.” I said, “Sure, do you want a public review or just feedback.” “Public.” Me, “Cool, I have an A7rIII, EOSR and Nikon Z 6. Here is my address.”
The lens arrived and a bunch of bubble wrap and peanuts, a pre-production model #00004.
Build quality felt great the lens looked cool and it made me a little excited. I slapped it on my EOS R with excitement and immediately went out shooting. I knew nothing about this lens, before shooting, not a single spec. This was cool, as a reviewer, I had no idea what I was dealing with so it let me just evaluate what was going on without getting the predetermined idea.
My first thoughts after shooting a few hours with it and the first thing I told my wife was, “oh good, this lens is cool, I don’t have to write a bad review.” This is always the thing right, someone sends you gear to try out, and you just really don’t want it to suck because then you have to waste your time reviewing something that you wouldn’t recommend or don’t like using.
Of course, I still don’t know the price, but if it’s in the Kipon price range (which I’m pretty sure it will be, maybe even less expensive), then I could see this being a good buy and it fills a huge void that’s missing in the mirrorless market. A good, fast manual focus 35mm f1.8 lens with great image quality.
While I haven’t gotten into the review yet, I have had a lot of fun shooting with it. It feels good, and that’s important. I assumed it was probably about 7-9 elements based on the way it was rendering. There was some distortion with the biggest flaw being the vignetting which is easy to fix, but nothing stood out as a deal-breaker for a lens this small and overall the lens impressed me.
Last week they sent me the spec sheet and yep, 9 elements.
The images are decently sharp and the contrast is very good. There is just this nice crispness to the images that is rare to see from a lot of third-party brands.
It does produce that slight purple cast to the vignetting in some situations which is a problem I keep seeing with some lenses on the EOS R, like with my Voigtlander 35mm f1.8. Maybe it’s a mirrorless thing or an EOS R thing, but it seems like it has a lot to do with the lighting of the scene since I don’t always see it.
Speaking of the Voigtlander, one reason I like the Anthy lens over the Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 is that the Voigtlander is a Leica M lenses. As beautiful and amazing as it is I don’t have a Leica M camera so I don’t get the same perfect performance since it wasn’t designed for other sensors. Also, one thing I don’t like with the Leica M mount lenses even on Leica camera, is they all have an absolutely terrible minimum focus distance.
My Quest For Good, Small & Fast FF Mirrorless Lenses
The last manual full-frame mirrorless lens I tried out was the Meike 50mm f1.7, and to be honest, it just wasn’t good enough. Something is wrong with that lens and it lacks clarity and just isn’t fun to use. I think it has some sort of internal light scattering thing going on, maybe poor coatings on those inner elements or a bad element composition.
This surprised me since the Meike 35mm f1.7 APS-C lens is so good and fun.
So this is kind of what I was expecting with the Anthy 35, just a ho-hum lens like the full-frame Meike.
But that’s not the case at all, in fact, it behaves a lot more like my Voigtlander 35mm f1.7, one of my all-time favorite lenses. They both use 9 elements in 7 groups, the Anthy uses a 9 blade aperture the Voigtlander uses a 10 and they both have really nice contrast and unique rendering, except, the Anthy lets you get very close which lately I’ve been starting to feel is somewhat of a requirement for a 35mm lens.
I have no idea what this lens will cost, so obviously, that will dictate how I feel about it, but if the price is right this lens could be really cool. Based on how they priced their other lenses, I think it will be very reasonable and I’ll update as soon as I know.
I’ve had a ton of fun shooting with it and the build quality of this pre-production model is solid. It’s not announced officially yet but there will be a Kickstarter soon, I think.
Keep an eye out for that and for my full review which I’m working on now!
In the meantime, the sample images should give you a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with. In all the street shots I didn’t clean up any of the vignetting so you can see how it behaves on the EOS R.
Yasuhara Anthy 35mm f1.8 Sample Photos
A lot of people keep asking me about the EOS R which is the camera I’ve been using the Anthy with, so this post I guess could also be a good testimony to how good the EOS R is in low light. Most people overreact to the age of the Canon sensor. The depth of the colors is just unreal and the low light performance is way better than people give Canon credit for.
I used my presets on all these shots for color, but you can still see there is something special going on here with the colors.
Also, I missed focus quite a bit on these street shots, the focus ring on the Anthy turns in the opposite direction that I’m used to and it always takes me a few days to get used to that, so try to look past that. Nobody is usually hypercritical about perfectly sharp focused images on street shots anyway so all is good.