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.
Looks very good… Sounds like a lot of fun to use. Gonna keep my eyes on the photos you take with this lens, because I am looking for a fun, tiny 35 1.8 to use on my Canon EOS R.
Can attest, there really is something about Canon pictures. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think it most likely has to do with the colour rendering… Wish I could figure out what it was, but it just looks very pleasant – a special rendering…
I guess it could simply be the different sensor. One is used to seeing Sony sensor pictures, and when one looks at a Canon picture it just looks different. Perhaps different doesn’t mean better? Maybe what’s attractive about Canon photos are simply that – they are different. Very difficult to reason lol, especially for someone who is deliberating between Canon and Nikon as a system to invest in.
I really have loved your Nikon Z photos, that 50 1.8 is absurd when it comes to price/weight/size/value/image quality. Truly a persuasive reason to buy into the system…
But then, I’m not a big fan of the 35 1.8. Still waiting for your opinion on that lens.
Thanks again for a great read Alik. Hope you’re happy and doing well. Take care
I’m still waiting to buy that 35mm and the new 85mm Nikon lens, but since the Yen just gained a ton in value this last week it makes it more expensive to buy stuff here with my US dollars. I never really transferred money over which I’m now regretting. I’ll probably do some gear swap though. I have some old gear I need to trade in so I should be able to buy a lens or two without doing a currency exchange.
hahahahaha the feelings of being a gear whore. I know it too well…
The 85mm looks incredible…
Yes, well I also run this blog, and most of the big blogs are ignoring Nikon right now so exploring Nikon gear is an opportunity for me right now since there isn’t a lot of competition.
I tried posting earlier but don’t see my submission. So, apologies if this pops up twice in your comments. Fun teaser of a posting. So, I’m very intrigued by this len’s ‘look.’ Will look forward to your full review. I am wanting to get a FF mirrorless, but have been hemming and hawing on which brand to go with. I have a # of Canon lenses i like. I bought the EOS R, but found the interface so friggen’ UN-necessarily IN-direct, i ended up returning it. Of all the camera companies who i would have thought would ‘get it right’, it would have been Canon. So i’m going to see what this fall’s new model releases bring, and then decide. I’ve held the Nikon Zs and like their feel. But the current limited lens options give me pause.
But on to your photos’ presets. I like the look of the images. But they seem a good bit of a shift from conventional Canon. Having shot with Canon a good bit (FF and crop), seems you are either moving your black point a good ways to the left to darken up those shadow areas. Am i correct? And you are muting the colors a bit but then pulling some back up? Craig
Yes, these are my presets. They work a little different for each system, but still there is a base sort of RAW look the Canon has, like they are better at blending highlights or something, I haven’t been able to put my figure on it but it even comes through on my presets.
Sometimes I pull up the blacks, sometimes I don’t. Depends on the shot. Like if there are lot of little details that I feel are distracting on the deep shadows I’ll lift to kill them with the curves. I do that manually.
When I’m doing landscapes, I often apply like a color layer that’s screened at like 10%, and some Orton effect, and this lifts the shadows naturally.
As far as FF mirrorless brands. I feel the same as you do about the EOS R. It’s a little cumbersome having to conform to Canon’s way of doing things. I’m personally currently leaning towards Nikon. But it’s too early to tell where each brand is going. Canon is doing the super fast zoom lens which isn’t something I need. Nikon is doing great f1.8 lenses and the classic f2.8 and f4 zoom lenses which is more my speed. So I’m sort of waiting to see what system I buy my landscape for lenses for. I would like to stay Canon since I have so many EF lenses already. But we’ll see.
Alik, This is a digression, but humor me while i throw it out there… Let’s focus on image output. For me, where my FF canon really excels over smaller sensor cameras, is with the subtleties of tones, shades and colors they can produce over APSC, 4/3 or smaller. I know the dynamic range of my canon sucks. That’s the biggest reason i’m shopping for something else, as i do a lot of landscape. (But even with street photography, that draw back comes up often). But those many more gentle subtle hues in a sunset sky or in a landscape…that’s what makes me willing to lug around the bigger lenses and all. Yet, i see all these YouTubers who seem to say the only differences, other than noise and dynamic range, is shallow depth of field advantage of FF. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks, Craig
A lot of things like dynamic range, noise, color depth improve over time with smaller sensors. Today’s APS-C cameras outperform full frame cameras from 5 years ago here. So you can only really credit the optical phenomena as the difference that will always be consistent over time.
I think the best way to look at the optics is to consider that the little optical weirdnesses that happen, circle of confusion, diffraction, focus falloff, tonal depth, micro-contrast, all these little characteristics that are optical at their core get scales more with smaller sensors when the images are blown up into normal viewing sizes, even though they have the same number of megapixels. You’re taking something projected on a small sensor vs something projected on a larger sensor.
For example a flaw, like a piece of dust will be projected onto the sensor at the same size no matter what sensor is behind it if it came from the same spot on the same lens. But if that sensor is the size of a postage stamp, even though it has 24MP, that projection will take up 10% of the image (it’s a massive piece of dust) where as on a full frame sensor that project will take up 2% of the image. And this shows through when blowing up those smaller systems to match the same viewing size.
With smaller sensors, even though you can match depth of field with shorter faster lenses, you’re still scaling the circle of confusion that is responsible for that rendering. So when just looking at just the digital aspect of the gear, it seems like there is an equivalents, but with smaller sensors, no matter what, you are scaling that analogue signal that was projected on a smaller surface. Plus smaller sensors have a much smaller pixels if you match MP count.
Another way to look at it is, just because a kit is smaller, this doesn’t mean the way photons reflect, refract and diffract changes. With larger gear and larger lenses, you just have more to work with down at the photon level and it comes through with this unspoken quality within the tonal details with the tonal fidelity etc.
Another thing about bokeh I’m noticing.
When looking at the way the bokeh renders, with larger sensor cameras, your position is the same as the smaller sensor with the same field of view but you get to use a longer lens, and longer lenses typically have a different or better quality with the way they render. Sometimes they even need less elements to correct to perfection and they have a gentler angle of incidence. One thing I’ve noticed is that loner lenses usually allow you to have better subject separation with a cleaner rendering when the subject is farther away. A lot of fast APS-C lenses don’t like it when the subject is far away when wide open, with larger longer lenses I find I can work with distance a little better.
Hope that makes sense. There are probably other little things, but that’s everything I’ve discovered.
Yes, this all becomes very clear when shooting a 4×5 large format camera. The bokeh quality is something else.
Coming from the film era, I smile when I see your dust example. What you are explaining is very concrete when you sit there with your retouching inks, with two same size prints, one from 35mm film and another one enlarged from 120 film. The dust specks (which become white marks on prints made with negative film) are four times larger on the print from the full frame camera.
With a large format camera you often didn’t even need to retouch at all when making smaller prints.
Alik and Osynlig, ok, i think i’m tracking with you guys. Thanks for the insights. Craig
Hi Alik, Thank you for the review. Sounds really interesting. I just checked the Yasuhara USA Website. It seems the lens is available for USD 299. Here is the link: https://yasuharausa.com/collections/anthy/products/anthy-35mm-lens
Thanks, didn’t know they updated yet! I’ll update the article.
I do not know about your customer support experience, but I contacted them a couple of times via chat and email since you released the review and never heard back.
Interesting. I usually just talk to the owner or one of their reps in Orange country, but I know they are a very small company just a couple of people I think. I think they only have 3 or 4 lenses out there. They might still be building as a company. That’s often how it is with these small companies with only a few lenses.
Good beginner shots.
😉 Lovely freakin shots bro