The Kipon IBERIT 50mm f2.4 is a full-frame mirrorless lens designed to function as a lightweight and compact prime. The IBERIT is constructed with an aluminum barrel, a copper core, and stainless steel components. Although the lens isn’t that fast, the 6 elements in 6 groups produce a very beautiful image with a ton of pop and a very classic style of rendering with a lot of great character.
|Focal Length: 50mm equivalent to 75mm on APS-C cameras
Aperture Blade: 6-Blades
Aperture: f2.4 – f16 Half Stop Clicks
Elements: 6 Elements in 6 Groups
Minimum Focus Distance: – 2′ (ILC) – 2.3′ (Leica M)
Focus: Manual | 90-degree Throw
CPU Contacts: No
Construction: All Metal
Filter Threads: 49mm
Pros – Lightweight, overall good image quality, nice contrast, and color, metal construction, nice character, good contrast, nice sun stars
Cons – CA wide open, noticeable vignetting in the corners on full-frame cameras, some distortion
Pro or Con – quite a bit of flare
Kipon IBERIT 50mm f2.4 Review | First Impressions
Those who regularly read my blog probably already know that I’m a pretty big fan of the Kipon lenses. There is this cool quality you get from them that just does exist with so many most modern primes. If you lean into the flaws just a little bit you can produce some really interesting looks that add a lot of character to your photos. It’s another reason why I also like those 7Artisan lenses or retro M42 mount lenses. However, I’ve found these Kipon / Kipon lenses are usually a bit tamer with overall better image quality than a lot of the cheaper third-party lenses out there.
The optical quality with the IBERIT 50mm is nice. I thought the IBERIT 75mm had some cool classic rendering, but the IBERIT 50mm is just as magical. There is something really special about it I can’t put my finger on, I think it’s coming from the great micro-contrast and foreground-to-background separation as you transition into the out-of-focus areas. There is an overall nice pop to the details that you don’t see very often from over-corrected lenses, especially zooms.
However, since lens design is a battle of compromises and this nice classic rendering in a small package does come at a cost, which I’ll get into.
On full-frame bodies, there is some corner vignetting when I mount my Leica M variant. I would be curious to see if the Sony E mount version has any issues or if the Leica Mount has issues with Leica cameras. The Leica mount versions of this lens do produce a greater minimum focus distance so there is likely a difference with the flange distance that could be resulting in that corner vignetting. My advice to anyone ordering Kipon lenses, order them in your camera’s designated mount unless you want to adapt them to different APS-C cameras as I do.
You can order the Leica Mount does future-proof your lens from brand-switching bodies, but it also cost a little bit more money because of the range finder coupling calibration they have to go through.
There is some minor barrel distortion and some chromatic aberrations in high-contrast situations when wide open.
Overall, it’s a pretty nice 50mm lens with a cool retro quality to the render, but there are a million 50mm lenses out there to choose from, especially if you delve into m42 mount lenses or Leica M lenses by Voigtlander, Zeiss, and Leica.
The IBERIT 50mm is fairly compact for a 50mm and is pretty lightweight, which is the primary reason why I always carry it with me.
For the price, you do get a pretty cool lens with an overall nice feel to the build, you’ll just have to look past some of the flaws when shooting wide open or learn to work around them.
IBERIT 50mm f2.4 | Build Quality
With my first copy of this lens, there was some oil on the aperture blades. It would seem the IBERIT 50mm has a tendency to do this. My second copy has been great for the last year, but after running around and abusing it in the hot summer heat of southern Japan, I again have oil on the aperture blades.
This lens has been silently updated a few times since the early models I’ve used, so I would be curious to see if this problem has been remedied.
Keep in mind I do not baby my lenses so I can document how they fail so readers can know how to care for their lenses.
Of the three Kipon lenses I own, the 50mm f2.4 has the best build quality in terms of feel. The aperture ring is smooth and the focus is even smoother. The precision between the two barrels is very nice and the lens all around feels solid while still being lightweight.
The aperture blade feels good, not too dry and it comes in half-stop clicks.
These lenses come in black or silver. I much prefer black to silver. The black has a much nicer matte finish and the silver tends to show more dirt, especially in the focus grooves.
Kipon 50mm f2.4 | Technical Overview
On the technical side, the Kipon 50mm f2.4 is all around just good, it is possible to find better, but you may lose out on some artistic characteristics if that’s what you’re going for.
Pixel peepers will be happy to see a decent performance in the corners and overall really nice sharpness. There are sharper lenses out there, even by Kipon, like the IBELUX 40mm f0.85 is sharper, but this IBERIT really is sharp enough for almost anything including landscape work.
The main technical flaws of this lens would be corner vignetting on full-frame bodies, and chromatic aberrations when wide open with high-contrast details.
Sharpness is not too bad for a classicly designed lens, and not too far off from the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2. It’s just a little softer wide open at f2.4, but at f2.8 it seems pretty comparable to the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2. I need to reshoot these charts on the M11, but will probably order a new lens first since Kipon has updated this lens a few times from what you’re seeing here.
Center sharpness is pretty good. The sweet spot is at f4 and f5.6. Depending on the diffraction characteristics of your camera, the f8 will also look good.
The corner sharpness on a full-frame body is decent. Nothing terrible but nothing amazing either. Corners look best at f5.6 to f8.
On full-frame Sony cameras, there is quite a bit of corner vignetting that can be a little bit of a problem, and stopping down never really gets rid of it. This could be because I am adapting a Leica version. On APS-C cameras, there is very little issue with vignetting.
Very minor distortion. It actually performs better than the Zeiss 50mm f2 in terms of distortion.
Chromatic Aberrations and color fringing is the biggest flaw of this lens. It actually reminds me a bit of the Kamlan 50mm f1.1 in that they both give purple and green CA in high-contrast situations, especially wide open, or in the corners when stopped down to f5.6.
In the above image, you can see some on Kalina’s hair. Stopping down helps get rid of it, but it is something you will have to deal with in high-contrast details and it will require some manual defringing in Lightroom, which could take up to 4 seconds of your time.
You won’t see this in every image, it usually occurs when it’s very bright out or when there is significant edge contrast.
Art & Character
This lens has a lot of character. There is quite a bit of ghosting and flaring that can sort of bloom out.
Bokeh is really pretty even for an f2.4 lens and I actually really like the classic rendering and pop and much prefer it overall to my Industar 50 or any of my Helios lenses. However, you can find those lenses for under $100 so it’s not exactly a great comparison.
Wide open bokeh is very smooth and rich, with a nice smooth transition between what’s in focus and what’s out of focus.
The color and contrast are very good. I’ve been shooting mostly with Sony for this review and I’m finding I don’t have to add contrast to get the images to look nice and the colors always look good. I usually shift around the colors a little to give them more style using Mastin Labs or VSCO, but if you’re shooting Provia with Fujifilm or classic chrome as JPG, you really won’t have to do much.
There are no strange color ring patterns or any noticeable tonal or color shifts throughout the lens when shooting solid colors.
Straight Out Of Camera
Straight out of camera samples with Adobe Camera Raw. I imported them into Adobe to export and resize them for display here. No color or contrast was added.
I’m thinking this lens might be single-coated, possibly intentionally. I’ve noticed there are a few Voigtlander lenses like the 35mm and 40mm Nokton Classics that can be purchased with either a single coating or multi-coating as an option depending on how many flares you like.
That’s the funny thing about lens reviews right? They all act like flaring is a bad thing, but some people want the single-coating look. Keep that in mind when going with Kipon lenses, they are classic by design.
Pointed directly into the sun and this lens is pretty resistant to flaring and ghosting. You don’t really lose your contrast and saturation like with so many of my older 50mm lenses. However, you will get some pretty strange patterns when the sun is off to the side and you never really get those cool circular shapes that some classic 50s produce.
These IBERIT lenses have bayonets for mounting lens hoods, so you may want to pick one up if this type of flaring bothers you. I usually just block out the sun with my hand when I don’t want to flare.
Contrast / Micro-Contrast
Contrast is very good as well as micro contrast. Two completely different things, I know, but they both are very important for black and white photography which is why I group them together here.
Most of the 5-6 element lenses I’ve tested have been outstanding at reproducing great tonal fidelity and this lens is no different. Most of the flaws with this lens completely disappear when shooting black and white and entirely disappear if you’re shooting black and white with an APS-C Fujifilm camera.
The flaring and high apertures (above f8) can neuter a little bit of the tonal fidelity here so that is something you will have to watch out for if you want the crispiest tonal details possible.
Kipon 50mm f2.4 Review | Bottom Line
For full frame or even APS-C shooters looking for a compact manual focus lens with really nice output, all of these Kipons are a lot of fun, just don’t go into them expecting them to match the quality of something like a heavier and more expensive Voigtlander or Leica. I buy the Kipon lenses because I use them as lightweight adventure lenses that I can toss around and beat up on. In other words, they are great for street photography.
Rendering with the 50mm IBERIT is awesome and it is cheap enough in terms of price (especially when on sale), that I wouldn’t get hurt feelings if I broke one. Overall the 50mm is a good bang for the buck for full-frame shooters but I think my favorite IBERIT lenses are still the 35mm f2.4 and 75mm f2.4.
Compared to the cheap Chinese brand lenses, I do usually prefer the Kipon lens to any of my 7Artisans, TTArtisans, or SLR Magic unless I need something faster for shooting at night. But really Kipon lenses are in a totally different class than those 7Artisans and Meike lenses.
Although the Kipon 50mm can’t be considered a very fast lens compared to a lot of the cheaper alternatives, you will see improvements in the overall corner-to-corner sharpness and contrast and it will give you much better rendering when shooting street or black-and-white photography.
There is something really cool about the rendering of this lens, but since it is a full-frame lens, it is going to be a little bit expensive if you’re used to paying APS-C prices.
If you’re a Sony APS-C or FE shooter, you can sometimes snag one of these for $300-$400 when on sale.
Other Lenses To Consider
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 II – This is a much different lens, being more of a portrait 50mm than a classic character lens. The Voigtlander uses an aspherical design and will outperform this lens in sharpness at comparable apertures, but, it just has a totally different rendering and some bokeh that can get very strange and distracting at times.
Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 – Also a nonaspherical design. The Zeiss has been around a long time and has a really nice build quality. Zeiss lenses have a very strong mid-to-shadow contrast, so the Planar will have a very different look. The Zeiss has better CA and flaring control but the worst distortion. I also like the bokeh a little more on the Kipon lens.
Leica Summicron 50mm f2 – I don’t have this lens, but it will be very similar to the Zeiss but with different coatings for a different look.
Kipon 50mm f2.4 Sample Images
I will this review with Leica M11 Sample Images soon.