The TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 is probably the most anticipated lens by TTArtisan so far, as – at least on paper – it rivals the famous yet unobtainably expensive Leica 50mm 0.95 Noctilux.
And for E-mount users it will be interesting to see if this lens performs better than the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E.
This lens will be reviewed on the 42mp Sony A7rII and the 24mp Leica M10.
Most of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.
- Sample Images
- Specifications / Version History
- Handling / Build Quality
- Flare resistance
- Chromatic aberration
- Focus shift
- Sample Images
- Further Reading
Specifications / Version History
So far this lens only comes in M-mount, but maybe we will also be seeing an E-mount version as was already the case with the TTArtisan 11mm 2.8 fisheye. The 50mm 0.95 reviewed here has the following specifications:
- Diameter: 72 mm
- Field of view: 47° (diagonally)
- Length: 75 mm (+adapter)
- Weight: 700g (+adapter, without hood and caps)
- Filter Diameter: 67 mm
- Number of Aperture Blades: 14 (slightly rounded)
- Elements/Groups: 11/8
- Close Focusing Distance: 0.7 m
- Maximum Magnification: 1:12.4 (measured)
- Mount: Leica-M
You may also have a look at the official page.
The TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 was kindly provided free of charge by TTArtisan for reviewing purpose for a duration of 4 weeks.
The very fast maximum aperture is what sets this lens apart from most of the other 50mm lenses. I don’t want to anticipate the conclusion right at the beginning, but if you don’t want to use this lens at f/0.95 there are definitely smarter options available. I will therefore heavily concentrate on how this lens performs wide open, especially as a portrait lens.
Handling / Build Quality
From the outer apperance this looks very much like a Leica M lens including the famous red dot. Markings are yellow/white (engraved and filled with paint) focus ring has perfect resistance and turns about 120° from the minimum focus distance of 0.7 m to infinity.
The aperture ring has equidistant and very distinct half-stop click stops and feels very tightly assembled.
The lens features a rangefinder coupling which can be adjusted yourself using a small (supplied) screwdriver. Being an owner of an M-mount camera now I cannot stretch enough what a wonderful design decision this is: the lens can easily be adjusted to be perfectly calibrated to your rangefinder camera and give best possible results without sending it in. I wish every M-mount lens would offer this.
Nevertheless, I would not recommend to rely on the rangefinder when using this lens at wider apertures, the depth of field is too shallow to consistently get decent results.
Leica knows this, so this is what the M10 manual says about accuracy with fast lenses.
There is no hood included in the package, which did surprise me a bit, as all the other TTArtisan lenses shipped with one.
Wide open there is strong light falloff of roughly 3.7 EV in the extreme corners, stopped down to f/1.4 this improves to 3.0 EV, stopped down to f/2.8 it is 2.8 EV and further improves to 2.5 EV at f/8.0.
At wider apertures these values are comparable to the dreadful Zenitar 50mm 0.95 E and about 1.5 EV worse compared to the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E-mount lenses.
Stopped down the extreme corners remain pretty dark, which can be quite obvious in real world shots:
This may be due to the difficulty of making an f/0.95 lens for the small M-mount bayonet, but it may also be the case that the image circle of this lens is slightly too small.
Very fast yet compact lenses usually show a significant amount of optical vignetting. Without going too much into technical details optical vignetting leads to the truncation of light circles towards the borders of the frame.
In the center of the frame almost every lens will render a perfect circle, but only lenses with very low optical vignetting will keep this shape in the corners.
So in the following comparison we move from the center (left) to the extreme corner (right) and see how the shape of the light circle changes.
For comparison’s sake I included the Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 II here. Despite the significantly smaller rear lens diameter interestingly the amount of optical vignetting is very much comparable to the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 and there is also none of that strange light spill.
But you also see some onion ring patterns and the mostly straight aperture blades stopped down.
This comparison was done at 0.7 m focus distance, you may get slightly different results at other distances.
infinity (42mp Sony A7rII)
In the center the resolution at infinity is quite okay at f/0.95, but we can clearly see some glow (spherical aberration) and also a small amout of purple fringing. Midframe and corners are nothing to write home about.
The center gets better fast as you stop down and shows good resolution figures at f/1.4 and really good ones with high contrast at f/2.0.
Midframe and corners never look really great on the Sony sensor though, so we will check if there are differences when using the lens on a Leica M10.
By comparison the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 III designed for E-mount shows similarly bad corners but the midframe looks quite a bit better from f/2.0 onwards.
infinity (24mp Leica M10)
Center and corners look very similar to what we have seen on the E-mount camera, the midframe looks about 2 stops better though (meaning f/2.0 on M10 looks comparable to f/4.0 on Sony A7rII).
The TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 is not a great choice for stopped down landscape shooting but I do not think anyone expected it to be.
So let us have a look how it performs at the more important portrait distances.
For portraiture it isn’t so important how flat the field is, it is more interesting to see what the sharpness is like when focused at different parts of the frame to take field curvature out of the equation.
We will be looking at 100% crops from the 24mp Sony A7III and the Leica M10. Both cameras do not have an anti aliasing filter in front of the sensor.
2.1m distance (24mp Sony A7III vs 24mp Leica M10)
Sony A7III <—> Leica M10
At a focus distance of 2.1 m we see some noticeable differences when using the lens on a Leica camera or a Sony camera with its thicker filter stack. On the Leica camera we see pretty decent performance even in the outer midframe while the Sony pictures look rather blurry. This also matches my findings in the field.
1.4m distance (24mp Sony A7III vs 24mp Leica M10)
Sony A7III <—> Leica M10
Now at a focus distance of 1.4 m the situation is a different one, here the Sony pictures look slightly better than the M10 pictures.
Keep in mind though that it is harder to properly focus on the Leica M10 so focus accuracy with the Leica camera may also account for some of the differences here.
close (0.70 m, 1:12.4)
100% crops from center, A7rII, because of focus shift (see corresponding section) I refocused for every shot.
Similar to many other (especially fast) lenses without a floating elements design the performance wide open at the minimum focus distance ain’t that great (unless you are after a dreamy look).
Stopping down yields steady improvements and by f/2.0 the performance is good to very good.
The Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E lenses really struggled here and the Zenitar 50mm 0.95 E set a new negative record so I was very curious to see how the TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 fares.
Also here when shooting backlit scenes at f/0.95 you will catch all kinds of veiling flare and ghosts.
Same holds true with the sun close to a corner of the frame.
When stopping the lens down you can still catch all kinds of ghosts and also some rainbow artifacts with the sun close to the corner of the frame:
The lens seems to deal with point light sources at night a bit better than the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E though and also seems to have significantly less issues with internal reflections.
Wide open there is noticeable coma visible. Stopping down to f/2.8 improves the performance significantly, but as we have seen in the sharpness section the corners never look great.
Also note that I focused on the corners for these shots, if you focus on the center the corners will look slightly worse.
This is not a lens I would recommend for astrophotography.
100% crops from extreme corner, focused on corner, A7rII
Here you can see what it looks like when taking a picture of a cityscape at f/0.95:
The TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 shows pincushion distortion with a wavy sub frequency. To correct this we would need a lens specific profile which is not available (yet).
For most portrait applications this will not be a problem though.
When looking for an f/0.95 lens the bokeh rendering will most likely be the most important aspect to you, it most certainly is for me.
It is obvious that there are slower lenses that offer higher resolution, contrast and generally better correction of optical aberrations.
Still, for some a very nice bokeh rendering can easily make up for shortcomings in these areas, so let us have a closer look what the TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 has in store for us.
Close to the minimum focus distance we have butterly smooth bokeh, but as we have already seen in the sharpness close section the lens is not exactly bitingly sharp at these distances and obviously the depth of field is thin as paper.
At half body portrait distance (roughly 1.2 to 1.5 m focus distance) the lens generally worked best for me, as it seems to be optimized for these distances. So sharpness and contrast are good enough, bokeh is smooth and undistracting.
With the performance at full body portrait distance (rougly 3.0 m) I had my issues though. Many optical aberrations (especially coma and astigmatism) seem to be more pronounced here and also the background bokeh can be distracting at times.
The lens design also incorporates a big aspherical element. These can lead to quite noticeable onion ring structures in highlights, as is also the case here:
I think the TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 is the first lens with 14 aperture blades that I have reviewed. At f/1.1 the diaphragm opening stays mostly round whereas it gets more edgy as you stop down further.
The sunstars are not as pronounced as they are on lenses with 10 or 12 straight blades but they are well defined (rays have even length and distance) and unobstrusive.
If you want to know more about sunstar rendering of different lenses have a look at this article.
50% crops from center, A7rII
100% crops from border, A7rII
There are minor lateral CA visible that are easily corrected either in camera (for Jpegs) or in a raw developer like Lightroom by one click.
In close up scenarios there is green behind and magenta in front of the focal plane visible, but this aberration is masked by spherical aberration a bit when shooting at wider apertures here. It takes stopping down to f/2.8 to mostly get rid of this aberration (see focus shift section).
As is usually the case with lenses this fast purple fringing is quite pronounced:
Leica M10 | TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95
In extreme scenes like the one below you can easily spot longidutinal CA, but without having done a direct comparison it seems to me loCA are slightly better corrected than on the Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E III.
50% crops, A7rII
With some lenses when stopping down the plane of optimal focus shifts to the back or the front. Here the focus shift is minimal and should hardly be an issue in the field, good news for M-mount users.
I will only cover the really obvious alternatives in detail here, but if you ended up here by accident and you are looking for a slower 50mm lens or even an AF lens may have a look at our Guide to 50mm lenses for Sony E-mount.
Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 E II and III:
At half body distance it seems to me the Zhong Yi lenses and this TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 perform very similar.
If you focus on something farther the Zhong Yi lenses are slightly sharper and the bokeh also renders a bit smoother.
The TTArtisan offers slightly better (still not great) flare resistance and the build quality inspires more confidence.
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Zenitar 50mm 0.95 E:
Still holds the crown of being the worst lens reviewed by us. Stay away from this one.
Voigtlander 50mm 1.2 Nokton E:
If you are not after that f/0.95 maximum aperture this Voigtlander is a better lens in many ways (e.g. sharpness, contrast, flare resistance) and way more portable.
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Leica Noctilux-M 50mm 0.95:
I have never used this lens personally, mainly due to it being roughly 12 grand. I have seen some comparisons online between this Leica lens and the TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 though, where the TTArtisan looked indeed better. I would still expect the Leica lens to do better in certain scenarios but I cannot compare these lenses personally due to reasons mentioned above.
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SLRmagic 50mm 0.95 Hyperprime:
It seems this has only been manufacturerd for a short time and I don’t know much about it. There is a test at opticallimits that might give you an idea.
7Artisans 50mm 1.1:
This is a very different lens as it is not optimized to give smooth bokeh at maximum aperture but rather nervous bokeh with lots of field curvature. Does not fit my taste, but maybe the cheapest option to get a new very fast 50mm lens.
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As a Sony user:
By now I have tried/reviewed no less than 5 different 50mm 0.95 lenses. What has been clear so far: it is not easy to design a lens with these parameters, especially if the dimensions are ought to stay within reasonable limits.
It seems to be even more difficult to design lenses like this for the Leica-M bayonet, due to the comparably small opening which is in part blocked by the rangefinder coupling.
Nevertheless the people at TTArtisan decided to design such a lens.
The obvious question to Sony users is: how does the TTArtisan 50mm 0.95 compare to the slightly cheaper Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 III?
At half-body portrait distance the differences are not that big. But if you focus on something farther away the Zhong Yi pulls ahead when it comes to sharpness and bokeh.
In exchange for that the TTArtisan lens features much nicer build quality (including click stops on the aperture ring) and slightly better flare resistance as well as correction of longitudinal CA.
As E-mount user I lean a bit towards the Zhong Yi lens here but both lenses have their flaws you should be aware of.
I of all people know the appeal of owning an f/0.95 lens, but if you do not intend to use that aperture all the time you might want to consider a slower alternative, especially the Voigtlander 50mm 1.2 E.
As a Leica user:
Well, there aren’t that many f/0.95 alternatives for M-mount available. If you can afford the Leica Noctilux 50mm 0.95 I wonder why you would be reading this, so I will assume you cannot afford to spend 12 grand on that Leica lens, which by the way is also true for me.
In the end we are in a similar situation here as we were with the TTArtisan 21mm 1.5. At this price point there is no alternative with the same specs available, but there are clearly some compromises you should be aware of, which I tried to outline in this review.
For those that can live without having an f/0.95 lens the Voigtlander VM 50mm 1.2 might be the more compelling option here, too.
Most of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.
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