The Angenieux M1 25mm/f0.95 is legendary, it’s used by NASA for first high-resolution photographs of the Moon by Ranger 7.
( First of all, don’t judge the photos’ IQ. It’s some Lo-fi lightroom preset I like, that clips the black and gives more noise than it originally is.)
Being a “lazy” photographer. I always want my gears to fit into my pocket without carry a bag and being stealth-able. This way i can make photography an everyday habbit.
There are great pocketable cameras like the Ricoh GR or Lomography L-CA+ or even the iphone. However all these pocketable gems have one missing puzzle: they are all 30-ish mm (35mm eqv.) or wider and at most f2.8. Not the best for portraits nor very low-light.
In search of my pocketable-lowlight-portrait solution, I find this Panasonic ultra-tony M43 camera: Lumix GM1. This camera is so tiny and lovely and online reviewers said the IQ is on Par with GX7 and better than GH3. Great, but what lens should i choose? two suitable candidates are panasonic pancake 20mm/ f1.7 (but still a bit wide) and Olympus 45mm/ 1.8 (great for portriats but the length of this tiny lens already extrude my pocket too much). the new Olympus 25mm /f1.8 is great too but it isn’t available at the time i bought it. They are all plausible but what if I want to go even further? I begin to search the entire big world of vintage lens…
If you haven’t tried research for vintage lens, don’t start 🙂 I mean, it’s addictive and there are sooo many lens out there over the decades and you dont have an organized information hub like dpreview.com to view them all. It’s like an adventure you have to go through user forums, bit and pieces, missing and contradictary information. When you want to buy one, you best friend is ebay but most of them are used and you have to be experience to judge or gamble that the lens is usable. no 100% garentee. and you got to find adaptors which varies in quality and effect on your lens. Also another important search is whether the vintage lens (mostly C-mount) image circle actually covers your sensor and produce acceptably minimal vignetting. Then it’s other handling issues like focus ring too tight, not able to focus at infinity. and sharpness of lens and center-sharpness, quality of bokehs. blah blah blah.
Finally, i lock them to 2 lens to buy: 1) Industar-69, 28mm/f2.8, M-42 mount 2) Angenieux M1 25mm/ f0.95, C-mount
The Industar-69 is a very cheap lens u can get and its probably the thinnest pancake u can get for mounting to M43. f2.8 isn’t fast enough but it’s the most pocketable combo of 50-ish mm eqv i can find on the market (with M43 or bigger sensor)
Then, its the hero of this post: Angenieux M1 25mm/ f0.95. It’s the tiniest f0.95 lens exists! it looks cool. and the center sharpness is acceptable. You can probably find a couple of online reviews about this lens.
Finally got it on my GM1, how does it working for me?
Well it actually works exactly like i planned to. pocketable, f/0.95, 50mm eqv, manual exposure and focus. like the photos you saw. However, there are some shortcomings i didn’t anticipate though and that make my shooting experience not as pleasurable as with e.g. a GR. Firstly, as expected, the depth of field of 0.95 is soo narraow, bokeh size should be equivalent to f/1.8 of full frame, which make sense but in such a small LCD and without EVF, focus its a challenge.
Secondly, not sure if it’s only me, the focus ring of the Angenieux is really tight, plus this small form factor, my left hand can’t really grip and adjust the focus like we would do usually. i will have to put my palm sideway in order to adjust the force. Weird handling.
This is my only way to hold it due to its tiny size with tight focus-ring
And then it’s again the manual focus, unlike a more serious camera, the GM1 interface is more like an iphone with touch screen. That really isn’t my taste of control. Also about the GM1 is its dial and direction buttons. Whenever i turn to turn the dial to adjust shutter speed manually, it’s like a 50% chance i will accidentally pressed the right button, causing the white balance mode to scrumble around and i will have to correct it. This is the most annoying thing about GM1 especially if you do manual mode. I literally have to “train” myself the right amount of force to turn the dial without accidentally trigger the white balance button.
And then its about this lens, wide open at 0.95, it’s too soft for my taste, abberation is really strong … step down to f1.4? still a bit soft but acceptable in my opinion and center sharpness is not bad. If you step it down to f2.0, it will be sharp enough for average people i guess. So i basically play around from f2.0 to f0.95, with my default position at f1.4. Vignetting is also strong, marginally acceptable for me and i read some reviewers that they cannot accept it. Of course, I also read a few reviews that they are happy with its softness that is the characteristic “dreamy” character of this lens.
Lastly, the C-mount adaptor. My first adaptor make me failed to focus at infinity, and it’s my second adaptor that fix this. It’s something about
the distance the adaptor position the lens to the sensor.
An almost complete dark alley, the f0.95 with ISO 3200 pull the light out!
Is it a sucessful attempt for this Night Owl in pocket? you will be the judge. for me, it makes some impossible photos possible with its form factor and fast aperture. however, in terms of handling, I still struggle.