The lens is very small for a 25mm F0.95 lens. For comparison here it is next to the Panasonic 20mm F1.7. It diameter is quite a bit smaller, but is longer. Note the additional lens hood I attached to the lens. The hood does not come with the lens. Fromother reviews I've seen, it is sensitive to flare, so a hood is essential. It is a generic 43mm vented hood purchased on ebay.
This lens is not compatible with a few Olympus cameras so you should check it fits your camera before buying. The reason is due to the protrusion on the back of the lens. As you can see, it protrude quite far beyond the lens mount.
The handling of the lens is very much like any other manual focus lens I have used. Except the aperture ring is stepless. If you shoot video then you will like it. Since I shoot mainly stills, it is a pain having to check the ring has not moved. The operation of the aperture ring is smooth and requires little effort, which makes it worse. The focus ring is again very smooth and quick to operate but is not as well damped as I like it to be. My old Pentax 135mm Super Takumar lens is a joy to use. The Zhongyi is not in the same class, but still very good. It will also focus down to 25cm, a very useful distance.
|Zhongyi 25mm F0.95 with hood attached to Olympus OM-D EM10|
Here is a photo of London City Hall shoot at dusk using this lens. An unusual use of this lens. Most people will use this wide open. I thought I will try it anyway.
|ISO 100, 2.5s @ F8 shot with Olympus OM-D EM10|
Here are more photos shot using this lens when I spent a day walking and shooting in a damp and cold London. All photos were shot at F0,95 unless otherwise stated.
Here are a couple of photos shot at Convent Garden London at F4 for greater depth of field.
More photos shot at F0.95. Day light started to fad from here, so the ISO started to go up. The combination of 3-axis image stabilisation and F0.95 meant I was able to hand hold shots into the dark night.
What I found using this lens at F0.95 was I can obtain 1/80s shutter speed at ISO1250 in dark London streets at night with only small amount of street light. It is a very good lens considering how much it costs compared to other F0.95 lenses. It is light weight and you hardly know it is there. Overall, I found the lens very easy to use and focus.
The image quality at the centre of the image is very good, even at F0.95. If you stop down, it gets very good. Chromatic aberration is much better than I thought, there is very little of it. Way better than my full frame Sigma 85mm F1.4 or the Canon 85mm F1.8 I used to own. Also significantly better than my Panasonic 20mm F1.7.
I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. That is if you're willing to manual focus or someone who will not view every picture at 100%. Also, if you just want a good 25mm lens, the Olympus 25mm F1.8 or the Panasonic 25mm F1.4 may be better for.you. This lens is for someone who wants to shoot in low light condition without flash. This is a style of photography I do quite a lot and may have found a great lens that suits me very well. Also, you will not get super creamy smooth bokeh. You will need a full frame camera and fast lens for that.
When I have the time, I will shoot some image quality comparison between this lens against the Panasonic 20mm F1.7.
Update: 27th Jan. 2016: I've added some portraits shot with this lens in this blog posting. It is worth while for you portrait shooters out there.