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Archive 2022 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)

  
 
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


MS-Optics released a new 36mm f1.3 lens last week (official date of release 12/1). I got one from the first lot from MKDirect (it arrived on 12/2) and I've been playing with it on my Sony A7C since last Friday.

These can be ordered from MKDirect or from JCH:
https://www.mkdirect51.com/product-page/apollon1-3-36
https://www.japancamerahunter.com/product/ms-optics-apollon-36mm-1-3-m/

There are black and silver versions available. This one has some nice features for an M-mount lens, such as ability to focus to 0.3m natively (no markings on the lens beyond 0.8m though). The measured weight of my copy is 74g without the hood or caps, and 77g with the hood only. Official weight is 80g including hood & caps. Handling on this lens is pretty good for an MS-Optics lens, e.g. aperture can be controlled by turning the hood (while the hood is on), or from the dedicated aperture dial at the top part of the lens without special tricks. As usual for MS-Optics, aperture is clickless and the aperture ring rotates together with the focus helicoid, and focusing is done with a focusing stick.

I think it's a very nice option for a very small and light walk-around lens and it works quite well adapted on my Sony as well. Can even use it without close-focus adapter since it focuses so close anyway. No idea how much difference there would be on a Leica M body but many MS-Optics lenses work pretty well on Sony sensors and not always better on Leica. Compared to my MS-Optics Apoqualia 35mm f1.3 Slim II, I think this one does better with regards to corner-to-corner sharpness. It still requires around f8 for best infinity corner-to-corner sharpness on my A7C though.

The advertised difference in spec between this and Apoqualia 35/1.3 and 35/1.4 is that both Apoqualia have high contrast but low resolution wide open whereas Apollon has lower / poorer contrast but higher resolution from wide open and contrast improves dramatically when stopping down to f2 and further. Wide open shots have plenty of glow. All 3 lenses are based on Gauss-type optical design.

The lens comes with a small screw-in front cap and typically those are not the most user friendly so I looked for another front cap that can be used at the top of the hood. I found that Pentax Q 40.5mm front cap works perfectly for that purpose with a great fit. E.g. this version:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823862-REG/Pentax_39944_40_5mm_Front_Lens_Cap.html

Some sample shots taken with my A7C (I did some PP on them, e.g. applied my favorite preset on C1 Pro 23):

Low light shoot at Nakano/Tokyo, mostly at f2, and some at f1.3:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/BbnxbVhybEK1bnDp9

Daylight shoot in Nakameguro, mostly at f8, f2, f1.3:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/sMAqzyrd38iAa3Lz8

First day shoot at Shirokanedai and Ebisu during extended lunch break, mostly at f8 and f1.3, a couple at f2:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/geU5pMaaCNSFQLGSA

EDIT: Additional samples from later shooting:
From Sunday 4th (walk to Ginza) to Thursday 8th of December (lunch break shooting in Ebisu), mostly f1.3, f8, and 1 at f4, 1 or 2 might be at f2:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/b1hL3LMJU7m9rUUt5

From 12/10 around Hiroo:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/z43iYbkwUXqq1dYQ9

From 12/16 around Ebisu and Shirokanedai:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/HkoJ1UTVSsBCjxz1A

From 12/18 around Shimomeguro (and around Ebisu & Meguro):
https://photos.app.goo.gl/o8gdh5ocwwyeaPzaA

From 12/29 on a walk from Ebisu to Ginza (through Shirokanedai):
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ebLam36Kc4BB4z4r9

From 01/03 on a walk from Ebisu to Yoyogi station through Minami-Aoyama:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/nLL1Noc9N7KdwFkH6

From 01/07 on a walk from Ebisu to Meguro's Happo-en Garden:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/H6Kg9ZxZVVoZ7uft8

From 01/29 on stroll around Daikanyama and Shibuya:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/tJWnr6Y6kWWAtx9FA

From 02/16 around Ebisu, Hiroo, Shirokanedai:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/tv1hW3dGiLhD5UBu5

From 04/11-13 around Ebisu:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/WtG1xFxgysA7WdDU6

From 05/20 on a walk from Ebisu to Nakano with Fujifilm X-S10:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/f657TAQekpf6xxzQ8

From 07/24-28 in Ebisu and nearby areas with A7C:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/efZVCELLiPqEnA277

From 10/14 on a walk to Shimo-Meguro with my brand new A7CII:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/kzMFVZ3GU1vZiAbJ8
















Edited on Oct 14, 2023 at 08:51 AM · View previous versions



Dec 05, 2022 at 08:40 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Thanks for the samples Juha! Nice glow wide open.


Dec 05, 2022 at 11:26 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Thanks for sharing the photos! It certainly has interesting character and agree that around f/2 likely strikes a good balance. The wide open shots are quite glowy! I like the falloff from center to edges at f/2.

That's also quite the price difference between JCH and MK Direct. I guess you pay for the convenience with JCH if looking for an English purchasing experience.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:59 AM
nehemiahphoto
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


I'd like to try this lens. I like the rendering and glow at 1.3. Thanks for posting Juha.

Great to see the ergo are much better than some of the recent releases like the 35/1.3 and 28/2.



Dec 05, 2022 at 12:24 PM
BastianK
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


rscheffler wrote:
That's also quite the price difference between JCH and MK Direct. I guess you pay for the convenience with JCH if looking for an English purchasing experience.

Very um friendly way to put it.
I on the other hand would say the lenses are vastly overpriced at JCH.



Dec 05, 2022 at 02:10 PM
thrice
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Fred Miranda wrote:
How many 36mm lenses do we have out there?


This one and the discontinued Alpa Apo-Switar (which was actually a Schneider 35mm Apo-Digitar-XL). No others for rangefinder cameras that I know of



Dec 05, 2022 at 05:59 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


BastianK wrote:
Very um friendly way to put it.
I on the other hand would say the lenses are vastly overpriced at JCH.


It's ONLY a 32% of mark up for US people

@Juha Kannisto Can you reverse a typical UV filter and apply it if you don't want the added bulk of the hood like on the 73/1.5 and 35/1.4?




Dec 05, 2022 at 06:26 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Fred Miranda wrote:
How many 36mm lenses do we have out there?


You can never have too many 36mm lenses ... for those times when 35 just isn't quite long enough.



Dec 05, 2022 at 07:11 PM
tri_fin
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Thanks for sharing this info. Itís always appreciated.

Your photos with this lens look good! Some nice ones - the lens suits your style I think?

Looks like it has a lot going for it. I would say resolution over contrast is a good move - you can add contrast later but resolution you cannot really add in post.

The specs are insane.







Dec 05, 2022 at 07:26 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


I'm embarrassed to say that I never tried a MS-Optics lens. How is the build quality? All metal, low tolerance? How about lens copy variance and rangefinder calibration?


Dec 05, 2022 at 07:38 PM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


rscheffler wrote:
Thanks for sharing the photos! It certainly has interesting character and agree that around f/2 likely strikes a good balance. The wide open shots are quite glowy! I like the falloff from center to edges at f/2.

That's also quite the price difference between JCH and MK Direct. I guess you pay for the convenience with JCH if looking for an English purchasing experience.


Thanks Ron! Yes, I think it may also be possible to buy through MK Direct to other countries although they may not ship internationally without some proxy service in-between. Contacting them by e-mail could probably work out in English too. I wrote to them in Japanese to make a pre-booking soon after the lens had been announced and handled my purchase through e-mails only and I paid cash-on-delivery to Japan Post delivery person (which was one of their local payment options). MS-Optics / MKDirect Twitter and Instagram accounts usually write in Japanese & English and they also refer customers outside of Japan to contact MKDirect by e-mail or through Instagram direct messages etc.



Dec 05, 2022 at 10:57 PM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


nehemiahphoto wrote:
I'd like to try this lens. I like the rendering and glow at 1.3. Thanks for posting Juha.

Great to see the ergo are much better than some of the recent releases like the 35/1.3 and 28/2.


Thanks! Yes, I think this has the best ergonomics among all MS-Optics lenses I've used along with Sonnetar 50mm f1.3. I've been buying quite many of them this year since I got that Sonnetar back in April.

I also got 28/2 III (Urushi Sun edition) recently and that one really requires a toothpick for changing apertures which is really a hindrance for shooting experience. Otherwise I quite like that lens too, but it doesn't have great corner-to-corner perfomance on my A7C even at f8 (edges and especially corners remain soft). Close-up performance is great though.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:08 PM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


nehemiahphoto wrote:
It's ONLY a 32% of mark up for US people

@Juha Kannisto@ Can you reverse a typical UV filter and apply it if you don't want the added bulk of the hood like on the 73/1.5 and 35/1.4?


According to the data sheet it should work with M34 filters in reverse orientation, but I don't use filters myself so I haven't tried that out personally.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:14 PM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


tri_fin wrote:
Thanks for sharing this info. Itís always appreciated.

Your photos with this lens look good! Some nice ones - the lens suits your style I think?

Looks like it has a lot going for it. I would say resolution over contrast is a good move - you can add contrast later but resolution you cannot really add in post.

The specs are insane.


Thanks! Yes, I really like this lens and I think I will use it frequently. I got some similar vibes from it that I get from my CV 50/1.5 Heliar classic which is one of my personal favorites. It combines a lot of capabilities that I really want in a small walk-around lens.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:17 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Fred Miranda wrote:
I'm embarrassed to say that I never tried a MS-Optics lens. How is the build quality? All metal, low tolerance? How about lens copy variance and rangefinder calibration?


I think this is supposedly a reason for the JCH ~30% markup because they say they check each lens before sending them out to customers. From what I have read, the chance of a DOA MS lens may be greater than average.

Their lenses also aren't aiming to be APO-Summicron levels of performance. This 36mm is probably a good example of what he does - lenses with interesting wide open character that doesn't depend on precision assembly, where aberrations are controlled by stopping down. At least this is what I've gleaned from online reviews and samples. I do think he makes interesting lenses and this 36/1.3 is certainly one of them. But for me at least, I know they won't be daily drivers. And knowing how infrequently I end up bringing along my 'character' lenses, have been hesitant to give them a try.

What I find appealing about this 36/1.3 is that it's more extreme than the 35 Lux pre-ASPH, can be toned down at f/2, while still retaining some glowy character.

I've also long pondered the 28/2 just for its compactness and wide open character as an alternative to the sharp, modern look of current 28s.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:37 PM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


Fred Miranda wrote:
I'm embarrassed to say that I never tried a MS-Optics lens. How is the build quality? All metal, low tolerance? How about lens copy variance and rangefinder calibration?


I think that there can be more variance in MS-Optics lenses with regards to build quality overall when compared to factory-made lenses from established manufacturers, since MS-Optics lenses are all hand-made by Miyazaki-san. I've had both good and bad experiences with his lenses myself. I would say that this Apollon 36mm is among the topmost robust ones, together with Sonnetar 50mm f1.3. As far as I can see, this lens seems to be all metal and feels well made, everything moves smoothly.

Some of his other lenses have really quirky designs with controls that might not be very user-friendly, and some of them may have rather fragile designs. Bastian has a great overview of all of his lenses here with links to several lens reviews:
https://phillipreeve.net/blog/overview-ms-optics-lenses/

In the product introduction of this lens at MKDirect's blog (written by Miyazaki-san's grandson), they highlighted that this Apollon would be a good entry-point into Miyzaki lenses and also a very robust addition for those who have already been using his lenses a lot before:

https://www.mkdirect51.com/post/%E6%96%B0%E5%95%86%E5%93%81-apollon-1-3-36-%E5%95%86%E5%93%81%E7%B4%B9%E4%BB%8B

I would definitely recommend this Apollon as a first entry into Miyazaki lenses and Sonnetar 50/1.3 as well. However, that Sonnetar 50/1.3 is a bit limited in the way that it doesn't produce great corner-to-corner sharpness even stopped down, so it's not that usable as an infinity landscape or cityscape lens. Xenomax 50mm f3.5 excels in corner-to-corner sharpness but it has a bit quirky aperture control and I think its' build quality is not as robust since it was designed as a collapsible lens but changed to non-collapsible at some point before release.

As for rangefinder calibration, I have no personal experience about how well calibrated MS-Optics lenses are in general as I don't have an rangefinder cameras and I use the lenses exclusively on mirrorless. I think Bastian may be able to comment about that aspect. Some of the lenses have Spherical Aberration controls that also impact rangefinder focusing and those would then have some way for user to adjust the focusing. Sonnetar 50/1.3 also has that control at the bottom of the lens and only one specific setting position is marked as the spot where rangefinder calibration should be perfect. Apollon has no such control.



Dec 05, 2022 at 11:42 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


rscheffler wrote:
I think this is supposedly a reason for the JCH ~30% markup because they say they check each lens before sending them out to customers. From what I have read, the chance of a DOA MS lens may be greater than average.

Their lenses also aren't aiming to be APO-Summicron levels of performance. This 36mm is probably a good example of what he does - lenses with interesting wide open character that doesn't depend on precision assembly, where aberrations are controlled by stopping down. At least this is what I've gleaned from online reviews and samples. I do think he makes
...Show more

I ordered a 28/2ii from JCH...took it out of the box and it didn't even mount appropriately on my Ikon--it rattled around, and wouldn't even lock, like the rear casing was the wrong size for the mount. When I returned it, he was less than pleased, which I thought was ridiculous.

@fredmiranda Build quality is horrible and not at all up to the price. I have owned 5 separate lenses. One 28mm, mentioned above, didn't even mount appropriately. The 73 Sonnetar was good, till about 2 years in when the whole thing started to come loosen--I tightened the screws in back and it's been good since. The same happened with my 35/1.4. The 28/2ii I had didn't have a filter thread or anyway to mount a filter, same with the 24mm. The 35/1.4 Apoqualia shares the same ergo as this new 36/1.3, which is too say it's poor but usable and quite good for MS-Optical standards, as opposed to several of his other recent lenses. Of the 4 lenses I have tried across 2 different M240's and a Zeiss Ikon, none have been accurate WO. My 73mm is adjustable somewhat with the "coma" ring with optimizing focus at a set distance, but it's less than ideal or super precise (on top of that that lens already has FS). I have noticed as well that the grease he uses tends to seize up at just below freezing. I used to live in Utah and when in mountains, the 73 Sonnetar became very stiff and hard to focus, borderline inoperable.

His lenses very wildly, I would say they are generally optically poor WO (think of them as miniaturized and RF'ed vintage glass still in production with polycarbonate/plastic build). The selling points are very small size, large aperture, RF and wonderful unique signatures when most lenses are very ho-hum. If you don't like much character, stopping down "cures" that. The selling points are not IQ, build quality, ergonomics or price. Despite their considerable foibles, they are really their own little world--small batches, tons of personality, something novel and refreshing, pleasantly unpredictable, easy to carry, fun to use when not being overtly frustrating/you're not expecting it to function like refined lens ergonomically or optically. I still use them, and maintain in active interests in his work.



Dec 06, 2022 at 01:31 AM
Juha Kannisto
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


I have so far owned 10 MS-Optics lenses, 3 in the old days from 2014 to 2017 (28/4, 24/4, 135/2.4) and then I had a long period where I had lost interest in those lenses until this year. I only kept 28/4 from the old ones as it isn't in a good condition for reselling (aperture blades are stuck wide open).

This year I got a renewed interest starting from the purchase of the new Sonnetar and overall I acquired 7 MS-Optics lenses this year, 6 of them bought as new and 1 used (50/1.3, 35/1.3 II, 50/3.5 Xenomax, 28/2 III, 50/1.5, 35/3.5 II (a used copy from Map Camera), 36/1.3). The ones I think will remain in frequent use in the longer run are 28/2 III, 36/1.3, 50/1.3, 50/3.5.

I really like the images produced by the lenses and they are so small and light that it's really pleasant to use them on long weekend walks with one camera + one lens setup. I wish 28/2 III had an easier to use aperture control though.

I sent my 50/1.5 directly to Miyazaki-san for servicing as it had issues right from arrival and I'm waiting for it to come back.



Dec 06, 2022 at 02:33 AM
SlowDriver
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


rscheffler wrote:
I think this is supposedly a reason for the JCH ~30% markup because they say they check each lens before sending them out to customers.

In the case of the Apollon 36mm/f1.3 it seems to be more of a 50% markup: •100,000 = $732.50 versus $1,100... hard to justify...



Dec 06, 2022 at 08:56 AM
bjhurley
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · MS-Optics Apollon 36mm f1.3 (Leica M-mount)


My 73mm/1.5 Sonnetar occasionally falls apart so I keep a tiny screwdriver in my camera case to put it back together. My 28mm/2 Apoqualia (first generation) has been reliable so far; the focusing tab fell out at one point but I just added some loctite when I screwed it back in.

I don't think of these as practical lenses by any stretch of the imagination; for me they are art lenses and you put up with their quirks if you like what they can do.




Dec 06, 2022 at 09:43 AM
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