This post is by BastianK from phillipreeve.net
Click here to view on the original site: Original Post
Whenever some lens is advertised as “the smallest lens ever made” we usually get to deal with some junky fixed focus and fixed aperture pinhole lens. The MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia is a very different story though, only 45g and less than 6mm in length but with a maximum aperture of f/2.0, a real diaphragm and rangefinder coupled focus mechanism. But there must be compromises, right?
Lens is being tested on 42mp Sony A7rII and 24mp Leica M10
You can find most of the sample images in full resolution here.
Specifications / Version History
This lens is one of its kind and has the following specifications:
- Diameter: 47mm
- Field of view: 83° (diagonally)
- Length: 5.8mm
- Weight: 45g
- Filter Diameter: 34mm
- Number of Aperture Blades: 10 (straight)
- Elements/Groups: 6/4
- Close Focusing Distance: 0.5 m
- Maximum Magnification: 1:10.8 (measured)
- Mount: Leica-M
Handling / Build Quality
There is a lot to talk about here. On focusing the whole lens rotates and while I am usually not a big fan of focus tabs here the small lever comes in handy. It rotates ~120° from the minimum focus distance (0.5m) to infinity. The lens is rangefinder coupled between 0.8 m and infinity.
Setting the desired aperture is a bit fiddly as the whole inner ring (including all the markings) serves as aperture ring. There are two grooves, but especially with big hands it remains fiddly and there are also no click stops. A small silver dot marks the current f-stop.
The lens is seriously tiny, it is a bit thicker than a body cap but also smaller in diameter:
The small diameter comes with a caveat though: on the Leica M10 the 6-bit-code-reader is not fully covered and therefore under bright light the camera will often think you changed the lens and throw you ouf of live view should you be using that (and you should with this lens). I added a small piece of duct tape which solves the issue:
The lens also comes with a tiny 34mm screw in metal lens hood. It ruins the look of the lens a bit, so I cannot be convinced to use it.
Small trivia: there is a typo on the lens, while officially it is called “Aporia” it merely says “Apora” in the writing. Not the first MS-Optics lens with a typo.
Considering the dimensions we were expecting high vignetting, right? We did not get disappointed, at f/2.0 I measure 3.9 EV in the corners, this improves steadily on stopping down, at f/2.8 it is still 3.0 EV, at f/4.0 it is 2.6 EV and if we stop down further it improves to f/2.4 EV.
Values on the Leica M10 are similar and within the margin of error.
Sensor design makes a big difference here. On the A7rII we have very minor green color cast in all the 4 corners, which is what we have often seen in the past with other wide lenses as well.
On the M10 the situation is very different: the left side of the frame shows almost unnoticeable green color cast while the right side of the frame shows more obvious magenta color cast.
Similar to what we have seen with the Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 SWH II.
You can correct this e.g. using corner fix or gradients in Lightroom (latter is what I prefer).
The MS-Optics lenses always come with hand-drawn MTF-graphs which do give a hint what to expect.
What we see is that astigmatism is well corrected whereas field curvature is very high. We will investigate in the following sections what that means.
infinity (42mp Sony A7rII)
The MTF-graphs above are telling us there is an area in the midframe with a noticeable dip in resolution whereas the corners are slightly better than that. Obviously the MTF do not take into account Sony’s thick filter stack, so let us have a closer look.
The center looks decent from f/2.0 whereas the midframe is clearly out of focus (field curvature) and the corners plagued by strong coma.
The center receives a boost of contrast on stopping down to f/2.8 whereas for the corners it needs stopping down to f/11 for decent performance. Even at f/11 or f/16 the midframe is still not in the same focal plane as center and corner.
For the midframe I am showing the worst part inbetween center and corner, it is where the dip in the MTF is visible.
Let us see in the next section how the lens performs on a camera with a thinner filter stack.
infinity (24mp Leica M10)
Performance on the Leica M10 with its thinner filter stack is significantly better despite a lower resolution sensor.
At f/2.0 the midzone dip is also visible here but not as severe.
Also on stopping down to f/8.0 or f/11 we get even across frame performance, sufficient for landscape or architecture subjects.
For the midframe I am again showing the worst part inbetween center and corner.
portrait distance (0.9 m)
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, especially when dealing with lenses with a high amount of field curvature like the MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia.
This is what I did here, I refocused for every shot to get the best possible result at different locations in the frame (center, inner midframe and outer midframe).
Focus distance was roughly 0.9 m and the circle of the dollar bill is more or less the size of a human eye.
When we move away from the center we are loosing contrast, but astigmatism is indeed well corrected so when boosting contrast in post we can still get usable results with the subject outside the rule of thirds intersections.
On the Leica M10 the loss of contrast looks a bit lower and we may see finer details, but we also need to take into account that we are looking at crops from 24mp files, not 42mp ones.
For a lens like this I think it is a sensible approach to try to correct astigmatism as good as possible while allowing for higher field curvature. At f/11 we get decent across frame performance anyway, at f/2.0 we can place our subject anywhere in the frame and get satisfactory results at the point of focus.
close (0.5 m, 1:10.8)
100% crops from center, Sony A7rII
A minimum focus distance of 0.5 m is not bad for a 24mm Leica M lens. Of course the lens does not feature a floating elements design, so stopping down a bit is not a bad idea if you want really crisp images at these distances.
As always evaluating flare is a complex matter since you can get any lens to look bad if you push it hard enough and a slight change of scenario can affect results a lot.
Nevertheless, the MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 is not a great performer when it comes to work against bright light. The multicoating seems to keep contrast at a reasonable level but with the sun in the frame – especially stopped down – you can often catch frame filling ghosts and the aperture diaphragm is also doing its part here, leading to internal reflections as it seems.
This is not to say that it is impossible to take pictures in backlight situations. When taking some care during framing even with the sun inside the frame nice results can be achieved:
100% crops from extreme corner, Leica M10
Fast wide angle lenses are generally prone to coma and this being a rather simple 6 element gauss design does not allow for plenty of correction elements found in current retrofocus designs. Stopped down to f/8.0 or further it clears up nicely though.
Leica M10 | MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia | f/5.6
The lens shows only minor yet slightly wavy distortion. When you dial in -3 it is mostly corrected towards the borders but the center gets worse. When I have some spare time I may create a correction profile.
The MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia is using 10 aperture blades, but the alignment leaves something to be desired, as the opposite rays do not overlap perfectly. At f/11 and f/16 it also looks like we are seeing internal reflections again. I would have preferred a little nicer, but we should also remember this is probably the smallest 10 blade aperture diaphragm I have ever see and will ever see.
If you want to learn more about this topic have a look at this article.
When dealing with a pancake lens we should not expect amazingly smooth bokeh, so let us have a look what we are getting here.
First we are dealing with the “overcorrected spherical aberration” type of bokeh that e.g. the Zeiss Loxia/Biogon 35mm 2.0 is famous for. It leads to noticeable outlining of point light sources:
This is the case for f/2.0 and f/2.8 whereas stopped down to f/4.0 or further the outlining disappears. It also means that double edged structures can appear around contrasty edges:
We also have to take the high field curvature and vignetting into account, combined they lead to the corners showing less blur than the center:
You can also try to cover this up by not correcting the vignetting as much (see first picture in this section) or making sure there are no distracting structures in the corners (see next picture).
Nervertheless, more often than not the background blur is undistracting and even with bigger objects (or persons) a noticeable subject isolation can be achieved:
How we rate the bokeh of the MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia in the end? Considering it is a pancake lens I am impressed. If we compare it to legacy lenses of the same focal length and maximum aperture like the Nikon 24mm 2.0 Ai-s or the Olympus OM 24mm 2.0 it holds up very well. Even if we compare it to modern fast 24mm lenses only the latest ones like the Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM are optimized towards smooth bokeh.
But this is a personal subject matter, so use the sample images provided to see if you like the look or not.
This 24mm 2.0 is a mostly symmetrical design which usually means little to no lateral CA and this is also the case here. There are only minor traces visible which are easily corrected either in camera (for Jpegs) or in a raw developer like Lightroom by one click.
Despite the fast maximum aperture only minor longitudinal CA are visible. The MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporis is not the best corrected lens I have seen yet, but I think the “Apo” in the name is still justified.
There aren’t any real alternatives available with similar specs at a similar size. Merely the MS-Optics 28mm 2.0 Apoqualia comes to mind if you think a 28mm lens is an alternative to a 24mm lens.
Due to the absence of 24mm framelines this is also not a popular focal length among Leica users, we only have an Elmarit 2.8/24, Summilux 1.4/24, Biogon 2.8/25 and the Voigtlander 4/25 none of which is really comparable.
For E-mount we of course have the Batis 2/25, Loxia 2.4/25 and the GM 1.4/24 and while they can often be found for less than the asking price of this MS-Optics 2/24, already their lens caps are bigger than this lens, so I doubt anyone will be deciding between these options.
As a Leica user:
MS-Optics lenses are often described as “quirky”, by which people usually mean “technically bad”. I am clearly not a fan of generalization and the Aporis 2.4/135 was already a good example what Miyazaki is capable of and that this is not always the case. Nevertheless my expectations of a 45g “heavy” 24mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.0 were not that high.
Handling sure is quirky: the whole lens barrel rotates, setting the aperture takes some fiddling and good luck finding a 34mm polarizer…
But optically, the MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporia is more useful than anyone should expect given its size: it sharpens up nicely across frame stopped down, loCA are corrected surprisingly well, the bokeh is of the overcorrected SA type at f/2.0 and f/2.8, but hardly worse than e.g. a Zeiss Biogon 2/35, Astigmatism is low, so it is sharp at focus point at f/2.0, vignetting is very high at f/2.0, but stopped down no worse than other compact (meaning: significantly bigger) rangefinder lenses and it even focuses down to 0.5 m.
Still, this is of course not a bread-and-butter lens. You have to work around its limitations. You don’t buy this because you need a 24mm lens for your job, you buy it because you want it, because you find the form factor appealing, because it looks cool on your Leica camera, because you want something different from the “mainstream” lenses or simply because you enjoy the idea of a single guy in Japan making these odd lenses that no one else is making.
Lenses like this are the reason I am keeping the Leica M10.
As a Sony user
Even when adding an M-to-E-adapter the MS-Optics 24mm 2.0 Aporis is still very tiny, but – as was already the case with the Voigtlader VM 15mm 4.5 SWH II when using it on a Sony camera – it looses its pancake character and therefore its purpose is kinda ruined.
The thick filter stack also doesn’t help, making it harder to achieve even across frame sharpness stopped down and lowering off center sharpness at wider apertures a bit.
Further Sample Images
You can find most of the sample images in full resolution here.
- Sony FE lenses: Our comprehensive and independent guide
- Guide to the best 85-135mm Portrait Lenses for Sony a7 series
- 35mm comparison Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander
- Review: Sony FE 24mm 1.4 GM