Available in native mounts for both Nikon and Canon bodies, the Oshiro 35mm f/2 is a relatively cheap lens and has a very robust build quality. This lens is entirely metal on the outside, and while it has a decent heft to it, the overall size is compact.
Oshiro 35mm f/2 — Tech Specs
- Focal Length: 35mm
- Mount: Canon EF / EF-S, Nikon F, others via adapter
- Max/Min Aperture: f/2 – f/22
- Aperture Blades: 9
- Focus Type: Manual
- Glass: 7 Elements in 5 Groups
- Filter Thread: 55mm
- Dimensions / Weight: 2.5″ W x 2.75″ H / 11oz (310g)
It’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s all metal, and overall fit and finish are excellent. Image quality is very good, with exceptional center sharpness and good contrast. It’s not perfect (see below), but there is a lot to like about the Oshiro 35mm f/2, especially for $169 USD.
You can also find this lens bearing the brand name Mitakon or Zhongyi. Same lens, just a different name on the outside.
What’s in the Box
The lens comes with a back cap, center-pinch front cap, and a well-written “guide” that offers technical specifications as well as operational instructions.
There are a few areas in which the Oshiro 35mm f/2 performs very well and is thus a great value for the money:
This Lens is Sharp
Even at its maximum aperture of f/2, the Oshiro 35mm lens maintains excellent center sharpness. Wide open, it does start to lose sharpness at the outer edges of an image’s depth of field, but this improves as the lens is stopped down into the middle range of apertures.
Based on my testing, f/2 looks very good, but f/2.8 and f/4 are exceptionally sharp. I would go with f/2.8 for shallow but sharp, while f/4 and f/5.6 maintain nice background blur with with a more forgiving depth of field (which makes it easier to get more in-focus shots with a manual focus lens). Here is a shot at f/2 (left) and then f/4 (100% crop, unprocessed JPEGs from the camera):
And here is the same image at f/2 but showing the full composition (no crop):
Minimum Focusing Distance is Very Close
The Oshiro 35mm f/2 can focus as close as just 9.8 inches (25 cm), which is impressive and very useful for closeup work. It’s not a macro lens, but it will allow you to get very close to your subject.
The Bokeh / Blur is Pleasant
From f/2 to f/4, the background is virtually mush, assuming you are fairly close to your subject and the background is a decent distance away. Because it can focus so close, this is very easy to set up. Here’s an example at f/2:
Bokeh “balls” maintain a roundish shape when the lens is stopped down, no doubt thanks in part to the nine-bladed aperture. Here is an example at f/5.6:
This Lens is Very Well Made
The entire exterior is metal, including the focus and aperture rings. The focus distance and aperture markings are etched and filled, rather than just being painted on. The whole look and feel reminds me of Japanese lenses made in the 1960s and 1970s, or Russian lenses of the 1980s.
The focus ring takes some force to move, but it’s very smooth. I really like that the ring takes a bit of effort to adjust, as this means it will stay put once you dial in the focus.
The aperture ring is also smooth, with detent soft clicks at the major aperture settings. Note that F/11 is not marked, but it does have a detent.
There’s not all that much wrong with the copy of this lens that I ended up with, honestly. But I’ll go over the things that I’ve found that are less than ideal:
I did notice some chromatic aberration in most all of the images that had soft / blurry background or deep foreground highlights. In this case, it’s green fringing. For 50% or greater crops, this will likely need to dealt with in software
Viewfinder Darkness When Stopped Down
As mentioned previously, the aperture blades stop down as you turn the ring. On a normal autofocus lens, the aperture is always at maximum until the shutter is actuated. This is to keep as much light as possible in the viewfinder to make focusing (or focus checking) easier. With the Oshiro 35mm f/2, you lose light for focus verification as you stop down. For smaller apertures (f/8 or smaller), you may need to compose and focus at f/2 and then stop down, or you can opt for focusing in live view (zoomed in).
You can set the aperture anywhere between the detent/click points. For example, there is a huge range between f/2 and f/2.8, and you can set it anywhere between those two points. There is also some room between f/2.8 and f/4. This allows for fine-tuning the depth of field in a way that’s not possible on a lens with preset f-stops.
The full name of this lens is Oshiro 35mm f/2 LD UNC AL, which is kind of a mouthful. But all you need to know is that it delivers excellent image quality at modest price point.
The Oshiro 35mm f/2 hits the sweet spot between price and performance. If you don’t mind manual focus, this lens could be a great choice for street and travel photography because it’s fast, sharp, contrasty, and compact.