The best macro lenses out there can fetch over $1,000 — and even those typically max out at a 1:1 magnification ratio. Those of us wanting greater magnification — or who are simply working on a tighter budget — are often stuck using extension tubes or reverse-mounting our non-macro lenses. Chinese lens manufacturer Zhongyi Optics (ZY Optics) has a new option, however: the Mitakon 20mm f/2 Super Macro Lens, with a magnification of up to 4.5:1 and an affordable price of $200.
The lens is built around six elements in four groups, delivering what ZY Optics calls “impressive resolution,” although we don’t really expect it to compete with higher-priced macro lenses from the likes of Canon and Nikon. It does, however, promise to be versatile, weighing just half a pound and measuring less than 2.4 inches long.
A 20mm lens may seem a bit wide for a full frame macro lens, but that focal length should enable it to perform double duty as a more general-purpose lens, as well. However, it also means that photographers will have to get extremely close to their subjects to achieve the maximum reproduction ratio. The fast, f/2 aperture makes it a decent low-light performer, although for macro work (especially at the rather insane 4.5:1 magnification ratio) photographers will want to stick with a much smaller aperture to ensure sufficient depth of field.
Price aside, it’s the high magnification ratio that really makes this lens interesting. When combined with extension tubes, ZY Optics says magnification ratio can even be increased up to 13:1. This makes it equally appealing in scientific applications as it does for macro photography hobbyists and enthusiasts.
The new lens is available from ZY Optics online, with versions for most interchangeable lens mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony FE, Fujifilm XF, Pentax K, and Micro Four Thirds.