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ms optics 28mm f/2.0 apoqualia-g II Review

A few months back, the small bug bit me again. I don't know if it was all the X100's I'd been seeing around, but I was very aware of how much of a (beautiful) tank my Voigtlander 40 1.4 setup is. I wanted something small, light, yet somehow also with a big aperture. That gave me...not many options.

I eventually stumbled on the MS Optics 24 4.0 and honestly couldn't believe what I was looking at. From there I found their 28mm 2.0 which was so in line with what I had been looking for I almost felt I'd dreamed it into existence. These lenses are, to my knowledge, designed and hand-assembled in Tokyo, by a single genius by the name of Miyazaki.

I deliberated over the purchase while painstakingly looking up and reading everything about it online, but user impressions and reviews were few, as were real world image samples, so my eventual decision to buy it was a bit of a leap of faith. Lens in hand, it's solid, metal, smooth, and tiny. A wonder of a lens. 

The Apoqualia pairs perfectly on a Sony A7S. I use a cheap 1000¥ adapter that is honestly the best I've used after trying a range of medium-tier ones. It's all black and fits solidly. This setup is completely out of the way, light and freeing. The Apoqualia weighs in at a lean 70 grams, so it's not tiring to carry and hold to your eye at all. You could almost forget a lens is there, were it not for how much time you spend checking it's at the right aperture and focal point.

I have two slight annoyances with the handling of this lens: the clickless aperture and the focus throw. I prefer clicked apertures because it's reassuring and more efficient. I don't shoot video, so there's no benefit for me. The focus throw is convenient in that you can get from max to minimum focal distance with something like a 150° rotation. However, the distance from infinity to 5m and so on is so short that just the slightest nudge sets you in a different ballpark. And I'm not superstitious, but I swear it moves on it's own sometimes.

Focusing closer, once you get to .8m, the throw grows significantly larger. This brings me to a pleasant surprise about this lens - it can focus all the way down to .4 meters. Should you care to throw on a helicoid close-focusing adapter, you'll be able to get ridiculously close to your subject.

The lens is well dampened. I adjust the aperture by rotating the 28mm lens filter (pictured) I threw on it. The lens comes with a petite metal lens hood, but it leaves the front element a bit too exposed for my liking, obscures the aperture indicator, and due to it's shape, tends to get caught on things. If you do go naked, you'll have to manipulate the aperture using two tiny notches near the front element, which is wholly impractical.

For focusing, the lens comes with a "nubbin", a tiny screwed-in metal tab or knob that is very prone to flights of fancy unless you secure it better with some clear nail polish as I did. I generally prefer tabs over plain focus rings and this nubbin is no exception - it's a joy to use.

I still can't believe this tiny thing opens up all the way to f2.0. Yes, there are compromises to get there, but that it's even an option is incredible to me. Results at f2 can range from stunning to somewhat disappointing. Place the subject at a relatively close distance and in the center of the frame, and you're bound to love the results. If the subject is near the corners though, expect smearing.