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Review of the MOMO lens by M. Hakár

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MOMO 100 tested by M. Hakár

Published: 23.04.2017

The MOMO 100 lens is being released to the market at a time when manufacturers try to outrun each other with technically perfect lenses. Laboratory measurements only confirm it. The result is a perfect picture with only minimal physical defects. Most of us have given in to this phenomenon and became the owners of a decent collection of lenses. I'm no exception and such trend is expected in commercial photography. Besides technically perfect photos, let's enjoy its atmosphere. The atmosphere is not based on compliance with the rules. It is an expression of the author's perception - often intuitive. I experienced the same feeling, even freedom, when testing the MOMO 100 lens from the workshop of a Japanese family business, which brings unconventional solutions for photographers to the market.

A really small lens with a robust design produces an image, which was inspired by the legendary Vest Pocket Kodak, which was especially popular in Asian countries. Its image's character evokes the beginnings of pictorialism in England and its soft, even dreamy sharpness lets you boggle for a moment. Is this the image I expect from my photos? Will I not miss valuable shots if they will be made by this lens? I recommend not asking these questions and simply mounting the lens on a camera and shooting. Similarly, after a small internal dispute I have done the same and haven’t dismounted the lens throughout the whole Easter. After a long introduction, let's get to my experience.


Size and construction:
A lens with manual focus and two optical parts in one group does not require a structural increase in size and its dimensions are more than favorable. On my Nikon D810, the lens acted inconspicuously and after a longer period I also enjoyed a DSLR in the city streets (I mostly photograph this genre with a small compact camera). The focusing and aperture ring provide sufficient turning resistance and smooth movement and there is nothing to criticize in this sense and price range. The lens does not contain any chips and its controls are purely mechanical and compatible in manual camera mode.


Optical features:
According to the manufacturer focal length is 43mm for full frame cameras. It is a slightly extended reporting focal length (35mm) or a shortened portrait focal length (50mm). I personally liked it because I know the two mentioned focal lengths very well and their mid-point was a compromise I appreciated. The lens's luminosity isn't quite stunning and its lowest value begins on F6.4 with the possibility of getting to F22 by steps of EV. However, as I do not consider the lens a general solution for photographers, I have accepted this deficiency since the lens has a predisposition for better light conditions.

The advantage is that the higher aperture number doesn't cause high chromatic aberration with completely opened aperture. Chromatic aberration is in my opinion the biggest problem with lenses, correction profiles of which aren't listed in software for editing RAW files. Also, vignetting is not visible to the naked eye. The drawing of the lens in the middle and the corners of the pictures shouldn't be a criterion for choosing a lens of this type, mainly if the lens is meant for Soft Focus picture style. The Soft Focus effect is proportional to the aperture number. The lower the aperture number, the higher the Soft Focus effect. I have mostly worked with the F6.4 and F8 aperture number. I didn't feel so confident with higher aperture numbers, since the image style was neither soft nor sharp which meant, that the Soft Focus effect wasn't achieved.


Special attention is paid to manual focus. Due to the construction of the lens, manual focusing through the optical viewer is difficult, in low light conditions rather impossible. Switching the camera to Live View and looking at the screen is the solution. This solution isn't very comfortable and I would recommend getting to know the lens and learning to focus it intuitively. It might seem difficult but with a 43mm focal length and F6.4 aperture number, it doesn't require much micro adjustments of the focus ring.

I have mainly used the lens with focus set to infinity (even with object in the middle distance) and with objects in the close range I have used the scale on the body of the lens (which is in the range of 0.5m, 1m, 3m, 5m and infinity. What I think is slightly unfortunate is the error of depth of focus relative to the aperture used. The focusing is a little different for lower and higher aperture numbers. It is however manageable in praxis).


The lens isn't suited as a primary solution for photographers. It is a solution, which can, with the correct selection of an object, support the creative aim of the photographer and add a historical character to his or her photos. Whether this becomes your signature, which will distinguish you from others, or the lens will enrich your passion for photography, is up to you.

For me, working with this lens was a lot of fun and I am currently thinking of new ways of using it. I have added three groups of photos to the gallery with minimal post-production. The tested lens was used with a Nikon F mount on a full frame Nikon D810 camera.


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Review and gallery author: Matej Hakár

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