Thanks to quite convenient focus assist system, it’s a joy to use true manual focus lens on Fuji X cameras. It’s the main reason I use these third party lenses available for Fuji X mount. One of my favourite adapted lens on Fuji X camera is the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5. It’s designed for a full frame cameras, and is a bit heavy, but I like it for its small size and decent moderate sharpness – it’s also great for portraits. Of course an APS-C alternative should be optically smaller so I have for a long time looking for other options.
The 7artisans 55mm F1.4 made quite an interesting candidate, partly due to attractive price, but also for its 14-blade aperture.
Unboxing 7artisans 55mm F1.4
I received this sample as an unexpected gift directly from the 7artisans factory. It arrived securely packed in a sealed box. 7artisans typically print the optical formula, and also add a mount sticker (“FX” in my case) on the rear of the box.
I was expecting the small size, because it’s APS-C lens. But still I got impressed by how really small it is.
The lens comes wrapped in plastic bag and securely sits in high density foam compartment. This 7artisans 55mm F1.4 sample typically comes with plastic front and rear caps. I immediately tried the aperture ring rotation to observe the 14-blades aperture shape. Surprisingly it’s quite tight to turn – I think this is expected for such a large number of blades.
Mounted on X-E2s camera it is a bit long but fits nicely.
It extends to about 1cm on minimal focus distance of 0.35m.
7artisans 55mm F1.4 shot samples (with Fuji X-E2s body)
The shot below is a downsized square crop of the central frame area taken at F1.4. The DOF is quite narrow even on APS-C sensor when the distance to the subject is about 3ft. I like this moderate level of sharpness at F1.4 which is much softer than native Fuji X lens. But it brings enough level of details. The background is lovely blurred without distracting artefacts.
Obviously, the 7artisans 55mm F1.4 is designed for subjects in the center. Just think about its price, there are no ED or aspherical elements here. As such, you can expect to see very soft areas in the borders and corners even at F2.8. This can be seen on the image below (downsized to 1200px).
Here’s another F1.4 sample taken from about 6-7ft distance. You can see the coma influencing frontal OOF area blurring making it less pleasant but still quite natural. The rear OOF area is balanced directing attention to the main subject. This is a typical scene where this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 can be easily used. A gentle turn of the focus ring quickly switches the point of interest in the frame.
Overbrightnened areas are well controlled delivering expected level of softness and aberration tints at F1.4. Again the background is nicely blurred forming air-like lightness of picture borders while central area remains moderately sharp.
f/2.8 or smaller is good enough for general scenes to keep the overall central frame sharpness.
It’s important to keep frontal OOF areas out of the frame, because distant objects look a bit nervous there when compared to more balanced soft look of rear OOF areas.
7artisans 55mm F1.4 mechanics overview
I like the design of the aperture ring and focus ring. It has a textured shape with curved edges that’s very convenient. I’m not so keen on the lack of step-clicks though, which typically forces me to look at the numbers on the lens more often than I do when using the click-stop aperture of the Voigtlander.
The lens body is made completely of aluminum, including the lens mount. I wish 7artisans would also make a silver version, as it would better fit silver Fujifilm cameras.
The big difference to other 7artisans lens I immediately noticed is a lack of three screws on the focus ring that typically serve for easy infinity focus calibrations (35mm F1.2, 12mm F2.8). Unfortunately I had to discover an alternative way to calibrate the focus of my sample. It was not able to focus further than about 100ft. In actual fact, it was quite easy by simply unscrewing mount ring and adjusting the number of metal shims.
This 7artisans 55mm F1.4 sample attaches to X-E2s with very firm lock. The lens securely keeps its place even during rotating the aperture ring. My 7artisans 35mm F1.2 and 12mm F2.8 lens samples have small radial play when mounted on the camera. It required adding small layer of vinyl film on the mount surface to get rid of that issue. I’m happy to see that this 55mm lens sits more like it’s a solid part of the camera.
I typically protect the lens with high quality brass B+W UV filter. This 7artisans 55mm F1.4 lens has 49mm filter diameter. My sample has a slightly tight filter thread and requires some effort to screw the filter on. I’d not use aluminum frame filters with this lens because it may be an issue to unscrew them later.
More shots with 7artisans 55mm F1.4 on Fuji X-E2s
You can find tons of 50mm third party or adapted rangefinder compact lens alternatives that can be used on Fuji X cameras. I personally use Zeiss ZM 50mm F2 on Fuji for sharp and high contrast shots. Second lens is Voigtlander 50mm F1.5 for more soft and natural looking portraits or nature shots. I think this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 would work great for portraits for just a 1/3rd-1/4th of the Voigtlander price. If you need whole frame sharpness wide open the native Fujinon 50mm F2 would be better investment despite it being a few times the price.
Once you become accustomed to its weak and strong points, the 7artisans 55mm f/1.4 is a great performer.
7artisans 55mm F1.4 lens can be easily disasembled for maintenance. Here’s related guide: