7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II Leica L-Mount Lens Mini Review

By JK LOCKWOOD

At first glance, I loved the new 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II manual focus lens. It is available for the L-mount, Sony, Canon, and Nikon mirrorless systems. This lens absolutely looks the part on my Leica SL (601). It is a very solid 286 grams (10.1 oz.), feeling like it was hewn from a solid block of steel and glass. Focus and aperture rings rotate smoothly with the latter having solid detents and the former being nicely damped. The DOF scales are painted red and white (not engraved). There are 52mm threads at the front for filters or an aftermarket hood.

7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II @ f/1.4

Scope of Delivery

The 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II was delivered in a well-padded box with an outer sleeve. There was an attachable Leica-esque focus tab, a 7Artisans branded plastic pinch-style front lens cap, a rear lens cap, and a soft drawstring bag. A small instruction pamphlet and warranty information were also included.

7Artisans Packaging

Comparisons

The 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II, is built for mirrorless systems. It features 7 elements in 5 groups and weighs 284 grams (confirmed). Their original M35mm f/1.4 lens was designed for the Leica M-mount and has 10 elements in 9 groups, weighing a stated 404 grams. Both have a 10-bladed iris. The M35 retails for $429 USD. This new mirrorless version retails for just $185! Quite the price improvement.

One of the biggest draws for me was the size of this little gem. It has a very similar form factor to my first two Sigma DG DN AF lenses, the 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary and 24mm f/3.5. Of course, if one has bags of money and is really trying to impress their friends, nothing will do but an adapted Leica 35mm Summilx-M for a staggering $5395 USD.

Performance

Upon initial testing, my love soured a bit. But only for a moment. The first images I shot were of a brick wall on a sunny day. I mounted my trusty 24 MP Leica SL to a Gitzo tripod and headed outside. From approximately 3 meters, I leveled the camera and began. I manually focused the first image in the series (utilizing the 100% magnification feature of the SL’s excellent EVF) then manually adjusted the exposure for each subsequent shot, taking images at several apertures from wide-open to f/8. The ISO was fixed at 100, AWB was disabled, and I used the DNG RAW file format. Since this is an f/1.4 lens, I did not feel the need to test past f/8 for diffraction.

Besides the expected vignetting, there was a very noticeable softness in the corners of the 7Artisans images when shot wide-open. The center, however, was sharp across the board! Without 6-bit coding, I manually chose the Leica 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH lens profile for the 7Artisans lens. My processing software, ON1 Photo Raw 2022, did not recognize, nor correct, that lens profile. Your results may vary in Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. Also, there was a very noticeable difference in the color rendering due to lens coatings. Again, I had fixed the white balance to “Daylight” and there were no clouds present. The second image below, from the Sigma lens, did benefit from automatic distortion correction. The main differences were edge softness and a greenish color cast with the 7Artisans lens. But don’t give up on this lens quite yet!

7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 lens @ f/1.4
Sigma 35mm f/2 DGDN lens @ f/2

Real World Images

These images were produced in a more normal fashion using Aperture priority, Auto ISO, and AWB. They were shot handheld and at various distances. I mounted an old Nikon HR-1 shade (designed for 50mm lenses) to protect the filter threads and could see no added vignetting even when extended. I did not test for sunstars, flaring, etc. After reviewing the DNG images, I was very pleased with the sharpness and colors. Images shot at f/8 were crisp throughout. Close-up images, shot wide open, have a soft and dreamy look (granted I was handholding and trying not to vary my distance to the subject). The DOF at f/1.4 is razor-thin. I suspect this would be of great benefit to the environmental portraitist.

7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II @ f/1.4
7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II @ f/8
7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 @ f/8
Pleasing Bokeh @ f/2
Sure, everything is sharp, but not much subject separation @ f/8
Note the top of the sign is in focus, while the bottom isn’t @ f/1.4
A quick environmental portrait of a subject placed into the shade @ f/1.4
7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II @ f/1.4
Wicked Sharp @ f/8
Dreamy @ f/1.4

Conclusions

The manual-focus 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II is a joy to use. It feels premium, without the premium price. The build quality is quite remarkable. It can render the mundane in an artistic fashion, or provide a more clinical image when stopped down. The compact size allows for all-day carry without a thought, and the versatility of both the focal length and lens speed make it the perfect lens. If you are looking for a compact and unique lens for your mirrorless camera, this fast 35mm might be just the ticket!

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About The Author

By JK LOCKWOOD
Growing up in the shadow of the Eastman Kodak Company, photography has always been my passion. From the first time my father and I developed film to printing it in our basement darkroom. After completing university with a business degree, I pursued commercial photography for over 20 years, during film's heydey.
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Comments

Marc on 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II Leica L-Mount Lens Mini Review

Comment posted: 09/12/2023

I have the original 7A 35/1.4 FE, which had the 10 lens elements into 9 groups design, also featuring 11 aperture blades. Well, i've bought this lens 2nd hand mint for <100 bucks, so i'll check it out. Always wanted that vintage look on my A7, without post. Usually, i like corner to corner sharpness (at F8) but this lens, i've seen reviews since 2019, which is more artsy that way - these imperfections make this lens interesting. OTOH, i love to shoot my ca. 30-48y old manual focus lenses for (Contax) C/Y, Minolta SR/MD and M42 mount. (Yashica).
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Rob on 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II Leica L-Mount Lens Mini Review

Comment posted: 14/09/2023

At this price point, I am very tempted to get a couple of these lenses for my Nikon F100 to fill the current gaps in my lens lineup. Shooting on Black and White Film, I reckon this could be a good shout, how accurate did you find the Zone focussing scale?
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JK Lockwood replied:

Comment posted: 14/09/2023

This is designed for mirrorless lenses. I would recommend a Nikon 35mm f/2 AF D for your F100 (of which I own two).

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Michael Chiras replied:

Comment posted: 14/09/2023

I can’t say about this lens in particular but having half a dozen similar, I will say that the infinity mark isn’t accurate (not too much though). Because these lenses are made for various mounts it a little bit difficult to calibrate the focus for any brand. You can zone focus by f/8 but if you need absolute sharpness you need an EVF and focus peaking or you can always tweak the focus ring manually (I don’t recommend it if you are not accustomed to the process).

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JOHN LOCKWOOD replied:

Comment posted: 14/09/2023

As this is a lens designed for mirrorless mounts only, I hadn't noticed any problem with focusing. I'm sure they assume you're using an EVF and don't need to calibrate the lens. Their M-mount offering may very well need that expertise to maximize the end result.

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Michael Chiras on 7Artisans 35mm f/1.4 Mark II Leica L-Mount Lens Mini Review

Comment posted: 13/09/2023

I think you nailed it with your conclusion sentence: “It can render the mundane in an artistic fashion, or provide a more clinical image when stopped down”. That’s exactly the point about these Chinese “Artisan” lenses. Personally I am using TTArtisan stuff but I love both of those brands. As a vintage lens lover (and collector) I really appreciate the ability to have most of the merits of vintage designs (Sonnar and Planar are the more common) with great build quality and free from some of the true vintage glass dangers (fungus, dust, scratches and the need for various adaptors). Sure, there is no replacement for Leica M or Voigtländer glass but for such a low price you get so much value and character. And another plus for me is the lack of modern corrections in those lenses. Recently I bought a Trioplan 35mm f/2.8 (the new version) and even though it has that unique bokeh, it seems to me very clinical compared to the old version. Another example is the common attribute of the vintage lenses (70s and 80s): field curvature. Take any recent version of classic lenses and you will notice that the field curvature is absent (even vignetting is well controlled)! For most people thats good news but for me is annoying. I love the look from the film days and thankfully there’s modern options out there!
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JK Lockwood replied:

Comment posted: 13/09/2023

Thank you for the kind words and adding your thoughts Michael.

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