5 Frames with a 7Artisans 35mm f/2 Lens – By Ong Sien Hong

It’s finally coming. A silver version of the 7Artisans 35mm f/2. I have an excellent 35mm lens on hand currently – a Voigtlander 35mm F/2 Ultron – but the thought of the 7Artisans in silver excites me. I got the black one when it first came out, and I always thought there should be a silver one for how good it would look. Now that it’s actually happening, it makes me think about my time I spent with this lens.

When I first heard of the 7Artisans 50mm F/1.1 (never tried it), I wondered if they would come out with a budget 35mm for M-Mount. Then they did. I remember reading Hamish’s initial review on the prototype 7Artisans 35mm f/2 and I was so excited. I shared the post with many of my friends but few shared my enthusiasm through concerns about it being a budget lens.

I bought it the moment it came out. Regardless of the pricing, I was very impressed by what I saw from the photos. I mounted it on my Leica M-E (which I have since sold) and went around Singapore taking pictures of people (below).

I really enjoyed using it for a long time. It is light and small, and it actually looked good on the camera too. In fact, it looks like a cousin of Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Asph – a lens that cost ten times more, though I certainly don’t think the Leica images is ten times that of the 7Artisans. Again, for the price range of 7Artisans, there is really little to complain about.

Will I buy the silver 7Artisans 35mm f/2? I don’t know… the only reason I am unsure is that I rather religiously practice a one-lens one-camera philosophy, and I don’t know if I could sell my 35mm Ultron… but it is tempting. This time, I know my excitement for the 7Artisans is justified.

Thanks for reading.
Sien Hong.

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19 thoughts on “5 Frames with a 7Artisans 35mm f/2 Lens – By Ong Sien Hong”

  1. Boy that was confusing. Let’s try to straighten it out: 1. Mention of the Ultron was irrelevant? 2. Mention of different colours of the 7 Arisans 35mm F2 was irrelevant? 3. But the images were recorded through a 7 Artisans 35mm F2?

    1. Haha never been much of a writer. The upcoming silver 7Artisans 35mm f/2 made me reminisced the time I had with the black 7Artisans 35mm, thus sharing 5 frames of it.

  2. Hmmm, yes you mention the arrival of the silver version but obviously did not use it. And yes it looks (in terms of exterior design) like a copy cat of the Summicron 35 mm. The problem I have noticed with theses lenses (Artisans and Voigtlander) is in the corner at wide aperture (all the more at full aperture): there is usually some vignetting, which is normal, but less “normal” (these lenses are still worth a few hundred dollars and we are in 2019) are color aberrations and weird blurred (slightly curved) rendition of details (in the very corners only, mostly disappearing toward f. 5.6). What would be interesting when shooting “5 frames”: mention lens, full aperture and used aperture as a caption to each images (or in the text, ex.: frame #1: Artisans7 35 mm f.2 at f.2, frame #2: Artisans7 35 mm f.2 at f.4, frame #3: Artisans7 35 mm f.2 at f.5.6, … ). I think it would be a good idea to have at least one frame at maximum aperture (f.2 here and if you still have your Voigtlander Ultron have one at full aperture too for comparison… otherwise using middle aperture especially on scanned negatives will not tell us much except that you used a particular lens to take 5 frames… it might be just the point of this exercise… which may leave some of us hungry for more info (in the end it is your time, Hamish’s time and ours, why not make it a little more productive). [mentioning scanner maybe useful for some of us too]. Best and thank you for your effort.

    1. Hi BC, thanks for the feedback. My thought process when I first contributed the article for 5 frames was that it never meant to be a comprehensive review. There is a link on Hamish initial review. The article is not meant to encourage or discourage someone to buy/sell a particular lens. The idea is that any lens has the potential to capture wonderful photos and in this case applies to this budget 7Artisan. I personally am not a very technical photographer, I see frames in my mind as I walk around the street and I put up a camera to shoot it, it could be f8 or f/2.. if the frame in my mind is “a pop up subject and bokeh all over”, I will take f/2, and if the images came out as I see it in my mind… the lens did its job. But as you suggested, some information on each frame would have been helpful.

      1. Thanks for your reply, Sien,
        You say: “The idea is that any lens has the potential to capture wonderful photos and in this case applies to this budget 7Artisan.” 1-Don’t you think that “wonderful pictures” have more to do with the photographer than the equipment? I think we can probably all agree on that. If any lens has this potential then why discuss them? I do not know how a lens “can do its job” if you have no idea of its settings and if (and it is not a if here) the lens has no idea about your intentions?!? One thing that I have learnt, in order neither to waste time, nor energy, nor money (which can go fast with film and prints), as well as not being disappointed with the results, is that I had first to know and understand what my camera and film and lens could do in order first to choose the right combination for the right project, second to anticipate (“visualize” some would say) the result before I pressed the release-button. Less up-hazard, better results at least the mistakes are mine and I cannot accuse the optics not to have done their job (how can they not do what they are supposed to do at a chosen aperture anyway?). I think one of the great goals in photography is first to train your mind to see how the tool sees and then let your mind be creative with it. Just a thought.

        1. HI BC, some lens just needs more exposure than others, that’s all. Photography is not complicated, the tools are a matter of few dials. It is always about the photographer. The person behind the camera. I noticed a contrast of “philosophy”, to me, first train your mind to see images (the composition of photos), then work out how your tools could assist you, then again, my thoughts stemmed from the fact that my genre of photography is street. Someone who does landscape I imagined might have a different thought process.

  3. Mark Kronquist

    The 7 Artisans 35mm f2. for Leica M Mount reminds me very much of the last version (pre ASPH 1980 on) in terms of performance, design and handing. The lens is an outstanding optic and a superb value. If you need a 35mm for your M camera (film or digital), please take a long, hard look at the 7 Artisans lens. You will not be disappointed. The 50 f1.1 is superb as well! Thanks Mark K in Oregon

  4. Des McSweeney

    blimey BC, I think you are over thinking it. Poor old Hong is just taking a few pics and posting them, he is not a photo magazine publisher. As I have the same lens I understand what he was saying and admire him for writing to us in this his possibly second or third language. The thing I like about the 35mmc is that it democratises photography and democratises writing about photography. Hoorah for that and these five frames. des.

    1. Well Des, I’ll keep my eyes (and mind) open too (thence no Blimey for me, I do not know how you expect “poor old Hong” to get that expression by the way, so if you value his efforts n English play with them too. Actions are always better than words). Well, in any case, second or third language is certainly not the point here (English is definitely not my first language either) and if being thoughtful and trying to scratch the surface of things to go a little further in how we practice and enjoy what we do becomes problematic… we may have a problem ;o) What do you mean by “democratise” by the way? I do not see the masses behind us. If something is doing that these days it is the cellphone, don’t you think?

  5. Okay, I’m really confused – from what I can work out, you owned a 7artisans lens and liked it, but sold it because the barrel wasn’t silver (or maybe you did keep it?) but now they’re releasing a silver one you might buy it again (or just own two?), but maybe not, because you already have a lens for that camera, but you since sold that camera anyway… what?

    Anyway, it seems to me if the lens took photos you were happy with you’d have kept it even if it was lime green with purple polka dots, so maybe that’s review enough.

    1. It’s not confusing. He owned the lens in black but would have preferred it in silver. Ended up upgrading to something else, but has a policy of only owning one lens. Now the 7Artisans is available in the colour he originally wanted, he has GAS for it, despite owning a lens that he feels is better

      1. It is really confusing. You conceded it wasn’t straightforward or to the point by editing the article after another commentator noted it didn’t make much sense. The edited version still isn’t clear. It doesn’t read at all like the author sat down with a clear idea of how to get his point across and how to best do it, which is what a clear and well-written article does.

        To add to the confusion, and with all due respect to Sien, the article isn’t interesting. I searched for the point, and I had to have it explained to me, because I was looking for more than what was actually there. Had it been an insight into Sien’s motivations for GAS (be that self-critical of consumerism or self-justifying of YOLO, for example) or a comparison of the 7artisans and the Voigtlander on the same camera with an angle to “what is ‘good'” or “what is ‘value'” or “can you even tell” it might have been a little thought provoking.

        To be honest, the most interesting thing here is why the author insists on “one camera, one lens” – not a common philosophy, and certainly contains far more of an insight into his habits and beliefs of what photography (or at least camera ownership) is about than a twistingly written account of GAS for a redecorated but otherwise identical reissue of a common lens. A well thought out article on that would be much better and generate a lot more interest and debate.

        I like 35mmc. It’s because of that fact that I have expectations of a quality and a different perspective from professional/industry magazines and websites, not in spite of it. But this article just wasn’t clear and it was confusing.

        1. The original edit was purely a linguistic one, I didn’t change the point of the post at all. The point of the post is simply a reflection on GAS for a previously owned lens. It made sense to me as it is something that happens to me as someone who buys and sells a lot of gear. I try something review it, sell it, have cause to remember it later on and then wonder if I should buy it again. I tell myself I shouldn’t for my own reasons, but Sien Hong’s reasons are that he doesn’t like to own more than one lens… however tempting it is. It is a passing reflection, just like many of the 5 frames posts are. You have over-thought it to the point that you have written almost as much as the original post on the subject and caused Sien Hong to email me to apologise for the post. If you don’t get it, fine, it’s not for you, but this level of commentary seems disproportionate. Can we leave it there, please.

  6. I enjoyed this post and I think Ham and Eggs and BC have gone lengths to defend their points – which make make you realize that the points aren’t that interesting at all. Critiques from the cheap seats – even the tone did not sound like, “hey, let’s try and improve this”. After seeing many of the same on Petapixel and DPReview you’d think this place would be a community all about nurturing the niche we all love.

    Hey Sien, thanks for sharing. It’s not perfect but it was information that’s useful to me.
    Hey Hamish, hope you don’t let this negativity get to you. Your site is my happy place and I be there are others that feel the same.

  7. Hello Sien, I ejoyed the read and particulalry liked how the b/w image showed the out of focus behavior of the lens – one of the great attractions of sonnar designs. I am about to buy this lens. I have a silver Leica M3 and a black Voitgltander Bessa T. I cannot decide which colour to get and saw your post, so now I will buy they silver one! This lens is super cheap here in China, so time to press ‘click and buy’. Cheers -Simon

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