TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ©Vincent Bihler
Lenses

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ASPH review – by Vincent Bihler

September 24, 2019

TTArtisan is a new Chinese brand that are apparently planning on producing several high quality Leica M mount lenses, with the first one being this, the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.

Announced at 380USD which is less than the huge and sharp 7Artisans 28mm 1.4, I was wondering how this new lens would perform. So I bought one as soon as it was available for purchasing. The shipping was performed in 48h, with great communication from the TTArtisan team. I was so happy to receive this lens as I had sold my Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH a few months ago and was seriously regretting it…

The lens I am presenting below is among the first produced, so I suppose the final mass produced version may differ a bit.

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ©Vincent Bihler

Construction

The TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 is amazingly built. I would say it’s not up to Leica standards, but is surely as good as the Voigtlander lenses. The focus ring is buttery smooth, aperture ring is clicky and the finish is excellent. It is quite evident that TTArtisan tried to match the Leica design and so I have to admit it will be a perfect match with any contemporary Leica camera.

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ©Vincent Bihler

I love the fact that the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 hood is included and fixed with the lens. No need to wonder if it is worth buying or not… because it’s here and is compact enough. With the hood, this lens is nearly the same size than the Leica Summilux 35 1.4 ASPH. At 49mm, the filter diameter is slightly bigger than the 46mm standard. The finder blockage is thus quite well controlled and won’t disturb you more than any other modern 35 f/1.4 lens.

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ©Vincent Bihler

One thing bothered me about the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 is that the infinity hard stop of this lens actually makes my rangefinder go a past the alignment when aiming at far objects… So far I have not noticed any impact on my actual pictures.

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 ©Vincent Bihler

The optical formula of the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 is quite different from any 35mm lens I have seen before. Neither an ultron, nor a distagon… I think they came up with their own design, 8 elements in 7 groups with one aspherical element.

TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 8 elements, 7 groups

 

Optical properties

As a devoted film shooter, I tried the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 lens on my Leica M6 with some Tri-X and Portra 400. I scanned all my 135 negatives with my trusty Pakon f135+. The only adjustments made to the pictures are setting black and white points.

Being an f/1.4 lens and costing less than 400USD, I wasn’t expecting much regarding sharpness wide open from the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4. I have to say that I am impressed! This lens renders really nice wide open. I don’t chart-test my lenses but according to my real life pictures, this piece of glass has more sharpness wide open than needed (using film!). Center and in focus regions are plenty sharp and contrasty. The separation is very good and the details render nicely. I noticed a tad of barrel distortion, but it will never bother you as long as you don’t regularly shoot straight geometric shapes. Vignetting is well present but not worse than the Summilux lens.

The bokeh you can get out of thE TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 lens is particularly good. Compared with my old Summilux scans, it seems that the bokeh blends a tad more gently and highlights have less defined contours. No onion ring there. It also produces a bit of swirl which gives some unique character, both modern and vintage. Lovely!

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400,TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

Closed-down the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 lens a bit (f/4) and you will have tack sharp images from corner to corner, free from any vignetting and very well balanced. I think the aspherical lens is doing its job here. Speaking of contrast I would rate this as a medium-to-high contrast lens. Wide open, it has less micro contrast than the Leica alternative, but from f/2.8 you won’t see much difference. Flaring hasn’t been an issue for me. Direct hard light points at night might cause some flaring but it never happened to me.

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TT Artisan 35mm f1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

Summarised Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Well built
  • Great IQ
  • Fixed hood
  • Bokeh
  • Size

Cons

  • Size (yes, just like the Summilux, I find its size to be the limit of what I can stand bringing along with me all day long in the streets)
  • Rangefinder infinity alignment (but may be just my copy)
  • The big white TT Artisan logo on the front cap. A simple emboss would have been way nicer!

Alternatives

Sharpness wise, lenses like CV 35mm f/1.2 vII or ZM 35mm f/1.4 may be sharper than the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4, but at a price point that is at least double compared to this one. With smaller lenses like the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 classic, the price may be similar when bought second hand, but sharpness won’t be as good there. The Voigtlander lens is far more compact though, and may fill other needs! I think having both may be great to cover every situation… And I think this is what I am going to do…

©Vincent Bihler

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, Portra 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

©Vincent Bihler

Leica M6, TriX 400, TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

Final words

The TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 is a very efficient lens and I like the price:performance ratio it provides. The fact that I am actually not babying it too much while in the streets is quite liberating too!

TTArtisan really came up with a very nice piece of glass that is making me very impatient for their upcoming lenses (21mm f1.5, my favorite focal length!). It is a very exciting period of time as the market is finally opening to a whole new set of manufacturers. These are very serious opponents to brands like Voigtlander and even Zeiss lenses. I think Leica glass is still quite above the lot of them, by quite a margin, but considered the price difference, I can only encourage people like me to try this lens and make their own opinion about it. It may be just fine depending on your usage and type of photography.

I suspect the little problem I have with infinity setting may only be caused by the fact that this is a very early production sample and I guess this wouldn’t appear that much in the final production stage as it is the first time I have encountered such problem. Although, TTArtisan team confirmed to me all pre-production samples do have this problem.

Personally, I would certainly use this lens for serious work as wedding or reportage. I just can’t wait to put this lens on a digital M and see a little bit further how this lens would perform…

If you want to know more about my photography, please feel free to visit my instagram!

Cheers y’all!

Support 35mmc

For as little as $1 a month, you can help support the upkeep of 35mmc and get access to exclusive content over on Patreon. Alternatively, please feel free to chuck a few pennies in the tip jar via Ko-fi:

Become a Patron!

Learn about where your money goes here.
Would like to write for 35mmc? Find out how here.

37 Comments

  • Reply
    Phil
    September 24, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Hey there,
    great review – i’m really curious about that lens. Can you tell me where i can buy that lens? If i google it, i can’t find anything.

    All the best,
    Phil

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      September 24, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      Hello Phil,
      Thanks for your feedback.
      You can check they facebook page. There is a link to their ebay page 😉
      Cheers

  • Reply
    Bwf
    September 24, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    I enjoyed the article. It is exciting to see these new lenses coming out!

    Where are TTArtisan lenses sold?

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      September 24, 2019 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks!
      Check their facebook page for more information about how to get these lenses 😉

  • Reply
    Roger B.
    September 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Many thanks for a thorough and interesting review. I regret that, to date, TTArtisans do not offer their lenses in any other mounts. The LTM/M39 would be a great addition, for those of us who shoot Canon RF cameras and even the Leica IIIf / IIIg folks. To be able to buy new glass of this quality at the price of a very used Leitz or Canon lens … I guess I can dream.

  • Reply
    JK LOCKWOOD
    September 24, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Nice review and images. Where is this available?

  • Reply
    Alex
    September 24, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    What a fatal choice for naming… Doomed to explain to everyone that they are not 7Artisans

    • Reply
      Silva
      September 27, 2019 at 2:30 am

      The lens says DJ-Optical, like many 7artisans lenses. Same manufacturer.

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        September 28, 2019 at 1:38 pm

        Same OEM

  • Reply
    Joseph Delgadillo
    September 25, 2019 at 1:14 am

    Damn it, I thought I was done with GAS… Between this and the brass Summicron V1 clone China is really stepping up their game!

  • Reply
    eric
    September 26, 2019 at 7:55 am

    May I ask a question, please for all of the readers :
    how they can produce these lenses for these prices ?
    I am very curious to understand !

  • Reply
    Bo Williams
    September 26, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Great review! I think it’s fantastic how good quality (and logically designed) lenses are being introduced to the market at reasonable prices. Leica glass is undoubtedly legendary but ultimately unnecessary if the user simply wants a lens capable of producing decent results.

    By the way, can we talk about that M6? Black chrome, sans red dot, old-school Leica lettering on the top plate. Gorgeous. Has to be a custom job, right?

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      September 26, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Hi there,
      Thanks a lot !
      About the M6… Well noticed. It is indeed a custom job. The base is a 1991 Leica M6. The top and bottom plates are from a silver chrome M4 that were damaged, repainted and repaired by the marvellous Enzo Patagonean in grainy matte black finish. The rest of the camera is pretty standard excepted the M-A shutter speed dial, M5 frame selector lever and black chrome M4 advance lever. It now feels halfway between a Leica M4 and M-P. Ahhhh those geek games!

  • Reply
    Huss
    October 2, 2019 at 3:34 am

    All my 7Artisans lenses focus past infinity on the hard stop. Sounds like this lens is the same. Can you adjust the focus rf ramp like you can on 7A lenses (seeing the TTArtisan is made by the same people)?

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      October 2, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Apparently you can adjust the RF ramp. They provide a scredriver. But the ramp is different from 7A lenses. It is not helicoidal anymore, it is flat, just like Leica lens. No instructions are provided about how to set it up.

  • Reply
    Sot
    November 4, 2019 at 9:59 am

    For anyone interested in this lens, here is my experience.

    Bought the lens from Ali Express, shipping charges very reasonable but it took some time to arrive.

    Customs charges for the UK reasonable as well – £25 (was expecting a lot more).

    Which was all fine and good because the lens was absolutely crap.

    It was impossibly stiff out of the box, let it acquire room temperature and then it became just stiff.
    Not impossibly stiff though, so at that point I still had high hopes.

    Mount it on the camera and crap – the thing its crooked!
    The square built-in hood makes it impossible not to notice the misalignment.

    Infinity was off as well, but this is small change I suppose.

    There wqas also glue residue and red fluff all over the lens, presumably from the packaging.

    I sent it out today, another £25 to go back.
    Ali Express will refund me, but all in all, I will be out of pocket by £50 more or less.

    Lesson of the day:

    Stay clear of chinese lenses (or rather lenses made on a bench by kids), regardless what the internet experts say. Just not worth it.
    Funny thing is that the money I paid for it were £100 short of the VC 35 1.4 II, which is what I will be going to (and what I should have gone for in the first instance).

    The seller now has withdrew the listing and as such my feedback and pictures as well. I still have the pictures, should anyone be interested.

    You have been warned!

    PS.: They have updated the listing, offering a removable hood which I suppose is their solution to the main problem.
    What a crappy way to conduct business!

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      November 5, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      I think you bought the last parts of the pre-production samples (prototypes). It is hard to expect a final quality poduct from a pre prodction sample. I think they should have warned more about the fact that the fixed hood version is a pre production, not a mass production sample. I bet the mass production version will be more consistant quality wise. Sad it happenned to you anyway. My lens has not these defects…

  • Reply
    Michael
    November 12, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    SOOOOOO, anyone got a link where this can be bough in Europe?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      November 13, 2019 at 10:08 am

      I will have some soon here 35mmc.com/shop
      I can take a preorder, if you don’t mind waiting a little while?

      • Reply
        Preston
        November 24, 2019 at 8:24 am

        Thanx for the review. I imagine anyone who hasn’t already acquired a fast 35mm would find this lens interesting. I owned the Zeiss Distagon for a while. Expensive, with beautiful optics, but I never enjoyed the way it felt on the camera. Too big. A dealer here in Chicago let me borrow a Summicron 35 f/2, and then a Zeiss Biogon 35 f/2 for a week. I finally settled on the Biogon; gorgeous optics and I’m a fan of the Zeiss color signature. In addition, I always cringe whenever I read blanket declarations about Leica Lenses being so much better than everything else, because this simply isn’t true. Yes, their build quality is outstanding, but optically, it’s a matter of taste.

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          November 24, 2019 at 8:49 am

          We have very similar experiences and opinions!!

          • Preston
            November 26, 2019 at 7:52 am

            Ha! Perhaps. I’m pretty sure I bought the Zeiss Sonnar 1,5 after reading your review.

          • Preston
            November 27, 2019 at 11:15 pm

            Ha! Perhaps. I believe I bought the Zeiss Sonnar 1,5 after reading your review.

        • Reply
          Patrick
          November 25, 2019 at 5:03 pm

          Preston – I accidentally clicked on your name to be redirected to your website.
          Nice images you have made there.
          Also very much enjoyed the Lens & Context section.

  • Reply
    TTArtisans releases its 21mm F1.5 prime lens for Leica M-mount camera systems - TodayPic
    December 9, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    […] haven’t tested any of TTArtisan lenses here at DPReview, but Vincent Bihler has a great review of the TTArtisan 35mm F1.4 on 35mmc and if the image (and build) quality of the 35mm lens is […]

  • Reply
    Oliver
    December 9, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    My experience with Chinese lenses is not very good. I bought a speedbooster from China and during use on my camera screws came loose and damaged the shutter mechanism. The overall quality was not very good but I thought it will suit for my purpose. In the end I had a broken camera that basically could go into the bin and could slavage the speedbooster by modifying it myself.

    The price of it tells me everything. It cannot be a good product. Actually it is impossible to manufacture a lens like this at such a low price point. I am guessing that this company is subsidised by the Chinese government to…..

    Whatever, due to my experience I will not invest into a ‘made in China’ product as far as it is possible for me. I paid the price.

    I forgot to mention:
    The further away the sales office of a company the more difficult it is to get something repaired. As long as there is no official dealer there is no point in investing into a product. You will end up having no or little service.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      December 10, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Hello Oliver,
      This is unfortunate… Indeed you have very poor products coming out of China production lines. But I must admit this lens is really not bad at all. I even taked with a good repairman close to my area that uses and anlready serviced chinese lenses (7A 35mm f2) and told me it was gorgeously made. Things that may occur is bad quality controle. Once in a while one lens may pass through quality inspections while having some issues…

      Anyway, talking about service, TT Artisan were quite good with me! They exchanged for free my pre-production version for a final version lens with the removable hood. The new lens is optically the same but a bit better made (smoother focus, lighter apperture feel) and the removable hood is gorgeous. I think there isn’t much brands out there offering such propositions to exchange an used product with a new one… And now I will defenitly try their new 21mm 1.5 and post a review here again!

      • Reply
        Oliver
        December 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm

        Vincent,
        I am happy that you have made a different experience than I did… The camera body new price was around €800,- and I only wanted to attach Nikon lenses to an EOS M body. Speedboasters for this combo are only made by one company and they are around $80. It is too cheap to be true. Reparing a complete shutter mechanism is not worth the money because it costs 1/4 of a new camera. Since technology moves on you better spend the money on a new body. It either way I rather pay more where I can be assured that the products are properly assembled and receive a full quality check. As you have said: sometimes a lens slips through with out being certfied in QC and I was the lucky one with

  • Reply
    TTArtisans releases its 21mm F1.5 prime lens for Leica M-mount camera systems: Digital Photography Review - Pxtimes
    December 10, 2019 at 6:22 am

    […] haven’t tested any of TTArtisan lenses here at DPReview, but Vincent Bihler has a great review of the TTArtisan 35mm F1.4 on 35mmc and if the image (and build) quality of the 35mm lens is […]

  • Reply
    TTArtisans releases its 21mm F1.5 prime lens for Leica M-mount camera systems – PixelNova
    December 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    […] haven’t examined any of TTArtisan lenses right here at DPReview, however Vincent Bihler has a great review of the TTArtisan 35mm F1.four on 35mmc and if the picture (and construct) high quality of the 35mm […]

  • Reply
    TTArtisans releases its 21mm F1.5 prime lens for Leica M-mount camera systems – Cool Article Spinner
    December 10, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    […] t evaluated any of TTArtisan lenses here at DPReview, however Vincent Bihler has an excellent evaluation of the TTArtisan 35mm F1.4 on 35mmc and if the image (and construct) quality of the 35mm lens is […]

  • Reply
    Early experiences with TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8 M-Mount Fisheye lens - 35mmc
    December 16, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    […] You can find a review of the other currently available TTArtisan lens, the 35mm f/1.4 here. […]

  • Reply
    Jon
    February 14, 2020 at 4:12 am

    Looks great. Does it need focus calibration? I’ll be only using it on film Ms so that could be the decider between this and the vastly improved Mkii Voigtlander

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      February 14, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Hello !
      It is great, and I think even more on film as, as usual, film is more forgiving. My two samples of this lens (I now have the version with removable hood) were both perfectly calibrated out of the box. The voigtlander is a wholely different lens with completely different rendering. If you like modern rendering (summilux ASPH like), take the TTA. If you prefer more classic rendering take the Nokton vII. I personnally have both lenses 😉

  • Reply
    TTArtisan 21mm f/1.5 ASPH review - by Vincent Bihler - 35mmc
    February 14, 2020 at 10:00 am

    […] cameras. Their first mass produced lens was the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 (that I previously reviewed here). They made some very fine glass with this first attempt providing both a modern high contrast […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.