It’s fair to say that DJ-Optical / 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 has caused a bit of a stir in the world of rangefinder photographers. The forums are alive with speculation and commentary, both from those who do and (as is usually the case) those who don’t actually own one. I now do own one, so I thought I would write a bit of an ongoing lens review.
This is to be far from the usual post/review for me. Since there seems to be a strong hunger for information about the lens I figured sharing findings sooner rather than later might be useful. As such, I shall update this post with my findings, as I find them….
EDIT : I am now retailing these lenses, if you would like to support the upkeep of this blog, please consider buying from me here
I’m not a fast lens junky – let me just start by saying that. I like the novelty sometimes, but for the most part, I was quite happy with my f/2 Summicron until the ZM Sonnar entered my life and offered me smaller, faster and a character I liked more and sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole of Sonnar obsession. That being said, when one day whilst browsing the camera news websites I stumble across a new to the market rangefinder coupled 50mm f/1.1 lens, I found it very hard not splash my cash very quickly. As I will no doubt come to throughout this post, here’s a few very good reasons for that too!
Primarily, they had me at Sonnar… if you’re a regular here you will know I have a bit of a growing penchant for a Sonnar design lens (understatement). In the early days of the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens launch, there were people speculating that it was a Voigtlander 50mm 1.1 clone. It isn’t! In fact as soon as the lens diagram that was printed on the side of the box was revealed to the world, those in the know proclaimed it to be a Sonnar.
Since then I have spoke to Brian Sweeney (Sonnar expert extraordinaire) who tells me. “I believe the design is closest to the Zunow 5cm F1.1 8-element lens, without the filler glass of the front triplet. I am speculating that the Zunow was based on the prototype 5cm F1.5 Sonnar that used a field-correction element to improve field-curvature.”
More recently I’ve spoken to DJ-Optical /7Artisans themselves (via EM from EMULSIVE offering his multi-lingual skills) who confirmed in no uncertain terms that it is a Sonnar based formula.
It also behaves like a Sonnar which really quite strongly appeals to me… but I shall come back to this later. First, I need to tackle the elephant.
It’s Chinese & Inexpensive
Varying views on the origins of 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 feel almost like an elephant in the room. I’ve read comments on forums about the Chinese origin of this lens that range from broad positivity to bordering on racist. Honestly, I think people’s views of the Chinese are very distorted by prejudice.
It being Chinese has no bearing on its potential to be good or bad quality. I’m not going to get into politics here, but we in the west need to faster come to the conclusion that what the Chinese have the capability of producing is no different from that of anywhere else in the world. If not better. As an example, DJI are a Chinese company that make and sell arguably the most well respected UAVs. Not to mention the fact that if you’re reading this on an iPhone or MAC, then your experiencing high quality Chinese manufacturing right at your fingertips.
As such, it’s my opinion that this view that the Chinese are somehow incapable of manufacturing high quality products is at best myopic. What defines overall quality comes down to the desires of the manufacturer – irrespective of their ethnic origins or geographical locality – to build a quality product. These desires will be motivated and indeed defined by a lot of things, one of which is the desired retail price of the final product, but there are many other factors too.
Also, whilst I don’t want to labour this point really, just take a look back at at the Japanese in the 50s/60s and then look at them now today. The Japanese reputation was sort of akin to that of the Chinese today. It didn’t take them long to become the worlds tech leaders in most fields, not least photography. Case in point, Nikon, Canon and latterly Sony!
Of course there’s no denying that the products I’m talking about which came out of Japan were of a premium quality. Nikon aren’t exactly a low end brand, with even their lower end products being of a higher standard and price than many of their competitors. It’s also fair to say that price and quality can often go hand in hand. The higher the price the better quality – this is at least something that is culturally almost beaten into our collective psyche in the capitalist west.
The reality is though, price and quality don’t always directly correlate. As someone who works in branding, perhaps I have a more acute awareness of this, but I can tell you for free that a companies brand is definitely another strong factor in how much you pay. This reality is in abundance within industries such fashion and food production where you can often pay more for the exact same product with a different label on the front.
And then of course you have other variables such as production volume vs. R&D costs. High R&D costs and low potential sales volume adds up to much higher unit costs. Just look at brands like Leica and PhaseOne. Both have lower production volume that the giants in camera production, and in the case of most of the cameras they produce, higher R&D due to the relative unusualness of their products. They are also both high end brands. The result – because of these factors – is high value products.
How this relates to the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1
The point of all this waffle is to highlight that low cost doesn’t necessarily or entirely mean low quality in the case of 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1. The brand is new, it therefore has less right to levy a premium for its products. That’s one thing, but more than that, the low value of the product could easily point to low R&D costs combined with a high (potential) production run.
Think about it this way, if someone said to you “what design of m-mount rangefinder coupled lens would sell most if it was an attractive price?” Whether you are a fan of fast lenses or not, “an ultra-fast 50mm” would be a sensible answer to that question. Bearing that likely-common answer in mind, it would be reasonably safe to assume high volume sales if you can keep the price down. If you already have the facility and technical ability to make a lens like this – and it’s safe to assume DJ-Optical / 7Artisans do – then you can also keep the R&D costs down.
All this waffle really amounts to little more than me trying to point out that making judgments about this lens without trying one isn’t sensible. It is inexpensive, and as I will come to there are areas in which this is evident, but to write it off altogether because of its price or origin is just – at least in my opinion – a little daft.
This brings me onto the flaws that have been discovered by those who – like me – were willing to take that early punt on one of these lenses. Despite everything I’ve just said about giving it at least a modicum of benefit of the doubt for its origin and price, there are a couple of hiccups worth reporting.
The M3DS / M4 fit issue
One to look out for if you have an early Leica M3 DS or M4 – there are reports of the lens release button surround fouling the lens body. As it currently stands if you have either of these cameras, there is a strong chance the lens won’t fit. There isn’t a specific fix for this that I know about at the moment. DJ-Optical are due to bring out a new version of the lens that corrects this September time.
Edit: They did bring out a new version – it now fits the M4/M3DS, but doesn’t lock into place – they tell me they are still working on the problems
Loose focusing control
This has been reported a couple of times apparently, not least by a chap who made a video of his lens with a loose focusing ring. The particular chap in question chose to return his lens on this basis, claiming that he would no longer consider purchasing lenses from China. Each to their own of course, but once again – to me at least – this is the baby out with the bath water approach to dealing with the problem.
Fixing/preventing the lose focus ring issue
Looking at the lens it is easy to see that the focus ring is held in place by three grub screws. You can see the holes that they sit in. If you are concerned that this might happen to you buy yourself a set of small Allen keys or a mini screwdriver set with Allen key tips (like mine above) and tighten the screws. If you are still concerned, a tiny drip of nail polish will seal it them in place without going to the extremes of superglue or the like. (Thanks to Brian Sweeney for this tip). Of course it is fair to say that this is far from ideal when assessing a new product, but at least it is a relatively easy fix/problem to prevent… As is goes, I checked the grub screws in mine and they were tight.
I’ll add further thoughts and issues/fixes if and when I hear about them or discover them for myself
The lens in use
There is no getting away from the fact that the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 is a fairly heavy bit of kit – for its size it feels really heavy. Though it’s also fair to say that this weight does give it a sense of quality. It’s also possibly just bit bigger than I prefer – and though, it’s worth remembering this is a website that’s largely dedicated to smaller gear – this size does mean it’s quite visible inside the frame lines with the camera to your eye.
That being said, it’s smaller than the Leica Noctilux lenses, and the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1. Oddly, whilst heavy and quite chunky, I also find it to be particularly well balanced feeling on camera too – both with the camera to the eye, and when it’s hanging off a strap.
The focusing ring on my lens is very smooth. The short focus throw that does add a little to the difficulty focusing it, but I feel I am getting used to it already. It also focuses down to 0.7m which makes it the closest focusing Sonnar I own (though of course the Nikon LTM lenses focus closer still)
The aperture ring on the other hand has the slightest grit to it that just takes a smidge away from the feeling of quality the focus ring has. It’s also un-clicked which is possibly to help it appeal to the video crowd, but doesn’t really appeal to me as much. I find un-clicked aperture have a habit of changing themselves, and with the lens being the size it is, this seems to happen more. The spacing of the aperture stops is also uneven which whilst isn’t really an issue that I can think of, but does separate it in terms of familiarity from my other modern lenses.
I shall get on to the subject of Bokeh later, but whilst on the aperture it seems worth pointing out that the aperture blades don’t stop down to an even circular shape, despite there being so many of them. They also remain broadly circular rather than transitioning through a star-like shape which some Sonnar design lenses do to help reduce issues with focus shift.
I have asked the the manufacturer about the aperture, they told me that they chose a circular rather than star shaped aperture as they were looking for more circular spectral highlights in stopped down Bokeh. They also found that the impact of a star shaped aperture gave limited advantage.
Focus calibration and shift
My 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens is bang on at f/1.1 at the close focus distance. I will come back and add further thoughts about shift when I have done some testing of my own. For now you can find some interesting testing in this thread on RFF.
This is no doubt what most people are looking to read about. As such, I will be adding to this in much greater detail in the fullness of time. For now I will just share some early thoughts and a bunch of photos.
This is a “character lens”
I know people hate that phrase, but for me it has a very good function, especially when talking about lenses like the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1. It’s a very useful differential to be able to make here, especially when you consider this lens against the Voigtlander 50mm f1.1.
The Voigtlander – as I write in my review – is to me a low light lens. Firstly, it suffers from whacky quite unattractive Bokeh if you try to shoot it with foliage or whatever complex else complex backdrop to your subject. Additionally to this, it doesn’t do ultra-thin depth of field to the degree you might expect such a fast lens to do. To this end, I felt the Voigtlander to be much more of a functional lens. Of course, none of this is to say it doesn’t have character traits that some might like, just to me, for my tastes it is better suited to the functional purpose of low light shooting rather than the artistic one of shallow depth of field photography.
The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens is pretty much the opposite to this. Yes it functions in low light – it appears in my so far haphazard tests to let an extra stop of light through than my Zeiss 50mm ZM – but above and beyond that it has a character that feels like it lends itself to more specifically to types of photography that benefit from shallow depth of field.
Depth of field / shooting wide (/near wide) open
As a lens, the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 is packed with character traits that make the wide open images feels like almost dream like. This sort of ultra-shallow depth of field has as many detractors as it does advocates, I’m sure, but shooting a lens like this I must admit I find it hard not to be suckered in by the look. Those with a fascination with Bokeh, and therefore the out-of-focus, will likely hone in on the various traits associated with it. For me though, it’s all about the in-focus.
At f/1.1 I would call this lens “sharp enough”. As I say, mine does focus accurately, but what’s in focus at 0.7m and f/1.1 is within such a narrow band of depth of field nothing really feels that sharp. This is compounded by the fact that what’s in focus has a bit of a glow that’s possibly the result of spherical aberrations.
Fall off to out of focus also happens very quickly indeed meaning its really quite difficult to get focus bang on when shooting wide at the nearest focusing distance…
Stopped down photography
Stopped down it’s not without flaw, but actually better than I expected. It’s quite contrasty resulting in images that appear sharp at least centre frame. Toward the edges there is a little smearing, but it’s better than I expected.
The smearing is a little worse on the Sony A7rii
It also suffers from fairly obvious barrel distortion that’s quite evident in this particular image.
Of course, both of these traits are only really subject dependent issues.
These two profoundly dull images of some out of focus foliage show my first attempt to demonstrate the bokeh.
What you can see here is close to the same image taken firstly at f/1.1 then at f/2. I wanted to test the lens this way to see if it behaved like a lot of the other fast Sonnars I have shot. It does. Again, in these shots of Connie you can see the same effect:
Shot wide, just like the ZM Sonnar, the Bokeh can become a little distracting, but stop down to f/2 and it gets significantly more smooth and “creamy”. I go in to loads of depth about this in my ZM review, and would come to the same conclusions here. When you need the stop of extra light gathering guts, it’s there on hand. When you want very shallow depth of field and you don’t have a foliage background, you can still get a very smooth out of focus. Just be careful and stop down to f/2 if you have a foliage background and don’t like that distracting look.
Low light photography
First, an obligatory cat picture for you to look at.
And some shots from a Beers & Cameras evening out
Quashing the 50mm f/1.0 rumour
Seeing as I was asked about it in the comments, I asked the manufacturer if they were intending on releasing a 50mm f/1.0 lens. They responded by saying that the theoretical value was f/1.05 so they determined that the lens should be designated an f1.1. The photos of the 50mm f/1.0 lens were of an earlier prototype lens.
Some colour film photos
Corner smearing is much less than with digital…
Thoughts to date
Rather than offer up a final conclusion to this, I shall just provide some thoughts that relate to the extent of my experiences so far.
It’s currently my feeling that the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 is going to be perceived one of two ways. The first is that it’s cheap and Chinese, and I’m under no illusions that my attempts to change people’s minds earlier on in this post will make much difference that. The couple of flaws in the design, and character traits it possess will for many add to this view that this isn’t a lens to be taken seriously.
I think this is a shame as this couldn’t be further from how I feel! Personally, I already love the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1. It feels like a special purpose lens that has been designed to be one by people who themselves like this sort of character or “taste” as I have recently learned the Chinese would say.
If this was a vintage design and was as rare as the likes of the Zunow 50mm f/1.1 it would be worth a fortune. It would also be praised as a rarity with a wonderful character! This is how I chose to view this lens – it’s a modern built reimagining of an old Sonnar design that just so happens to also be one of the least expensive m-mount lenses on the market. To me, this makes the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 and absolute no-brainer that I am so happy to have ordered before the supply seemed to – hopefully temporarily – dry up.
I shall report back and update this with more thoughts soon. I have also asked DJ-Optical / 7Artisans a bunch of questions and am hoping to get answers soon. Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to point this lens at and I will try!
More shots on my flickr here
Another review on 35mmc – all shot with black and white film here
Another review on the ever interesting Leica Rumors website
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111 thoughts on “7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (ongoing) Review”
Does cheap mean cheap Hamish? Just how good is the glass….
It doesn’t seem to, it seems good to me!
Just in case nobody had noticed – this lens will not adapt to M4/3 see my comments: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/60827245
I am really taken with the quality of this lens and it so nearly mounts properly to M4/3 – I suggest just a slightly thinner wall rear element tube might be all that is necessary (if technically possible). But I cannot tell for sure – can you pass this along to the boys at “DJ Optical” as all I can find for their website at the moment is Dj’s and music 🙂
Furthermore it might save some grief if there was a warning thrown about that it cannot be adapted to M4/3.
Thanks for that Tom, useful info!
Hi, Hamish. I’m sure for users who like character in a lens, this one could prove popular. All your pointers/observations about it are to the point. You do realise that there is an f1.0 version just around the corner? (Gleaned from dpreview.)
I do wonder, though, how often you will be to nail focus successfully wide open, especially closeup, using the rangefinder. I’m going to guess you will waste a lot of film. :D) Stopped down, though, from the images you’ve posted, it looks very promising. You will need to post some colour images, though, later.
The nail varnish trick is old hat. I preferred red! Used it a lot setting potentiometers on electrical gear.
The f/1.0 is something we are going to be asking DJ-Optical about. I wonder if it might be a different formula …
It was just a prototype – I have added a not to the content above
Excellent and Fair evaluation, your setup on the M Monochrom with Chrome 50/1.1 7Artisans lens and magnifier looks just like my own.
I’ve been using a 55->58 step up ring and Y2 filter with vented hood on the Monochrom and a UV/IR cut on the M9. I do the same with most of my super-speed lenses on the M9, including the 50/1.1 Nokton and 85/1.5 Canon.
I hope 7Artisans gets the supply of these lenses rolling again soon. I will be keeping mine-
Would you consider this lens a to be a copy of the MS Optics Sonnetar 50/1.1 without all the fiddliness? Or does it render differently?
I had a Sonnetar, and while I loved the look (especially on a Monochrom), I came to dislike the stepless/clickless aperture ring.
The Sonnetar is based on the Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F2 lens, but leaves out the “filler” glass of the front triplet.
This new lens is closer to the 8-element V2 Zunow 5cm F1.1, but leaves out the filler glass of the front triplet and re-arranges the rear section. Remember that Bertele’s original design for the Ernostar did not have the “filler”, it was added to reduce air/glass interfaces to improve transmission. With modern multi-coated optics, not as big of a pay-off. The C-Sonnar does the same trick. I believe that the Jupiter-3+ is the only Sonnar of the 21st century to keep the front triplet.
Should add J-3+ is the only 50mm Sonnar to retain the front triplet! The Jupiter-9 85/2 also keeps the front triplet, same 1-3-3 configuration as the J-3. I hope the Jupiter-9+ is introduced, the original is almost impossible to correct for the Leica to use wide-open across the full focus range.
What a fascinating lens! At the price I’m rather tempted to grab one for use on my sony A7 body. I was really expecting much worse wide open to be honest.
It would be quite interesting to see a head to head comparison with say the current Leica noctilux or even it’s predecessors which I believe used to only go to f/1.1
It would – there would be differences, but if only looking at it objectively, I would suspect a strong dose of the laws of diminishing returns!
Interesting to see this review – I’ve stumbled across a few cheap Chinese lenses during trawls through the internet and I’ve always wondered. They’ve got a few lenses out, including a 25mm F1.8 which I wonder how good it might be.
That’s a aps-c format lens I think. Interesting nonetheless!
Yes it is – I’m a Fuji digital shooter outside the world of film and almost bit the bullet on their 50mm F2 but may hang on for awhile to see if this makes an appearance for X mount.
Yes, it is an aps-c lens. I bought one, because for $69, why not? An impulse buy.
It’s not bad, I guess, but I found it extremely difficult to focus on my Fuji X-T2. (And I’ve been focusing manually since the 1970s.) More importantly, once the impulse cooled, I started to wonder what I had hoped to gain by it. It’s not remarkably fast, or wide, or long, or sharp. It’s in a focal length range that’s completely covered by the excellent f2 Fuji autofocus lenses, and they cost $300 or $400, not 3 or 4 thousand, like Leica lenses. So I guess I wonder what its purpose is.
(An even stranger value proposition is the Handevision Iberit 35mm f2.4 in Fuji X mount, a manual focus lens that costs almost $200 MORE than the faster Fuji autofocus lens, and is NOT made by Zeiss, or anyone you’ve heard of. Pretty sure I’m not interested.)
At the same time, I bought a Meike 50mm f2 manual focus in micro 4/3 mount for about $80, and it’s a lot of fun. The longer, faster lens is easy to focus and has a lot of what you might call “character.” Makes a great portrait lens on my battered Olympus.
Do you think the Bessa R2A will have an issue similar to the M4 with this lens?
No, it shouldn’t – the surround on the cameras in question is quite big. The Voigtlanders hardly have one
I’ve been shooting this lens quite a bit in the last 2 weeks, on the M9 and M Monochrom. Pictures posted to my Flickr account, many wide-open and at F1.5. This is a very impressive member of the Sonnar family.
Thanks for the info here Brian – I have been asked about this elsewhere, so you input is – as always – very valuable!
You’ve sowed the seeds for many discussions with this post. I’ll wade in…
1. Modern manufacturing & cost. I’m betting most of the metal used in this lens was machined using state-of-the-art CNC machines. I’d also be guessing the glass has been molded & polished with same said machines. Gone are the days of hand – assembled lenses for general photo use. I’ll hazard a guess that the $10,000 Noct. from Leica is made by hand, but think of it…a 50mm f/1.1 lens for under $500.USD; only possible with current advancements in technology. Aperture ring binding on M3’s? A couple of changes in programming code and a tiny relief cut will be machined into the ring…problem solved.
2. Direct comparison with the 50mm f/.95 Noct. from leica? Don’t brother. Embrace & celebrate the 7Artsians lens for what it is…OR, blow the life savings on the Noct and have that smugness that you own one of the world’s finest lenses, but you can’t buy a cuppa…
3. Sharpness. I don’t know how others use these superfast lenses, but I’ve used a rental Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 hand-held in available darkness – no tripod. Expect a touch of blur, and some blown out highlights. It’s the nature of the beast.
4. Initial production of the lens – the manufacturer will be looking for feedback from real-world users. They’ll tweak & thump and fix problems like the loose aperture ring and binding against the edge of a lens release button. But, to trash the entire package because of a couple of warts? Not cool.
5. A lens that is reasonably priced that gives people the ability to explore the edge of light/no light subjects. You can buy it, and still have money left over for your child’s university fund or repairs to your VW Van. It’s a lens for the masses. Can’t ask for much more than that.
looking forward to more images/impressions from you as you use this lens…
1. Exactly! Only possible… Very possible! Thats the point, right!
2. hah, quite!
3. I’m completely with you – many seem to obsess over how good lenses are at the extremes of their usability, when at the extremes, so much can be forgiven
4. Exactly – I seem to remember Zeiss having problems with a few of their ZM lenses. Sometimes things don’t go perfectly, the Nikon 600/610 is another example. It happens.
Seems like a great buy! I hope you’ll bring it to the meetup.
I will, it will be a good chance to test it in lower light 😉
I’m in a slightly odd position. I have the 7 Artisans lens, but my M4 is 2000 miles away, and I won’t be able to get to it for a few weeks.
7 Artisans says that they will have a revised version in September that will fit the M4, and they’ve authorized a return, but I’m wondering exactly how the lens doesn’t fit, and if might be possible to slightly modify the lens (with a file or Dremel) to fix the problem.
(Obviously you wouldn’t try that on a thousand-dollar-lens, but on this one it might be worth a shot.)
So, can you tell what part of the lens crashes what on an M4? Would you return the lens and wait until September, or hold on to it and try to make it fit?
I’m sure you would be able to modify it, but I would probably be slightly more inclined to get the new version … A tough call, especially knowing how excited I get about new lenses
Thanks for this review. I got my copy some days ago and I am already in love with it!
There is absolutely no reason the Chinese can’t make excellent lenses. Consider the very fine binoculars made in China. They have the glasses. Lens design programs are readily available. The Japanese know all this – they are retreating rapidly from the inexpensive lens market and instead are going upscale, and pushing very expensive zooms, knowing that China is right behind them.
I just received the 7Artisans 25 mm lens for my Sony A6000. Not done testing it yet but so far am quite impressed. Lovely fit and finish. I do wish it had click stops for the aperture. Also, I want the lens shade but have not found a vendor. Help on that would be appreciated.
In any case, I am delighted to see fresh players in the market.
The bokeh on this lens reminds me of the Canon 50mm f/0.95. Hamish if you have ever shot the canon lens would you say they are of similar character?
What you are possibly seeing is just the shear extreme nature of the bokeh. These lenses are very different – optically, their formulas are very different, but in terms of the results, the canon (as I understand it) is more prone to swirling bokeh even when stopped down. Its also lower contrast.
Nice. Really really nice. I don’t suppose that’s LTM + M-adapter? Noooo, ‘course not.
Hamish, excellent review as ever. I also share your enthusiasm for the qualities of this lens. Shooting purely on film it seems a perfect match for my M3. Here are a few portraits that show it’s qualities. A future classic in the making. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Anyone want to buy a Zeiss Planar, it’s not getting much use lately.. 😉
Excellent, some great shots in there!
Lovely shots Paul! Did you shoot those at 1.1 or stopped down a bit? A question for you and Hamish.. I just got mine and while I noticed it seems bang on at 1.1, it has some wicked focus shift (at min distance) by several inches when I stop down to 2.8/4 etc
How have you been coping with this? I see the adjustment screw and chart to alter the focus, but kinda don’t want to touch it if is correct at 1.1
This only really matters on film, with digital I can use Live View to focus.
I haven’t noticed much shift up to f/2 – I have loaded it to someone at the mo, when I get it back I will do some tests
What size Allen key did you use to tighten the screws?
Mine are loose.
I’m not sure, mine are part of a small set and unlabelled. The mini sets are only a few quid though
Hi Hamish, awesome review, I was wondering if you’d heard any more about the new M3DS compatible version of the lens? I tried emailing 7artisans but got no reply
They are working on soemething for later this month, I think
I returned mine, because I really wanted one that worked with my M3 and M4. Now I’m having returner’s remorse because, well, we’re halfway through September, almost, and no sign of the revised lens. I’ve emailed 7Artisans and the retailer I bought from and not had any answers.
On the one hand, I’m very aware of the complex difficulties that face a project like producing and marketing a new lens, so one fear is that the whole project could disappear in a puff of smoke.
The other fear is that DJ-Optical may have noticed the stir that their lens produced (and the good reviews) and may decide to re-introduce the lens at a much higher price.
Have you spoken to them again? Heard anything about a date for the revised version of the lens?
Oops. Just noticed that you answered this question in your September 9 reply. So, never mind, I guess.
But please do let us know if you hear anything.
They are now producing the m4 compatible ones – I have actually just bought 10, I am becoming a retailer of them – the ones I have bought are M4 ready
Edit: this turned out not to be the case – see note in post above
Hamish, where are you buying the updated M4 compatible versions from? Link please? Thanks!
Also are the updated M4 versions any different apart from they now work on M4’s?
If you can wait until I get these, I can confirm they fit and sell you one myself – I got them direct from 7artisans
They are for sale again on U.S. Amazon, but all of the text on the listing, including customer questions about M4 compatibility, are unchanged from last month, so it’s not clear whether the ones on offer are M4 compatible or not.
There doesn’t seem to be any way on the page to ask a new question.
I got an email a few days ago from Pergear, the Amazon seller, asking if I was happy with my purchase. I answered that I was, but very much wanted to buy the new version. Haven’t heard back.
When I get the bunch I have bought, I will be confirming they fit, and retailing them … so if you can wait…?
I’d be happy to buy one from you, except that:
A. I have the patience of a 6-year-old where new lenses are concerned.
B. I’m in the US, so there’d be shipping, and since it’s new I’d have to pay US duties as well.
I doubt you’ll have much trouble selling 10 on your side of the pond.
In any case, I got the following message from my original retailer:
“Good days to you. I confirmed the lens we get from our supplier are the updated version.
It can work well with Leica M4 (except for the Leica M4 lens made in Canada), may i know if
your lens are made in Canada? If not , you can order the lens.”
My M4 lens was made in Wetzlar, so I think I’m OK. I ordered one from them, it’s shipped, and I’ll probably get mine about the same time you get yours, which will please my internal 6-year-old.
My new version black lens arrived this week, the serial number now starts with a “651”, I suspect that means the revision compared with the “650” on my original lens. The cutout on the mount now allows the lens to fit onto my M3DS BUT the locking tab does not fit into place. The cutout for the lock is the correct width. The tab on the M3DS has a different shape to it, but it’s hard to see where the hangup is. I’ll look closer this weekend.
The focus is perfect on my M9, I’m using the chrome version with a Y2 filter on the M Monochrom. The Nokton 50/1.1 fits on the M3DS. I’ll probably take them out this weekend. Today, was the M8’s turn to go out with a 1952 Jupiter-3 with Zeiss elements in it.
To my eye, it is no longer the button surround that fouls, just the button – when you put the lens on the camera the lens pushes the button so it can’t lock
To quote Maxwell Smart- “Missed it by THAT much”. The channel cut into the mount on my black lens is rubbing on the cutout of the release button. The channel needs to be deeper and taller, by a fraction of a millimeter in the final resting position of the lens on the camera. My Canon 85/1.5 has a similar channel cut into it, this is an LTM mount lens that was made while the M3DS was in production. I suspect Canon went through a similar design modification for this very problem. Without the channel, it would have hung up on the release collar and button. The channel is deeper and higher than the 7artisans lens. The new lens is SN651082, the first one is 650214- would not go over the collar. If I want to use one with the M3DS- I know where to drill, one spot at the end of the channel. We should probably list SN of lenses having the problem, track when it is corrected.
Bought one via Taobao China through a visiting friend.
I guess mine is a newer edition, there is a little recess of ~ approximately 2.5-3mm. It fits my M3DS (Part of the last serial batch of DS), but when the button locks in place, it still mar the spot a bit. But good snug fit and does lock in.
The lens came in with a bit of back (over) focus and focuses a bit over infinity at the infinity mark and doesn’t quite focus to 0.7m. But no biggie my M3DS and CL both don’t focus lower than 0.8m, yes it works with CL.
Overall good fit and finish. The chrome color matched the M3 quite closely, but the new part with the milled out section has a slightly different hue of chrome.
Tuned up the rangefinder coupling adjuster(for those with film cameras, a trick is to use a piece of wax paper taped completely flat, to where the film goes and using a shutter wire to keep the shutter open in bulb exposure [user discretion is advised]. Further magnification for the image appearing on the wax paper via an eye loupe or inverting a 50mm or longer lens.
Overall very impressed at the price point and has some sort of glow like the retro Leica lenses.
I believe this is a third party modification, rather than a factory one – the latest version doesn’t have a milled out part and still doesn’t fit the M3DS or M4
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Here’s a data point:
I received my new, September version, 7Artisans lens. Its serial number is 650742.
The lens does not have any recess or channel cut into its base, but, working from memory only, it looks like the base is cut at a steeper angle than the first lens I received, giving a little more clearance.
In any case, the lens fits and locks perfectly on my single-stroke M3. This camera has a very tall guard around the lens lock button, but the guard only covers about 200 degrees of the button and is completely cut away in the area next to the lens.
Unfortunately I haven’t been reunited with my M4 yet, so I can’t speak to that.
Oh sweet temptation.
I do not own the lens and have only seen some reviews and pics on the net.
Comparing these with my own Sonnar experience I think to see
1. that it is a “cold” lens and
2. that it is a “clinical” and “flat” lens,
whilst the Sonnar is a “warmer” and more “popping”:
hence I like to pair the Zeiss Sonnar with a Biogon 28 and the old Nikkor 85 (a rather heavy beast) .
The 7artisan’s 50 I would try to pair with the Voigtlander 35 1.4. These two seem to share the same problems (distortion / bokeh) and the same strength (low light and price). And I see both as being “cold” lenses.
Talking about 50s I wished that there was a M-equivalent to the Nikon 50 1.2. It could even come from China.
The Voigtlander 50/1.1 Nokton is comparable with the Nikkor 50/1.2. Both are extended double-Gauss designs. The Rangefinder Coupling of the Nokton is more expensive to produce, the focus mechanism is closer in design to a Zoom lens.
A comparison of the Nokton on the M Monochrom and 50/1.2 Ais on the DF is here:
Finally united with my M4, and the 7Artisans lens fits and locks just fine.
Oddly, the tiny projection from the mounting surface of the lens just barely touches the corner of the lens release button, and tips it ever so slightly, but not nearly enough to press the button and release the lens.
If I wanted to, I could file a half millimeter off the lens at that point so they wouldn’t touch at all, but there’s no point.
So, the September version of the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 lens fits and locks on both the Leica M3 (single stroke) and the Leica M4.
(Do note, though, that the M3 release buttons and button guards varied over the years. Some may need a little work with a fine flat file.)
That’s really interesting to know! I am stil getting reports of them not fitting – and the one I tried on an m3ds didnt fit.
Here’s a thing to do that will partially clarify the 7Artisans/Leica M3 issue: some morning when you have absolutely nothing else to do, go to eBay and search for “Leica M3.” There are dozens of them. Open a few of the auctions and look at the pictures, preferably the larger clearer ones. You’re looking for pictures that clearly show the lens release button and its guard. Best are the pictures shot from the top of the camera, showing the serial number.
What you’ll find is that some M3s have a release guard that is cut away, on the lens side, at roughly a 45 degree angle. (This is a little hard to describe, but easy to see.) These M3s will fit the 7Artisans lens, because the release guard slopes at about the same angle as the base of the lens.
On other M3s the lens release guard is sliced vertically, i.e. at a 90 degree angle to the front plate of the camera. These will probably NOT fit the 7Artisans lens. I think it would take significant filing (on the lens, of course), or a machined groove on the lens to make this combination work.
I looked at about 25 cameras (yes, I admit, I just like looking at old Leicas.) and I don’t see any pattern as to which cameras have which type. Dual stroke and single stroke cameras have both types, low serial numbers and high seem to have both types. The majority of all the M3s I looked at had the square-cut type (that won’t fit) but of course that could be only the particular selection that was on eBay that day.
The original problem, back in July, was that the lenses wouldn’t fit M4s, which is odd, since M4s have no release guards. I think these M3s are a more serious problem.
I’ll be interested to hear whether your new batch of lenses have some kind of modification that would work.
Thank you for this, Allan. I’ve been considering one of these for my M3 DS , 1955 body to replace the J8 it’s worn since I bought it in 2007. Just checked and the collar has the vertical edges. Oh well.
Hi Hamish! Just wondering if, perhaps, the messy foliage bokeh at f/1.1 might be caused by using high shutter speeds with Electronic First Curtain Shutter on the A7RII? I ask because the way the circular highlights are cut in half is characteristic of this effect. I’ve done tests and at wider apertures having EFCS turned at anything above 1/1000 (sometimes even 1/500) will cut off/smear the bottom of the “bokeh balls,” and producing an obvious degradation of bokeh smoothness. It’s a shame that Sony hasn’t been more forthright about this effect. I’ve seen a lot of lens reviews where people say how bad the “foliage” bokeh is when it’s actually the fact that shooting backlit foliage wide open requires high shutter speeds that cause artifacts with EFCS.
I’ve not head of this – but I would think its probably as much the lens as it is the issue you talk of. That type of bokeh is familiar to Sonnar’s when shot wide ime – you can see it a bit in this image of my daughter. That’s really interesting though – I shall try and experiment a bit more and report back. Thanks
Hamish, I’ve no opinion either way, but looking at the shot of your delightful daughter (and very professional model!) could not the effect be simply that the lens is simply dealing with out of focus leaves with light passing through irregular shaped gaps between them?
That is a factor, bokeh is of course impacted by subject, but this is the common “test” – oof foliage can look smoother, as it does stopped down
Received my chrome 7Artisans f1.1/50mm today from an Asia based supplier, I live in Sydney. Serial # 65xxxx series which fits my Leica M4. I guess they have finally addressed this issue.
I have reports from them that they have too – I have a batch landing monday, so will be able to confirm
Looking at the pictures of your daughter- the Bokeh is being dominated by spherical aberration and coma. Most of the focus shift seems to be over by ~F1.4, that’s the bright ring in the Bokeh Balls at F1.1. Over-Corrected for Spherical Aberration means the focal length at the center of the lens is slightly longer than the edges, which is why focus shifts towards infinity as you stop down. The density as a function of radius of the Bokeh Balls gives a good idea of the F-Stops that the focus shift will occur.
I had a chance to take the 7Artisans, 50/1.1 Nokton, and Jupiter-3+ out for some tripod mounted tests. Shots at F1.1 (7Artisans and Nokton), F1.5, and F4:
Looking at the out-of-focus background- the 7Artisans does quite well compared to the Nokton and Jupiter-3+. The 7Artisans exhibits much more field curvature at the corners that the other two. Doesn’t bother me…
Agreed – What do you make of the Bokeh balls being cut in half though? Any thoughts?
I think that effect is caused by Coma for this lens- one side of the Bokeh Ball becomes more like the tail of a comet.
Other lenses, such as the Canon 50/0.95, have the Bokeh Ball “truncated” by physical aperture, ie the side of the lens barrel.
Will this lens fit on a Minolta CLE?
No reason why not – it fits on the Leica CL
I have a CLE and unfortunately it blocks the focus patch. (just a bit too big). If you angle the camera just so you can sort of get the patch, but not consistently.
I mentioned that the CLE and the 7artisans lens blocks the focusing patch, but it may be due to my lenstab addition to the lens.
The 2mm of extra thickness may be the culprit:
Oh well, it’s unbalanced on the CLE anyways (along with no 50mm framelines), so it will just have to live on my M7 and M240
Just wanted to comment, I really love this lens. I have both a Leica 50mm f/1 Noctilux, and also a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar ZM. I find this lens falls right in between them. The 7Artisans is not as sharp as the noctilux wide open, but it’s also 15x times cheaper. The extra stop over the f/1.5 ZM is noticeable, and I actually prefer the bokeh of the 7Artisans over the 2x more expensive f/1.5 ZM Sonnar. The 7Artisans does flare more then other lenses I have, but it does so in a way that’s pleasant most of the time, if not quite beautifully. The lens is also smaller and weighs less then the noctilux, which is nice for travel. Very well balanced on both a Leica M240 and Sony A7RII.
I did have an issue with my initial copy mechanically, it became a tad loose/ wobbly, which I understand is a gap in the helicoil threading?
I contacted 35mmc and they were very proactive and professional in dealing with the matter. They sent me out a replacement lens, which doesn’t have the wobble issue. I find 35mmc gives great after sales support, and anyone in the UK or EU who wishes to pickup a copy of this lens, I highly recommend 35mmc web shop.
I eagerly look forward to 7Artisans 35mm leica coupled lens to be released, and think 7Artisans should take a stab at a 85mm f/1.8-f/2.0 version also sometime in the future. So that we have a sonnar formula trio in 35, 50 and 85 flavours.
I thoroughly enjoyed your evaluation of the 7 Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens.
I’ve had mine for about 3 months now and thoroughly enjoy it.
I admit, I was skeptical of the possible quality at its price point.
I’m glad to report that I was wrong and that the lens performs stellarly on my M5, M9 It also gived more than acceptable results on my NEX-7, A6000 and A7R with the Leica M to Sony E adapter.
The only thing I take issue with is the statement of possibly using super glue to hold the focusing screws in place.
All I can say is “DON’T DO IT”!
The fumes (off gassing) of the adhesive in its curing process will permanently fog the lens elements.
I found this out the hard way with an Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens. I super glued a loose piece of the lens back on.
After a night of curing I picked up the lens and there was a permanent fogging haze in a circular pattern on the lens elements. In one fell swoop I created a very expensive soft focus portrait lens.
I never forgot that experience. I hope this helps.
Nail polish is my recommendation – not super glue. Nail polish is hard enough to keep the screws in place, but also easy to remove.
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f1.1 Bokeh is terrible. f2 Bokeh is lovely.
I wish there was internet when the Noctilux 50mm 1.0 came out. German magazine’s mentioned that lens at that time as “Full of Character. Special purpose lens. Difficult to focus on a M4, the Leica M camera at the time.” And it seems that all low light lenses do have their own Characteristics. Included the first Nikon and Canon lenses with an aperture lower than 1.4. If you like it, you love it, otherwise stay away from this kind of lenses. I will order mine soon for my M6 and M2.
Sadly, my copy has some form of defect in one of the internal elements that shows up in bokeh circles. At first I thought it was a cleaning issue but no, there’s a crease or line sort of defect in one of the elements. I didn’t notice until a couple days past my Amazon return date, which is a major bummer. Anyone buying one of these I would recommend take a good hard look with a very bright LED light at the internal optics before your return window runs out. Other than that, I found it to be rather impressive with good color, contrast, character on my A7II, though it didn’t fit my Leica M adapter very well. =(
I bought yesterday my copy of the 50mm f1.1 7Arisans lens. So far I am pleased with the outcome. Yes is not so easy to focus, but when you hit the focus is sweet. I can fully agree is a character lens. It’s tough built, very smooth to focus. I have it on my Leica M8. The color and black &white rendering is nice. I bought it in China for 2150 RMB with is roughly 270 Euros. In my opinion this is a good bang for the buck ! Of course I would like to have the Leica Noctilux but for an enthusiast it’s way out of the price range. All the others (Voigtlander, Zeiss …) are I am sure also good choices but this lens is still the half price of them. For trying some new style of photography I think the 7Artisans is a good choice on a budget.
I bought this lens earlier this year after I bought the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 and didn’t like it that much compared to the Voigtlander. I put it away and forgot about it. I then bought a 50mm Summarit f1.5 and the 50mm Lux ASPH. Yesterday I was in a camera shop and was looking at the Zeiss 50mm Sonnar for my M Monochrom (I’m a 50mm guy if you can’t tell) and remembered that I already have a 50mm Sonnar! I got home and tried it on the Monochrom and have fallen in love with it.
Yeah, it’s great with the monochrom!!
Hi, I just bought the 50 mm 1,1 to be used on my Leica Monochrom. The information in the box is limited. Now I wonder idd someone can explain me how to adjust the focus instructions. I am a kind of lost and wonder what the initial settings were before I adjusted the settings..
Furthermore, The explanation in the box tells me that I have to test the focus on a distance of 2 meters.. but I wonder what the setting of the lens on the camera should be?? Probably 2 meters as well.. sounds logic but I have problems to get focus sharp.. can some advice?? Thanks!
It should have been close, if not perfect out of the box. If it needed adjusting, it shouldn’t have been by much. When I calibrate them I test them at infinity and at the close focus distance. I suspect they say 2 metres as there is a little more dof at that distance – at close distances and wide apertures it can be hard to see whats perfectly in focus these lenses
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Any news on the focus ring?
Mine keeps moving and I have to recalibrate once a week..
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Hello, I writing from Argentina, I have the loose focus ring issue on my 35mm f2 M mount, what size is the Allen Grub screws, thanks a lot.!!!
It’s a 0.9
Anyone else who got problems with the infinity focus using the 50mm f1.1 7artisans on the M9/M9P? Got this problem myself with my M9P, but on my M2/M3s/Bessa there isn’t. Every other lens works just fine on the M9P. Also; The 50mm 7artisans lens also brings up 2 different frame lines at the same time on the M2/M3s, but that’s not a huge problem though.
Is this something you see in the RF patch – is the rf in the m9 slightly out compared to the other cameras?
Yes, the rf patch in the M9 shows that it doesn’t reach infinity focus, and so does the final picture when I look at it in LR. My other cameras (M3/M2s) have all been shot with the 7artisans but I haven’t had the time to develop any films in a while, but they’re all reaching infinity in the rf patches too, when focusing with the lens. Really strange, haven’t found anything like this on the forums yet. It’s not that big of a deal really, I will most likely only use this lens for close-ups anyhow, but it’s bugging me.
Yeah, I’m not sure really – it’s odd that the issue is only on one camera. Did you buy it from me?
No, I bought this one new here in Sweden by a reseller, so I’m won’t force you to solve this one for me Hamish (even though I would love for this to get solved 😉 ) Just wondering if anyone had experienced anything like it with this particular combo. I haven’t discovered any problems with the focusing on this lens other then just that and for the money it’s a really interesting lens.
I was just going to suggest you get it back to me if you had – these things are easier solved in person.
It’s tricky to say from here – I certainly haven’t seen this before without a camera being out of calibration, rather than the lens
I recently purchased this lens for my M3 Ds,
The trouble I’m having with it is, I can’t focus further than 10 meters with it.
Has anyone else experienced this problem ?
Have you tried calibrating it – what prevents it from further focusing?
I was thinking about trying to calibrate it, my only problem with that is I only have a M3 on which to mount it.
Have no idea what is preventing it from focusing further.
Just try and calibrate it to infinity and see what happens – let me know.
Where did you get it from? Are you in the uk?
I’ve tried calibrating it to infinity with no joy, regardless of how much I adjust it.
Seems to me as if the lens isn’t pushing the focus cam back far enough,
Bought it off Used off ebay, I’m living in Germany.
Looks like I’ve bought a expensive paper weight !
As in the email I’ve sent you, the best bet is to email [email protected] and request to send it to them for repair.
I will be buying one of these in the next week or two and was wondering what the difference is between the standard mount and the L modified is so that I know which one to order.
The L-mount modded fits on on L-mount cameras with an m-l adapter. The normal one doesn’t. In short, unless you have a Leica SL/CL/TL or one of the new Panasonics, buy the normal version
I´m very happy with my copy of the 7a 50 1.1 with the L-mount modification. And thank you Hamish for your great support! Works great on the SL and I really enjoy the results from all the beautiful “flaws” of the lens. You have to know, when to take the 7a. For perfect results I use other 50s. For the special look I use the 7a.
But I have a question: do you know a compatible lens hood for use in combination with a clear filter on the 7a 50 1.1? It seems, that in combination with a slim clear filter they all vignette.
I’m not aware of one, 7artisans don’t seem to make one :/
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In my opinion there is more resemblance in the optical design to the Willy Schade designed Kodak Fluro Ektar 52mm 1.5 and 111mm 1.5 than to the typical Sonnar. The front groups are like a Primoplan, the rear, though 3 element groups, not in the Sonnar order of positive/negative. The Fluro Ektar has a thorium element in that rear part.
There is a good article on the Kodak Fluor Ektar here: http://zunow.blog51.fc2.com/category263-1.html
Lens diagrams can be found here: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63619952
I want to add some information I have found with respect to the use of a Lens Hood on this lens. There is none supplied nor offered with the lens. being a big believer in hoods, I bought 1 55mm lens hood, generic, metal, straight tube about an inch long. It vignetted at F1.1. The lens vignettes at F1.1, but the hood made it worse. I went looking for another hood….
I found a wide angle hood with a 55mm thread. Metal, conically shaped. generic. This hood did NOT vignette more than the lens did on its own. While making the lens / hood combo larger in diameter, it works very well.
If you want a similar hood, eBay search for Wide Angle Hood 55mm. There will be several identical ones offerd. Some come with a 67mm front cap, which I find very useful.