Featured Lenses

DJ-Optical / 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (ongoing) Review

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 to the UK and Europe, if you would like to support the upkeep of this blog, please consider buying from me here

Background thoughts

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!

Sonnar design

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.

Discovered flaws

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.

Focusing

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

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.

Optical Qualities

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.

Norah

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.

Norah

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…

Connie

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

Shot at f/1.1

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.

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

Shot at f/8

The smearing is a little worse on the Sony A7rii

Sony A7rii & 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

It also suffers from fairly obvious barrel distortion that’s quite evident in this particular image.

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

Check out the barrel distortion – very visible top of frame

Of course, both of these traits are only really subject dependent issues.

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

Shot at f/8

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

Shot at f/4 – this lens is pretty sharp!

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

f/4 again

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

f/4 again

Sony A7rii & 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Bokeh

These two profoundly dull images of some out of focus foliage show my first attempt to demonstrate the bokeh.

f/1.1

f/2

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:

Cool Connie

f/2 – smooth

Cool Connie

f/2 – smooth

Cool Connie

f/1.1 – less smooth

Cool Connie

f/1.1 – less smooth

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.

Cool Connie

f/1.1

Sony A7rii & 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

f/2

Low light photography

First, an obligatory cat picture for you to look at.

Leica MM & 7Artisans 50mm 1.1

And some shots from a Beers & Cameras evening out

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

Beers & Cameras in the Paul Pry

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…

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

Bevere walk

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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64 Comments

  • Reply
    rick
    July 29, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Does cheap mean cheap Hamish? Just how good is the glass….

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 29, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      It doesn’t seem to, it seems good to me!

  • Reply
    TerryB
    July 29, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

      The f/1.0 is something we are going to be asking DJ-Optical about. I wonder if it might be a different formula …

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 1, 2017 at 9:29 am

      It was just a prototype – I have added a not to the content above

  • Reply
    Brian
    July 29, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    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-

  • Reply
    Hank
    July 29, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Brian
      July 30, 2017 at 2:34 am

      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.

      • Reply
        Brian
        July 30, 2017 at 2:52 am

        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.

  • Reply
    Teddy
    July 29, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 7:57 am

      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!

  • Reply
    Dexter
    July 29, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 7:58 am

      That’s a aps-c format lens I think. Interesting nonetheless!

      • Reply
        Dexter
        July 30, 2017 at 8:29 am

        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.

      • Reply
        Allan
        September 13, 2017 at 3:18 am

        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.

  • Reply
    Eric Smith
    July 29, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Do you think the Bessa R2A will have an issue similar to the M4 with this lens?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 29, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      No, it shouldn’t – the surround on the cameras in question is quite big. The Voigtlanders hardly have one

  • Reply
    Brian
    July 30, 2017 at 2:45 am

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157683038592982/with/36094322171/

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 7:59 am

      Thanks for the info here Brian – I have been asked about this elsewhere, so you input is – as always – very valuable!

  • Reply
    Dan Castelli
    July 30, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Dear Hamish,
    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…

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 7:30 am

      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.
      5. Exactly!

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    July 30, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Seems like a great buy! I hope you’ll bring it to the meetup.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 30, 2017 at 8:24 am

      I will, it will be a good chance to test it in lower light 😉

  • Reply
    Allan
    August 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    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?
    Thanks.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 4, 2017 at 8:55 am

      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

  • Reply
    Carsten
    August 3, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for this review. I got my copy some days ago and I am already in love with it!
    https://retrocameracs.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/7artisans-bitte-wie/

  • Reply
    Bob
    August 4, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Don
    August 7, 2017 at 11:30 am

    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?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 13, 2017 at 7:18 am

      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.

  • Reply
    David Hill
    August 7, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Nice. Really really nice. I don’t suppose that’s LTM + M-adapter? Noooo, ‘course not.

  • Reply
    Paul Doherty
    August 23, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    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.. 😉

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 27, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Excellent, some great shots in there!

    • Reply
      Huss
      August 30, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      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.

      Thanks

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        September 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm

        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

  • Reply
    Shane Goguen
    August 24, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    What size Allen key did you use to tighten the screws?
    Mine are loose.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      August 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

      I’m not sure, mine are part of a small set and unlabelled. The mini sets are only a few quid though

  • Reply
    Ivan
    September 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 9, 2017 at 8:12 am

      They are working on soemething for later this month, I think

  • Reply
    Allan
    September 13, 2017 at 2:28 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 13, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      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

      • Reply
        Ruban
        September 13, 2017 at 11:16 pm

        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?

        Thanks!

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          September 14, 2017 at 6:32 am

          If you can wait until I get these, I can confirm they fit and sell you one myself – I got them direct from 7artisans

  • Reply
    Allan
    September 13, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 14, 2017 at 6:33 am

      When I get the bunch I have bought, I will be confirming they fit, and retailing them … so if you can wait…?

  • Reply
    Allan
    September 17, 2017 at 1:21 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Brian
    September 22, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 23, 2017 at 9:29 am

      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

      • Reply
        Brian
        September 23, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        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.

  • Reply
    Simon
    September 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Great review:)

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      September 23, 2017 at 9:22 am

      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

  • Reply
    Lens hood for the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens | Leica Rumors
    September 26, 2017 at 3:03 am

    […] DJ-Optical / 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 (ongoing) Review […]

  • Reply
    Allan
    September 30, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    St. Kettmus
    October 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Brian
      October 9, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      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:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157662884681752

  • Reply
    Allan
    October 15, 2017 at 4:30 am

    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.)

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 15, 2017 at 7:01 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Nate
    October 16, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 16, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      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

      • Reply
        Terry B
        October 17, 2017 at 7:34 am

        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?

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          October 17, 2017 at 7:16 pm

          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

  • Reply
    Alan Logan
    October 19, 2017 at 9:39 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 21, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      I have reports from them that they have too – I have a batch landing monday, so will be able to confirm

  • Reply
    Brian
    October 20, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    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:

    https://www.leicaplace.com/threads/7artisans-50-1-1-nokton-50-1-1-and-jupiter-3-50-1-5-visit-gunston-hall.1907/

    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…

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Agreed – What do you make of the Bokeh balls being cut in half though? Any thoughts?

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