It sounds like a sacileg to use a low cost lens on an expensive camera. But when I saw the offer for a 7Artisans 35mm lens at somewhere around $250.00 I could not resist to try it out.
It sounded to good. So I ordered the lens with the L-Mount for Leica and Lumix.
This is a manual lens with a fixed 5.6 aperture. I actually had not noted this in the advertisment. The focal length is 35mm.
The lens is pancake style and makes a camera body like a CL or TL very small. Similar to the 18mm T-Typle lens I had before. Only the Leica 18mm lens is a great deal more expensive.
On the Lumix the lens does not even protrudes in front of the grip.
Mechanically. The lens seems solid and the lens mount fitted without any spiel (play). This was a good sign, since I have got some Chinese made lens adapters (R to L mount), which on the camera side have considerable play.
In fact, the mount on the lens seems to be of really good quality, since after dozend’s of changes, it still is tight.
The lens has only one dial at the front for the manual focus setting. If turned totally down, past the infinity setting, a lens cover comes out to protect the front lens. There is no thread to attach a sunshade or lens cover anyway.
Optically I was tempted to make direct comparisons with the Leica lens, but I have refrained from this, since I think it is not fair, considering the price difference and that the 7Artisans lens does not have autofocus.
Sharpness: I tried the lens, using the focus indicator in the viewfinder on both cameras. The 7Artisans lens has no diaphram, so I can not be stopped down and always works at full aperature.
Here is the clinch. Using the focus indicator on both cameras, which use contrast based focussing, the 7Artisans lens is not perfectly sharp, in fact a number of long distance shots, which appeared to the sharp enough in the viewfinder, did not live up to expectations.
This is a pity, since the lens would be a great snapshot lens, which, if damaged, could be replaced cheaply.
Looking through the shots, often the focus point is closer than the indicated one.
If you use a magnifier on the LCD screen and focus very tighly, the lens performs much better. Maybe the focus rack needs to be longer on the lens, so that the exact focus point can be easier found.
At 5.6, the depth of field is limited, even at 35mm, so precise focussing is critical.
Colour and contrast: In respect to the overall colour performance I found the lens actually good. Since it is a much simpler lens arrangement, compared to a zoom lens, this should not surprise. Due to the softer focus, the contrast appears to be lower.
Overall: This is not a proper lens test and this article is not supposed to be one. I am sure that this lens has its merits and may perform on other cameras better. Likewise, if you have the time to place the camera on to a tripod and carefully find the focus point, you will be rewarded with surprisingly good images. So for about U$250.00 the lens is not bad. But it is not the snap shot and allrounder lens as I expected.
This was my very first forray into Chinese made lenses. I am impressed from the mechanical side. But it would be great if 7Artisans could give this lens an autofocus, at the appropriate extra charge of course, it would make this a real good street photography lens. Anyway, I look forward trying out some other Chinese and Korean made lenses. Not that I would shun my Leica lenses. I think they are the best optics around. Actually, my 60mm NIKON macro lens with a Novoflex adapter on my CL provides a stunning sharness. But in respect of colour, Leica is still my favorite.
What do you think?