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7artisans 25mm 1.8 quick review

Discussion in 'Native X-Mount Lens Forum' started by boulevardier, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    This Chinese made, manual focus lens is available in various mirrorless mounts, mine is Fuji-X bayonet. It's nicely made in aluminium with (I think) brass helicoids, and perfectly damped, with focus ring and aperture having just the right amount of resistance. There's no slack in either and the lens looks and feels like a quality item. The packaging reflects the boutique feel, with an upmarket Western design not unlike Fuji's own silky black boxes.

    The 25mm 1.8 is about the same size as an Industar 50mm 2.8, for anyone familiar with old Soviet rangefinder lenses, projecting forward slightly more than the width of my X-Pro1 body, with the tapered-in body style of Fuji's 23mm and 35mm f2 native lenses. Operation is better than any Russian lens I've owned, more German in feel than anything. The finish is virtually identical to the X-Pro, and aesthetically a good match.

    Performance is slightly old fashioned to anyone used to modern digital lenses, sharper in the centre than the edges wide open, improving as the lens is stopped down before diffraction is apparent at f16. Out of focus details are always attractive, with none of the background busyness of some lenses and an almost Leica-esque feel to contrast and definition. Given a suitable editing pre-set, it would give a very good imitation of a classic film rangefinder optic, offering plenty of detail without the biting contrast of a modern lens.

    25mm (37.5mm via Fuji's APS-C sensor) may seem an odd focal length, but the 24mm OVF frame shows no difference to the 25mm EVF, and most users would use the two interchangeably. The perspective is like the 38mm once favoured by film point and shoot cameras. If you want something wider than a FF 50mm and close to the theoretical human field of view, it's definitely worth a try.

    The only complaint I have is the focus scale, which is sufficiently at odds with the reality through the EVF to make scale/zone focus a non-starter. The barrel contains feet and metre distance engravings, progressing (in feet) from 0.6, 1, 2, 5, 16 and infinity markings. Subjects at approximately 5ft - pin sharp at f1.8 though the EVF - showed closer to the 16 ft than 5 ft markings, and the void between the two makes hyperfocal shooting a gamble. It's possible, but you'd have to work out your own sweet spot and most users will confirm distance through the viewfinder. I assume the discrepancy is the result of the same lens being produced for a variety of sensor formats.

    Who will it appeal to? Not an existing owner of the Fuji 23mm f2, who won't trade autofocus and exemplary optical performance. I think its market will be people buying first generation X-Series cameras on the used market whose budget won't stretch to new Fuji lenses, adapted lens fans who are looking for something more compact than an adapter allows, or photographers who want a slightly old school, film era feel. The bottom line is the price. Mine cost £51.00 new via eBay from China, which puts the 7artisans 25mm 1.8 in the same market segment as used FSU lenses that are decades old and of uncertain provenance. Probably even cheaper given the paucity of good lenses around 24mm mark. Add the convenience of a Fuji mount and the attraction is obvious.

    Edit: perhaps this review should be in the X-mount forum?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
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  2. beakhammer

    beakhammer Premium Member

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    Thanks for the well-written review. This is a very interesting development. Lens-makers like this, and companies like Fotodiox that make every sort of adapter, create an opening for a new kind of camera, universal open source cameras that work with a great many lenses and peripherals. Mirrorless cameras are already making this possible, but imagine cameras where the first design priority was for this kind of adapted-lens photography. Fuji and Sony come the closest at present. I am working on building my own modular field camera with this kind of work in mind. The successful Kickstarter "Mercury" camera is another approach, and a lot can be done simply by cobbling together components from old film-camera systems. The next step is for someone to start producing a much more affordable digital back and camera body setup aimed squarely at using adapted and after-market lenses in the most flexible and universal manner possible. This would go against all of the traditional systems-marketing strategies, but if some forward looking company turns the traditional marketing model upside down they might create a whole new market that takes advantage of the lightning speed with which technology currently evolves, instead of fighting it.

    Sooner or later cameras will evolve into optical/haptics devices designed to enhance and extend smartphones and tablets. One way to approach this, from a camera companies perspective, is to focus on modular and universal systems, flexible enough to take advantage of the speed of change, and to co-opt other companies products rather than directly compete with them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  3. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    Glad you enjoyed it, and I agree a universal mount, open source camera is a good idea. The original Sony A7 was perhaps the nearest thing to a lens platform, taking manual lenses at their original focal length. For an open source camera to succeed users would have to forego the electrickery that manufacturers are determined to keep to themselves. In principle it may be possible for someone to sell a modular sensor, programmed in a few ways and interchanged in the same way focusing screens were on film cameras.
     
  4. beakhammer

    beakhammer Premium Member

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    This can already be done with digital-backs and large-format and some medium format systems. Some of the older digital backs are coming way down in price, but they are often cumbersome devices. 28mp Leaf-Actus backs for Mamiya mount are down to $2500 or so, but at that price you can buy a whole camera in FF format and use the much more extensive SLR-based systems. I would settle for an extremely simple digital back if it was compact and reasonably priced, and it would be even more appealing if it were sold with a really well-designed body with a universal lens mount.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  5. boulevardier

    boulevardier Premium Member

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    I'm surprised one of the Chinese companies hasn't come up with a simple reverse Galilean, hotshoe mounted finder in popular focal lengths. The price asked for branded viewfinders without any distance correction is nothing short of extortionate. Even a simple Kontur style finder would find a ready market.
     
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  6. beakhammer

    beakhammer Premium Member

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    I still regret not buying a nice Linhoff universal finder that I saw in an old camera repair shop going-out-of-business sale. I think there is a modern version available, but it is not as nice. 7artisans ought to produce one.

    If they made some lenses with a rangefinder cam and M39 screw mount they might sell quite a lot of these to people who use the old Soviet and German rangefinder cameras. These old cameras are fun to use, but there are very few wide angle lenses for them, other than the ones made by Cosina-Voigtlander (and the new ones are all M-mount only now, though a few used ones in M39 mount are still around). 7Artisans would also need to fix the focus-scale problem to interest users of the old RF cameras. They should come up with a focus scale specific to each camera design that can be easily swopped out. That is how the Mercury system works.
     
  7. gyoung

    gyoung Premium Member

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    The trouble with many of the Voigtlander M39 short focal length lenses is that they aren't a good match for digital sensors.
    I have 15 (vers 1), 21/4, 28/1.9 and 35/2.5. They were bought for and continue to be used on Leica film cameras (M3 and III). Only the 28/1.9 is as good at the edges as the Fuji lenses ( it's a retrofocus design), the others have problems in the corners until stopped down, although they have other characteristics that some find attractive. The only digital cameras they work well on are the Leica Ms, because of their special sensors, and they are rather expensive!
    From what I can see in tests, the Samyang 12 and 21 are the nearest to Fuji standards of sharpness, but they have had reported problems with quality control, and also seem to have focus scale and alignment problems occasionally. But they are reasonably priced
    I can't see why manufacturers can't produce an accurate focus scale, its not rocket science, what do they think the scale is for!

    Gerry
     
  8. specLegacy

    specLegacy Premium Member

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    The 7artisans 25/1.8 looks to me like a rebranded Zonlai/Discover/Hengyijia 25/1.8. The other brands also offer a 35/1.8. Both the 25mm and 35mm use the same lens housing, and I suspect the distances marked on the focus scale would be decently accurate on the 35mm, but they didn't bother to print a separate focus scale for the 25mm. I have a Wesley 24/1.8, which seems to have identical optics to the 25/1.8, but with a different housing. The focus distances are actually not bad, though the center mark is off by a little bit. Easy to adjust for it, though. I placed a piece of gaffer tape to mark where the accurate distance should be read.

    My review of the Wesley, Zonlai, and a couple other lenses here: Please login or register to view links
     
  9. Richard_R

    Richard_R Eclectic eccentric Staff Member

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    Thanks for the review. I have been watching the 7Artisans lenses for a while and thinking about taking the plunge on one or two more as fun lenses than anything else. They are inexpensive enough that if they only get used occasionally the bank balance won't feel too sad.
    At this point I am thinking about the 25mm to in some ways replicate the 23 on my X100 and possibly the 7.5mm fisheye. Fisheye lenses are always fun provided they are not used excessively.
     
  10. FMW

    FMW Premium Member

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    I ordered the fisheye. It is cheap enough that it isn't much of a risk. It comes from China so I can't guess when it will arrive. I'll post something about it after I've made some photos with it.
     
  11. VintageJim

    VintageJim Well-Known Member

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    I often zone focus and the inaccurate scale is a little frustrating to me. Could you share how you re-marked the lens with gaffers tape? I was considering making a label with my p-touch, but I don’t think it would be any more accurate.

    I just bought the 25mm lens from a member here via the classifieds. I like the look and sharpness of the photos. Really surprised at how close it focuses.
     
  12. specLegacy

    specLegacy Premium Member

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    That was in reference to the Wesley 24/1.8. For that lens, the markings were in the right relative distance to each other, but the lens focused past infinity, so I marked a spot for where the infinity stop should actually be on the lens barrel.

    For the 25/1.8, the markings are all completely off because the distances were calibrated for a 35mm lens, not a 25mm.
     
  13. VintageJim

    VintageJim Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Looks like I’ll need to invent a creative solution.
     

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