7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens review



Leica lenses have excellent image quality combined with a solid build. Zeiss and Voigtlander also produce some stellar optics. I have always been interested in other "cheap" third party options for the Leica M mount. Several manufacturers produce M mount lenses, but most are not rangefinder coupled (for example Meyer-Optik-Görlitz). Handevision was one of the first brands to produce a series of rangefinder coupled Iberit lenses for Leica M. Recently, another Chinese manufacturer came up with the 50mm f/1.1 lens for Leica M-mount (Sonnar design) that is sold under the 7artisans and DJ-Optical brand names.

The 7Artisian 50mm f/1.1 lens for Leica M-mount costs $370 and can be purchased at Amazon USAmazon DEAmazon UK and eBay. I received a lens for review from the manufacturer - here is my preliminary report that will be updated in the next few weeks as I have more time to shoot with the lens (fyi: the lens is shipped from Asia and I did not have to pay any import duties in the US):

General

The first thing you notice is how heavy this lens is - 426 g with both caps:


Here is the viewfinder blockage on a Leica M10:


The aperture markings are not spread symmetrically over the aperture ring - the big aperture numbers are very close to each other. The f/11 marking is missing completely:


Because this 50mm f/1.1 is so thick, some may find it difficult to access/push the lens release button:


The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens is 6 bit coded as a Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1 lens:


The lens doesn't come with a lens hood - you can try some of the third party available lens hoods (55mm) at B&H and eBay but I did not have the time to do the research. I will update this post once I find a good lens hood. The lens comes with a solid, heavy metal push-on lens cap - something you don't see with many lenses today.

Next is a size comparison between the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1, Iberit 50mm f/2.4 and the Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lenses:





The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens also comes with instructions on how to adjust/calibrate the focusing with a small screw on the lens - my lens did not need any adjustments, but I am curious to play with this one day:


The lens appears to be coated but I am not sure. The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 fits also on film cameras (M6. M7, MP) but I did not get a chance to shoot film with it (there are some mounting issues on a Leica M4 camera, which will be fixed in the next batch):



Technical Specifications


  • Full frame lens for Leica M-mount (rangefinder coupled)
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Aperture range: f/1.1-f/16
  • Angular field of view: 46°
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.7m
  • Number of aperture blades: 12
  • Lens design: 7 elements in 6 groups
  • Aluminum body and copper core, Sonnar design
  • Filter thread: 55mm
  • Weight: 14.1 oz / 400 g
  • Dimensions: 49mm x 60mm
  • The box contains: lens, two lens caps, lens pouch, instructions:

Sharpness

Using the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens wide open at f/1.1 delivers some soft/glowy images - open the full resolution image for a better view (more sample photos are available on flickr):

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Here is a 100% crop from the image above - you can clearly see the glow and the lack of sharpness/contrast:

The lens sharpness improves at f/2:

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Next are some wide open (f/1.1) vs. stopped down (f/5.6-f/8) comparisons - click to see the larger resolution on flickr:

Wide open (f/1.1):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Stopped down (f/5.6-f/8):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Wide open (f/1.1):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Stopped down (f/5.6-f/8):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Wide open (f/1.1):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Stopped down (f/5.6-f/8):
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Vignetting

Some noticeable vignetting is present up to f/2 (lens detection/correction set to Noctilux 50mm f/1.0):

7Artisans 50mm f1.1 Leica M-mount lens at f1.1

f/1.1

7Artisans 50mm f1.1 Leica M-mount lens at f1.4

f/1.4

7Artisans 50mm f1.1 Leica M-mount lens at f2

f/2

Bokeh

Some pictures to illustrate the bokeh of the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens (all shot wide open at f/1.1):

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Barrel distortion, lens flare, chromatic aberration

The 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 has a minimal lens flare (first picture) and some noticeable chromatic aberrations (check out the boat lights and some of the tree branches in the second and third picture):

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

I did not see any focus shift. The barrel distortion is noticeable:

Comparison

Next is a quick comparison between the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 ($369.90), Handevision Iberit 50mm f/2.4 ($590) and Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH ($3,895) lenses:

Wide open

7Artisans @ f/1.1 - you can again see the glow and the lack of sharpness/contrast I mentioned above:

7Artisans @ f/1.4 - things look already better at f/1.4:

Leica 50 Summilux @ f/1.4:

Handevision Iberit 50mm @ f/2.4:

f/2.8

7Artisans @ f/2.8:

Leica 50 Summilux @ f/2.8:

Handevision Iberit 50mm @ f/2.8:

f/4

7Artisans @ f/4.0:

Leica 50 Summilux @ f/4.0:

Handevision Iberit 50mm @ f/4.0:

The complete set of full resolution JPG files from this comparison is available on flickr:

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 comparisons

Sample photos

All sample photos were taken with a Leica M10 camera (the jpg files are straight from the camera, no correction or post processing applied, full resolution available on flickr):

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica M-mount lens sample photos

Conclusion

Pros (what I like):

  • Smooth focusing ring
  • 6 bit coded
  • Solid build, nice fit and finish
  • Minimum focusing distance of 0.7m
  • Excellent price/performance ratio (bargain at $369.90)

Cons (what I don't like):

  • Soft/glow when wide open
  • De-clicked aperture
  • No lens hood
  • No focusing tab

The bottom line: not a perfect lens, but well worth it considering the price, especially if you stop it down.

Additional coverage of the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens can be found here.

The 7Artisian 50mm f/1.1 lens for Leica M-mount can be purchased at Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon UK | eBay.

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