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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  • dramin

    This lens is an excellent lens, but it has some flaws, of course.

    • The only “issue” for me is the glow/blur when shooting wide open at f/1.1. I still think this is a very good deal for $370.

      • Heiko Bertram

        glow/ blur and unsharpness Is something all older fast aperture lenzen suffer from. I had a Leica-M f/1.4 35mm 1980 model and it flared and wasn’t sharp at 1.4 with but it really had it’s charme! What I’ve heard and seen is that all early fast aperture lenses perform this way.

        • It’s not that bad – at f1.4 it’s almost gone. If you shoot b&w you may not even notice it.

      • Zos Xavius

        It’s a steal for $370 really. Its outperforming leica glass wide open there.

  • In my case, the coding is not detected by the m240, and sometimes neither by the m9, although the m9 is more forgiving and randomly picks the coding. Maybe a little misalignment. Also, due to the adjustment procedure, I find that the lens has to be calibrated for each camera model, as it depends on the thickness of the RF rotating screw.

  • ZMWT

    A toy lens for the M mount.

    • there is always one with nothing to say worth posting

    • Dennis Cress

      “No photographer is as good as the simplest camera.” — Edward Steichen

  • Kinson Cheng

    Looking at the test chart comparison this lens beats the Summilux @ f1.4?
    It that really real?

    • Nathan Wright

      You’re not looking at a properly focused Summilux is that’s the case.

  • Nathan Wright

    Impressive for the price. Just that damn sucked to the middle or thrown from the middle bokeh. Otherwise, looks great.

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