Camera Geekery: 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens on film review

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by Michael Nguyen /

3 min read
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Camera Geekery: 7Artisans 35mm f/2 on film review

There’s been a lot of chatter recently on the light and dark web about the so-called “China-cron”, aka the brand new sub-$300 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens for Leica M mount. This is 7Artisans’ newest offering and their second in a line of lenses targeted towards the frugal Leica crowd. Will the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens be accepted among the discriminating Leica legion? Reviews out there have been reasonably favorable thus far on digital but how does it perform on film?

Let’s take a closer look at this little wonder. This is a fully rangefinder coupled 35mm f/2 lens based off of the Sonnar optical formula, complete with an M-mount, hyperfocal distance scale, and focusing tab.

Technical specifications

  • Lens design: 7 elements in 5 groups
  • Angle of view: 63°
  • Number of aperture blades: 10
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.7m
  • Filter size: 43mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/2
  • Minumum aperture: f/16
  • Weight: 205 g
  • Price: $289

Here it is juxtaposed to a Leica Summicron 35 ASPH. They’re similar in size but the 7Artisans 35mm is 40g lighter, equating to an almost 20% reduction in weight.

Build quality is surprisingly decent. It’s been noted that you can’t reasonably expect fit and finish to rival zee Germans at 1/10th the price but it doesn’t feel any inferior to say a Cosina-made Voigtlander lens. Aperture rings click precisely (though full stops only) and the focusing tab is tight and smooth.

In the looks department, it doesn’t look out of place on an Leica M in my eyes. I do wish it came with a hood though. And a 43mm thread has forced me to buy another step up ring for ND filters and what not.

The 7Artisan 35mm is aimed to be an affordable bang-for-your-buck option so to pin it optically against the $3,295 Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH is rather unfair. Or is it? Well let’s take the Pepsi Challenge; which of these shots is from the 7Artisans and which is from Leica? All shots were taken on the above Leica M6 and with JCH Streetpan 400, developed in Fuji Minidol.

 Lens A: f2, 125th
 Lens B: f2, 125th
 Lens A: f8, 1/60th
 Lens B: f8, 1/60th

Some people can’t differentiate the tastes of Pepsi and Coke but to me this is more Pepsi vs. RC Cola. Tastes good, hits the spot alright but when compared side by side it lacks the “umph”. Lens A is the Summicron-M ASPH and Lens B is the 7Artisans 35mm. Let’s take a closer look at some side-by-sides through all apertures.

7Artisans 35mm vs. Leica Summicron-M 35 ASPH head to head

The 7Artisans is surprisingly sharp indeed but renders slightly thicker lines than with the Summicron, giving it a less luxurious look. Bokeh is decent, contrast is good and it looks close to the Summicron from f5.6 onwards. It is also noted that the 7Artisans appears to be a smidgeon longer in focal length and is actually probably closer to a 38mm lens.

Glaring Issues

The one thing that the Summicron handily spanks the 7Artisans is with distortion, something already confirmed in prior reviews. Yes it’s a just $300 lens made in China, yada yada yada.

Another issue brought up in other reviews that is confirmed here is with flaring. Rather silly that something so prone to flares not come with a lens hood. Some care is required to prevent unsightly glare.

Conclusion

The 7Artisans 35mm is a very decent lens and at that price point, there’s no real reasonable complaint another than needing to fork out extra for a lens hood. Is it the coveted “pretty much a Leica lens at a fraction of the price” that we all hope actually exists? To that I reply, “close but no cigar”.
That being said, you only really notice when comparing head to head with legendary glass worth 10x the price. Contrast and sharpness are quite nice; just the line renditions are a smidgeon thick to my eyes. But for the frugal minded M-mount user looking for an entry 35mm lens, it’s a solid performer and worth consideration.

MN

7Artisans 35mm f/2 on JCH Streetpan 400

7Artisans 35mm f/2 on Agfa Vista 400

 

6 comments on “Camera Geekery: 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens on film review”

    Michael Jin June 22, 2018 at 9:16 am / Reply

    “Frugal Leica crowd”?

    Jay A. June 23, 2018 at 1:57 am / Reply

    The real question is is the Leica lens really worth 10 times the price in terms of physical quality as well as image quality. If the Leica lens is truly 10x better fine. But if not, then the 7Artisans bears a strong look.

    theindustrialist June 23, 2018 at 9:25 am / Reply

    Samson with DA hubs. Nice :D

    Daniel Castelli June 24, 2018 at 2:18 am / Reply

    Funny, I just bought a Zeiss (zm) 35mm Biogon f/2.0. I like the lens, I’m happy with my results and I like the look of the silver barrel (looks like it was made for my M2 & M4-P). It reminds me of the lenses I used on the Hasselblad I was issued during the 1970’s.
    A buddy who is a long time Leica user (longer than me) poo-poo’ed the lens. Not good, bad build, etc. I told him I’m long past jumping out of ‘copters and wading into hot spots. I’m shooting what I like when I see it. The point? Some of the die-hard Leica people will never accept anything less then a Leica badged product. Forget the obscene prices, forget the scarcity of products, they will not contaminate their equipment with “inferior” items.
    If this lens delivers good results, if the owners are happy with it, then buy it and shoot your world silly. More power to the 7 Artisans and their products.

    rob June 29, 2018 at 9:35 am / Reply

    Any comment on the len’s supposed incompatibility with Canadian M bodies?

    Bork-bork-bork July 4, 2018 at 3:28 am / Reply

    I’m getting this one simply because of the novelty of shooting a 35mm Sonnar derivative. That’s weird enough to justify about tree hundo.

    The company’s first M-mount offering was the (similarly curious, as an idea) 50mm f/1.1, also a Sonnar derivative — which is what many wished someone would make in China for cheap, since Jupiter-3s are soft and Zeiss quite expensive. A step as bold as Sonnar contrast, followed by a second step of sticking with the idea. Maybe in the next decade we’ll see Planar derivative designs, or even a M-mount body, from China?

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