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Is 7artisans 50mm f / 1.1 a Affordable Noctilux or No Luck?

Is it too good to be true? A cheap M mounting lens that goes all the way to f /…

Is it too good to be true? A cheap M mounting lens that goes all the way to f / 1.1? At $ 369 The 7artisan 50mm f / 1.1 lens is heard in the bargain basket or on your camera?

From what I’ve read on forums and reviews, people either think this lens is brilliant OR the most expensive paperweight money can buy. In particular, Leica Snobs has no idea that anything worth less than $ 2,000 could be a decent lens. I’m not a snob, and I do not have $ 2000 dollars to spend on Summicron, so that’s why I bought this as an affordable option.

So should have kept my receipt? As they say is the proof of pudding in eating, so let’s try!

Anna and I took it out for a walk to the night markets in Taipei. If I only used the surrounding light on the street and a hot shovel-mounted LED box on my Leica MD (Type 262), I shot all of them on either f / 1.1 or f / 1.4 to really see what it could do:

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After checking all the shots in Lightroom, I’m really surprised at the quality of this lens. At f / 1.1, the picture is definitely not as sharp as I usually, but it has a really beautiful and distinctive look. There is a character for this lens that reminds me of an old Russian Helios or a Petzval, and the swirly bokeh it does is very pleasing to my eyes. Not only in the pictures, but its design, with the smooth focus and the unclicked aperture, resembles a handmade lens full of character.

Another nice surprise was how much I prefer the rubber focusing tab to metal. Not only do I think it’s more comfortable, but by keeping it where I want it I’ve been able to put on the right side of my lens so I can almost focus alone! Something that is impossible for me with Summicron 35.

Today or afternoon light becomes sharp when you stay down. Photographing on f / 16 or f / 8, it’s great for street focus:

So do not believe the naysayers: if you own a Leica or even a Sony with a adapter, this is an excellent choice for an affordable nifty fifty. Even if you already have a Summicron, for this price, 7artisans is a useful tool for shooting in low light with. Compared to a Noctilux, it is much easier, much smaller and will not cause an emotional breakdown if you drop or lose it.


P.S. This is the second time I have done this test, as in the first attempt, I had not calibrated my lens focus properly and all my focus images were completely disabled. To ensure that this does not happen, you are sure to use the focus control from the box and adjust it exactly. This is not hard to do if you do not have a movie camera, so make sure you can borrow a digital M if you plan to shoot 35mm with it. Otherwise, your impression may be that it’s about as useful as a cat flap in an elephant house.


About the Author : James Cater is a digital and analog photographer, film lab operator and model. The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s. You can find more of Cater’s work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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