FIRST LOOK! 7 Artisans 50 1.1 Lens for Leica M and Sony!

FIRST LOOK! 7 Artisans 50 1.1 Lens for Leica M and Sony!

By Steve Huff

Today I wanted to show you guys a new lens that arrived on my doorstep recently. This is a 50mm f/1.1 Lens for Leica M mount, coded as a Nocticlux F/1, and it even comes with tools to adjust the focus in the case of back or front focus, as some of these lenses exhibit on a rangefinder. All for $369. This is the 7 Artisans lens that has been out for a while now, and IMO is a GREAT bang for the buck if the qualities it offers are appealing to you, and that is key! Not everyone will enjoy a lens like this, but I know some of you will.

This is the opposite of a lens like the Leica 50 APO or Leica 50 Summilux. It has much more in common with the old Leica 50 Summitar f/1.5 or the Jupiter 3 buy Lomo. I call it a “Character Lens” or an “Artists Lens” and while it does not offer biting sharpness or cutting edge contrast and color performance, it does offer speed with its 1.1 aperture and that “glow” and slight softness when used wide open that we may remember from days past.

At this price, I assumed the lens would feel cheap, sloppy and quite honestly be pretty bad. BUT for the money, it surprised me. It is VERY well made, at least my version is. Solid, smooth focusing and smooth aperture dial. NO SLOP or loose feel at all. As I stated it is even coded by the factory as a Leica Noctilux f/1. So no need to manually go into your M camera and set up a code for it.

See my video below, which is my 1st look with samples and my thoughts and some details of the lens. I also show a comparison with the 40 f/1.2 from Voigtlander, which is a better lens no doubt but also $500+ more cashola. 

 

For the cash this could be an alternative to the Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar though the Zeiss offers a much sharper image wide open (f/1.5) and more contrast and more accurate color. But at $900 or so less, this lens will not break your bank and still offers some of the same qualities (especially the bokeh). This lens is indeed based off of a Sonnar design, so it does have that Sonnar vibe and feel. Busy bokeh, wild bokeh, whatever you want to call it, this lens does offer you gobs of it ; )

You can see more about this lens, or order it via Amazon (prime) HERE. 

A few samples below from my 1st outing (I will have more photos in a future post) just getting to know the character of the lens. One thing I know is that this lens will flare, it will exhibit some softness at 1.1 and will also have lower contrast. ALL fixable of course with processing.

The 1st image is taken with the Leica M10 and 50 1.1 at f/1.1  – wide open. Click it for larger. 

This 2nd image taken 10 seconds later is with the M10 and Voigtlander 40 f/1.2

And a few quick snaps with the 50 1.1 all wide open

23 Comments

  1. Thankyou for the review, it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about an F1.1 lens. This lens is based on the Sonnar formula, a unique formulation. The lens closest to it is the 1950s Zunow 5cm F1.1. That lens will set you back ~$5000 these days, and lacks the ability to easily adjust the RF Cam.

    I bought a second 7artisans for my M Monochrom, fine-adjusted it to use with a deep yellow filter. I’ve taken this lens out with the C-Sonnar, classic Sonnars, and 50/1.1 Nokton. This lens has taken a lot of undeserved criticism, nice to read a fair review.

    My 7Artisans Album on Flickr-

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157683038592982

    250 pictures with the lenses on the M9 and M Monochrom.

    One hint: I use a step-up ring to use 58mm filters and hoods with the lenses. I found a 55mm filter and hood caused vignetting.

  2. Great examples. The lens looks very nice and has loads of character. In the comparison shot were they straight out-of-camera jpegs with zero adjustment or converted from DNG, also without adjustment? If from jpeg, what is the Voigtlander lens coded as (or did you use it as)?

    • By character, if you mean to the point where I’m not sure where subject ends and bokeh begins, I agree with you. The CV 40 f/1.2 is far superior being fairly sharp in the center and lovely bokeh in the background. I know the CV is a more expensive, but I’ll not mount a cheap lens just because the quality exceeded low expectations. CV lenses still remain the best buy on the market with a few of their lenses equaling or exceeding the Leica lenses in IQ, field flatness and focus shift. I give credit to the Chinese for a good try, but I’ll pass for now..

  3. So when was the last time a client asked you for a bokeh shot or rejected a shot at 1.4 because they wanted bokeh at 1.2 or 1.1. This is a gear head conversation about owning overpriced equipment and not a conversation about the artistic value of a product.

  4. Very interesting lens, thanks Steve for the review. I think that the Voigtlander 50mm 3.5 and this one are two of the most interesting and unorthodox non-Leica lenses for the M series.

  5. With so many nice fast lenses out there (maybe not quite as fast), this throwaway–not worth repairing when it breaks, virtually no resale value, postage for warranty work (if there is a warranty) probably exceeds 10% of the cost of the thing, doesn’t seem worth it.

    I’ll be waiting for the CV 50/1.2. Undoubtedly better color and resolution wide-open

  6. This is the thing. At this price point, it’s a disposable item. Otherthoughts:
    -Quality control/sample variation at this price point can’t be all that great (they give you the ability to adjust front/back focus adjust to save themselves the effort).
    -Returning a defective one by mail (to Amazon or ?Red China) is perhaps 5-10% of the cost of the item itself.
    -It will have virtually no resale value.
    -The bokeh isn’t all that appealing to my eye (@ ƒ/1.1, isn’t that part of the point?). The contrast is low, sharpness so-so wide-open. With the the multitude of other, older options available (perhaps not quite ƒ/1.1) I don’t see the point.

    Personally, for lower cost options, I’m sticking with Voigtländer, especially with a pending 50/1.2 out soon.

  7. My personal suggestion for a manual focus lens with bokeh king is to TRY FIRST a used 50mm 1.2 but anyone is free to buy what he want.

  8. I have this lens (use it on an A7) and it’s great. It’s a bit soft and low contrast at 1.1, but post processing can mitigate some of that while still keeping the dreamy look where the background melts away into a swirl. Only drawback is really the clickless aperture with non-even spacing.

  9. Chinese lens are modest clones of Leica, Zeiss and Japanese famous optical formulae from the past.
    Sorry but bokeh and colour rendition are horrible: you have what you pay for, no one give you nothing for nothing!
    Better buy used lenses from the past…they have so much more CHARACTER

  10. for the price, it cant go wrong..
    Im using the 7artisan 35/1.2 for Fuji x-mount, it’s even cheaper and the quality surprises me too.. great value for the money

  11. Congratulations on those that made this lens, it allows the ones wanting to purchase their dream Leica M camera who can’t afford to buy a expensive Lens. It’s a great place to start and enjoy until they can afford something better, the only scare for Leica is that these guys in their next versions may get better and better for the cheaper price.

  12. Actually looks quite nice. The first one of Debby looks really Nice quality. I think it looks softer when your closer to minimum focus distance…Interesting…..

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