The $500 7 Artisans 28 1.4 M Mount Lens
by Dan Barr
As I already wrote never used a non-Leica lens until these days, to be honest, I was very uncertain about the 7Artisans 28 1.4 so I read a lot about it, saw YouTube films and finally decided to buy it. I know that the low price had a big influence on my decision.
So what do I think about the 28 1.4 after 10 days of shooting with it?
The lens is very good especially for black and white, sharp and contrasty. It is not as good as Leica lenses but very good.
It is quite big and a little heavy but balances very well on my Leica M. It protrudes a little in the VF but not too much( i still do not have the hood as the lens comes without one).
Shooting at f/1.4, at least in my eyes, is sharp especially in the middle which also gets more light than the corners. This is especially evident if you shoot from a distance, shooting portraits from a close distance give a much better result same with vignetting, the lens vignettes like crazy shooting scenery but can hardly be seen shooting portraits from close distance.
The focus ring is a joy, I always thought I only loved the focus tab on Leica lenses but hey, the focusing here is simple and accurate.
This lens can be calibrated at home, no need to send it to Lrica for calibration( huge advantage) but it has to be done for every camera you use, so it works perfectly on my M9M but needs calibration on my M9P, and that is a problem, so I use it now on my M9M.
Do I like the lens? very much.
Take care Danny
All shots are JPEG, High contrast, high sharpness.
I´m really confused about the different reviews on the internet about this lens. I maybe purchase on used for my m240 but i´d like to be sure if its really sharp. In this review the lens looks great in sharpness, but on some other reviews its mostly soft at 1.4. Maybe a quality controll thing at 7artisans? Or is it the high sharpness added in jpeg?
a very tempting lens and Danny’s photos are no help in NOT buying!
THe portraits are stunning, character and detail.
Many Leitz/Leica lenses are also prone to no repairs, age, construction etc..
One can enjoy and enjoy.
The only no brainer is not spending $500 on rubbish. Save your money for a quality product and spend it wisely. This lens will be worthless on the secondhand market and is a good contended for landfill. With prices so cheap it will not be economical to service or repair.
A whole display case of these Leica knockoffs now sits right next to the Leica display case at Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo. Prices for some lenses start as low as $150 USD. It’s the same old predatory pricing and dumping tactic from the Chinese manufacturers.
And those $150 lenses were $200 new so what’s your point?
And yes Voigtlander lenses are nice, much more expensive, and cannot be repaired. Don’t believe me then check out what lensrentals has to say. FYI they are a big rental company that also repairs lenses because sometimes their lenses come back damaged.
“OK, I stated on the last set of tests that I despise Voigtlander lenses. That’s because they simply can’t be repaired reasonably and parts are not available, so they are basically disposable lenses. But, I have to say, I was markedly impressed by the 25mm Voigtlander’s performance.”
I’m not very familiar with Voigtlander lenses. Though have heard good things about them.
My comment is directed at the DJ-Optical 7Artisans lenses that have unashamedly copied the styling of Leica lenses. Looking near identical at a glance. But have depth of field scales that are so skewed as to be unusable for zone focusing, issues focusing at infinity, and also have f-stop marks missing on the aperture ring. The lens in featured in this review jumps from F8 to F16. There is no F11! As can be seen in the photo on B&H.
I know the price point is very attractive, and it’s designed to be at almost impulse purchase levels. With the lens looking very much like a Leica in appearance it makes the deal seem even better.
But we should think carefully before buying anything and make considered purchases. What are you really getting for your money? Is it a good proposition in terms of utility and longevity? That choice is of course everyones to make.
The world has become flooded in mass produced tat and the quality of many products has declined markedly in recent decades.
It’s time to reevaluate as it’s not sustainable to keep consuming and generating waste at the levels we have been.
Good interview with the author of a book on this topic recently.
‘The Best Thing You Can Do Is Not Buy More Stuff,’ Says ‘Secondhand’ Expert
On the declining quality of electronic goods
If you think back say, 20, 25 years ago, a television that was 10 years old was something that could be reused. It could be refurbished and reused. … They were very heavy, but they were also very robust. But these days, you can go and you can buy yourself a flat-panel television at an electronics retailer. I saw it over the recent Black Friday period and you can buy that flat panel for $150. But in a sense, you get what you pay for. You get a cheap television that maybe will last three years.
When you go to storage units and see these flat-panel TVs sitting in them, somebody may have [thought], “I’m just going to store it here for a couple of years.” By the time it’s opened up and people say it’s time to donate the stuff, that’s not merchandise. That’s something that’s going to go to an electronics recycler. And that kind of phenomenon is increasing. The volume of stuff is increasing, but the volume of good stuff among the stuff, if you will, is declining.
You do indeed get what you pay for in life, no matter what you buy. Sometimes it’s not the case but almost always it is. Cameras, lenses, audio gear, cars, etc. These lenses are cheap but not bad, at all. The TT Artisans lenses FEEL just as good as any Leica lens I have owned or used (and I Have used almost all of them). The aperture rings are better than my Voigtlander lenses, and the focus rings are silky smooth. Brass is used in the contraction as well, and yes, they are copying the Leica styling. With that said, these are $400 vs $6000 so where you lose out is in the IQ. It’s def nice for the $$ but one can not expect $6000 performance in a $400 lens. Lenses are like teh paint brush, the sensor the paint. Each lens will offer a different draw, a different vibe, a different look. But if you want corner to corner sharpness, high contrast and snap, these will not bring that. If you want a touch of softness (portraits) or how or unique bokeh these are great. Even so, they will never approach Leica quality in IQ. I see them as a step to get to a real Leica lens.
TT and 7 claim to be completely different companies, FWIW.
Personally, I prefer the glass first then the camera. If you want to get started in the Leica family, I’d go with the CL (and see Steve’s excellent write up on it). Otherwise, you’re going to look at the barely average IQ and wonder if its you, the camera, the lens… Also, the glass will last, the cameras will change.
No F11? Wow, I wonder what happens when you turn the aperture ring from F8 to F16? Where could F11 be?
What a mystery!
Pro tip – F11 is between F8 and F16.
Chinese business practices are well-known to just about everyone these days. Unless you are a veteran Walmart shopper, just avoid the stuff. Once the Chinese get their manufacturing act together like Japan did after the mid-1960’s and start producing their own brands with high quality, then have another look.
If I want to save some money I go for Zeiss or Voigtlander.
Thanks for the review am looking at one of these for my M8.2
Could be nice
Nice post Dan. I thought it was interesting that you had never shot a non-Leica lens on your M till now…and then you went to the completely opposite end of the scale with a 7Artisans. For a few dollars more the newer Voigtlander lenses are hard to beat, and much better image quality then 7 Artisans. Granted, they do not have a newer design in the 28mm focal length but the 21mm 1.8, 35mm 1.2ii, 50mm 1.2 are all pretty impressive for their price.
I know that not all 7artisans lenses are good, but this 28mm is different in that it has great image quality out of the bunch. I love my Voigtlander lenses, but I have to say that you will not find a Voigtlander 28mm lens that has better image quality than this 7artisan’s 28mm.
It seems that this lens underexposes quite a bit. Quite hard to see much of anything. And it’s very contrasty, too.
It is me who underexposes not the lens. It is very contrasty and sharp . Not all Leica lenses are
How can a M lens “underexpose”? Exposure is decided by the camera settings used by the photographer.
Does the aperture ring have click stops or is it continuous?
Yes it does
The lens has a really nice rendering. Seems to be an absolute bargain.
I think so too
Got this lens on my M9 and really have enjoyed it (sharpness and clour). For the money, this lens is a no brainer, get it.
Very nice my friend
You indeed convinced me to buy one for my m9m (:
Looks great, thanks! Which strap you have in the camera, looks very nice too 😉
I use the Tap&Dye , Lovely strap ,very soft and reliable
This is not mine. I use the Tap & Dye
For me, this is a waste of $500. If I wanted to fill a niche, I could see doing it, but I wouldn’t take off my 28mm elmarit for this lens.
Easy, I don’t want average IQ out of a 28mm lens on a Leica M.
If you do, more power to you of course. Everyone has a right to their interpretation, but I’m calling this for how I see it. Average results and I’m not interested in average IQ out of my M.
Good thinking I agree. I needed a 28 1.4
The Elmarit is a great lens but only in adequate light
I agree, plenty of adequate light for low light shooting with the emlarit.
I have the 28mm Asph Elmarit as well as the 7A 28 1.4. When the light levels are low the Elmarit is of not much use while the 7A is excellent.
I suppose if you’re only shooting this lens wide open that argument holds 🙂
Bump the ISO when you need to. No problems shooting at 2.8 in low light with the elmarit, and the razor thin depth of field you’d get at 1.4 would really be for a niche case. So again, you’re parting with $500 for that special case.
I think most people would be disappointed in the results they get with this lens at 28mm on their $5k Leica, and so I find this post misleading. You don’t need f1.4 to make great shots in low light, you just don’t.
I’ll keep my $500 and enjoy my low light shooting with a truly excellent elmarit 28mm.
I have the truly excellent 28mmAsph. And if u are using a Leica M you can only bump the ISO so much before things fall apart. How do I know? Because I have one of those as well. The 7A allows you to do things the 28 ASPH cannot, like shoot at f2 and f1.4 which is the difference between shooting at ISO 1600 where things get sketchy with an M, or ISO 400.
But I get it, you have never tried the 7A but still am an expert on its use.
400 or 800 result in excellent IQ on both the M9 and M10 – with 28 el. If you’re shooting very low light, it’s not going to look like a daylight shot anyway right?
No, I’m not an expert on the 7A, I find it interesting you’d suggest that.
Shooting in low light has more to do with your subject than anything else (in terms of getting a quality image). If you think the images above are examples of excellent IQ well, go buy one and enjoy your loss of $500.
You are misleading people when you put forward the 7A as something that is going to provide quality IQ on your M. If you want to spend $500 to have fun and dont care about the results, that’s fine.
These images are clearly average IQ (at best).
I use my copy on my m9p, and I have to agree that it is a sharp lens, even when price is disregarded. I have not tried 28mm Summilux myself, and I have not seen any comparison done between the two lenses. However, I wonder how big of a difference one would be able to attain by using the Summilux over the 7artisans. And when the price is added to consideration, I think it is no brainer.
The answer will be in skin tones and transitions in the shadows. That is where I think the leica look is there. I can’t say which appearance is better or worse ( I, personally, prefer the leica), but it is clearly different. IMHO very very different from all other lens mfrs.
What does mfrs mean ?
I think he means ‘other lens manufacturers’…
I never tried the 28 LUX, i am sure it is a better lens but the cost….
Yes the cost 🙁
I never used the 28 Lux but all my other Leica lenses were superb
Nice post, I have been using the 50mmF1.1 on my M3 recently and have no complaints and I appreciate the makers for giving us a low cost alternative to the Leica lenses of which I have 3 but wow the price difference. I also think the 7Artisans lenses are only going g to get better and better.
I tried the 50 1.1 and did not like the non existent stops