A few years ago, I had fleeting fantasies about owning a Leica. I checked auction sites and local sales regularly, but it wasn’t until a good condition Leica M5 fell into my lap at a reasonable price that I finally joined the fold.
After I passed off a handful of bills I had a lump of brass in my hands, which was nothing more than a paper weight without a lens, albeit with a beautiful leather cover. I checked around for a m-mount lens in my budget, and quickly found the 7artisans website. It didn’t take long to put an order in and about two weeks later I had a brand new 35mm f/2.0 in my hands.
I don’t think anyone wouldn’t be slightly suspicious of a less than 400$ M-mount lens, but everything about it surpassed my expectations. I shot it with a Leica M5, a digital M10, Voigtlander Bessa, M3 and more recently it’s been loaned out for use on a Hexar RF. The performance has been consistent between camera bodies. A quick stand-out is the brass core; it’s heavy and moves smoothly with the help of the easy to find focus tab. The weight balanced well on all the cameras it was mounted on, lending the camera substance, and the lens a feeling of durability.
Speaking of durability, after setting the camera and lens down during a bbq, a partygoer slipped, sending my camera flying down the stairs onto concrete. The lens was fine overall, and after testing it focused just as well as it did out of the box. Though the camera sustained a scrape, all was well.
The biggest downside was a tendency to flare in direct light, I’d speculate that upgrading the coatings on the lens would increase the price, and while frustrating it certainly added a touch of character to some of my images. Luckily the flaring was isolated to using the lens wide open, and quickly disappears once you’ve stopped the lens down.
Compared to Leica Summicron, it will certainly fall behind in terms of resolution and build quality, but it far outperforms its price tag.
Since I got the 35mm, 7artisans has expanded its range to various mirrorless cameras, including Fuji XF, Nikon Z, and Sony E-mount. I’ve been able to check most of these out and my impressions have been consistent with my previous experiences. 7artisans provides great value prime lenses for the most popular camera mounts, and offers an entry level to the wonderful world of large aperture shooting, on both film and digital. Paired with a high quality APS-C or m-mount body, the aesthetics of rangefinder shooting can be available at a quarter of the price of it’s Zeiss and Leica siblings.
Featured in this blog: