Brand and Product Reviews: 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 and 7.5mm f2.8

The 7Artisans line of lens is the brainchild of a group of Chinese camera enthusiasts in the summer of 2015. I would say a lot of people have misgivings when it comes to independently produced products from China and I cannot blame them because there are dodgy products being sold throughout the years.

Chinese manufacturing is definitely not all bad. The best smartphones are now made and assembled in China. Flip your iPhone or Android phones or your latest tech stuff and “Made in China” is shown quite clearly even though the design of the phone may come from some other place.

If the Chinese wants to do it and made the effort to do so, they can hit the high quality standards that we enjoyed in products from Europe and Japan. When Pergear.com asked me which lens I would like to review for this #sponsoredpost, my attention went straight to the 7Artisans lenses that they are carrying.

7Artisans 25mm f1.8

This is where I feel 7Artisans is slowly but surely winning hearts of photographers. Even before I penned this #sponsoredpost, I have already owned a 25mm f1.8 which gives me a street photography focal length of 37mm f 2.7 equivalent.

To me the combination of focal length and depth of field is perfect for street photography as it allows a lot of light to hit the sensor and wide enough to do environmental portraiture. That means you can make use of the lowest ISO possible for the best image quality you can muster from the camera body, especially essential for older models such as my Fujifilm X-E1.

Took a shot of Geraldine using the light and shadows to create a more interesting backdrop.
Shooting still objects with a lens such as this gives me a different experience.

As one of the founders of 7Artisans is an avid Leica collector, it is not tough to see some of the design fundamentals of the German made lenses found its way into the 7Artisan lenses. Chief of which is the lens build.

Made mostly in metal, the lenses are solidly built that have that bit of heft without feeling heavy in practical use. The 25mm f1.8 shouldn’t be a large lens that all the modern mirrorless camera manufacturers are gleefully doing despite trying to be small with all their lenses.

A lot of times people think putting the lens at the widest aperture (f1.8) will give great bokeh. Good portraits is more than that. Colour, light, shadow, expression are even more important. The skin tone from the lens is quite neutral and coupled with Fujifilm’s colour, I can’t complain much.
Even though the 7artisans lens is not in the same league as some of the lens manufacturers, it is sharp where it matters. Some might even argue it has its own character. It is definitely not perfect but I do like the way it produces the images.
This small little lens does make me want to shoot more.

And the 7Artisan’s 25mm f1.8 IS small and its focus ring is not free wheeling but floats with a bit of resistance whenever I need to get focus from near to far and vice versa. It may sounds like a bad thing when you need to quickly get into focus but it helps to fine tune the focus especially shooting at f1.8 where the depth of field is quite shallow.

The results from this small lens is so good that it is now a semi-permanent fixture on the Fuji X-E1 and my go to camera set up when I need to bring the camera out for some street shooting.

Purchase link in USD / Please use “WILZGEAR” to support my site:

https://www.pergear.com/?ref=5dfddc91a6612

7Artisans 7.5mm f2.8

Like its brethren the 25mm f1.8, the 7.5mm f2.8 is even more well built. It has the weight I expected from a fish-eye lens but is quite smaller, taking very little space in my bag.

With a f2.8, this lens can be shot hand-held in the interior of the building albeit using a slightly higher ISO setting of 400-640. I can use this lens with very slow shutter speed of 1/10 or 1/8 of a second hand-held if there’s no way I can use the tripod.

With the fish eye perspective, things that are not easily seen with the naked eyes are captured and that gave me the ability to shoot unique perspectives like the waterfall of Changi Jewel

The reason why I choose this lens from Pergear.com is because I will be using this lens for astro-photography. As the night sky do not have straight lines in the sky, to de-fish (or to correct fish eye lens distortion) is not as difficult and more forgiving if there are mistakes.

The fish eye will give you that distinctive curvature look. It does make the image look unique but don’t use it too much. I appreciate that sometimes it gave the viewer a one-look idea of the place that I am in.
Even though the lens is not exactly a focal length that street photographers would use, it does provide a different feel to a place like a couple chatting inside of Owndays.

Shooting fish eye gives you a bit more of the sky. Although you can do multiple exposure panorama with a typical wide angle lens, stitching might have an issue in post processing stage. For those who do not want to have anything to do with a computer, getting the 7.5mm fish-eye or the 12mm rectilinear (that mans straight lines are shown as straight in the image) lenses are useful.

Took a three exposure to derive a HDR shot here. The Jewel’s dome does not have much of a straight line so a fish-eye shot looks quite natural so long the waterfall and the train tracks on the right are straight.

This lens also has a focus ring that floats with a bit of resistance but is not as tight as the 25mm. It works for me though because most of the time, I just put the lens at infinity with my aperture at f4 that provides general sharpness to the whole frame.

Purchase link in USD / Please use “WILZGEAR” to support my site:

https://www.pergear.com/?ref=5dfddc91a6612

Manual Focusing with MF-Only Lenses

A lot of learner photographers may feel that having a manual focusing lens maybe tedious. Well there is some truth in that statement but it is not as tough as it sounds. Part of it comes with practicing with the lenses more and overtime, your hand-eye coordination will be very quick and may even work faster than AF systems.

There are also other ways to make sure you get the moment rather than struggling with focusing. I employ a method called fixed focus range method or more commonly known as Zone Focusing Method.

It is fairly simple. Just fixed the aperture around f8-f11 and fixed the focus like 2-3 meters away from you and the camera. Put your shutter speed at a comfortable 1/125. Check your exposure and adjust your ISO settings to the environment you are shooting in. Usually it should be in the range of ISO640-1000 and higher if it is indoors. Using this method I can effectively point-and-shoot with a 25mm f1.8 lens and yet most things in the frame are sharp if my main subject is at least 2 meters away from me.

And the same can be done, and easier, with a fish eye lens. As its focus distance between 1m-infinity is very short, I can shoot at f2.8 wide open at infinity using a lower ISO setting. Shooting fish-eye for street do give another perspective to a scene you are familiar with.

Negatives

For the prices commanded by these lenses, I usually would not be that critical. From the images you saw, the image quality is good enough for my travel articles and even for some paid professional work.

Then again, I sometimes would prefer the aperture ring has a click to it. As now it is free moving, it can be shifted rather easily. Sometimes I do find myself to be at the wrong aperture as it has moved. This is something to look out for.


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About Wilson Wong
Founder of the 10500+ members Singapore Photography Interest Network photography group, avid gadget lover and budget wanderluster. He also writes for Techgoondu.com a tech website for the non-techies about the latest trends in personal tech. His wish is to help people get the right stuff and enjoy life without cutting off limbs to do so.



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