What’s in your blend?
It is not often for me to work on a 28mm lens, as I typically prefer ultra wide lens on my architectural photography.
During travel to Hong Kong 18 months ago, I come across this 7Artisans 28mm F1.4 lens, at a reasonable price, I thought I will give it a go. I was told at purchase that this is from an early batch, so it was just released at the time.
The lens is a little bigger than my normal walkaround lens, so it is stored in my dry cabinet most of the time.
Last week, I thought to try this out properly, pairing with Leica M Monochrom. I decided to take this combo to workout for a week. The lens balanced ok on Leica M, if not a little front heavy on the neck. It is a workout after all.
Body Design and Built Quality
7Artisans 28mm F1.4 lens design consists of 11 lens elements in 9 groups, with 1 double sided aspherical element, 2 ED elements and 3 High refractive elements, this is a modern design, unlike previous Sonnar like design from the same company.
This lens is a dense all-metal and glass construction. It feels good but heavy (just under 500g).
The focus ring is ribbed and grippy like Leica and Voigtlander lenses with a nice resistance. Optional rubber finger tab is included, and can be installed with 3M doublesided tape. There is a dense zone-focusing scale with etch marking and painted line in white and yellow. Closest focusing to 0.7m. It is designed with M-mount cameras rangefinder coupling, adjustable by included screwdriver. My lens came calibrated well with my Monochrom, so I don’t need to adjust it.
There is a separate FE+ version of this lens with different optical design for Sony FE and other mirrorless cameras with thicker sensor filter stack, to avoid edge colour shifts due to the angled rays. My version is designed for Leica M.
Aperture design between F1.4-F16 spread in uneven spacing, so the full-stop click aperture ring is helpful. Total of 13 aperture blades for round bokeh highlights.
Nice metal cap included, but no hood.
Manufacturer’s MTF chart shows that the lens has good resolution wide open at the centre and good enough on the edge.
I shot this lens mostly in open aperture on the Leica M Monochrom. My experience is non-scientific and mainly on the look and feel of images I get with this combo. The tonality and clarity is good.
As expected there is vignetting at full aperture, but it is mild and gentle.
The contrast is nice, but I do need to stop down if I want the best details out of the lens.
The rendering is modern compare to previous 7Artisans lens I owned (50mm F1.1). It is not overly clinical, and not a ‘vintage feel’ lens. There is a slight complex distortion/field curvature to the images, but it is not big enough to cause problems in my usage.
Full aperture at F2.8, focusing beyond 10m can create interesting foreground blurring with a sense of depth. An unusual impression.
Stop down to F2-2.8, the lens is very sharp, nice definition and very satisfactory image produced.
Being a fast aperture lens, it is useful at night for handheld shots, even at base ISO (320 for the MM).
I also tried some landscape on this combo, and the results are pleasing.
I tried very hard to get the lens to flare up and only get it when point straight to the sun. The out of focus bokeh round and pleasing at 0.7m focus distance.
It is possible to get shallow depth of field on a wide angle lens. This lens can do it with the fast aperture mainly because of the closer focusing distance. The out of focus transition is quick and sharp.
I can get a slightly swirly bokeh below. Only slightly at full aperture.
This lens is more than reasonable when use on the Leica M Monochrom. In fact I think it is a very nice bargain. When you need it sharp, it can be sharp, but it can also have a softer side. It has a complex character, much like a glass of wine, or a blend of coffee. It will take me a while to get to know it more, but it is a pleasant surprise. I do not have access to the Leica Summilux 28mm so can’t do a direct comparison. Next time I will try the 7A2814 on a colour camera.
- Solid construction with good tactile feel in use.
- Modern sharpness and contrast at open aperture
- Very good sharpness stopped down to F2-2.8
- Nice bokeh, mostly round and a little swirly on the edge at close focusing distance and open aperture
- Complex character
- Low cost
- Heavier than I like.
- funky flare when point to strong light source.
- Complex distortion (slight)
- Inconsistent rendering (the other side of the complex character)