My Nonscientific Review of the 7artisans 25mm f1.8

Last week I bought the 7artisans 25mm f1.8 manual focus lens

I saw this lens on Amazon and it immediately caught my attention. I tried to research the lens on the internet, but alas I couldn’t find anything meaningful on its performance. It took me a couple of months to buy this lens. Without knowing what I was getting into, I was a bit weary of this Chinese lens. Even if the lens was only US$70.00.

I found some sample images on YouTube and I took my chance and just bought it.

The week I spent with the lens has been fun. Let’s get something clear, this lens has some shortcomings that some people might not be happy with.

This lens is available in Fujifilm X mount and the Micro Four Thirds system. I shoot the Fujifilm System.

The Pros and Cons as I see it.

Pros

  • The price, US$70.
  • Decent build quality. Compact, yet a heavier than it looks.
  • Good sharpness especially in the center. More on this later.
  • Very smooth focus and aperture ring.
  • Non-click aperture ring. Some don’t like this.
  • Very fast t-stop.
  • Nice round aperture blades when stopped down
  • Bokeh is nice.
  • Close focus is about six inches!

Cons

  • My copy was a loose fit when mounted. More on this later.
  • The focus-throw is too short for my liking.
  • Sharpness in the corners is dramatically horrible.
  • The lens only stops down to f16.
  • The lens ring is too smooth, despite the small ridges. It would be nice to have a focus-tab “ala-Leica
  • Manual focus. This doesn’t bother me one bit.

I want to clarify a couple of points from the cons list.

The lens was really loose and that bothered me, so I cut a doughnut shape from a Tyvek® US Postal Service envelope to tighten the connection. Probably not ideal, but I chose that because the material is thinner than notebook paper. Notebook paper is about .1 mm thick, I couldn’t find how thick the Tyvek® envelopes were, but the fibers are less than 10μm. It fits snug, not too tight at all.

The focus ring throw is annoyingly short. Which makes fine focusing a bit of a struggle. If you’re stopped down to f5.6 or higher, it’s not so bad. When the aperture is wide open, it’s a pain.

That corner sharpness could be an issue for a lot of people. There are ways around every shortcoming though. Cheap is good, but you can find a used Canon FD 24mm f2 for about US$300.00 and a Canon FD 24mm f2.8 for about US$75.00. Image quality will undoubtedly be “better”. Those lenses are a tad heavy too.

If you are a pixel-peeper, you were never looking at this lens in the first place.

Some more on the pros.

There’s still a lot to like about this lens. The fact it’s so affordable really helps overlook a lot of the cons with this piece of glass. I love the character of this lens, I like the color and center sharpness. It has good contrast, but the distortion isn’t overly noticeable.

The lens is a very good low light performer. I have kept this lens mounted to my Fujifilm X-E1 for the past week. This is my carry around the street camera. I usually keep a Vivitar 28mm lens mounted to it, and have been pretty happy. When I started using the 25mm 7artisans I immediately noticed that my shutter speed was much higher than I’m used too. This isn’t a bad thing at all. So I figured the t-stop must be at least a stop faster than my 28mm Vivitar.

I decided to test the theory that this lens has a faster t-stop than my 28mm and 50mm lenses. This is about as non-scientific as one can get.

The set up.

  • Fujifilm X-E1 on a tripod. Shot in .jpg with no editing in software.
  • Silver umbrella on a boom arm.
  • Canon EX 430 II with fresh batteries.
  • Minolta Auto Meter IVf to get the baseline measurement. I metered at iso 800, 1/60, and f8.

As you can see from the three panel image above, the 7artisans is much brighter, than the other two lenses. I haven’t shot any concerts this week but I am confident this lens will perform fairly well.

Final thoughts…

We are told by a lot YouTube photo-gear reviewers, that if you want to take great pictures then you need to have the best money can buy. I have zero problem in telling you, if you believe that, then you should get over that. Gear is only part of the equation, and it’s less than a third of it. This is a pretty good lens with some drawbacks. It also has a lot of character. That’s what I look for in a lens.

This 7artisans lens fits right in to my shooting style. It’s compact, light (compared to adapted glass I normally use.) and easy to use. I like that it reminds me of some nice vintage rangefinder lenses. It’s like having a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of a Japanese copy of a beautiful vintage German lens. I don’t regret purchasing at all. I wish I would have bought it when I saw it three months ago. It’s not for everybody, but there are few lenses that are.

Update: also see, Six Months with the 7artsans 25mm

8 thoughts on “My Nonscientific Review of the 7artisans 25mm f1.8

  1. i got mine at twice its listed price but newly released lenses are sold here at a premium. Compared to the two Meikes i had before, the 50mm and the 35mm, the build quality is comparatively similar and very solid. Unlike yours, my copy doesn’t have any wiggle or play. The Meike 50mm f2 i had was just fine. It fits snugly in my X-T20 but its sibling the Meike 35mm f1.7 was a different story. It wiggles when fitted and has an unwanted play. They’re both sharp but had to sell them one after the other. The Meike 50mm is simply not my focal length. Likewise, owning the Meike 35mm made me realized that 35mm is my sweet spot so I had to sell it to get myself a better lens, the Fuji 35mm f/1.4. From my experience with Chinese made lenses, lemon copies abound and once you get one, better sell it the soonest and get yourself another copy praying you’ll get a better one this time. This 7Artisans 25mm is a lot better than the Meikes when it comes to focusing but my 25mm copy is like a tempered fish eye lens; barrel distortion is quite noticeable and so I have to adapt my shooting style and will try to avoid shooting subjects with lines on the background.

    Overall, this lens is a value for money and a lot better than old manual focus lenses adapted on Fuji X cameras. It may have a lot of competition from similar Chinese brands but for its build quality and price, I will still pick this one.

    1. I haven’t tried the Meike Lenses at all. I would give them a go. 28mm has been my focal length. I recently acquired a 24mm FD lens, and i really like it.

  2. Heya great review. I have the same issue with the loose mount on my 25mm and newly acquired 35mm f1.2. It’s pretty terrible on both my lenses. Is it the same as mine where the lens has movement from side to side as you turn it slightly?

    Either way I’ll give your method a go, is the paper you used sticky? I’m from AU so not sure what you mean by those envelopes, but I’ll try to find something similar

    Thanks!

    1. The Tyvek envelope isn’t sticky. Our postal service uses these envelopes because they are very durable. They don’t disintegrate should it get wet like paper would. I just a small bit of clear tape to hold it down. I also poked a small hole so the pin on the lens mount can lock the lens to the body.

  3. Thanks for the real world review,I`ve purchased it for my Fuji camera. This is the second 7 Arts lens I have and think they are really good in all aspects.

    1. Thanks, I think the lenses are pretty nice too. I’m gonna get my hands on the 7.5mm fisheye next. 🙂

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