7Artisans 28mm F/1.4 FE-Plus - Review

Cako


Characteristics


  • Lens Mount: Leica - M
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Manual
  • Construction:
    • Lens Groups: 11
    • Lens Element: 9
    • Aperture Blades: 13
      • Rounded
  • Min. Aperture: 1.4
  • Max Aperture: 16
  • Min. Focal distance: 0.7 m
  • Filter Size: 52 mm
  • Length: 69 mm
  • Weight: 490 gr
  • Hood: Yes, not included in the retail package
  • Price (new): USD 436 / May - 2021

Introduction


As far as lenses go, 7artisans had a reputation for making affordable lenses that feel good when they are in use, but when you take a look at the images you might found surprises regarding the image quality. Mainly in the corners, or getting too much artifacts at different apertures. I say had, because that’s not entirely the case with some of their more expensive (but affordable in comparison) glasses.

7artisans produce lenses for several camera systems, taking advantage of the mirrorless cameras of today, and with that they have been gaining reputation among the enthusiast. But, how about the quality of the images? Let try to answers that in this review.

Tested on a Sony α7II and α7C

  • 24 mp sensors.
  • IBIS activated.

Construction


With a metal and brass construction, this lens is heavy but has a nice feeling when it’s being held. The almost 500 gr are well distributed along the cylindrical shape of the lens and overall feels sturdy and well built, as lenses that cost a lot more. Regarding the aperture selection, it has little to no play and has a really nice tactile feeling when you change it (check the video below). Although I have read that in some copies the opening ring may be a little looser than usual.

The lens has a nice and big focus wheel, that allows a precise focus that’s really needed in higher apertures. It has a distance markings (engraved) in meters and feet, coupled with the hyperfocal distance for each aperture (You use the hyperfocal distance scale to know which parts of your image will be in focus at different aperture settings).

Overall, the construction of this lens surpass what one may think of it by only looking the price tag. It has withstood months of used with no sing of loose parts or any other degradation. Really recommended.

Versions

There are two versions of this lens, the FE-PLUS and the “normal” one.

  • FE-PLUS: Adjusted for the filter stack on the sensor of Sony cameras.
  • Normal: Adjusted for Leica cameras.

FE-PLUS version marking inside the lens.

Adapter

The adapter used to fit the lens onto an E mount is one from Haoge – “Haoge macro close focus lens adapter for Leica M to Sony E Mount” (Amazon / Ebay) (Affiliate links). This is an adapter that have an helicoid macro tube in it. This allows to change the minimum focal distance of the lens, in this case, from 0.7 meters to 0.25 meters.

It can be seen in the images that the adapter it’s capable of extending the lens to achieve this. The part that extends protrude from the adapter to close the focus distance, and can be contracted to return to a normal estate. The movable part of the adapter comes lubricated, so it’s important to keep this in mind and check if nothing is leaking. Although this has not happened in the time I have been using the adapter in conjunction with the lens.

In any case, the adapter has a sturdy construction (metal) and can very well sustain the 500 gr of the lens.

General view

General view, taken from 7Artisan webpage

Aperture

Handling


Being that this lens is a non native one for the E-mount cameras, all the operations for the lens are done directly on it. In this regard, manual focus is the most crucial one. Besides that, after carrying this lens in a α7II or α7C for an hour or more, you start to feel the weight of the lens and the body. There’s certainly an imbalance between the weight of the lens and the camera, so an strap is necessary for longer sessions with this lens.

Manual Focus

As stated above, the focusing wheel is big, smooth and aids to achieve precision when focusing. Pairing this with the digital zoom available in mirrorless cameras, the focusing experience is a pleasant one, although can be regarded as a slow one. Personally I’ve configured in my camera that the center wheel button activates the magnifier, so I press this every time that I want to be completely sure that I’m focusing accurately.

Bokeh


Being an f/1.4 lens one would expect a rather pleasant and “dreamy” bokeh and indeed you get it, but it’s a little more complicated than your usual “portrait” lens. The minimum focal distance of 70 cm makes the bokeh somewhat mild at f/1.4, needing a greater separation from the background and your subject, making this lens specially useful in environmental portraits. When using the helicoid adapter, the characteristics of the lens change completely and the bokeh is transformed as well. I must say that i find it hard to justify the use of the helicoid adapter for only this purpose, but ultimately it is a tool that is available, as needed.

The bokeh tends to form an “swirly” pattern in the borders, worth mentioning to check if that’s a desired characteristic or not.

Below you can find examples of the bokeh in different situations. Also, check the video above to sea a more realistic approach.

Helicoid adapter protruded

Normal MFD

Distortion


At f/1.4 the falloff is pretty strong in the borders, as seen in the first comparison. At f/8 is the sweet spot for it, showing little to none falloff in the borders.

There isn’t an official profile for this lens, so the one I use in Lightroom is the “Leica SUMMILUX-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH”.

F/1.4
 

F/8

Before: No profile. / After: Profile applied.

Gallery


Photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening, added texture or clarity on them.

Conclusions


There’s no doubt that using this lens confers a certain “good” feeling, whether that is for the manual operation, the balanced weight or the design itself. The images you get are sharp and with a lovely rendering, although you have to be mindful of your situation. For example, I wouldn’t use this lens for astrophotography, at his maximum aperture the corners left a lot to be desired. One could label this lens as an environmental portrait lens, besides the usual landscape or so, but the use cases can be way beyond that. Nevertheless, you need to learn to use this lens in order to take full advantage of it, as is usually the case with manual lenses.

Now nitpicking.

  • The weight (to me) is one of the factors that make me second guessing to choose this lens among other lighter one, mainly for extended sessions or for carrying it around on hand.
  • The fact that the bokeh can be somewhat disappointing near the MFD of 70 cm, or busy as other put it. For the swirly patterns, the cat eyes, etc.
  • Sometimes a greenish tint can be seen in the photos.
    • That’s a common problem for M lenses in Sony Sensors.

Although the exterior design is a copy of the Leica lenses, 7artisans end up surprising us in terms of image quality and construction. We are used to “high prices equals high quality”, but the more we are interested in photography in general, the more quickly we realize that there is a diminishing return on it. Other factors come into play when you take photos for the art and not for top-notch equipment.

Alternatives.

  • Sony SEL28F20 FE 28mm f/2
  • Samyang (Rokinon) FE 24mm f/2.8

Price (new): USD 436 / May – 2021


Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - Review

Cako


Characteristics


  • Lens Mount: nFD
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Manual
  • Construction:
    • Lens Groups: 4
    • Lens Element: 4
    • Aperture Blades: 6
      • Straight
  • Min. Aperture: 3.5
  • Max Aperture: 32
  • Min. Focal distance: 1.3 m
  • Filter Size: 52 mm
  • Length: 85 mm
  • Weight: 325 gr
  • Hood: Yes, attached to the lens.
  • Price (used): USD 20- USD 70 / Jan - 2021

Introduction


As Canon Lenses go, the FD line up is legendary. Producing astonishingly good lenses that rivals today standard ones, and we are talking of lenses that were fabricated almost 40 years ago. This lens does not seem to falter when paired with a high resolution sensor, and its capable of producing amazing images taking into account its limitations.

So, let’s see how this lens behaves.

  • All the photos in this review are from a Sony α7 II camera.
    • 24mp full frame sensor.
    • On body stabilization

Updates:

April 05 of 2021

  • Added images for bokeh comparisons at different f-stops

Construction


Adapter


Adapting this lens to mirrorless cameras is as easy as getting the right adapter. A “nice” and budget recommendation is a K&F adapter, although there are pricier ones. 

Handling


This lens is easy to transport and handle due to its light weight. This is because of the plastic and metal construction that it has, which could lead you to think that it feels flimsy, but it is the opposite. The construction of this lens has stood the test of time and the possible abuse that it can entail.

Manual Focus

In this regard, my copy has a little play in the focus ring, nevertheless is good enough to focus accurately. Focusing takes a little bit more than half a turn from close range (1.3m) to infinity. This could complicate precise focusing, but is achievable.

Bokeh


We have a long focal length, a minimum distance of 1.3 meters and a maximum aperture of 3.5. With that in mind, the bokeh produced by this lens is lovely when you manage to have a big separation between your subject and the foreground. Personally I don’t find it distracting, regardless of the background.

When the situation is right it can blend seamlessly in the photo and give an overall dreamy tone to the image. Take a look at the samples to get an overall idea of this.

Distortion


The applied profile is “Canon FD 135mm F2.5 SC” as there’s no native profile for this lens.

As such, the lens has a visible fall off in the corners, but is easily fixable with the profile and can be adjusted further if necessary.

Before: No profile. / After: Profile applied.

ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/3.5 - 1/250sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 - 1/125sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/8 - 1/60sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/11 - 1/30sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/16 - 1/13sec - ISO-100 - 135mm
ILCE-7M2 - Canon nFD 135mm f/3.5 - f/22 - 1/25sec - ISO-320 - 135mm

RAW photos are developed in Lightroom with the profile Canon FD 135mm F2.5 SC.

Sharpness


  • At f 3.5 it’s fairly sharp from corner to corner, but the extreme corners suffer a little bit.
  • The sweet spot for sharpness is between f 5.6 and f 16. You can get usable results beyond that, but refraction kicks in and the image get degraded overall.
  • Overall, a really great performer, when taking in account the little details.

Full image at f/3.5

Gallery


Photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening, added texture or clarity on them. Just a taste of what can be achieved with this lens.

Conclusions


This lens was a surprise, a good one. The low weight , low cost and great image quality just add to the overall good feeling that this lens gives. Granted that’s not a perfect one, the f/3.5 doesn’t help with an spectacular bokeh, or taking low light photos, At most, f/11 it’s the higher usable stop. Beyond that, refraction creeps in and images become pretty ugly. But for a light telephoto lens, for hiking or traveling, works wonderfully.

Where to buy?

  • Buy: Ebay *
    • * : Affiliate Link


2020 a year in photos

Cako

Was 2020 a bad year? No. Was a hard one? Totally.

As photography goes, a chance to rediscover the light, the editing process and the dreaded task of keeping the photo library clean and valuable, fill with memories and the work that it’s worth to keep.-
Here’s to a 2021 that has it a bit easy in hindsight.


Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - Review

Cako


Characteristics


  • Lens Mount: FE (Full frame or APSC)
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Automatic or Manual (In camera setting)
  • Construction:
    • Lens Groups: 5
    • Lens Element: 7
    • Aperture Blades: 7
      • Rounded
  • Min. Aperture: 2.8
  • Max Aperture: 22
  • Min. Focal distance: 0.35 m
  • Filter Size: 49 mm
  • Length: 42 mm
  • Weight: 120 gr
  • Hood: Yes, included in the retail package.
    • Length: 14.7 mm
    • Weight: 12.3 gr
  • Price (new): USD 798 / Oct - 2020
  • Price (used): USD 375 - USD 650 / Oct - 2020

Introduction


The Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA was launched with the original α7 cameras in 2013 as one of the main option for a “fast” wide angle lens and remains a very good choice for fulfilling the promised compactness of mirrorless cameras. Being a Zeiss lens, the image quality it’s top notch but with some caveats. The Sonnar (T*) branding is refers to the coating in this lens and with that, flare is well managed and the lens behave spectacular in direct sources of light. Being that the lens is from 2014, does it hold well 6 years later?.

  • All the photos in this review are from a Sony α7 II camera.
    • 24mp full frame sensor.
    • On body stabilization.

Update:
December 20 of 2020.

  • Added sharpness test.

February 28 of 2021

  • Minor fixes.
  • Added reference image for sharpness test.

Construction


This lens is very well constructed and overall gives a sturdy feeling when you manipulate it. There’s a chromed metal mount and plastic around the lens, the focusing ring is made of aluminum as well as the front barrel. According to different sites, the internals are made of plastic and the lightweight of the lens seems to indicate this.

  • The included hood it’s made of an strong plastic, but it’s lightweight enough.
  • The markings on the lens are engraved.
  • The focus is by wire, internally activated.
  • There’s a claimed dust and moisture resistant design.
    • But there’s no weather sealing gasket in the lens mount.
  • The ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating minimizes the flare.
    • And it really seem to do the trick

Handling


To handle the lens it is necessary to interact with it through the camera. All the main functions are configurable thru it.

Auto Focus

The auto focus is reliable and fast, I recon that with newer cameras will be more reliable that with my Sony α7 II camera. Although when the light is low, it hunts a little bit more and has some trouble nailing it.

Manual Focus

The focus by wire mechanism works quite well, turning the focus ring turns the focus assist mechanism on to assist. It is important how fast the ring is turned, it is possible to go from the minimum focus (35 cm) to infinity in a fast turn, but at the same time by doing it slowly it is possible to be more precise in focus.

Bokeh


At f/2.8 there’s bokeh and blur in the background, but you have to be relatively close to your subject. However, at 35 cm of minimum it’s possible to do so and you get some nice rendering and not so distracting bokeh. Therefore emphasizing a “dreamy” atmosphere.

ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/2.8 - 1/1000sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/3.2 - 1/800sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/3.5 - 1/640sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/4 - 1/500sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/4.5 - 1/400sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/5 - 1/320sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/5.6 - 1/250sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/6.3 - 1/200sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/7.1 - 1/160sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/8 - 1/125sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/9 - 1/100sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/10 - 1/80sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/11 - 1/60sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/13 - 1/50sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/14 - 1/40sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/16 - 1/30sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/18 - 1/25sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/20 - 1/20sec - ISO-100 - 35mm
ILCE-7M2 - Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA - f/22 - 1/15sec - ISO-100 - 35mm

RAW photos are developed in Lightroom with the default profile for Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA

Distortion


This lens has a strong falloff in the borders. In other words, the image it’s more darker at maximum aperture. This improves as the lens is stopped down. There’s a noticeable improvement when the bundled profile “Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA” it’s applied in Lightroom.

Before: No profile. / After: Profile applied.

Sharpness


  • As expected, in f/2.8 the center is tack sharp but the corners not.
  • From f/5.6 overall image is sharp, although in some case extreme corners tend to suffer a bit.
  • At f/8 all the image is sharp (as far as I can check), no major aberrations or distortion.
  • At f/11, image is still tack sharp but lower than that diffraction start to creep in.
  • At f/22 the loss of contrast and detail is noticeable.

Full image at f/2.8

Gallery


Photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening, added texture or clarity on them.

Conclusions


You can’t go wrong with a compact lens in a compact body. There’s a inner joy in handling a low weight / compact camera and be able to carry it in a a pocket jacket or around the neck with out hurting you. In addition to that, if the quality of the images that you get it’s superb you get a nice combo in your hands.
The image quality is superb at f/2.8 but doesn’t improve that much when you stop down the aperture. At f/8 corner to corner quality and sharpness is excellent although at f/16 some dispersion start to creep in in the corners. The construction it’s amazing, no doubt about it but nevertheless, if you drop it or bang it would hurt a lot more than a cheaper lens. The included hood is a must for this reason and to help a little bit with reflections, but the coatings do indeed do a marvelous work in avoiding this.
With that apart, I found it to be a very boring lens. I had a Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/2.8 that I sold to switch to this and certainly the build quality is far superior, but the image quality it’s leveled between both lenses. In addition to that the AF performance is a little bit better in this lens than the Rokinon, but if your not relying on it there’s hardly any justification for the switch.
Don’t get me wrong, if this is your fist lens and you like to use AF this would be an excellent choice, but I would buy it used. There’s no justification for the price tag of this lens at this stage of the Sony mirrorless life. There’s other options that would produce the same image and that’s what matter the most.

Alternatives.

  • Samyang/Rokinon 35mm f / 2.8

Where to buy?

  • Buy:  Ebay *
    • * : Affiliate Link


Minolta MD Rokkor-x 50mm f/1.4 - Review

Cako


Characteristics


  • Lens Mount: Minolta SR (MD, MC)
  • Type: Prime lens
  • Focusing: Manual
  • Construction:
    • Lens Groups: 7
    • Lens Element: 6
    • Aperture Blades: 6
  • Min. Aperture: 1.4
  • Max Aperture: 16
  • Min. Focal distance: 0.45 m
  • Filter Size: 49 mm
  • Length: 40 mm
  • Weight: 230 gr
  • Hood: -
  • Price (low - high): USD 60 - USD 90 / Oct - 2020

Introduction


This Minolta lens was my first approach to Minolta glass. Suffice to say that I’m sold on the quality of this lens and the longevity it’s a prove of this. This fast prime with a maximum aperture value of 1.4 , produce amazing colors and has some incredible rendering and character.
Photos at all the aperture ranges are usable within they limitations; center is awesome from 1.4 to 5.6 and at f8 to f11 corner to corner sharpness is excellent.

  • All the photos in this review are from a Sony α7 II camera.
    • 24mp full frame sensor.
    • On body stabilization.

Construction


  • Lens is all metal with plastic focusing ring, feels incredible solid and easy to handle.
  • The aperture selector clicks in each stop and there are half stops between f/2 and f/11.
  • There’s a distance indicator printed in the front barrel of the lens.
    • From minimum distance of 0.45m to infinity.
      • Also in ft.
  • Using a K&F adapter (link) for mounting it to Sony cameras (E mount) adds 30mm to the total length.

The major downside of buying used lenses from internet it’s that usually the sellers are not photographers and the inspection done to them is mainly done visually. Therefore, you have to be careful when choosing a seller and a lens.

Adapter

The K&F adapter used is well constructed and has a nice fit. The lens and the adapter add a hefty weight to the camera. With it on in tends to tip over the lens if you leave it on a flat surface.  You can feel the weight of the lens when you hold the camera by the grip, although it’s not tiresome.

Bokeh


At maximum aperture (f/1.4) this lens produces rounded bokeh balls in the center of the frame and more “cat eyes” in the corners. Personally, I don’t find it distracting or busy at any range and I think that add character to the image. With that said, when you stop down the lens the bokeh balls gain an hexagonal shape, produced by the 6 apertures blade on the diaphragm. Some may find this distracting or ugly, but being that this is a matter of personal preference the photo examples are the best way to make a choice.

Samples

The photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening added.

ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/1.4 - 1/1600sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/2 - 1/1000sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/2.8 - 1/640sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/4 - 1/320sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/5.6 - 1/160sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/8 - 1/80sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/11 - 1/40sec - ISO-100 - 50mm
ILCE-7M2 - Minolta MD Rokkor f1.4 - f/16 - 1/20sec - ISO-100 - 50mm

RAW photos are developed in Lightroom using the “Minolta MC ROKKOR-X PG 50mm f1.4” profile.

Distortion


As difficult as it is to find some profiles for lens corrections the bundled ones in Lightroom (Classic, 2020 version) seems to work really well (sometimes). In this case, I’ve used the bundled Minolta profile “Minolta MC ROKKOR-X PG 50mm f1.4“.

Before: No profile. / After: Profile applied.

Sharpness


At maximum aperture this lens it’s completely usable. it renders a nice glow that can be useful in portraits. However, it must be taken into account that only the central part has sufficient definition, the edges suffer a lot in this aperture.
Stopped down the lens start to get sharper a cross the frame and delivers resolution on par with modern counterparts.

Gallery


The photos are processed in Lightroom, primarily are color corrected and adjusted for personal preference. There’s no extra sharpening added.

Conclusions


As classic lenses go this is one of my favorites. In the film era, every big camera manufacturer had a 50mm F/1.4. In other words, that was the maximum aperture you had at your disposal (for some time at least).
I’ve tested the Canon and the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lenses, however this Minolta takes the crown. This lens has a lot of usability at maximum aperture and stopped down only improves the image. On top of that, the lens produces nice and warm colors straight out of the camera and with a little bit of love in post the results can be astounding. With that in mind, there’s a price to be paid to get it. It’s not the cheapest 50mm f/1.4 but If you get a good copy, it’s totally worth the price.
Key points to consider if you grab one.

  1. You like manual lenses and the feeling that comes with them.
  2. Extra weight it’s not a problem.
  3. Being patient in taking photos.
  4. A different rendering for your photos, less flawless and more “natural”
  5. Saving (usually) some money and have fun in photography! 😀

That’s about it. Thanks for reading! leave a comment if you like or ask away! I’ll do my best to answer.
Cako.