*Before we get started, I want to say there is a new PerGear 25mm f1.8. From everything I can find about that lens, it’s not the same as this lens, it has 5 elements in 3 groups, this one has 7 elements in 5. If you guys are here because of Ken’s review, you can get the PerGear on Amazon (affiliate). I’ll buy it and test it out when I’m back in the USA next month to see if the build quality lives up to the hype or if the element count is a mistake on their site.
It looks to have a similar design as the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2, although the 7Art has a wild copy to copy variation. But that lens has a decent build, saying Voigltander quality is a bit of a stretch since you’ll be lucky if the lens cover fits properly. With Voigtlander you get a higher tolerance of perfection, with these cheap lenses it’s random if you get a good lens or not and I’ve talked to lens companies that know these factories and I’ve been told they do not have the proper machinery for consistent precision. Still, these lenses are cool, and a ton of fun just buy from a place with a good return policy.
*Here is a non-affiliate link to the PerGear if you guys hate the idea of bloggers like myself feeding their children.
An article like this takes me a solid three days full time at least, usually a week. Just FYI. I’m not some Youtuber that watches someone else reviews, then spews out their highlights and says I reviewed the thing after only spending 20 minutes with it. I’m of course not saying Ken does this, but some guys do and it’s sad.
The 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Review
The 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 is a small and fast lens designed and manufactured in China for mirrorless cameras. It’s built with an all-metal lens barrel with poor quality control and construction. Optically the lens is tuned for a somewhat old school, retro image quality where corner and edge sharpness is sacrificed at the cost of micro-contrast and color. All around this little lens is kind of a mess and I’m struggling to decide if it’s even worth it.
Focal Length: 25mm equivalent to 37.5mm
Aperture Blade: 12 circular aperture blades
Elements: 7 elements in 5 groups
CPU Contacts: No
Construction: Aluminum with copper bayonet
Pros: Very sharp in the center, good contrast and color, metal construction, fast, small, cheap, nice bokeh
Cons: Bad edge and corner performance, bad distortion, bad quality control, bad assembly quality, focus element drifts out of focus
- 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Fujifilm X-Mount – Amazon
- 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Sony APS-C E-Mount – Amazon
- 7ARtisans 25mm f1.8 Canon M-Mount – Amazon
- 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Micro Four Thirds – Amazon
All sample photos are shot using the Fujifilm X-Pro2.
7Artisans 25mm f1.7 Review | First Impressions
When I first unboxed this lens I laughed. Honestly I really did. Not because it’s cheap, it definitely doesn’t feel cheap with the all metal lens barrel and nice weight. I laughed because whoever assembled the lens had a field day with the contact cement. There are little spots of something, I’m assuming cement on the inside of the lens, and when you open the aperture and look inside, you can see the cement all along the edges of the lens. Maybe it was someone’s first day on the job, or someone was sick that day, at any rate, it’s pretty bad.
But whatever, none of those things will affect image quality, and for an under $100 lens, I’m ok with that.
There was also some dust in the lens when I got it and after only a few more days a lot more appeared. I’ve had the lens for two weeks and it already acts like I’ve had it for ten years.
In terms of image quality, I actually kind of like it. It’s a lot like using those old 35mm lenses adapted to a full frame cameras, before they really had computers and advanced ED and aspherical elements to get those corners under control. With this lens, the corners and edges are worthless, so it will function better as a micro four thirds lens, unless you don’t mind soft corners. I personally don’t.
Microcontrast is great, the color and render depth is amazing but the vignetting and barrel distortion are bad. Corner and edge performance is abysmal.
In terms of build quality, the lens feels nice, but don’t let that fool you. After only a few days of using the lens, the aperture display ring (the ring that has the aperture tick on it), came loose and could spin freely. It feels like it’s on threads because I was able to just twist it and tighten it back up, but now it’s no longer properly aligned so I sort of have to eyeball the aperture.
So that’s that, I feel like it’s a little cheaper than a Rokinon / Samyang lens because their lenses at least go a few months before falling apart.
Speaking of Rokinon / Samyang who are known for having very random performance between copies, I would assume this lens is the same. Considering the interior of my lens was a speckled mess, there is likely no quality control, which means a lot of really crap lenses get sent out.
In terms of performance, I feel like I got a decent one.
The 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 lens is a 37.5mm equivalent on an APS-C body and a 50mm equivalent with micro four thirds. It’s available for Sony APS-C, Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds and Canon M mount.
It can be used on full frame cameras like the Sony A7r III, but it will only have a circle of projection large enough to cover the APS-C portion of the sensor and you would need to put the camera in Super 35mm crop mode.
The lens barrel is built from an all aluminum construction with a copper bayonet.
The focus ring has a throw of about 100° which makes it a little difficult to get precision focus, but this is fairly common for a manual 35mm lens.
The 12 apertures blades create some nice circular bokeh especially when wide open and it is a de-click aperture, which was a mistake.
The aperture number ring will come loose after time, but it can tightened back up and it doesn’t really effect the lens performance unless it doesn’t tighten back up with the aperture numbers properly aligned, which is what happened to me. However, just aim the aperture numbers to the top and all is fine.
The lens cap gets stuck often on the front threads, but a nice UV filter could fix this.
The aperture ring is a little too easy to move and it’s very close to the focus ring so I find myself often nudging it by accident.
There is also an issue with the focus not staying where you set it. When adjusting focus, an element moves inside the lens, which creates a pressure difference or vacuum on one side of that element. This causes a small pull or suction on that element as the pressure equalizes and the lens slightly drifts back out of focus. This makes precision focus on the fly very difficult and it’s super annoying.
Center sharpness is very good, it’s actually sharper than both the Fujinon 27mm f2.8 and the Fujinon 23mm f1.4 lenses, but corner and edge sharpness are very poor.
Even though the lenses is sharp, the real problem is getting shots to stay in focus from the element drifting as the internal pressure equalizes when that focus element moves around.
This is my prototype lens test chart, it will be evolving.
Sharpness 7Artisans vs Fujifilm 27mm f2.8 vs Fujifilm 23mm f1.4
The 7Artisans is noticeably sharper than the 27 and the 23mm Fujifilm lenses in the center.
In the corners the 7Artisans lens completely falls apart.
Diffraction & The Sweet Spot
Wide open the 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 still has some very nice center sharpness. At f5.6 the lens is at its sharpest, even at f8 the lens still performs very well. By f16 things soften up.
Contrast / Color / Rendering
Color and contrast render very nice. When compared to Fujifilm’s 23mm f1.4 and Fujifilm 27mm, it’s very hard to distinguish which lens has more tonal details. The 7Artisans is sharper so it throws the mind off slightly.
When looking at these you have to step way back to the point where you can’t tell which is sharper. At that point the Fujinon 23mm f1.4 would appear to have slightly more contrast than the other two, but it’s really a toss up. They’re all very good and its safe to say that 7Artisans 25mm has excellent micocontrast.
Color is also very nice and natural with the 7Artisans. There are no strange shifts or tints like with many third party lenses.
Straight out of camera RAW samples – shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro2
Distortion / Vignetting
There is quite a bit of vignetting and distortion. Vignetting never really clears up and is the worst at f1.8.
Compared to the Fujinon lenses, the 23mm f1.4 lens blows them both away here, but compared to the 27mm f2.8 lens, the 7Artisans lens is about the same. However, with the Fujinon lenses there will be a built in lens profile that corrects for most of these problems with the RAW profile, so you’ll never actually see it like you will with the 7artisans lens. Same is true with Sony lenses when used in Sony cameras.
Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled even at f1.8. When stopping down, the image becomes even cleaner.
All around bokeh looks really nice with this lens. The 12 bladed aperture makes some very nice circular bokeh even when stopped down. There are also no onion rings or soap bubble effects.
There is a cats eye effect along the edges and corners and when you look at the bottom left corners, you can see the inconstancies of the cementing of the elements showing in the shape of the bokeh which appears as these little notches.
7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Review | Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a fun lens you can beat up, the 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 is fun. It’s a nice lens to sort of mess around with or to learn manual focus, especially if you’re looking to casually shoot some black and white photography.
However, when the rubber meets the road this lens basically just suck. It’s poorly built, poorly designed, has virtually no quality control, corners are bad, distortion and vignetting are bad and while the lens is sharp, the focus drifts so a lot of shots end up slightly out of focus.
Sure the contrast and color are great, but honestly, unless you really just want something you can experiment with, that $70 dollars would be better spend going towards a Fujinon 27mm f2.8 which can sometimes be found for around $200 on ebay.
You’re really getting what you pay for with this lens, but the optical formula is fantastic if you don’t mind some vignetting, distortion and corner softness. In the right situations it can produce some really nice images as long as you work within the limitations.
It’s just too bad a lens like this wasn’t built by a company that knows what they’re doing, because with the incredible center sharpness and contrast, it would have been a really nice one.
Ok, now that I said all that and scared you away, it’s really hard to find a cheap lens that’s this wide. Most retro lenses that are 25mm or in that range just outright suck, and anything by Fujifilm, Sony or even Rokinon are four times as much money. This leave the 7Artisans 25mm lens as the only option for a cheap lens that functions as a 35mm on an APS-C camera.
When I first started collecting lenses, I would sometimes buy cheap version of a certain focal length to see if I’m comfortable shooting it before spending the money on something more expensive, and this lens is great for filling that void.
For micro four thirds shooters this lens will be a lot of fun. Most of the issues with the corners and edges will be gone because of the crop factor and you’re left with a crazy sharp lens with nice contrast, if you can keep it in focus.
7Artisans 25mm f1.8 Sample Photos
Shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro2. Most images were shot with an aperture of around f4 to f5.6.