The 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 is a compact APS-C lens designed for mirrorless cameras. It’s constructed with an all-metal housing and a 9-blade rounded aperture with only 6 elements. I wouldn’t consider this a pancake but it’s very short.
Performance according to specs isn’t great, but the lens has some very beautiful character, especially wide open. So far, this is my favorite 7Artisans lens and it’s a lot of fun to use!
Focal Length: 35mm equivalent to 50mm on APS-C cameras
Aperture Blade: Rounded 9-Blades
Elements: 6 Elements 5 Groups
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.15′ / 35 cm
CPU Contacts: No
Construction: Aluminum body with a copper core
Filter Threads: 43mm
Pros: Fast, Small, Nice sharpness when stopped down, Very nice bokeh, Good chromatic aberrations control
Cons: Terrible lens cap, Vignetting, Color shifts, Distortion, Very soft wide open when close, Made in China
7Artisans 35mm f1.2 Review | First Impressions
Oh man, where can I start, 7Artisans lenses are always packed with surprises when unboxing. With this lens, the rear element was completely covered with some strange speckled oil that took me a while to get off. I’m not even sure how it happened. Maybe it was a cleaning solution someone forgot to wipe off, or it was part of a lens coating, I’m not sure, but the lens was unharmed by whatever it was.
When I first snapped this thing onto my Fujifilm X-Pro 2, it immediately felt right. It’s small light and crazy fast. Although not technically a pancake lens, it creates a very short profile for the camera. I can put the X-Pro 2 or even X-T2 in my pocket when I’m wearing a jacket, which makes it a great walk-around lens.
Image quality is really impressive for a lens this size. I was expecting the corners and edges to be just trash like on the 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 or Kamlan 50mm f1.1, but they actually hold together nicely, especially when stopped down.
In terms of character, this lens produces some very creamy bokeh and very beautiful rendering all around.
In bright outdoor situations, the multi-multi coated elements do a fantastic job at keeping bright lights and reflections under control, and in low light indoor conditions, the fast aperture helps keep that ISO and shutter in a safe place.
Sharpness at f1.2 is pretty bad when you’re close. It’s fine for portraits or just having fun, but you won’t really be getting a lot of detail unless you’re shooting close to infinity where sharpness improves considerably.
The 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 has an all-metal barrel with a de-click aperture. Focus and aperture adjustments are smooth. Focus has about a 165-degree throw which is nice.
The biggest flaw with this lens is the absolutely terrible lens cap. It’s crazy to me, 7Artisans makes some really interesting lenses at great prices, but they just keep failing miserably at lens caps. Isn’t a lens cap the easiest thing to design? Dear 7Artisans, just make a lens cap that stays on the camera, isn’t made of metal and doesn’t scratch the lens. This camera has the most pathetic lens cap I’ve ever experienced in my life, stop trying to be cool by making artsy weird lens caps and just make something we can depend on to protecting our lens.
Anyway, in terms of build quality, aside from the lens cap, it’s nice, no rattling and not a lot of play in anything. I’ve been shooting with it a few months now and have been doing my best to make it fail and it hasn’t.
Form a pixel peeping technical standpoint; the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 does pretty well considering its size. The big flaws here are sharpness wide open, vignetting and distortion. There are also some color shifts due to the vignetting. It’s a little cooler towards the edges, and by a little, I mean a lot.
As mentioned, the image isn’t sharp until about f4. Even the center is very soft and ghosty, but also the corners and edges are pretty bad. But it’s weird, I’m still finding it very usable, it just renders kind of artsy and soft, your mom will love it! Stopping down to f4 and sharpness becomes very acceptable. By f5.6 and f8, detail across the frame is very nice.
I’ve been shooting wide open a lot and one thing I’ve noticed is the output is much better than what you see in this chart, mainly because you need to be pretty far away to get sharpness at f1.2. I would say at least 30-50 feet, or pretty close to infinity.
I’m not really a huge sharpness snob, is it sharp enough? Yes, especially at midrange apertures where corners and edges perform surprisingly well, it’s just not good wide open until about f2.8.
Charts at all aperture ranges.
Diffraction / Spherical Aberrations
The soft focus at f1.2 and f1.4 as show in this sample and the samples above get worst the closer you get, but yeah, if you want to shoot anything closer than 10 feet at f1.2 and want detail, you’re not going to get it here.
Also, for this sample, I am pretty far out from the center of the chart and some of that softness is attributed to moving away from the center.
The detail at f2.8 is looking very usable and diffraction doesn’t really become an issue until f16, even then, it’s still very usable. On many small lenses like the Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8, diffraction at f16 is quite bad.
If you wanted a pancake-like lens and were on a tight budget, you could get this lens instead of the Fujinon 27mm f2.8 and you would have solid performance at f2.8 to f8 like the Fujinon but you would also have those fast apertures if you ever needed. Although, I do highly recommend the Fujinon 27mm f2.8.
7Artisan lenses seem to all have nice coatings. I haven’t really had any significant issues with flaring as I do with other lenses like the Kamlan 50mm f1.1. What I mean by that, is the lens does flare, but it’s predictable and expected.
You will catch some arcs if the sun is just out of frame especially when shooting at fast apertures. It cleans up a little when stopping down.
What’s really nice is the lens still holds its contrast and saturation even in extremely bright situations.
Vignetting is pretty bad on this one. Not because of how dark it gets, but because it includes a color shift. While the vignetting is easy to correct, the color ring pattern is not.
This chart isn’t lit as well from below, so ignore that shadow on the bottom.
Distortion control is good but not great. It’s a consistent barrel distortion that is pretty easy to correct, but I usually don’t mess with it as it’s not bad enough to cause any distractions in most images. I’ve actually seen Fujinon lenses distort worst than this once you remove the automatic lens profiles the camera applies to the RAW and JPEG. You can do that in Iridient btw.
I really haven’t had any issues with chromatic aberrations worth posting. I even shoot some high contrast power lines against the bright sun and still don’t get anything.
Art & Character
The 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 just drips with character. Is it as good as the Fujinon 35mm f1.4? Overall, not even close, but the sloppiness of the rendering creates a very unique image that makes shooting fun, or interesting to say the least.
Unlike most Fujinon autofocus lenses, the 9 blade rounded aperture produces very pleasant bokeh across all apertures, top that off with really nice micro-contrast and you have a very inexpensive lens that can pump out some really interesting images.
This lens is a bokeh beast. Bokeh is very smooth and creamy and all-around very pleasing.
Micro-Contrast & B&W Photography
Micro-Contrast is fantastic here. Even though the images are soft when shooting at f1.2, they still retain nice depth and tonal detail.
Straight Out Of Camera Samples
I usually heavily color my photos in most of my samples, but I’m now trying to include a section for some untreated shots – straight out of camera. These are RAW, with the default Adobe Profile.
Here you can see the difference between 5.6 and f1.2 and how nice the image actually renders when stopped down. It’s actually very impressive and makes for a really nice street lens if you let the lens live between f2.8 and f8. Then you still have f1.2, for those situations when you need it.
These are all cropped down to 3000px unfortunately. You can find full resolution images here.
7Artisans 35mm f1.2 Bottom Line
Although the lens really fails to render detail at fast apertures, somehow the images still turn out looking cool. Most of the samples in this review are shot fairly wide open and it makes me realize, lenses don’t always needs to be super sharp to make cool images and there are some nice things that still happen even though we lose a lot of detail on those fast apertures.
I’m actually very happy with this lens despite the shortcomings. I was not expecting an actually nice lens from 7Artisans, especially with how inexpensive this thing is. From 7Artisans the 25mm f1.8 has incredible contrast and center sharpness, but overall just too many flaws. The 55mm f1.4 is solid but isn’t that much smaller than the Rokinon 50mm f1.2 which is a much better lens. The 35mm f2 is nothing special really, just cheap. I would say the 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 is their most capable lens, while the 35mm f1.2 is their most artistic.
With the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2, bokeh, color and contrast rendering are just awesome for a sub $200 dollar lens. It’s biggest flaw is the vignetting with the color ring shift, so I wouldn’t really recommend this lens for landscapes or architecture.
For walking around, shooting street and especially black and white photography, this is one of my favorites when looking to go as fast and as small as possible. Actually, this is probably my favorite small low budget lens. I can literally put it in my coat pocket with my XT2.
How does the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 compare against the Rokinon 35mm f1.2? I’ll do some detailed tests in future posts but I’m pretty sure the Rokinon 35mm f1.2 will smoke it from what little time I’ve had with it – it is much larger, however.
All the other lenses out there (at the time of this review) that are this fast are also a lot bigger, so I’m a little kind when reviewing lenses that are designed to be small. Compromises have to be made when scaling down, so for someone who wants rock-solid performance and is willing to spend a bit more money on a bigger lens, you might want the Mitakon 35mm f0.95, the Fujinon 35mm f1.4, or even the Rokinon 35mm f1.2 instead of this one.
But really this lens is a fantastic value.
The only thing that really bothers is the worthless lens cap. So you will have to find a replacement if you choose to pick one of these up.
7Artisans 35mm f1.2 Sample Images