The 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 is a fast, compact APS-C lens that is excellent for all types of shooting conditions, especially available light. It features 6 elements in five groups that give nice color and contrast, great flare resistance and low distortion. With a 14 bladed rounded aperture, bokeh is smooth across all focal ranges.
Overall, the 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 is an incredible value and a fantastic starter portrait lens or compact prime.
Focal Length: 55mm equivalent to 82.5mm on APS-C cameras
Aperture Blade: Rounded 14-Blades
Elements: 6 Elements 5 Groups
Coatings: Multi Coated
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.15′ / 35 cm
CPU Contacts: No
Construction: Aluminum body with a copper core
Filter Threads: 49mm
Pros – Incredible value, all metal construction, no distortion, small, fast, decent edge and corner sharpness, nice lens flares.
Cons – Very stiff focus, nervous bokeh, a little ghosty wide open, overall not as sharp and not as much contrast as slightly more expensive lenses.
7Artisans Photoelectric 55mm f1.4 Fujifilm – Amazon / BHphoto
7Artisans Photoelectric 55mm f1.4 Sony – Amazon / BHphoto
7Artisans Photoelectric 55mm f1.4 Canon – Amazon / BHphoto
7Artisans Photoelectric 55mm f1.4 M43 – Amazon
7Artisans 55mm f1.4 Review | First Impressions
The 7Artisans 55mm f1.4, is one of the better low-budget compact 50-55mm range prime lenses for APS-C and micro 4/3 cameras. It’s also one of 7Artisans few lenses that has a nice lens cap. Build quality I’m finding to be pretty good with a few caveats. The main one being the extremely stiff focus. It’s gotten better, but the first few weeks with this lens was a little tough on the fingers.
In terms of overall quality, it’s just a decent lens. All around better than the Kamlan 50mm f1.1 (except the Kamlan is slightly sharper in the center), but not as good as the much larger Rokinon 50mm f1.2. Contrast, saturation and sharpness are all decent, but probably better than most starter zoom lenses, especially kit lenses, which makes this a great lens for somebody looking to get their feet wet in the world of prime lenses while not spending too much money.
While a lot of people think it might be better to go with vintage Russian lenses adapted to their mirrorless camera, I honestly find these cheap Chinese lenses are just as good, maybe better in some cases. They’re also easy to return if there are issues and less likely to have issues in the future. The coatings 7Artisans uses is surely better than any retro lens I’ve ever used and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of buying an expensive adapter. That’s not saying you can’t find some incredible retro lenses, it will just never be as convenient as ordering one of these cheap-o 7Artisans lenses, unless maybe you’re looking at usedphotopro.com, who have an insane number of old used film lenses.
Compared to prime lenses by Fujifilm, Sony or Canon, designed for their respective cameras, this lens won’t compare. Although, you will find this lens has a lot more character than most of these modern primes.
While some of these cheap Chinese lenses are just trash, occasionally you’ll find some nice ones. This is one of the nice ones. It’s not the best lens on the planet, but it’s good enough and fast enough to create some nice looking shots. The 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 is overall a decent lens with no real flaws that are going to prevent you from getting nice shots.
I’ve had a lot of fun reviewing this lens and it’s very fun to shoot with. It’s not on the same level as more expensive lenses by Rokinon or Fujifilm, but it feels nice, it’s small all metal, kind of heavy but ultimately very fun to use and the images coming out of it are good.
Build quality is nice, all metal body, nice stiff aperture ring but the focus ring is a little too stiff, which is unpleasant but improves over time.
The lens is smaller than most other “good” 50-55mm lenses, which is probably why it slightly under performs compared to them, however, I still wouldn’t call it a bad lens considering it’s under $150.
One thing to watch out for with 7Artisans, is their quality control. I honestly don’t think they inspect their products before sending them out. Whenever you get a 7Artisans lens, inspect it and make sure there are no critical flaws. For example my 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 was covered with a strange oil, and my 25mm f1.8 had what looked like burnt marks on the inside components. Neither of those issues crippled lens performance in any way so I kept the lenses.
Sharpness is all around decent. You’ll get very nice sharpness in the center with some slight falloff towards the corners and edges when you’re wide open. Overall, it’s not nearly as bad as some other lenses like the Kamlan 50mm f1.1 in the corners, but it’s nowhere near as good as the Fujinon 56mm f1.2.
Because of the overall decent performance with sharpness, this lens a solid general purpose lens. It’s great for street or travel photography, you could even use it for landscapes and portraits.
In terms of diffraction, this of course depends a lot on the pixel pitch of the camera sensor you’re using, but some lenses do see more diffraction than other, I think it also has to do with position of the aperture within the lenses construction. Nothing unusual about this lens and it performs very good with the sweet spot being between f4, and f8.
Chromatic Aberrations are very well controlled. If I just shoot trees and branches I don’t ever really see it. Actually, this is the only image from the months I’ve been shooting where I’ve incidentally found some Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration.
Here you can see it on the ground under Kalina’s feet.
Expect to see longitudinal chromatic aberrations only in the most extremely bright high contrast situations. Shooting water droplets backlit by the sun, a reflective but detailed ground, etc.
Pretty much no distortion here.
There is only a little vignetting when wide open. Once stopped down to f2.8, it goes away.
Art & Character
In terms of character this lens is pretty fun for its size. Flaring is very well controlled and bokeh is decent. It’s decent with contrast but again not as good as more expensive lenses. Micro-contrast will still give you better results than most zooms which makes this a nice option for black and white photography.
Bokeh is pleasant, in most situations it’s simply beautiful, however you’ll find some scenes where you’ll get some slightly busy rendering. I’m not really a bokeh snob and to me this is fine, but I do love tons of character in bokeh when I can get it, like with the Fujinon 55mm f1.2, and you won’t find that here.
The 14 rounded aperture blades produce very circular bokeh even when stopped down, unlike the Fujinon prime lenses, or even the Rokinon 50mm f1.2, which both have a pretty low aperture blade count by comparison.
Color is very nice and very consistent. No color shifts throughout the lens and all around pretty accurate colors and saturation.
Straight Out Of Camera Samples
In some of these samples when wide open you can see that somewhat nervous busy bokeh I mentioned above. Colors look accurate, contrast and even saturation are nice.
All the images in this post where shot with the Fujifilm X-T2, Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujifilm X-T100.
Contrast | Micro-Contrast
Contrast is again only decent for a prime.
Micro-Contrast, is that inner tonal low gain detail. A lot of micro-contrast makes the lens render more like a Fujinon prime, low micro contrast makes the lens render more like a Sigma prime or other high element zoom lens.
Micro-contrast is one of those unquantifiable qualities to lenses that makes prime lenses so great. Most people can’t put their finger on why a good prime is good, micro-contrast is usually a contributing factor and there is no way to measure it with consistency.
You’ll get the best results here at around f5.6 where you’ll see the most pop in tonal details. When you stop down too much, use ND filters, shoot into the sun, or sometimes open up your aperture, you risk crippling the micro-contrast.
This lens has overall nice micro-contrast, but I was expecting a bit better for a 6 element lens. While it’s good, it’s not as good as the Fujinon lenses, but honestly, its close enough.
I was expecting the 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 to have pretty extreme flaring when I first unboxed it since it has no lens hood. However, flaring is extremely well controlled.
Unlike the Fujinon primes, which pretty much don’t flare at all, this lens produces pretty cool lens flares with nice colors and shapes. Lens flares can really add character to an image if used correctly and I’ve found this lens very fun when intentionally trying to shoot with flares.
You just can’t get this from most modern primes anymore.
7Artisans 55mm vs Kamlan 50mm vs Rokinon 50mm
Comparing the 7Artisans 55mm to the Kamlan 50mm and the Rokinon 50mm, the 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 holds a really nice position. It’s a touch slower than the Rokinon 50mm and the Kamlan but is also cheaper and performs very well in terms of sharpness.
Wide Open – Center Sharpness
Looking at all three lens wide open you can see the 7Artisans is a little ghosty, but the image is still detailed. The Kamlan 50mm f1.1 actually might be the sharpest here.
Wide Open – Corner Sharpness
When looking at the corners, you can see why you’re spending the extra money on the Rokinon, it is vastly superior. Not shown here, but the Rokinon also outperforms when comparing contrast and saturation.
Wide Open – Mid Frame
Already the Kamlan is starting to fall apart when moving out from the center. The 7Artisans sits between the Rokinon and the Kamlan.
Wide Open – Micro 4/3 Crop
For Micro 4/3 shooters, I’ve included a crop. While I think the Kamlan is a terrible APS-C lens and the 7Artisans is clearly a better value, when you crop them all down to Micro 4/3 the Kamlan suddenly doesn’t look so bad, but it’s still inferior to the 7Artisans and Rokinon with corner and edge sharpness.
f5.6 – Center Sharpness
Kamlan and Rokinon are both a touch sharper than the 7Artisans lens here, but I would say in most casual situations it’s not going to make a difference.
f5.6 – Corner Sharpness
The 7Artisans is very impressive here. Not as good as the Rokinon but it’s pretty good for how inexpensive this lens is.
f5.6 – Mid Frame Sharpness
When looking a little out from the center, the 7Artisans is looking the best.
f5.6 – Micro 4/3 Crop Sharpness
The Rokinon and 7Artisans both look good here. You can see the Kamlan lens looking not too bad especially if you were using it for portraits where corner sharpness isn’t the utmost importance.
This is just below where the corner would be with a Micro 4/3 crop.
Obviously this comparison only shows the sharpness and you shouldn’t buy a lens based on sharpness alone. Color and contrast between the Kamlan and 7Artisans is very close, and if you’re a micro 4/3 shooter the Kamlan might be the way to go. But for more money the Rokinon is an f1.2 and is pretty much better in every way except that center sharpness where the Kamlan is superior. The Rokinon lens is also slightly bigger.
7Artisans 55mm f1.4 | Bottom Line
The 7Artisans 55mm f1.4 has no screaming flaws that will jump out (rare for a cheap Chinese lens), but also no real winning characteristics that more expensive lenses don’t have. It’s all around just a decent, fairly small, light and pretty fun to use lens, once you get that stiff focus broken in (at least with my lens).
The price of the lens makes it actually one of the best bangs for the buck in you’re looking for a 50mm to just mess around with, and I do think it’s a better lens overall than the Kamlan 50mm f1.1.
Who is this lens for?
For someone looking to get their first prime and wants a lens that is faster and will produce better image quality than a kit lens, this is a great place to start. Grab a cheap prime, see how you like manual focus, you won’t be at any real loss in image quality by using this 7Artisans lens, and if it works for you and you love manual focus, great, you can always upgrade to a really nice prime later.
For someone with a little more money, they really should consider the Rokinon 50mm f1.2 as it does produce significantly better results. That review is coming next! So hit that little bell in the bottom right so you don’t miss it.
7Artisans 55mm f1.4 Sample Photos
Shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujifilm X-T100.
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