Revision 1.0: first impressions (22.12.2018). Revision 1.1 (25.12.2018): 6-bit coding test corrected. Revision 1.2 (6.1.2019): some sample shots added. Revision 1.2 (21.2.19): used with the Sony A7III. More examples of flare
Turmi market, Ethiopia. Leica M9 and 7artisans 28mm f/1.4
Note: This review is done with a Leica M9. All pictures are screen snapshots form the RAW editing tool. Pictures are unedited unless stated. A new paragraph has been added testing the lens with a Sony A7 Mark III.
You can watch the unboxing of the 7artisans on YouTube or in other reviews. In this article I will focus only on image quality.
The lens comes with a mini screw driver to calibrate the lens for your camera. The process is simple and at the end of it you have a perfect camera+lens combo. I wish Leica, Zeiss and Voigtländer also had this feature. On my new Ultron 1.7/35 I have to use a piece of tape glued on the rangefinder coupling cam in the lens to compensate for back focus. The tape makes the cam a bit longer and (by pure luck) this offsets the native back-focusing issue of the lens. With a rangefinder it is always hard to say if the camera or the lens is off, but the lens is definitely easy to adjust if you are lucky enough to experience back focusing. If the problem is front-focusing, you have to disassemble either the camera or the lens – which is typically not a DIY task…
Back to the focus adjustment. You use a nice focusing chart (included in the box) to check for focus accuracy. Mine was a few cm off. With the mini-screw driver you can then extend or retract the coupling cam. The focusing chart provides indication about how much to turn the cam depending on how much the focus error is. Normally after 2-3 attempts, you achieve perfect focus.
Here 4 shots (f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4) to test short focus after calibration:
…and 100% zoom…
I also did a shot with the target positioned 2m from the camera and that confirmed the adjustment.
Note: the RAW editing tool estimates the wrong aperture because the lens was coded as Summicron 28mm f/2. Please ignore the aperture indication written below the single images.
Central sharpness, close focus (approx. 70 cm)
The usual set of images: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 and f/4 at 100% zoom (here again ignore aperture estimates below the images):
Sharpness is almost identical from f/2 to f/4 and as sharp as I would ever need. This result is remarkable for a 500 EUR lens! At f/1.4 the image exhibits some glow. It reminded me the Voigtländer 1.2/35 wide open. However, 2 clicks in the RAW editing tool and you don’t see the difference to the other 3 images any more. I just adjusted Sharpening Amount and Radius a bit and the image is almost as sharp as at f/4:
Central sharpness, distant focus
Distant focus is tested with this scene:
I don’t shoot landscapes at f/1.4, therefore here I show a set of images taken at f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and f/8 (please ignore aperture information below the images. It is incorrect).
100% zoom in the center:
f/2.8 is as sharp as f/8…
Lateral sharpness, distant focus
The same scene is used to test lateral sharpness. Lateral sharpness is not as good as central sharpness. Only the 4th image (f/8) is very sharp. f/5.6 is still good and becomes excellent just with a click in the RAW editing tool to correct for sharpness fall off. f/4 is more than usable. f/2.8: I don’t use this aperture for landscapes anyway…
100% zoom on the edge:
Conclusion: shoot landscapes at f/5.6 or f/8 if you want excellent across-the-scene sharpness.
The bokeh is creamy and smooth, both in the shadows and in the highlights.
Here a zoom-in (below 100%) at f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 and f/4:
and a full picture at f/1.4 (focus on the red writing)
Same scene at f/1.4, f/2 and f/2.8:
Another scene at f/1.4 and min focus distance:
The lens is prone to flare. This is maybe the major drawback of the 7artisans 28mm f/1.4.
At f1.4 it shows a very interesting flare pattern, both at infinity and at min focus distance:
But the pattern goes entirely away if you minimally move the aperture ring towards f2. A fraction of mm is sufficient to make the flare disappear, as shown in this example:
By shooting a white wall at infinite focus (worst vignetting case), with constant white balance, and by pushing saturation and contrast to the limit, I obtained the following patterns. The Summilux 28mm ASPH is the best lens profile to code on the lens (110110) despite the evident “Italian flag” signature (which however I did not notice in real life pictures – please notice that the test-pictures below have fully boosted saturation and contrast).
The profile works for all apertures consistently.
Sample images (Leica M9)
Some pictures from my recent trip to Ethiopia taken with the 7artisans 28mm f/1.4. More can be seen here.
With a Sony A7 Mark III
The optical results delivered by the 7artisans 28mm f/1.4 on a Sony A7 mark III are similar to the ones obtained mounting the lens on e Leica M9. Central and corner sharpness are comparable as shown in the example below.
Below a 200% zoom of the center of the frame with focus at infinity and aperture set at f8 (Leica on the right).
And at the edge:
The Sony image is of course larger as the camera is 24 MP vs the 18 MP of the M9. The results are consistent for all apertures. Best sharpness is obtained at f8.