Review - 7Artisans 55mm F1.4 lens in Fuji X mount

 It’s a joy to use true manual focus lens on Fuji X cameras thankfully to quite convenient focus assist system. It’s the main reason for me to use third party lens available for Fuji X mount, or adapting another compact lens options. One of my favorite adapted lens on Fuji X camera is Voigtlander 50mm F1.5. Though it’s designed for a Full Frame and is a bit heavy. But I like it for small size and decent moderate sharpness so great for portrait. Of course any other lens APS-C alternative should be optically smaller so I was always looking for another options. 7artisans 55mm F1.4 is quite interesting candidate due to attractive price and 14-blades aperture.

Unboxing 7artisans 55mm F1.4

I’ve received this lens sample as an unexpected gift directly from 7artisans factory. It was a nice surprise, because I never tried 55mm on cropped sensor and it’s a great chance to try a bit more narrow angle.

Lens arrived securely packed in a sealed box. 7artisans typically print optical formula and also add mount sticker (“FX” in my case) on the rear box side. That sealed tape means the box was never opened after the factory release.

I was expecting the small size, because it’s APS-C lens. But still I got impressed by how really small it is.

Lens was wrapped in plastic bag and securely sits in high density foam compartment, that can be later used as a convenient storage.

This 7artisans 55mm F1.4 sample typically comes with plastic front and rear caps (and front cap has side hole for strap). I immediately tried the aperture ring rotation to observe the 14-blades aperture shape. Surprisingly it’s quite comfortably tight to turn. I think it’s expected for such large number of blades to prevent any damage in case the easy quick rotation is possible.

I like the design of the aperture ring and focus ring – textured shape with curved edges is very convenient. Though by every time complain is lack of step-click which typicaly forces to look at lens numbers more often than I do when using ckick-stop aperture of Voigtlander.

Mounted on X-E2s camera it is a bit long but fits nicely.

It extends to about 1cm on minimal focus distance of 0.35m.

7artisans 55mm F1.4 shot samples (with Fuji X-E2s camera)

The shot below is a downsized square crop of the central frame area taken at F1.4. The DOF is quite narrow even on APS-C sensor when the distance to the subject is about 3ft. I like this moderate level of sharpness at F1.4 which is much softer than native Fuji X lens. But it brings enough level of details. The background is lovely blurred without distractive artifacts.

Obviously 7artisans 55mm F1.4 is designed for subjects in the center. Just think about its price, there are no ED or aspherical elements. So it’s expected to see very soft areas in borders and corners even at F2.8, like on the image below (downsized to 1200px).

Here’s another F1.4 sample taken from about 6-7ft distance. You can see the coma influencing frontal OOF area blurring baking it less pleasant but still quite natural. The rear OOF area is balanced directing attention to the main subject. It’s the typical scene where this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 can be easily used. Gentle turn of the focus ring quickly switches the point of interest in the frame.

Over brightened areas are well controlled delivering expected level of softness and aberration tints at F1.4. Again the background is nicely blurred forming air-like lightness of picture borders while central area remains moderately sharp.

The F2.8 or smaller hole is good enough for general scenes to keep the overall central frame sharpness.

It’s important to keep frontal OOF areas out of the frame, because distant objects look a bit nervous there comparing to more balanced soft look of rear OOF area.

Two close-up shots at F1.4 and F2.8

7artisans 55mm F1.4 mechanics overview

The lens body is completely made of aluminum including the mount ring area. I wish 7artisans also make a silver version that may better fit silver Fujifilm cameras, but that’s just my personal taste. I like to see that both aperture and focus rings are well dampened and have much bigger letters comparing to 7artisans 35mm F1.2 lens I have.

The big difference to other 7artisans lens I immediately noticed is a lack of three screws on the focus ring that typically serve for easy infinity focus calibrations. Unfortunately I had to discover alternative way to calibrate the focus of my sample. It was not able to focus further than about 100ft. On the other hands it was quite easy by simply unscrewing mount ring and adjusting the number of metal shims. I’ll describe this approach in details in my other post.

Surprisingly this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 sample attaches to X-E2s with very firm lock. The lens securely keeps its place even during rotating the aperture ring. My 7artisans 35mm F1.2 and 12mm F2.8 lens samples having small radial play when mounted on the camera. It required adding small layer of vinyl film on the mount surface to get rid of that issue. I’m happy to see that this 55mm lens sits great like it’s solid part of the camera.

I typically protect the lens with high quality brass B+W UV filter. This 7artisans 55mm F1.4 lens has 49mm filter diameter. My sample has a bit tight filter thread and requires some effort to screw the filter in. I’d not use aluminum frame filters with this lens because it may be an issue to unscrew them later. The brass frame is better for this lens.

Brief conclusions

I’m only shooting with this lens for few hours but already very pleased about the shooting results. I’ll definitely spend more time with this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 by simply keeping it all the time on the camera and making few more hundreds pictures during next two weeks. It should change first impression, but I think to the positive side.

You can find tons of 50mm third party or adapted rangefinder compact lens alternatives that can be used on Fuji X. I personally use Zeiss ZM 50mm F2 on Fuji for sharp and high contrast shots. Second lens is Voigtlander 50mm F1.5 for more soft and natural looking portrait or nature shots. I think this 7artisans 55mm F1.4 would work great for portraits fo just a 1/3rd-1/4th of the Voigtlander price. If you need whole frame sharpness wide open the native Fujinon 50mm F2 would be better investment despite its few times higher price.

7artisans 55mm F1.4 should be great performer once you are accustomed to its weak and strong sides. 14 blades aperture implemented great here and delivers very interesting and quite pleasing look to the pictures.

More shots with 7artisans 55mm F1.4 on Fuji X-E2s

You can find more 7artisans 55mm F1.4 images on public Flickr group