Review: 7Artisans 35mm f2 (Leica M Mount, Used on Sony FE)

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens isn’t as sharp and doesn’t have better bokeh than a Leica, but it’s still very pleasing

Let me get this right out of the way, the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens isn’t as good as Leica’s. Leica’s outperforms in sharpness, detail, and bokeh in pretty much every way and at every aperture. But the 7Artisans 35mm f2 isn’t at all bad; and it can still render very gorgeous images. Being a Chinese lens, there are surely folks out there who may doubt how capable it is. But I can assure you that unless you had other lenses side by side or were very familiar with other optics, you wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference between the 7Artisans 35mm f2 and other offerings when it comes to image quality. But when it comes to the ergonomics, there are surely differences.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Full aperture stops only
  • Sharp images
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Small and lightweight
  • Metal body

Cons

  • Nothing really, except that it’s not Leica’s quality, Zeiss’s quality or Voigtlander’s quality. But it’s still very good.

Gear Used

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 was used on the Leica M4P and the Sony a7r III with an adapter.

Tech Specs

Specs for the 7Artisans 35mm f2 taken from the Amazon listing and the official website.

  • Aluminum Body, Copper Bayonet, Sonnar Structure. Compact and Lightweight 6.87oz/195g
  • 7 Elements in 5 Groups. Ideal Aperture with 10 Diaphragm Blades. F2-F16 Focal Range. 35mm Focal Length. 43mm Filter Diameter
  • Excellent Color Balance and Lens Optimization, 7 Anti-Glare High Light Transmission Coating Effectively Deal with the Backlight Environment
  • Optimized for Working on Full Aperture with the Great Sharpness and Contrast. Fast Aperture and Lowest Chromatic Aberration, Producing Pleasing Portrait Style Quality
  • Available for Leica M Mount with A Rangefinder Coupling. Works with Leica M2 M3 M4-2 M5 M6 M7 M8 M9 M10 M4P M9p M240 M240P ME M262 M-M CL and Voigtlander M Mount Cameras. NOT compatbile with Leica M4 Cameras manufactured in Canada. Works great with Leica M4 Cameras that are manufactured in other Countries

Ergonomics

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 is an all metal lens with glass built in. Unlike the company’s very good 50mm f1.1 lens, it doesn’t have a rubber finger focusing tab. This one is metal and built into the focusing ring. There is a front filter thread, the glass, and of course 7Artisans’ branding.

Look at the 7Artisans 35mm f2 from up above and you’ll spot the zone focusing scale, the apertures, and the distance scale. You’re most likely going to zone focus when using the 7Artisans 35mm f2 on a Leica. But on a Sony, you’re going for focus peaking and careful cranking of that focus ring.

Build Quality

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 is made of metal. It isn’t weather sealed but most M mount lenses aren’t. It’s a solid lens and also isn’t that large. Its compact size and the area around the front of the lens giving a bit of coverage for the filter will protect it. This lens didn’t come with a lens hood or an even option for one to my knowledge. However, I’m curious to know what one would be like.

Ease of Use

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 is designed to be zone focused or used with a rangefinder. If you’re using a Sony or the EVF with a Leica M camera though, then you’ll want to rely on peaking and magnification. Here it is near the Hexar AF, which is also a 35mm f2. The 7Artisans 35mm f2 is slightly larger and not as fat. What you’ll want to keep in mind when using this lens is that the aperture is available in full stops. If you’re using a Leica M4P the way I am, then that means you’re essentially just working in full stops all around when exposing a scene.

Focusing

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 is smooth and really precise. That’s what rangefinder lenses are designed to do anyway! Of course, the focusing has to be done manually; if you miss the shot then it’s your fault unless you’ve got a calibration issue with your rangefinder. The focus throw is just narrow enough to give you very careful precision when it comes to singling out one subject from another in the scene. Of course, this is a semi-wide angle lens with an f2 aperture. If it were f1.4 then there would be much more separation. But at f2 there is just enough for most folks.

Image Quality

When using the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens you can be very proud of the image quality. There isn’t inherently anything wrong with it, but instead it’s a 35mm f2 with pretty damned good quality all around–but it isn’t that of the German offerings.

Bokeh

The bokeh from the 7Artisans 35mm f2 is very nice to my eyes. It’s not what the f1.4 lenses that I’ve tested have, but it’s still very beautiful in its own way. This is partially due to the design and how subjects tend to bloom with light if they’re backlit. If you love bokeh, then you’re not going to really complain. Instead, you’re going to be more thrilled that you’ve got an affordable lens that can give you solid quality.

Chromatic Aberration

There is none; but it’s easy to think about the low contrast that this lens can offer to be an issue. Let’s move on.

Color Rendition

The colors from the 7Artisans 35mm f2 tend to be a bit more muted and cooler than I’ve seen with first party Leica lenses. That’s absolutely fine for sure if you like that look. Hey, it means that you can load up your camera with CineStill 800T and get even more of that beautiful Blade Runner look when shooting in Daylight environments at night. If you want Leica’s vibrant and warm colors, then get a Leica. I’d like to equate the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens to something more akin to that of Voigtlander vs Leica in the same way that people can consider Canon vs Nikon lenses. While Nikon lenses offer a more cool tone to them, Canon’s lenses tend to warm the scene up and make skin tones look phenomenal.

Sharpness

Wide open, the 7Artisans 35mm f2 is very sharp when critically focused. But Leica’s offerings are still sharper (and thousands of dollars more). With the 7Artisans 35mm f2, you’re getting a bit of that quality at a significantly more affordable price point. How can you honestly sit there and complain?

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • A bit of Leica’s quality for a bit of their price
  • Build quality
  • Fun to use

Dislikes

  • Full stops on the aperture

I genuinely can’t complain about the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens. It’s fantastic and only $289. It has nice bokeh, sharpness, colors, etc. Plus it’s built well. It would be stupid to complain about something so affordable and with this much quality built into it.

The 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens is fantastic and earns five out of five stars from us.