There are a few things that make a lens for Leica M-mount perfect: the size, the aperture, and the build quality. The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 lens is doing just that. It starts with the fact that it’s a real pancake lens. Then we consider the f2.8 maximum aperture — which works very well for a 28mm lens being used for candid or street photography. We finally top it all off with the fact that it’s made of brass — yet remains to be only $358.99. Of course, this comes with usability quirks. By and large, though, Funleader has proven themselves to be incredible lens makers.
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Brightin Star is a company that isn’t really on my radar, as I thought that perhaps it was an influencer that made the lens in collaboration. However, they’re another company that also works on lenses. We’re not fully sure of how they collaborated, but we can surely speak to Funleader. All the while, the build quality beats the heck out of anything MS Optics makes. To be very transparent, they’ve made a few boring lenses in the past — such as their 18mm f8. They’re also the ones that let you adapt the glass inside the Contax 45mm and 35mm f2 to Leica M mount. To date, the 35mm f2 is my most used lens for Leica M mount. So the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 gave me quite high hopes.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 is a perfect pancake lens for Leica M mount camera owners in many ways. Though it doesn’t come with 6-bit coding at all for metering, it’s still really capable. Using it will be a tad quirky in the same way that so many other pancake lenses are for Leica M cameras. However, you’ll see that it’s also a bit more of a set-it-and-forget-it affair. We recommend using it with a fast ISO setting or film. We think photographers will adore how small it is, the brass build quality that will patina over time, and the usability. Couple all this with the super low price point, and you’ve got a winner in so many different ways.
The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check them out at Funleader’s website.
- Very small
- Brass build
- Pretty easy to use if you’re familiar with zone focusing
- Fairly fast aperture
- Insanely affordable
- A bit tough to use if you’re new to manual focus lenses
We tested the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 with the Leica SL2s. The glamor shots were done on the Leica M6 TTL. Funleader sent us the lens for a loan, we believe. The Leica cameras are owned by us.
The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 is the first 28mm f2.8 pancake lens that we could find for Leica M mount. Let alone, it’s the only one made from brass, and as it continues to be used, I’d be tempted to call it the fairest one in all the land.
There truly isn’t a whole lot to the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8, ergonomically speaking. It’s a pancake lens — and that makes things a bit more complicated. On the front of the lens, you’ll find all the controls, as it’s otherwise impossible to get this design right. That’s where you’ll spot the aperture ring, focusing ring, and filter thread. That’s really all there is to this lens.
This lens isn’t built with weather resistance in mind. So if you’re adapting it to another mount, then keep that in mind. However, it should be perfectly fine on Leica’s own M series cameras as the company has always said that it was a consideration since the beginning.
Otherwise, this is a small lens that you’ll easily be able to work with.
Ease of Use
The most difficult thing for anyone that’s experienced to use with this lens is the depth of field scale. It provides an effective way of measuring it in meters, but not in feet. At least, if you’re American, that’s going to be a bit of a pain as you dive deep into high school scientific studies to figure out the conversions in your head.
But if you’re not used to focusing manually, then you’ll need to understand the ideas behind zone focusing and how useful they are. The lens isn’t so sharp that focus peaking is easily triggered. Yes, that’s a thing that exists. Further, it doesn’t have any electronics. I mostly used it in zone focusing as it is.
When walking around, I found myself often either focusing to infinity or approximately six feet away. Typically I’d shoot at f2.8 or at f5.6. Changing the settings was pretty simple to do overall. When shooting wide open, things get a bit more complex as you really need to work to ensure that your subject is in focus. I recommend using the focus magnification to do that.
The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 is a manual focus lens without electronic contacts. Seriously, just zone focus with this lens. It’s the easiest thing to do in this case as it’s more or less designed to do just this.
Just a note: on the Leica M6, this lens focuses so closely that the frame lines will change.
I say this with all honesty. With the exception of some nice, muted flaring, there isn’t very much that makes the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 stand out and make me want to use it all that often. I’m pretty positive that many other photographers will also feel the same way. It isn’t fast enough of a lens to deliver a lot of character in the bokeh. It also is pretty sharp without being overly so. All this is a much longer way of saying that it’s fine — and when I say that it’s fine, I say it in the way that it’s mediocre enough to just get by.
Yes, it has the best bokeh when you focus pretty closely to the minimum focusing distance with the lens wide open at f2.8. Again though, it’s not really doing a whole lot for me.
The colors from the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 are nice and saturated. They feel good, and it seems almost similar to the 7Artisans 35mm f2 lens. I personally like the colors the most when the camera is set to Daylight white balance.
The lens character isn’t in the bokeh here. Nor is it in the vignetting when shooting wide open. Instead, it’s in the slight flaring you get when you backlight your subject. The flare suppression is present, but it doesn’t feel as oppressive as a Sony lens.
The Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 is sharp without being overly so. The sharpest renditions of the 28mm lens come from Leica’s Summicron SL, which I own. In fact, I need to use Tifften Glimmerglass to soften it. But the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 doesn’t need it.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Who Should Buy the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8?
Well, I don’t know who wouldn’t want the Funleader X Brightin Star 28mm f2.8 lens. However, it’s not because of the image quality. Instead, I think you’d be more enamored with the small size. Some of us might never take it off the camera because of that. If you shoot film and get all the character from film instead, then you’ll like this.
If you own the Leica CL or its other analog variants, put this lens on it. No one is bound to take it seriously if you do, so you can get into anywhere you’d like.
Specs are taken from the official product page.
Mount: Leica M-mount
Format: 35mm full frame
Focal Length: 28mm
Aperture Range: F2.8-16
Angle of View: 75.3°
Lens Groups / Elements: 5 / 6
Aperture Blades: 10
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.7 m (2.30 ft)
Filter Diameter: 25.5mm
Rangefinder Coupling: Yes
Body Material: Brass, black paint
Thickness: 9.9 mm (0.39 in)
Weight: 125 g (4.4 oz)
Size: 51.4 ⌀ × 21.5 mm (2.02 ⌀ x 0.85 in)
Sony: (Adapter Needed)
Fujifilm: (Adapter Needed)
* FX: All X series cameras
* GFX: GFX100/GFX100S/GFX50R/GFX50S
Nikon: (Adapter Needed)
Canon: (Adapter Needed)
Panasonic: (Adapter Needed)
Hasselblad: (Adapter Needed)
Sigma: (Adapter Needed)