I always enjoy the challenge that prime lenses throw at me. Forcing me to think and move creatively rather than zooming in and out, they make me re-imagine scenes in multiple ways. I honestly didn’t know that the TTArtisan AF 27mm lens was designed for APS-C cameras – a segment I’ve avoided for over a decade now. But during my testing, I’ve found it to be a handy everyday lens that can produce very useful results. If you’re an APS-C camera user looking for a cost-effective and reliable street and outdoor photography lens, this one is worth a go.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
I haven’t been a fan of APS-C cameras for over a decade now. I much prefer the superior low-light capabilities of full-frame cameras. So much so that I’ve rarely used APS-C cameras for my professional and personal work since 2012. But using the TTArtisan AF 27mm lens made me realize there have been quite some improvements in this type of camera lately. If I was someone who had a handful of APS-C cameras in my collection, the TTArtisan AF 27mm is a lens I might seriously consider purchasing. At just under USD 160, it’s a steal for the sharpness and AF speeds you get from it. Proving once again that even 3rd party manufacturers can give the major brands a run for their money, TTArtisan really nails it with this lens.
I’m giving the TTArtisan AF 27mm three out of five stars for its inexpensive price point, relatively quick auto-focusing, and decent sharpness. It is a lens you can rely on for street work during the day. At night the colors don’t always match what you’re seeing. The minimum focal distance is over a foot, so you can’t get macro shots with it. Still, the bokeh at f2.8 at this distance is pleasant. I only wish they had done better with that microscopic lens cap which can be easily misplaced.
- Snappy autofocus. Noticeably more accurate than that on their 32mm f2.8 lens
- Compact size
- Available for Sony E, Nikon Z, and Fuji X mount cameras
- Manual aperture control ring
- Good center sharpness at all apertures. Good corner sharpness above f4. Actually, for a $160 lens that has autofocus, it’s more than good.
- Lens firmware updates are possible with supplied rear lens cap
- That silver aperture control ring definitely makes it look more appealing than if it were all black. But I’m unsure if this is limited to the Nikon Z mount model.
- Metal construction and metal lens mount
- Can only update the lens firmware on Windows computers
- No weather sealing. But I guess that helps keep the price down.
- The filter thread size is too small. TTArtisan could have found a way to have the filter thread on the outer diameter of the lens body.
- Some noticeable vignetting
- Even those who have tiny fingers will find the lens cap challenging to handle. Best left off the lens for your peace of mind. Else you’re bound to find it to go missing more often than not.
I used the TTArtisan AF 27mm Z-mount lens that was sent to us by Pergear, with a Nikon Zfc loaned to us by Nikon Middle East.
The world’s smallest lens cap. Okay, I’m being sarcastic here, of course. This lens cap should just have been a magnetic one. Even with my small fingers, it’s annoying to have to pay so much attention to trying to take the lens cap off the lens. The wafer-thin cookie-like lens cap is better left off the lens. Otherwise, you’re bound to misplace it.
But that screw-on lens hood is definitely the smallest I’ve ever seen. And extending around 4mm from the lens, I really wonder if it serves any purpose at all. Except to maybe allow the lens cap to fit on a little more easily. But the lens looks more desirable with this hood off. This hood seems as useful as the one on the 32mm f2.8.
It’s odd that TTArtisan can’t keep a consistent lens design. The one on their 50mm f2 lens was a screw-on type lens cap, thinner than a poker chip.
While it’s not quite a pancake lens, the TTArtisan AF 27mm lens should easily fit in your pant pocket. It would slip in more quickly if you could find a thinner rear cap than the one supplied by TTArtisan. That’s because the one that comes with the box also doubles as a lens dock when you need to update the firmware on your lens.
The aperture ring is silver colored, probably as a nod to the retro-styled Zfc bodies. Two knurled points on this ring allow you to adjust the aperture. But this is more for those who enjoy reminiscing about how they changed aperture values in the olden days. Modern enthusiasts would probably leave this ring on the A setting and adjust the aperture values from the camera itself.
An unobtrusive manual focus ring sits at the front of the lens. Great for those who enjoy challenging themselves using zone focusing. But truth be told, autofocus on the TTArtisan AF 27mm lens is fast enough for most street and casual photography. I didn’t find my fingers reaching for the manual focus ring.
The all-metal lens body inspires confidence that the lens can take a knock or two. The addition of a metal lens mount is impressive at this price point. I just wish there was some weather sealing or resistance in there. Still, I didn’t find any dust making its way to the sensor of the Zfc. If I owned an APS-C body as a second camera, I would probably just leave this lens on it all the time. And I think it would pair (visually) quite perfectly with the Nikon Zfc black model. If Nikon’s rumored full-frame Zf model doesn’t tug at my heart too much when it’s released, I just might get that black Zfc and marry it with the TTArtisan AF 27mm for taking street photos.
Whenever I think about it, I am even more convinced that the lens cap was poorly designed. It would have been better to have had a magnetic lens cap instead. But both those lens caps are about the only plastic portions of the lens.
Really impressed that autofocus was built into this lens for a sun $160 lens. Emerging manufacturers such as TTArtisan, Viltrox, and Astrhori are undoubtedly putting established industry giants. Their commendable efforts in producing budget-friendly lenses that yield results surpassing the ordinary are highly welcomed. The autofocus performance of this lens is far from lackluster, leaving little room for complaints. Occasionally the lens would miss eyes ever-so-slightly, but that could also be due to the eye AF not kicking in correctly. Even the few times the AF would hunt, due to low light, it was surprising to observe how the lens maintained a steadfast approach. It never really recklessly traversed the entire focal range. At most, there would be some silent back-and-forth hunting before it settled on the subject. This was more evident at night and in low light indoors. Under favorable lighting conditions, the autofocus on this lens operated without much hassle.
The low light focus issues I encountered could be chalked up to the AF performance of the Zfc.
Ease of Use
This really is a sort of slap-it-on-and-don’t-worry-about-it kind of lens. It becomes a companion to you when you set the aperture ring to A and leave the focus on any auto mode. I think my biggest gripe would have to be with the crippled Windows-only firmware update possibility. I hope Viltrox fixes this headache sooner than later. There are a lot more of us Mac users nowadays.
There’s no built-in lens stabilization. No autofocus switch. And these are things that help keep the price down. But I also do think that’s what will keep this lens working for years if it’s handled with care. Not that it needs mollycoddling of any sort.
The images I created with this lens when the light was more than ample were actually a lot more impressive than I expected. The ones in low light sometimes disappointed me, especially on the color front. Expect a 40.5mm full-frame equivalent field of view from this lens
f2.8 equates to a little over f4 (full-frame equivalent) when used on a crop sensor camera like the Nikon Zfc. So while the bokeh isn’t the creamiest you’ll see, it’s more than acceptable by APS-C standards. Not having used an APS-C camera for many years, I actually felt pretty pleased with how the out-of-focus areas presented themselves.
If only the minimum focus distance was closer. That would have made the depth of field look even shallower when photographing things up close. It’s not a focal length where you’d want to stick it near your subject when doing portraits though
During daylight hours, colors appeared satisfactory. At night, the reds and blues often looked nothing like they did in real life. Using the standard picture profile on the Nikon Zfc, even slightly overexposed highlights resulted in noticeable color inaccuracies. I recommend switching to a vivid color profile when shooting in low light to address this.
Corner vignetting is actually quite heavy in bright images. If you’re into adding vignettes to most of your images, you won’t have to when using this lens.
Way better than I expected, and I really have to applaud the autofocus systems here. It’s not 100% at all, but it did inspire confidence in me nailing the shots. I never thought of switching to manual focus mode to get more accurate focusing. The lens doesn’t always display the micro-contrast kind of sharpness you see on the Nikon Z mount S-line of lenses. But it does easily match up to the sharpness you’d see in some of the better F-mount lenses they have.
At f2.8, center sharpness is impressive. It improves across the corners once you start stopping down at f4 and beyond.
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 It?
The TTArtisan AF 27mm lens is currently available in Nikon Z, Sony E, and Fujifilm X mounts. It’s you’re looking for an inexpensive but pretty capable lens. I find it can easily hold its own in almost all departments against bigger brand equivalents. And it won’t break the bank. This lens helped me understand that APS-C cameras are a lot better nowadays and taught me that I could still have fun with my photography using one of them.
Taken from the TTArtisan AF 27mm lens Pergear product page:
- 6 Elements in 5 groups
- 7-blade diaphragm
- 56° angle of view
- Clicked aperture ring
- 93g weight
- 0.35m close focusing distance
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