The 7 Artisans 50mm f1.05 L mount lens redefines what a US$400 lens is capable of.

When it comes to build quality and feel, this feels more like a US$2000 lens. The focus ring is buttery smooth and the aperture ring also has a smooth feel. Do take note this lens has a de-clicked aperture, so photographers will need to be careful since it’s easy to change the aperture if you’re not careful.

The mount on the back of the lens is also full metal and anodized. Attention to detail is definitely noticeable from the first time you hold and use the lens. This lens is heavy and at f1.05, it should be, but it will definitely feel heavier than other lenses of its size so do take note. Overall, saying that I’m impressed with the build quality and feel is an understatement.

In terms of usability, it’s a manual focus lens only. This means you will heavily rely on focus peaking or whatever manual focus system you have in your camera. If you choose to shoot at f1.05, the focus peaking system might not be 100% accurate, so you may want to magnify into the subject to double-check. However, once you stop down to f2 and beyond it’s relatively easy to focus with decent focus through on the lens.

This lens has a more “artistic” rendering than other 50mm lenses. It has character in the bokeh, the area in focus won’t be bitingly sharp wide open but it has more of a controlled dreamy look. Also, one of the characteristics of the lens is the flare that will come in from outside light sources. If you know how to utilise it, you can create some very cool effects and give your images that JJ Abrams lens flare look, but if you try to fight it, you might find yourself needing an external hood which this lens does not come with.

Colours are not overly saturated coming out of this lens. They feel slightly enhanced but nothing that concerns me.

Chromatic aberration is apparent in this lens at f1.05 all the way to around f2.8. After that, it cleans up a bit. While this might bother some, I find that very fast lenses below f1.2 will suffer from this at times. Even a Leica Noctilux doesn’t escape from it. The good thing is that this is easily corrected in Lightroom, so if you do not like it, you don’t have to live with it.

This lens is not designed to be your primary 50mm lens. It renders like a vintage lens but it has a modern design. It gives you a unique looking lens if you are looking for something like it without breaking the bank.

Written by Bobby Tonelli