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Monday, 24 August 2020


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I think we are counting angels on the head of a pin.

If the build quality is decent then $199 for that lens is terrific value.

Think of all the pins you could buy with the saved money.

If this was comparing a 600 dollar lens against a 450 dollar lens, then all of the over analysis of minute details might be worthwhile to differentiate the better option for a photographer.

If the two lenses consist of one lens costing 12 times the price of the other and you still have to do the over analysis of minute details, and ten other people could arrive at different conclusions, then something is out of balance.

I stopped pixel peeping and testing. Does the picture look good? Then the lens is good.

Buy the cheaper lens, spend 4000 dollars on multiple excursions to do photography and show your photos to the guys still staring at their screens trying to justify something.

I saw this myself and took the quiz. It kind of confirms what I've been saying all along: That while Leica cameras and glass are still very good, the company's vaunted image quality hasn't fully translated from film to digital.

Also, the democratization of lens quality in recent years via computerized design hasn't helped the value proposition for Leica.

Leicaphiles will scoff because, for most, value isn't a part of the equation. I understand that don't want to rain on their parade. If Leicas make them happy, more power to them. But, for everyone else, there's a lesson here.

At more commonly used apertures (f/5.6 to f/11), both lenses are probably indistinguishable for most intents and purposes. Don't you think so?

Best, Thomas

Mike, you took essentially the same approach I did - with the same results! I think a more relevant comparison would be with the ZM Sonnar or the Voigtländer Nokton. Avoid the sensationalism around a lens that costs 1/10th as much and compare it within its price range. I can't defend the Summilux's expense, I don't own any such expensive lenses, but even at the high Leica prices you get what you pay for.

Mike, the price difference here is probably due to the M-mount lens being rangefinder coupled, while the Nikon and Sony versions don't need that additional mechanical complexity. So, just for once, I think the price difference is likely justified :-)

The Leica Summilux ASPH 35mm was the first Leica lens I ever purchased. Bought it used for $1300, a bargain price! 80% or more of my Leica photos are taken with it. Just a spectacular lens.

I have heard some rumor that the 7Artisans is a literal copy, it would be good to have some confirmation either way.

Your comment about color was spot-on. One reason that Nikon was so dominant amongst professional 'chrome and fashion shooters back in the day was the very consistent color transmission characteristics of its entire Nikkor lens line. You got the same color cast whether it was a 20mm lens or a 200mm. Same benefit with the Carl Zeiss Contax lenses.

Other brands, perhaps not so much. Olympus's 1st-gen Zuiko lenses for the OM cameras were notorious for wandering color casts. Took a few years for them to get that sorted out. Of course, if you shot B&W or color negative, it wasn't a problem.

Photo made with a one dollar lens in a box camera.

Honestly, if I don't like the picture I could care less what lens or camera it was taken with. Most of the camera stuff I have I got because I liked a picture enough that I wondered what it was taken with. Of course if it was taken with a film camera then I went down the what film and how was it developed rabbit hole..... :-)

That color cast thing saved me a pile of money a few years ago. I came across a 70 to 210 f4 AF Nikkor in like new condition at a camera show for $80.
It has a well deserved reputation for shooting "cold" and in the 1980's that wasn't good. But it is a constant f4 and is sharp as can be and focuses really close. It is also built like Nikon made them back in the 70's.
A weird little orphan but just use cloudy WB outdoors and you don't even need to correct it in software.
Gets little love on the web but I think it might be the best $80 I ever spent.

There is no such thing as a test photograph, just lazy camera testers making poor, boring photographs. (As I discussed recently. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-0jv8Ox5xo)

An actual photographer making quality photographs would be a welcome addition to the "lens-testing genre" of photography. What about it in use? Ease of changing aperture or focus? Ergonomics? How well it responds to inadvertent light/flare?

Then we could factor in, you know, "photographs" to the equation.

Years ago, I was the assistant to a very well known fashion photographer. Part of my job was to service a rolling bar stocked with snacks and alcohol in case the client or AD wanted "That Pause that Refreshes." I was given strict instructions to set up the drinks in this way... Store brand Scotch,Bourbon,and Gin, were put into very fine decanters. Behind them was a very expensive Premium unopened bottle of the same to complete the illusion. I loved to hear the conversation about the nuances of the "fine and rare" malts, blends, and Barrel Aged whiskies they were drinking. I thought my Boss was brilliant.

While I believe that for actual picture taking the only difference that would stick out would be the greater size of the one lens and (just barely possibly) the difference in mechanical quality after considerable use, the test is to say the least, a bit problematic.

The test is conducted by a seller/promoter of the one lens, and it's done on a Fujifilm MF camera. I'm making a big assumption here, but I think that the 7Artisans lens might not be as affected by the thicker filter stack in the Fuji compared with that of a digital Leica, which would tend to favour the 7Artisans lens in this comparison. Also, Mike, as you pointed out, these pictures were not very demanding in any technical way.

The comparison does what it's supposed to do: help the promotion of the lens. The 7Artisans lens could still be an excellent buy for many people, but this comparison shouldn't be the decider.

I’d be a lot more interested in what they looked like one stop down. The bright ring and mechanical vignetting would go away on the Leica lens, but I’m not quite sure what would happen to the Artisans lens.
And what’s going on with the aperture of the artisans lens anyway? Lateral chromatic aberration is not a big deal these day since it’s easily corrected in software unlike the longitudinal variety. That weird shape would make me think that maybe there was a petal lens hood of the wrong size on crooked or that there was a really misaligned element or goofy aperture. I’ve seen some cinema lenses with weird artifacts from anamorphic zoom designs or the old galvanometer apertures, but never a still camera lens.

If I didn’t already have too many 35mm lenses I’d be interested in the Artisan lens once I knew what was going on with that weird artifact

I saw a bit less distortion in the Leica lens, probably fixable with Adobe.
What I cannot understand is why buy the Leica body.
Detour was very enjoyable.
Thank you.

I wonder what's the performance like at their maximum f1.4 apertures?

Obviously the 7Artisans is the “better” lens and I didn’t even need to look at the pictures to know that... It’s the same price as the Summilux and it comes with a free Leica MP in black plus your choice of camera strap for the same price. Heck for only an additional few hundred bucks on that deal I could upgrade to an M monochrom. Uh oh, my smart Alec answer is making me think about it.

For engineers there is an old saying that I think is applicable here, "Better is the enemy of Good Enough". Where the ambiguity has the potential to arise is in the definition of "Good Enough".

I am just an amateur who takes photos for self-satisfaction and recreation, and the only other people who are in a position to judge my images are the members of my family - who are less critical than me. Accordingly, when I decided early this year that I wanted a fast 35mm lens for my Sony, and that the 7Artisans f1.4 lens met MY criteria for "Good Enough", purchasing that lens was an easy choice - and I have no regrets today about that decision.

If photography were a source of income for me, or if I needed to please someone more critical than I am, "Good Enough" would potentially be shifting toward a more expensive choice, but right now those more expensive choices are merely "Better".

- Tom -

I got a copy when they first came out in the Sony mt. It's a fun lens works well in low light and is like a 1st ver 35 summilux wide open, soft, flairs but the one I have does not sharpen up like a summilux would when you stop it down. I do have a ver 1 summicron when I want sharp, but I use this alot on my A7s it's just a fun lens.

I think the "Leica look" is definitely a thing. Some times I can see it in some photo I've taken.

However, and since my photos are more often boring than they are blurry regardless of lens, ten times out of ten I would get the 7Artisans and use the other $5000+ on a trip somewhere.

I mean, if traveling were an option, given the current times. If you're going to take photos of your cat at home, definitely get the Summilux :)

This test is sorta a scam. Leica Rumors Dot Com is a dealer for 7Artisans. https://leicarumors.com/store/

The tests were NOT shot using a Leica camera. They were shot using a Fujifilm GFX 50R. https://www.dpreview.com/news/8207462192/spot-the-differences-comparing-a-430–35mm-f1–4–7artisans-lens-to-leica-s-5–895-summilux-m

In the blind comparison, Leica Rumors put the Leica Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH lens ($5,895) up against the 7Artisans 35mm F1.4 lens ($430). All images were shot on a Fujifilm GFX 50R, using the exact same settings.

What’s with this? Leica lenses are designed to be used with Leica cameras and Leica sensors. Leica lenses are NOT designed to be used, with adapters, on other brands of mirrorless cameras. Seems to me this so called test was designed to make the Leica lens look bad. What do you think?

Interesting; the first thing that struck me was that, in the first pair, I didn't like the bokeh of either lens much. On the later pictures, I simply couldn't find differences. But I did work just with the small images, not pixel-peeping. No real differences in veiling glare, something I seem to be bothered by more than a lot of people. It's possible that the contrast differences around the lamp in 1 actually show a difference there, but it's so tiny as to be irrelevant to me.

On 2, what I noted is that neither one was adequately corrected (or they picked non-flat brickwork; that would be mean, and hence is exactly what I would do if I had some handy). And it's something trivially corrected digitally without messing up other things much.

This confirms what I've been strongly suspecting for a decade—I don't need lenses as good as the top manufacturers are making these days and I'm rather unhappy with the top prices.

I tend to think that Leica's best lenses were from the early 50s to the early 70s. Going further back or forward from that era gives less bang for buck. Their finest moment remains the M4 and the 50 Summicron (though I like the Summitar better, the Cron is a superior lens.)

I really need to stop lusting after a nice IIIc and Summitar though... ;)

Albert Smith wrote "and show your photos to the guys still staring at their screens trying to justify something."
Sadly enough, most of those "guys" don't actually want to look at photographs., or make them; a phenomenon not limited to cameras, lenses, and photography.
Many parts of consumer spending are full of people more interested in having "the best" or "the best value" than in using the gear in question for its intended purpose. Automobiles, guitars, and hi-fi equipment all come to mind, although there must be many more categories.
I'll admit that when I used 35mm, I had both a Nikkor 35/2 AI and a Leica 35/2 Summicron ASPH. Since I used the cameras for different purposes, I never did a direct comparison to see which was "better". They were each plenty sufficient and I never found a flaw with either.

I could separate the two lenses fairly easily. I knew that 1A, 2A, 3A and 4B were all taken with the same lens. But I wasn't sure whether it was the expensive lens or the cheaper lens. The cheaper lens was more contrasty.

I was thinking that with a one second tweek in Photoshop, I could probably make them look about the same.

If one lens was $400 and the other was $550, I might go for the more expensive lens, but possibly not.

Buying a $6000 lens for the quality gains that we see here is ludicrous unless you happen to have unlimited funds or need a status symbol.

I also saw this, I spent a couple minutes looking at each image, however I didn't download the full res ones to pixel peep.

I had Leica for the first 3 and couldn't decide on the last also.

Although as others have mentioned it's important to note that if it's this hard to differentiate then is it really worth paying all the extra? As a film photographer I would gladly spend that extra on more film and chems.

Nice review of the quiz though thanks for sharing!

Whaaat? I see the exact opposite in picture 1. The Contrast is clearly better and the image has more detail on 1B, i thought the problem with contrast was because of a sligt amount of flare actually. On the ogher hand the Bokeh is not as pleasing in 1B, although both are kind of bad on the bokeh issue. Where 1B shows a lot of CA in the bokeh balls (only visible on 100% JPG), especially near the corner.

It is the law of diminishing returns combined with what economic lifestyle do you want to be part of? Do you want your money supporting jobs that provide good wages, 6-week vacations and great healthcare, or do you want to look the other way and not question what wages, benefits, and quality of life is given to the makers of the race-to-the-bottom lens?

Sure, 7Artisans makes a solid lens in China at 1/12 the cost of a German Leica lens. But if we aren't taking into consideration what it takes as far as labor is concerned to provide that value, we all need to warm up to the fact that we will also have to start offering ourselves at a value point like that to compete on a global level. We all love a deal, but some are too good to be true.

After 5 years of photographing I still don’t know how to pixelpeep.

For some reason when I read this I thought of David Duncan Douglas and his Nikkor lens experience.

If one is in the market for new optics, these inexpensive Chinese lenses that make us look this hard to see such minor differences with products costing 10x more is rather exciting.

I have said this before but I will say it again because it fits the context. I have the old screwmount Voigtländer Heliar 2.5/75 mounted on Leica M6. I showed a print made with that to Leica staff, in Solms at the time. I just mentioned it was taken with 75. They looked at the picture and then said: ‘Very nice, the Summilux is a magical lens’. The price difference between those two, my 2.5/75 and the 1.4/75 is/was about the same as in your example. If a lens is good enough, it is good enough.


I actually picked the exact opposite of the correct choice.

1B had more contrast, so I assumed Leica.

2B had less corner vignetting and straighter lines, so I assumed Leica.

3 and 4 were both toss-ups, so I just used the cool vs. warm overall image tones from the previous images to guide my decision.

I thought for sure that the Leica would be better corrected for technical aspects like vignetting and distortion, so that was a shocker.

Knowing that I actually prefer the technical quality of the vastly cheaper lens is pretty liberating. Pixel peeping aside, aesthetically they are slightly different, but neither is notably superior, nor will they help you make a better image, so that's that.

I suppose the Leica will be handed down to the children and to their children and so on. The 7 Artisans: used a few years, then a paperweight and then landfill.

That was interesting. The only one I got wrong was #2. The bad upper-right corner and overall stronger vignetting in 2A led me to believe that was the cheaper lens. What stood out for me was how out of focus areas were handled (not as nicely with the cheaper lens).

Overall, I'd say if you can't make a good picture with the cheap one, the very expensive one isn't going to help matters.

I also think the future is grim for Leica. If the 7Artisans lens is that good today, they'll be able to close the gap further in short order.

Wait, more commonly used apertures are f/5.6-11? Boy, not around here.

Got tired of waiting, but here's the first 4 months of 2018 (as interpreted by Bridge; I've tried to omit obvious duplicates like rendered jpegs).

f/0.95 17
f/1.4 115
f/1.8 206
f/2.0 84
f/2.5 4
f/2.8 2187
f/3.5 87
f/4.0 104
f/4.5 2
f/5.6 1
f/6.7 1
f/8.0 1
f/13 19
f/16 3

So, I slid over to B&H and sure enough, $429. Then got to looking at the 35mm f2 by them, wow, only $288! If you are willing to give up a stop (less of a concern in the digital age) you would have a small, cheap, and small, I like small....lens.
If I had need of a 35mm in Leica M mount seems like a no-brainer for a bottom feeder like myself.

My apologies for my slightly sarcastic tone earlier; I was poking a bit of fun at the legendary "Leica Look" (that I can't seem to see, myself), but it came off as harsher than I intended. Thank you for the sincere answer to my question.

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