There are a number of inexpensive prime lenses coming out of China. After purchasing the Meike 35mm f/1.7 and, for the most part, really liking it, I thought I’d try the even cheaper 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 for my Fujifilm X-Pro2. Can a low-end lens be any good?
7artisans was founded by seven photographers who wanted to make lenses, so they did. They have several different offerings, all of which are very inexpensive yet intriguing. The 25mm lens for Fujifilm has an equivalent focal length of 37.5mm, which is slightly less wide-angle than the X100F, but a similar focal-length.
Despite the fact that they are two different companies, there are a lot of similarities between the Meike and 7artisans lenses that I own. They both have solid build quality, they are both manual-focus only, they both have click-less apertures, they both are super sharp in the middle, they both are super soft in the corners wide-open, they both have significant vignetting wide-open, they both have noticeable pincushion distortion, they both produce nice bokeh, and they both are at peak performance between f/2.8 and f/8. It’s almost as if the same people designed both lenses, although, supposedly, that’s not the case.
One difference that I found is Meike controls lens flare better, which is not necessarily saying much. If you like flare, both of these lenses are for you. The 7artisans lens produces lots of flare whenever there is a bright light source nearby. It’s almost a bit over-the-top, and if you don’t like lens flare, be sure to buy a hood for this lens (something that I did after a couple weeks of use). I like lens flare sometimes, but it was much too much with this 7artisans lens.
What you get with the 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 is a new lens that looks and feels vintage (maybe early-1980’s-ish), and produces results that have a vintage quality. It’s not precision engineered like most modern glass, so it has flaws, and those flaws give your photographs character, something that’s missing from most modern lenses. Whether or not that character is something you want for your photographs is for you to decide. I personally appreciate it. I also appreciate manual-focus, and those not used to it might not care for it.
I like the Meike 35mm f/1.7 slightly more than the 7artisans 25mm f/1.8, but it also costs a little more, too. At just $70, the 7artisans offering is $20 cheaper, and for that price, it’s pretty darn fantastic. It’s possibly the least expensive lens option for your Fujifilm X camera, as I don’t know of any that are cheaper; however, this is a lens that you could capture some great pictures with because it has very sharp glass. It does have some faults and quirks, but, considering how little it goes for, it’s easy to overlook those issues, and perhaps even embrace them. If you have a limited budget but would like to add some quality glass to your collection, the 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 is a good option that you should consider.
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Great article and accompanying images. I really like the look of the images from my 7artisans lenses. Can you recall which film simulation you used for the Drops of Water Lily image?
Thanks! That image started with this film simulation: https://fujixweekly.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/my-fujifilm-x-pro2-vintage-agfacolor-film-simulation-recipe/
I then ran it through RNI Films app, applying a 50% opacity “Afgacolor 40’s” with some custom adjustments. That particular image isn’t a straight-out-of-camera JPEG, although some others in this article are.
Actually it was “Agfacolor 40’s Warm”…
Just seen this lens on eBay for £47 – immediately hit the Buy it Now button. It looks to have plenty of character to my eye. Glad I found your site (through searching for thoughts on the lens). Really like your photos and posts. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you for your kind words. It’s a fun lens at a great price.
If you are looking for a lens with focal length of around 28mm on your XT30, and you’re also into vintage lenses, looking for character, for instance owning a Meike 35mm but also a Takumar 55 (and some old russian lenses), reading your review above but also your review of the Tak 28mm, what are your thoughts on a Tak28 vs this 7Artisan25 other then that build quality is a big difference?
My recommendation would be the Takumar. Those Taks are so great.
Followed your recommendations! Now the happy owner of several Taku’s … 28, 35,55 and 135 😉
I recently bought the Meike 25mm f1.8, which from what I read is better or worse in some places compared to the 7Artisans. I don’t think I got a good copy, I’m not very pleased with it, but for roughly 50 euro delivered I won’t complain too much and won’t go through the hassle or returning it.
In fact my biggest complaint about manual focus lenses is not the lens but Fuji cameras. I don’t know why but among the various cameras I’ve owned, the Fuji are the ones that offer the less magnification for shooting AND reviewing images. I mean they magnify at roughly X 7 and that’s not enough to get a sharp preview. I don’t like focus peaking so I only use image magnification for focusing and I more than once wonder if I’m tack sharp or not, a bit of hit & miss until I got back with the pictures on the computer. I’m speaking of older models (X-T1 & X-T20) but from what I read that’s the same even on X-T3 ?
I do agree, I wish that Fujifilm would give you the option to zoom in more, sometimes it’s not enough magnification to know if you’ve nailed focus. Of course when I shot film and used full-manual gear, there wasn’t any magnification, or much of anything to tell you if you had focused correctly (just that circle in the middle).
Hello, I like your work a lot. 🙂 Would you please let me know if 7Artisans 25mm f1.8 is good for Infrared, or does it have any hotspots as such at any aperture?
I have no idea. I don’t shoot IR myself (although I want to).