Lens Review: 7artisans 50mm F/1.8

I picked up a used 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens for $60. The lens retail for $89, which is really cheap, but I wasn’t sure if this lens would be a good fit for what I want it for, so I went the used route instead. If it turned out to be a dud I wouldn’t be out all that much money. I’m happy that I paid less for it, because I don’t think I’m going to keep it for very long; however, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good lens.

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is an all-manual prime lens that’s 75mm full-frame equivalent on Fujifilm X cameras, which makes it a short telephoto option. It’s the smallest 50mm lens for Fujifilm that doesn’t require an adapter, and that’s why I chose it. It seems to have good build quality—made mostly of metal—with a click-less aperture ring (good for video, but otherwise not my favorite design) and a smooth focus ring. It has 12 rounded blades, producing nice bokeh and sunstars.

The lens is a little soft at f/1.8 and f/2, but improves significantly when stopped down, and is overall pretty sharp. There’s some minor vignetting at all apertures, but nothing significant, and it’s barely noticeable by f/8. Lens flare is well controlled. I didn’t notice any chromatic aberrations. There’s not much distortion, so straight lines stay straight. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is an inexpensive short-telephoto prime lens that’s pretty decent. So why am I planning to sell it?

There’s not much rotation in the focus ring from about 25 feet to infinity, meaning tiny turns of the ring move the focus point large distances. The lens will actually focus slightly beyond infinity, so focussing on further-away objects is tricky. I had more misses than hits when photographing distant subjects. This one flaw ruins the lens for me, or at least makes it less useful and enjoyable than I had hoped it would be. Otherwise, the lens is good. If you plan to photograph things that are closer than 25 feet away, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is worth considering; however, for objects further away than 25 feet, the lens is still usable, but it can be a frustrating experience.

This review contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links.
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Below are camera-made JPEGs that I captured using the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens attached to my Fujifilm X-T30

Monochrome Home – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Cold Metal Bench – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Hair Stripes – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Jo in a Yellow Beanie – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Sunlight Through The Barren Trees – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Outcropping – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Winter Picnic – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Dangerous Place – Weber Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Fountain Show Shrub – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8
Vibrant Colors Behind Bush – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 7artisans 50mm f/1.8

See also: My Gear Page

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Lens Review: Pergear 50mm f/1.8

I get asked frequently, “How can I make my digital pictures look more like film?”

My film simulation recipes—made possible by Fujifilm’s commitment to the camera-made JPEG and their long history with film—are a great start for achieving a film-like look. Another step that can go a long way towards achieving an analog aesthetic is the lens that’s attached to the camera. You see, most modern lenses are precision engineered, designed to eliminate flaws as much as possible. They score well on test charts, but often at the expense of character. Modern lenses render photographs differently than vintage lenses; old lenses have flaws, as they weren’t designed with today’s technology or for today’s standards, and these flaws are why they render images uniquely. For (typically) not very much money you can buy antique lenses intended for film cameras, and mount them to your Fujifilm X camera with an adapter—something that I love to do! Cheap third-party lenses often accomplish the same thing, but you’re buying something that’s new (instead of old) and you don’t need an adapter. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens is an inexpensive option for your Fujifilm X camera, and it indeed has character similar to a vintage lens!

I get gift cards sometimes, usually for my birthday or Christmas, and it can be hard to know what to buy myself. In the past I have purchased a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens and a 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 lens—both are under $100, which is the right price range for those gift cards that I don’t know what to do with. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8, with an MSRP of $79, is in that same category. The Pergear lens has other things in common with the Meike and 7artisans models: click-less aperture rings, seemingly good build quality, similar flaws, and lots of character. You’d almost think that they were made by the same company, but apparently they’re not.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is a 75mm-equivalent manual-focus, manual-aperture prime lens from China. It has 10 rounded aperture blades, 6 elements in 4 groups, a maximum aperture of f/1.8, a minimum aperture of f/16, a minimum focus distance of about 15 inches, and accepts 43mm threaded filters. The aperture and focus rings are both smooth. I do wish that the aperture ring had f-stop clicks, but it doesn’t—not a big deal, though.

Center sharpness is pretty fantastic on the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens at all apertures. Corner sharpness is decent-enough when wide open and noticeably improves when stopped down to f/4. There’s some minor vignetting when wide open; it improves when stopped down, yet it never fully goes away, although it’s hardly noticeable at apertures smaller than f/2.8. There’s some noticeable chromatic aberrations in extreme high-contrast light, but is otherwise well controlled. There’s almost no distortion. Bokeh is pretty good thanks to those rounded blades.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 has a weird flaw, which can be stunningly beautiful or terribly awful, depending on your tastes and the exact situation: the center of the frame can get a warm haze. It seems to become more pronounced when the aperture is (roughly) f/5.6 and smaller, and when there’s a bright light source somewhere in front of the camera (it can be outside the frame). Sometimes I really love this haze, and it’s almost like having a diffusion filter built into the lens, and sometimes it’s just too pronounced and essentially ruins the picture. Opening up the aperture seems to reduce the effect in those situations where it might be too pronounced. This strange haze is both the reason to buy this lens and the reason not to, depending on your opinion of it. I personally really like it, although I’m happy to have it limited to one lens, which I can choose to use when I want this character in my pictures. To be clear, this haze won’t show up in every picture—there are many situations where it won’t, either because the aperture is too large or because the light isn’t right, and even when it does appear, it’s often very subtle, which is great.

The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is a good, sharp lens, producing lovely images in most situations. It has character that you just won’t find in most modern lenses. It has quirks, which can be good or bad, depending on the situation and your tastes. It’s all manual, which I like, but can take some practice to get good at if you’ve only ever used auto lenses. The Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens, when used in conjunction with the Fujifilm JPEG settings, can help you achieve a much-sought-after film-like look from your digital camera. It’s not for everyone, but, for the price, it’s worth a try, especially if you are unsure what to buy with that gift card in your wallet.

This review contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links.
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Below are camera-made JPEGs that I captured using the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 lens attached to my Fujifilm X-T30. For the color pictures I used my new Kodak Portra 400 v2 recipe (available on the Fuji X Weekly App for iOS), except for the the top picture, which was captured with Velvia, and the two night pictures below that, which were captured with Porto 200 (also available on the app). For the black-and-white pictures I used my Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe. The photographs of the lens (above) were captured with a Fujifilm X100V using my Superia Premium 400 recipe.

Piano Abstract – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Train at Night – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Windshield Bokeh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Red Berry Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Resting Girl on Chair – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Handicapped Parking – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Trash, Truck – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Rural Trash Can – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Dam & Bridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Water Under The Bridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Cold Country Road – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
December Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Hunting Journey – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Winter Sunflower – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Reed by a Frozen Lake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Cattails – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Pole Cone – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Duck Hunters – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Grass in the Cold Water – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Motor Vehicles Prohibited – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Steel – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Barren Landscape – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Grass in the Frozen Marsh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
Storm Over Frozen Marsh – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Pergear 50mm f/1.8
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My Fujifilm X Camera Lens Recommendations, Part 2: Third Party

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Part 1: Fujinon

I listed my recommended Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm X cameras in Part 1. In this second segment I will give my recommendations for third party lenses. Like in the previous article, I will be focusing on what I’ve actually used, because I prefer to talk about what I have experience with. My opinions are based off of my own use of these different lenses.

Let’s jump right in!

Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 NCS CS

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Salt & Stars – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm

The 12mm f/2 NCS CS ultra-wide-angle lens, which is sold under both the Rokinon and Samyang brands (it’s the exact same lens), is a great manual focus lens. It’s sharp with surprisingly little distortion and few flaws. Since it is so cheap, it’s a great budget-friendly alternative to the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, or even a companion to it. Not everyone needs a lens as wide-angle as this one, but it’s a fantastic option for those who do. If you need something ultra-wide for astrophotography or dramatic landscapes, this is a must-have lens!

Meike 35mm f/1.7

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mount Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

The Meike 35mm f/1.7 is a “nifty-fifty” standard prime lens on Fujifilm X cameras, and if you don’t mind an all-manual lens, this is a great budget-friendly option. In fact, it’s probably the best $80 you’ll ever spend on new camera gear! It’s not without flaws, though. You can read my review of the lens here. For the cheap price, I wouldn’t be afraid to try the Meike 28mm f/2.8 or the Meike 50mm f/2, either. In fact, you could buy all three for less than the cost of one Fujinon lens! The 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 is a good alternative, which I reviewed here. I’ve never tried the 7artisans 35mm f/1.2, which is an intriguing option but a little more expensive.

There are, of course, plenty of other third-party lenses, of which I’ve tried zero. I know that the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 II is highly regarded, yet it’s also on the expensive side of things. The Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 and Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 are two lenses that I’ve seen highly recommended by others, and, based on my experience with their 12mm lens, I’d definitely believe it. However, I don’t want to spend much time on lenses that I have no experience with. Instead, let me offer one other alternative: vintage lenses.

You can typically buy old film lenses for very little money. Since most people don’t shoot film any longer, these lenses are cheap, yet many of them are exceptionally good in quality. You will need an adapter to mount them to your Fujifilm X camera, since they’ll have a different mount. Just make sure you know which mount the lens is so that you buy the right adapter. Thankfully most adapters are pretty inexpensive. Below is a video that I made on this topic.