Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review: 7Artisans 60mm Macro lens for Fuji X-mount

 Packaging: nice. Absence of a cloth bag to protect the lens when off-camera: not so nice.

I knew this lens was supposed to be heavy, but I was still surprised when I lifted it out of the box. For its size, it looks as though it should be lighter, even given its all-metal construction. Once fitted to my X-E3, it becomes obvious that the camera will now have to be held by the lens - in my left hand - while the right hand plays the camera buttons. This camera/lens combo is just too front-heavy to usefully hold any other way. Forget about any one-handed operation. If that sounds like a complaint, then let me say it's not a problem; no different actually, from working with a longer telephoto.

The X-E3 fits nicely on the back of this lens!

I like the 60mm focal length. On the X-E3 it becomes equivalent to a 90mm lens on a 35mm camera - a nice length for portraits and bringing mid-field subjects closer (as well as macro of course). It's f2.8 aperture provides a very thin depth of field and very pleasing, out of focus, circular bokeh - thanks to the 10-bladed aperture ring. As this is a manual focus lens (no autofocus), the thin depth of field does bring challenges though. 

f5.6 - focus on the signpost

The focus ring rotates through something like 250 degrees (at a guess). But, all the focusing from infinity right down to one meter is accomplished in the first 10 degrees of turn (another guess), leaving about 240 degrees for racking between 1m and the closest 1:1 macro setting. While this is great for close up work, it does mean that focusing further out than 1 meter is a very delicate and precise task. The equally short depth of field scale on the lens also seems to be a complete fiction - if you want infinity to be in focus, then the lens must be centred on infinity. You'll get the hang of it eventually, but don't expect to do any lightning-fast street photography with this lens at f2.8.

Corner flare when the light source just out of frame - f5.6

There is flare and vignetting, though I don't believe the glass is to blame. The problem comes from the long internal lens barrel which, though black and ribbed, is still too glossy. Light directly in the frame doesn't seem to cause a problem, but out of frame, at the right angle, and this corner flare kicks in. The internal barrel is also undoubtedly responsible for the vignetting in the last picture.

No flare here (f5.6)

Sharpness across the frame at f2.8 is acceptable and reaches 'very nice indeed' at f5.6 and f8. f16 is terrible; diffraction comes in like you've been pushed off a cliff. I wouldn't use it. The aperture ring is also of the smooth, de-clicked, variety. Videographers will love that, some photographers won't, because it's difficult to adjust the aperture by feel (and, of course, there is no visual display of 'f' stop in the viewfinder - manual lens, remember). Personally, I'm comfortable with the aperture ring as it is.

Creamy bokeh at f5.6

At 1:2 magnification, I can hand-hold this camera/lens combo by leaning into the focus and squeezing off the shot. This becomes more difficult at 1:1, though a high-speed burst will probably nail focus in at least one frame. For best results though, you'll want to shoot macro with a tripod and a rail. Fortunately, when mounted on the X-E3, the lens barrel diameter is no deeper than the camera body, so the focus ring doesn't foul a rail when mounted. Check your camera/rail combo though; it may be different.

Hand held - so missed focus slightly - f5.6

For $159, this lens represents extremely good value for money. It's not auto and it won't deliver the absolute world-best image quality. But, if you can work within its limitations, and at 1/3 the price of Fujifilm's own X-mount equivalent, it'll deliver some very good images and is probably worth its weight in gold - though not literally.

Focus at infinity, f5.6 - everything in focus, but note the vignetting caused by the long barrel.

1 comment:

  1. My RAW editor doesn't have a lens profile for the 7Artisans lens. However, I have found that the profile for the Venus, Laowa 60mm f2.8 Macro, does a good job of removing the Vignetting in post.