Saturday, April 24, 2021

7 Artisans 18mm f6.3

The 7 Artisans 18mm f6.3 "UFO lens" arrived yesterday. Like the Pergear 10mm fisheye before it, this is another $69 lens that comes with low expectations and plenty of opportunities to impress.

The 7 Artisans "UFO" lens (after 'stealthing')

As others have said, there is heavy vignetting with this lens (easily fixed in post) and the corner sharpness is not fantastic. Center sharpness, does however seem quite good and this extends to the edges (though not the corners). For my style of photography, the lack of perfect corner sharpness is rarely an issue.

Distortion seems to be minimal or non-existant 

It's a very compact and solid lens and, like the Pergear 10mm fisheye, it's a fixed aperture - f6.3. Also, like the Pergear, it works well with the camera set to auto shutter speed and auto ISO - it turns the X-E3 into a high-quality point-and-shoot which is great for a very compact, pocketable, walk-around camera and lens combo. It has a fixed focus, extending from about 1m to infinity.

Fixed focus down to about 1m

With its completely meaningless, white, clock-face markings it's rather a gaudy looking thing; something I remedied with a couple of minutes and a black permanent marker. In this new, 'stealth', mode it looks very discrete on the X-E3.

The first batch of photos from this lens was impressive. 18mm gives about a 90-degree field of view - almost half that of the Pergear 10mm, and noticeably wider than the Fuji 27mm f2.8 lens. So, between the three lenses, the UFO lens occupies a sweet spot in the middle.

Soft corners visible to pixel peepers

So, what's the verdict with this lens? Well, it's not perfect but it is good enough. Good enough to make  pictures with nice image quality - which, at the end of the day, is what it's all about. But the real reason for this lens existing is convenience and price. Attached to the X-E3, it conveniently fits in a pocket, conveniently requires no settings, and in public, conveniently looks about as intimidating as a Gummy Bear. For $69 what's not to like?

Note: These photos are  NOT straight out of the camera. They are uncropped, but have all been processed to remove vignetting and provide a standard 'look'.

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