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7artisans 50mm f/1.1 review
 
 
The Leica M10-P with the silver 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 - and the camera bag from Yb Putro, made inn Indonesia. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.
   
 
   

7artisans 50mm f/1.1 review
by photographer Thorsten Overgaard

By: Thorsten Overgaard. December 13, 2018. Latest update August 22, 2022.

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The disruptive 50mm low-light lens from the Far East

A good test of a lens or camera is to use it side-by-side with the setup you usually would use, edit the results as one batch of photos, and then look at how many of the photos you liked were made with which camera and lens combo.

In this test, the conclusion is simply, “Yes, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is worth having”.

I’ve done similar “tests” before. I generally don’t compare equipment. I believe that you choose your weapon and make the best out of it. You don’t compare small details to see which is best in performance. The ultimate test – and the only worth doing – is, do I like it or don’t I like it?

 

Ms. Valencia in Jakarta. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Developed in Capture One Pro using their B&W Grain filter. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Ms. Valencia in Jakarta. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Developed in Capture One Pro using their B&W Grain filter. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

I once tested the Leica SL and the Leica M side-by-side, and I felt the Leica SL was a really nice camera to use (and it is), and it felt like what I did would be awesome. But in several portrait sessions, when I had finished editing, there were none or only one single photo from the Leica SL that made it through. So, no matter how nice and right it felt using the camera, it didn’t deliver the photos I liked.

A comparison between the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 and the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M APSH f/2.0 will show that the 50mm APO delivers outstanding colors, real-life-looking skin detail, a wealth of details and sharpness in even the smallest crop - it looks like it was made with a medium format camera. The 50mm APO is an outstandingly high-performing lens. But, in actual use – for me that is – the portraits made with the Noctilux are better portraits. They transform a more pleasant personality.

 

Sydney. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 at 70cm focusing (which is closest focusing). © Thorsten Overgaard.
Sydney in the rain. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 at 70cm focusing (which is closest focusing). © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

I never test things just to test them. I get things to use and when I decide to keep using them, I write about how and why I’ve chosen to use them. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 came about when I was sitting in the café of the Leica dealer in Jakarta, DOSS and we talked about Voightlander and other lenses, for which my interest is about zero. DOSS has classrooms on the third floor, a real café on the second floor and a real camera store on the ground floor. Nothing is more inspiring than good coffee! I came to think about three fellows in LA who I'm on a text-group with, and they keep raving about this 7artisan lens. So, I felt compelled to ask downstairs if they had one, and they did.

So that was how I bought one. The first non-Leica lens I ever bought, as far as I can recall.

 

I have a Noctilux and hadn’t felt compelled to try a cheaper version. Nothing compares. But now that we were talking about lenses, I became curious and found myself in a playful mood about getting one.

There are a few things you can say about the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 that tell it isn’t the best lens of the works, and I’ll get back to that. Let’s first establish what it does really well.

 

Portrait in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Portrait in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: A great portrait lens

First off it takes pleasant portraits that have something special about them. I did a series of Noctilux and 7atisans, and I edited the files, and to some surprise, a lot of the 7artisans made it into final choices.

It has some of the unpredictable qualities of the Leica Thamber f/2.2 "portrait lens", but with a more control of the face in the portrait; and much better control of light from behind, as well as contrast of the image.

 

With 70cm closest focus you can create things with the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 you can't do with the Noctilux and other narrow-focus lenses. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
With 70cm closest focus you can create things with the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 you can't do with the Noctilux and other low-light lenses. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Use the 7artisan lens with an EVF

The focus mechanism of the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is not on par with the precision of a Leica lens. The lens comes with a test chart you can lay out on the table to fine-tune the focusing. And it comes with a screw driver to complete the adjustment.

Generally, you have to adjust the focus mechanism 0.5 to 1.0 mm either counter-clockwise or clockwise. You loosen two screws and turn the focus mechanism on the back of the lens. Once you loosen the screws you will experience that it moves almost by itself. So, there goes your fine-tuning. You screw it back on, do a new test and now you do the adjustment more carefully.

 

Bokeh heaven. You never know what you will be getting, but it'll be different than what the iPhone would do, that's for sure! Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Bokeh heaven. You never know what you will be getting, but it'll be different than what the iPhone would do, that's for sure! Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

I found that I just didn’t trust the focusing mechanism much. Also focusing on something at infinity, the lens couldn’t stretch the focusing that far. In other words, not very precise.

Doesn’t matter, I can just use it with the EVF, and so I did, and so I will in the future. It’s of course ironic that a $400 lens requires a $550 EVF to use, but I take it that most of you already own the EVF.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

An important point with the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is the narrow focus, and it’s only of use if the focus is actually precise. In a portrait, that focus is on the eyes (or the eye closest to the camera) and then it really sings.

It can be used without the EVF for street photography and many other things. I used mine for a day without the EVF before I realized it was not exactly in focus. It was rather off, but the images still worked. With some patience, I’m sure one can adjust the focus to be quite good for most things. But for portraits where I want the eyes to be in total focus, I will use an EVF.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

Not for architecture

The 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 is not a lens for architecture. Most horizontal lines wll have an arc, and it’s even a little uneven as such. Considering the things you would use this lens for (having such great atmosphere and such narrow focus) there are few cases it might matter that the lines of the room are a little funny. Usually they would be out of focus anyways.

 

This scene looks like it's glued together cartonage, but in real life it's actually pretty precise and very straight. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 creates curves and waves. Not a problem for a portrait and most other things, only when straight lines actually count. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1.
This building looks like it's glued together cartonage, but in real life it's actually pretty precise and very straight. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 creates curves and waves. Not a problem for a portrait and most other things, only when straight lines actually count. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1.

 

You can correct for some of it, but you will never be able to make the oerfect straight-line photo with the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Not that I would expect you bought it for architecture! Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
You can correct for some of it, but you will never be able to make the perfect straight-line photo with the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Not that I would expect you bought it for architecture! I guess that's where the imperfection is shown meaning that they made a lens but they didn't spend a lot of time correcting the aberrations. The more wide open and a lens gets the more you have to correct if you want perfect behavior; such as little or no distortion and little or no internal reflections. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

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For Leica M, not for Leica CL and Leica TL

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 extrude so far back into the camera body that it unfortunnately won't fit on the Leica CL and Leica TL, and as far as I know also the Leica SL (which should have more space, which is why I am not sure).

 

Is it black or bright?

In terms of reflections, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is actually doing well. It doesn't milk out or loose contrast, which it would if it had little or no control of internal reflections between the optical elements.

One way to tell if a lens has 'optimum optics' without having used it yet, is to look at it and see if the glass is black or bright. If the glass is filled with light, it holds light and reflections in and between the lens elements. The iamge will be low contrast and blurry. If it's black, the light goes straight through without much reflections. The iamge will be contrasty and detailed.

 

A boy reading "Girl with Pearl Earring" on the street in Sydney. He didn't know who Johannse Vermeer was, but now he does. It's all about the light. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
A boy reading "Girl with Pearl Earring" on the street in Sydney. He didn't know who Johannse Vermeer was,
but now he does. It's all about the light. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Apart from the use of special glass types, coating of lenses is used to remove unwanted reflections. If you look at Leica lenses, they spend a lot of time and resources on painting the edges of their optical elements black. You never see this because it's not visible from the outside, but there is a very exact technology on how to paint the edges with it is exact right. If you ever visit "The Mothership" of Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar, Germany and get a factory tour, you will see how this is done.

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 has good contrast in the image, which is where low-light lenses usually loose it. It doesn't have the same control of micro-contrast as the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95, and I wouldn't expect a $396.00 machine-made lens to perform as well as a $10,500.00 handmade lens lade.

 

Hotel Fairmont in Jakarta. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Hotel Fairmont in Jakarta. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.


7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is the poor man's Leica Noctilux

The 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 has been coined “the poor man’s Noctilux”, and while you don’t have to be poor to own and use it, it’s true that you can buy 25-30 of the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 for the price of a single 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.

 

Sydney. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Sydney. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The price of the 50mm Noctilux ($10,500) is completely fair. In fact, it’s a miracle - as well as a gift to mankind - that one can even buy a piece of NASA space technology in a retail store. Things of this nature, things that can do what the Noctilux can do, things that can bend the light and bring it back on track, are so far-out and so unbelievable that you would think they don’t exist. But it does, and you can buy one.

 

 

Sydney bokeh and beautiful dreamy blur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Sydney bokeh and beautiful dreamy blur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

That the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 can be sold for $395 is beyond me. I’ve equipped it with my own ventilated shade, and the E55 shade I make and sell is $169 alone. That’s just a piece of metal, and here they sell a lens with optics, focus mechanism and all for just $395. I would expect a “toy” like this to be at least $1,000. So, even more a reason to buy one.

 

The portrait from the beginning of the artivle, but here in color. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
The portrait from the beginning of the artivle, but here in color. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Built Quality

Surprisingly, the 7artisans lens feel well-built. There's no loose or odd things about it. It' just put together well and seem to stay that way.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

Small and lightweight

The 7artisan is 400 grams and small, compared to the 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/.0.95 which is 700g.

 



Singapore: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.
Singapore: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Nice colors

There's a little more saturation to the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 than the Noctilux. But there is nothing of the clinical coldness you sometimes see in cheap lenses.

 

I met a camera model I dislike - a drone. But after I learned it can operate 10 kilometers away, remote-controlled from your iPhone, and you can see the a live feed of what the drone sees I was a little impressed. © Thorsten Overgaard.
I met a camera model I dislike - a drone. But after I learned it can operate 10 kilometers away, remote-controlled from your iPhone, and you can see the a live feed of what the drone sees I was a little impressed. It's also a litle scary. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

No purple fringing

Unlike the Noctilux, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 doesn't show signs of purple fringing - only in very extreme conditions. This is good, and there are several reasons: It's not as sharp a lens, it's using glass types so it can do without purple fringing (becuase it's not a f/0.95 lens it doesn't have to use those glass types), and it's a f/1.1 and not a f/0.95.

Purple fringing comes about when you have high contrast edges combined with sharp sensors; and using optical elements that are able to be used in extreme low-light lenses. You see it in 50mm f/0.95, and you see it in wide-angle lenses f/1.4, but you don't see it in a 75mm f/1.25 becuase it's 75mm (and beacuse it's not 0.95).

 

Mr. Gouw iun Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Mr. Gouw in Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Close-focus

One of the things that sets the Leica 75mm Noctilux f/1.25 ($12,500) lens apart from everything else is that you can focus as close as 70cm. The 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 only focuses as close as 100 cm.

 

You can go as close as 70cm with the 7artisans. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
You can go as close as 70cm with the 7artisans. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Developed in Capture One Pro. © Thorsten Overgaard.  
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. Developed in Capture One Pro. © Thorsten Overgaard.   Leica M10 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. ©Thorsten Overgaard.

 

As any lens with more and more narrow focus tolerance, the closer you get, the more the area between 70cm and 100cm becomes uncharted territory. I didn’t find much use for it with the 75mm Noctilux, but the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 goes down to 70cm and opens up some interesting possibilities for portraits – without the crop that a 75mm lens has.

 

Ms. Yuan playing the piano in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Ms. Yuan playing the piano in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

(The 50mm and the 75mm Noctilux are similar in many ways because to get a portrait with the shoulders, you have to step further back with the 75mm. This way, the result in terms of depth of field will be the same. Because if you move close with a 75mm, you get something more tightly cropped than a passport photo, which is seldom applicable for a portrait).

With the 50mm 7artisan you may move really close to the subject and get a very narrow depth of field and thus a dreamy look you cannot get with any other lens.

 

Vespa in Singapore: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.
Vespa in Singapore: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The rock’n’roll lens

In a recent talk with master lens designer Peter Karbe of Leica Camera AG, I mentioned that I like how the 50mm Noctilux balances between perfection and rock’n’roll: With the Noctilux you are walking on a razor-thin edge of what it is possible to do. The result is daring and artistic - some would say dreamy – images, which still possess very high quality.


Ms. Moa playing the piano. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Ms. Moa playing the piano. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The 75mm Noctilux is designed toward image perfection, which you accomplish by excellent design and control of everything. The result is a lens that has – yes – paper-thin focus, but at the same time has everything else under control. Even the bokeh is so silky smooth that you will find few surprises in it.

The surprising reflections of light going through the 50mm Noctilux are what make it exciting; because in the end the light rays meet in the right place and make up the extreme details and life-like details where the lens focuses. The rest is pure Star Wars and rock’n’roll.

 



Close-up food photography: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Close-up food photography: Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Other lenses like the Canon 0.95 ($3,000 second-hand) and the Nikon f/1.2 ($750), and the Canon 75mm f/1.2 for that matter, have the light rays going here and there, and it’s all awesome, but the light rays never meet in the focus to form up the clarity that the 50mm Noctilux miraculously performs.

 

Ms. Serena with the limited edition Leica M10 with silver engraved covering in Leica Store Singapore (this limited edition is one of ten issued in December 2018). Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Ms. Serena with the limited edition Leica M10 with silver engraved covering in Leica Store Singapore (this limited edition is one of ten issued in December 2018). Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The focus of Leica Camera AG, and Peter Karbe is perfection, presently shown in the Leica SL lenses that are all designed to be large enough constructions to hold optical elements that can out-perform the resolution and clarity of everything and everybody else (I’ll get more into that later).


Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

 

 

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For the most part, Leica M lenses have historically been about making small, compact lenses that perform miraculous perfection, with built-in personality. Controlled imperfections that we would mostly sum up in one expressive word: “Soul”.

The 7artisans lens has soul, without any fingerprint or signature that refers back to Mandler or any other Leica lens type of design. It has something that is soul, and is its own and hence something unique for that lens. And this is what makes it worth owning and using.

 

Creating beauty with simple means. My Dali KATCH speaker I travel with. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Creating beauty with simple means. My Dali KATCH bluetooth speaker in Japan edition Moss Green I travel with everywhere. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Does what the Thambar can't do

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 creates the crazy bokeh that reminds of the legendary portrait lens, the Thambar, but this lens actually gets the face in focus. With the Thambar, that's the problem: It worked well on film, which it was made for back in the 1920's, but with today's digital sensors where you see every detail, you need some of the image to be sharp.

 

Mr. Alfefny. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Mr. Alfefny. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Strange bokeh with razor-sharp edges

One of the things the 7artisans has, that is a no-no in today’s lens design (which all aim towards silky smooth bokeh), is unexplainably sharp lines in the out-of-focus background. It’s either something you will find cute and exciting, or something that annoys you.

 

Sharp edges and patterns in the out-of-focus background (also known as "bokeh"). Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Sharp edges and patterns in the out-of-focus background (also known as "bokeh"). Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The sharp elements in the out-of-focus areas can become an aesthetic effect inn itself. Some hate them and lean towards modern soft bokeh, others love the sharp edges that we typical see in older lens designs. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
The sharp elements in the out-of-focus areas can become an aesthetic effect in itself. Some hate them and lean towards modern soft bokeh, others love the sharp edges that we typical see in older lens designs. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Less skin details and more soul

Sometimes you don’t want to see every detail in the skin, but just a nice glow and a soulful portrait. For this, the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 delivers.

 

Mr. Gast in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Mr. Gast in Kuala Lumpur. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1: Handling of highlights

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 has a very intersting way of handling highlights, as in high-contrast and over-exposed areas. Rather than disclosing in full detail that the photographer tried to compose a photograph with too high contrast, it blesses it all with a heavenly glow.

The way a lens handles light is - in my opinion - the most intersting sign how a lens works as an artistic tool. The closer it operates on the edge of the impossible, the better. Lenses that can't handle light aren't intersting (as in plastic lenses, the ones on smartphones). And lenses that handles it without surprises aren't either (as in f/2.8 standard lenses).

The 50mm Noctilux f/1.0 and Noctilux f/0.95 is legendary lenses because they balance on the edge and deliver both image quality and image surprise. .

But ... the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1 has something unique here - something the 50mm Noctilux doesn't have.

 

Look at that glow! Ms. Valentin in Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.
Look at that glow! Ms. Valentin in Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Handling of light is always the intersting thing about any lens and what gives it's the look or soul of a lens. A rock'n'roll lens is one that has a blessed glow in unexpected places, a good long Star Wars-worthy flare, strange and chilling sparkles in the bokeh, or odd internal reflections that makes the image look special.

 

Portrait. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.
Portrait. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

What makes the Leica Noctilux
the King of the Night and everything else

The Noctilux is legendary, and a masterpiece. It has straight lines, it has incredibly lively details, excellent color control, extreme handling of light even when you shoot against strong light sources (meaning that a hair stays a hair and there is no overflow of light from the strong light behind which would erase the hair and other edges with a less well-designed lens).

No other lens exists today that does what the Noctilux does. Canon, Nikon nobody has been able to make a wide open lens that performs this well in every regard.

 

White Horse. Leica Monohcrom with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.
White Horse. Leica Monohcrom with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

It takes no skill to take a well-performing f/2.0 lens and open it up to f/0.95 so that everything becomes blurry and out of control; light flows everywhere and milks out the image, the details and the colors. But to open up a lens to f/0.95 and retain the details, the contrast, the colors and the overall clarity, that’s the art of the Noctilux, and that’s what you pay for. That it can also withstand a few drops on the floor and still perform with excellent and exact focus (despite the paper thin focus tolerance), well, that’s just part of the overall philosophy of perfection.

 

Playground bokeh and wild light. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Playground bokeh and wild light. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Who is 7artisans..?

Launched by seven photography enthusiasts in March 2016, Shenzhen 7artisans Photoelectric Technology Co., Ltd. is a lens manufacturer in Shenzhen, China that focus on producing new compact camera lenses worldwide.

7artisans make lenses that fits Leica, Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus, such as 35mm f/1.2, 7.5mm f2.8, 12mm f/2.8, 25mm f/1.8, 35mm f/2.0, 50mmf/1.8, 55mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/1.1.

 

Inside the small BooksActually bookstore in Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Inside the small BooksActually bookstore in Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

         
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The strange and lovely
imperfections of the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1

Most of the time ... the 7artisans perform as a 50mm f/1.1 lens should. Andf then it has the lovely imperfections you wonder what caused. Clerly there is not the same control of things as in the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. And that is why the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 may live well and sound in the same family as the Noctilux. Some days you want rock'n'roll, other days you want more conntrol and perfection.

 

I noticed the small "micro-flares" in the highlights in the eyes in some portraits, and while it would keep lens designers as Peter Karbe awake at night, users like me and you can just shrug and smile. It's an unepected effect that adds something out of the ordinary to the image. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 detail. © Thorsten Overgaard.
I noticed the small "micro-flares" in the highlights in the eyes in some portraits, and while it would keep lens designers as Peter Karbe awake at night, users like me and you can just shrug and smile. It's an unepected effect that adds something out of the ordinary to the image. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 detail. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 



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Inside the private bar of Andrew Lum in Sinngapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisand 50mm f/1.1/ © Thorsten Overgaard.
Inside the private bar of Andrew Lum in Sinngapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1/ © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

How is the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 different
than the Leitz Noctilux-M f/1.2?

They're close in f-stop, and they're also close in their imperfections that create a dreamy and often unpredictable artistic look. the very quality I like in the 7artisans lens in this day and age where so much research and technology try to accompolish perfection.

They're very different in price in that the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 sells new for $396.00 while the original Leitz Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 sells second-hand for $30,000 as a rare collectors item, and the new re-make of the classic (2021) is $8,000.

In terms of optical philosophy and optical performance, they're different. They have the depth-of-field almost in common, and they have the often surprising result of the bokeh in common.

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1/ © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1/ © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

The Noctilux is a 1966 design that tried it's best with the technology of that time, and designed at Leitz Canada under Dr. Mandler. As such it accomplishes the impossible with as much control as possible.

The 7artisans I don't know how they developed. I'm still unable to phantom how it is possible to produce a lens for only $396.00 in retail. I would guess they just cut some glass in the Sonnar design tradition (which is a Zeiss design notable for its relatively light weight, simple design and fast aperture) and put the thing together as best they could.

In the Leitz 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2 you get a very high standard in lens design, as precise and excellent as it was possible to perform it in 1966 where much was hand-grinded and glass for light-srong lensese had to be invented from scratch.

In the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 you get a machine-produced lens developed as simple and economical as possible, leaning on all the history of low-light optics of the last 50 years.

 

The Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.
The Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2. © 2018 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 


"A Life With Leica featuring Thorsten von Overgaard" short documentary from Rome, Italy.

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens review: Conclusion

Yes, you will like the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 ... and it will keep you dreaming of the real Noctilux once you’ve fallen in love with its bokeh, its unreal dreamy look and the possibility of using its extremely selective focus. So get one, and then start saving up for the real Noctilux, because that’s the way it will go. The 7artisan might be the poor man’s Noctilux, but nobody wants to stay poor forever.

 


Singapore. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

What Bob Dylan knew about lens design

To quote Bob Dylan rather freely, from his song "Most of the Time" , this summs up how the 7artisans performs as a lens and what it means to be a true rock'n'roll lens:

     
 

Most of the time
I'm clear focused all around
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground
I can follow the path

I can't make it all match up
I ain't afraid of confusion

Most of the time
I'm halfway content
Most of the time
I know exactly where it all went
And I don't pretend
I don't even care

 
     

 

 

Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.

   
   

 

To be continued ...

I hope you enjoyed this article on the low light lens, 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 for Leica M. More to come. Sign up for my free newsletter below here to stay in the know on new articles on lenses, photography and cameras.

As always, feel free to e-mail me with ideas, comments, querstions and advice.

 
 

 

   

 




   
   

 

Overgaard Portrait Workshop in Jakarta Indonesia. Leica M10-P with 7artisans 50mm f/1.1. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Overgaard Portrait Workshop in Jakarta Indonesia. Leica M10-P with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
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Leica M246 Monochrom   Leica D-Lux
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Leica M4   Leica Digilux 3
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Leica M lenses:   Leica Digilux 1
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica Digilux
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4    
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R film cameras:
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R8 / R9
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica R3 electronic
Leica 35mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL / SLmot
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 FLE    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0   Leica compact film cameras:
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
7artisans 50mm f/1.1   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm Elmar-M f/2.8 collapsible   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
7artisans 75mm f/1.25   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4
Leica 90mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.5   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 180mm R lenses
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Above: The Leica M10-P with the silver 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 - and the camera bag from Yb Putro, made inn Indonesia. © 2018 Thorsten von Overgaard.  

 

7artisans 50mm f/1.1 rangefinder lens for Leica M. BLACK $396.00
7artisans 50mm f/1.1 rangefinder lens for Leica M. BLACK $396.00

7artisans 50mm f/1.1 rangefinder lens for Leica M. SILVER $396.00
7artisans 50mm f/1.1 rangefinder lens for Leica M. SILVER $396.00

 

 

 


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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

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Thorsten Overgaard photo workshops and masterclasses for Leica photographers and digital photographers

     
     

Join a Thorsten Overgaard
Photography Workshop

I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.

Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students dotwo or more workshops.
95% are Leica users.
Age range is from 15 to 87 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level ranges from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.

I would love to see you in one!
Click to see the calendar.

     
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Thorsten Overgaard photo workshops and masterclasses for Leica photographers and digital photographers



 


 

 


 

 

     
Buy eBooks by
Thorsten Overgaard
     
"A Little Book on Photography"   "A Little Book on Photography"
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"The Leica Q Know-All eBook"  
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"Finding the Magic of Light"   "Composition in Photography - The Photographer as Storyteller"
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"The Freedom of Photographic Expression"   "The Moment of Emptional Impact"
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The Portrait Book
How to Make People Beautifu
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Preorder: The Noctilux Masterclass
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Extension Courses
     
The New Photography Extension Course"   "New Inspiration Extension Course"
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Lightroom
Survival Kit 11
 


Workflow
Masterclass

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Video Classes
     

eBook
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This is Street Photography

  Street Photo
Masterclass

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Leica Q2
Masterclass

  "Leica Q Video Masterclass"
Leica Q
Masterclass

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"Leica TL2 Quick-Start Video Course"
Leica TL2
Quick-Start
Video Course
  "Leica Q Video Masterclass"
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Leica M9
Masterclass
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"Leica M10 Video Masterclass"   "Leica M 240 Video Masterclass"
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Lightroom Presets
     
Lightroom Presets Leica M10   Lightroom Presets Leica M9
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Lightroom Presets Leica TL2   Lightroom Presets Leica Q
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Lightroom Dutch Painters Presets by Thorsten Overgaard   Leica Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
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"Hollywood Film Presets"
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Hemingway Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
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201 Lightroom Presets
+ 4 Export Presets
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Capture One Styles:
     
"Capture One Pro Survival Kit"
Capture One
Survival Kit 22
  Leica Styles for Capture One by Thorsten Overgaard
Leica Styles for
Capture One
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17 Capture One Styles
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