Wednesday, 5 August 2020

7Artisans 12mm f2.8 FX - Initial Impressions

Two Trees
Fujifilm X-T2, 7Artisans 12mm f2.8

My 7Artisans 12mm f2.8 arrived yesterday, after a surprisingly long wait for an Amazon Prime order (ordered last Friday, man I've become spoiled by next day shipping). This will be my go-to UWA on my Fuji bodies for the foreseeable future.

Initial impressions are very good. My expectations in terms of presentation were for something akin to my Neewer 25mm f1.8, ie a lens in a decent little leather pouch, in a simple cardboard box. The Neewer is a re-branded 7Artisans lens and led me to that conclusion.

What I got was much different. A slick black box with 7Artisans LENS filigreed on it, opened it up to find a lens cloth (nice, but in the listing so no extra points), a slick microfibre lens pouch and a little plastic pouch containing a stick-on focusing tab, plus the lens paperwork (Warranty card and a little manual with some useful bits and some Warm Ticks). Lifting those out finds a removable closed-cell foam insert, which can be removed to find the lens securely cradled in a second closed-cell foam insert, contained in a small plastic bag. Really impressive packaging, better than my Laowa 15mm for sure, and for a lens which sells for 1/3 the price. Frankly, most camera makers do not package their lenses this well, even at far higher costs (my Zeiss 85mm f1.4 came in good old styrofoam)

Taking the lens out of the package, I continued to be impressed. Again, I was basing my expectations on the Neewer/7Artisans 25mm f1.8, which has an OK build, completely uncalibrated focusing and a very grindy focus feel when new (the helical needed to be broken in, it's quite nice now). The 12mm on the other hand has excellent build, just about on par with the Laowa 15mm. Infinity focus appears to be dead-on (and I mean exactly on) and the focusing is buttery smooth, with just the right amount of damping to make the focusing tab a useful add-on. The lens cap is a metal push-on cap that fits over the integrated hood. It's not that wide to not include a filter ring, but 7Artisans sells a 77mm filter adapter as a $25CDN addition, I'll be ordering that eventually and I like that it's optional as this is a surprisingly compact lens without it, barely larger than the XC35/2. The aperture ring is clickless and ranges from f2.8-f16, a little surprising that it doesn't make it to f22 or smaller for those deep-DoF shots. Not an issue for me, I'll pretty much leave it at f5.6 or f8 for the most part.

A couple quick test shots showed that the sharpness is good in the centre at least. Close focus is 20cm, more than adequate for a lens like this, even if I'm spoiled by the Laowa 15mm and its 1:1 close focus. No flare/coating tests yet, and I expect that to be the biggest weak point of this lens, I have lenses from 4 different Chinese brands and 3 different factories (Laowa, 7Artisans/Neewer, Yongnuo) and all of them have lousy coatings, even the $500USD Laowa 15mm f4 Macro.

Overall the presentation and quality are far better than I'd expected for a $240CDN Ultra-wide angle lens. Well done 7Artisans.

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