Manual Gear with the 7Artisans 35mm F1.2 & the Fujifilm X-T3: A Very Casual Review of a Rather Joyful Combo
Stuck in a rut? Yeah, I've been feeling that way a bit until recently. As I've quietly wound down the work I was pursuing with weddings (still love 'em) and focused on other elements of my life and career, finding inspiration and a drive to challenge myself hasn't been easy.
I was hoping, though honestly doubtful, that picking up the new X-T3 at release was going to be a big a big kick in the backside to feel inspired and discover some newfound glory. As you would expect however, not much changed in my sense of inspiriation despite loving the new camera and its improved feature set.
Fast-forward a few months to 2019 and I stumbled across the rather awesome and inspiring artist Alik Griffin. I spent many evenings in January reading his various posts about camera gear along with his approach to photographing various subjects. A few of his reviews really stood out for me as a Fujifilm user – the Mitakon 35mm 0.95 and the 7Artistans 35mm 1.2.
With a weekend trip to Paris on the cards I knew that there was a golden opportunity to test out a dedicated manual lens with my X-T3. Unfortunately my budget on a U.K. income doesn't readily permit the flippant purchase of things like a £400 'might be alright' lens so I instead threw down a more modest £97 on the 7Artisans 35mm F1.2 lens.
At the time of writing this post I've only had the lens for 6 days so take everything you read and see here a good pinch of salt.
So is it any good? Did it help break the rut?
In one word — yes!
In several words — Heck yes it did and every Fuji user should grab one of these nifty little manual lenses that are loaded with flawed character.
For all the pictures included in this post I have shared JPEGs using my customised Acros and Chrome settings. They were imported into LR and reexported in a more manageable size with ~20+ clarity on most images. Nothing else other than a possible crop on some was added. Spot metering was used throughout the capturing process.
After tinkering with the lens a day before my travels I got the camera set up right and started to get the hang of shooting at F1.2 manually (what other F-stop would you use?). There's a lot to be said about being challenged by your gear in this age of advanced AF systems that, if I'm honest, can make creating a bit of a brainless affair. I sure to love the X-T3's focusing system that breathed new life into my beloved XF56 F1.2.
I've found the lens extremely easy to get used to and have adjusted to its reversed focusing and declicked aperture rings (they're opposite to Fujifilm's) which are solid and easy to keep in place whilst walking around cities and streets. I've generally been able to nail focus in a prompt manner, however, I have found that some images, which I thought were in focus, simply aren't and the whole image just seems 'off' with no discernable focus point. I'll be investigating this intermitent issue further.
As far as the character of the lens is concerned, much like an interesting humanbeing, its the flaws that give it character and make it far more unique than what a lot of the photography industry is driven towards these days — perfection.
Is it soft up close? Yeah. Does it have a sweet spot? Sure does. Is it an inspiring piece of kit to go out and shoot with? Definitely!
In a time where many of us will bend over backwards to justify spening exorbatant amounts of money on that piece of gear there's a lot to be said with this lens and its price of admission. If you've been on the fence about purchasing one, just go and do it. If you're tinkering with vintage glass and adapters, go give this a shot whilst you're at it. Its compact size and features make for a fantastic combo that I'd like to think would inspire you like it did me. The folks at 7Artisans really nailed it with this bit of gear and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.