Week 5 with the Leica M
After last week’s horrible time with the 7Artisan 35mm f14 lens. I decided to do some research into alternative options for the 35mm field of view on the Leica M system and found a few alternatives that would not break the bank. I don’t mind spending some money on lenses that I know I will use a lot but I am still not sure if I like the 35mm field of view. I found some people talking about the “Chinacron” lens so I did some research and found out very quickly that they were talking about the 7Artisan 35mm f2 lens. I was a little hesitant to buy another 7artisan lens but since 7Artisan was releasing version 2 of the lens, I found a copy of the lens for sale for less than 50 dollars so I ordered the lens and it arrived the following day. Even if the lens was terrible, for 50 dollars, it would be worth experimenting with to find out if I simply hated the 7Artisan 35mm f1.4 or if I simply don’t like the focal length anymore.
My first impression of the 7Artisan 35mm f2 lens was really good. Compared to the 7Artisan 35mm f1.4 lens, the 35mm f2 lens was much more compact, but it also felt like it was built to a much higher quality. (Strange since both lenses come off the same factory DJ Opitical). The 7Artisan 35mm f2 lens just feels like it is of higher quality, especially when it comes to the aperture ring and the focus ring. The 7Artisan 35mm f2 lens comes with a finger tab which I really like, and it just feels more smooth to pull focus on the lens with the rangefinder patch. Just based purely on feel, I would say that the “Chinacron” is a substantial improvement over the 7Artisan f1.4 lens. But looks and feel don’t make a lens good lens. At the end of the day, it comes to picture quality.
The 7Artisan 35mm f2 “Chinacron” feels almost perfect on the Leica M10 camera. I think I finally understand why so many Leica shooters continuously talk about having small “jewel” like lenses for the system. They just feel so right on the camera. The 7Artisan 35mm f2 lens feels about perfect to me on the camera. The finger tab on the lens makes focusing so easy, especially at f2 as you have more depth of field to work with, especially compared to the faster aperture 7Artisan 35mm f1.4 lens. Since I bought the lens, I don’t think I have missed too many shots with it. My keep rates with focusing have definitely gone up with the lens. Another slight improvement that I noticed was the 7Artisan 35mm F2 lens did not block a portion of the viewfinder. Having a nice clean viewfinder is a pleasant shooting experience and it has made me think more about lens sizes for the Leica system now. Before buying this lens, I didn’t worry too much about viewfinder blockage but now I am enjoying having a nice clean viewfinder.
Overall, I like the feel of the 7Artisan 35mm F2 lens on the Leica M10 system. The price I paid for the lens, and how it delivers on the build and feel, is simply amazing. But I need to shoot more with the lens before I can decide if it is optically good. Even if its optics are complete garbage, this little lens has taught me about the advantages of “small little” lenses for the Leica system. But let’s get to the images that I took with this lens this week.
I did some quick test shoots early on the first morning that I got the lens, but no great shots. It was a little cold outside and I was not exactly dressed for this type of weather so I went home rather quickly. But I did plan to go shoot the sunset at the same location where I tested the 7Artisan 35mm f1.4 lens previously. I wanted to see how the corner sharpness of the lens held up when stopping the lens down to f8. The previous 7Artisan 35mm F1.4 lens was terrible in the corners, so I am hoping for some improvement in that lens. But once again, how much better could such a cheap lens be?
The shooting was not exactly very exciting as the skies were terrible but I tried to get a shot with the “Chinacron” so I could test the corner sharpness at f8. If we look at the center sharpness, the lens is perfectly fine and as equally sharp as its big brother, the 7Artisan 35mm f1.4.
But center sharpness should be good on almost any lens shot at f8. It is the corner or end of the image sharpness that is important, especially if you are shooting something like landscapes. So lets take a look at the corner sharpness.
The corner sharpness is not perfect but it is a huge improvement over the 7Artisan 35mm F14 lens. What I should have done is taken one of my Nikon cameras along to the river and take a similar shot to compare it to the rangefinder lens, but I wanted to travel light. Maybe I will do it next week as I want to go shoot some film at this location. But right now I am happy with the 7Artisan 35mm F2 lens at f8. But a 35mm focal length was not the best option to shoot with this kind of sunset so I decided to switch lenses and shoot with the 90mm and 50mm instead of the 35mm focal length.
Shooting the 7Artisan 35mm F2 wide open is really nice. The sharpness really doesn’t improve that much by stopping down as the lens is already sharp at f2. I don’t even hesitate at shooting this lens wide open. So far this lens is extremely good for the price that I paid. But I need to shoot more with it so I will go and try and shoot some more autumn-type of photos with the lens tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to capture the last of autumn leaves but a lot depends on Covid and the weather as it is starting to get cool in the evenings now and I ride around on an electric bike, so it is extremely cold in the evening on the bike.
The following day I decided to take the Leica M10 and the 7Artisan 35mm F2 lens to go and find a small Buddhist temple that is hidden in the hills around my city. I found the temple around 6 years ago but I haven’t been back since that one single visit. I remember that there were a lot of hills to climb so I wanted a small, little camera kit for this hike as I am nowhere near as fit as I was 6 years ago. Thanks, Covid. The Leica M10 was perfect for this little hike.
I did find the temple but unfortunately, it was closed because of Covid was had security all around the entrance, so I didn’t even bother trying to take a shot of it but continued exploring the hill that I had climbed. I didn’t find anything very exciting but I do enjoy exploring new places.
As I was going down the hill that I was exploring, I ended up wandering down into a public park that I go to all the time. I had no idea that the temple was connected to the park. Since I still had some time to burn before the sun faded away, I decided to shoot some more autumn-type photos. I have never been good at capturing autumn shots as this is usually an extremely busy time for me with work. Most bands would be touring like crazy, trying to make some money before the Chinese winter hits. So it is nice to explore a little now that I am free.
As I was leaving the park, I saw that security was setting up for mass covid tests for tomorrow again. I thought I would take some shots and see how long until the security guards would come and hassle me. To my big surprise, they saw me shooting and ignored me. I guess the fact that the Leica M camera looks like a film camera so they decided to ignore me. If I was shooting with one of my Nikon cameras, I doubt I would have gotten more than 2 shots before they would have chased me away. This was very interesting and I might use the Leica in the future for difficult assignments, especially if I know I will have some issues with security or the police.
These covid testing stations are set up across multiple locations in the city and they will test all 4 million people in a single day. I will be standing in one of the queues myself tomorrow, getting tested once again. If I am lucky, it will take less than 40 minutes but I could easily be standing in line for a couple of hours.
So at the end of the week, my opinion on the 35mm focal length has changed and I am starting to get used to shooting it now. I have no doubt that a lot of my resistance was my strong dislike for the 7Artisan 35mm F1.4 lens. I also learned the valuable lesson of having small jewel-like lenses for the Leica M system. This was a big learning week for me. Next week, hopefully, will be the same. Lots of shooting and learning.