First there was the KnockOffTilux and now I present the newly dubbed Semicron. Another winner.
Usually, I will take a little while before chiming in on a lens. But this lens performed so well right out of the box that, with my previous 7Artisans experience, I am calling it. I love this lens.
This lens accompanies a lens selection paradigm shift for me.
In the past, I would try and choose between 50mm and 35mm lenses. In the past, I would sacrifice portability for the largest aperture available with a certain focal length. In the past, I would not purchase a lens if I already had a lens or lenses that covered a certain focal length.
So why the change of heart? Why this lens?
50mm vs 35mm
While close on paper these two focal lengths have their own merits in actual use. 50mm is great for general use, but I now find it a bit long for intimate settings or close subjects. Where I used to use a 50mm as a daily prime I now lean towards wider focal lengths. In fact, my experience with these two 7Artisans lenses led me to order an even wider lens from them. More on that soon.
Portability vs Wider Aperture
A lens that taught me something about portability shares the same focal length, the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/2.8. As much as I enjoy the compact, for its spec, Knockofftilux an even smaller lens would be nice. Had considered brighter M Mount 35mm lenses, but they all were larger than the Semicron (except the one that is well above my price range). Smaller brings many benefits when out casually shooting. Less imposing to those around you. Also less prone for knocking about in tight spaces.
Focal Length Overlap
I used to think it was pointless to buy a lens with a focal length I already owned. Have always understood that lenses have personalities, but did not fully appreciate what this could mean for my photography. Already have the aforementioned Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/2.8 so why buy this one? One word. Personality. Personal opinion, but while creating great images I find the Rokinon/Samyang to be a bit… boring. While sharp with fine colors and all it does not create very interesting images to me. It may be a side effect of my many years shooting with film cameras, but modern digital lenses, in general, are a bit antiseptic to me image-wise. But each lens has merits so I will hold on to both.
Why not 7Artisans Other Native 35mm FE Lenses?
7Artisans also makes the 35mm f/2 Sony FE Mount and there is the newly announced 35mm f/1.4.
Both are less expensive than this M Mount 35mm lens ($179 and $199 respectively), but they are both Manual Focus. The M Mount lens allows me to access Autofocus courtesy my Techart LM-EA7. Also brings close focus capabilities via said same LM-EA7 or helicoid adapter.
A no-brainer in my book… But I am still intrigued by the f/1.4 variant if I am honest.
Why not faster native AF 35mm lenses like the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4?
Rather large. Larger than the 50mm I already have. Yep. That is it. In addition to that higher prices take the Rokinon, Sony Zeiss and Sigma Art (f/1.4 and f/1.2) lenses out of the running for me. I understand that the larger size is necessary for brighter apertures because science, but I am not a fan of large primes, especially wider ones. I am much more forgiving of larger telephoto primes like the phenomenal Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 and that lens is smaller than all of these… and nearly as cheap or cheaper than all of them… But I am still intrigued by the price reduced f/1.4 Sigma because Art lens less than $700.
Even with the LM-EA7 the 35mm f/2 strikes a svelte profile.
Why am I calling it a win so early? After one day and night of shooting I can tell you that this lens:
- Is sharp wide open. The Knockofftilux is many wonderful things, but sharp wide open is not one of them. Expected. Few lenses are at around f/1.1 at any price. It does sharpen up nicely at f/2 where the Semicron starts off and the same can be said for the Semicron at f/2.
- Has pleasing bokeh and fall off.
- Has great colors.
- Focuses quickly with the LM-EA7. Took this shot mid-step from the hip.
- Creates pleasing images that are reminiscent of shooting film. For example the shot below. I missed focus, but something about it reminds me of images I would capture with my favorite film cameras.
I really like this lens.
Is there a downside? Technically flare and direct light causes a lack of contrast. But I like it.
With this lens and the knockofftilux if the next 7Artisans lens on the way may convince me to buy another M mount film camera on GP. Perhaps. But that is proof of how much I like these lenses.