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OK am I actually a wide aperture, shallow depth of field addict? Probably, but no intervention is required. It is perfectly safe and you can still live a normal and productive life while under the influence of the shallow depth of field caused by using ultra bright lenses with nano-DOF.

I wrote an article about the TT Artisans full frame 50mm F/0.95 in Leica M mount several months ago and discussed that lens and the lens it shares a cosmetic design with, the Leica Noctilux 50mm F/0.95. Today I want to chat about the 7Artisans 50mm F/0.95 designed to fit mirrorless APS-C sensors from Sony and Canon.

7Artisans is part of the same company that makes TT Artisan lenses. I was introduced to these 7Artisan lenses by the North American Brand Ambassador for the company at the PhotoFair show in Portland back in September 2021. They actually offered us four 7Artisan lenses to give away as door prizes including a 35mm F/0.95 to fit Canon EOS M cameras. Before I shipped the lens to the winner I shot a few images through it on my M6 Mk II. I was impressed with the quality of the images compared to the much more expensive Zhong Yi Optical Speedmaster 35mm F/0.95 I tested a few years ago and discussed in this post from 2018. I decided to buy the 50mm APS-C lens I’ll discuss in this post.

This smaller version of the 50/0.95 is optically a little better yet costs 1/3 the price! I would imagine that making a super fast lens for a smaller image circle is easier so perhaps the engineering required to make it is less difficult and thus less expensive. Now as I was told by Mark from 7Artisans that the TT Artisan line is the “premium” line and the 7Artisans are designed to be more budget friendly. I will say the M mount lens I own from TT Artisan is a more premium build than this 7Artisans lens. BUT, the 7Artisans lens is still nicely built with a nice looking polished ‘black chrome’ mount and all metal construction. The focus is a little less smooth than its big brother and even makes a bit of frictional noise when turning. It is not anywhere near enough to be distracting unless perhaps you have a highly sensitive microphone for video use close the camera.

The images from this lens are frankly as good or better than the $800 TTArtisan lens. It weighs much less coming in at 419 grams versus 691g for the M mount lens, and is dimensionally half the size. The images on the full frame lens suffer from serious spherical aberrations that are much more subdued in this ‘mini’ version. Although as I discussed in the other article, the spherical aberrations on the TT lens can be used to great effect as well. Wide open this lens is a bit sharper than the TTArtisan M mount variant but is still not tack sharp. The lens sharpens up quite nicely at F/1.4 and is razor sharp at F/2. The bokeh is creamy and nice even stopped down thanks to the 12 blade curved aperture diaphragm.

There is an advantage to the M mount lens in that it can be used on both the full frame and APS-C cameras with the appropriate adapter. It is a bit heavy for the M series and Sony a6000 series cameras but manageable. The M mount version would feel solid on a Nikon Z50 APS-C body as that camera is a little chubbier than the Canon and Sony crop bodies. There is a difference in the depth of field between this lens and the full frame version of the lens. At the same focus distance the smaller sensor lens has a more shallow depth of field. Why you ask? Well depth of field is determined by a mathematical equation shown above to the left. Yeah… math ๐Ÿ˜‰ Check out the Wikipedia page for depth of field here. The bottom line is that lenses with a smaller image circle produce a circle of confusion that renders a deeper range of perceived sharpness when compared to the same focal length and aperture at the same focus distance on a lens producing a larger image circle. I’ll leave the hardcore math to the mathematicians ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a cool website where you can calculate depth of field here. There are others but this one even has an app for your phone if you want. The caveat to the more shallow depth of field is that it is based on the same focus distance so a 50mm lens on an APS-C body will have a more narrow angle of view, therefore at the same focus distance as the same lens on a full frame camera the image magnification is higher on the smaller sensor. The 50mm lens on my Canon M6 Mk II has a similar angle of view as an 80mm lens on my Canon R5.

Technically if you shoot the full frame 50/0.95 and compare the results with an APS-C equivalent lens, say a hypothetical 31.25mm F/0.95 for a Canon APS-C body at the same focus distance, the angle of view would be the same but the depth of field will be more shallow on the full frame lens due to that math up there ๐Ÿ˜‰ The shallow depth of field advantage will always go to the larger format lens when all else is equal. This is why cell phones have to use software voodoo to do “portrait mode” with their teeny tiny sensors.

I intend to keep both of these 50mm F/0.95 lenses but I think these less expensive 7Artisans lenses are quite good. If you are shooting an APS-C camera or even a 4/3 camera, they are great. Because the TT Artisans M mount lens is for a rangefinder, it suffers from a long minimum focusing distance of 0.7 meters or 27.5 inches. The 7Artisans 50/0.95 lens is designed for mirrorless cameras and has no rangefinder limitations, so it focuses down to a nice and tight 18 inches.

This lens can be had brand new for around $250 and at that price it is one of the all time great values. You get genuine exotic specs, with respectable image quality, and a solid build. A rare triple win in my opinion.

Here are some images made with this lens on my Canon EOS M6 Mk II (APS-C 1.6x crop 32.5 megapixels) in October 2021:

“Autumn Flora #2” EOS M6 Mk II 1/2000 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“Late Lilly” EOS M6 Mk II 1/4000 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“Autumn Flora #1” EOS M6 Mk II 1/4000 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“Maggie’s Bridge” EOS M6 Mk II 1/3200 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“Mindy” EOS M6 Mk II 1/40 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“The Flame” EOS M6 Mk II 1/320 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800
“The Bird Bath” EOS M6 Mk II 1/2000 second @ f/0.95 ISO 800

Russian Portraits…

How is that for click bait ๐Ÿ˜‰ No, I do not have portraits of Russian models for you this month. But I do have a lens that may have been used to make portraits of Russian models say 50-60 years ago. This is the Jupiter 85/2 for Contax rangefinder cameras. This portrait length lens features a nearly circular 11 blade aperture that provides silly soft and round bokeh balls even stopped down a bit.

These older USSR made lenses typically fall short of the sharpness and contrast levels achieved by contemporaries from Leica or Zeiss, but they do make nice images none-the-less. In this amazing world of mirrorless bodies, adapters have become easy to find for lenses like this. I am using this lens on both my R5 full frame and my M6 Mk II in 1.6x crop.

If you have a body with IBIS these old lenses can be hand held a few stops slower than without, making them that more useful. This lens has a rather long minimum focus distance of roughly 4 feet. My Contax RF adapter doesn’t offer a close focus helical so I am stuck there. On the 1.6x crop the distance is fine. Even on the full frame it still works perfect for a waist up shot and decent for a head and shoulders shot.

This lens is fairly soft wide open and doesn’t get real sharp even stopped down. It is further crippled by the soft contrast which can make an image appear softer than it is. That said, the lens is ideal for portraits and the contrast can easily be punched up in post with nearly any editing software.

You can find these lenses at camera shows such as the PhotoFair or on Ebay for around $100-$200. There is a definitive ‘retro’ look and used with black and white you absolutely get that 1950s feel. Don’t be afraid to try these old lenses out. If you don’t like them you can get most of your money back by reselling it. These lenses are old enough that they are not depreciating anymore.

I made some portraits but no Russian models, sorry guys ๐Ÿ˜‰ I didn’t even have American models, nope just animal models. But I made a few images of my dog and cat to test the lens out. I used some basic Lightroom raw adjustments highlight and shadow control along with the dehaze to pop the contrast a bit. These were handheld indoors at night so the IBIS had to work to keep things sharp-ish.

Overall I like the look of this lens. It definitely needs help on sharpness but for portraits of people especially those who are self conscious about the face, the lens is ideal. I just grabbed couple random shots of the animals, take a look at the photos below.

Muffin chillin on the bed. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/80 sec
Muffin the poser. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/100 sec
Muffin getting annoyed. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/100 sec
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