Disclaimer: I’m not a professional reviewer, nor am I trying to be one. Just someone who felt compelled to share information on these two lenses.
Over the years, I’ve noticed quite a few “cheap” third-party lenses pop up on Amazon and eBay. I’m sure you’ve seen them: 7Artisans, Meike, Jaray, Rokinon, Samyang and Yongnuo are a few brands that come to mind. My curiosity got the best of me, and over the years I’ve accumulated a few.
In this particular post I’m going to look at the 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 and Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 for the Fuji X system. They both have a similar FOV, but their price points are very different. The 7Artisans is insanely cheap at $70. The Rokinon costs $350, on the other hand.
Build, Size & Weight
7Artisans: I haven’t dropped it, gotten it wet or abused it, so I can’t honestly say how long the lens will last. Still, it hasn’t fallen apart on me yet. The build is quite good, and I have no complaints. It’s metal, the focus and aperture rings turn smoothly, and it mounts firmly. Also, the lens is quite small and light.
Rokinon: Build is similar to the 7Artisans, though the Rokinon feels a bit sturdier. One key difference is size: the Rokinon is larger and heavier.
7Artisans: This is probably the weakest point of this lens. The aperture ring is click-less, which I personally don’t care for. The distance scale on my copy was not accurate, either. The focus and aperture rings are very close together, and at times I found myself accidentally turning the wrong one. Also, this lens has a very short focus throw, and the focus ring is extremely sensitive, which is a bad combination IMO. Generally, I would say this lens handles like a poorly implemented Rangefinder lens.
Rokinon: The Rokinon easily wins in this department. The aperture ring has 1/2 stop clicks. More importantly, the distance scale is accurate, which is extremely helpful for a street shooter. The focus throw is longer on the Rokinon than the 7Artisans, which is useful for a manual focus lenses (IMO). Also, despite being a larger lens, it balances well on an X-T1.
Here is an example of each lens’ MFD:
So, this is where the fun starts. How good can a $70 lens be? What about the Rokinon? How does each compare to the Fuji 21mm f/1.4 X? That’s a difficult question to answer… Luckily, I had all three on hand at one point, so here is a very quick and informal comparison of the Fuji vs. Rokinon vs. 7Artisans. These were shot wide-open.
Having used all three lenses extensively, here are some of my personal findings. This is not all inclusive, and again I’m not a professional reviewer. These are just observations after using each lens.
Corners: The Fuji wins in this department. It has slightly clearer corners, and vignettes the least. The Rokinon comes in second, but only because the corners vignette more than the Fuji. Clarity is very similar between the Fuji and Rokinon. The 7Artisans comes in last, but only because it has the softest corners out of the three, and vignettes.
Sharpness/Clarity: I honestly couldn’t find a clear winner in this department. All three are sharp wide-open. The 7Artisans is probably the least clear/sharp of the three, though that doesn’t mean it’s soft. Even though the Fuji is the most expensive, I haven’t seen a huge advantage in sharpness over the other three. I know that’s hearsay, but it’s my opinion. I’m sure someone with charts and a lot of time to waste can prove otherwise, but I find that method of testing useless in the real world. Simply put, the sharpness of each lens is very similar and good enough for me.
Flaring: The Fuji easily wins in this department. It doesn’t flare that much wide-open. The Rokinon flares a touch bit more than the Fuji, though not much. The 7Artisans flares a lot.
Chromatic Aberrations: You know, I almost feel like the 7Artisans wins here. Is that possible? Pixel-peeping seems to indicate that. Even looking at the above test images, I see less CA on the 7Artisans. However, I didn’t take enough controlled test images to test for this… so, I can’t say conclusively.
Here are a couple more comparison shots between the 7Artisans and Rokinon.
Told you this would be a very brief review! In closing, I was very surprised by the 7Artisans. It’s small and light, and produces some nice images. Plus, it’s insanely cheap. If you’re truly on a extreme budget, or want a small pancake lens that you can abuse, this is the perfect lens. It could be better, sure, but it’s only $70.
Personally, the Rokinon is one of my favorite lenses. The FOV is perfect for me. I love how the images are rendered. It’s very sharp, and I personally like how this lens vignettes wide-open. Also, since it has a longer focus throw, I have an easier time fine-tuning focus. I even prefer it over the Fuji 23mm f/1.4, despite the lack of AF.
A review is worthless without pictures, however. So, here ya go. Happy shooting.
7Artisans 25mm f/1.8
Rokinon 21mm f/1.4