On a visit to my favorite camera shop a few months ago I saw a camera. It was pretty.
Did not want to buy it. But I did want to try it. They had not tested the camera yet. Chris made me an offer I could not refuse.
Test the camera for them. Roll of film as a trade for the bag o’ adapters…
Why did I want to try it?
Just look at it!… It is cuss word beautiful.
Tested it out but unfortunately, it failed. Holes in the cloth shutter. Womp, womp.
A shame really.
I did have fun using it even though it did not work. As therapeutic an experience as it would have been were it able to actually produce viable images.
Why do I mention this?
Recently became aware of a lens that was quite a looker.
An M mount lens that is a dead ringer for the Leica original, the Leica Summaron-M 28mm f/5.6. But at around ten times as much the Leica variant is a non-starter for me. Is the TTArtisans lens as good? I suspect not, but based on my experience with other third-party M mount lenses, like the Knock-off-tilux, Semicron, and the perfectly fine 28mm f/1.4, and 75mm f/1.25 all from 7Artisans, it would be close enough for me. Granted this is a TT Artisan rather than a 7 Artisan, but I have experience with TT also.
It was on my watch list but I had no immediate plans to acquire one. Then comes KEH. I used to write for them but I have been a customer well before then and remain a customer to this day. A “Like New” copy appeared at a further discount and I jumped on it. They said it came with caps, but the packaging, hood, and all were included. Nice.
But given its humble provenance and used status is it another all looks and no pics dud like the IVSB?
No, I am happy to report.
Before I get to the sample shots let me share a bit about the lens.
This lens feels wonderful in hand. A petite but hefty and solid little thing. I joke about quality camera gear being suitable as a melee or throwing weapon in a pinch. And the TTArtisan qualifies at the lower end. The tiny little front and back metal caps could stun someone and the lens itself might take someone out if caught across the nose with it… Ok. That got dark… The lens feels every bit as good in hand as it looks. And while were are at it…
This lens is gorgeous. One of, if not the best looking lens I have owned.
This is the nicest presentation of any lens I have owned. The caps and hood are of top notch all metal quality and come packaged in one of the nicest boxes I have seen. I do not expect to use the hood much because it adds to the size of the package…
…but I am definitely glad it is included. Might break it out if I am feeling fancy.
Aperture clicks are distinct and the focusing lever locks at infinity and has to be pressed to release it. All actuations are positive and make for a pleasant shooting experience.
It pairs well with the Konica Hexar RF. Have read that the 7Artisans 28mm f/5.6 brings up 35mm frame lines but there are no such issues with the TTArtisan lens. Additionally, the TTartisan lens looks far better (What? That matters.) and is nearly half the size of the 7Artisans option. No need for me to test the 7Artisans variant.
Given the rangefinder aspect of things, I would be focusing for myself rather than zone focusing to make sure everything was working/calibrated properly.
The humble f/5.6 spec is a small price to pay for such a well-constructed and compact lens at a reasonable price.
Below are a few photos from my test roll.
Used a favorite black and white film.
Developed with Cinestill df96 Monobath.
Will be sharing all of the photos I like in an “Analog Therapy” post. The photos I was not fond of had issues of the user error variety. I cannot fault the camera for those in other words. Here are the photos followed by my thoughts on the image quality.
To wrap up the shooting experience section the focusing works. Cool.
Pleasingly sharp wide open. Slight vignetting wide open but it is minimal and pleasing. Flares a bit shot directly into the sun. Due to the focal length and aperture bokeh is not really on the table, but that is fine. I am guilty of obsessing about bokeh. I had considered repurchasing the 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4 I had liked so much before.
But I was swayed to purchase this lens instead largely based on the compact size. As much as I liked that 7Artisans lens it made for a large combination that did not see much use with film as a result. I prefer a smaller rig where rangefinders are concerned.
Do I recommend this lens?
I usually back away from an outright endorsement for any gear, but that is not the case here. If you have an M mount rangefinder camera this is as close to a no brainer as I have ever seen. Yes. I recommend this lens.
Next up will be a follow up on digital. If all goes well there I would endorse this lens for anyone with a mirrorless camera as well.
Happy capturing to you.
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