One of the most important things in photography, especially in street and travel photography, is to invest in experiences rather than in equipment. The understanding of light, composition, the anticipation of the decisive moment or the narrative of the story that you tell through your photography, is achieved by studying the masters and practicing, going out to take pictures, traveling, etc.

Still, to take photos we need equipment, and if we want our work to have a certain technical quality, that equipment is going to be expensive. Especially with regards to optics. However, for some time now, Chinese manufacturers have been selling very interesting and bright fixed optics at accessible prices.

One of those lenses is the 7 Artisans 25mm f / 1.8, which in its X mount version costs around 70 €.

First let’s talk about the focal.

25mm in APSC translates into approximately 40mm equivalent in full frame which for starters, is bit strange. Formerly the 40mm was considered the standard focal point but then the 50mm arrived and began to dominate the scene.

Having said that, 40mm is a very interesting focal. It gives you a very natural angle of vision and it is not “traumatic” to use, whether you are 35mm or 50mm user. Although I must say that in this case, being an equivalent due to the crop factor of the sensor, the experience is more similar to a 35mm.

The elephant in the room: Image quality.

Talking about image quality in street, travel or documentary photography is always relative. There is an open battle between big brands, all of whom advocate that technical aspects such as ISO or sharpness are of utmost importance. However, then you see photos of prestigious awards such as World Press Photo with high amounts of noise and slightly out of focus subjects and these photos seem to be telling us a different story.

I personally belong to the “Bressonian” school of thought in which sharpness is seen as something very bourgeois. I do not tend to place value in being able to enlarge my photos on the computer to 100% and have a perfect pixel. So, with regards to quality, for me the 7 Artisans provides a more than acceptable image quality, especially if we remember that it costs € 70! In fact, for those of you who love the works of great masters of the past (I myself am one of them), this small 25mm generates a retro look that is especially interesting.

Metal and glass.

From what I have experienced thus far, the quality with which this objective is built is solid. The body is completely metallic and in-hand feels resistant and smooth when operating the diaphragm and focus rings. I do feel obligated to stress, however, that it is a 70€ lens and no one has been able to use it for a long period of time. Be cautious.

Operation and usability

As most of you probably know, this optic is completely manual and has no electronic connections to communicate with the camera. This means that you do not get diaphragm information in the viewfinder and to be able to use it, you have to configure your camera to shoot without lens. That said, mounted on a Fuji, this is not a serious problem since we are used to operating with dials. In addition, since the focusing assistant forces you to work with the EVF, exposing correctly can be done simply and reliably.

If you’re a zone-focusing fiend though, the news is not great. The hyperfocal distances in the focus ring are not very realistic. Furthermore, those of us who are used to using this technique, when it comes to this lens you need to have a very accurate hand when turning the dial because the rotation distance between having something in focus at 3m vs. infinity is minute. This distracts a lot from the task of taking pictures because you end up having to worry more thank you usually would about the focus.

The big question: Is it worth it?

Unless it’s the only lens you’re going to have or you already have a 23mm, the answer is yes.

If you are a user of zooms like the 18-55mm f / 2.8-4 and you want to explore the advantages of a small and bright fixed optic, or you have a 35mm and you are thinking about a 23mm but you do not want to spend a lot of money, the 7 Artisans 25mm f /1.8 is a good option with enough image quality and above all very, a affordable price.

And best part of all: you’ll have money left to spend on experiences!

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