Interesting optics don’t have to cost a fortune. Andy Westlake tries out some inexpensive lenses to stimulate your creativity - and finds some to avoid, too
Fujian 35mm f/1.7
At a glance:
- For mirrorless
- Covers APS-C
- Fits most cameras via C-mount adapter
One of the first lenses to be widely adopted by Micro Four Thirds users in the system’s early years, the Fujian 35mm f/1.7 is something of a cult classic. It’s a CCTV lens with a screw-thread C-mount, which means it can be adapted to work on almost any mirrorless camera. Unusually for such a lens, however, it fully illuminates an APS-C image sensor, with no vignettting. But this isn’t the same thing as saying its image circle properly covers APS-C; instead it’s only remotely sharp in the middle of the frame, with huge levels of blur into the corners. Because of this, I like it best on Micro Four Thirds, where it makes for an interesting short telephoto portrait lens.
Despite its robust-feeling metal construction, mechanically this lens is pretty crude. The slim cylindrical barrel has twin rings for focus and aperture control; on mine they’re both a bit scratchy. The rudimentary 6-bladed aperture is massively asymmetric when stopped down, and there’s no index mark on the barrel to indicate its setting – I painted one on myself. But you don’t buy this lens to stop it down – it’s all about the interesting pictures you can get at large apertures.
This lens’s signature look is a sharp centre with blurred edges, which when used at large apertures, makes it great for isolating your subjects. With the right kind of background, it gives characterful swirly bokeh. It’s entirely a lens for creative photography, and won’t suit everyone, but it’s a lot of fun to play with.