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
DJ Optical Discover 25mm f/1.7 (7artisans 25mm f/1.7)
At a glance:
- For mirrorless
- Covers APS-C
- Canon EF-M, Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds, Sony E
This lens is now mostly sold under the 7artisans brand, although my Micro Four Thirds-mount example sports an older Discover label. In principle, it comes from the same stable as the Viltrox 35mm f/2, but it’s so different aesthetically and optically that it’s difficult to believe they originate from the same design house.
Compared to the spartan look of the 35mm f/2, this one is somewhat fussier, with a flared section around the unusually large-diameter mount section. The aperture ring is a bit broader and easier to use too, but has no click stops. The filter thread is 46mm, and the minimum focus is just 18cm.
Used on Micro Four Thirds, this lens performs the same role as the 50mm f/1.8 primes that used to be sold with 35mm film SLRs. Its optical character is pretty similar too: it’s sharp in the centre at full aperture, but noticeably softer in the corners, with a touch of vignetting that does a nice job of framing the subject. Stopped down to f/5.6, it’s sharp right across the frame. There’s a little barrel distortion, but it’s far from troublesome.
I really like this lens: it focuses smoothly, gives really attractive images with plenty of detail and attractive bokeh, and you won’t find yourself confusing the aperture and focus rings. It makes an interesting alternative to Panasonic’s inexpensive autofocus Lumix G 25mm f/1.7, as this kind of manual-focus lens gives a more hands-on shooting experience that makes you feel like you’re the one creating the image, rather than letting the camera do it.