You Wanted Quick Lens Notes

Well, here they are.

Oh, wait, you’ve forgotten. 

I asked at the end of last year what I should do about all the lenses coming out of China for the Z-mount. A simple (but not large) majority of you said to ignore them. However, enough of you wanted me to look at as many of these lenses as was possible and at least give you some quick “hits” on whether they’re worth exploring or not. 

Well, here are a couple. 

Later I’ll put these in a dedicated page in the Lens section that will grow as I get more experience with these.

There. Here we go with our first two entrants:

Astohori 18mm f/8 Shift

This is a pancake lens, basically, with no aperture ring, but a focus ring and a rotating shift function of +/- 6mm. The rotation is clicked stopped at 90° marks, but you can shift this lens in any direction, if you’re so inclined (see what I did there?). 

The build quality is metal and robust, but…(1) the lens has no electrical contacts so you’re in full manual exposure mode and full on-your-own manual focus; (2) there are no depth of field markings on the focus ring (why not, there only needs to be one set!); (3) the lens cap is one of those slide-on ones that will fall off and get lost at some point; and (4) the lens clearly cuts off the corners (to absolute black) at about a 2.5mm shift.

I suppose the lens could be used as a small 18mm walk-around lens where you’d ignore the shift aspect, but the results out of camera feel a little meh to me on full frame, and there’s clearly lower contrast than I’m used to. Another reviewer claimed it was better than the Funleader 18mm, and I’d agree, non-shifted. At least Non-CPU lens data has an 18mm setting so you can set VR to work correctly. 

The good news is the lens is quite inexpensive, and on DX cameras some of my objections go away (to be replaced by the fact that 28mm effective isn’t very wide). 

Verdict: I’ll Pass. You should, too.

TTArtisans 32mm f/2.8 Autofocus

This is a muffin-sized lens with a mattebox-like lens hood and slide on cap design (the Chinese seem to be thoroughly into sliding, even though those of us with experience with such caps aren't). At least the TTArtisans cap is deep, with a grippy pasted-on ring inside that keeps it on more tightly than most I’ve seen.

Good news is that the lens supports Z-system autofocus, and has full electrical contacts.

The build quality is metal and robust, but…TTArtisans has already updated the firmware for this lens four times, however you can only update the firmware on a Windows computer. I use a Mac and got firmware 1.0. Even though 1.4 was already out. Moreover, I’m pretty sure I want the benefits of the newer firmware given their descriptions of it. 

The problem here is that this lens is up against the pretty decent Nikkor 28mm f/2.8. The TTArtisans isn’t going to win. It doesn’t really win on size/weight, it doesn’t clearly win on optics, it doesn’t win on autofocus speed (though firmware updates might have helped here), and it doesn’t win on filter capability. So I don’t really see the point, though the lens looks pretty good on a Zfc for those of you who care more about how you look while you photograph as opposed to how your photographs look, and you can’t find a 28mm f/2.8 SE at a price you like. 

Verdict: I’ll Pass. Some of you might be interested at the right price.

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