First of all, I would like to thank TTArtisan for inviting me to review this lens and it is my privilege to do so. Nevertheless, you can rest assured that this review will be based on the lens I received and it is purely on my own opinion.
Special thanks to Den Poh for lending me the X-T20 for being the model to the lens.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Some of the shots are slightly edited in Lightroom Classic to my preferences. Otherwise, the shots are straight out of the camera.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
While I am eagerly waiting for TTArtisan to release their first autofocus lens for Fujifilm, instead, they release this tiny lens in the market. I am not surprised by its arrival as TTArtisan had shared the news via Fujirumors as early as August 2021. But at that point in time, no one knows how does the lens look like.
At 23mm (35mm in full-frame equivalent), this is one of my most commonly used focal lengths. My first prime lens is a 23mm lens and my most used camera is an X100V. Thanks to the versatility of this focal length, it is easily one of the favorites among street, documentary and journalist photographers. But can this lens become part of their photography tool? Only times will tell.
Design and Build Quality
The first thing that strikes me is the lens design. Unlike its peers, this lens has this sweet concave front element with a zebra-like pattern. I actually quite like this new design language and it is also distinguishable from the other players in the market. If you do not like this silver zebra-like version or you love your lens to be low profile, you can opt for the full black version.
Similar to the other TTArtisan lenses, the build quality of this lens is remarkable. The metal build is fantastic and it still comes with a rear metal bayonet. And also, this 43mm filter size lens does not include a lens hood.
In my opinion, this is presumably one of the good changes and it’s the lens cap. The metal lens cap is no longer a screw-in type, but rather, it is replaced by the cap-on type. This changes really saves my time from screwing and unscrewing the lens cap. Not only that, it also gives a satisfying cushion feedback whenever I cap it onto the lens. Personally, I welcome this change.
When you change the aperture, the aperture ring provides gentle and comfortable clicky feedback. The rotation of the manual focus ring from one end to the other is about 160°. It gives a buttery smooth experience when you rotate it.
At 224 grams (and 240 grams with the lens cap – according to my kitchen weighting scale), the weight is well distributed and I do not experience any front element heavier than the other and vice versa. Overall, I have zero complaints in this department.
In my fair use of TTArtisan lenses, I habitually increase 1-stop of aperture instead of using the widest aperture. Not anymore with this lens. For the first time ever, I am happy with the image quality produced with the shots taken at f1.4 wide open. The result is sharp and has good contrast. Of course, the image quality improved further from f2 onwards, especially on the corners.
Unless you love to pixel-peep, otherwise, the chromatic aberration is mild and it is hardly noticeable for day-to-day shoots. For a budget-friendly lens like this, I could say this lens does a good job of managing chromatic aberration.
Like most of the TTArtisan lenses, it comes with 10 diaphragm blades too. This means that this lens is also capable of producing bokehlicious results. I will share my opinion about achieving the best bokehlicious result with this lens.
Minimum Focus Distance
While Minimum Focus Distance (MFD) might not matter to some photographers, but this is one of the key things when I am looking for a lens. Understanding a lens’ MFD allows me to know what kind of shots I can achieve with it.
It has a MFD of 0.2m and I am impressed with the TTArtisan design team again. It has the shortest MFD as compared to the XF23mm f1.4 (@0.28m) and XF23mm f2 (@0.22m). This also means that I can take a slightly closer shot of the subject and give a slightly different perspective of the shot.
In my opinion, in order to achieve the best bokehlicious result with this lens is to shoot at its MFD wide open and with a good amount of depth background. That is because I notice that the bokeh is not that beautiful in other focusing distances.
Something to take note of
If you want to shoot at infinity, the result is not sharp at the infinity marking. you have to rotate the focus slightly backward to get the right infinity shot. I think this is quite a common issue as the manufacturer is designed for various mounts and different mounts have different flange focus distances.
Another observation is that I notice there is some barrel distortion and this is within my expectation for a wide-angle like this one. But it can be fixed easily in post.
Who is this for?
In this day and age, one might ask who actually wants a manual lens where an autofocus lens is much superior in every aspect? I think there is no right or wrong answer. But rather why does the photographer wants to use a manual lens? The photographer himself/herself should have the best answer. It could be the price factor for such a fast prime lens. It could also be the compact form factor of the lens and the list of possible answers go on.
But in my opinion, if you are a new photographer who wishes to experience a fully manual focus lens; or you want to give your old camera a reason to bring it out and shoot again; or does not wish to spend a fortune for a fast prime lens, then this lens is the one to start with. It is easy to pick up and use for everyday shoots.
However, if you are a commercial photographer or commissioning a project, you know the answer.
I have used this lens for about 2 weeks and what TTArtisan does impress me with is its image and build quality. Its usable f1.4 gives me a taste of what it is like to have it on 23mm. This lens is totally enjoyable and easy to use. And also, this lens makes me look forward to the autofocus lens.
Thank you for reading.
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