I am lucky to have had the opportunity to test quite a fair amount of manual lenses but this is the second macro manual lens I have tested thus far. So testing a manual macro lens is still a new thing for me. Usually, I use a macro lens for 2 genres and that is product shots and portraits. It is because of the sharp optical glass and I am basically worry-free about the minimum focus distance limitation the lens has. Nonetheless, I am very excited to give this lens a spin.
On September 2021, TTArtisan announced its very first macro lens. It comes with various mounts such as L mount, m43, EOS-M, RF mount, Z mount, E mount, and X mount. At 60mm (in 35mm format equivalent), this is an uncommon focal length where we do not see many players in the market releasing something close, except for Fuji XF30mm f2.8.
Although this lens has been in the market for almost 20 months, I am glad that TTArtisan is willing to send me this lens for a hands-on. Without their support, this post will not become a reality.
In any case, this review is still my own opinion.
Design and Build Quality
From the lens design, we can see how it has taken inspiration from their TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 and inspired their TTArtisan 35mm f0.95 and TTArtisan 50mm f0.95. They shared a lot of similarities lens design elements and yet we get to notice that each category has its own design characteristics.
Having said that, this lens weighing 380 grams is good to hold. It has a very gentle clicky aperture ring and it also comes with an excellent damp but smooth manual focus ring. Some photographers might prefer a less damp, smoother manual focusing experience, but I think it is just fine as it also gives me a sense of better manual control for my shooting style.
The 52mm filter-size lens has a screw-in type lens cap like most TTArtisan lenses.
From the side view, it looks like a normal lens. But when you view it from the top, it has a unique lens barrel design where the front lens element is deeply recessed into the lens barrel. I have no idea why TTArtisan has such a design but it definitely stands out from the rest.
When the focus ring is at infinity, the lens is at its smallest compact look. But when we shoot at its Minimum Focus Distance, the lens is protruded approximately two third of its original length.
Unlike many other TTArtisans lenses where you need to stop down the aperture values to at least 1-2 stops to achieve decent sharpness, contrast, and details of photos taken. It has been a long time since I tested out a prime lens that I can truly use the images at wide-open (except for TTArtisan 25mm f2 and TTArtisan 50mm f2.)
At f2.8, I am amazed by the image quality. In most parts of the image, it has a good level of sharpness at the center and it does preserve some level of contrast but has decent enough details (not the best and not the worse either). As compared to most manual lenses, I am also amazed that the chromatic aberration is in good control.
But with all the praises, here comes the feedback. It has very strong vignetting and obvious softness at the corner. Of course, everything will be fine if you lower the aperture by 1 to 2 stops but that is not the point.
Another thing to note is that subject separation from the background is not as blurry as larger aperture values like f1.4 can do and most photographers know that. Also, it does not have a very seamless gentle fall-off between the main subject and others. Furthermore, depending on the background, the bokeh can be easily harsh.
As for the sunny star, it is not the sharpest one but not that bad.
The focusing from MFD to infinity is approximately 270 degrees and I think it gives a very good amount of “space” for nailing the shot but this amount of focus throw can be “troublesome” to some photographers who preferred to have a shorter focus throw.
Also similar to most manual lenses, it does not give a fully focused shot at infinity, we still need to rotate back a little to achieve the actual fully focused shot.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
Although 17 cm MFD is not the closest I have tested, it is pretty decent for a macro lens. It still gives a very close-up tight shot of the subject and typically can cast a shadow on the subject.
This lens is selling at an attractive price point. At 99 USD (or 94 USD under promotion), it is one of the most affordable macro lenses out there in the market. For reference, Fuji XF30mm f2.8 is 599 USD, Meike 60mm f2.8 is 190 USD, 7Artisan 60mm f2.8 is 139 USD, and Voigtlander Macro APO-Ultron 35mm f2 at 629 USD.
I notice that the white balance changed when I shot with different aperture values. But this could be a problem for lenses that do not come with electronic contact? Or this could be due to how the sensor “sees” from the lens and the processor changes according to the information given by the sensor? Anyway, I think this is less of a problem if the photographers are shooting in Raw. But if you are a straight-out-of-camera photographer, then do take note of it.
There is also some strong lens flare if the lens is pointing directly to the strong light source. So do take note of it too.
Who is this for?
I don’t know how well is this lens for insect photographers to shoot but I can say that this lens is very comfortable for landscape, street, food, and product shoots. For portrait, journalist, and documentary photographers, I will leave it for you to decide as it’s a manual lens and its focus throw is huge. You might miss the shots by the time you nailed the focus.
This lens is compact and I am very comfortable using this lens for the street. While the protruding front lens element can be quite a disturbing factor to me and the image quality at wide open is not the best among the macro lens category, I can give in to the focal length, compactness, and price point. All in all, it is easily a good macro lens for photographers to own and attempt to do macro shots, especially for photographers who do not have a macro lens.
Thank you for reading.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Most of the shots are straight out of the camera with some shots edited via In-Camera Raw Processing and Capture One 2023.
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.
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