Tag Archives: Voigtlander Nokton

A $300 Noctilux

7Artisans, a Chinese lens manufacturer, has introduced a new M mount 50mm f1.1 lens, manufactured in Shenzhen, China (where they make your iPhone).  A 7 elements in 6 groups optical formula like the Nokton 50/1.1, but apparently, it’s a clean sheet design, not based on the Voigtlander offering.  It has clickless f-stops, a .7 minimum focus, and the focus can be calibrated for personal usage (focus shift, film to flange issues etc).

The most interesting thing is the price: $320 on Amazon, although you can buy one direct from China for a few dollars less than $300. As for the “Made in China” issue, your iPhone is manufactured down the the street from 7Artisans.

Mass produced, consumer grade lenses are not as hard to make as they once were – all the equipment you need can be purchased if you’ve got the cash. These days it’s pretty much a function of computers and money; you can design a lenses from the bottom up with raytracing software running on your laptop. 20 years ago you’d have needed a mainframe.

Not bad for 300 bucks, shipped.

Like the Noctilux and the Nokton, it’s a big lens. It’s also heavy, weighing in at +/- 400 grams. Unlike the Nokton, it can close focus. As for its comparison to the Noctilux, suffice it to say that a Leica polarizing filter costs $150 more than the 7Artisans lens.