Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Is this the least expensive native L-mount lens for your Leica CL?

Is this the least expensive native L-mount lens for your Leica CL?


Probably yes, but I haven’t done the necessary research to prove it. Whatever, the 7Artisans 55mm f/1.4 TL lens is definitely one of the cheapest you can get. And it ain’t half bad, as I am finding out. In this case, cheapness is definitely not synonymous with nastiness.

This lens complements the Leica CL very well. With no adaptor to add to bulk, it is a compact 83mm-equivalent which looks the part. The screw-in hood, which accepts a 49mm filter, is a bonus. Whether or not this lens acts the part, we shall have to find out

At £139 this fast manual-focus prime, equivalent to an 83mm lens on a full-frame camera, has the potential to become a fine portrait lens. It renders softly, especially at the edges, and I suspect it will not bear detailed comparison with modern Leica optics, especially the excruciatingly sharp 50mm APO-Summicron-M. Many photographers prefer a more “characterful” lens for portraiture, however, and the slightly retro rendering could appeal.

Because of its fast aperture, this lens is directly comparable with the 50mm Summilux-M which weighs half as much again, even without the adapter. First test shots confirm you will get more sharpness and better image quality with the Leica, as you would expect having paid 23 times as much for the Summilux. It had better be better. So let’s not get too ecstatic.

The 55mm is likely to be good for general photography, with a neat appearance, low weight (272g) and ability to mount without an adapter. That in itself is a blessing and means that this lens should definitely be on your wish list if you own a Leica T, TL, TL2 or CL. A Leica L-M adapter alone will cost you nearly twice as much as this lens. ‘Nuff said.

Yes, it does make pictures. They are relatively soft, especially towards the edge, but exhibit a retro rendering.
Yes, it does make pictures. They are relatively soft, especially towards the edges of the frame, but exhibit a retro rendering you might like


My copy of the lens has just arrived from Amazon and I will be doing an unboxing review for tomorrow. On Friday, to round off the week, John Shingleton will be telling us how to enter our photographs in competitions and win enough cash to buy a Leica Q, as he did in 2017. Also on Friday, I shall be on the road to join senior executives of the motorcycle industry on one of their biannual weekend runs.

Centre-frame crops show reasonable sharpness and some purple fringing which is easily corrected
Centre-frame crops show good sharpness and some fringing which is easily corrected.

Weekend plans

I’ve been a member of the industry’s rider association, called simply “The Club”, for the thick end of 40 years. I can claim credit for writing the initial announcement of its formation, around 1963 while working as a journalist. At that time I was ineligible as a journalist and, in any case, the industry Mandarins were a snooty lot who wouldn’t have taken kindly to a grubby teenage road tester.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take part in Club festivities for the past 15 years because I stopped riding two-wheelers and there was a strict riding-only rule in force. Mercifully, the regulations have been relaxed a tad and, in symphony, I have aged sufficiently to be eligible for attendance by motorcar.


Paradoxically, the motorcycle industry has always had a dalliance with three-wheelers, so perhaps I should acquire a vintage Moggie. That would be fun; always wanted one of those. Or what about a mid-sixties BMW R60 and Steib sidecar. I owned one of these outfits and loved it at the time. That is, after I’d mastered the art of piloting a sidecar combination which steers against all the rules of nature.

For a couple of weeks, I rode around with the garden roller in the Steib in order to keep the sidecar wheel safely on the tarmac. This is useful when tackling left-hand bends where it is advisable to accelerate gently. Right-hand bends are always a breeze. Remember, though, this relates to driving on the left. If you have the sidecar mounted on the right-hand side of the bike, reverse the options.

This weekend I shall use the occasion to exercise the new Q2 and, also, the CL with that rather enticing 7Artisans lens attached. So far, it is adding a bit of spice to the CL experience.

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  1. I am interested to see what you get out of this lens, truly remarkable price if it works out.

    Also humbly looking forward to John S’s competition information, as I keep thinking about doing this, but never truly believe my images would actually win anything beyond the best print for the new andrex dog to eat or play with.


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