Leica Cheap Chinese-made M-mount 50mm f1.1 "Sonnar" Lens

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
I just got DHL notice that my lens will be here tomorrow evening.

Reports on other camera forums from people with the lens in hand are almost all favorable. High quality and good construction.

I will chime in here as well once I play with it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I got kicked off that big rangefinder forum because an unintelligent mod there accused me of trolling. My trolling consisted of disagreeing with his moronic posts and writing like I do normally.
 

BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
Hopefully mine is here soon- looking forward to testing it. I number of Internet sites have speculated that it is not a Sonnar design- I believe it is based on the Zunow 5cm F1.1, will be doing a write-up on it. It's going to be hard for me to NOT disassemble it. Measuring the focal lengths of the front and rear groups independently is my way of determining if a lens is a Sonnar. The focal length of the front section is positive, and about 2.5x to 3.5x times the focal length of the rear group. The rear is about the same focal length as the completed lens. I've bought optics from Surplus Shed to replace the rear element of a Nikkor 10.5cm F2.5 following this rule-of-thumb.
 

BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
If my lens arrives and requires calibration, will post the steps. This lens is unique in that the manufacture intends for the owner to do the calibration. I've calibrated most of my lenses, Leica, Canon, Voigtlander, Nikkors, Jupiters, other RF lenses. A manufacturer that designed an RF cam with tuning built-in, JOY! Makes my life easier. The Leica lenses are the most difficult to fine tune. I rearranged the optics in my two Summarits.
 

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
Wow! Got mine today. Black. DHL took 4 days to NYC from China.

Lens is packaged nicely. Very nice build quality.

Wide open on Leica M9 at infinity, a little bit soft like a wide open Sonnar 1.5. By f/4, razor sharp, wonderful contrast.

Close up with Leica M9, hit or miss focus, but very usable wide open, also a bit soft. At f/4, again razor sharp.

With Sony A7, using zebra pattern, easy to shoot wide open and pretty sharp. Biting sharp after f/4.

So I will have to tweak focus until it is spot-on with my Leica M9. A nice touch is that they included a tiny screwdriver for the adjustment, and the instruction manual doubles as a focus target. Very clever.

That's a project for a different day, but I am happy with the lens. I will keep it.
 
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M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
I finally had some time to make a proper test. All of these shots were today (7/8/2017) with the 7Artisans f/1.1 lens on the Leica M9. I did not yet adjust the lens from factory focus.

About 50% were wide open, the rest no more than f/4.

Minimal Photoshop processing. Mostly a little lighten/darken. Adobe RGB, not sRGB, so they might not look exactly right colorwise on your screen.

I'm very satisfied with this lens.



























 
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Raid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
I ordered a silver yesterday. Final cost was $318. Thanks for the link that was posted here. It saved me some money.
 

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
Unfortunately, I think I overpaid by about $40, but I did get the lens quickly via DHL and I got a nice one. In the long run, no big deal. Photography stuff is one of the few vices I have left. I recently got diagnosed with high blood sugar so I can't even eat what I want anymore. Imagine Indian or Chinese or Persian food with no rice. Or Italian food with no pasta or bread. You get the picture. Aging is not for sissies.
 
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BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
I dropped almost $250 on Jupiter-3's in the last month: two (a 1952 and 1957) that required extensive work, optics modules really messed up. Spent 4 hours each on the focus mounts, cleaning, polishing, repositioning the helical in one. Lots of drilling. One is now a 5cm F1.5 Sonnar with a KMZ rear triplet, the other now houses a very early ZOMZ module- 5600256: lower SN than my late KMZ. The ZOMZ itself took a lot of work, originally unusable as the middle triplet was out of position. The 1952 optics module was filled with grease and the front retaining ring was corroded in. I cut the optics module up using a Dremel to get the front glass out. The 5cm F1.5 KMZ glass is interchangeable with pre-war and wartime Sonnars. The triplets were perfect, the rear triplet is an uncoated Zeiss made optic. Next 5cm F1.5 Sonnar with a bad rear triplet- I'm ready for it!

So: paying $369 for a new 50/1.1 Sonnar: CHEAP! Calibrating the RF Cam: EASY!
 
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Raid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
Brian: You make it happen. I wish that I was able to do such work. Let us know how these two new lenses compare with your other 5cm lenses.
 

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
On that "other forum" these ignoramuses are saying that the f/1.1 lens is only "for digital". What utter nonsense. Now I know why I got kicked off there. I would give those fools a proper talking-to.

I've been following the discussion there. Laughable in their vast lack of knowledge about almost anything.
 

Raid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
I wouldn't get annoyed by such postings. People can post anything they want, it seems, and we will always encounter postings that have no support based on facts.
 

M. Valdemar

Veteran
Aug 5, 2013
New York City
I know, but it is amusing. When I was on RFF I used to correct people who made the most outlandish statements, and I was always lambasted. It doesn't really bother me, just entertains me.

I don't think you'll regret your decision to buy one. In my opinion, the prices of this lens will rise if you decide to sell in the future. I like mine a lot. I left the seller excellent eBay feedback.

PS: A lot of people have silly prejudice against Chinese goods. I have been in China and they are light years ahead of us. Shenzhen makes New York City look like a quaint backwater. They are WAY ahead into the future.

It's the same syndrome as people laughing about Japanese goods in the late 1940's and early 1950's. People joked that the Japanese could only build cheap imitative toys and make goldfish castles. Then...BAM....the Nikkors hit the press.

The Chinese can and do innovate and engineer beautiful stuff. Some of their stereo/audio equipment, for example, is amazing.

They are driven perfectionists in some areas. "Otaku" is the Japanese equivalent. Don't think that they don't understand the nuances of bokeh, image quality, and aesthetics as well as any German or Japanese designer.....and they can do it better and cheaper thanks to their advanced industrial capacity.

Just browse some Chinese photo and lens blogs using Google Translate sometimes. The knowledge, appreciation and attention to detail with old lenses is off the charts.

Do not underestimate the Chinese.
 
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BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
Mine will be here in the next day or two- I plan on giving a good check over and test. I have high hopes for this lens. I'm not sure which to compare it with first- the obvious choice is the 50/1.1 Nokton, or 50/1.5 C-Sonnar. BUT- I'm leaning towards a classic Sonnar or the Nikkor 5cm F1.4 for "first-up".

Most test shots have been done with mirrorless cameras, or the M9/M240. I'm leaning for the M Monochrom.

As far as Internet Forums- I'm an Engineer. Always amazed me how so many people told me I was wrong about the Jupiter-3 and other Russian lenses being built to the Zeiss spec AFTER I posted the Manufacturer's Data Sheets for the lenses that I made the statements about. The new term is "Whatevs".
 

Raid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
I have several J-3 and Zeiss Jena that Brian adjusted into ltm. I love using them side by side with a Summicron or Summilux.
I would love to try out the Chinese smart phone with the Leica lens in it.
 

BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
Mine just arrived- did some quick tests on table lamps for focus accuracy: perfect across range on the M9 and M Monochrom. I tested at 0.7m and 5m, as I do with most of my Sonnars. If it was off, easy to adjust.

I have tomorrow off, will take out this lens and the C-Sonnar. Might throw a classic Sonnar into the mix tomorrow as well.

This is a good lens, and a bargain for super-speed. I will also test against the Nokton 50/1.1 later on. But first and Foremost: this is a Sonnar formula lens, and only the third to be F1.1. This lens closer to the second version Zunow 5cm F1.1, the Sonnetar is closer in design to the original 5cm F2. Size-wise, this lens is about the same as a Minolta 50/1.4 MC mount on a Leica M.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
Looks like fun, but I think I'll stick with what I have. 50/0.95 ASPH for Leica and 50/1.2 AIS for Nikon ought to satisfy my need for speed, and then there's always the 1937 Sonnar f/1.5 and both the Sonnar and Summicron at f/2. Enough 50s, for now at least.
 

BrianS

Hall of Famer
Apr 3, 2013
I'm thinking of taking a pool on how long people with M Monochrom's hold out for this lens...

With Y2 filter, Wide-Open...

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open:Flare Test
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open,Min Distance Test
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

7Artisans 50/1.1 Test, Wide-Open, Inf Test
by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

This lens has far less field-curvature than I expected, and is much sharper at F1.1 than I expected. Focus is perfect across full range on my M9 and M Monochrom.
 

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