TTArtisan 17mm f1.4 for the L mount.
I've actually purchased two of these lenses. One is for the L mount cameras and the second is for the m4:3 cameras (like the Panasonic G9, etc.). The one I shot with today was the one that fits on various L mount bodies, including my Leica CLs. This particular unit is sharp and contrasty and not even all that bad when used wide open. The one for the m4:3 camera is a whole different story. It's okay sharp in the center of the frame and then quickly falls apart as you look further and further from that center zone. By the time you hit the edges the image is toast. And this is not just an effect when shooting wide open. It sucks at f5.6 as well. All of which is to say: be sure you buy your unit from a store with a no hassle return policy and, as important, get that sucker out of the box and test it as soon as the delivery people drop it at your front door. Seriously, don't fool around and then have to whine that you waited for 60 days and now can't return it. At that point the blame is squarely on you. You have been warned.
The 17mm f1.4 TTArtisan lens is made up of nine elements in five groups. It's totally manual in every sense of the word and conveys absolutely no information to whatever camera it is attached to. The aperture ring is at the front of the lens and is nicely click-stopped. The focusing on both my lenses is smooth and nice. So far, the one for the L mount has been really good and I've had no mechanical or optical issues with it. Lately I've been using it on the Leica CL (APS-C format) but in my initial testing I used it one two different full frame cameras, both set to APS-C format. Those cameras were the Leica SL and the Leica SL2. In any camera using the APS-C crop the lens is more or less a 25.5mm equivalent full frame angle of view.
On Sunday I worked with the 20-60mm Panasonic lens and then I made the mistake of watching a video about photographer, Allan Schaller, and I became overly interested in wide angle primes. Hence the TTArtisan 17mm on the Leica CL today. If I really dive into that look (and it's probably ephemeral for me at this time) I would no doubt pick up the Sigma 16mm Contemporary lens in an L mount or, if I win the lottery, I'll source the Leica TL 11-23mm zoom for that range. But for right now I'm happy playing around with the TTArtisan 17.
While the 17mm is a fast lens (aperture, of course) one rarely finds a use for the f1.4 aperture in conjunction with a wide angle lens and a smaller format. It seems that if one is working with those parameters one is already on board with getting a deep depth of field. That being the case I set the lens to f8.0 today and did all of my shooting there. I'll get around to playing with the wide open performance when I've got a good reason to do so but in the middle of the day, in the middle of the Summer, in the great outdoors, shooting at f1.4 or even f2.0 is contraindicated. And I'm in no mood to apply ND filters with sweaty hands for no good reason.
What did I find? At f8.0 the lens is a very good performer. The images are sharp, contrasty, have low levels of distortion and nice color saturation. Since the lens retails for about $120 I think I'll sum up and say that this is a nice "beater" lens that you can take with you to a volcano eruption and not suffer too much angsty loss if it happens to get whacked by lava, debris or falling pumice. You just suck it up, be glad you are alive and buy another one. But....if you want to work at the highest levels of performance and deliver really great work you might want to invest a few thousand dollars and get the best. There's very little in between except, in the cropped formats, the Sigma lens I mentioned earlier. If it's half as good as the Sigma 56mm f1.4 it's a keeper.
Basic Humanism. I was walking through the very hot streets today, sacrificing my safety to bring you this vital lens review... Halfway through the walk, as I was photographing a big, white, illegally parked truck, I was approached by an older black man who wanted to talk. By his appearance he was living on the streets and having a tough time of it. He'd lost a bunch of teeth and was, in general, looking rough. I stopped and put my camera down, motioned him into the shade and tried to listen closely. My biggest pet peeve is when people don't at least take a moment to see what someone's story is. He carried a bucket with him that had some window cleaning supplies. He had a story about his wife being at some shelter and was looking for a ride to the shelter. My car was miles away. He was weaving a bit on his feet and I suggested he get out of the heat. He told me no one would give him water.
I saw that he had a water bottle in his bucket. It was empty. I asked him if I could refill it for him. I pulled my water bottle out of my shoulder bag and dumped the contents into his. He drank it right away. When he told me his story he told me he was 61 years old. He look much older. I asked him if he knew where the shelter was and he did. I reached in my pocket and found ten bucks and handed it to him. I asked him to please get out of the heat and he said he would. We bumped fists. He didn't thank me for the water or the money. He thanked me for listening to him. For acknowledging his existence. When I turned the next corner I had to stop for a moment to wipe a tear from my eye. And when I got home I made a point to send a check to one of the non-profits that supports the homeless here in Austin.
It's tough when luxury goods get expensive. It's a lot tougher when food and water get priced out of your reach. Then it's all very real. Just another day on the streets.
P.S. I don't photograph people in distress. They have enough to deal with.
Yeah. That's the truck.
A colorful day on Sixth St.
When you get out of your car and walk around without that isolation you really do see the world differently.
Gotta small disturbance. We'll send four patrol cars...
The promise of the near future.
That's all I've got for today.