There's a lens that's been sitting in a drawer being ignored since the beginning of the year. I ordered it last year and when it came in I stuck it on a Leica SL, went into the camera menu and found an M series lens profile that I thought would match, didn't think another thing about it and then went out to test the lens and see just what my whopping $250 investment bought me.
It was a silly thing to do. When I pulled a series of color files from the camera there was a decided color shift across the frame and, in general, the files didn't impress me much. I put the camera in the drawer and chalked it up to the result of yet another misguided bout of impulse shopping.
Subsequently I read a long article on Leica and the way they profile their own past generation lenses (R and M) when they are to be used with the SL cameras. Many lenses have "color drift" when used with digital cameras because of the way lenses which were designed before digital sensors interact with the cover glass, etc. on the sensor bundle. I never gave this much thought but I remember something similar vexing Leica M8 owners to no end. I just figured that most wide angles were more alike than different and presumed that the image stabilization function needed the angle of view inputted in order to work well.
Today I pulled the TTArtisan 21mm f1.5 ASPH out of the drawer to give it another shot. Now that I felt responsible for the past test I was duty bound to give the lens another chance. I put the lens on a Leica SL2, turned off the lens profiles entirely, selected .DNG and M.Jpeg, and headed out for an "all manual" photography experience. Manual focus, manual exposure, set ISO, manual transportation (foot powered).
This time around the 21mm lens acquitted itself nicely. As you can see in the color files there is no discernible color drift, the images are very sharp and the tonality is all tasty and good. Shooting with a 21mm can be a lovely experience in some regards. With the exposures locked in and the lens aperture set around f11 one can take full advantage of hyperfocal shooting with reckless abandon.
If one was to "ding" the lens for any shortcoming it would have to be vignetting. But that's endemic to wide angles as they get more and more wide-angle-y. The lens came in an L mount configuration, is built entirely out of metal and glass, is smooth and easy to focus and is one of the fastest 21mm lenses I know of. For the price it's pretty amazing.
I have one other lens that's a fraction wider. It's the wide end of the Panasonic 20-60mm L mount lens. It's sharp in a different way from the TTArtisan lens but it shares a penchant for darkened corners as well.
Either lens works for me but I find that manual lenses are better suited to hyperfocal techniques were one roughly calculates the range of distances that will be in focus when the lens is set to a certain distance and aperture. With "focus-by-wire" lenses it becomes way too much guess work. So the 20-60mm is a lens I reach for when AF is more important than "old school street shooting."
I was very happy with what I was able to do with the TTArtisan lens today. I'm glad I discovered my goof-up and made appropriate restitution. It's a much more capable lens than I originally gave it credit for.
What do we think about G9's, brand new, at $899? I think Panasonic is targeting me....