Industry Insight: 7Artisans, CN

Name: 7Artisans Photoelectric Technology Co., Ltd
Location: Shenzhen, China
Established: 2015Introduce us to 7Artisans.
A group of Chinese camera enthusiasts gathered together for a dinner in summer 2015. They were discussing their passions over the dinner table. Some were interested in optical design, while others were more skilled at running factory production lines, and one was an avid Leica lens collector. Everyone participated came to the same conclusion; “If we involve our skills and work together, we can create new original camera lenses.”. That is how 7Artisans Project began.

In the early stages, many different people joined the project gradually forming the initial team. It’s expected to be long journey to reach their dream. That story began with testing prototypes and identifying problems, improving the design as well as streamlining assembly and identifying further issues. We used the opportunities to fix problems as a way of further improvement of our ideas. Try and error cycles never stopped.

Years passed since our initial prototype. By September 2016 we reached a total of 100 mass production unit samples of the 50mm f/1.1 lens. We originally started with many members, but part of them left the project due to long product development cycle. By the time the production was completed, only 7 members remained.

And now each production packaging of the 50mm f/1.1 lens says, “7Artisans (Chinese: Seven Craftsmen)”. This is in honour of the members who believed in the project from the beginning and embodied the spirit of “Craftsmen”. For this confidence and determination, we are named 7Artisans.7Artisans produce lenses for a very reasonable price with so much character. What’s the philosophy behind the company?
We were photography enthusiasts and our original idea was to make some lenses that we liked.

How has 7Artisans evolved since it began in 2015?
It’s been three years since we established. So far, we have released nine lenses, including three full frame lenses and six APS lenses. We are going to launch 1-2 new lenses and update 1-2 old models each year from now on. Besides, we will try something that some big companies may not dare to do. For example, we will launch some lenses with small quantities. They may not have an extraordinary quality, but will definitely have a really unique imaging style.Tell us about the process of designing and producing your signature 50mm f/1.1 lens.
It seems that 90% of lens companies will start with a 50mm lens, so did we. At the beginning of the research and development, we encountered many difficulties. We discussed a lot about solutions for the balances between resolution and size, purple fringe and sharpness, vignetting and ambience. After solving these problems and finishing the optical path and mechanical designs, we made our first sample. We thought we had finally accomplished this project, but we soon realized that we just finished 1/3 of the whole project. We then modified the lens because the bokeh is not so smooth and the declination of the edge image quality. The mechanical structure has also been updated due to the bad performance of the focus ring and deviation of the focusing. Finally, we got a medium size lens with great color rendition. Its bokeh is really exaggerated at F1.1. At F1.4, the lens can focus sharply at the object and fall off nicely in creamy bokeh.50mm, 35mm, and now the 28mm. What can we expect to see next in the M-mount range?
There is a mid-telephoto lens specializing in portrait and the world’s first M-mount fisheye lens in our plan. 

You’ve got an incredible range of lenses available. Would you ever consider producing an entirely new camera, in particular, a film camera?
After finishing those lenses in plan, we are considering starting this project.

Are the 7Artisans team keen film photographers themselves? What is your personal favourite camera, lens, stock and genre?
Yes. We all love photographing. We have a ‘shutterbug priority’ rule even when we hire warehouse staff. Personally, I prefer Leica M240 and SONY A7RII. Of course, I will upgrade them to M10P and A7RIII if not considering economic conditions. I love a lot of lenses. But recently, I am obsessed with our 28mm F1.4 lens by its performance of details.  Usually, I need to take lots of photos of the resolution test card, color standard card, high contrast and branches out of focus in the sunshine. If possible, I would like to take photos of pedestrians in the street. What does the future hold for 7Artisans?
We would like to focus on making lenses with excellent qualities, even if it takes more time. We don’t want to be attracted to ordinary products with high profits or bothered by OEM orders with high sales volume. We will release more cost-effective lenses in 2019 to meet our customers’ needs.

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