Affordable Reportage Lens for µ4/3?

Look no further. Just wait for the TTArtisan 1.4/17 to be officially marketed.

„What? Wait a minute!“ you might cry out exhaling vigorously, „It has not been marketed yet?“ Well, no. I had the chance to test a copy which was sent to me by my friends from mint&rare in Vienna. We have started a joyful cooperation some time ago, so I turned from a customer to a friend to a colleague. They occasionally send me some lenses to test and write about and after two weeks or so I send them back. Sometimes, parting hurts, as it would with this TTArtisan if I shot more on µ4/3-format. But the little Olympus, as beautiful as it is, only is my fifth camera system. Yes, I know, this sounds crazy and it might as well be. But I mainly shoot with the Leica M, the Sony A7II, the Nikon Df and the Leica CL. Oh come on, don’t prejudge me. It’s called „hobby“. It doesn’t generate money, it burns it.

The lens fits perfectly to the PEN – both devices are real beauties.

Anyway, so this is the (DJ Optical) TTArtisan 17/1.4 Asph. – a lens with a real focal length of 17mm which translates on µ4/3 to an equivalent of about 35mm, and thus the „classic“ reportage focal length. It is a little wider than the „normal“ lens without generating possibly disturbing wide angle effects. Some say a 35mm lens is neither fish nor fowl, too wide for portraits and too narrow for land- or cityscapes – others, however, say that it is a jack-of-all-trades and good for every kind of photography. I have, actually, needed a while to get adjusted to this field-of-view, coming from the 50mm-league and even preferring 24mm to 28mm for wide angle shots. But I need to admit that once you get the feeling for the ~63° angle, you understand the moderate effect and the versatility of such a lens. For me, my Leica X1 and my Fuji X100 have taught me to appreciate this focal length.

But let’s have closer look at the TTArtisan 17mm.

The built quality is more than decent and although I do not yet know the final selling price, we can assume that it will be rather affordable which makes the quality even more impressive. The look is somewhat extraordinary and resembles some vintage glass. The internal lens design is pretty complex and sports 9 elements, some of which are aspherical. This effort really pays off when we look at the images.

The fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 enables the photographer to isolate a subject even with a µ4/3 camera and it is absolutely usable wide open. Stopped down it becomes pretty sharp quickly. It is well corrected for distortion and almost all other aberrations, corner fall-off is neglectable for general photography. It focusses down to 20cm.

My Olympus PEN EP-3 does not offer focus peaking, only a magnification button and the external EVF VF-3 does not have a very high resolution, so focussing manually sometimes can be hard, but as you can see it is possible. With newer cameras it is much easier due to the additional focus assist features.

I own several lenses by TTArtisan meanwhile and I must say, I am really impressed by what they offer. If I was shooting with a µ4/3-camera more often, I would definitely get this lens as soon as Jo sells it. It is a clear recommendation.

But since the PEN mostly sits in my cabinet, I will send the lens back soon, now that the test is finished. I, however, can imagine that I will miss this little beauty.