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The TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 Zebra on Micro Four Thirds Review

This review is based on my own findings and experience, I chose, bought and paid for this lens myself.
Nothing on Open Source Photography is sponsored.

The angle of view : On the TTArtisan website they speak of the “Eye of Humanity”, that’s because on crop factor 1.5 systems like Fujifilm, this lens corresponds to a 35mm lens on Full Frame. But studies show that the human eye “sees” at an angle of 55° – the cone of visual attention – and 35mm nor 50mm has that angle, it’s more in the middle namely 43mm. So on a Fujifilm camera we would actually be better off using a 28mm lens. The TTArtisan 23mm on m4/3 corresponds to 46mm – which is fairly close and good enough for a “standard” lens.

There are two versions of the TTArtisan 23mm f1.4, a completely black version or a black & silver zebra like version. I chose the black & silver version because it is most reminiscent of those legendary old German Zebra lenses made by Meyer Optik Görlitz and Carl Zeis Jenna, such as the Orestegon, Flektogon, Lydith etc…

A vintage lens similar to the TTArtisan with its 23mm on m4/3, is a standard 50mm lens on full frame or 35mm film – we think of a Carl Zeis Jenna Tessar 50mm, or a Meyer Optik Görlitz 50mm Oreston. Unfortunately I don’t own either one, but I do have a picture of the 50mm Oreston below for comparison.

Left: TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 – Right: Meyer Optik Görlitz 50mm f1.8 Oreston

Unboxing :

The lens arrived in a sturdy beautiful cardboard box, with a soft foam padding on the inside. The lens in a transparent plastic bag and provided with a silica gel bag.

In the box is the warranty card and a booklet with some lens information, how to mount the lens and menu settings with screenprints of different camera brands. It is very concise and most of it is described in the Chinese language, and very limited in English.

The lens itself is heavier than expected – 222gr. – but in the order of a vintage lens, such as the Meyer Optik Görlitz Lydith 30mm f3.5 – 194gr. – also a zebra lens that I had lying around and is comparable in size – also just for comparison: a Fuji XF 23mm f2.0 WR weighs 180gr. and is slightly longer than the TTArtisan.

The aperture ring, which is on the front of the lens, clicks softly and has good resistance. The position on front is also great when using gloves in winter, and for me it feels good because this is also the case with my vintage Olympus OM lenses. I think it makes the aperture ring much easier to find than when it is against your camera. The aperture ring is thin and serrated, but this actually adds to the easy finding without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. It may look weird but it doesn’t feel weird at all.

The focus ring is a lot bigger and wider, and has a grooved zebra ring, all metal, just like the entire lens actually. The indications (meter, feet, aperture and DOF scale) are nicely painted in white, not engraved, but are very clearly applied. The focusing itself is very smooth and with the necessary resistance, just like butter. It enables the photographer to focus precisely and firmly. The focus ring rotates all the way from infinity to its closest adjustable distance of 0.20m in little more than 45°. The lens cap is also made of metal and has a felt ring on the inside, which should ensure that the lens cap remains in place. Personally, I think it’s better to replace it with a plastic click cap, because otherwise you will lose the original quickly along the way.

The DOF scale is clear and very usable, even from f4.0 a hyperfocal distance could be set from about 1m to infinity, useful for street photography!

Some more specs. : TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 – M4/3 – 60x39mm – 222gr. – filter 43mm

Besides the lens, I also ordered the original TTArtisan square aluminum lens hood 43mm and UV filter from Tianya XS-Pro1 – Some claim it’s as good as the Hoya XS-Pro1 –
I’m still waiting for those two.
I will come back to this at a later time.

TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 mounted on an Olympus E-M1 original, I bought this camera to replace my Fujifilm X-T1, and to use it for manual photography with vintage lenses. It is a somewhat rarer silver version in mint condition, with only a handful of shots ever taken, and found for a good price.

Test shots below – all shots are @ f1.4 – except the one at the airport @ f4.0

Below a video shot at f8.0 set to 1m, which makes the lens sharp from about 0.5m to infinity. Movie setting was Mov.FHD-F 30P, edited on Shotcut 22.01.30

Most lenses are worst wide open, but if you can’t use it then it doesn’t make much sense, at the same time you can see what the lens is worth, which is why almost all photos were taken at f1.4. The camera settings are standard, ie “natural” photo setting, Iso auto Low-3200, and M – Development on gThumb Linux, really just to resize the photos and make them suitable for the web. The video is unedited.

When I was still shooting with Fujifilm cameras, I had a silver 7Artisan 25mm f1.8, if I compare it with the TTArtisan 23mm lens, the latter is much better in all areas. It fits better in the hand and handles much better, the markings are clearer and it is more sensitive to light. The TTArtisan lens is a joy to photograph with, the handling feels just like a standard 50mm lens from the 70s – 80s, and the image results are just as good, every time I look at pictures from it I get the feeling that they were made on 35mm film. I am very happy that I bought this lens, it is definitely a keeper! Also on Fujifilm cameras this lens would be a great purchase.

Conclusion :

There are many reviews of this lens.
Almost all have a small remark or comment.
The aperture does not click enough – filmmakers prefer clickless, …,
it’s always something.
But if you look through it and beyond, it is actually a real gem.
The handling is great, and it makes great pictures – with a touch of vintage caracter – and I like that !

I find the TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 for MFT at least the best “standard” lens in its category, maybe even beyond !

Well, I have one more thing, and that is, why buy a manual lens?

  • Nostalgia certainly plays a role, shooting completely manually just like in the old days – some like it some don’t.
  • The manual handling slows you down, and that benefits seeing (composition) and thinking (exposure), resulting in better pictures.
  • Finally, if you want to become a photographer – shooting and really know what you’re doing – then a camera that can be fully adjusted manually, along with a manual lens like this one is a must

Some other reviewers on Youtube that also like this lens (and there are many) :

Now on La Gallerie !

Black Swans Video” & “Cygnus Atratus

The photo gallery of Open Source Photography, Olympus micro 4/3 system, Vintage Lens Photograpy, Film Simulation, PictureFX, HDR – Photographer : Marc R.

Published by Marc R.

Belgium Based and Retired Photographer, IT specialist, Technician and Bushcrafter - not necessarily in that order. A few years back I got a message on my PC : "The box said 'Required Windows 11 or better'. So, I installed Linux Kubuntu" :-) My Photography software : Linux Kubuntu 22.04 LTS, RawTherapee, Darktable, Digikam, Luminance HDR, Hugin, Gimp and many other. My camera Gear in 2023: Olympus E-M1 Mark III & II with Olympus 300mm Pro and Leica 100-400mm. Olympus E-M5 MK III with Olympus 12-200mm. Olympus 40-150mm Pro, 12-40mm Pro and many other lenses. Development on Dell Inspiron 15-3520 - 12 gen. i7 - 16gb -512gb

6 thoughts on “The TTArtisan 23mm f1.4 Zebra on Micro Four Thirds Review

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