The Best Fullframe Lenses from China

Introduction

Sony A7rII | 7artisans 28mm 1.4 | f/8.0

In 2023 there are plenty of lens manufacturers originating from China speaking to various different target audiences. While some are the Primark of the lens industry – simply trying to offer cheaper alternatives to the reknown manufacturers of lower quality – others have become the actual innovators in the photography lens business.
Having used more than 60 of those lenses from 14 different manufacturers I thought it is a good time to highlight the best ones I came across.

Some things to be aware of

  • I am only talking about fullframe lenses here. Many Chinese manufacturers also offer unique and interesting APS-C lenses, but I have little to no experience with those
  • I have reviewed a lot of lenses, but not all and you may also favour different aspects in a lens than I do, so this can obviously never be a “complete” list
  • With most of these manufacturers there is little consistency across their line-up when it comes to mechanical design as well as optical performance. As an example: the TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 has absolutely nothing in common with the TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Tilt – smart people buy products they like, fanboys buy whatever product from brands they like
  • I am not sure if the chance to receive a decentered or otherwise defective lens is actually higher compared to manufacturers from Japan/Germany, but getting one of these lenses replaced can in fact be more difficult. I recommend to either buy them from a local distributor or directly from the manufacturer’s online shop for better product support
  • I bought several of the lenses on this list for my personal use and do actually use them regularly

Ultra Wide Angle Lenses

Laowa 9mm 5.6

Sony A7III | Laowa 9mm 5.6 | f/5.6

This is not only the world’s widest rectilinear (meaning non-fisheye) lens, it is also much better than it should be. Despite being noticeably wider this is a much better performer than the more expensive Voigtländer 10mm 5.6 and therefore a real masterpiece of Laowa’s lens designer.

A lens this wide will probably not be your bread-and-butter lens and it takes some skill to use it properly, but I took plenty of pictures with it I really like and that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

373g | $599 | MF | no Exif | E/M/Z/L-mount | ReviewSample images

buy from manufacturer’s shop | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)


Laowa 15mm 2.0

laowa 15mm 2.0 fe venus optics review architecture 42mp 61mp sony a7riv a7rv
Sony A7III | Laowa 15mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | no tripod

This 15mm 2.0 was actually Laowa’s first mirrorless design (first shown at Photokina in 2016) and it is a lens I am using since and that proved to be very useful for taking pictures in dimly lit environments without a tripod as well as for astrophotography and also for wide-angle close ups.

When it comes to the E-mount world there are two strong competitors that you should surely check out as well: the way more expensive Sony FE 14mm 1.8 GM and the next entry on this list, the Viltrox 16mm 1.8 AF. There is hardly any competition in the M/Z/RF/L-mount worlds though, making this a desirable lens for many users to this day.

520g | $649 | MF | no Exif | E/M/Z/RF/L-mount | Review | Sample images

buy from manufacturer’s shop | amazon.com | B&H | amazon.de (affiliate links)


Viltrox 16mm 1.8 AF

viltrox af 16mm 1.8 fe review sharpness contrast bokeh astro milky way coma vignetting 42mp 63mp sony a7
Sony A7III | Viltrox FE 16mm 1.8 AF | f/1.8

Viltrox described this as their fullframe benchmark lens when it was released in 2023 and for good reasons: great optical performance, useful controls coupled with an LC display not found anywhere else and all that at a surprisingly low and very competitive pricepoint.

From a technological point of view this is the most advanced lens on this list, not only ahead of the other manufacturers from China, but also of many of those from Japan.

560g | $549 | AF | Exif | E-mount | ReviewSample images

buy from manufacturer’s shop (global) | B&H | ebay.com (affiliate links)


Wide Angle Lenses

Laowa 28mm 1.2 Argus

laowa 28mm 1.2 review fast super f/0.95 bokeh sharpness contrast a7riv a7riii a7iv a9 a1 resolution coma vignetting review
Sony A7III | Laowa 28mm 1.2 | f/1.2

In 2023 the 28mm focal length is still a bit neglected in the Sony E-mount world, therefore this Laowa 28mm 1.2 was a very welcome addition with its world record f/1.2 maximum aperture.

While some of the f/0.95 to f/1.2 lenses are soft at their maximum aperture this lens is very contrasty and that in combination with its wide angle bokeh is really good for creating the illusion of depth in environmental portraits. I had an early review sample before it was released and without knowing what the price will be and going by its performance I expected this to carry a much higher price tag than the $599 it sells for now.

550g | $599 | MF | no Exif | E/Z/RF/L-mount | ReviewSample images

buy from manufacturer’s shop | B&H (affiliate links)


7Artisans 28mm 1.4

7artisans leica summulix 28mm 1.4 f/1.4 wide angle fast 42mp sony feplus resolution contrast coma review
Sony A7s | 7artisans 28mm 1.4 | f/1.4

This was one of the first M-mount lenses from China I bought and it is still one of the best ones. It is compact, affordable, its build quality is great and to my eyes it gives much nicer bokeh than the Leica 28mm 1.4 Summilux-M – its only competitor in the M-mount world.

A novelty (which unfortunately didn’t become the norm): this lens came in two versions; one optimized for the thin Leica filter stack and an FE-Plus version optimized for the thicker Sony filter stack.

490g | $436 | MF | no Exif* | M-mount | Review | Sample images
*can be combined with TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif on E/Z cameras

buy from B&H | amazon.com | amazon.de | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)


Laowa 35mm 0.95 Argus

Sony A7III | Laowa 35mm 0.95 | f/0.95

This is the only 35mm lens as fast as f/0.95 for fullframe, but it is also a better performer than all the similarly priced 50mm f/0.95 lenses, which is quite spectacular actually.

This is one of those lenses where no one realizes now how good it actually is, therefore no one buys it, it will probably go out of production one day and some years after that it will be highly sought after – similar to the f/1.4 Canon FD lenses or the f/1.2 Contax/Zeiss lenses or the latest Olympus OM lenses with ED elements.

795g | $649 | MF | no Exif | E/Z/RF-mount | ReviewSample images

buy from manufacturer’s shop | ebay.com | B&H (affiliate links)


Pergear 35mm 1.4

pergear 35mm 1.4 f/1.4 review sony e fe fullframe e-mount a7riv a7rv a7riii a7rii 42mp 61mp sharpness contrast review coma vignetting bokeh
Sony A7III | Pergear 35mm 1.4 | f/8.0

Neither in terms of optical nor mechanical quality this Pergear lens can compete with the latest 35mm f/1.4 high performance lenses like the Sony FE 35mm 1.4 GM, but it is tiny, lightweight and extremely affordable at $129. And for that price it is actually much better than it should be, especially compared to way more expensive 35mm f/1.4 vintage lenses.

If you are not sure if you could get along with a manual focus lens this is a great option to find out without breaking the bank. Because it is so small and lightweight you can also just put it in the bag and always have a fast lens available when you need it.

237g | $129 | MF | no Exif | E/Z/L/RF-mount | Review | Sample images

buy from amazon.com | amazon.de | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)


Standard Lenses

Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1

mr. ding optics studio 50mm 1.1 noctilux leica nokton voigtländer review m10 42mp 24mp sony a7rii contrast resolution bokeh coma noxlux
Sony A7III | Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1 | f/1.1 | LM-EA9

This lens came out of nowhere and what a surprise it was. Despite its rather simple 8/6 design and the lack of aspherical elements it performs surprisingly well and it is also compact and affordable. The real stand out feature is its beautiful bokeh though. If you are a Sony user this is also one of the few lenses that work really well with the Techart LM-EA9 AF adapter, turning this into a very compact yet fast AF lens.

When using this lens I always get the feeling it had been designed by someone who actually knew what he was doing.

389g | $399 | MF | no Exif* | M-mount | Review Mr. Ding | Review SYoptic | Sample images
*can be combined with TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif on E/Z cameras

buy from official Mr. Ding Studio shop (M-mount only), can also be found on ebay.com, but here you may get an OEM lens without product support (affiliate links)


TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Asph

ttartisan 50mm 1.4 sony a7riii a7riv sharpness bokeh resolution contrast review e-mount
Sony A7III | TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 E | f/1.4

This is somewhat the 50mm version of the 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 mentioned above. Build quality is great, optical performance is great and it is very affordable.

I recommend to have a look at my review of the Leica 50mm 1.4 Asph where I compared these two lenses. Afterwards you can decide for yourself if you want to buy a $4500 lens or a $225 (E/Z/RF/L-mount) to $369 (M-mount) lens and then doing something actually useful with the $4000 you saved.

432g | $225 (E/Z/RF/L-mount) $369 (M-mount) | MF | no Exif* | Review | Sample images
*M-mount version can be combined with TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif on E/Z cameras

buy from the manufacturer’s shop | amazon.com | amazon.de | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)


TTArtisan 50mm 2.0 Pancake

TTartisan 50mm 2.0 e-mount fe sony a7rii a7riv review comparison contrast sharpness vignetting pancake small
Sony A7III | TTArtisan 50mm 2.0 | f/2.0

Similar to the Pergear 35mm 1.4 this TTArtisan lens does not offer a staggering performance, but at $69 it costs less than I had to pay for the hood of one of my Voigtländer lenses once.

While price and performance are similar to some of the vintage 50mm lenses, this one doesn’t need an adapter which makes it the smallest fast 50mm fullframe lens you can mount on your modern mirrorless camera.

189g | $69 | MF | no Exif | E/Z/RF/L/X/Eos-M/M43-mount | Review | Sample images

buy from TTArtisan | Amazon | ebay.com | B&H (affiliate links)

Tele Lenses

Zhong Yi 90mm 1.5

zhong yi 90mm 1.5 f/1.5 review test comparison leica m m10 m10r m9 sony a7rii 42mp 24mp contrast bokeh sharpness coma milky way astigmatism
Leica M10 | Zhong Yi 90mm 1.5 | f/1.5

This lens was released at roughly the same time as the TTArtisan 90mm 1.25, by which it was a bit overshadowed. That being said this Zhong Yi is actually the better package due to being noticeably ligther and much sharper, especially at infinity.

Fast 85-90mm portrait lenses for M-mount are usually rare and expensive, but here you get a lot of glass and image quality for the money. For users of other mirrorless systems this might not be that attractive though, as here the market is full of fast 85mm lenses – including plenty with AF.

772g | $399 | MF | no Exif* | E/M/Z/RF-mount | Review | Sample images
*can be combined with TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif on E/Z cameras

buy from the manufacturer’s homepage | B&H | ebay.com | amazon.com for $399 (affiliate links)


Laowa 90mm 2.8 2:1 Macro

Laowa started the trend to offer full frame macro lenses that can be focused from infinity to twice life-size. Unlike some other macro lenses this one does not only perform great at close distances though, it also does at infinity.

This works great as a high magnification macro, it works really well for landscape/architecture shooting and it is also a nice (albeit not overly fast) portrait lens. A true general purpose short tele.

619g | $499 | MF | no Exif | E/Z/RF-mount | Review

buy from manufacturer’s shop | ebay.com | B&H (affiliate links)


Final Words

I have been reviewing a lot of these lenses from China over the past years and I have to admit sometimes it wasn’t overly enjoyable, as there are in fact a lot of boring and uninspired ones, sometimes with severe optical as well as mechanical issues.
But lenses like the ones I am showing you here are the reason I kept going and I will keep going.

We have such a broad range of lenses to choose from thanks to these manufacturers: very affordable ones like the Pergear 35mm 1.4 and TTArtisan 50mm 2.0, giving those running on a tight budget the opportunity to use lenses with specifications otherwise unobtainable, really unique lenses like the Laowa 9mm 5.6, 28mm 1.2 and 35mm 0.95 and also those showcasing state of the art technology like the Viltrox 16mm 1.8 AF.

Honorable Mentions

The lenses I took these following pictures with (sometimes barely) missed the threshold to be added to this list, but they might still be worth a closer look depending on what you are looking for. You can find all their reviews here.

laowa 10-18mm zoom c-dreamer 4.5-5.6 ultra wide 42mp a7 a7rII a7rIII review sharpness
Sony A7rII | Laowa FE 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 | 10mm | f/5.6
laowa 11mm 4.5 zero-d distortion zero ultra wide w-dreamer uwa hyper wide heliar 10mm distortion zero-d
Sony A7rII | Laowa 11mm 4.5 | f/11
ttartisan 7artisans fish eye fisheye ultra wide angle fischauge diagonal diagonally sharpness mirrorless spiegellos
Sony A7rII | TTArtisan 11mm 2.8 fisheye | f/8.0
astrhori 12mm 2.8 fisheye fish eye review 42mp sony a7rII a7rIII a7rIV a7rV 42mp 61mp contrast review resolution test
Sony A7III | AstrHori 12mm 2.8 Fisheye | f/11
laowa 15mm 4. 5 shift tilt ts-e pc-e comparison review venus optics wide angle ultra wide angle sharpness uwa resolution contrast 42mp 61mp a7riv a7rii a7riii
Sony A7rII | Laowa 15mm 4.5 Shift | f/11 | shifted up
ttartisan 28mm 5.6 m m-mount pancake review smallest leica contrast sharpness resolution
Leica M10 | TTArtisan 28mm 5.6 | f/5.6
7artisans 35mm 2.0 M wen leica m10 m11 m10r m9 review sharpness contrast bokeh vignetting
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 35mm 2.0 M Wen | f/2.0
zhong yi mitakon 50mm 0.95 m-mount leica m10 sony a7riii a7riv sharpness bokeh resolution contrast review
Sony A7rII | Zhong YI 50mm 0.95 M | f/0.95
zhong yi mitakon 50mm 0.95 m-mount leica m10 sony a7riii a7riv sharpness bokeh resolution contrast review
Sony A7rII | Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95 M | f/0.95
BRIGHTIN STAR 50mm 0.95 e-mount fe sony a7rii a7riv review comparison contrast sharpness bokeh vignetting fast
Sony A7III | Brightin Star 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95
ttartisan 50mm 1.4 tilt review e-mount sony a7riv a7rv a7rii a7riii 42mp 61mp sharpness resolution contrast bokeh review sunstar sunstars starburst
Sony A7III | TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Tilt | f/1.4 | tilted
astrhori rockstar rockster 50mm 1.4 review sharpness tilt conclusion bokeh sony a7riv a7riii a7riv 42mp 61mp bokeh ca vignetting
Sony A7III | AstrHori 50mm 1.4 Tilt | f/1.4 | untilted
7artisans 75mm 1.25 noctilux leica sony review 42mp sharpness resolution contrast a7riii a7rii a7riv a7iii 24mp 61mp ttartisan ttartisans bokeh rendering out of focus oof smooth
Sony A7rII | 7Artisans 75mm 1.25 | f/1.25
7artisans 75mm 1.25 noctilux leica sony review 42mp sharpness resolution contrast a7riii a7rii a7riv a7iii 24mp 61mp ttartisan ttartisans bokeh rendering out of focus oof smooth
Sony A7rII | 7Artisans 75mm 1.25 | f/1.25
laowa 85mm 5.6 2:1 ff ii macro twice life size makro mirko 42mp 61mp resolution bokeh sharpness contrast
Sony A7III | Laowa 85mm 5.6 Macro | f/5.6
zhong yi mitakon 135mm 1.4 bokeh bokehpanorama brenizer fast ultra fast portrait speedmaster review sharpness sony 42mp 61mp portrait woman
Sony A7III | Zhong Yi 135mm 1.4 | f/1.4

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

28 thoughts on “The Best Fullframe Lenses from China”

  1. Interesting little look in the (not very distant) past. I was just thinking today how difficult it is to even remember all these lenses and which one is which (similar names, but different lenses, and it’s especially easy to confuse lenses between 7Artisans and TTArtisan brands). It’s really nice to have the good ones separated from the bunch, because the choice is really overwhelming already.
    It’s also nice to see again these “image samples” (it feels a bit silly to call serious photographs samples, even considering the context, they are quite enjoyable).

  2. I think we would both agree that Venus Optics is the rockstar here.

    Regarding 7artisans, their 28mm/1.4 is actually going out of production now. I would be disappointed but their QC has been the worst I’ve ever experienced and trying getting a good replacement or an adjustment of this lens has been disastrous.

    I’m glad Venus Optics makes the 28/1.2 now (even though inferior bokeh). I’m really hoping voigtlander makes a 28 f1.2 or f2 for Sony sometime as they have delivered the goods on this focal length for other mounts too.

  3. A well-deserved article rewarding the giant strides made by Chinese optical science !
    (at a fair price).
    The 28mm f1.4 was a dream, but the result is an unacceptable level of vignetting (stopped-down!) for landscapes. All your uncorrected photos clearly show this, and I find it hard to understand your tolerance for this major defect…The Mr/Dr. Ding has stopped me in my tracks (collection :/ ) when it comes to bokeh & fast prime “standard” lens. The seller can probably say a big thank you 😉 _I do_
    (I can recommend the seller Syoptic on ebay BTW)

    1. If you want small lenses you have to live with high vignetting.
      Voigtländer VM 21mm 3.5, 28mm 2.0 and 35mm 1.2 (to only name a few) show the same amount of vignetting stopped down.

  4. I picked up the Laowa 11/4.5 & 100/2.8 (a year before the 90/2.8 was announced) and the TTArtisan 50/2 largely thanks to your reviews! I’ll probably end up with the Viltrox 16/1.8 too, and I’m intrigued by the Laowa Argus 28/1.2.

      1. Yeah I’m not too bothered by it, the 90/2.8 looks even better and it’s slightly smaller but I did find a really good third party collar for the 100/2.8 (Laowa’s own was… not it) which makes handling on a rail pretty nice.

  5. I got the Mr ding 1.1 after reading your review. Really, really like its out of focus rendering. Thanks 😀

  6. My mirrorless top:
    APS-C
    $150 – Meike 7,5mm f/2.8 Fish-eye – manual fish-eye with 190°. Quite sharp, good balance of CAs, not so good coatings. For all mirrorless mounts.
    $460 – NiSi 9mm f/2.8 Sunstar. Seems to be a bit pricey for a manual lens, but this is wide angle prime with the best picture quality. For all mirrorless mounts.
    $280 – Yongnuo YnLens YN 16mm F/1.8 S/Z DA DSM – AF, unique combination of price, angle and speed. For E and Z mounts.
    $130 – Yongnuo YN 50mm F/1.8 S DA DSM – AF portrait lens. Sharp in-focus, smooth and very old-fashioned in OOF with lot of CAs everywhere. For E mount.

    Full frame
    $215 – TTArtisan 11mm f/2.8 Fish-eye – manual fish-eye with 180°, which reviewed here. For all mirrorless mounts.
    $320-360 – Yongnuo YNLens YN50mm F1.8 DF DSM – sharper than Zeiss 55/1.8 (sic !), but suffers with busyness in background blur at a long focus distance. For E and Z mounts.
    $400 – Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 II – the best 85/1,8. For E, RF, Z and X mounts.
    $390 – TTartisan 100mm f/2.8 2x ultra macro tilt-shift manual lens. The cheapest tilt-macro lens ever, and the cheapest 2x macro. For all mirrorless mounts.

  7. Nice Article. It’s a shame you haven’t had the SLR Magic 50mm f0.95 Hyperprime. That lens is the best 50mm China has made in my book.

    1. Had to double check for a second to realise you weren’t talking about the identically named SLR Magic 50mm f0.95 Hyperprime that was an existing 1″ inch sensor C-Mount lens put in mirrorless mounts around 2013~

      I’ll have to look into this other one..

  8. Thanks for all the reviews. I mostly play with legacy lenses but I have a few of China lenses.

    TTArtisan 11mm F2.8. A well built fisheye lens. I rarely need a fisheye, but it is worth the $230US for when the moment arises. Also there are not a lot of good legacy fisheye options.

    TTArtisan 50mm F1.2 (Crop). This is my favorite 50mm on my Lumix GF85, and I have an embarrassing number of legacy 50s to try. It does not cover FF, but I occasionally stick it on my Sony A7R3. The sharp center, hard vignetting, and super thin DOF make for interesting portraits.

    Opteka 85mm F1.8 (2013?). The build quality on this lens is crap. Some may find the nonstandard aperture settings (1.8, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4.5, 6, 10, 22) annoying, but they rub off quickly. The focus ring gets tighter toward infinity. Frankly the only redeeming feature is the image quality.

  9. Dear Bastian,
    for me this article is the cause why I love the Phillipreeve.net beside your usual reviews which are in fact not usual. I haven’t seen and read anything anywhere comparable to this. Your reviews go into deep and are honest. Thanks a lot for this work. I will honor it. I tried to post this at your latest post with the PayPal link, but there is no space for posting.

  10. As a tight fisted slim pocketed photographer, this is the most useful blog I have ever read. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. I will certainly be purchasing one of these in the future.

  11. Very interesting, very enjoyable & very helpful, thanks!…

    Any chance of the same ‘best of Chinese lenses’ review round-up but for APSC sensors please?!

    Best wishes

    Leo

  12. In your mind which is the better lens? Laowa 28mm f1.2 or Laowa 35mm f0.95? I’m looking for a wide angle shallow depth of field lens for environmental portraiture.

  13. I am an amateur photographer so my lens buying criteria are cheap and interesting. As this website clearly documents the legacy marker fills much of that demand, but China has filled a few holes.

    TTArtisan 11mm F2.8 fisheye.
    Bastian has already reviewed this lens, so I don’t have much to add. You probably won’t need it very often, but this one does a good job and is cheap.
    https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-ttartisan-11mm-2-8-fisheye/

    TTArtisan 50mm F1.2
    I bought this lens for my Lumix GX85 and it is on the camera much of the time. I also bought a micro 4/3 to E mount adapter so I could try it on my Sony A7R3. Now it only covers APSC so there is hard vignetting in the corners, but if you are shooting at F1.2 you are probably going for subject isolation anyway. I would not buy this lens for FF, but it is fun to play with on the Sony.

    TTArtisan 100mm F2.8
    Martin has reviewed this lens. It is a lot of fun wide open, but bubble bokeh becomes noise at some point. Stopping down past F4 clips the bright ring. The resulting bokeh is more oil painting than water color, but the aperture remains circular so there are no ugly polygons.
    https://phillipreeve.net/blog/review-ttartisan-100mm-f-2-8-a-modern-and-affordable-trioplan/

    Dishonorable mention
    Optika 85mm F1.8
    I bought this lens to test drive the the focal length before paying real money for Sony’s version. It has the distention of having the worst build quality of any lens I have owned. The focus ring has uneven resistance. It has nonstandard F-stop settings (1.8, 2.5, 3, 3.5…) which some may find annoying, but don’t worry the markings rub off pretty quickly. Frankly the only good thing about this lens is the image quality.

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