TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8 lens review

Not quite able to play with the best, but the TTArtisan 27mm lens is a worthy alternative pancake lens for those on a budget

TTArtisan AF 27mm lens
(Image: © Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

This 27mm AF lens from TTArtisan will make you seriously question how much you really need to spend on a lens. As a day-to-day walking-around pancake lens, the TTArtisan AF 27mm is a good budget choice, while the image quality is a lot stronger in other lenses, for a significant saving, you are getting a solidly built lens, with fast and quiet autofocus, manual aperture ring, and a lens that looks good too. Some serious vignetting is concerning, but is able to be corrected easily in the edit if shooting RAW. If price is the concerning factor for you, then this lens is a great affordable option.

Pros

  • +

    Great build quality

  • +

    Fast quiet autofocus

  • +

    Wide aperture

  • +

    Good sharpness and contrast

Cons

  • -

    Significant vignetting

  • -

    Aperture ring is small and awkward to turn

  • -

    No weather sealing

  • -

    Firmware can only be updated via Windows PCs

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TTArtisan might not be a household name yet, but this Chinese company has been steadily building out its lens selection for the past several years. Originally focusing on Sony’s E-Mount (due to its popularity and openness), TTArtisan is now starting to build lenses for Fujifilm’s X-Mount and now Nikon’s Z-Mount too.

With its latest TTArtisan AF 27mm F2.8 lens there is no denying that it has been inspired quite a lot by the Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens. Fujifilm’s lens has been caught up in a lot of stock issues in recent times, so it is welcome that there is an alternative for anyone keen on the compact pancake lens form factor that can’t get their hands on the Fuji version. The APS-C lens is also available in Sony and Nikon mounts, which both have their own first-party pancake lenses, but none that quite match the TTArtisan so perfectly. I am testing the lens for Fujifilm, alongside the X-E4 and Fujifilm X-T5 cameras.

The TTArtisan lens is significantly cheaper than any of the first-party lenses available, which is usually a red flag, but TTArtisan has set a precedent with prior lenses of showing up these manufacturers by making great lenses for a fraction of the cost, and the new AF 27mm is one of its most advanced lenses yet, so is it a worthy alternative?

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Specifications

Mount: Sony E / Fujifilm XF / Nikon Z
Full frame: No
Autofocus: Yes
Image stabilization: No
Focal length: 27mm
Filter size: 39mm
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Minimum aperture: f/16
Closest focusing distance: 0.35m
Diaphragm Blades: 7pcs
Optical Design: 6 Elements in 5 Groups
Focus method: STM
Weight: 88 - 100g (depending on mount)

The TTArtisan AF 27mm is available at Pergear.

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Key Features

The key feature of the AATartisan is just how portable this pancake lens is. The lens is very small and light, which not only makes it easy to carry or slip into a pocket or bag but also allows you to be extra discreet when you are out shooting on the street or traveling and not drawing attention. 

And at 27mm (41mm equivalent on full frame) the lens is very versatile and suitable for a variety of subjects such as portraits, street photography, and landscape photography. With a wide f/2.8 aperture images will have a decent level of background blur and subject separation, as well as the lens being able to capture better images in low light conditions.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The TTArtisan AF 27mm F2.8 lens has a new STM stepping motor, which enables the lens to be very small, but still offers quick and accurate autofocus that still works with the latest auto-tracking and subject recognition algorithms on cameras.

The lens has a solid metal build quality and a clickable aperture ring, and is available in both black and titanium finishes that lets the lens blend in well with Fujifilm and Sony's styling.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Build & Handling

The overall build quality of the TTArtisan AF 27mm is solid, the barrel of the lens is made of metal and feels quality in the hand. The overall appearance of the lens is very nice, the design and markings are very minimal and this lens will just easily blend in with your camera without sticking out as an obvious third-party lens if that is a concern for you. The AF 27mm also comes with a small screw-in lens hood for protecting the lens and blocking out a little stray light, which is a very welcome addition. Unfortunately, one black mark on the build is that the lens is not weather sealed, which is a shame, but not entirely unexpected for a lens at this price.

The focal ring has deep grippy ridges that make it very easy to turn, which it does impressively smoothly. The aperture ring clicks through stops very nicely, it has quite a tight turn compared to Fujifilm lenses, which each stop having a definitive click, which I don’t mind but it might take some getting used to, but if you use Sony lenses aperture rings a lot, then it will feel much more familiar. There are several stops marked on the aperture ring, but don't worry, the lens can also stop between these marked stops at all the usual aperture ratings as well.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

While the aperture ring turns smoothly, I also found it more awkward to turn than I’d like. There are only two quite small raised sections of the aperture ring to turn and the ring itself is very narrow, my fingers didn’t naturally find these turning points which delayed taking photos and missing shots while I fumbled with the lens. With practice, this would likely improve, but the aperture ring could do with being much wider.

TTArtisan also includes a body cap that can be used to transfer firmware updates to the lens via the inbuilt USB-C port. However the firmware for whatever reason can only be updated via a Windows PC, and as I don’t have access to any Windows PC at the time of testing I am unable to add the latest firmware to the lens. Considering that Apple computers are popular amongst creatives, this seems like a big oversight.

The lens cap has a USB-C port for updating the lens firmware, but is only compatible with Windows PCs. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Performance

The photo performance is surprisingly decent considering the bargain pricetag of the lens. To my eye looking at the photos taken on the lens look sharp, with good color and contrast. When I start pixel peeping, the sharpness does fall off slightly compared to some of my other Fujifilm lenses, but for the purposes of posting photos to the web or social media that dip in peak sharpness is not really relevant. 

I am testing the lens on a Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujifilm X-T5, the former of which the lens looks right at home on. The X-E4 images, shot on its lower-resolution sensor do look better for sharpness, as the new 40MP X-Trans V sensor in the X-T5 shows off imperfections more clearly. 

One quite major issue with the lens is it does suffer from some very heavy vignetting at wider apertures. At f/2.8 it was very noticeable in shots, making the whole shot quite dark, and even down to f/5.6, it was still creeping into the corners, it wasn't until f/8 that I really saw it disappear. If you edit your shots then vignetting is quite easy to fix, especially in a RAW image, but this is an issue when it comes to out-of-camera JPEGs you might want to use straight away.

Above: vignetting from f/2.8 to f/11

Distortion though appears well enough controlled, with lines appearing straight. There was some green and magenta fringing that crept into shots, although was never too distracting, and not significantly worse than other lenses in this class.

The autofocus is what impressed me the most with this lens, as for the price I expected a slow and noisy grinding autofocus, but instead, I was very pleasantly surprised with a very fast, very quiet, and also very accurate autofocus. Some much more expensive lenses can’t even do that. The lens didn’t prevent Fujifilm’s excellent eye or subject detection on the X-T5 from working as it should, and in video, the autofocus was snappy during continuous focus, without making enough noise to disturb the recording.

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Sample Images

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Lab results

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Sharpness:

(Image credit: Future)

Center sharpness is mediocre wide open at f/2.8, but fast becomes excellent as you stop down to f/4, and remains so through to f/11. Mid-frame sharpness takes longer to get up to speed, but it's very respectable at f/8 and beyond. It's only in the corners where the lens is consistently average at best.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Future)

Levels of lateral chromatic aberrations are very low regardless of aperture - an excellent performance.

Distortion: -2.71

Barrel distortion is visible when shooting geometric subjects, though it's not too severe.

TTArtisan AF 27mm f/2.8: Verdict

This 27mm AF lens from TTArtisan is a serious contender if you are searching for a pancake lens that won’t break the bank. For the price, the lens offers good bang for your buck with good image quality, only let down by disappointing vignetting, but backed up with a very good build quality, fast and quiet autofocus, a manual aperture ring, and good minimal looks. However, there are some much better lens choices out there, so if the price is a deciding factor for you, then this lens is a fantastic budget choice. 

Read more: find out more about the best cheap lenses in our guide. You can also find our top picks for the the best Fujifilm lenses and the best Sony lenses.

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