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Aug 05

A surprising lens…

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95

I’ve got the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 in hand for evaluation (thanks to my friends at LensRentals.com), and I’m running it through its paces at the moment.  I will have a full in-depth review sometime in the next week,but for now I just wanted to share a few thoughts.  This lens is an all manual lens, with manual focus and aperture, though I’m rather used to that from using legacy glass on my Micro 4/3 cameras and my Canon DSLRs before that.  It’s a heavy beast of a lens (well, for a m4/3 lens), but it’s beautifully crafted and feels wonderful to operate.  Now, you’ll notice that the title of this post says that this is a surprising lens.  Here’s why:

If you’re not familiar with this lens, you may be thinking ‘f/0.95…that can’t be right.’  Well, it is the second f/0.95 lens from Voigtlander for the Micro 4/3 format (the other being the 25mm f/0.95).  Most people have never shot with a lens this fast.  I know I haven’t before I received the lens.  Now, if you’ve had experience with ultra-fast lenses in the past, you know that it’s rare that they are flawless wide open.    In fact, most are quite soft wide open with major aberrations until you stop down a stop or two.  There are exceptions, of course, like Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L and even the Canon 35mm f/1.4 isn’t bad wide open.  However, lenses faster than f/1 are extremely rare, and the only ones that have tended to be good wide open cost north of $5,000.  As a result, I expected the Voigtlander to perform OK wide open…usable, but not great.  Well, the surprising part is simply how sharp it is at f/0.95.   And it’s sharp from about 2 feet to infinity at f/0.95.  There are some color aberrations in contrasty light at that aperture…it fringes easily and has some visible longitudinal chromatic aberrations, but those can often be dealt with in post processing.  While it’s not going to break records wide open…this lens is quite sharp, and I’ve been shocked at the quality of the images I’m getting at f/0.95.

Check back in a few days for the full review!

A few quick sample images:

Immigrant Statue – Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

Playing Makeup – Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

Up close – Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

 

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

3 comments

  1. Matt B

    Very interested in this lens. Full manual focus would be a nice way to work. Wish m43 cameras has focus peaking to help with focussing at f0.95. Interested to hear what you think of it.

    Found your site recently and its great. Really nice real world opinions. Great work.

  2. canon lens reviews

    Hello Admiringlight,
    Very interesting Just before you start purchasing Canon lenses you’ve got to be informed about lens terminology. Some of the terminology is unique to Canon. Different camera manufacturers have their own as well. Canon and Nikon are the most in-demand camera makes. There are two principal categories of lenses.. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length. Zoom lenses make use of a variable focal length. Your spending budget along with the quality of photos you would like determines the lenses you will purchase.
    Thanks

  3. Jack

    I find the “magnify’ feature to be helpful with manual focus. I assume this feature would not work automatically with all manual lenses like this one, correct? I also assume that it would would work if assigned to a custom function button.

    Thanks!

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