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Aug 08

Review: Voigtländer Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95

Some additional thoughts:

I just wanted to mention a few things that didn’t seem to fit well in the other sections of the review.

1. This lens is the absolute ultimate night street lens and coupled with the Olympus E-M5 is the ultimate street combo.  I was able to shoot handheld with this lens and my E-M5 from dusk to deep night, and never once did I push the ISO above 800.  Most of the time, I was shooting at ISO 200 or 400.  This is just remarkable to me.  Between the outstanding in-body IS on the E-M5 and the crazy large aperture on the Nokton, you just have a low-light machine.

2. I really like the tonality and rendering this lens gives on portrait subjects.  Skin tones are lovely and the look of the images is pretty special to my eye.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Surprisingly sharp wide open, both on near and far subjects.
  • Blisteringly sharp stopped down across the entire frame.
  • Extremely large aperture allows for subject isolation in a moderate wide angle and extreme low-light performance.
  • Beautiful drawing style and excellent bokeh up close.
  • Built like an absolute tank with wonderful mechanics.
  • Price is actually rather reasonable given the performance and speed.
  • Wonderful color and contrast.

Cons

  • Purple fringing and longitudinal chromatic aberration can be problematic at wide apertures.
  • Field curvature at infinity focus is severe and requires active compensation by the photographer.
  • All manual lens with no camera communication, which means stop down metering and manual focus at all times.
  • Big and heavy for a Micro 4/3 lens.

Overall, I was absolutely blown away by the performance of this lens.  I was not expecting anywhere near the performance it provides at f/0.95, and the resolution it delivers stopped down is equally stunning.  It handles extremely well, draws beautifully and provides Micro 4/3 shooters with the ability to isolate their subject with a wider lens.  If you like environmental portraiture and shoot Micro 4/3, this lens is an absolute must for your kit.   While it has its flaws, they never overshadowed the positives in my eye.   I’ve never been a huge fan of the 35mm focal length, but I absolutely loved shooting with this lens, and was very sad to part with my review sample.  Very highly recommended.

Sample Images

Man in the City – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/1.2, ISO 200

Umbrella City – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/8

Fish – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

Flower – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95 (minimum focus distance)

40 Years Together – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95, ISO 1600 by candlelight at night

Scioto River – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95, ISO 200

Checking the Mirror – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

Rich St. Bridge – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95, ISO 200

Locked – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/0.95

Columbus at Night – Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 @ f/2, ISO 800

Playing Makeup – Voigtlander 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

16 comments

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  1. Mike

    Thanks for this.

    Right now this lens is competing with the Oly 75mm for the next piece of glass to save for.

  2. Glen

    Great work, enjoyable read! Would be very helpful to hear your views on the Voigtlander 25/0.95 and how it compares with this.

  3. Fabian

    “but worst of all, the lens cap won’t attach when the lens hood is mounted, which means that you either need to leave the cap off when stowing the lens, or unscrew the hood every time you put your camera away.”

    Didn’t you get two caps of different size? One smaller is for the lens without hood, one bigger for the lens with hood.

    1. Jordan Steele

      No, I didn’t, but I was provided this review sample and the larger cap was not included. Does it ship with the larger cap? EDIT: after some research I see it does come with a lens hood cap..will update the review..thanks!

  4. Marcelo Guarini

    Thanks for the review,
    I just received this lens, I haven´t tryed yet. This weekend I´m sure.

  5. jean06

    Thanks for the review, Jordan. Another set of very beautiful pics…

  6. Sadman Huda

    Hey Jordan, Firstly great photos, the best user review I have read till date, had the lens for about 2 weeks now and I am amazed how the m43 format has chnaged and prolly has come of age on par with the other sensors….esp with OMD this lens is a beauty esp in low light and the ability to use zone focusing completely kills it on the street…I havent missed auto focus yet however the CA annoys me sometimes at wide open however I guess there is nothing that CS6 and LR cant fix. Anyways awesome review and great pictures. Cheers mate!!!!

  7. jeffharris

    Excellent review and some beautiful shots as a bonus!

    I’ve hesitated buying this lens, since I already have the Voigtländer 25mm, but you’ve convinced me!

  8. Marga Umbarger

    Thanks for sharing such great information. The lens definitely gives a sharp image of contrast and color.

  9. Mark S

    Hi Jordan,

    Good review.

    I just picked up this voightlander 17.5 myself today. Pretty happy with it until I used a speedlight with this lens. Something really strange happened.

    All the images with flash had this stereoscopic look (sorta like when you look at 3D video without the glasses on).

    This doesn’t happen with my other lenses. Would you know what’s happening here?

    Regards,

    Mark

  10. Cem G

    thank you for great review. I ordered my copy and will share later. now i m set for my OMD with Nokton 17.5 and Oly 75mm. Which is another lens i highly recommend. thanks.

  11. jesus

    Hello.
      you query proved f/0.95 and Voigtlander 17.5mm XC Fujifilm Fujinon 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS is the best lens Voigtlander 16mm Fufi the speaker as well, ruling that is brighter than that is evident . value for money which makes better images. a greeting

  12. jesus

    sorry, I meant wrong lens to Fujifilm Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R against 17.5 mm The Voigtländer Nokton f/0.95

  13. Steve

    Great review thanks, backed up with some excellent images which really show the potential of the lens. Particularly love the he environmental cityscape portraits. Just got. An EM1 body and I’m looking at the nokton lenses to allow me some subject isolation. Looks like this lens and the. 42.5mm will be on my wish list!

  14. GlueFactoryBJJ

    IMO, the second and second to last pics are stunning! Yes, the others are very good, but these are really standout pics!

  15. Ken Cameron

    @GlueFactory, tastes certainly differ. I hated the second and second to last pics, liked most of the others, particularly the use of selective focus. Not complaining though, Jordan makes his HDR preferences very clear at the outset. A great review. I am very tempted by this lens. Although I have the focal length comprehensively covered, the speed and build quality will likely make it a sound investment.

  1. My full review - Voigtlander 17.5 f/0.95 - Micro Four Thirds User Forum

    […] 17.5 f/0.95 My full review is now up with a bunch o' images, if you're interested: Review: Voigtländer Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 @ Admiring Light __________________ —————————— Jordan Steele – http://www.jordansteele.com […]

  2. Review: Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 @ Admiring Light

    […] f/0.95 Nokton.  They followed that by creating a 35mm equivalent lens in the 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton (reviewed here).  Now, in 2013, they complete the trinity with a portrait length lens while maintaining that […]

  3. Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 Review: by Jordan Steele | Olympus OM-D Resource Blog

    […] f/0.95 Nokton. They followed that by creating a 35mm equivalent lens in the 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton (reviewed here). Now, in 2013, they complete the trinity with a portrait length lens while maintaining that […]

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