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: