Evaluating image quality with a lens like the Voigtländer 10mm is a unique proposition, as there is literally no other lens this wide that can be compared to it. The lens does have some optical compromises, but overall, I found the image quality to be very good, and when combined with the unique capabilities and extreme width, create an excellent optic.
Given the extreme width of the lens, I didn’t expect corner-to-corner sharpness with the 10mm f/5.6, and you don’t get it, though I was pleasantly surprised by how far sharpness extends into the frame. The central 80% of the frame is tack sharp, while the edges of the frame show a bit of softening and the corners, even at f/11 are soft. Still, the cross-frame sharpness is impressive given the crazy width of the lens. The shot below was taken at f/8. Click here for a 100% crop at the lower left edge of the frame, which will give you an idea of the softening you can expect at the edge.
Normally at this stage, I’d discuss bokeh, but given the wide nature and relatively low magnification, there is almost zero background blur that can be generated with this lens.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
I think the Voigtländer 10mm shows excellent color and contrast. The color is neutral in cast and shows a richness and subtlety that lends a great look to the images. Contrast is fairly strong, and lends some pop to the images. In general, I really like the way the lens draws.
Chromatic aberration is one of the weak points of the Hyper-wide Heliar. While out of focus areas aren’t prominent enough to show any longitudinal chromatic aberration, lateral CA is very visible at the edges of the frame, though mostly correctable in post. Some purple fringing can also be seen in areas of very high contrast, though I didn’t come across it too often.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
Wide angle lenses often exhibit some barrel distortion, and that’s true with this lens as well, but it’s really only visible in certain circumstances, such as exaggerating straight lines that run across the bottom of frame closer to the lens. In most compositions, the mild barrel distortion isn’t really perceptible. Given the extreme width, the distortion control is honestly rather remarkable. If you notice a bit of the distortion taking hold in your shot, it’s fairly easy to correct with a tweak in Lightroom or another post-processing program.
It’s important when discussing distortion with an ultra-wide lens to note that perspective distortion (the wild converging lines that will show when tilting the lens down or up) is a function of the width and of camera position, and not a function of the optics. Perspective distortion happens with every lens made (though it’s far more visible with wide-angles). Keep the lens level and the perspective distortion vanishes, as can be seen in the shot above. Also, all very wide lenses will show some stretching at the edges, enlarging apparent size. This is required in order to keep the lines straight in a rectilinear lens.
The 10mm Heliar has a mixed performance with regards to flare. When the sun is directly in frame (which happens a lot with this lens), flare is minimal. Contrast remains high and only a few very small ghosts are visible. The lens also produces very nice sunstars. Like the Zeiss Loxia 21mm, I found the 10mm f/5.6 to occasionally show some sensor reflections on my A7 II, which can be seen as green and purple dots in a grid pattern around the sun, though this is a function of the camera cover glass and not the lens, per se.
As good as the flare control is in most circumstances, placing the sun or other bright light right near the corner of the frame will produce rather large arcing flares, as can be seen in the shot above. If you like this effect, it’s fine to use for a nice addition to your photo. If you don’t, avoid the corners for bright light.
Another weak spot for the lens is in the vignetting department. Despite the slow maximum aperture of f/5.6, the 10mm Heliar shows very strong vignetting wide open and there’s very little improvement stopped down. It’s visible in most any composition. I like vignetting in my photos as a general rule, but even so, I often applied digital correction in Lightroom to compensate for the corner darkening.
19 thoughts on “Review: Voigtländer 10mm f/5.6 Hyper-Wide Heliar (Sony E-Mount)”
Thanks for the review. I just joined you in the “saving up for this lens” club.
A very informative review and a fascinating lens – I have the Sony 16-35, and find myself using 16mm a lot more than I ever expected, as you say that feels very wide in isolation.
I think I might have to rent this, I’m not sure exactly what I’d use it for, but it’s a unique and lovely-looking piece of kit, which you can clearly take good photos with!
Good Shots! Already want him a company to my FE 16-35/4!)
The first and third images (“RPAC” and “Hayden Run Falls”) are really great. They show what’s possible with such a wide lens. I think I would struggle keeping the lines straight on architecture shots, however. Is the McKinley Monument shot cropped?
The second one is from close up, with verticals corrected in post. The first one, with the sun, is not cropped, and was taken level. The first image (RPAC) was cropped while keeping the camera level.
Hey jordan, long time!!!! This lens is amazeballs to say the least. While it can be frustrating at times to shoot at such a wide view and keep it interesting while keeping the uninteresting out, it still remains a blast. Poeple also need to rent this thing. There simply no way to imagine or compare the angle of view to anything else. Even if you have the sigma 12-24 like i have the 10mm still is worlds different. Amazing as always
You sir take great photos. It really makes reading the reviews worthwhile.
Owned one for several days. My copy had extremely soft edges. I returned it.
I will probably try another copy.
I have been wondering about this lens for several months, but after finding your review and the magnificent examples, I am completely convinced to get it. I’ve had the incredible experience with the Voightländer 12mm for many years, but with the recent Leica cameras it vignettes very much ( although I don’t know if the recent versions of this lens the vignetting has been corrected). Thank you for the excellent review.
He took pictures of this lens.
The lens strongly pulls the shapes of objects from the center to the sides !!!
Stretches the corners not only to the right and to the left but also to the top, down – and very much!
It looks like Kosinas nakosyachil strongly not taking any measures to correct distortions.
This lens will work correctly when the matrix is ??made semicircular, then the beam will pass the same distance in the center and at the edges of the frame.
My opinion for filming in the room and in nature it is useless, once again convinced that the reviews over the hill are paid.
If honestly it is not clear for what purpose this small piece of scrap metal?
Great review and excellent shots! I have the same lens but the 12mm focal lenght, it’s the only lens I always have in my bag, it’s small, quite challenging in composition but extremely satisfying when you take a good picture. I’m eagerly waiting for the 65mm to arrive in Italy, I’m saving for that?
Thank you, Jordan, for this review.
I wonder if you’ve had any opportunities to use the 15mm F/4.5 Heliar for the e-mount? I’ve read good things about that lens on Phillip Reeve’s website, although it has also been criticized for quality control issues (sample-to-sample variations more prevalent than with the 10mm).
Thank you Jordan.
Highly detailed review. Thanks for providing such a great sample work along with it. After reading and seeing photos of your review i have decided to go for it as well. I used 12mm and was happy with it. then got the 15mm it was great too but after that they launched the 10mm was playing around with the idea of getting and now i am completely sold on it.
Had a first-version Cosina / Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 Hyper-Wide Heliar VM on a Leica M8 and Fuji X-E2. I never got used to the extreme vignetting and cyan corners of that lens on those cameras, so I sold it. Cosina / Voigtlander’s (first version) 15mm f/4.5 Ultra-Wide Heliar was easier to use, but still vignetted pretty badly. So I sold that lens, too.
Now I’m using Leica’s 16-18-21mm f/4 Tri-Elmar-M ASPH full-frame on Leica M10 (superlative image quality, but co$tly). When I need to go really wide, I’ll use Sigma’s 14mm f/1.8 Art on an EOS 5D mk IV, but shooting real estate for clients I’ll use an EF 17mm f/4L TS-E or first-version EF 24mm f/3.5L TS-E. All of them are relatively distortionless compared to the first version EF 16-35mm f/2.8L I used to use for real estate and Chacoan Anasazi ruins.
The Sigma 14mm is also excellent for night sky / starfield shots – very little coma or distortion of any kind, very sharp to the corners.
I don’t really have a use for a 10mm lens, but admit to a technical fascination with wider/longer/faster optics. Thank you for showing more possibilities for ultra-wide composition, particularly the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda.
(More of my work at http://www.activelightphotography.com)
Thank you for hosting this really informative and useful website.
I love reading your reviews – always so balanced and fair.
I have a dilema and was hoping you can help
I have a sony Aiii and I want to buy an ultra wide angle lens.
My experience till now have been with 24mm at the widest
I am looking at the Voigtlander 10mm with 5.6 and the 15mm with 4. The 15mm in my mind is the safe choice with the relative ease of composing a pic but the possibility of a 10mm excites me too. My questions are –
1. Is it advisable to buy the 10mm and get used to it and during that time also use it if needed in APSC format (A7iii allows you to) when the effective focal length will be 15mm. In that case could I enjoy best of both worlds?
2. How much of difference will the 5.6 stop of 10mm be a hindrance compared to the 4 of 15mm in the verstality of the lenses to take good images
Thank you for your help