Voigtländer has been steadily releasing a rather full complement of lenses for the Sony E-Mount, from their ultra-wide 10mm and 12mm offerings, to the classic rendering 35mm f/1.4 to extremely high-end macro lenses like the 65mm f/2 and the new 110mm f/2.5. Today we’re looking at one of their newer designs, the Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 Nokton. 40mm fills a great niche in focal length, being a bit wider than the standard ‘normal’ lens, but a touch longer than a traditional 35mm lens. In many cases, it can pull double duty, filling the needs of two lenses in one, and with a fast f/1.2 maximum aperture, there’s tremendous control of depth of field. At $1,099 US, it’s not a cheap lens, but if it performs well, it can be a lens that can be enormously versatile.
Construction and Handling
If you’ve handled a Voigtländer lens any time in the past few years, the 40mm f/1.2 follows the same design language, with a solid metal body, clicky aperture ring up front and a smooth, well damped scalloped focus ring taking up the majority of the lens body. The tolerances are tight, and the lens feels reassuringly solid in the hand.
Because of the all metal and glass construction, the 40mm f/1.2 is a fairly dense lens, but in absolute terms, it’s fairly small. In an age where f/1.4 prime lenses are getting bigger and bigger, it’s a welcome relief to have an ultra-fast aperture of f/1.2 in a package that is quite compact. While it doesn’t quite reach the incredibly small proportions of it’s 35mm f/1.4 cousin, the 40mm f/1.2 is also a much better corrected optic. Considering those optical corrections, the size is quite remarkably small. The lens handles very well on my A7 III, and even felt fairly nice on my a6000, though the weight did make it a bit front heavy on that body.
The focus ring on the 40mm f/1.2 is a wide scalloped metal ring that turns with excellent damping. The damping on the tested sample was a bit lighter than the focus ring on my 35mm f/1.4, but felt equally nice. The lens can focus from 0.35m to infinity, with around a 135 degree turning radius from closest focus to infinity. The aperture ring at the front of the lens has detents every 1/3 stop, and moves freely. Detents are slightly less tactile than I generally prefer, but not enough to cause problems in usage. The aperture ring is knurled and sits behind another control ring, which flares out in two spots for grip. As these bumps are prominent, it took some adjustment before I stopped grabbing them and moved my hand backward slightly to operate the aperture ring.
That control ring operates the de-clicking mechanism for the aperture, similar to how Voigtländer’s Micro 4/3 lenses operate. Push towards the lens mount and rotate the control ring 180 degrees, and the white aperture dot changes to a yellow line, and the aperture detents go away, leaving a smooth, continuously operational aperture ring, perfect for video use.
Voigtländer’s lenses are all manual-focus, manual aperture affairs, and the Nokton 40mm f/1.2 is no different, though the lens does have electronic contacts. The contacts transmit EXIF data, including focus distance, allowing for all 5-axes of image stabilization to be used on bodies that have IBIS. It also allows for auto-magnification of the focus point when turning the focus ring, which can aid in quickly establishing critical focus. With the good contrast wide open, excellent focus haptics and auto-magnification, I found focusing the 40mm f/1.2 to be extremely easy in my day-to-day use.
17 thoughts on “Review: Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 Nokton”
Thanks for this review. Your description match my own findings. I love this lens. Since I bought it last april it is my preferred lens on the A7R3.
Very nice review as always. The lens seems indeed very convincing !
Do you still own it ?
Hopefully you can get your hands on a Batis 40mm to review 🙂
I’d be interested to see your take on it “AF vs larger aperture” and the different rendering approaches.
Thanks for your nice articles.
Interest review! I currently own the 12mm and love it on the A7III. Could advise on the 40mm for use on Astrophotography. The f1.4 aperture and size is a great fit but would the quality be a bit soft when using wide open?
Fiquei muito interessado nessa lente.
Ela é compatível com Sony A6.000?
Necessita de adaptador?
Sim, esta lente é compatível com o Sony a6000. Não requer um adaptador … tem um E-mount.
Desculpe se o Português é pobre … eu tive que usar o Google Translate.
Está perfeito, eu uso direto o Google Translate, Jordan!
Confio muito nos seus comentários e me apaixonei por esse pedaço de vidro! As fotos são maravilhosas!
Tenho a lente do kit e uma 55-210 mm. Considero duas lentes escuras e fico um pouco decepcionado, principalmente com a nitidez dessas lentes. Sou um fotógrafo amador e aprendiz, comecei há um ano atrás.
Não encontrei no Brasil nenhum importador desse produto. Nem no Paraguai, país vizinho que as vezes visito, em função da isenção de impostos. Se encomendá-la via importação pagarei praticamente o dobro, em função dos impostos. Pagaria o valor referente a praticamente um mês de salário. Acho um pouco alto para um fotógrafo amador – no Brasil o dólar está cotado em R$ 4,00, ou seja, pagaria mais de R$ 8.000,00.
Que outra lente você me sugere com ampla abertura, versátil para fotos de paisagens, retratos, com boa ótica e que não exceda os U$ 1.000,00??
Continue postando seus artigos maravilhosos.
Como você está usando uma a6000, recomendo o excelente trio de lentes f / 1.4 da Sigma (16 mm f / 1.4, 30 mm f / 1.4 e 56 mm f / 1.4). Todos são excelentes opticamente e bastante acessíveis.
Um amigo viajou aos EUA e acabou comprando para mim. Recebi ontem e já fiz umas fotos. Estou amando … Obrigado pela resenha.
I have the BATISE 40MMF2 ;
Wanted the auto focus function and have had stellar results with the other Bastise lenses I have the 18mm , 25mm and the 85mm , I use these in landscape with Nisi Filters.
The Nokton 40mm 1.2 was my first choice but wanted to use the auto focus in street situations. I have shot with many adapted Voigtlander lenses from the 12mm , 40mm F4 , 50mm ( 1.1 ), 75mm F1.8 and I have had great results with all.
Why Voigtlander Cosina ? The filmic look to break from the harshness of the electronic images… megapixel wars… I also shoot a fine 90mm 2.8 A. Schact Ulm , these I have two of. They have the rounded Aperture with 16 aperture blades for superb bokeh and scintillating high lights. Shoot the Canon 0.95 too.
For the build quality there is no other way to go back to the BEST of the metal German quality , or even early Canon L39 quality but for the Voigtlander glass. Cosina is a superb manufacturing house of impeccable standards.
I will get the 40mm 1.2 as my next lens however I am torn between the NEX version or the M mount bayonet , as I use the adapters without hesitation on the lenses.
One last thought … if any of you are using more than Sony bodies, the M mount is the Cat’s Meow.
Again : Cosina is a great house. Voigtlander is a great legacy lens.
Bang for the buck …. Leica if you must. But if eating and travelling , Voigtlander is the preferred tool.
There are two big reasons why using the E-mount version on Sony bodies is preferable to the M-mount version adapted.
1) The sensor cover glass is a much different thickness than that used by Leica. As such, a lot of Voigtlander lenses show worse performance towards the edges when using the M mount adapted version. The E-mount versions are slightly modified optically to account for the difference in cover glass thickness and sensor design. This doesn’t make nearly the difference on something like the 40mm as it does on the ultra-wide angles (where the difference is significant), but it’s still worth noting.
2) When using the adapted lens, you lose electronic contact information. This has three impacts. First, you have no EXIF data, so looking up aperture after the fact (or even which lens you used) is impossible. Second, you lose the ability for the camera to tell when you are focusing. With the shallow depth of field of the 40mm f/1.2, having the camera auto-magnify the focus area when focusing is very helpful for quick and accurate focusing on your subject. Third, because the camera can’t know how close you are focusing, you lose some of the axes of stabilization with the in-body IS, reverting to a 3-axis stabilization rather than the full 5-axis stabilization that is available with the E-mount version, since distance information is passed to the body through the lens contacts.
However, if you shoot both systems it may make more sense to shoot the M mount version. Do be careful on the wide angle lenses, though….the 12mm and 15mm are notably worse when using the M mount on Sony than they are on Leica, or when using the native E-Mount version.
I use a leica m 262 and my favourite lens is my wonderful 35mm f2.4 summarit but this voigtlander lens appeals to me for trying some wide open portraits.
Great review backed up by some varied and superb quality images.
How do you find this lens in comparison to the TTArtisan 50mm f1.4? 10mm of focal length notwithstanding, I am really on the fence.
If you haven’t already, read my review of the TTArtisan 50. In there I mention how much the TTArtisan reminds me of the Voigtlander. I love both. If money was no object, I think the Voigtlander is just a tiny bit better, mostly due to consistency in rendering at various focus distances, but they are very close and share a similar drawing style.The TTArtisan might be a smidge sharper wide open, and the Voigtlander perhaps better with bokeh at further distances. Also, the Voigtlander performs better against the sun when stopped down. For landscape work.
With the TTArtisan on the market, I do find it harder to justify the notably higher price for the Voigtlander, if the focal length isn’t of major concern. Both are great lenses. Right now, as I’m shooting Canon RF, the TTArtisan is in my bag.