The last Voigtländer lens I reviewed, the 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic, featured optics that lived up to that ‘Classic’ moniker. The 40mm f/1.2 Nokton doesn’t feature such a designation, and the optics provide a more modern rendering, as you might expect. As you’ll see going through these sections, the Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 features excellent optical quality, and the overall rendering is simply wonderful to my eye. Let’s dive in.
Making fast wide-angle and normal lenses is always a challenge. Making them both compact and sharp at wide apertures is even more difficult, yet Voigtländer has done just that. In the focus ranges most likely to be used wide open, from around 0.5m to around 5-10m, the Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 displays good resolution straight from f/1.2 across most of the image frame. Results are perfectly usable at f/1.2, and while the corners are fairly soft at this aperture, the off-center thirds are still sharp enough for most any work. Once you get towards infinity, the field curvature in the lens impacts the edges more, while also softening detail a bit. Very close up, spherical aberration also reduces contrast and sharpness at wide apertures. As such, the lens is rather soft between f/1.2 and f/2 when shooting close up, so you’ll want to stop down if focusing very closely unless you are after a more dreamy look.
Upon stopping down to medium apertures, the lens becomes extremely sharp over almost the entire frame. While the corners need f/8 or so to become truly sharp, for most uses, even f/2.8 yields very good cross-frame sharpness. While diffraction takes a bite at f/22, proper sharpening can yield extremely detailed shots even there. The sharpness profile means that the lens is extremely useful not only for situations where you require subject isolation, but also for landscape work where corner to corner sharpness is critical.
The bokeh of the Voigtländer 35mm f/1.4 was one of the major strikes against that lens, but it represents a definite strength of the 40mm f/1.2. While the bokeh is not perfect, I absolutely love the rendering of the out of focus areas with this lens. Backgrounds are predominantly smooth, and specular highlights usually quite even. In certain situations, a very slight bright ring outline can be seen.. Also, very faint onion ring artifacts due to the aspherical elements can be seen in highlights if you look closely, though they are not distracting.
At moderate distances, the contrast in the bokeh can look a bit rough, and the edges, especially in out of focus foregrounds, can display a swirly character in the right situations, but overall, the blur rendered by the lens is consistently pleasing.
Color, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
The Voigtländer 40mm f/1.2 displays lovely smooth tonality and a slightly muted color response at wide apertures that becomes rich and crisp upon stopping down a touch. Contrast is affected by spherical aberration at close focus and wide apertures, but otherwise remains strong throughout. The overall effect is outstanding for a wide variety of subjects from portraits to landscapes and architecture. I simply love the way the lens draws. At wide apertures, the subject just pops out of the frame, and stopped down, there’s just excellent fine contrast throughout.
The lens does have a touch of lateral chromatic aberration that is visible in some shots, but it is easily corrected in post-processing. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is also visible at wide apertures, with a slight green fringe visible in the background and a slight magenta fringe in front. In all, it’s fairly well controlled for such an extreme aperture lens. Purple fringing is also present on high contrast subjects wide open, but is nowhere near as offensive as it can be on the 35mm f/1.4. Stopping down to f/1.6-f/1.8 eliminates the majority of these aberrations.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
The 40mm f/1.2 shows moderate barrel distortion that can be visible when shooting subjects with straight lines. There is a built-in lens profile for this lens within Adobe products that will correct the distortion in the shots that need it, with minimal effect on final image sharpness.
The lens performs quite well with regards to flare, with almost no loss of contrast when shooting into light sources, and only a small amount of ghosting in most situations. Feel free to use the sun in your compositions.
One area where the Nokton 40mm doesn’t perform well is in vignetting. The lens displays strong vignetting starting at f/1.2, and it’s still rather visible even at f/8 and f/11, though it certainly lessens as you stop down. In some situations, you will want to correct this, which can be done easily with that built-in Lightroom profile at the expense of added noise at the corners.
The lens aperture creates very nice sunstars, which look best between f/4 and f/8, and can add a nice touch to your images. Stopping down to smaller apertures softens the sharpness of the sunstars, though they are still visible at these apertures.
In all, I absolutely love the optical qualities of this lens. There is just something special about the way it draws, and I found it an extremely versatile lens.
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.