- Exceptionally well-built lens with beautifully smooth focus ring
- Ultra-fast f/0.95 aperture can provide full-frame levels of subject isolation on a Micro 4/3 camera
- Relatively sharp wide open and extremely sharp stopped down
- Gorgeous bokeh in the close focus and portrait-length focus range
- Good control of lateral chromatic aberration
- Lens can focus extremely closely: down to 0.23m
- Nice included metal lens hood that is reversible for storage
- Aperture click-stops can be deactivated by the top ring on the lens, allowing for silent and continuous aperture changing
- Reasonably priced at $999.
- High levels of spherical aberration at close and far focus distances reduces contrast and resolution
- Relatively high longitudinal chromatic aberration
- Bokeh gets quite busy at longer focus distances, which may or may not appeal to the viewer
- Fully manual lens means no EXIF data, no Autofocus or Auto-aperture
- Lens is very heavy for a Micro 4/3 lens
- Lens exposes closer to f/1.1 than f/0.95, though depth of field is consistent with f/0.95.
The Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 is, like it’s brothers, a very interesting lens for the Micro 4/3 shooter. It provides an exceptionally fast f/0.95 aperture and a very unique rendering that is generally extremely pleasing. The build quality is outstanding, with the entire lens being constructed of metal and glass. The manual focus ring is beautifully damped and smooth and the whole package just feels great in the hand.
At smaller apertures, the Nokton 42.5mm is extremely sharp across the frame with great color and contrast. At wider apertures, there is a glow due to spherical aberration, though resolution is still relatively good. The spherical aberration becomes more problematic at closer focus distances and wide apertures and the lens can display rather heavy longitudinal chromatic aberration. Overall, though, the images out of the 42.5mm f/0.95 are of very high quality, and the speed and subject isolation you get with this lens is more akin to the look you get from a full frame camera than typical Micro 4/3. Voigtländer has also priced the lens relatively reasonably, at $999. This is a very decent price considering the extreme speed of the lens. I really like the look of the images I got out of the 42.5mm f/0.95; they almost have a timeless quality to them. Ultimately, I grew to very much enjoy shooting with this lens during the review period. This lens has some pretty stiff competition upcoming, though, with Panasonic about to release their Leica branded 42.5mm f/1.2. I would imagine this lens will be highly corrected at f/1.2 and will also have autofocus and image stabilization. It’s one to keep an eye on.
If you need shallow depth of field and want a lens that provides a very unique and interesting look to your images, the Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 is a great option, especially if you like a bit of that special character that Voigtländer lenses can provide.
Click to enlarge an image.
15 thoughts on “Review: Voigtländer Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95”
For the issue of the harsh OoF areas at longer distances, there are a couple decent Lightroom fixes:
1) First, if you used the local brush in LR and apply it to the OoF areas, you can do a localized clarity reduction on those areas that will really improve things, though depending on the image, you may need to make additional adjustments in contrast or exposure for those same areas to compensate for unexpected changes.
2) The CA eye dropper tool can be easily used on the fringing that’s on the OoF circles that can improve their appearance too. The problem with that is that if you have additional fringing in in focus areas, you’ll likely need to prioritize those ones. Some times a localized defringe works, but its not as precise as the dropper.
Anyway, just some suggestions…
Regards being slower than 0.95 for exposure, this might have something to do with it:
That’s irrelevant to Jordan’s point that the 42.5 seems to transmit less light than the 17.5 and 25. All three are 0.95.
Nice review! Thanks!
Will you review the 25mm Nokton, too?
that some really close focus , thanks for the info
Love that ‘first sign of fall’ image…
Excellent work on the review. And some fine images!
Great review as always
Regarding this statement: “Bokeh gets quite busy at longer focus distances, which may or may not appeal to the viewer”
That seems to be true of nearly all (perhaps all) extremely fast lenses. For example, the Canon 85/1.2L which is known for smooth and creamy bokeh renders like this under similar circumstances (not my image but a good example of 85L wide open with a longer focus distance): http://www.flickr.com/photos/_gr/10928322184/
If there is an ultra fast lens which doesn’t get harsh and also suffer axial CA under those circumstances, I haven’t seen it.
Bokeh from this Voigtlander is very much to my taste based on your samples!
I’ve used the VM 21 1.8 and 35 1.2 ii only, but I do discern a certain consistency across all these lenses that one might call the “Voigtlander look.”
I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what this consists of, but I want to say it’s a faux-classic look–with the flaws of classical optics like low-contrast wide open, SA and CA, and busy swirly bokeh (although bokeh tends to be extremely smooth at close focus), but maintained in an artificial way, with computerized manufacture. They also lack the subtle tonal transitions and clarity of Mandler-era Leica optics (which probably comes down quality of the glass).
Personally I find the Voigtlander look (which one should really call a Cosina look, more properly) rather irritating. I wonder if anyone else thinks so.