Guest post: Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 MC lens review by Xavier Lhospice

Today's guest post about the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 MC lens on Leica M8 is written by Xavier Lhospice:

I used the Leica 50mm Summilux lens on my Leica M6/7 cameras for years. Now, that I use a digital M8 with a crop factor of 1,33x, my favorite lens became a 65 mm. I needed a 35mm glass in order to get my 50mm back. In addition, I wanted a fast f/1,4 aperture so I can use the camera without flash. Not able to afford the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH (any one of them, new or used), I was told by my favorite Leica store in Paris Photo Suffren that I should try the Voigtlander Nokton 1.4/35mm MC lens:


So I did, I tried it around the neighborhood and found that in terms of performance, it "looked" better than the old non-apsherical Summilux: way too soft for my taste. The big "Plus" was the price - €500 ($579) shade not included (extra $69). I bought the Nokton 1.4/35mm before I went to Louisiana last year to cover the oil spill. During my trip, the lens stayed in my bag - I was mainly using the amazing Leica 2/28mm and the 90mm Summicron which I had for years.

Recently, I took the Nokton out of the bag, put it on one of my two Leica M8 and started to walk on the streets of Paris with my camera around my neck. Today, the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 MC is definitely staying on my camera, the quality and performance of that lens are what I was looking for:

Old sink for an old building in the 3rd district of Paris. Very few left.

Pros :

  1. The price/performance ratio cannot be beat.
  2. The pictures are saturated, and have more depth in color. This is good because I work with DNG and I do not have to do much in post processing.
  3. The focal length on a M8 is closer to a 45 mm (46.5mm to be exact), which makes the lens even more useful.
  4. The size is really compact and allows you to put the camera with the lens attached in the pockets of your jackets.
  5. Built quality: I had the old Summilux and as usual Leica was and still is making the best lenses in terms of performance and built quality. The Nokton also has some heavy glass inside and the diaphragm ring is just the way it should be: with half stops. The focusing ring is tight and precise.
  6. The lens is sharp at f/1.4, corners sharpness is also good (probably because of the crop factor).
  7. The lens shade fits tightly on the lens and still allows filters to be mounted.

Behind the Montparnasse train station, contrast between the fur coat and a man living in the street

I am not a "maniac" in photography but I have been doing this job for over two decades and I know very well what I like or dislike and what I am looking for in a photograph. Few years ago I had the Nokton 40mm f/1.4 mounted om my old Minolta CLE but my slides were flat, not contrasty enough and lacked sharpness. The Nokton 1,4/35 lens is the exact opposite: sharp, contrasty, saturating the colors beautifully, light and well built.

My dog Rose always finds something to play with. I wonder how she can run toward me with her head in the bucket.

Cons :

  1. Value: I am not sure what this lens will be worth on the used market few years from now (Leica has aways a better resale value).
  2. The focusing ring is a bit tight. This can be good because it won't move easily but makes fast focusing difficult. I suppose it is because the lens is brand new and hopefully it will loosen up over time.
  3. The lens is small which makes it difficult for use with gloves.
  4. The lens hood costs extra - it should be included in the price. Buying a lens without the hood is like buying a car without a windshield!

Near Pigalle, a man speaking to himself but with such a face.

Special thanks to Xavier Lhospice for this guest post. All images were taken in January of 2011 and are copyrighted by Xavier Lhospice.

If you had any experiences with the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 lens, I would like to hear your feedback.

Some more info on the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 lens:

There are two versions of this lens: SC for “single coated” and MC for "multi coated.

Focal Length 35 mm
Aperture Ratio 1:1,4
Smallest Aperture F16
Lens Construction 6 groups,8 elements
Picture angle 63 ˚
Aperture blades 10
Closest distance 0.7 m
Diameter 55 mm
Length 28,5 mm
Weight 200 g
Mount M-Bajonett - Mount
Filter Size 43 mm

Lens design:

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 lens with the hood on:

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