Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II lens review



Jack Takahashi published a review of the new Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II lens for Leica M-mount – here is the summary and recommendations part (the lens is now in stock at Adorama | Amazon | B&H Photo | Popflash | Jo Geier):

The Voigtlander 50/1.5 II is an interesting lens. It seems to be highly optimized for mid-distances, where it’s remarkably sharp across the frame at f/1.5. But at infinity, it’s soft off-axis until about f/4. The 50 Summilux ASPH does the opposite: it’s okay at infinity, but soft off-axis at closer distances. The Leica is also better-corrected at 0.7m, but it’s not a huge difference. Overall, I’d say the image quality of the two lenses is about even, and neither has the consistent image quality of a 50mm f/2 lens such as the Zeiss Planar or Leica Summicron. The Voigtlander might have messier transition zones and more spherochromatism than the Leica, but it still has beautiful bokeh and a very pleasing rendering overall.

The fact that the Voigtlander performs so well is a tremendous feat considering that it is drastically smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the Leica. For those who plan on shooting lots of portraits at or near minimum focusing distance, the Summilux could be worth it for that impressive floating-group design. And if you’re looking to shoot landscapes with one of these lenses wide-open (which I don’t recommend), the Leica has a slight edge. Otherwise, it’s difficult to justify the extra cost and weight when this remarkable 50/1.5 from Voigtlander is available. For those looking for a good lens for travel, the Voigtlander is a no-brainer; it’s even smaller than its f/2 alternatives.

An important question to ask is whether you really need f/1.5. Personally, I think a 50mm f/2 lens provides plenty of light and bokeh. The Zeiss 50/2 Planar (review here) and the Leica 50/2 Summicron (review here) are two fantastic options for 50mm that deliver fantastic image quality in a compact package. They have more consistent sharpness than either the Voigtlander 50/1.5 or the Leica 50/1.4 and are a very practical choice if you don’t need the extra f-stop. The Voigtlander 50/2 APO (review here) is a little less compact but offers extreme image quality at a reasonable price.

Personally, I will probably stick to using a 50/2 lens in the long term, but I’m having so much fun with this 50/1.5 lens that I have no immediate plans to sell it.

Good

  • Amazingly compact
  • Corner-to-corner sharpness at f/1.5 at most distances
  • Build quality
  • Price

Bad

  • Soft periphery at infinity until f/4
  • Spherical aberration at 0.7m

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II lens sample photos:

The four different versions of this lens are:

  • Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II MC Lens (Black)
  • Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II MC Lens (Silver)
  • Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II MC Lens (Nickel)
  • Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 Aspherical II SC Lens (Nickel)

The multi-coated (MC) version is on the left, the single-coated (SC) version is on the right (multi-coating aims for neutral color reproduction, single coating reproduces classical color tones):




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