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Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme review the bright Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95
Price : £1,100
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95

This specialised manual focus lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras sports an incredibly fast f/0.95 maximum aperture, which should allow image and video recording in very low light conditions with a very shallow depth of field. Due to the very large maximum aperture and use of aspherical optics, this lens costs a fair amount. In this review, we'll take a look how it performs and whether the high price tag is really worth it.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Handling and features

Compared to other prime lenses designed for the Micro Four Thirds camera system, this lens is quite large and heavy, weighing 560g and being 80mm long. Due to the size and weight of this optic, it may feel a little cumbersome to use on some of the more compact MFT bodies available, but it feels good to use on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 used for testing, partially due to the size of the camera, and the finger grip, which adds extra stability.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95

Materials used in the construction of this lens are of the highest order. Plenty of metal has been used, which adds to the quality feel of the lens. The manual focus action is silky smooth and can be adjusted with the lightest of touches. Given that depth of field is very shallow at maximum aperture, extreme care needs to be taken to get images properly focused with these settings. Most MFT cameras have a facility for magnifying the image during focusing and it is best to take advantage of this feature. A useful hyperfocal scale is provided on the lens for aperture values between f/4 and f/16. A minimum focus distance of 15cm is great for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or for taking frame filling close up images.

A unique design has been implemented for the aperture ring. The aperture range is divided into half stop intervals, with a smooth clicking action between each setting. The click-stops can be disengaged by sliding and rotating a bezel in front of the aperture ring, allowing the aperture setting to be seamlessly adjusted, which is a boon for people who wish to use the lens for both video and still photography.

A 58mm filter thread is supplied, which does not rotate during focusing. This makes the lens ideal for use with graduated or polarising filters. A compact metal lens hood that screws into the filter thread is also supplied.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Performance

For a lens with a maximum aperture of f/0.95, performance wide open is surprisingly good in the centre of the frame, just scraping good levels of clarity. Although the quality towards the edges of the frame is fairly poor, this is to be expected from a lens with such a fast maximum aperture, and may even be considered to add to the effect this lens produces.

Resolution @ 17.5mm
Resolution @ 17.5mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

Stopping down just over one stop to f/1.4 improves sharpness in the centre of the frame to excellent levels and the clarity towards the edges of the frame starts to approach fair levels. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/5.6, where clarity is excellent across the frame.

Chromatic aberration @ 17.5mm
Chromatic aberration @ 17.5mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

As might be expected from a lens with such a fast maximum aperture, levels of chromatic aberrations are on the high side towards the edges of the frame, exceeding one pixel width at wide apertures. As the lens is stopped down fringing improves, remaining acceptable between f/2.8 and f/11. The fringing at wide apertures may start to become noticeable in images, especially those with high contrast towards the edges of the frame.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is pretty well controlled, given the extremely fast maximum aperture. At f/0.95 the corners ar 2.4 stops darker than the centre of the frame and illumination is visually uniform with the aperture stopped down to f/2.8 and beyond.

Typically of lenses with a fast maximum aperture, slight barrel distortion is present. Imatest detected 1.69% barrelling, which can occasionally pose issues, especially when shooting close up. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so applying corrections in image editing software afterwards should be a straightforward affair.

Flare and loss of contrast when shooting into the light are rarely an issue with this lens and the supplied hood does a reasonable job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues. Contrast levels drop at wider apertures in all shooting conditions, which is fairly typical of very fast lenses and may even be considered to add to the effect produced.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 Sample Photos


Value for Money

This lens is currently available for around £1100, which isn't that bad value for money when compared with very fast lenses for 35mm camera systems. There currently isn't all that much to compare this lens two which offers a similar aperture or range of features in the Micro Four Thirds range.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Verdict

By its very nature, this fast aperture lens isn't for everyone. The price alone may be a step too far for many. But for those interested in having one of the fastest lenses currently available for the Micro Four Thirds system, either for exploiting the shallow depth of field effect offered by the f/0.95 maximum aperture, or for the step-less aperture adjustment feature, there is little to be disappointed with.

Sharpness in the centre is impressive for a lens with such a fast maximum aperture and it just gets better as the lens is stopped down. The quailty feel delivered by the materials and workmanship is of a level normally reserved for Leica and Zeiss lenses, which generally cost a fair bit more.

The Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton does not disappoint with impressive sharpness and quality construction.

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Pros

Good sharpness in the centre at max aperture
Even better sharpness when stopped down
Superb build quality and handling
Stepless aperture feature for video
Hyperfocal focusing scale
Reasonably priced

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Cons

High levels of CA towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture
May be a little too heavy for use on the most compact MFT bodies

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

The Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds lens is available from RobertWhite.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 Specifications

General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length17.5mm
Angle of View64.6
Max Aperturef/0.95
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent35mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus15cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades10
Elements13
Groups9
Box Contents
Box ContentsLenshood with hood cap included
Dimensions
Weight540g
Height80mm

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Comments


11 Oct 2012 11:43AM
Is this a MF lens?

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joshwa e2
3 600 United Kingdom
11 Oct 2012 11:48AM
Hi, yes it is manual focus and aperture.
Scottelly 2 35 United States
5 Jan 2014 6:55AM
This looks like an incredible lens! I now want to get a micro-4/3 system . . . probably the new Panasonic DMC-GX7 or Olympus OM-D E-M1 with this Voigtlander 17.5mm f.95 and the Voigtlander 25mm f.95 too. I'd also like the Panasonic holy trinity (7-14mm, 12-35mm f2.8, and 35-100mm f2.8).

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