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Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme casts his expert eye over the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95
Price : £760
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm 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 still image and video recording with very shallow depth of field or in very low light conditions. Due to the relatively large maximum aperture, this lens isn't cheap. In this review, we'll take a look how it performs and whether it offers good value for money.
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Handling & features

Compared to other prime lenses designed for the Micro Four Thirds camera system, this lens is reasonably large and heavy, weighing around 410g and being 70mm 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.

Very high quality materials have been used in the construction of this lens. Plenty of metal has been used, which adds to the overall quality feel. The manual focus action is silky smooth and can be adjusted a very light touch, yet it is well enough damped to stay put when required. As depth of field is very shallow at maximum aperture, extreme care needs to be taken to get images properly focused. Most Micro Four Thirds 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 17cm is great for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or for taking frame filling close images.

The aperture range is divided into half stop intervals, with a smooth clicking action between each setting. The click stops cannot be disengaged like on Voigtlander's 17.5mm optic, which may be a shame for those wishing to use this lens for video.

A 52mm 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 25mm f/0.95 with Olympus OM-D E-M5

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Performance

As is common with lenses that sport a very fast maximum aperture, images taken at f/0.95 have a dreamy appearance, probably due to high levels of spherical aberrations. These spherical aberrations reduce the overall sharpness of the lens at fast apertures and can even cause issues with accurate focusing. At f/0.95 the clarity delivered can only be described as fairly good in the centre and just about fair towards the edges of the frame. Still, for the right subject, in the right conditions this lens is still quite usable at maximum aperture.

Stopping down the aperture results in a marked increase in sharpness and contrasts. With the aperture set to f/1.4 sharpness in the centre is already approaching very good levels and fairly good levels of clarity are produced towards the edges of the frame. Peak sharpness is achieved with the aperture set to f/5.6, where the clarity produced is outstanding across the frame. Unfortunately, far into the corners never really sharpness up, and even at f/5.6 they can look quite soft.

Resolution at 25mm
Resolution at 25mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame 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.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled for a lens with such a fast maximum aperture. At their worst, CAs cover 0.59 pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at f/1.4. This low level of fringing should cause few issues, even in images with high contrast edges towards peripheral areas of the frame.

Chromatic aberration at 25mm
Chromatic aberration at 25mm
 

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.

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 are 2.54 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 1.71% 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 pretty straightforward.

Flare and loss of contrast when shooting into the light are rarely an issue with this lens and the supplied hood does a pretty good 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 25mm f/0.95 Sample Photos

Value for Money

Although the price tag of around £760 is quite high, it isn't that bad value for money when compared with very fast lenses for 35mm camera systems.

The closest equivalent lens from any manufacturer for Micro four Thirds is Panasonic's Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens, which costs around £440. Although this lens doesn't have as fast a maximum aperture, it does offer the convenience of autofocus and a lower price.

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Verdict

Fast aperture lenses like this aren't for everyone due to their specialised nature. Those interested in having one of the fastest lenses currently available for the Micro Four Thirds system may still be tempted, either for exploiting excellent sharpness delivered by this lens when stopped down, or the shallow depth of field that is possible shooting at f/0.95.

Although the performance at maximum aperture may fall short of some people's expectation, if used with care, for the right kinds of subjects, this lens can still deliver beautiful images.

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Pros

Outstanding sharpness when stopped down.
Excellent build quality and handling
Hyperfocal focusing scale
Reasonably priced for what it is

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds Lens Cons

Hazy appearance of images taken at f/0.95
Lacks the stepless aperture feature found on Voigtlander's 17.5mm optic
Soft corners

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Specifications

General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length25mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/0.95
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size52mm
35mm equivalent50mm
Internal focusingNo
Focusing
Min Focus170cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades10
Elements11
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood
Dimensions
Weight408g
Height70mm

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The Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds lens is available from RobertWhite.

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Comments


brian1208 e2
11 10.1k 12 United Kingdom
30 Nov 2012 3:22PM

Quote: but it feels good to use on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 used for testing.


oops - that looks remarkably like an OM-D EM-5 you show it on there Gary! Wink

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joshwa e2
3 593 United Kingdom
30 Nov 2012 3:29PM
We tested it on a G3, but took photos of the lens on my E-M5 Smile
2 Dec 2012 2:48PM
So how exactly is it better than Panaleica 25/1.4
Panaleica is sharper at F/1.4 than this lens, right?
Panaleica is more than twice cheaper
Panaleica is half the weight
Panaleica has AF.

Essentially you are paying 2X+ for ability to shoot between 0.95 and 1.2 and not even getting great results?
josa 2 25 Czech Republic
2 Dec 2012 3:27PM
Exactly, that's what you pay for...Sad
24 Feb 2013 11:11PM
Essentially you are paying 2X+ for ability to shoot between 0.95 and 1.2 and not even getting great results?
Have you tried the lens yourself? I think the difference is justified by the pleasure you take using the lens...Smile

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