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Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Version II Lens Review

Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Version II Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews this updated version of the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 Nokton Version II
Price : £660
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0 95 Mft Type2 Black (3)
The revised version of this specialised manual focus lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras sports an incredibly fast f/0.95 maximum aperture, which will allow still image and video recording with shallow depth of field or in very low light conditions. This new version has a dual mode aperture ring, which allows the click stops to be disabled for smooth exposure transitions when shooting video. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Version II Handling and Features

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0 95 Mft Type2 Black (5)
This new version of Voigtlander's 25mm lens is 25g heavier than the previous version, tipping the scales at 435g, which was already quite a substantial lens when compared to other similar lenses for the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. 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 balances well with the Panasonic Lumix G6 body used for testing.

As is the case with the previous version of this lens, the materials used in the construction of this lens are very high quality. Plenty of metal has been used, which adds to the overall robust feel. The manual focus action is buttery smooth and can be adjusted with 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.

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0 95 Mft Type2 Black (12)

The aperture range is divided into half stop intervals, with a smooth clicking action between each setting. A ring located just in front of the aperture setting can be pushed toward the camera body and rotated to disengage the aperture clicks. This is a great feature for those wishing to use the lens for recording video, facilitating smooth transitions between exposure adjustments.

The lens has a 52mm filter thread, 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 F0 95 Mft Type2 Black (8)

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Version II Performance

At maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre approaches very good levels. As is common with fast aperture lenses like this, sharpness towards the edges of the frame lags behind somewhat at maximum aperture, only achieving fair levels on our scale. Even so, with care, this lens is very usable at maximum aperture, especially when using the central portion of the frame to isolate your subject from the background with shallow depth of field.

Stopping down improves performance across the frame with excellent sharpness being achieved in the centre from f/1.4 and outstanding clarity from f/2 and beyond. Peak performance across the frame is achieved between f/4 and f/8. Here sharpness is outstanding across the frame.

MTF
MTF

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 G6 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled for a lens with such a fast maximum aperture with any fringing kept below half a pixel width, even at maximum aperture. This low level of fringing should pose no issues, even in images with high contrast towards the edges of the frame.

CA
CA

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 G6 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 2.18 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 2.9% barrelling, which is much stronger than you might expect from a prime lens and may be noticeable, especially with straight lines parallel to the edges of the frame or when shooting close up. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so applying corrections in image editing software afterwards should be relatively straightforward.

Flare and loss of contrast when shooting into the light are rarely an issue with this lens, except when shooting into a very strong light source, such as the sun at wide apertures. The supplied hood does a pretty good job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues. Contrast levels drop slightly at maximum aperture in all shooting conditions, which is fairly typical of very fast lenses.

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Version II Sample Photos


Value For Money

The price of this lens is currently £100 less than its predecessor was at launch, being priced at £660 from RobertWhite. Although this may still seem like a lot to pay, it isn't bad value when the excellent build, fast maximum aperture and performance are taken into account.

Panasonic's Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens is currently the closest equivalent lens for Micro Four Thirds, which costs around £420. Although this lens doesn't have as fast a maximum aperture, it does offer the convenience of autofocus and a lower price.

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Version II Verdict

Overall, the second version of this 25mm Voigtlander lens is a nice improvement. Those shooting video will appreciate the option for a stepless aperture and everyone will enjoy the fast maximum aperture and ability to isolate a subject from their surroundings with shallow depth of field.

This sample also appears to offer improvements in sharpness and contrast over the copy of the first version we tested some time ago. Whether this is down to natural variation between lens samples, or improvements to the optical construction is difficult to say at this point, without having a few of each lens version to test and compare. The sample tested was more than usable at f/0.95, so long as care is taken to ensure accurate focus. Overall, this is an interesting lens, that should win over many fans.


 
 
  The Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 VII offers outstanding sharpness when stopped down with excellent build quality and handling.
 

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 V. II Pros

Outstanding sharpness when stopped down.
Good sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture
Excellent build quality and handling
Hyperfocal focusing scale
Reasonably priced for what it is
Stepless aperture control 

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 V. II Cons

A little flare when shooting into the light at fast apertures
Needs stopping down to improve sharpness towards the edges of the frame

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Version II Specifications

General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length25mm
Angle of View47.3
Max Aperturef/0.95
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size52mm
35mm equivalent50mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus17cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades10
Elements11
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight410g
Height70mm

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