Voigtlander 110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar Lens Review

John Riley has been testing the Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar lens on the Sony A7R III. Let's find out how it performed.


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110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar
 

This new Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar lens is designed for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras, although of course it can also be used on crop sensor APS-C format. In this latter case, the "35mm equivalent" field of view is around 165mm. It evokes the long and distinguished history of Voigtlander, including the highly sought after APO Lanthar designation, once the pinnacle of the company's design ethos. It is a traditional, metal-bodied manual focus lens and, being a macro optic, does not necessarily leave us wanting any AF capability. Many photographers use AF macro lenses in MF mode, particularly for close up work on a tripod. We need to be talking quality here, so let's couple up the lens with the 42MP full-frame Sony A7R III and put the new lens through its paces.  

 

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Voigtlander 110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar Handling and Features

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E On Sony A7RIII At Infinity | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100
 

This is a fairly large, chunky and quite heavy lens, weighing in at 771g. A deep metal lens hood is provided and this screws into the conventional 58mm filter thread. Interestingly, two lens caps are provided, one that fits the filter thread of the lens and one that fits the front of the lens hood. Given the many advantages of a lens hood, protecting the front element from damage and the lens from flare, there is little need to use the lens without the hood.

There is a very wide manual focusing ring that just keeps on turning. Marked only in metres, we start off with white engraving as we focus closer and closer, with magnification ratios also clearly marked. Once we get to around 1:1.4 we are again passing the infinity mark on the scale and a red set of markings take over as we move onwards to a closest focus of 1:1, which is reached at 35cm. At this point, the lens has extended a long way, but the barrel is still absolutely stable. The focusing action is just right, being firm enough not to allow the lens to extend when pointing downwards on a tripod, and beautifully smooth.

There is a depth of field scale, but the pitch of the focusing and the distance between distance markings does mean that this is of limited usefulness. Behind this, closest to the camera body, is the aperture ring, with positive but light enough click stops that ensure smooth operation. This Voigtlander lens does not allow the click stops to be switched off.

 

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E Rear Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
 

The nicely engineered metal lens mount has electronic contacts. This enables a distance encoder to support 5 axis Image Stabilisation where this is available in a Sony camera body. EXIF information is also available as is MF focus peaking. This MF feature works amazingly well as a touch on the focusing ring immediately gives a magnified view for critical focusing. If the widest aperture has been used for critical focusing then stopping down to the desired working aperture restores the full-frame view, as does a half-press on the shutter release button. Many photographers use even AF macro lenses in MF mode, especially when working at high magnifications on a tripod.

Optical construction is 14 elements in 12 groups, with these arranged in three floating groups to maintain sharpness as we focus closer. The diaphragm comprises 10 blades, a generous number that should assist in providing smooth bokeh.

 

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E On Sony A7RIII Front View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100
 

When using the lens as a macro lens it behaves faultlessly and is a high-grade professional tool that is so easy to use. In the field, shooting anything from landscapes to architecture to portraits, the focusing process is an absolute breeze, even when it comes to nailing the focus of a portrait firmly onto the eye. Simply open up the maximum aperture, focus and the image instantly magnifies for real precision. Then stopping down reverts to the full image and the shot can be taken. It works quickly and smoothly, every time. A beautiful lens to use.

The 110mm focal length is an interesting choice, giving us a whisker more reach or working distance than the more usual 100mm. The f/2.5 aperture also gives a slightly faster, brighter lens and this can only aid open aperture focusing and increase accuracy.

 


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Comments


29 Oct 2021 9:41AM
Thank you for the excellent review. The real issue is: when are they going to release this lens for X-mount Wink .... If you have any way of feeding this back to Voigtlander (well, Cosina of course).

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