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Voigtlander 50mm F/1.2 Nokton E Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the 50mm F/1.2 Nokton E lens from Voigtlander through its paces to find out how well it performs.


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50mm f/1.2 Nokton E
 

Voigtlander, ZEISS, Leica, Rollei, all fine German names from the top echelon of camera and lens manufacturers and all at the top of their game, in the case of Voigtlander from 1756 to the present day. Voigtlander is now a name owned by Cosina, who have consistently proved that they are more than up to continuing the fine standards that justify its use. We are looking at several Voigtlander lenses currently; having just reviewed the 35mm f/1.2 Nokton X for Fuji X mount we are now turning to the Sony E mount options. For Sony FE full-frame cameras, here is the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E Aspherical, reviewed using the 42MP Sony A7R III. Let's see how it handles and performs.

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Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E Handling and Features

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E
 

This Voigtlander lens is of course a standard lens for the full-frame Sony E fit cameras, but can equally well be used on the crop frame bodies where the “35mm equivalent” field of view would be 75mm. However, in the latter case, the lens would be a bit out of scale and out of balance, dwarfing the crop frame body. Using the full-frame A7R III for this review, we have a heavy, 434g, optic, but one that fits the scale and balances well. There is a supplied round lens hood that screws into the 58mm filter thread. This affords a reasonable degree of protection for the front element.

The aperture ring is at the front of the lens and is equipped with delightfully designed click stops every one-third of a stop. The direction of travel of this ring follows Nikon/Pentax tradition, whereas the focusing ring is reversed and has Canon direction of travel. Back to the aperture ring, it also has a clever extra feature that enables the clicks to be disabled. This will be ideal for videographers, although there are no instructions provided as to how to do this and the only mention that it exists is in the small print on the website, but still with no instructions. Voigtlander paperwork with the lenses seems to follow the minimalistic route, to the extent that it tells us very little. To de-click the aperture ring, push the ring in front of it towards the camera body and rotate this ring until a yellow line is opposite the f/1.2 mark, as opposed to the white dot. This is called the Selective Aperture Control System.

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E
 

The manual focus ring is the only method of focusing, this being a manual focus lens, and it turns smoothly and evenly through its range, from 0.45m. This is the standard near focusing limit for a 50mm lens. Distances are clearly marked in white for metres and not so clearly marked in red for feet. There is a meaningful depth of field scale provided.

The metal lens mount is well-engineered and carries electronic contacts, so EXIF information can be shared with the camera body.

Optical construction is 8 elements in 6 groups, including 2 Aspherical. The aperture comprises 12 blades, a very generous number that bodes well for bokeh. It is not quite the 18 or more blades that vintage brass lenses had, but in a modern context very impressive.

Sadly, there is no weather resistance, but this lens does offer traditional construction and adding WR could well disturb the design ethos.

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E
 

Some photographers find manual focus difficult, and if this is the case this may not be the lens for them, but the Sony cameras do offer various focusing aids and these work effectively and quickly. The biggest difficulty will be with the minuscule depth of field at f/1.2 which means that the merest movement or miss-focus will render the image as softer than it should be. Practice is the key, especially for those of us who have all but forgotten the joys of manual focus. These include the slower working, the easier selection and retention of a particular point of focus and of course the sheer tactile pleasure of a manual focusing ring.

 


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Comments


11 Oct 2021 3:10PM
Message for John Riley re Voigtlander 50mm F/1.2 test

Hi John,

I'm puzzled by the test results you have shown on the Performance page for your test of the Voigtlander 50mm F/1.2 Nokton.

As per the screenshot herewith, your results appear to be those of the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton???

324829_1633961391.jpg


Regards, Dave R
11 Oct 2021 4:07PM
Thanks Dave, appreciate you pointing that out. We'll get the right graphs in place ASAP!

Cheers

John

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