Thursday, April 12, 2012

Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 Classic - First look

Voigtlander is a very old company and they used to make legendary lenses back in the days of early photography.  The original Voigtlander lenses are still very sought after in the market today.  Of course, the Cosina version of the Voigtlander lenses have very little to do with original company other than using the names of the lenses, like Haliar, Ultron, Lanthar, etc.  I have a couple of the original Voigtlander lenses, the Skopar 8.3cm f4.5, and the Color-Dynarex 135mm f4 DKL, which I like a lot.  They are not (like most old lenses in the early days) very fast lenses, but good performers. I have some sample pictures from these lenses if you search my blog for Voigtlander.

This is the first M-Mount lens I have had, though I wished I started on this a bit early, as M-Mount lens price has gone through the roof after people have discovered how good they are, and how small they look when mounted on these cameras.  No matter, I got this one for a very good price from a pawnshop, complete with original hood, which makes the lens look a lot more sexy :)

Sun setting on AGO - NEX-5N & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 MC. Click for larger size.

After getting the M to Sony E-mount adapter, I tried it on the NEX-5N.  Immediately I was a bit disappointed: the minimum focus distance is like three feet/one meter.  I realized most range finder lenses have pretty long minimum focus distance due to the finder limitation, but it's not something easy to get used to if you are used to the 0.5 meter normally found in most SLR standard lenses.  A side from this, there is very little not to like about this lens.  Great build and optically, it performs very well, even at f1.4 is quite OK, but there is a lot of purple fringing at wide apertures.  This can be minimized or eliminated in Lightroom or Photoshop easily.

Book table - NEX-5N & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 MC. Click picture to see larger size.

The size and short flange focal distance of M-mount lenses have great appeal to EVIL/Range Finder camera users.  They are great lenses to take when you want to go light.  Smaller camera/lens combination is much less intimating than a huge DSLR lens mounted on a huge DSLR.  This is especially true for street shooting.  That was exactly what I did early this week.  I took it and the NEX-5N with me in an evening outing and the light weight is liberating to carry around. It was easy to snap pictures here and there.  I totally enjoyed it.

Fashion District at night - NEX-5N & Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 MC. Click picture to see larger size.