Sunday, 15 June 2014

Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens test sample shots

The Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 brags spectacular specs and I was wondering if it's all that great. I've recently had a chance to test one of the fastest lenses available in the market thanks to good guys at who made this test possible, so I borrowed my friends Olympus OMD-EM10 (great camera btw) and began the tests.

First of all this lens mounted on EM10 looks just great. The retro elegance is amazing and as it turns out it fitted my palm just right even though the camera is rather petite.

reminds a mint film camera innit?

I needed  just a few seconds to decide that the first results looked great, but I was still rather sceptical until I saw them on a larger screen.

I am quite suspicious of the micro 4/3 system in general as those sensors are considerably smaller. In this case the 2x multiplier comes in handy - it makes the lens a 35mm equivalent for the full frame and fast 35mm lenses are notoriously used for all kinds of photography. Many photographers consider this focal length even more versatile that 50mm. It's good for landscape, portrait and perfect for street photography. But in the DSLR world you don't even come close to f/0.95- you have to make do with f/1.4 and you end up with a really large lens. Twice as big and heavy as this one anyway.

I was booked for 3 portrait shoots on the weekend anyway so I took those babies for a spin and... I took about 15 shots total with my NEX5N + 35/1.4 lens that I adore. I took the other 3000 shots with the Olympus + Voigtlander.

The lens is tack sharp already at f/1.4-2, and still very decent at f/0.95 which I found almost unbelievable.
at 0.95 the image is perfectly acceptable
at f/0.95

at f/4

Sharpness almost all the way through apertures shown on 100% 1:1 pixel crops. The range between f/2.8-f/4 is the sharpest, f/1.4 is the sweet spot IMO
How do the portraits look? Take a peek yourselves:

Shallow (yet very sharp) depth of field is just amazing. I used it at f/0.95 almost all the time, occassionally stepping down to f/1.4 for some shots.
Colour reproduction is great too. Skin tones and the green of the plants look amazing straight from the camera so I only gave it a bit of postprocessing to get this result.

The lens focuses so close you can easily use it for some softcore macro without using any additional macro lenses etc.

With such a fast lens the only annoying thing are those chromatic abberrations as you might have guessed, but I have seen some f/1.4 lenses that had more ACs than this one at f/0.95. Luckily they are easy to get rid of with ACR or Lightroom so I didn't worry about them at all.