Monday, 25 August 2014

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 lens test sample shots

It's one of those lenses that you have to get to know to really appreciate. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and my opinion changed a complete 180. And that just proves that doing tests of studio setups and preparing resolution charts sometimes says completely nothing about a piece of equipment. This lens has integrity and there are no numbers that can express that. Thanks to for letting me test this lens.

Voigtlander as a brand has been known to combine new technologies with tons of legacy and I would say that this lens is a great example of that approach. First of all it is really compact and light and has got a fantastic feel. It just is a small piece of craftsmanship. I know that those things don't affect the way it takes photos, but they do affect the smoothness of focus and aperture rings which is just amazing. The lens feels really solid and there is exactly zero backlash so if at any point you feel like changing the direction of focusing you just do it without the unpleasant rattling. Another thing is that the focus throw is rather short which I adore so you will be able to run through the whole focus range without having to let the focus ring go at any time. (some people might not like this, but it wasn't a problem for me)

The next thing that I really appreciate is the bokeh. Not only is it amazing, but it is in perfect sync with my preferences when it comes to stopping down. Most lenses will have the best bokeh at maximum aperture, but to my amazement this one has the best bokeh just a little stepped down. This will probably be caused by the aperture having as many as 10 blades. (Nikkor 50/1.4D has 7 blades for example) Many photographers I know will usually step down half a stop or a whole when they use very fast lenses just to get that sharpness kick in. When I did this with the Voigtlander 50/1.5 I realised that the bokeh at f/2 is even better than at f/1.5. That's why 95% of the photos were taken at f/2.

All the sample photos taken with my Sony NEX5N through a Voigtlander NEX-VM adapter.
What I love: great bokeh combined with superb sharpness (100% crop below) at f/2

butterflies' 'horns' and the fabric of the dress are sharp as a tack at f/2

Another thing that most of those modern lenses lack is the ability to preserve crispness of colour. No trouble with that here:

colour and contrast rendering abilities are just top notch

exceptionally good bokeh visible through the window and pleasantly soft out-of-focus legs

super lens for portraits (100% crop below)

really nothing much left to wish for when the details are as fine as the 'grain'

No lens is perfect and this one isn't either. At f/1.5 the centre of the image is very decent, but like with the lenses from the olden days the corners in this one are just a tad soft. Thankfully stopping it down does a lot of good to the focus as well as the bokeh so no harm there. Another weak point is the hromatic aberration, but this is an issue that all fast lens freaks have to deal with in their own fashion. ACR comes to the rescue so you can remove those green and purple ghosts as easily as it gets.

some chromatic aberration in contrastive sections, nothing serious though


- outstanding bokeh (10 aperture blades)
- solid, well designed and compact body
- sharp enough at f/2
- good colour and contrast rendering
- comfortable focusing / high precision focus ring
- vintage feel


- some chromatic aberration