Thanks to my friend Ivan Wong for giving me the opportunity to play with his latest lens, the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.2, for a week. Unfortunately due to my unforeseen workload, I only get to try this lens for 4 days before I have to return the lens to him. So this is a pretty short hands-on experience compared to the usual one.
Voigtländer has been a long time manufacturer in the market, they have been manufacturing beautifully crafted lenses for M mount, E mount, Z-mount and m43 mount. Now they have extended their portfolio to craft lenses for the X-mount. Their first lens in the X-mount portfolio is nothing but one of the popular focal lengths among the photographers, 35mm (50mm in full frame equivalent).
Design & Build Quality
We do see some manufacturers having the same lens design but different mount. However, Voigtländer completely designs a new lens design for Fujifilm X-mount. Some might say it’s a pity that it does not have similar design elements like other Voigtländer lenses or missing out on the design language that Voigtländer has. Personally, I think it is okay. After all, the design is still beautifully designed.
This 196 grams lens has a solid metal constructed body and I can actually feel how dense the weight of this lens is when I hold it in my hand for the first time. The aperture ring clicks give me very satisfying feedback and the manual ring rotates smoothly with a bit of friction without much force needed.
It comes with a pretty small 46mm filter size and comes with a metal screw-in hood. But I believe that, for a reason, the photographers who purchase this lens do not wish to put on the lens hood.
By the way, in case you wonder, the lens is not weather resistant.
Well, unfortunately, the speed of focusing depends on the accuracy of your eyes and the speed of your fingers. Because it’s manual focusing.
At wide open, this lens gives you a kind of glowing and soft look where the blur falls off quite beautifully and is comfy to my eyes. It also provides a characteristic flare if you face the sun or strong light directly. Unfortunately, I fails to create one that is as beautiful as I saw on the web.
If you want to have a decent sharpness in the image, I recommend shooting from f2 onwards. The results are pretty good and usable at f2. Besides sharpness, contrast is decent too.
I have a high expectation (later on this) with this lens when it comes to chromatic aberration and vignetting. Luckily, I am not disappointed. They are very well controlled as I did not observe them from my shots.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
This lens comes with a 30 cm MFD which is the same as the XF33mm f1.4 and Sigma 30mm f1.4. At this distance, you can get stronger glowing and softer results. Not forgetting that the depth of field is very shallow when you shoot wide open.
I mentioned about me having high expectations about this lens. Allow me tell you why. According to the official suggested retail price, it costs USD 649. It is rather expensive for a manual lens. For reference, XF33mm is selling at USD 799 and Sigma 30mm f1.4 is at USD 339. If you want to justify the high price, what I can think of is the brand itself, fast aperture, compact, made in Japan and unlike other manual lens manufacturers, it does equip with electronic contact. I think it should suffice to justify, I guess?
Who is this for?
If you are a photographer who wishes to gain some experience with pure manual lenses and you do not mind not knowing your aperture setting, there are many other manual lenses for your consideration. The price between Voigtländer and other manufacturers is a huge gap. From a money perspective, I personally do not recommend you to buy this lens unless you know what you are doing.
Assuming you want to buy this lens, but you have no idea what genres is it suitable for. I think you do not need to worry about this. Because this focal length is very versatile and it covers generally most genres such as documentary, journalism, street and portrait.
Thanks to the electronic contact, this lens gives me a very good manual lens experience. It allows me to know what is my aperture setting like the other autofocus lenses. But the price of this lens position itself clearly from the rest of the manual lens manufacturers. The image quality is indeed better than the other manual lens manufacturers but the result isn’t too far off by a mile.
Having said that, I am still glad that Voigtländer is joining the Fujifilm community and not forgetting that the 23mm f1.2 is launching soon. All in all, I hope to see more lenses from them and benefit the photographers.
Thank you for reading.
1. The lens is from a friend of mine and I have returned it to him by the time this article is available online.
2. Most of the shots are straight out of the camera with some shots edited via In-Camera Raw Processing.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. All the shots taken here are shot by me. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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