I’ve decided to call this so called review an opinion instead. Since honestly I will not be doing chart tests nor will I be giving a large real world review similar to Steve Huff’s reviews. Instead I will focus on my opinion and experience using this lens with the Sony NEX-7 for the past couple of months exclusively.
This lens is fantastic, small, and a joy to use. I know there are a few reviews out on this lens, and some rave about it and others say its crap compared to other Leica lenses. Now this may be completely true, I have personally never used a Leica branded lens, but looking at it from the average joe’s point of view, this lens is built exceptionally well.
It truly is a work of art and built like a brick. The lens is heavy, weighing more than the NEX-7 camera body. Its focus ring is buttery smooth and its aperture blades click nicely into place. When you compare this lens to your standard DSLR lenses from Sony, Nikon, Canon, etc. this lens is in another league. You feel like the money you’ve invested in it is visible and you can feel it by its weight. Unlike other lenses where you feel like you’ve been ripped off simply due to the quality of the lens housing.
Another thing I love about this lens is its size. This is a true pancake lens and is a little bigger than the Sony 16mm f/2.8 lens without the lens hood.
I know most Leica nuts will call me crazy. Thats fine. But coming from the DSLR world the build quality of this lens is fantastic and I recommend that you hold one of these lenses to see for yourself.
This little lens truly takes some beautiful classic shots. I have found when photographing the world around you it renders everything quite sharp. Some softness wide open, some softness in the corners, but generally sharp. BUT what I do like about this lens is it tends to gently glow your subject, soften skin tones and features, and generally make your subjects look better. Which personally I think is better than having very sharp skin tones and features.
Focusing this lens is a breeze on the Sony NEX-7. With Sony’s focus peaking and fantastic OLED viewfinder this lens is ALMOST as fast to focus on the NEX-7 as it is on a Leica. And believe it or not, I tend to focus this lens faster than having the autofocus focus on the Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8. When I’m out shooting I never have to magnify my view to make sure I can hit focus. I just look through the viewfinder, move the focus tab on the lens till my subject shimmers red and hit the shutter. 98% of the time I’ve hit focus spot on. Now this took practice on the NEX so don’t expect to pick this lens up and immediately focus perfectly in a split second. I miss focused plenty of times until I got used to the lens.
Some of the downfalls with this lens are its purple fringing. This lens tends to get a lot of fringing whenever you are shooting outside. Especially on sunny days. Now this can be corrected within Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, so it’s not a complete deal breaker. Don’t forget that Sony’s own Zeiss lens suffers from the same issue.
The bokeh on the other hand can sometimes be pleasing, sometimes be jarring, and sometimes look like a watercolour painting. See examples below:
Which for me is annoying at times, as I expect to have nice soft bokeh. But on the other hand will your viewers really be pixel peeping your photos? Probably not, just your techy friends.
So is this lens worth it? Of course. The Voigtlander is a true gem to have and I doubt I’ll ever get rid of it. It’s one of those lenses you fall in love with and accept all of it’s faults. If your serious about using manual lenses, If your looking to expand your camera systems arsenal, and if you want to feel like your working for your photos, I honestly suggest you pick up this lens.
Below are some photos taken with the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.