The FE 24mm 1.4 GM – also known as the first Sony lens I ever preordered. At Photokina we could have a look at this lens and Jannik and Bastian decided to buy it. As they have now received it we are starting our rolling-review that will be steadily updated as we get to know the lens better. Last Update: Rolling-Review started 10/17/18
We have become used to old lens formulas being revived and sold for occasionally huge sums of money to collectors and photographers hoping to create images with a magical vintage look. All of us here have been very sceptical about this. Mostly they have been simple lenses in simple bodies with poor technical qualities being sold for more than the price of the latest and greatest glass. From one perspective the legendary C-Sonnar from Zeiss is like this. It’s a classic design dating from 1932 whose principal design goal at the time was to reduce the number of air glass surfaces because the coatings of the day were so primitive. Why do we need it now? But Zeiss bought it back in 2006 in M mount as part of the ZM series. The optical design is not much changed, but it comes with modern coatings. Many prize it for magical rendering and flattering portraiture, others think it shows that not even Zeiss is above trying to rip off nostalgic hipsters. Read on and find out who is right!
It seems every two years we see an interesting ultra wide angle FE lens by Laowa. First the Laowa 15mm 2.0 Zero-D FE at Photokina in 2016 and now 2 years later the Laowa 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 C-Dreamer FE at Photokina 2018.
The Voigtländer 10mm 5.6 E held the crown for being the widest rectilinear lens, now we have a zoom lens starting at 10mm but going all the way up to 18mm by Laowa. Is the image quality good enough to get this over the Voigtlander?
This is a Rolling-Review, bits and pieces will be added as we get to know the lens better. Last Update: More samples added, distortion correction profiles added, chapter use with filters added (10/14/18)
I think it came across from my review that I was quite impressed by the Voigtländer 2/65‘s performance. So when Cosina announced the 2.5/110 they had my attention and I made my interest in a review copy known immediately. For some reason though the release date has been postponed from August. I hope we don’t have to wait much longer.
The Voigtlander 110mm F2.5 APO-Lanthar Macro focuses down to a magnification ratio of 1:1. Unlike the Sony FE 2.8/90 it does not focus internally so it extends a lot when focused at smaller objects. I couldn’t test the working distance at PK but it will be interesting to see how it compares to the Sony macro.
Another key-feature is the APO-correction. While other companies have used this term rather generously the 2/65 APO offers a really high degree of correction for any kind of CA so the expectation is quite high here. Conditions at PK didn’t allow for much testing of the CA-correction.
Another “feature” is that this is the longest native manual focus lens in E-mount. I think together with my 1.2/40 and the new 3.5/21 it could form a really nice three prime set which covers almost any application I would have for it from landscape over macro to portrait. If your focus is on portraits you will almost certainly be better served by the mighty GM 1.4/85 and eye-AF. But if you like to take an occasional portrait while your focus is on other applications and you enjoy manual focus this lens might work very well for you. At least that is what I am hoping for.
At Photokina I could handle a copy and take some images. I was positively surprised to note that the 110mm Macro is just 9mm longer than the 65mm. This is possible because while the 65’s front element is deeply recessed the 110mm’s is not. Another advantage is a more reasonable filter size of 58mm. This is shared by most other Voigtlanders.
I can’t say that much about the handling: The focus ring felt nice. I didn’t use it enough to notice how it balances. The aperture ring has moved from the front to the back which one will get used to. So it most likely will be what one has come to expect from a modern Voigtlander lens which is a very pleasant to use lens.
Again I didn’t learn a lot from the short usage at PK. An exhausting fair where you are constantly bombarded by information and sounds isn’t a good testing ground. You can find my test images in this set. They were handheld and didn’t show anything unexpected.
One aspect I looked at was bokeh and cat-eyes. This is the full image and out of focus highlights look pretty smooth and not defined. Cat-eyes are pronounced though.
I also don’t see any onion rings which is good news.
I didn’t learn much about the CV 2.5/110 APO at Pk but I didn’t learn anything negative either. I look forward to either reviewing it myself or reading David’s review, depending who gets one first. I think it could find a constant place in my kit.
Despite my appreciation for Voigtländer lenses which usually balance performance, size, handling and price in a way that suits my needs like few others I initially couldn’t find a reason to buy their new 3.5/21 since I have been eying the Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 for quite some time and Jannik, Bastian and David all vouch for it’s excellence.
And just when I had the funds together and was waiting for a good offer on a used Loxia the specs and price for the CV 3.5/21 were announced. These made me preorder it.
The Voigtlander 3.5/21 weights 230g which is a little more than half as much as the Loxia which comes in at 394g. At 40mm it is also significantly shorter than the 73mm Loxia. I paid about 650€ for my preorder at Robert White which is less than half as much as the Loxia. It also focuses a little closer (20cm vs 25cm).
So I will get a truly small lens which I expect to take with me more often. I think there will be a few situations when the Loxias faster speed would have been handy. For astro photography for example but that is not where my focus is so it is not a significant compromise for me. This is nothing but speculation but at that size and price I don’t quite expect the CV 3.5/21 to reach the Loxia’s performance. I hope it will be close enough that it won’t matter for my photography. So I think that the CV could be a really interesting lens because of the very compact size and competetive pricing aswell as the good flare resistance and contrast I have come to expect from a Voigtlander lens.
I could take a few test shots at PK which you can find here. They don’t reveal much because the conditions were pretty bad but at least they tell me that the Voigtlander has decent enough corners from wide open. Anything more detailed will have to wait until I have my own copy. We will also compare it to the Loxia.
I got an estimated shipping date of November while other places talked of October. So check back in a month or so for my rolling review.
Manual Lenses | Sony Alpha