Review: Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III

Introduction

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III via Metabones adapter on Sony A7rII

The Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III is now the 15th 35mm lens I review here. Let us find out if 15 is a lucky number and this is a useful addition to our choice of 35mm lenses!
Lens is being tested on 42mp Sony A7rII and 24mp Leica M10

Sample Images

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/2.0
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/11
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0

Most of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.

Specifications / Version History

As the name suggests the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III Nokton is already the third incarnation of this lens.

Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 Nokton Version I, II and III ©Cameraquest 2020
    • Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 Nokton
      490g, 10/7 design, MFD 0.7 m
    • Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 II Nokton
      471g, 10/7 design, MFD 0.5 m
    • Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III Nokton
      332g, 9/7 design, MFD 0.5 m

As you can see the guys at Cosina have done a pretty good job at reducing the weight (and also size) of their 35mm f/1.2 lens. I am reviewing the latest MK III version here which has the following specifications:

    • Diameter: 60.8 mm
    • Field of view: 61.5° (diagonally)
    • Length: 50.5 mm (+ adapter)
    • Weight: 332g (without hood and caps + adapter)
    • Filter Diameter: 52 mm
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 12 (straight)
    • Elements/Groups: 9/7
    • Close Focusing Distance: 0.50 m
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:11 (measured)
    • Mount: Leica-M

You may also have a look at the official page.

You can usually find the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III on CameraQuestB&H, Robert White, amazon.com or ebay.com/ebay.de for about $1049/1199€ (affiliate links)

Disclosure

The Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III Nokton was kindly provided free of charge by Robert White/Flaghead for reviewing purpose for a duration of 4 weeks.

Handling / Build Quality

Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III

So far none of the Voigtlander lenses disappointed in this category and this holds true for this new 35mm 1.2 III as well. The focus ring has perfect resistance and travels ~130° from the minimum focus distance (0.5 m) to infinity.

The aperture ring has 1/2 stop click stops which I think is a good compromise. It travels about 120° from f/1.2 to f/22.

Most parts seem to be made from metal and all markings are engraved and filled with paint.

From the Voigtlander E-mount lenses we are used that there is a metal hood in the package, this is usually not the case with the M-mount lenses and the 35mm 1.2 III is no exception.

Considering the specifications we are dealing with a very small lens here, this becomes very obvious when we compare the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III to the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art.
But the new VM 35mm 1.2 III even compares favourably to the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7, having the same length and being only a bit bigger in diameter and 95g more in terms of weight.

Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art – Voigtländer VM 35mm 1.2 III – Voigtländer VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX

Vignetting

light falloff

voigtlander vm 15mm 4.5 m-mount leica m10 review sharpness resolution corner wide angle 42mp 24mp cosina vignetting light fall off vignette

Wide open there is strong light falloff of roughly 3.3 EV, stopped down to f/2.0 this improves to 2.3 EV, stopped down to f/2.8 it is 1.9 EV and still 1.8 EV at f/8.0. These values are high but comparable to the competition in this class. You can either correct this in Lightroom or directly in camera. There is no Lightroom profile yet, but I expect it to be included in one of the next updates.

color cast

I did not notice obvious color cast issues with this lens on either camera (Sony A7rII and Leica M10).

optical vignetting

Very fast lenses often show optical vignetting. Without going too much into technical details optical vignetting leads to the truncation of light circles towards the borders of the frame.
In the center of the frame almost every lens will render a perfect circle, but only lenses with very low optical vignetting will keep this shape in the corners.
So in the following comparison we move from the center (left) to the extreme corner (right) and see how the shape of the light circle changes.

 

I was quite surprised to see the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III shows pretty much the same performance as the huge Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art.
The difference between 12 straight (Voigtlander) and 11 rounded (Sigma) aperture blades is very apparent though. Interestingly Cosina decided not to use the amazing aperture diaphragm from the Voigtlander 50mm 2.0 Apo-Lanthar E here.
We further see, that onion ring structures are not really a problem here.

Sharpness

infinity (42mp Sony A7rII)

In the center the resolution at infinity is okay at f/1.2, but we can see quite a bit of glow (spherical aberration) and also purple fringing. Midframe and corners are rather soft here.
The center starts to show really good resolution figures at f/2.0, but midframe and corners really need f/8.0 to show good performance.

Performance here is comparable to the Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 E, but luckily I don’t see such an abrupt drop in sharpness in the extreme corners.
The Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art plays in a league of its own here though, showing better across frame sharpness at f/1.2 than the Voigtlander reviewed here at any aperture setting.

infinity (24mp Leica M10)

Some M-mount wide angle lenses show significantly different (better) performance when used on a camera with a thinner sensor stack. Interestingly this is not really the case here.
When comparing to the Sony A7rII we have to take the lower resolution of the Leica M10 into account of course.
The corners may look slightly less mushy at wider apertures on the Leica M10, but the midframe shows a similar drop in sharpness.
Stopped down the differences are minor, I would also recommend to use f/8.0 for best across frame sharpness on the Leica M10.

True infinity might have been a tiny bit behind the hard stop when the lens is used on my Leica M10, therefore the minor difference in sharpness in the center at f/1.2 and f/1.4 between Sony A7rII and Leica M10.

portrait distance

For portraiture it isn’t so important how flat the field is, it is more interesting to see what the sharpness is like when focused at different parts of the frame to take field curvature out of the equasion.
This is what I did here, I refocused for every shot to get the best possible result at different locations in the frame (center, inner midframe and outer midframe).

positions of crops in the frame

Focus distance was roughly 1.0 m and the head on the note is more or less the size of a human eye.
I will compare it directly to the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art and to the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX.

 Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III <—> Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art

100% crops, f/1.2, A7rII

Now this is also for those, that wonder why the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art is so big while the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III can be so small: a lenses’ quality is defined by more than the specification sheet.
The Voigtlander lens seems to be a block focus design optimized for a certain focus distance which is probably around 1.5 to 2.0 m.
At maximum aperture it is a bit soft at 1.0 m and there is noticeable falloff to the corners.
The Sigma on the other hand always shows an impressive performance at f/1.2, no matter what distance or where in the frame you check.

The Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III should not be dismissed here though, for a lens this small the performance is quite respectable and will often give satisfactory results in the real world.

I also checked the performance here on the Leica M10, no differences.

Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III @ f/1.7 <—> Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX @ f/1.7

100% crops, f/1.7, A7rII

The Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX shows – again – a remarkable performance here, as it easily beats the new VM 35mm 1.2 III stopped down to f/1.7 while being wide open everywhere in the frame.

close (0.50 m, 1:11)


100% crops from center, A7rII

Close focus performance is an area where the smaller fast lenses like the Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 E or 50mm 1.2 E struggle, as they don’t feature a floating elements design and the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 III behaves very similar.
Performance wide open at the minimum focus distance ain’t that great (unless you are after a dreamy look).
But stopping down to just f/2.0 improves the performance significantly.

If you are looking for a 35mm 1.2 lens that performs great at every distance have a look at the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art.

Flare resistance

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness flare ghost veiling gegenlicht
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0

As always evaluating flare is a complex matter since you can get any lens to look bad if you push it hard enough and a slight change of scenario will affect results a lot.
But in fact it is very hard to make this lens look bad. Already previous Voigtlander lenses like the 50mm 1.2 have surprised us with a surprisingly good flare resistance and this holds true for the VM 35mm 1.2 III.

I am showing you some of the worst case examples here and I really had to push it to create some ghosts.

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness flare ghost veiling gegenlicht
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0

Even with the sun close to the corner of the frame (where many lenses struggle) the performance is still good:

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness flare ghost veiling gegenlicht
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0

So, not having a hood in the package isn’t a big deal here.

I saw a kind of ring flare when using the lens at f/1.2, I will have a closer look at this, maybe the reflective silver filter ring is to blame.

Coma

The other fast Voigtlander lenses are not exactly famous for great coma correction at wider apertures and the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III is no exception here. Coma starts to look okay from f/2.8, but there is noticeabe astigmatism present at this aperture, so better stop down to f/4.0 if possible for taking pictures of scenes like these.


100% crops from extreme corner, focused on corner, A7rII

We know that a different filter stack can have an effect on the off center performance of a lens, so I also had a look how it performs on the Leica M10.


100% crops from extreme corner, focused on corner, Leica M10

At f/1.2 and f/1.4 the differences are minor compared to the Sony camera, but on the Leica M10 the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III shows less astigmatism at f/2.8, so I would be okay with using f/2.8 instead of f/4.0 here.

Distortion

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0

The distortion of the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III is really nasty, as it is very wavy and also not very low and easily visible with straight lines running through the picture. We need to wait for a lens profile to properly correct this.

Bokeh

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

For most interested in this lens the bokeh rendering will be a very important aspect, as the maximum aperture makes it a great choice for taking environmental portraits. Therefore we will have a look at the bokeh rendering at different distances, compare it to other 35mm lenses and also have a look whether there are differences when the lens is used on a Leica or a stock Sony camera.

Close distance

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

At closer distances very smooth, no complaints.

Mid distance

Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

Still very smooth, cat’s eyes are clearly noticeable in scenes with point light sources in the background though.

Long distance

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

The strong optical vignetting in combination with filter stack induced field curvature leads to not so nice corner bokeh at these distances, when the lens is being used on a Sony camera with its thick filter stack. Something we have seen with many small rangefinder lenses in the past when used on a stock Sony camera.
Have a look at the “Compared to Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art (Long Distance)” section at the end of this chapter where I investigate this a bit more.

Compared to Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art and VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX

Overview

 

Corner Crops

What did we learn from this comparison?
When the VM 35mm 1.2 III is used on the Leica M10 the corners look slightly smoother than on the A7rII.
Off center the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art shows significantly cleaner, smoother bokeh, this is very apparent in the corners.
VM 35mm 1.2 III looks very similar to the VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX when stopped down to f/1.7.

Compared to Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art (Long Distance)

Overview

 

Corner Crops

 

The picture of the cannons from the “Long distance” section lead me to make this comparison.
In the past we have often seen worse bokeh in the corners when using rangefinder wide angle lenses on Sony cameras due to filter stack induced field curvature.
In the beginning I thought this lens may be less plagued by this, as sharpness wise there was only little difference between Sony A7rII and Leica M10 at infinity, but this scene clearly shows this behaviour is still present in this lens’ design.
It will be interesting to see if the E-mount version of the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 III E SE will behave differently here.

Sunstars

The sunstars are well defined between f/2.0 to f/22. If you want to know more about sunstar rendering of different lenses have a look at this article.
You can also see the noticeable spherical aberration at f/1.2 here.


90% crops from center, A7rII

Chromatic aberration

lateral


100% crops from corner, A7rII

Lateral CA are on a medium level and easily corrected in post by one click or for Jpegs in camera.

longitudinal

cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness focus shift
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2 | 50% crop

Near the minimum focus distance the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III shows quite a noticeable amount of longitudinal chromatic aberration (and also some spherical aberration) wide open. Already stopping down to f/1.4 helps with getting rid of the aberrations close to the plane in focus. To get rid of the magenta and green fringing you have to stop down to f/2.8 (see Focus Shift section).

At longer distances loCA in the out of focus areas (“bokeh fringing”) are present and can be noticeable, but they are not excessive and in the background are also a bit masked by generally smooth out of focus rendering (thanks to spherical aberration):


Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

Purple fringing is really nasty though, this is one of the worst performances I have seen in a 35mm lens yet (maybe have a look at my Sigma 35mm 1.2 vs 35mm 1.4 vs 40mm 1.4 comparison where I shot the same scene):


Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

Focus shift


50% crops, A7rII

Unlike e.g. the Voigtlander 50mm 1.2 this 35mm 1.2 III shows almost no focus shift. Good news for rangefinder users!

Alternatives

Just lately we put together a rather comprehensive guide on 35mm lenses for Sony FE cameras which should give you a good overview. I will talk about a few obvious alternatives in more detail here though:

Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 Nokton:
This was the first lens of the new f/1.2 series from Voigtlander and we have seen some improvements such as better polished aspherical elements (less pronounced onion ring bokeh) already with the 50mm 1.2 that have carried over to this 35mm 1.2 lens.
The 40mm 1.2 also has a rather abrupt drop in sharpness in the extreme corners which can be visible even at smaller magnifications.
Therefore I would personally recommend the new 35mm 1.2 lens if the focal length is not a deciding factor to you.
buy from B&H | amazon.com | ebay.com | ebay.de for ~1099$ (affiliate links)

Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art:
The Sigma shows much higher sharpness and contrast at f/1.2 than the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 at pretty much every aperture value over most parts of the frame.
It is a really big and heavy AF lens though, and pricier.
I am sure you already know whether you want to carry this lens or not and whether you need AF or not, which will make your decision easy.
buy from amazon.com | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de ~$1499

Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 I and II:
I have not used these lenses personally, but I doubt there is still a reason to consider these, unless you are shooting an M-mount camera and you find a really good deal on a used one.

Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX:
Now this is a tough one. The older 35mm 1.7 shows clearly better sharpness off center and at wider apertures (see the comparisons across this review) but it is also a stop slower while not being that much smaller or lighter (95g difference without 5m PCX).
If you care more about sharpness I tend to still recommend the 35mm 1.7, if you lean more towards bokeh the new 35mm 1.2.
buy from B&Hamazon.com | ebay.com | ebay.de for ~ 809$ (affiliate links)

Conclusion

good

  • bokeh
  • sharpness (center)
  • flare resistance
  • sunstars
  • build quality and handling
  • size/weight
average

  • sharpness (off center)
  • price
not good

  • coma correction
  • distortion
  • fileld curvature when used on a Sony camera (bokeh at some distances suffers)
  • vignetting

Sony E-mount user

There were some things I didn’t really like about the Voigtlander 40mm 1.2 Nokton E (abrupt sharpness drop in the extreme corners, onion ring bokeh, sometimes harsh bokeh, focal length) and it seems to me most of these issues have been resolved here
and therefore this may become my new recommendation for those looking for a small yet fast manual 35mm lens.

This is not the perfect lens though. Distortion is nasty and off center sharpness is really not that great at wider apertures.
This becomes very obvious when comparing it to the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art, which I am tempted to say is better optically in every regard (except for flare resistance) and sharper everywhere in the frame at every distance and we better not even talk about coma correction here.

Still, few will really make use of/need the better optical performance of the Sigma lens and we should keep in mind this Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III is a third of the size and weight, which makes it much more fun to carry around.

The E-mount version has just been announced. As we have seen the bokeh rendering at longer focus distances suffers a bit due to filter stack induced field curvature so we recommend to wait for that version if you are not a “dual M-mount/E-mount user”.

M-mount user

The Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III balances well on the Leica M10, better than its predecessors or the Zeiss ZM 35mm 1.4.
There is still a bit of finder blockage and it is obviously bigger than the Leica Summilux-M 35mm 1.4 Asph FLE or other slower 35mm lenses, but I am sure you are aware of that already.
The good news is that it shows no relevant focus shift, unlike I saw on the aforementioned FLE.
At longer distances (environmental portrait) the rangefinder is accurate enough even at f/1.2, at shorter distances it may be advisable to use Liveview or an EVF if possible.

If you want a fast 35mm lens and you don’t mind the size I see no reason not to get this lens. There are also some improvements over the 40mm 1.2 that would make this my clear choice if deciding between them (not even talking about having framelines for this one).

You can usually find the Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III on CameraQuestB&H, Robert White, amazon.com or ebay.com/ebay.de for about $1049/1199€ (affiliate links)

Sample Images

Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/5.6
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/2.8
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/2.8
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness bokeh coma astro
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/8.0
cosina voigtlander vm 35mm 1.2 iii comparison sony leica m10 m 24mp 42mp 61mp review sharpness loca longitudinal ca chromatic aberrations
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/11
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III | f/1.2

Most of the sample images in this review can be found in full resolution here.

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

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91 thoughts on “Review: Voigtlander VM 35mm 1.2 III”

  1. Hi Bastian, great comprehensive review !
    It seems to me this lens’s closest VG competitor is the 35mm f1.7 Ultron which you mentioned as well. Did you have the chance to compare the sharpness wide open at portrait distance between the 35mm f1.2 III and the 35mm 1.7 Ultron ?

    1. VM 35 1.7@1.7 is clearly better here than VM 35mm 1.2III@1.2, that I can already tell you.
      I included the VM 35 1.7 at portrait distance in my Sony Fe 35mm 1.4 ZA review, same distance, just different banknote.
      It is quite obvious that sharpness is higher here.

      I did not yet compare VM 35mm 1.2III@1.7 to VM 35 1.7@1.7 though, that is kinda on my ToDo-list 🙂

        1. I took the shots today, may take a few days until I get to adding them.
          35mm 1.7 is significantly better at portrait distance than 35mm 1.2@1.7.
          The 35mm 1.7 is a really remarkable lens.

          1. I think i’ll keep the 35mm f1.7 for now. The 1.2 in E-mount is tempting for the “auto-zoom” function when turning the focus ring, but I think the sharpness of the 1.7 make the subjects pop more. I’m glad I have one, but such a shame they did not make an equivalent lens in E-mount !

  2. The proper Photographer’s lens. Unlike Sigma, it’s meant for actual everyday carrying with you and making great photos, not for examining corners wide open at 400% magnification.

    If only they decided to make AF-enabled and weather resistant FE variants…

    1. You are making it a bit too easy for yourself here.
      Wide open off center (where I usually put my subject) sharpness really ain’t that great on this small Voigtlander lens.
      It already makes setting precise focus a bit hard sometimes.
      There is no need to look at 400% magnification, it is obvious in the viewfinder already.

      Adding AF also demands a completely different optical formula, which will add to the weight and bulk of the lens.
      All the companies learned that lesson the hard way in the beginning of the AF days.
      May have a look at the history of Nikon’s 70/80-200mm 2.8 lenses, the learning curve in optical engineering is quite obvious here.
      We also saw that in the early Samyang lenses: their AF lenses were not necessarily equally good as the MF ones.

      You use the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art if you need to get a job (Wedding/Reportage/Concert/in focus picture of your child playing) done.
      You can use the VM 35mm 1.2 III if you just want to have fun or you are shooting more steady subjects.

      1. I don’t really understand all those top-of-the-line prime lenses with weight of around 1 kg. The last time I owned a lens of this magnitude (original EF 24-70/2.8 L), I ended up leaving my camera at home way too often, shooting with P&S instead. Until I purchased a lightweight Sigma 30/1.4.

        This year-long dip in picture quality is clearly seen in my albums – ironically it was caused by the fact that my camera was simply *too good* for carrying to my trips. :-/

        Surely, adding an AF motor into existing design isn’t easy, although Tokina managed to do that quite successfully.

  3. Looks like the king of fast manual walkaround 35s is here.
    I want to whine about the price, which I can’t afford, bet there is no competition.

    P.S. TTArtisan rolls out full frame 50/0.95.
    It will probably suck, but we can’t just walk past 50/0.95, can we? 🙂

    1. TTArtisan told me I still have to wait like a month 🙁
      Not sure it will suck though.
      Question is whether it will be better than Zhong Yi 50mm 0.95, which could be the case actually.

  4. Hey bastian, there’s also a Voigtlander 40mm f2.8 thats designed for Sony but needs an adaptor. I don’t see many reviews on it except from Steve huff. I think you should try to maybe get your hands in it. I’m curious on what you think of the lens. It’s not expensive at less than $400 new, you already have the adaptor so your all good.

        1. Hi Damian, awesome you have the lens. Been contemplating it for a while but not sure, do you have any feedback about the lens?

        2. I am not too interested. The clickless aperture and the additional extending/retracting of the lens barrel make it less fun to use for me.

          Nevertheless I admire the idea behind this lens.

          1. Many thanks for your review. I also own the “old” 40mm f2,8 Heliar mounted together with the original adapter by Voigtländer (VM II?). This lens is very special and rare. You´ll love or hate it. I do really love it because it is an extemly small bundle with the adapter. It feels solid and is a pleasure to focus. Some of my best athmospheric pictures I took with this lens. But it has it`s weaknesses and sharpness is one. So I often prefer the Sony Zeiss 35mm f2,8 if I have few time to create something special and have to be on the secure side. I did only use it with the first A7 and couldn`t try it yet with my new A7R IV. But now I´m really curious how it will behave with the new sensor. For Bastian: I really love your work and the pictures from Stuttgart and in total I´m really thankful for the whole Phillip Reeve Team. You helped me so much. My office is located in Stuttgart and now I´m motivated to take some pictures at the Schwab Tunnel or maybe at the Tübinger Straße with the Heliar.

  5. Hey man thanks for the review.

    How would you compare this with the Loxia? My main use case would be landscape.

    Cheers

    1. If you have the Loxia already no need to switch.
      If you don’t but you are pretty much never going to use the lens wide open Loxia also seems to be the smarter choice.

  6. One thing regarding the bokeh balls shapes when aperture is closed down. I was wondering if the shapes do look similar on different megapixel count sensors? 42mpx means more cropping and more detail, does this effect how the bokeh balls are rendered, my guess is that with less megapixels those bokeh balls could look more round, was wondering if you noticed any difference when comparing pictures from different sensors. Some cameras with less megapixels for example 5d mark I or Sony A7S seems to render the backgrounds noticeably smoother compared to the higher megapixel count cameras. Did some tests some time ago A7s vs A7II shoot side by side with same lens at same object from the same distance and A7s images look somewhat different and bokeh looks more washed out.

    1. That might have been because the big A7s pixels are more sensitive to light hitting the sensor at a very steep angle.
      Apart from that: no, number of Mp does not make a difference.

  7. Hi Bastian. Can you comment something on the new Voigtländer FE-SE Series. Voigtländer claims improved performance at low F-stop numbers, by usage of aspherical elements.

    I think this is one of the biggest downsides of the non-Lanthar series made by Voigtländer. Do you think they could overcome this?

    1. The SE lenses are optically the same.
      All the modern Voigtlander lenses use aspherical elements, no matter whether Apo-Lanthar or not.
      If you want better performance at wider apertures like f/1.2 you need bigger lenses like the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art or Canon RF 50mm 1.2 L USM.

  8. Great review, thanks so much! May have just saved me clicking ‘buy’ on this new lens.
    I’ve owned the MKI and MKII versions in the past and only my first copy was good imo which was a MKII. I sold it and regretted so tried to buy a replacement none of which where as good as my original copy.
    The optical design is huge change on the III so I’d like to see just how different the images look to the MKII.
    I also use the Sigma 35 1.2 so know just hown dam good that lens is, its hard not to expect too much from this. 🙂

  9. So Bastian, I know you liked and praised the 50mm 1.2 nokton, and that was one of my main reasons to get one for my MF kit. I wonder if there’s something comparably less solid in its 35mm counterpart or the rendering is basically similar. My (very) superficial impression is that the new 35mm is even softer at 1.2 and nees one more stop down (f8) in order to achieve a good amount of sharpness, and that bring us to another good question: how does this lens yields for landscape work?

    1. So far I think the bokeh in the corners is not as nice at longer distances with this 35mm compared to the 50mm 1.2.
      The 50mm 1.2 also has more uncorrected spherical aberration at f/1.2 (and also f/1.4, where there is barely any left on the 35), which will give a softer look (glow) for portraiture.
      For landscape use I rate them very similar: they will be easily “good enough” for 95% of users and use cases, but if even across frame performance is most important to you there are other options available, for those remaining 5%: Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art, VM 35mm 1.7 + 5m PCX or Loxia 35mm 2.0 (stopped down to f/8.0).

  10. First of all thank you guys for this in depth review of this much awaited lens. I was thinking about the Nokton 35mm 1.2 for a long time but never made the purchaise.

    Now you have the most complete insight in 35mm lenses for Sony mirrorless and chances are high there will be no more new 35mm lenses for Sony E-Mount in the near future. Maybe you can give me a little advise here. I cover my personal needs with a Sony FE 28mm F2, Sony FE 55mm F1.8, Sony FE 85mm F1.8 and a Sony ZA 35mm F2.8. Since I take photos in social environment wide open sharpness (center and midframe) is a high priority since I shoot quite a lot of portraits. I lust for an F1.4 (or 1.2) lens quite some time but the large and heavy lenses offering AF are not to my liking. So the king of 35mm the Sigma 35mm F1.2 will not find its way into my back of lenses. 😀 Looking at my set I try to plan my next lens purchaise. In the long run the Sony GM 24mm F1.4 is on the list but before this I’m more interested in a 50mm or 35mm F1.4 lens. I gave up on all classic 50mm and 35mm lenses. Most are not sharp wide open where it counts and by F2.8 the Sony ZA is smaller, sharper and contrastier as most of them. The 55mm F1.8 is sharp down to F1.8 so a 50mm that gets usable at F2.8 or F5.6 is no match either. I’m thinking about keeping the tiny ZA and complementing my set with the Sigma 35mm F1.4. Is there a better lens for wide open portrait work? Looks like the Nokton is out because of the midzone dip. Maybe the Sigma Art 50mm F1.4 is better for portrait but owning the 55mm I’m not sure if I will use both in the end. The Nokton 40mm might be an option inbetween but the optical performance is not as good as the Nokton 50mm for portrait. And then there is the option to give up the ZA 35mm F2.8 and go with the FE35mm or the Ultron 35mm…. How would you solve this puzzle?

    1. If you think the Sigma 35mm 1.2 Art is too big and heavy, I don’t think you should consider the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art.
      They are not that different in this regard.
      As I see it you are mainly using AF lenses, that leaves us with the Samyang 35mm 1.4 AF or the Sony FE 35mm 1.8.
      The Samyang is also a pretty big lens.

      I would recommend to either try out the Samyang (they can often be found on a discount) or replacing the 35mm 2.8 ZA with the Sony FE 35mm 1.8.

  11. Hi Bastian, greetings from Horb near Stuttgart.
    Thank you for your wonderful website!
    I am currently looking for a fast 35mm Lens to use on my Leica M9 and later on an M10.
    My budget is 1200€ max. I am deciding between VM 35 1.7 and VM 35 1.2 iii
    I would use this Lens for all my Photography, I want a light compact kit because I also like to travel and I don’t want to lug around my Canon DSLR with L glas anymore.
    So Important things for me are:
    1. General Pictures of People and Portraits with good bokeh.
    2. Good performance for Landscapes, stopping down would be no problem at all because I mostly shoot my Landscapes on a small Tripod often even with an ND Filter.
    I am currently leaning towards the VM 35 1.2 iii because I used very fast lenses in the past [Canon EF 50 1.2, Mamiya 80 1.9 wich is like a 50 1.2 on FF] and feel like I am already used to the very shallow DOF.
    Thanks

    1. Both lenses show pretty much no focus shift issues, which is good news for rangefinder users.
      The length of both lenses is very similar and both show a bit of finder blockage, the difference is not that big here.
      If sharpness at wide apertures is most important to you get the VM 35mm 1.7.
      If you like shallow depth of field photography I would prefer the VM 35mm 1.2 III.
      Stopped down the 1.7 is also slightly better, but the 35mm 1.2 should be “good enough” here as well.

  12. Das APO-Lanthar 50mm hat mich aufgrund seiner exorbitanten Leistung für die meisten anderen Objektive verdorben. Die Messlatte liegt jetzt deutlich höher. Zumindest wenn man akademisch herangeht – in Bezug auf die Bildleistung.

    Und jetzt noch was Ketzerisches. Gott sei Dank macht Voigtländer eine Mischkalkulation. Die Objektive kosten mitterweile ja alle um die 1000€. Die besten müssten eigentlich deutlich mehr kosten, die weniger guten sind womöglich schon etwas teuer … Ich spare sehr viel Geld weil, ich natürlich nur die Paradepferde im Stall habe …
    Die Meinung ist natürlich sehr subjektiv.

    Oder der Bastian überzeigt mich mit mehr Beispielen, für Situationen, in welchen das VM III dem Zeiss ZM 1,4 35mm Konkurrenz macht 😉

    1. Von den Herstellkosten her dürften sich 50mm 1.2 und 50mm 2.0 kaum unterscheiden.
      Sprechen halt Nutzer mit unterschiedlichen Anwendungszwecken an 😊

  13. With the new SE lenses announcement, I’m debating returning my 2 week old CV 35mm 1.4 Classic FE and waiting for that one.

    I love the size and weight, but it pretty much feels like a lens I can only use at f2 and above unless I specifically want some funk and softness.

    Since this lens should be pretty similar to the upcoming SE 35 1.2, do you consider the 35mm 1.2 III better in that regard? Or is it more usable in the 1.4-1.7 range?

    1. In my opinion the 35mm 1.2 III is hundred times better than the 35mm 1.4 Classic.
      To be honest: I don’t know why anyone would choose the 35mm 1.4 Classic over pretty much any other 35mm lens.
      I have reviewed the classic and when sending those cosplayers the pictures
      that I took for the review I was ashamed of how bad they look at wider apertures.

      1. I just started the return period and will wait for the new release. If the 35 SE ends up being $800, it’ll only be $200 more than what I paid for the Classic on sale.

        The one thing the Classic had going for it, imo, was the depth images had at f2+, but the 1.2 can provide that from 1.4 which opens up a whole world of options, especially with my A7s.

        Thanks Bastian!

  14. Excellent in depth review, and really nice photos that accompany your words. 🙂 Its the kind of lens (with adapter) I would love to try on my Z6 on my travels. Sadly like most people at the moment not much money and no travels but I know that things will slowly improve.

  15. As always a nice review! Thanks!
    I have a question more about the difference in tonality and colors of the Leica vs the Sony. You have matched them pretty well, how? What do you think about skin tones differences between the two and also the film color look that the Leica is known for, you have some images that has that, did it come out of the “box” or by your work?

    1. The underlying tonal curves of Sony cameras and the Leica are indeed different (Leica is contrastier mainly,
      but nothing that cannot be matched in post if desired).
      Generally I adjust pictures in post to my liking, I didn’t try the files to match each other.
      The Raws of the Leica do not come out with a “color film look”, they are pretty neutral,
      but white balance is often worse compared to what the Sonys come up with.
      I know that some people claim the M10 has colors like Kodak film. I think that is BS, sorry.

      When it comes to skin tones: so many things can influence them.
      Original skin color (they vary a lot!) and of course light are way more important than the lens or the camera imho.
      And also these I adjust in post if I feel that is necessary, but I rarely feel the need to do that.

      I still owe some readers a piece on how I edit my black and white pictures, but if enough people are interested
      in reading how I archive that film look I may write about that, too 🙂

      1. Thanks!

        I think both the color and black and white editing would be really nice to read about. You have always nice looking images with good tonality and colors.

        Regarding the Leica M10, I got the impression in this video that the sensor and imaging processing in the camera was made to have a film look. It is from Danish photographer Thorsten von Overgaard who is using Leica and got some info direct from them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBKKdCVr1tM

        1. I think that video is so full of BS.
          I watched it shortly before I got the M10, thinking I might get something useful out of it.
          Nope, not the case.
          I also think that guy is part of the reason for the extremely stupid firmware update that limits base ISO of Auto ISO on the M10 to ISO200, despite ISO100 offering higher dynamic range (and simply being necessary when using faster lenses due to fastest shutter speed being only 1/4000s).
          There were many other points like that (e.g. smaller battery being such a great thing), but my time is too valuable to spend 40 min on watching this again to comment on them.

  16. Hallo Bastian,
    ich besitze bereits das Sony FE 35mm 1.8, macht es deiner Meinung da noch Sinn dies mit dem neuen 35mm 1.2 SE zu ergänzen? Wäre die eine Blende Differenz es wert?
    Danke vorab.

    1. Ich würde mir ein Objektiv nur kaufen, wenn ich dafür einen klaren Verwendungszweck habe.
      Wenn du denkst, dass dir das 35mm 1.2 Bilder ermöglicht, die du so mit dem 35mm 1.8 nicht machen kannst, dann ja.
      Andernfalls eher nicht.

  17. For an M user, which of of the below would you recommend? Thanks
    Voigtlander VM 35/1.2III
    Voigtlander VM 35/1.7
    Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4

    1. All great lenses on an M-mount camera.
      Would get the one you are still willing to carry and if that is not an issue to you the one where you like the bokeh most.
      I would probably get the 1.2/35 now, greatly balanced lens.

  18. Hi Bastian,

    How do you usually manual focus with the subject off center? I feel like the joystick is too slow to move magnification from center to say rule of thirds. Do you focus then recompose? Or use moire?

    1. I move the “magnification box”.
      It is a bit faster if you use the wheels compared to the joystick.
      Focus and recompose is not accurate enough for these lenses.

      1. Kannst du das bitte etwas näher erläutern, wie das mit den Drehrädern gemeint ist und vorallem welchen?

        Vielen Dank vorab.

          1. Die Frage bezieht sich auf deine Aussage:
            “I move the “magnification box”.
            It is a bit faster if you use the wheels compared to the joystick.”

            Und da geht es mir eben darum zu verstehen, weshalb es aus deiner Sicht “besser” sei die Drehräder anstelle des Joysticks zu nutzen.

  19. Great review many thanks – just ordered one from Robert white ready to attach to my M10 monochrome when it arrives.
    Some of the problems obviously will not show up on the monochrom censor – just wondering how the sharpness will be on the new M10 monochrom.
    I used to own the version 2 on my last monochrom 246 and the results were great, but the lens was a bit top heavy on the camera, so think this mk 3 will be the sweet spot on the M10 monochrom.

  20. Hey Bastian,

    danke für den tollen Review – und all der Mühe dafür!

    Kurze Frage in Sachen “charaktervolle Portraits”: Wenn das neue 35 1,2 SE eine vergleichbare Qualität besitzen sollte, welches würdest Du präferieren: Das Nokton oder das Sony 35 1,8?

    Danke Dir, lG, m

    1. Hallo Marcus,
      Bokeh vom Sony FE 35mm 1.8 sagt mir persönlich jetzt nicht so zu, daher wäre ich eher beim 35mm 1.2 SE.
      Die Frage, ob du AF benötigst – oder möchtest – dürfte aber maßgeblich sein 🙂

  21. Hi Bastian,
    Are you considering to compare the Voigtländer 40mm 1.2 Nokton and new Voigtländer 35mm 1.2 Nokton (SE-version) for the Sony a7’s?

    The focal lenghts are relatively similar and I am incredible keen to understand whether this new lens performs better/worse/similar.
    Any thoughts?

    Massive thanks for your (and teams’) efforts, I am a very dedicated follower and appreciate your work and reviews a lot.

  22. Great review Bastian–thanks for the all work.

    My experiences with the new CV 35 1.2 iii VM are a little different in terms of flare. I get ring flare somewhat often, but shooting wide open and with a strong light source (usually the sun) just peripheral to the frame is normal for me. I didn’t get this with my CV 35/1.7 or ZM 35 1.4. After reading your review this weekend and shooting and getting ring flare somewhat often again, I got out a tripod this evening and found this: at f1.2, 1.4 and 1.7, this CV has pronounced ring flare. At f2, it goes away almost entirely. You can toggle the aperture between f1.7 and f2 and watch it flicker in the EVF. I shot a test against my CV 35 1.7 with moderately strong side lighting and found the CV 35 1.7 at 1.7 had zero traces of side flare while this new CV 35 1.2iii does. I have found ring flare to be a somewhat regular incident with this lens.

    Here’s the test results. All RAW, LR export, zero processing adjustments of any type, show with an A7s.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/68886880@N07/albums/72157714786758477

    I enjoy the ring flare as veiling is minimal/not noticeable. I will test the CV 35 1.2iii more, but in strongly backlight situations wide open, I have found it to be worse as well than the other CV 35 1.7/ZM 35 1.4, though still good. When the sun cooperates, I’ll update if you’re interested.

      1. Fotasy, some cheap Chinese helicoid adapter and a fotodiox. Happens on all 3. Happens on the A7s and A7r2 as well

  23. Phillip – I know some other commenters asked last month, but wondering if you received the e-mount SE version of the 35mm F1.2 yet… looking forward to what you have to say! Many thanks

  24. I have received my Nokton 35mm 1.2 SE for Sony FE today and I’m quite happy with the performance of the lens. Especially the bokeh is very nice for a 35mm lens. The lens is sharp enough in the middle of the frame even at f1.2 (if you focus precisely) and at f8 the Nokton is also quite sharp across the frame – even on my 60MP A7r IV(one example at f8: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rpmpcdqgcdq3e4s/Nokton35mm1%2C2SE%40F8.JPG?dl=0). So my plan is to use it below f2.8 for people photography and maybe also at f8 for landscape photos. As far as I can see this is going to work fine. I like the “3D pop” of the Nokton 35mm and especially the Nokton 50mm. Sometimes the background blur looks so nice that you could think it was made in Photoshop. The only real disadvantage I see is a sometimes nasty longitudinal chromatic aberration and that there is no lens profile for it available in Adobe Camera Raw yet to correct the distortion.

  25. The new generation of the Voigtlander 35mm, 40mm, and 50mm (f/1.2) all seem to have great resolution, good bokeh, at the cost of nasty purple fringing.
    Philip, I would rather trade a little resolution for less purple fringing, in this sense, are Zeiss 35mm Biogon or 50mm Plannar/Sonnar better?

    1. Meaningful advantages of each lens:

      Voigtländer:
      + smoother bokeh
      + smaller and lighter

      Zeiss:
      + sharpness at close distances (floating elements design)
      + across frame sharpness at infinity

  26. Loved this review, and particularly love the continued native Sony and Leica takes on E/M-mount CV lenses.

    Noting: in the conclusion it notes flare resistance in both the “good” and “average” columns.

  27. Sorry if someone else has commented but why is there an obvious large pink disk showing (center) in each of the f1.4 and f2.0 vignette shots? (I am viewing on calibrated monitor).

  28. Great review as usual. You have not mentioned anything as to how this lens compares to the Sony 35mm fe 1.8. Are these two entirely separate categories? I think anybody looking at this lens, especially the non professionals, would have benefited from the comparison.

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