The Voigtlander Heliar 75mm F1.8 is a rare representative of the family of 75mm lenses. In this shorter review I give you my impressions on how it performs on the Sony a7ii.
|Filter Thread||46 mm|
|Close Focusing Distance from the sensor||0.9 m|
|Number of aperture blades||10|
In Germany you can buy it used for around 400€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).
Just click on any image to get to the full resolution version.
What I like about it
The Voigtländer 1.8/75 is very well built, rather small and it has a smooth focusing ring with a good transmission. So handling is very pleasant.
Thanks to 10 straight aperture blades you can get very well defined sunstars from f/5.6.
Flare resistance is generally good but you can get veiling flare as well as minor ghosting in critical situations. I didn’t use a hood though which might improve performance in this regard.
What I didn’t like
The 1.8/75 is part of the Voigtlander’s classic line and it is indeed closer to classic portrait lenses which are usually a bit soft wide open though the Voigtlander has good contrast from f/1.8. At f/2.8 it is sharp in the center but it takes until f/4 until the center reaches an excellent level. For very good corners you should stop down to f/8.
I wasn’t too happy with the sharpness: I used it wide open most of the time and found the results a bit lacking. It is sharp enough for web sized images but doesn’t hold up well for bigger enlargements.
Click here to check my sharpness test.
I had quite a few images which suffered from axial CA. The issue is very obvious especially wide open. Almost every other 85mm lens suffers from thi issue but I found it very obvious in the Heliar.
The bokeh can be very smooth as in this image with an undemanding background:
But in more challenging situations bokeh is a bit more nervous than I like:
- Olympus OM 100mm 1:2.8: Not quite the same focal length and speed but apart from the sunstars I like it better in any aspect and it costs a fourth of the Heliar.
- Tokina 2.5/90 Macro: One of my all time favorite manual lenses. It is larger but it is sharper, has less CA, better bokeh and it focuses down to 1:2. The coatings of the Voigtländer are significantly more effective though.
- Voigtländer Heliar 2.5/75: It’s smaller brother is significantly smaller and lighter and as far as I can judge also a better performer.
I wouldn’t recommend the Voigtländer Heliar 75mm 1:1.8 to photographers who look for a lens with similar performance to Voigtlander’s modern lenses like the great 1.7/35 or 5.6/10. It isn’t sharp enough at wider apertures for that and shows too many aberrations. It might be a decent option if you like a more classic look, after all there are very few alternatives when you look for a 75mm lens and it is very well made and not that expensive.
8/2019 Update: It’s successor the Voigtlander 1.5/75 Nokton is a much more attractive lens in my opinion. Check it out.
The Voigtländer 1.8/75 usually sells for around $430 used at ebay.com (affiliate link).
In Germany you can buy it used for around 400€ at ebay.de (affiliate link).
If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. Thanks ?
Images Samples in full resolution
You can find more images in this flickr set: Voigtlander Heliar 75mm F1.8
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20 thoughts on “Short Review: Voigtlander Heliar 75mm F1.8”
Your experience matches mine when I borrowed this lens after getting my original A7r.
But I then got the much smaller colour Heliar 2.4/75 and that’s a completely different beast. OK (but quite a bit of axial CA wide open) but much better half a stop down and wicked sharp from f4, if not quite the contrast of some lenses. And so small!
I don’t use it as much as I should, too many other options, but it is really tiny and really sharp, and a great option for someone who does a lot of hiking or wilderness work (I tend not to use it only because I use the much pricier ZM85 for this, but I’d strongly reccoend the 2.4/75 to soeone who wanted to spend less for a short tele hiking lens that’s even lighter)
Thank you for the review. It is difficult to find nice reviews for this particular lens online. I was considering this as a rangefinder sized portrait lens for my A7 but ended up going with a Jupiter 9 and a M90 summicron.
I think you made the better choice 😉
Interesting review. Oddly, perhaps, my copy seems plenty sharp wide open.
Can you share some full resolution images? 🙂
You looking for Raws, or HiRes jpgs? I use flickr, and am not sure how to share Raws, in any case.
Here’s a flickr album link, if that helps. https://flic.kr/s/aHskTxkbCk
Anything full resolution? These are all 2048x, which doesn’t do much for determining sharpness. Full res JPEGs are nice, as long as you know the general settings (Standard style, +/- X on sharpness, etc). You can share RAWs with Dropbox, Google Drive or any other file sharing service.
I bought the 75mm f2.5 just recently and it is TINY! I mean micro four thirds tiny. Love it. Nope, not as sharp as my 65mm 2.5 but not to bad either. Huge fun factor with the lens. Anyone thinking of picking it up, it’s well worth it and I normally take it out with the 35mm 1.7. Almost a perfect pair. I say that now until I buy the 90mm 3.5 so we’ll see how that goes:)
How do you feel this lens (or the older 75/2.5) compares with either the Loxia 85/2.4 or C/Y Sonnar 85/2.8?
Can’t speak about the 2.5/75 but both Zeiss lenses are quite a bit sharper.
Would you say the sharpness of this one compares more to C/Y Planar 50/1.4 then?
The C/Y 1.4/50 is a soft lens wide open and a very sharp lens stopped down to f/2.8 so what to compare it to?
Oops – sorry for being unclear, I was posting at an odd hour and wasn’t thinking when I wrote. A more clear question is, does it act as a good “soft lens” companion or replacement for C/Y 1.4/50 if I were thinking about making a lens kit of 35-75-135?
Any chance to review the new Voigtlander 75mmf1.5 vintage line? I heard it’s release already.
Rolling review will start this weekend if everything works out as planned 😉
Looking forward to it!!!
Thank you for the nice review (and many other reviews I use regularly before buying lenses…).
My experience with the 75/1.8 is very different. I used it on a7R, a7R2 and now on a7R4, and I am very happy with sharpness, bokeh and rendering. It looks totally different then your samples.
Can it be the filters on the a7II? The R series is without anti-alias filter.
can you share some samples? I am sure that the AA-filter has no affect on general rending.
It is a bit tricky to share photos – going through the images I have on the server (available for sharing) I realize that most of them are portraits of people which I need approval before sharing… I also found some landscape photos, like this one:
but I am not sure it really shows something about the lens.
I also found this one:
but again, not sure it represent something.
I will try to scan my LR catalog to find some photos that I can share and still show why I like this lens…
I don’t claim that this is a perfect lens. It suffers from CA as you describe, the bokeh can get nervous at some situations but can be very nice in other situations (as you mentioned in your review), and I do have sharper lenses in my arsenal. But every time I put this lens on my camera, I am very happy with the photos I get…
While writing this reply, I realize that we actually agree regarding most of the observations, and the main difference is that at the end I like the results and you don’t… I guess it depends on what you shot and what you expect. Anyways, after reading your review about the new 75/1.5 I am tempted to upgrade…