Short Review: Voigtlander Heliar 75mm F1.8

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.

Specifications

Diameter 58 mm
Length 74 mm
Filter Thread 46 mm
Weight 427 g
Max. Magnification 0.12
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 0.9 m
Number of aperture blades 10
Elements/ Groups 6/3
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). 

Image Samples

Just click on any image to get to the full resolution version.

What I like about it

The Handling

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.

The sunstars

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 Sharpness

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.

f/1.8 is a bit softer than I would have liked
At f/8 there is nothing to complain about.

Chromatic aberrations

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

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:

Alternatives

  • Olympus OM 100mm 1:2.8Not 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.

Conclusion

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.

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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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

6 thoughts on “Short Review: Voigtlander Heliar 75mm F1.8”

  1. 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)

  2. 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.

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