Pixel Peeping the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Nokton

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I received my Voigtlander 17.5mmmm f/0.95 Nokton lens yesterday. After reviewing a few family snaps taken in and around the house yesterday and today, I am confident this lens will serve its intended purpose well.

    All but the first of these were taken wide open:

    PC080021 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    PC080036 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    PC070001 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    PC070095 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    PC070053 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    PC070063 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    Follow the rattle by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    As I am not a landscape shooter, pixel peeping has little to do with my photography. What pixel peeping is to me is a separate hobby altogether. I like pixel peeping for pixel peeping's sake.

    So here's a scene to pixel peep:


    What follows are a series of 100% crops after Auto Tone and Auto WB in Lightroom. Auto Tone pushed the shadows (more noise), and I can't rule out the effects of wind on foliage or changing light on contrast, but the crops are representative of multiple images taken under each set of conditions. I should mention that these are crops from Lightroom, which robs the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 of edge sharpness by automatically applying some much needed barrel distortion correction.

    In each of the following crops, the Voigtlander is on the left and the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is on the right. Both were set to f/4 and focused on the tree in the middle of the frame.

    Center sharpness is very similar for the two lenses:


    The Voigtlander is far sharper at the bottom center, bottom corners, and near right edge:





    Unfortunately, the Nokton suffers from pronounced field curvature, meaning that the plane of focus curves towards the photographer at the edges of the photo. As a result, the Nokton does poorly at the far left edge, which is an equal distance from the camera as is the chosen focus point in the center of the frame:


    One can get better edge sharpness with the Nokton by choosing a distant edge subject as the point of focus, but other parts of the image will lose sharpness as a result of that choice.

    With the pixel peeping done, we can move on and indulge in a bit of bokeh peeping This is an even greater sickness or funner hobby, depending on one's point of view, than pixel peeping.

    For those who don't know what bokeh means, bokeh (or boke) is out-of-focus blur. The part of the image which isn't in focus is bokeh. Aside: It is a common misconception on the web that bokeh means "quality of background blur" and that an image cannot have "more bokeh". If one image has lots of OOF blur and the other is sharp across the frame, then strictly speaking, the first image indeed has more bokeh. It just happens that quality of blur is a more interesting consideration than quantity of blur, hence the term boke-aji, which means "blur quality". If bokeh meant "blur quality", then boke-aji would mean "blur quality quality", which of course it doesn't :wink:.

    Here's my bokeh peeping scene:


    Only the upper right part of the frame is shown in the 30% crops below. First we have (top to bottom) the Nokton and Olympus 17mm f/1.8, both at f/2. Note that with this close a subject, the Nokton's narrower angle of view is much more noticeable. Since the tripod was not moved, the slightly longer focal length contributes to greater background blurring for the same f-number:


    Now (top to bottom) the Nokton, Olympus 17mm f/1.8, and Olympus 17mm f/2.8, all at f/2.8:


    Same three lenses at f/4:


    Lastly, a comparison of the same three lenses at their respective maximum apertures:


    My day 2 impressions of the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens are as follows:

    -It's big and heavy for a Micro 4/3 lens but smaller and lighter than I thought it would be. Very well proportioned to the E-M1.
    -Impressive central sharpness wide open for an f/0.95 lens.
    -Similar barrel distortion to most 35mm equivalent lenses for most systems.
    -Many shots need color fringing correction, but Lightroom makes this so easy that I'm not bothered.[/COLOR]
    -Very short minimum focus distance gives some nice possibilities that I've never had with a 35mm equivalent lens for Leica M or my full frame DSLRs.
    -Pronounce field curvature makes it difficult to get sharp edges in landscape shots, even stopped down.
    -Bokeh rendering is pleasing to me.
    -It's a keeper.

    Some reviews of this lens for those interested in more info:
    • Like Like x 30
  2. mnhoj

    mnhoj There and back again

    Dec 3, 2011
    Los Angeles
    John M
    Congrats on the lens and the new little one.
    • Like Like x 1

    BAXTING Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 5, 2012
    Los Angeles SFV, CA
    Very much enjoyed this Amin. Personally been curious about these lenses lately. A lot of good info here.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Halaking

    Halaking Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 17, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Great review! Amin. thanks for taking time doing this.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. cdmicha

    cdmicha Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Did you find it useful to use focus peaking with the lens? Or did you just eyeball with the viewfinder/screen? I'm wondering how precise the peaking might be at f0.95 :)
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I haven't used focus peaking yet with this lens because I find it pretty easy to focus without any aid (this EVF is really nice for MF) and find magnification to be the best solution for when I need really critical focus.

    It's easy to forget to stop down sufficiently though, like this:

    PC070046 by Amin Sabet, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 1
  7. cdmicha

    cdmicha Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Very nice. I love this series!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. RoadTraveler

    RoadTraveler Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 23, 2012
    I'm glad you did the pixel peeping Amin, nice to see and have extra knowledge about the performance of the lens, though I'll just use it.

    Many interesting and helpful comments and observations. As a recent fan and user of this lens, I'll comment on just a few of your points.

    I too love the speed, short minimum focus, and the appearance of the Bokeh. The minimum focus distance on some of my Panasonic AF lenses is already better than some of my (sold) Canon SLR glass. But the difference in min. focus distance with this Voigtlander compared to Leica M lenses is a game changer, and almost startling.

    Also agree the lens seems easy to focus… I don't even have focus-peeking on my GX1, but just focusing the overall image in the LVF or focus magnification seems to be working well.


    • Like Like x 1
  9. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 22, 2013
    This happens sooo easy, and sometimes even when focus peaking is used. But anyhow, I really like my 25mm Nokton, just thinking to get E-M1 for it :)

  10. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I don't like the bokeh on the 3,4, and 5th image. It looks awefully strange. Other than that, looks like a nice lens.
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Nice lens. Enjoy it Amin. I don't think I'd personally spend that on a pure MF lens and I refuse to buy anything else at the 35mm focal length (or even roughly) that might for compete for time with my RX1. That gets all the snaps at or near that field of view.

    Doesn't look like manual focus was a downside for you though - really nice photos...

    • Like Like x 1
  12. F/Stop

    F/Stop Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2013
    West Virginia
    Brian Y.
    Thanks Amin! Great post!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Like the others have said, nice review.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser

    Do you still have your EM-5? I am wondering how you find the handling of the VC 17.5 on the E-M1 vs E-M5?

  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Handles very nicely on the E-M5, but visually it looks very large on that camera (without grip).
  16. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Does it handle better on the E-M1?
  17. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    No, I think it handles equally well on both cameras. I end up supporting the weight mainly from the left hand under the lens with either body.
  18. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
  19. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Some rockin' glass there & family shots always make it better! :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  20. RoadTraveler

    RoadTraveler Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 23, 2012

    That's how I'm using my heavy manual lenses too. Both because they are heavy, and that's how I (and most others I think) use a manual lens… left hand cradling the lens and rotating the aperture and focus rings. Works as well as it always did :wink:
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