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Voigtlander 42.5mm vs. Fuji 56mm F1.2

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Sahib7, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Dear photo enthusiasts,

    I'm thinking about buying a Voigtländer 42.5mm f0.95 lens for my Olympus E-M1.
    I do have the Voigtländer 17.5mm as well as the 25mm and enjoy them immensiviely.
    I do use thm mostly for photos/videos of my toddler.

    But I would also love to have autofocus while still having the ability of great subject isolation and lens character.

    Looking at current used prizes of Fuji X E-1 (about 200-300 Euros) I was thinking about buying a secondary system together with the Fuji 56mm f1.2. Regarding subject isolation this lens should be comparable to the Voigtländer on m43 but with Autofocus. Prizes are comparable to buying the Voigtländer 42.5mm f0.95 but I would have the possibility to play with another system....

    Another idea would be a Sony A7..... I know I'm affected by GAS, but we all know that this is a heck of fun... ;) 

    Does anybody have experience with both lenses?
    What are your opinion on both systems or on buying a X E-1 to complement my Oly E-M1? Or would you think about buying a FF kit?
    I'm mostly using my camera for family photos nowadays.
  2. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    What about the Panasonic 42.5mm or Olympus 75mm? Great isolation and nice look to the images, plus fast AF to keep up with that toddler (I think the X-E1 would be noticeably slower). Also, would think that IBIS will come in handy with video?

    I do like the Sony Zeiss 55/1.8 a lot on my A7 if you decide to go that way...
  3. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I already own the Olympus 75mm f1.8 and love it!
    I use it a lot with the toddler. But AF is still lacking in some situations (like toddler in a swing)...

    I would definitely buy the 55m f1.8 if I would choose to buy the A7/r/s. As images of that lens are amazing.

    Regarding the 42.5 f1.2: isolation is worse than Voigtländer 42.5 f0.95 or Fuji 56mm f1.2. And honestly when looking at images from these two lenses they tend to have more character. Hard to explain, but the PL 42.5 looks a bit clinical at times, and regarding value the 42.5 PL seems to be the worst of the bunch (I could even buy a X E-2 and Fuji 56mm for roughly the same prize or the X E-1 and the 56mm for less; which I find more appealing as I'm a gear head somehow....).
  4. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Btw how do you like the A7 from a usability point of view? I haven't handled one yet but I've read a lot about it and some things seem strange (as AF point selection).
  5. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    Value is all subjective term anyway ^^
    your answer is the nocticron but your budget is telling you otherwise...
    I think buying into another system just for one lens is even worse budget Wise...
  6. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    It's not about the price. IMHO the CV 42.5 f0.95 as well as the Fuji and the Zeiss 55mm all have more character than the PL 42.5... That's what I mean.
    I do love the images of my CV 17.5 and CV 25mm. And MF is okay using peaking, but AF would be nice still. Buying into another system can be a heck of fun, too.
    A7 with Zeiss 55mm f1.8 is just 500 Euro more than the PL 42.5 and about 1000 more than the CV (although this would be comparable to E-M1 with CV 25 rather than CV 42.5). Fuji X-E1 with Fuji 56mm f1.2 is about 250 Euros more than the CV 42.5 and also about 250 Euros cheaper than the PL 42.5... So it's not about the budget but about what you get for your money and how much fun you can have as an enthusiast... And also about image quality and character...
  7. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
  8. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    I have the PL42.5 and I also have a pentax 50mm f1.2+focal reducer that give a 37mm f0.85 equivalent DOF wide open. And I can tell you I love the PL42.5 much better because wide open it is way sharper than the pentax , way more contrast, way more convenient with its auto focus, way more stabilized for video thanks to it OIS with my GH4 body.

    Value is subjective and your values are certainly yours and specific to you. As you say you would like to have another system altogether. But for me it's such a hassle to bring two charger, two battery types, using two sets of menus, being unable to switch lenses etc, etc... I don't see the point unless you don't travel with your gear or you have a sherpa who will carry it for you.

    without parting ways from m43, If you want the VC 43mm DOF with autofocus, get the nocticron, there is no way around I'm aware of.

    If you want A7 FF, then get it, that's pretty simple. I too would love to craddle that little bugger to play with my FF lenses, I get it :smile:

    And don't look at charts, look at real life samples. You get a better idea of what you can expect.

    If you want the best separation, full frame is not enough anyway. I prefer m43 with nocticron.

    Get a rolleiflex 2.8, or a 4X5 camera, it's way more subject isolating friendly!
  9. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    You are right, but then I would have to fiddle with film development ;) 

    And I've looked at lots of samples in flickr, that's why I've said that I prefer images of the Fuji or the Voigtländer 42.5mm over the PL 42.5mm f1.2.

    So it would be:

    1. Buy a Voigtländer 42.5mm f0.95 to use with my E-M1 to complete my CV trinity
    Pro: love it's images, IBIS, no new body needed
    Con: no new body needed ;) , MF

    2. Buy a used Fuji X E-1 with a (new) Fuji 56mm f1.2 as I love images from this combination on Flickr
    Pro: new body and new system -> new experience, AF, better high ISO (eaten by f1.2 vs f0.95???)
    Con: no IBIS

    3. Buy a used A7 (maybe even A7R or A7S when I wait a bit) and combine it with the 55mm f1.8 Zeiss and a Samyang/Walimex/Rokinon 85mm f1.4
    Pro: new body and new system, good high ISO capabilities (better than Fuji?), lots of adaptable lenses, Full Frame look, AF on the 55mm
    Con: usability (from what I've read), MF on the 85mm, most expensive

    Regarding option 2&3:
    What would you think would be the better system to complement m43? FF A7 or Fuji X?
  10. orfeo

    orfeo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 27, 2013
    I like option 3 better ^^
    But seriously I am thinking taking my dusty rollei 2.8E to get some series of portraits. I used to love to do that, I think I will still do ^^
  11. woofwoof

    woofwoof New to Mu-43

    Aug 14, 2014
    I've been a MFT user since the GF1 and currently own G1, GX7 and Sony A7.

    I'm a bit of a shallow DoF fan myself but I also think that it can be overdone and I'm pretty happy with my ability to get shallow DoF from the f1.7/1.8 AF lenses I have. I used to have a Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 and also used old manual 50mm f1.4 and f1.8's but I now use the AF 20mm f1.7, 25mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8 and now use my manual lenses on my Sony A7. Of course the opposite side of the coin from shallow DoF is being able to get enough DoF to get both of someones eyes in focus at wider apertures and possibly faster shutter speeds/lower ISO's than is possible with FF.

    Anyway, I think that MFT and FF make a nice partnership. I use my A7 when I have time to focus manually and want the experience of using old manual lenses while getting the best possible image quality from them, it's my luxury kit :D  and I use MFT and AF lenses when I don't want to take an age over shooting and when I want a compact camera and lens package, maybe because I'm with someone else and it's not a day dedicated just to photography.

    I've thought about going for Fuji but... possible raw processing issues put me off as does being limited to ISO 200 (when shooting raw) and 1/4000 which will make shooting at wide apertures in good light difficult without ND's and I hate juggling lens hoods, ND cases and ND's and constantly fitting and removing them. But that's just me. I'm much happier being able to shoot without having to constantly fit and remove ND's and without having to stick to apertures of f2.8-4 and smaller to avoid going over 1/4000 second. Another factor which puts me off the Fuji is that it's a slightly bigger body and lens package than MFT. The Fuji seems a bit piggy in the middle to me, stuck between the most compact package, MFT, and the best image quality of the A7.

    In your position OP, I think I'd decide how important shallow DoF really is and what the cut of point is beyond which you're not happy. If MFT can't make you happy then maybe it's time to look at something else. Personally, after going through a similar process to yourself I decided that shallow DoF can be overdone and that in reality I was pretty happy with what I could get from MFT at 25 and 45mm and f1.8. Actual lens character is another issue and if you can resist the Fuji 56mm then that's the way to go :D 
  12. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I've read a lot on the net the last days and I've downloaded the studio comparison RAWs from DPReview.

    Here's what I've got after a lot of pixel-peeping using the dim light Studio RAWs:

    1. I love the look of my CV 25 and 17.5mm on M43. The con is that you have to MF. Pro is that there is IBIS.

    2. My idea would be to use similar focal length on an A7/r/s with two stops less, so same DOF, which is IMHO great and small enough (makes the 25mm CV f0.95 roughly equivalent to the Zeiss 55mm f1.8 on FF). To compensate for that two stops of light loss due to the smaller aperture I have to increase ISO (to get the same shutter speeds). Pro: sharper wired open than the CVs, AF Con: no ibis
    ---> This means that the FF kit has to have an improvement in ISO of two stops to get the same shutter speeds.

    3. I've downloaded the Studio test RAWs for the E-M1 at ISO 3200 (this is where I feel comfortable using it) and samples of the A7 and A7s at ISO 12800.

    After working a bit with the RAW files (setting white balance etc.) and exporting them in the same resolution (I've normalized to 24MP, giving a bit of an advantage to the A7 and the E-M1):
    The 3200 ISO of the E-M1 is comparable in resolution and noise to the A7s. The A7 is clearly worse.
    Which means the A7 is out of the game (which is sad as this would have been a very cost efficient second body together with the 55mm Zeiss).
    The A7s with ISO 25600 is a bit worse than the E-M1 at ISO 3200.

    So regarding isolation and DOF and low-light it looks like that:

    E-M1 & CV 25 f0.95 and ISO 3200 yields the same shutter speeds as A7/s at ISO 12800 and Z55mm f1.8.
    Images from the Zeiss wide open will be sharper than the ones from the CV and will have roughly equivalent DOF. Both have great character IMHO.
    Images made that way on a A7 will look worse than those from an E-M1 regarding noise. Images from an A7s will look roughly the same.
    Increasing the ISO further would decrease image quality on all systems with the A7s getting worse slower than the A7 or E-M1.

    So the conclusion is that regarding low-light capabilities there is not that much of a difference than previously anticipated....
    I would have guessed that the A7 is about 3 stops better in high-ISO and the A7s about 4 stops.
    But in reality it is less than 2 stops for the A7 and less than 3 stops for the A7s.

    My insights might be of value for everyone else affected by GAS... ;) 

    P.S.: Regarding Fuji: The X-E2 RAWs only go up to ISO 6400, but these look roughly equivalent to ISO 3200 on the E-M1. But as Fuji is known for giving higher ISOs than the competition (it is about 1/3-1/2 of a stop slower than stated in EXIFS) the advantage of the Fuji setup is 1/3-1/2 of a stop. Hardly worth it.
    But there are still a lot of other factors to consider when comparing FF, Fuji X and M43 than low-light capability....
    And of course, everything changes when you use something like the Speedmaster 50mm f0.95 lens on a full frame camera... ;)  but that would mean MF again....
  13. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    While looking into the different options I came over a really nice offer: there was a cash back deal for some Fuji lenses and a set price of a 23mm lens with a X-E1, both new.
    Unfortunately, there was no cash back offer for the 56mm, but I could negotiate a deal ;) 

    So I bought into the X system with a Fuji X-E1 and a 23mm f1.4 as well as an 56mm f1.2 lens. The 23mm f1.4 is a 17.5 f1.1 equivalent lens on m43 and has AF. I've looked at a lot of images from this setup on Flickr and love the lens's character. Regarding the 56mm, I've already written enough ;)  And as the 35mm equivalence is my preferred focal length I couldn't resist.

    I will report back about my experience with the set.
  14. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Congratulations. The Fuji 23mm is one of my favourite 35mm equivalent lenses that money can buy.
    You will be very happy with it!
  15. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Personally if I had the cash I would have gone X-E2 over X-E1. I know some have said the X-E1 has better IQ over the X-E2, but the better AF(specially in low light), wifi, and faster general performance is way worth it. If you do shot in low light either MF, or put the camera in continuous AF mode as that give out more accurate results. It's better in CAF but, definitely not as good as my GF3+14mm in terms of getting focus when colors, lights and everything is changing. I may get a X-E2 once body price come down to where one can get X-E1 body now. Other than that, I love my X-E1. It's such an amazing camera, and so far I only have the 27mm.
  16. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Short report after 2 days:

    Both lenses (23mm & 56mm) are really stellar!
    The 23mm is really very nice, but if you compare it with the Voigtländer 17.5mm, the Voigtländer wins regarding character. But the 23mmis the much more convenient lens (AF!).
    The 56mm f1.2 is a fantastic performer.
    The only lens that can hold a candle to this lens is my Olympus 75mm f1.8. The Olympus is a better performer regarding AF, though (Fuji tested with X-E1 and Olympus on OM-D E-M5 and E-M1).

    Regarding the X-E1:
    I do understand now what people mean by "Fuji-color-signature", colors are amazing.
    But the camera is pretty slow in focus and general operation, although I have already installed the most current firmware. Shooting using AF is easily possible as long as she is not moving for about 2 seconds.... otherwise I use MF, which is for both lenses worse than the Voigtländer MF.
    But all in all operating the X-E1 is very refreshening and a lot of fun. I really like the Fuji ergonomics with the old school wheels.
    Regarding the price difference of a X-E1 and the X-E2, I still think that for current prices the X-E1 was the better deal (difference for the new prices I could get was about 100%!!!). So of now, I'm really happy with my X-E1 and these two really great lenses.
    This is a fantastic addition to my Olympus E-M1 set!
    When the X-E2 falls to reasonable price levels I might upgrade, but it might be wiser to wait for the next sensor generation (organic?)...

    These two lenses together with the Fuji X-E1 is a great addition for my M43 gear, but not a substitute. This is exactly what I was looking for. So I'm a happy camper right now!
  17. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I would tend to agree with Sahib. There is isn't any focal length on the Fuji platform that I feel matches the optical quality of the Voigtlander series. The voigtlanders render with a classic Leica look and colour.

    I own the Nocticron myself and while more 'perfect' than the Voigtlander, I could see a case for owning both. The Voigtlanders render skin tones especially well and make for really excellent portrait lenses. In terms of DOF and subject isolation The 56mm and 42.5Voigty will render very close subject isolation.
    in the 35mm equivalent segment, the 23mm Fuji is slightly faster wide open but doesn't have the same DOF as the 17mm Voigty. Stopping the voigty down to similar apertures and it is sharper than the Fuji.
    On the 50mm focal length, the Voigty will again have more subject isolation than the XF35. For the interest of anybody else interested in this thread, if you do go for the Voigty 25, go for the mk ii version as it has improved coatings and better sharpness/contrast wide open - it also makes for a great videography lens on a GH4! This blog is kind of interesting....


  18. Sahib7

    Sahib7 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Yes, the Voigtländer lenses are just amazing!
    Only thing which is not too easy: photographing moving subjects (toddlers) with MF and f0.95...
    Although I have to admit that it is also not easy with the X-E1 and the 23 and 56mm due to a slow AF...

    Regarding the 25: I do have the 25mm f0.95 Mark I and this lens is really fantastic. I have read some rumors regarding better optical performance of the mark II version but after comparing my lens with samples from the mark II version I do not believe in that.
    The theory that the mark II is optically better was brought up by a review stating that their mark II SAMPLE was better than their mark 1 sample. According to Voigtländer both lenses use the same optical formula and the only significant difference is the steppless aperture ring which is nice to have for videographers and the increased weight due to its implementation....
  19. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    These are probably the reviews that you are referring to :

    The original Voigtlander 25 : http://www.ephotozine.com/article/voigtlander-25mm-f-0-95-nokton-micro-four-thirds-lens-review-20808

    New Voigtlander 25 v2 : http://www.ephotozine.com/article/voigtlander-25mm-f-0-95-nokton-version-ii-lens-review-25344

    Note the increase in resolution wide open on the v2 edition. This is inline with my own findings trying the two side to side in my local camera store, there definitely was increased contrast wide open, possibly slightly sharper, but given how thin the DOF was perhaps it was down to my focusing. My takeaway was definitely that wide open, the v2 25mm was closer in sharpness to the 17.5 and 42.5mm. That is not to say that the v1 is not a spectacular lens - because it is - just I had different findings to you and found the v2 sharper.
    Voigtlander have said that it retains the same optical formula, but multiple testers have found the new lens to be slightly larger and to have a bit more weight to it, enough to suggest that it is not the exact same optical design but likely similar ;) 
    It is also possible that there is considerable sample deviation between copies of these lenses which would be a worrying thing given the price that Voigtlander charge. Hmm....

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