Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 Impressions

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by napilopez, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Hey guys, so just one of those times when I make a really long post and figure it might merit its own thread. I created a Nokton 42.5mm image thread in the sample archive, but wrote my impressions as well, so I'll copy and edit/expand here. I'm doing a shoot tomorrow using the lens, so I'll update this original post accordingly.


    I rented the Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 for 5 days to use in a shoot, and with just one day of usage I have to say I'm very impressed so far. It's my first time handling one of the Voigtlanders--the build and feel are wonderful. It's also substantially heavier than I expected; the 75mm f1.8 (which I rented along with the Nokton and is nearly exactly the same size) feels like a feather by comparison. Not that the 75mm feels cheap, it's just the Nokton is exceedingly robust.

    Like the other lenses in this series, it's completely manual in both focus and aperture, with no electronic contacts. Also like the others, the aperture wheel can also be made clickless by turning a thin ring, a cool feature for videographers in particular... or if you're really particular about using exactly f/2.39456.

    On to the most important part: image quality is impressive right from f/0.95. For portraits in particular, where absolutely critical sharpness isn't generally a priority, there's absolutely no need to stop down except to widen the DoF. Still, it seems to exceed a lot of lenses on the system right from the brightest setting.

    It also focuses incredibly close for a non-macro; magnification seems to not be just a few notches below the 12-50 in macro mode. That said, at this distance there's a noticeable amount of distortion and field curvature going on , and wide open there can be pretty severe "ghosting" halos, but at most shooting distances they are pretty much absent. In any cases, the ghosting is pretty irrelevant in use. DoF is way too narrow at f0.95 to be usable in most macro scenarios, and by f2.0 the ghosting is pretty much gone. It'll show up from time to time in close-but-not-too-close shots, but it hasn't been an issue so far. There is some also some purple fringing wide open, but again, less than I'd expect, and it promptly dissappears upon stopping down.

    As expected, it vignettes noticeably wide open, but it suits the look. Also note that I was using the hood for every shot. There's always Lightroom if it bothers you =P

    Stopped down I really needn't say much. It's clinically sharp, and rendering and contrast are spectacular. Additionally, I rarely pay attention to a lens' color rendition--I typically do so much editing it's usually inconsequential--but I was consistently impressed by the colors I got here. If curious, my settings are NR Off, Sharpness 0, Contrast +2, RGB -1, and Gradation Auto. All

    The proof is in the pudding: I never share SooC images, but here are a couple of completely unaltered full res ones just to give you a quick feel before I do my shoot tomorrow and get time to properly edit these photos. I also underexposed a lot of these because I forgot to change some settings, woops.

    Anyway, you want the full-frame look? You got it.

    f/0.95 - Front focused a bit, but it still has that subtle shallow DoF that gives images a very appealing look.
    P9111056 by napilopez, on Flickr

    f/0.95 - Closer up. Click through on flickr and check the 100% crop. Some fringing, but the in-focus zone is very useably sharp. Note the vignetting; present but pleasant.
    P9111061 by napilopez, on Flickr

    f/0.95 - underexposed, but pleasant colors and contrast.
    P9111085 by napilopez, on Flickr

    f/0.95 - Again, wide open and perfectly sharp. There is a small amount of ghosting around the lights, but unnoticeable unless you're pixel peeing.
    P9111052 by napilopez, on Flickr

    f/0.95 - Not a particularly interesting shot at all, and I front focused a bit, but again, it's that subtle "full frame" look. The colors I'm getting from this lens SooC are also wonderful.
    P9111046 by napilopez, on Flickr

    I think this one was at f/2.8, perhaps f/4. Not sure though. Focus was on the arch.
    P9111064 by napilopez, on Flickr

    This was around f/4.
    P9111130 by napilopez, on Flickr

    P9111137 by napilopez, on Flickr

    f/4 or f/5.6 - Check out that impeccable sharpness. And again, lovely colors sooc.
    P9111000 by napilopez, on Flickr

    Now, I know this is a portraits lens, and one of my biggest complaints about previews for this lens is that there have only been a couple of headshots (well, aside from Steve's cows =P). I'll be sure to get those in for my shoot and update this post accordingly.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. zacster

    zacster Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2011
    Were you following me around???? I passed by every one of those places today on my bike!!!

    Nice shots.
  3. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    A bunch of other shots, these are unfinished drafts from my shoot this past Thursday. All of these, except for one, was shot wide open at f0.95. Not one of them is cropped, so they should give you a good idea of the DoF you can expect. However, don't use them to assess other aspects of the lens' performance too much, as there are varying amounts of sharpening, CA/fringing have been removed by my default settings, and the nature of the shoot means these colors are processed to death. As is my general process, they are also resized to 10 megapixels for better pixel level sharpness, but again, not cropped.

    trio by napilopez, on Flickr

    magnum by napilopez, on Flickr

    3 - This one is the only one at f2.0
    hat by napilopez, on Flickr

    glasses by napilopez, on Flickr

    nor by napilopez, on Flickr

    colors by napilopez, on Flickr

    look by napilopez, on Flickr

    container by napilopez, on Flickr

    bw by napilopez, on Flickr

    leaves by napilopez, on Flickr

    prospect-16 by napilopez, on Flickr

    walk by napilopez, on Flickr

    m by napilopez, on Flickr

    prospect by napilopez, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 4
  4. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Great stuff. Liked the processing too.

    Was the first one with a film preset? If so, which one?
  5. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Thanks! The first one was my own preset, I believe. I think it was just a pretty standard faded S curve, and then some split toning in LR. Might've been adapted from a VSCO or Replichrome Preset, but in any case I definitely added the some slight split toning there to give it the warmish-faded look.

    Most of these were variedly edited versions of VSCO 04 (love me some Provia 400 and Ektachrome 200) and Replichrome presets. The very last shot was Exposure 5, however. I intended to do them all in E5, but got impatient. Obviously I'm all over the place with my workflow hahah.
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