The Leica M10 and Voigtlander 40 f/1.2. What a combo!
By Steve Huff
The Leica M10 is in hand, and I love it. I adore it. It has been over a year since I had one and finally, an M is once again in my hand, and yes, I own it. I have had all digital M’s and a few Analog M’s and I will state that yes, the M10 is without question, the best M ever made for image quality, for size (thinnest), and for everything but battery life which the 240 excelled at. The M10 also has great battery life, but that 240 was a beast. Even so, the M10 is a jewel, and expensive jewel, but a jewel.
In fact, I think I am enjoying this M10 more than when I reviewed it over a year ago. Truth be told, it may be this amazing lens I am using, which is thousands less than one would pay for a Leica branded lens close to this, and I have to say, I am in LOVE with this M version of the Voigtlander 40 1.2. Lately Voigtlander has been on fire, and while I truly loved the E mount, the M mount, or at least my copy is a bit better. But the M10 also puts out a more pleasing IQ than the Sony can give me. (More depth, nicer color, sharper, more 3 dimensional). Leica got this one right without question.
But this lens…oh my. $899 and after shooting more and more with it, I am in love. Stephen Gandy from Cameraquest sent me this to review and I will state now, he is not getting it back. I am buying it and this will be my one lens for my M10 for quite a while. I do not need a Leica branded lens right now, though I do lust for the 50 APO. I owned that lens once and have missed it, as for me, it’s the best 50 I have ever used. But when I used this 40mm M mount I really started to fall for it, and the price, I can not argue with. It gives me f/1.2 and for almost $7k less than the 50 APO. Yes, $7k less.
So the 50 APO will be on an indefinite hold until I can afford to buy one again. But this little 40? This is one of the finest M mount Voigtlanders I have used. Sharp wide open (on the focus point of course) and a beautiful rendering and bokeh that gives it a classic Leica kind of vibe, which is something I really enjoy. $899 my friends, only $899!
I feel this lens is a little special with the M10. It has that something special, something unique. As a combo, it speaks to your heart and tugs at your soul. By that I mean USING the combo and seeing the images that come from it. Using it is a joy, an experience. It’s not like shooting any other camera but rather you know you are shooting with something special, and different.
Feels just like the “old days” of the M8, M9, etc. Taking a year off of Leica was good for me though, as it really showed me that nothing can really replace an M for me, and nothing renders quite like an M10 with a unique lens.
Below are some images shot at a Wax Museum in Las Vegas. It was a cold dreary day here, horrible light, so I decided to stroll on into the museum to see if I could get some test shots to review the IQ and rendering of the lens. I was able to do just that, and now I am hooked once again on the M. Feels like going back home.
Ken Hansen sold me the M10, you can email him here if you are interested in one.
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR LARGER AND MUCH BETTER VERSION!
1st shot heading into the Wax Museum, OOC JPEG at f/1.2
40mm, f/1.2, M10
The Bokeh wide open at f/1.2 with the 40mm
40mm at f/1.2. This lens at f/1.2 offers wonderful subject separation, even when at a distance.
f/1.2 is where this lens lives..
Converted to B&W within RAW processing. Just brought the slider back. Easy.
Click it to see larger!
I love the way this lens renders the subject in a sharp way but not overly sharp. The bokeh, IMO, is beautiful.
Sometimes these wax versions of real people can be eerily realistic…
The color from the M10 is amazing. I have not tweaked any color in any image here besides the few I converted to B&W. The AWB of the M10 is one of the best I have ever seen.
After the wax museum I was able to get a few shots of real people ; ) All wide open, where this lens is meant to be shot.
The Voigtlander 40 1.2 is not a perfect lens. You may see some CA in some situations, and it will not render like a $7000 Leica 50 APO (nothing does). You will not have 40mm frame lines popping up on your M so you have two choices. Mentally “see” where those lines are or use an external viewfinder for live view, OR use a Voigtlander 40mm VF to frame it up.
I prefer to visualize mentally, and so far it has worked out great though it took 20-30 shots to really dial that in.
In these days of M mount lenses almost always being over $1000, the cost of $899 for this brand new lens from Voigtlander is quite the bargain if you enjoy how it renders. From what I see it is gem, and offers wonderful color when used on the M10, wonderful sharpness and wonderful DOF and Bokeh quality. F/1.2 is 100% usable. Not like the old days when a fast lens was not really made to be used wide open, but only in those situations when you really needed it for light gathering. Today, lenses are so so wonderful, and we have many to choose from that will deliver the “look” we want and desire.
I’m thrilled with the M10 and the 40 1.2 and look forward to getting back in the Leica zone. This lens is becoming a favorite already.
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