The Leica M10 and Voigtlander 40 f/1.2. What a combo!

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.

You can also buy an M10 from PopFlash.com, B&H Photo or Amazon. 

Check out the 40 1.2 at CameraQuest. 

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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56 Comments

  1. Steve, what do you think about 40mm f1.2 VM on A7RII with AF Techart Adapter? Have you tested it in this combination?

    • Yes, but I would rather have the Sony E mount for my Sony (and do) as it allows the info to be recorded with the file (EXIF). Either will work but the E mount is made for Sony. If I had an M and a Sony, I’d then go M mount to use on both ; ) My M mount is a tad bit sharper but both are lovely.

  2. Hi Steve
    So nice to see you with the M again
    Interesting what you say about the Voigtlander
    It is Passover here. S HAPPY PASSOVER

  3. After seeing your review, I bought this lens at a London Leica dealer’s where I was impressed by its sharpness on a TL2. However, last night in a quiet environment I noticed that (with lens on an M10) when focusing I could hear a faint ‘chuffing’ sound as I turned the focus ring. With lens in the hand this was still audible, but less noticeable. Also, looking at the rear assembly I found the black metal ring was not properly tightened. Have other VC users experienced this sort of thing? All my Leica M lenses are silent when focusing! IQ is unaffected by this of course.

  4. My Leica London dealer had this lens in stock and impressed by its sharpness (on a TL2) I bought ione. However, turning focus ring creates a very faintly audible ‘chuffing’ sound and with lens mounted on M10 this is even more audible. Looking at the back of the lens I saw that the black ring was slack: only loosely fitted. None of my Leica lenses makes any sound when focusing – wonder if other VCs are similar. (Obviously does not affect IQ and anyway I properly tightened rear assembly.)

      • I sold my M10 as I kept losing great photos where F2.0 was just too sold. I never felt the magic. I also sold my Noctilux 0.95 as it was just too heavy and for some reason I was always afraid of bumping the hood and making marks. I purchased the 40 1.2 and I really adore the way it renders. I also repurchased a Canon 0.95 for I have never found a lens that offered such magic. I am keeping my 75mm Summilux German for the bokeh is amazing and my tiny 35mm Summilux pre asph. I agree that the Vogtlander 40 1.2 is a great lens to wander around the more questionable sections of Bogota. It small and fast. Leica should think about producing lenses small and fast instead of heavy giants.

    • Different lenses for two different purposes. The Heliar is wonderful but an f/3.5 lens, so you need some light. The 40 is f/1.2, so can be used in low light as well. I would own both, and well, do ; )

  5. Hi Steve, Do you prefer using your M Lenses with the M10 or with the Sony AR7RIII /Sony cameras. I have a few Leica lenses, 35mm lux, 50mm lux and I was either going to get a new Sony Camera with adapter (not sure which one) or save up for the M10. My eyes are the greatest either.

    • Well, they perform better on the Leica M10 but they also do pretty good on Sony. You get the EVF experience which does make it easier for some. THOUGH, I do prefer using them on the M10.

  6. Hi Steve! Sounds like a great lens! If you had to choose the voigtlander 40mm or a 35 lux which would you go?!

    • Well, the 35 Lux is a fantastic lens, more “perfected” but also much much more costly. The 40 will give you more “character” IMO but to be honest I do not like the 35 Lux more. Maybe equal but they are different. The Leica will be superior in build, and feel.

      • Thanks for your reply Steve! Do you think a 40mm is too close to a 50mm FOV? Currently I have a 35 + 50mm combo, and was thinking of getting this 40mm lens and selling the 35mm. Descisions! Lol

        • It is very close to 50, so I would not sell my 35 for a 40 if I had a 50. I may add it for the character and different style but it is pretty close to 50.

  7. Hi Steve, what do you think this lens compared to Ultron 35mm f1.7? Which one more sharper and better rendition?

    • Well, I like it better. Seems to have a little more character and is sharper and better color as well. As much as I love the 50, this 40 also gives f/1.2. I really like this lens. A lot!

  8. Hi Steve! I looked at the pictures and fell in love with the 40mm F/1.2. But how does it compare to the “old” F/1.4 for contrast and bokeh? The 1.4 is almost half the weight of the 1.2, a lot smaller and half the price.

    • This 40 1.2 is IMO, a much better lens. Better color, better bokeh, sharper at f/1.2 than the 1.4 is at 1.4, and just a lovely rendering that I usually see in more pricey designs. You get what you pay for!

      • Tx for the answer. My mind is made up now. I will buy it for M240 during my next NYC trip.

  9. Hello Steve, do you recommend buying the M-mount version (for better IQ) and use it on the Sony A7 series with an adaptor instead of going for the E-mount version for Sony users?

    • I recommend the E Mount for Sony users and the M mount for Leica and Sony users ; ) Id still take the E mount for the contacts and auto magnify feature. My copy for E mount is a tad softer but could be sample variation. In other words I have seen some say the M mount is softer so could just be the luck of the draw wether you get a sharper copy or softer copy.

  10. Put this lens on an SL with M->L adapter, and you don’t have to be concerned about frame lines. The fantastic SL EVF will show what the sensor sees. And most observers seem to agree that M lenses perform about as well on the SL as they do on the M10. If I did not already own a ZM 35 f/1.4, I would be all over the Voigt 40 f/1.2.

  11. Steve, looks like there is more excitement on the way. Cosina have just announced a new 50 1.2 M lens. So we’ll have 35, 40 and 50 1.2 lenses to choose from.

  12. Steve, I have M240 and A7. Should I get the M mount to enable on both using adapter for A7.Any loss in IQ? Thanks

  13. I can’t say about the M version (and I’m not planning to buy any Leica gear, lens or camera, any time soon either), but I’m also in love with my E mount Voigtlander 40mm 1.2. I’m so in love that I even got rid of my beloved Noctilux (f1 E60). Do I miss the Leica? Sure. Sometimes, when I review the incredible pictures it was able to take. But, heck, then I review the also amazing imagery the Voigt creates (besides my bank account balance) and I forget the Noctilux… 🙂

  14. Thanks for showcasing this new lens, looks pretty great. Regarding the M10, I owned it for a year since it got released and even though I agree with you that it is the most advanced Leica M, I somehow felt I couldn’t justify it’s cost after purchasing the Monochrom (CCD). Yes it’s true that the MM is not as advanced as the M10 (menus, screen, etc) but for some reason it gives me more pleasure using it and the results are amazing. You can now also get an M9 or MM (or even the M240) for less than half the price of the M10, so I couldn’t justify paying 2, 3x more for the M10 VS other Ms. Despite it being the most advanced M I don’t think those advancements justify the extra cost. So I sold my M10, and instead got a used MM and M-D for the same price and never looked back! : )

    That being said, I’m really happy that you came back to the Leica world, was missing seeing Leica content on this website! Hope to see more! : D Thanks Steve for always taking the time to write these reviews and maintaining the website!

  15. I don’t know about the rendering of this lens, Steve. Some of the portraits look a little plastic-y to me…

  16. Very cool, Steve. This lens really does deliver. I don’t need or want such apertures, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be impressed!

    You know, you could use this lens as a 50mm, and use the extra space around the frame lines as a buffer in case you need to reframe. Sometimes when we look at some of our photos, we think, “Damn, if only I had moved the camera a bit to the left,” or “If only I had zoomed out a bit.” Of course this means losing some of the pixel count.

  17. Regarding the framelines – I have a 40 mm minolta on the m8 and use the 35mm frame lines. This works very well. I would say better than the 50mm lines (at least on the m8 which will have slightly different framelines compared to the m10). I am sure this voigtlaender has nicer bokeh than the minolta though!

  18. Nice. The rf frame lines never are really accurate anyway so when I shoot with a 40mm lens, I just assume the covered area is a little outside the 50mm lines. And within the 35mm lines… Works fine for me!
    You should test the 7Artisans 50 1.1 M mount lens. $300! I love it so much I have two (chrome and black), even though I have Leica etc glass as well.

    • Hey Huss! I know of a few who own that lens and like it. $300 is a steal. I did try it on an M10 a few months back (someone else) and it seemed well worth the cost. I will probably pick one up. Thanks!

  19. Great shots and color rendition Steve. The 40 f1.2M on the Leica appears just as exciting as my 40mm f1.2 FE on my Sony A7RIII. The 50 to 40 frame line imaging doesn’t bother me as much as the lack of 6 bit coding to allow EXIF labeling of files. Several years ago I bought a coding kit from Tim Isaac at Match Tech to code my array of Voightlander M lenses for my Leica M8. That coding, painted on, has now largely worn off the lenses and my M8 has gone the way of other poorly turned out first attempts at digital rendering, sold. However, I lust after an M10 to reactivate my Voightlander M lenses. Tim Isaac is out of coders, although he tells me he has contracted for more. Stephen Gandy at Cameraquest tells me they may not be available because of patent issues. Voightlander is not making a 6 bit coded M lens. What is your understanding about all of this?

  20. Paypal is punched in your favor, plus I will try to remember to use the purchase links! Steve, your reviews, opinions and friends’ contributions were extremely helpful to me in 2017! Best wishes for a glorious 2018! Cheers!

  21. Hi Steve, you said you moved away from the M10 because your eyesight wasn’t working well with the optical rangefinder focussing anymore if I remember correctly. I was interested to know what has changed this view? (I also have an M10 btw). Thanks. Paul

  22. Steve, this is one of your really good reviews. Makes one think about how one is using one’s equipment even if the items you are talking about are over the hill and far away! Thanks.
    (This is not a duplicate comment despite what your website tells me!!!)

  23. Steve, this is one of your really good reviews. Makes one think about how one is using one’s equipment even if the items you are talking about are over the hill and far away! Thanks.

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