USER REPORT: CV 25/0.95 on NEX VS Nikon 35/1.4G on FF By Kolen Cheung

USER REPORT: CV 25/0.95 on NEX VS Nikon 35/1.4G on FF

By Kolen Cheung

I forgot how long I have been reading your site, probably started by googling reviews on some Leica/Voigtlander lens. And the review I love most is the one on the Voigtlander 35/1.2 II. While other people might focus on the technical aspects, saying it is not sharp wide open or what, from time to time I’ve gone back to your review on this lens and read through it again. Again and again, I forgot how many times I did read through it. You showed me the passion you have and how much you enjoy from the lens. With the examples, you show great photos can be achieved with this lens. So some day I decided this is the lens I want. But just I don’t have a FF M mount camera (M9). I need the DSLR system for work, so while I have been tempted to sell all my gears and buy an M9 and some lenses, I just can’t do it. And then I love the 35mm focal length; I don’t want to put it on a crop sensor making it becomes somewhat normal…

So far when I just want to have a 35mm focal length, I would bring my D800E and 35/1.4G with me. It is already quite light in the DSLR terms and at such depth of field. But it is still quite heavy so more and more often I would just left it at home if I don’t plan to shot something. But sometimes opportunities cannot be planned…

Long story short, one day I suddenly think that why don’t I try to put the Voigtlander 25/0.95 for micro four third on the NEX camera to see what happened? I did see samples from one guy on the Internet. Strong vignetting and no infinity focus would be the deal breaker for many. However after much thought I decided to give it a try to see how well it can go.

So I bought it, the Voigtlander 25/0.95 with NEX C3!

First, I want to see how it compares to the usual kit I bring, the D800E with 35/1.4G. I know the latter must be better (just like you know the Leica 35/1.4 FE would be better than the Voigtlander 35/1.2II), but I want to see how well they compare and if it can satisfy me. This is the origin of this “crazy comparison”.

A quick calculation will show why I am interested in this combo. The NEX C3 has a crop factor of 1.54. So a 25mm F0.95 lens would be equivalent to a 38.5mm F1.46 lens on full frame. Hence close to 35/1.4 on FF. And this a little bit longer reach account partly for the differences you see on the photos below (and partly because I’m lazy not using a tripod).

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95


Nikon 35/1.4G on D800E, at F1.4

I shot RAW only. I imported them into Lightroom 4. I use Adobe Standard as the color profile, and leave all settings to its default settings except adjusting exposure and white balance. Which one do you like?

There’s some technical flaw on the Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX. The extreme corners are totally dark, even worst than strong vignetting. The corners have some smearing (look at the bokeh at the lower corners). More glowing. Etc, etc. But that doesn’t stop one to use that. Just remember to do some cropping. At worst it would be like shooting from a micro four third camera.

But what’s more fatal is this: with the only micro four third to NEX adapter available in the world, infinity focus is not possible.

(All photos starts below have been applied some post processing)

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

Here I am shooting at “infinity” but the actual focus distance is about 14 Ft or 4m. These will stop most people from using this combo. But I actually know all these before I bought this combo.


Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

Just get closer and one can shot wide open and in focus! And crop slightly to kill the dark corners. The crop factor for this is 1.74 making the lens equivalent to 43.5mm F1.65.


Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F2.8

Want to go beyond 4m? Stop down a little bit. (Here I didn’t optimize it well. By looking at the EXIF data I can slow down the shutter two more stops and tune the ISO two more stops. And at post processing I boost two stops so it means I still have two stops to play around. If I were more careful I would shot it at 1/50s and ISO800 at F5.6.)

People may say why bother to shot this F0.95 lens at F2.8~5.6. And I’d say this is the compromise I have to make with this combo. After all short distance and thin depth of field are correlated so this is not as bad as one may think. Depth-of-field-wise, all I lost is to throw something at around 4m out of focus but in focus at a farther distance.

I cropped in the above two examples. But in some cases it is not necessary.

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

And an even better example would be some scenarios (e.g. at night) that the corner position are actually dark.

Hope that you enjoy the photos! And actually I like this combo. For a nice walk around I can bring this combo and use this solely. And of course I won’t forget the Voigtlander 35/1.2II I mentioned in the beginning. Rumors say that 2013 will have a full frame NEX and if it’ll be true I would replace this combo by that FF NEX plus 35/1.2II. That would be so much better but this is as good as I can get right now.

The last two things I want to add which may interests some of the others are: I calculated the biggest possible crop factor without absolute dark corner is 1.57, making the lens about 39mm F1.5 at FF equivalent. And the infinity focus issue is, as far as I know, not inherent. It is the maker of the currently only micro four third to NEX adapter who made a mistake. Maybe they didn’t use a real lens to test it? Or may be the lens they use has a too narrow aperture so that it looks sharp. Actually the seller claims that infinity focus can be achieved. Obviously they made a mistake and hope that they would know it by now and correct it!

My Portfolio is here.



  1. Hi. Guys, after a long while I finally have time to come back to check the comments.
    Thanks all! (Well, I know some are critical… but thanks anyway since it was so long ago so I don’t feel insulted or so… good to check comments after a season)
    Well, yes, it was an experiment. Before my experiment, there’s only one sample of CV 25/0.95 on NEX on the web, which is not reviewed in detailed. Some might say that experiment shows that I made a wrong purchase or so. And one comments that he did considered that but after reading my post he wouldn’t do it. Now you see the point of doing experiment. I am a Physicist. And I know the point of doing experiment and research. But people usually only focus on the “heros” that might great discovery, and forget that many other “common people” did many other type of experiments, getting negative results, or some null experiments designed to get null results (and if they indeed get null result it means the current understand is still good). etc. etc.
    If I have ever found an article like this, I would say I wouldn’t buy something like this in the very beginning. But, you know what? No one’s telling me all this. Absolutely no one. Well, now thanks to Steve’s amazing web site, at least it makes it explicit to the public the limitation of such kind of setup and think about if they really want to try it.
    Let me sum it up by coining the term “Steve Huff spirit”. To me, it seems like he always have positive feedback whatever cameras/lenses he is using. He always enjoy it in the process. But I would guess after all those hands on experience (kind of like experiment), he would have a definite preference to own or not to own a product.
    Similarly here, if I could make the decision again after knowing all these, I wouldn’t buy this combo. But in fact I did buy it, and in the process I do enjoy it. And that’s it. I think “Steve Huff spirit” is the reason why this site is so popular. So why don’t I encourage every reader here to imitate him?

    P.S. those critical comments sound very much “DPReview spirit”. Well… You know what I mean if you were forum members there and say something…
    And for those who are interested in the story after the experiment: I gave the NEX C3 and the kit lens to my mom as a Christmas present. And I bought my wife an E-PL5 as a birthday present. And I also gave her this lens and she likes it a lot. After all, I didn’t waste money but make two most important women in my life happy!
    And I will still be waiting for my dream combo that’s light, 35mm equiv., and having thin DOF. (kind of disappointed hearing that the FF NEX rumors said that it will be very expensive!)

  2. Beautiful pictures, Kolen. But wow. Weird bunch of people around here anymore. Darkness everywhere. Too bad. I sure hope these reactions don’t discourage people from contributing.

  3. This post proves to me that 0.95, 1.4, 1.2 lenses are a scam…made and sold to egotists and lens fanboys. there is no difference in bokeh or even DOF between a 1.4 lens and a 0.95, and if there are, is minute and useless.

    • Scam? It’s actually quite correct that you just about see no difference between 25mm 0.95 on apsc and 35mm 1.4 on FF. That 1.5 multiply rule for the focal length also goes for the DOF. So 25×1.5 is a bit more than 35, but close enough, 0.95×1.5 is not too far from 1.4…. so indeed these images prove that the difference is minute, as could be expected. Actually a very interesting comparison.

  4. actually i found this experiment very useful as i also seeiously considered using a micro 4/3 on my nex 7. now i know i shouldn’t!

    also someone commented about lack of imagination in your shots. the thing is, people like different things. most of my photography is uninteresting to most people. i’m only interested in taking good picture, not particularly that i want to be creative with it.

    for example, your picture of the wall with orange band and poles, i find that shot to my liking. the subject matter is my taste.

    • That actually was the only image that stuck out for being a recognizable attempt. Focus problems, composition should have made the building in the background invisible, but an interesting image nonetheless.

  5. Weird combination. Hope you will get most of your money back when you sell them. Thanks for testing a MFT lens on a APSC sensor.

  6. Baffling experiment. What does it prove? That the D800E is a hellishly difficult camera to get the most out it (read Lloyd Chambers), that the 1.4/35G is a wonderful lens but has to be used right (I use it on my D700), and that the C3 and CV combo is not a very successful combination, whatever the merits of each of those components may be?

    And that Hong Kong malls (if that is where these were taken) look like candy palaces?

  7. Obviously the mft lens doesnt cover the full imaging area of APS-C. So where is the point of this comparison?

  8. GXR M mount and the CV 35/1.2 you actually want : total cost not all that much more than the rather silly combo you’re trying here and way better IQ.

    • oops, sorry, crop sensor. CV 17/0.95 on M4/3, leave you near f/2, but still way better IQ than this

  9. The author’s statement “The NEX C3 has a crop factor of 1.54. So a 25mm F0.95 lens would be equivalent to a 38.5mm F1.46 lens on full frame.” is not correct regarding crop factor affecting the lens f number. The focal length of a prime lens is fixed, and the lens always “paints” the sensor with the same amount of light per unit of area at any given f stop. The size of the sensor – crop factor – has nothing to do with it. An f .95 lens is always f .95.

    • …and total light used to paint the sensor.

      Sometimes it’s useful to talk equal brightness, for instance when using an external light meter, and then indeed f/2 = f/2 = f/2. This makes sure you can also assume ISO100 to be ISO100 to be ISO100, in turn making sure that 1/100sec = 1/100sec = 1/100sec. However, this article is not about using a light meter.

      There’s another form of equivalence that coexists with this. It’s geared towards equalising the total light used to ‘graph’ the photo, as opposed to the f/2 = f/2 = f/2 one, which equalises projection brightness. Both are equally useful and elegant but they have different purposes. This is why your remark is not wrong per se, it only deals with something the author didn’t set out to achieve.


    • You don’t see an f number in a picture, only DOF. You don’t see focal length in a picture only field of view. And you don’t see ISO in a picture only SNR & DR. These technical things that matter in a picture do have an equivalence and are useful to people comparing camera systems, despite what the pedantic “f/2 is always f/2” crowd like to unhelpfully add.

  10. Seems quite a compromise and not a cheap one at that…I used the VC 35 1.2 II for a while on the M8 and very much liked it (more than the 25 0.95 I might add), but in the end found it too bulky and decided to go for a 50mm 1.4 instead, adding a VC 28mm 1.9 for when I needed a wider angle and found it plenty fast for lower light shots, for blurring the background a longer focal length made more sense to me.

  11. As Lewis already pointed out, the problem of using lenses designed for smaller sensor cameras is that they result to extreme vignetting (or completely black corners) because they simply produce picture to smaller area than the sensor of your camera.

    Have you considered using Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens? That one is designed for full frame sensors, so it would easily cover the entire sensor of your Sony NEX camera and result to around 35mm equivalent in NEX. It is completely manual lens, so the user experience would be quite similar to using the Voigtländer. Price is also a bit cheaper, although the lens is physically a bit larger than the Voigtländer 25mm f/0.95.

  12. Did I understand right? You actually bought the C3 and 25/0.95 (neither cheap nor small) just to try and tinker? Black corners and no focus beyond 4m unless you stop down to f2.8 or less?

  13. From the shots you’ve shared with us, I cannot see why the 35mm FF equivalent focal length is so important to you. All the shots shown can be done by other focal lengths. I also don’t buy your comments about having a tight budget. I just can’t see someone with a real tight budget buying an expensive Voigtlander 25mm/0.95 to use with a NEX… If you just want to be different, that’s another matter, and I think you’ve achieved that…

  14. Interesting read, although, given the price and limitations of the Voigtlander 25mm on the NEX, I think I would have looked hard at the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 instead, even if it is more expensive and slower.

    Trouble is, there are not a lot of good but affordable, fast 35mm equivalent lenses.

    I’m more a 50mm kind of guy (in equivalent terms), which is why I love the Voigtlander 35mm 1,2 II on my M8.

  15. i liked the pictures but… so much “instagram” feeling. oversaturation, lack of sharpness. sorry to be rude, but I prefer to be sincere

  16. So you spent your money to buy a mft lens and a aps-c camera plus adapter and invested time in finding out the combo sucks somewhat. To each its own, I’d say.

  17. You people making negative rude comments are such noobs grow up and go out and take some pics
    Yourself and be quiet if you have only negative back seat driver comments
    I really don’t like either lens and I find the nikon grossly overpriced for the performance
    I have been looking for a nice 35 for my nikon D800 and the sad thing is there isn’t one that I like old or new
    Thanks for the post and keep shooting don’t listen to these noobs

  18. Thank God for Ashwin. Once in a while there are some truly artistic photos on this site that allow one to see how a lens draws and what it properties are for the ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

  19. i hate to say this but your pictures are incredibly soft ,gunkload of fringing and lack in imagination my friend.

  20. Hi, Steve. I’m surprised you post it so quick! Thanks for finding it interesting.

    And to Mazor, thanks. To me though the 35mm FOV is quite important. Otherwise I would just use the CV 25/0.95 on my micro four third. And when I buy gears I will also consider its resell value. This is the main reason for example why I won’t buy the SLR Magic 50/0.95 for M mount. Steve gave great comment on it. I know it must be great. But it’s resell value is not good. I see people claiming that they never use this lens and sell it in a Hong Kong forum (no fee is charged by the forum) at the price of about USD1300 less the original… Yes that’s a special case since many people complaining about the build quality (and I suspect most users are so used to Leica quality…) but the point is these brands are so “unstable” so I would keep away from them. That’s just me by the way. May be I’m too careful. After all I am quite financially tight so I have to be careful on every purchase.

    • There are many photographers on a tight budget and resale value is important as they want to make an extra buck or two. It’s interesting they do not mind loosing money by buying a car with poor resale value regardless of make. No one cares about the images anymore. People complained on the build quality when their pre-ordered Leica lenses arrived and needed to make money from the previous thread that is now closed. Issues were from investors and not photographers.

      read this a week ago

    • Why not just use the CV 17/0.95 on M43 for the FF FOV equal of 35mm? The EM5 can easily match the detail and DR of the Nex 16mp sensor and its stabilized.

  21. The image circle of a lens made for M4/3 is smaller than a lens made for NEX. That’s why you get the strong vignetting and coma from the first image. I’m not surprised there actually is an adapter for M4/3 to NEX, but I would be surprised to see it widely adopted.

    • Technically that’s not vignetting…it’s a too small image circle of the m4/3 lens on an APS-C sensor.


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