Daily Inspiration #391 by Matt Jones – Voigtlander 17.5 f/0.95

Hi Steve,

Since getting the Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f0.95 for Christmas 2012 it has been almost permanently attached to my OMD. It’s big, heavy and expensive for a Micro Four Thirds lens but boy is it great. Paired with variable ND filter this lens can do anything. During the day the ND filter is invaluable and allows me to shoot great shallow depth of field shots with the lens on f0.95, come night time and the ND is just like a lens cap that I screw on and off between shoots.

There is not a huge amount of vignetting with the Nokton although I like to add some for effect, especially in the Australia beach house shot. I find the best colour setting for this lens on the OMD is Vivid, something I never use on Auto Focus Micro four thirds lenses, but I do tend to use on less contrasty MF lenses. Focusing is a breeze now that we have the Focus Peaking workaround for the OMD.

The really important thing about this lens is the fact is sharp wide open, it really takes my photography to a new level.

Thanks and keep up the great work,

Matt Jones






  1. hi, what variable ND filter did you use here? just got this lens for a gh4 and shallow depth of field is the number one issue.

  2. Hi!

    I tested the peaking-trick and found it to work rather well. I am now even more temped to buy a voigtländer for my OM-D. I played around wih my old contax MD 167 gear last night and found my trusty old manual Tamron SP 90 mm F2,5. It works realy well but I was chargrined to see it leaking oil! Where did that come from? admittedly the lens is thirty yers old but why start to leak oil? Have anybody ever heard about this before? Is this a problem with old manually focused lenses? Does it mean it might happen to a Voigtländer lens?

  3. Good grief! By the time I finished watching that video with the menu settings i had lost all interest in taking a picture and was thinking about beer or roast beef sandwiches.And my subject had gone shopping.
    This is the worst thing about digital cameras!!!!!!
    I have an OMD and I love it, but seriously, I will never perform menu gymnastics like this just to take a picture. It’s nuts! this is why i still keep my M6 to retain my sanity.
    Enjoy that lens!

    • Once you program the fn key for focus peaking that is it, you only need to do the complicated setup once.

      After that each time you want to use focus peaking push and hold Fn1, turn your focus dial on the lens, then release Fn1 and take the picture, it’s really quite amazing.

    • the rules to submitting to Steve’s “Daily Inspiration” is you can only submit a maximum of 3 shots. I guess it is so the readers don’t get bored or over whelmed. I picked 3 that I thought were diverse.

  4. Where is the sense in choosing a m43 camera and attaching an expensive and heavy special lens to get less DOF control than with a full frame DSLR with a cheap 2/35mm lens?

    • Some don`t like cheap and heavy?

      DOF control is the same for m43 0.95/17.5mm vs. FF 2/35mm, btw.

    • Joachim, to get a full frame body, you will need to spend at least 2.5x more money. And the OM-D/17.5mm combination would still be about a quarter of the weight of an equivalent FF DSLR.
      The main advantages of the M43 system is size, weight and cost.

      And thanks, Matt Jones for sharing the peak focusing setup. The OM-D one amazing little camera.

  5. Matt, love these shots – the VL 17.5 produces great results on the E-M5. I have to say though, I think peaking as a focus method for stills is rubbish (too many near but not quite critical focus moments for me) compared to magnification (I have an E-M5 myself but I didn’t like peaking, even on my old NEX-7).

    Anyway, one of mine (of my brother) with the 17.5 here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgoldswo/8148936753/lightbox/

  6. Hi!

    I will try this out in the coming weekend since I have a lot of old lenses to play with. The Voigtländer 17,5 mm has been a dreamlens for me for quite some time but I have not the funds to buy it. I wish someone would stock it here in Gothenburg, Sweden so I could try it out before committing to buying it. In the mean time I will play with what I´ve got. From your article you seem very pleased with the lens.

    • Stefan, sure am happy with it. I certainly recommend trying out some inexpensive c-mount lenses too, I have a 1 inch Wesley 24mm f1.4, and a few 1/2 inch cctv lenses too, the 1 inch ones are better quality but you get nice effects from all of them, and mostly under $50.

  7. Thanks for the great idea. I like this function button peeking idea better than on my Sony RX-100. On the Sony it is always on and everything looks ugly. It would be nice being able to just press a button to check the focus with peeking.

  8. Thanks Matt, for the well explained ‘focus peaking’ setup. will be interesting to play with – to see if it works in low contrast/low light situations.

    • Thanks for the kind words but I can’t take credit for the Youtube video on focussing peaking, that is the very clever Amin Sabet, but they are the settings I use, and I love it. I do wonder if the reason Olympus hasn’t made focus peaking official is because it may lead people away from their AF lenses and on to some 3rd party MF lenses.

  9. The shots look reasonably sharp and contrasty. My only criticism is the bokeh looks rather busy.

  10. Matt, I hope you go on enjoying this lens.
    However, according to my experience with Voigtlaenders (on Leica and Nikon bodies), they only excel in two disciplines: skin tone rendering, if light is good and well defined, as can be seen in your shots, and mechanics.
    Otherwise, I think they lack of contrast, have overall pale colors (apart from great skin tones), and, worst of all, the electronic ones can mess up the metering of the camera body – the infamous SL II series is particularly problematic when it comes to metering, especially on Nikon bodies.
    In general, for lenses, one should stay with the body manufacturer. There’s only one exception to this rule: Zeiss ZF (not the electronic ZF.2) guys are out-of-this-world performers on Nikon’s FX pro-bodies.

    • There are no electonics in this lens.

      Voigtlander made this lens specifically for the lens mount, and has no bodies of it’s own to put this lens on.

      From my use the colors may be a bit pale, but very sharp after F1.4 and contrast is good.

      The nice part about this lens is shooting in low light at 0.95 apeture, which is tough to do with other manufacturers.

    • While your evaluations of the lens may be true (I haven’t actually tried this one yet), I can’t help but think you’re missing the forest for the trees. Despite any shortcomings there may be, the fact remains that this is the ONLY lens of such description available. If you want a 35-equivalent f/0.95 for M4/3, this is it. Technical nitpicking is really only meaningful once there are multiple competitors in the fray. There are a few more (no-name) third-party companies introducing similar lenses in the next few months, but I’m guessing that a company as well-established as Voigtlander has the best shot at producing something halfway decent. Other than that, one’s OEM choices end around a stop and a half slower than this lens.

      • The technical criticisms are useful to those who want a F0.95 M4/3 because they have 2 choices: not buying a lens or living with it’s shortcomings.

    • All my shots get processed (in GIMP by the way) and so the colours really do just end up to my taste, and yes I agree that I seem to prefer less saturation than most. Thanks for the comments.

      • I like the saturation levels on these (albeit on my uncorrected work monitor). Perfect for the subjects.

      • I don’t know about Australia, but colors in SE Asia get pretty saturated naturally. Your colors look just fine on my NEC P241w, and I like these shots all-around. My only problem is, I’ve now added another item to my B&H wish list. AAAGGH!

        • thanks I actually live in Thailand, there is a Voigtlander stockist in Bangkok, “Rangefinder2008” on ebay.

  11. The depth of field on that 0.95 is equal to about F/2 in full-frame terms???? That shows as you able to create some sort of a bokeh on such a short focal length lens

    • You mean depth of field, as Bokeh is the standard of how well the out of focus parts are rendered by the lens.

    • This also struck me when reading this post. 35/2 lenses for fullframe are much smaller, yet provide esthetically similar properties.

      Alas, when I compare the Lumix 20 1.7 with the M-Rokkor 40/2, the latter is smaller, optically wunderfull (I don’t measure sharpness, only look at pictures I made, although I do zoom in), doesn’t need software correction _and_ covers fullframe. The 20 is also wonderful, bus is bigger, covers half the image-circle _and_ needs software correction, otherwise is has awful distortion. What happened in lens-design since the 80’s ???

      • But put in your mind this Nokton can open at 0.95. So it’s faster than 1.8 on Full Frame for the same amount of DoF.

Comments are closed.