The new Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton Arrives – Very 1st look preview

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The new Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton Arrives

So the long-awaited M mount newly (but classicly) re-designed 50mm f/1.5 Nokton arrived to my mailbox today from CameraQuest and I went for the super sexy looking limited edition chrome version at $1049. Voigtlander seems to have hit it out of the park with this one as it has the styling of the 1950’s classic Nokton 1.5 with the great performance of the previous Nokton that was made in Leica screw mount. That was a highly regarded lens but Voigtlander decided to remake it with a Leica M mount and I am glad they did. The lens ships with a black hood and a black metal cap but no lens cap for use without the hood. But yes, it comes with the metal hood and metal cap, no extra charge as with Zeiss ZM and Leica 🙂

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Fresh out of the box!

It just arrived 30 minutes ago and I am about to head out the door for a weekend trip but I wanted to get a pic or two up with it and of it. I chose chrome as I have grown to appreciate the look of classic styled chrome lenses on a black body. Some hate it, and I used to as well, but these days I prefer it in some ways over a standard black on black look. The lens in chrome is gorgeous.

1st impressions out of the box? The Chrome version is beautiful in a classic sort of way. It has a knurled focusing ring, a smooth and solid aperture dial and feels nice and solid in the hand. Being Chrome and Brass, it is much like the lenses that were built-in the 50’s. I expect this is a lens that will last a long time. But how about the IQ and the character of the lens? I have only taken 15+ shots with it as of this writing and from what I can see it is a little bit of modern with a larger amount of classic. Not as perfected as a Leica Summilux ASPH but very sharp wide open at f/1.5 with an overall smooth presentation. I noticed some slight vignetting at 1.5 as well. The cool thing is that it focuses close to .7 meters just like the Leica Lux ASPH, unlike the old lenses of the 50’s that usually focus to 1 meter.

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Again, only about 15 shots have been taken with this on my M 240  but I wanted to get this up before I head out the door so you guys can get a look at it 🙂 This lens in black is $899 and chrome is $1049. The Leica 50 Summilux f/1.4 comes in at $3995. Both lenses are a fast 50mm and both are top notch in build. I prefer the design and style of this new Nokton and I am excited to use it this weekend to see what it can do. I did notice that from f/2 on it gets really sharp with crazy sharpness across the frame by f/4. Is the Leica worth the extra $3000+? Who knows, but I hope to find out when I do the full review of this lens.

When the lens came I instantly attached it to the M 240 and asked Debby if I could grab a quick comparison shot. I grabbed the M240/Nokton and then the Fuji X-E1 and Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit, which gives an almost 50mm equivalent . I had it on hand, so why not? Nokton was at 1.5, Fuji at 1.8. Quick images are below. You can click them for larger but what you will see if a more shallow Depth of Field from the Leica combo vs the Fuji. That is what you get from a crop sensor and equivalent focal length lens. I also see more 3d depth and glow from the Nokton shot over the X-E1, which to me looks a bit flat in comparison.

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The new Voigtlander is a “so far so good” lens as I am only judging it on design and build/feel right now until I get to actually go out and use it. So far it seems like it may be a bargain in the fast M mount 50mm world. Other lenses in this range are the Zeiss 50 f/2 Planar ZM and the Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 Sonnar which is a whole different lens character. I do not think it can equal or beat the Leica 50 Lux ASPH but for 1/4 the price I am feeling it can get close, and close enough for most.

Below are a couple of more quick snaps I shot within those 1st 8 frames with it around the house. All wide open at 1.5.

Full review soon!

I picke dup my Nokton from Camera Quest. They have pre-orders up for the Black and Chrome as their 1st shipment sold out 100% in black and there are actually a few Chrome lenses available and in stock there as I am writing this. You can pre-order the Black HERE or get the Chrome version HERE, for immediate ship. (until these last few sell out, then it is July 2013)

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49 Comments

  1. Hello Steve,

    I am currently using a SUMMICRON-M 50mm f2.0 3rd edition
    And I want to get a faster lens a Voigtlander NOKTON vm 50mm F1.1 or
    Voigtlander NOKTON vm 50mm F1.5

    Which one will you recommend since both lens petty much the same price $100 difference

    Thx

  2. Hi Steve,

    After 10 years away from photography I recently purchased a sony a6000 and I was looking for a lense to compliment my little setup.

    Thanks to your review of the Nokton 1.5 I decided to get this classic beauty, in Chrome and I am Stunned at how

    a) Beautiful the lense is
    b) how amazing the opics look when you nail the focus
    &
    c) how my passion for photography has grown in leaps and bounds all within a month!!

    Lovin Your Work! :))

    J

  3. I got the Voigtländer 50mm 1.5 as well.
    Shooting it with my Sony a7 using a Novoflex Adapter..
    Unfortunately I am not able to get very sharp Images out of it. I get sharper results with my old Canon FL 50mm 1.4… I do not know what could be the reason for that… guess i might have graped a bad unit :/.
    Even tho I do not know how high the possibility of having a “bad” unit is.

  4. I got mine today (chrome) and I agree with Steve about the sharpness. It may not be quite as sharp as a Lux ASPH but it’s damn close. The bokeh is actually quite good too.

  5. This lens has good flatness of field, nothing like the field-curvature of the Sonnar formula lenses that I normally shoot with. The brick wall behind Steve’s subject is not the point of focus.

  6. Steve, could you please look at the gray brick wall?

    I’m curious on where you focused? It seems as the gray bricks were spot on – but then look up in the upper right corner. The tiles seems sharp there, but not in the middle. Also the wall behind the brick wall confuses me a bit. It is sharp on the right hand side, but not in the middle.

    And both the tiles on the roof, and the wall behind seems quite a bit BEHIND where you focused?

    If my observations are correct (?), the Nokton seems to have a very curved “plane of sharpness” (sorry for the English, hope you understand).

    I have tested two Summicron 35 ASPH that showed the same irregular “plane of sharpness”. On the very exact same distance, it was in and out of sharpness, from the center and out. The “cheap” Summarit 35 and the Zeiss Biogon 35 however were much more even.

    Some “gurus” told me that the Summicron’s curved sharpness was intentional and aimed at street photo, rather tha architectual photo, which requires a more even focus plane.

    Interesting that the Nokton seems to display the same “curved” behaviour?

    Thanks,

    Bo W

    • I was about wondering about that too. Corners seems sharper than the center of the frame. The apparent distorsion seems to bugs me too but I don’t know if it is the lens or the wall which is not straight.
      Appart that the design of the lens is gorgeous and the bokeh looks quite nice 🙂

  7. Shock – Horror! a product photo with not enough depth of field (photos 1 & 2). methinks Steve needs a holiday

  8. The original 50/1.5 Asph Nokton in LTM was tested in Pop Photo, July 2000. It was reported to have minimal barrel distortion, 0.45%. It is the lens that prodded Leica into the Aspheric Summilux. Using the LTM version on the M9 and M Monochrom: it is as sharp as you need on any camera.

    The original 50/1.5 Nokton was in Prominent mount, the focus helical was built into the camera. The 1950s LTM version is “pretty much” an adapter (focus mount) to accommodate the lens for a Leica. That is probably why the original lens has such a thin focus ring, close to the mount. It will be interesting to read about long-term use of this version vs the 12 year old design- which is “more modern” as far as ergonomics go. Now if Mr. K would bring back the 35/1.7 Ultron Asph. That one is a jewel.

    I can understand Mr. K’s passion for classic design, just spent $1500 on a lens because one like it was used for the photographs taken in a book bought for $12 off of Goodwill…

  9. Why shoot the Fuji 1.4/32mm at f1.8 vs the f1.5 of the Voitglander? Seems like the quicky comparison should have been with BOTH lenses wide open.

  10. Looks good so far. I also saw the samples from Japanese site http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/review/lens_review/20130614_603595.html and they also give a good impression of what the lens can do.

    I hope you can compare it with the older Nokton. I modified mine to focus to 0.7m. If you need it for comparison, let me know so I can loan in for a few days. I also have the older prominent one but the Chinese adapter I got for it didn’t focus to infinity properly. I had to modify the adapter to focus to infinity and tried to make it focus closer but ended up being wobbly closer than 1.0m. I should get Hawk’s adapter to get 0.7m focusing.

  11. Hi Steve,

    Congrats on the new lens. As a Nokton owner myself, I am sure you will like it. The older 75mm Color-Heliar is also a classic.

    Like the new minimum focusing distance, as I feel the 90cm of the older version, is a bit too far out. My interest lies in how it is ot focus, as the ring looks a little skimpy.

    Have fun this weekend.

  12. Looking good so far, just wish they’d fitted a focussing tab on it though as that looks quite a narrow focussing ring.

    Oh and Steve, please, please finally remove that leather tab from your Barton strap as it really is starting to play havoc with my OCD. hahaha 😀

  13. I cant be the judge of this lense as we dont really get to see the quality on such a small screen, but from what i see, it is not as sharp as the Leica 50 LUX 1.4, and i think the pics are overexposed,especially those in the sun- the first 2 + the dog, so maybe you should underexpose on a regular basis, as i did with my M9 where i always shot with the the red dot + left arrow, in the sun
    I also like b\w lenses on a black camera more
    Cheers
    Danny

    • They are not overexposed on my display, not at all. I shot with the lens much more and it is sharp, even wide open. VERY sharp. Only thing that separated it from a 50 Lux ASPH is the vignetting wide open and the barrel distortion when shooting up close. The Leica does neither.

  14. The photo of your fiancee has a glow with the Nokton that is missing with the other lens. Very nice.

  15. GORGEOUS Lens on the x pro. Back up 4 or 5 steps to equal the field of view of a full frame sensor and the look is identical.

  16. Interestingly, today i was looking at some pictures i took when i had a Voigtlander Bessa R3A paired with Nokton 50mm 1.5, the screw mount version – that lens was capable of beautiful, smooth, classic looking pictures in the right settings. Bokeh could get nervous in some situations, but nothing to worry too much if you learned how to get the best results out of it, like any other tool. I wonder how the new version improves on the LTM one, besides having a new mount. Looking forward for the complete review.

  17. Gotta love Voigtlander for producing quality lenses at a realistic price for those of us in the 99%

  18. thanks Steve, hope to see more photos out of it. mine is still on the way. just can’t wait~

  19. Interesting, did the previous Nokton vignette wide open? I think his new version has a smaller front element which may now cause this.
    As an aside, all of my modern Leica lenses came with lens hoods standard. Some of them even have them built in. 18, 28, 50, 90 Elmar. I had to buy them separatley for my vintage glass and Zeiss.

    • I am not sure as I never owned or tested the old one. We have some slight vignette wide open and barrel distortion as well when shooting close up/straight lines.

  20. It looks like a gorgeous lens! I’d love some see some comparison photos with this Leica/ Voigtlander compared to an OM-B with the Lumix 25mm 1.4. This combo comes in at about 25% of the Leica combo and I’m wondering what a head-to-head comparison might find?

  21. I think we have a winner Steve . The winner is Fuji X- E1 the colors ,bokeh,resolution ,etc .

    • You must not have clicked on the images for the large size. The Fuji doesn’t even come close for colors, bokeh or res…yet we cant judge res from a resized JPEG. Our of camera files the M 240 wipes the floor with the X-E1 in regards to resolution.

      • Is it the lens or is it the camera? I vote for the lens as the primary cause for differences we’re seeing on our monitors.

      • You’re right Steve, the colors of the Fuji look quiet hard compared to the Leica. I see better skin tones and a real better color match for the hair. I do not know the model personally, but the hair look real grey toned and not very natural, I could say even rough, on Fuji, compared to the rendering of the M240 shot. I do not consider the bokeh here, DOF is a question of what you seek for, and today you can get shallow DOF with just any ILS camera, all you need is a fast lens, even if you do not reach the DOF of a FF. On the other side, with FF you will have hard to match the deep field sharpness of a smaller sensor. It is one of the reasons why I shoot different sensor sizes. After all, the winner here is M240, with quiet a good distance, I would say.

    • black lens hood on a chrome lens??? at least have a chrome lens hood (yes real chrome, not plastic. some lens hoods already metal aluminum) and then have a non reflective velvet inner lining. why go through all the trouble to bling it out in silver, and not color co-ordinate it???

  22. Awesome Steve! Is this a limited run, get it while it’s hot lens for Voigtlander? I love the retro styling of this in chrome. I could see this as a collectors piece that will increase in value.

  23. Thanks for the quicky…looks promising and indeed nice they did put it in the 50’s jacket. Its rendering reminds me of the later Jupiters 3. Would love to compare it against a late Jupiter 3 …..which btw only would costs about 1/3 maybe less of the price of this Nokton

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