A quick look at the Voigtlander 28 2.8 and Nokton 58 1.4 on the Nikon Df

A quick look at the Voigtlander 28 2.8 and Nokton 58 1.4 on the Nikon Df

So here I am again with another quick report on using the Nikon Df with manual lenses and yes, this is a super quick report as I only had the lenses for a VERY short time so did not get to use them as I had wished. As for the Df,  yes, I still use it and still enjoy it tremendously though I admit, I like the Leica M 240 even better 🙂  The Df has been my “goto” for the past month and last week I decided to try two new manual lenses for it. Being a huge Voigtlander fan I was curious to see how a couple of their Nikon mounts would work, specifically the 28 2.8 and the 58 1.4. The 58 1.4 was most attractive to me as it is a much less expensive alternative to the HUGE Nikon 58 1.4 monster, which for my tastes was too large for daily use even thought it was a killer lens.

The manual focus Voigtlander 58 1.4 on the Nikon Df


The Voigtlander is quite a bit smaller than the Nikon and comes in at under $500 or 1/3 the cost of the Nikon. It also has a perfect 5 star review over 21 reviews at B&H Photo. You can read those HERE.

The only drawback of course is that these lenses are MANUAL focus only. So, if you are not into manual lenses these lenses will not work for you. While I only had these in my home for a day I can say that they are very good lenses and enjoyable to use. Especially the 58 1.4.  It is funny because I am so used to the high prices of Leica glass that seeing a lens like this for under $500 amazes me a little. In a DSLR frame of mind, the 58 1.4 is small, built very well and easy to focus. The quality is also very very nice. Sharp wide open, a nice creamy and melty bokeh blur and fantastic for B&W work as well.  In fact, this lens is better than the classic Nikon 50 1.2 when it comes to sharpness and distortions BUT does not offer the Nikons super classic rendering (which it gives at 1.2 and 1.4). Even so, I see the Voigtlander as the manual version of the $1700 Nikon 58 1.4.  Maybe not as refined..but at 1/3 the cost and half the size, I’d go Voigtlander any day over the $1600+ Nikon!

You must click images for larger and sharper/non compressed view!! Top two were taken at f/1.4 with the 58mm on the Nikon Df. The third was taken at f/2. This should give you an idea of sharpness and Bokeh characteristics. 




As for the 28 2.8, it is another fantastic little lens but it seemed to underexpose a but on the Df for me. But as for rendering and sharpness, it is excellent. The 28 2.8 is light, small and looks great on the camera. It is super easy to manually focus and because it is a wide-angle with an f/2.8 aperture, this makes it easier to nail focus than the 58 1.4. Either way, both of these lenses are fantastic, especially for the money.

Hopefully in the future I will be able to use these more long-term, maybe in the upcoming “Valley of the Fire” workshop at the end of February.


Just three shots using the 28 2.8. If you click the images you will see the larger version and they will be sharper and have no compression.




At under $500 each, these are bargains in the lens world if you are into fast primes. The 28 2.8 goes for $499 and can be purchased at B&H Photo or Cameraquest.com. The 58 1.4 is also under $500 and can be purchased at B&H Photo or Cameraquest.com


  1. Surprised by Larry’s criticism of the 28mm Nikkor past medium distance. I know the pre AIS 28mm was not great but the last of the 28mm f2.8 AIS Nikkors are a different lens altogether. Its a super sharp lens – and one of my favourites of all my primes. I much prefer it to my 24mm f2 for example – perhaps you got a duff one Larry? Works delightfully with the Df of course.

    • I definitely agree with you that the Nikkor 28/F2.8 AIS is much better than the 24mm/F2. I tried to like that 24mm but never could. On the 28/F2.8, I made a comparison to the 28/F2. I definitely got more depth of field in the foreground-background on the F2. I also like the flare resistance and SIC coating on the late 28/F2’s.

  2. The problem with the Nikkor 28mm F2.8 AIS is that it’s lousy if you want both foreground and infinity well in focus. It’s great for foreground to a medium distance. Past medium it’s terrible. The Nikkor 28mm F2 is totally different if you want infinity in focus as well. The Voigt 28mm F2.8 Skopar is also a great lens. Everything sharp from foreground to infinity. I sometimes switch between the Nikkor F2 and the Voigt F2.8. Love them both.

  3. Timely review for me although its the 40mm f2 that I have strongly been considering.
    I can’t help but wish the Nikon would make a 35mm pancake. That said I may hang off till I can see some reviews of the new 35mm f1.8 fx that has just been announced, just a shame its still not pancaked….

  4. Hi

    Can anyone comment on how they find manual focusing with these lenses on the DF?

    I am reading about regrets that Nikon don’t offer the ability to change focusing screens on the DF and wondered just how easy, in reality, it is to nail focus at large apertures with a 50mm 1.4 on the DF?

    Id appreciate some real world thoughts. Thanks

    • It’s allright; same as the D800 with which it shares the screen I compared the two. The 1.2/50 makes it a bit easier again.

      Never forget that interchangeable screens with differing light transmission characteristics mess up the matrix metering we love so much; therefore no interchangeable screens.

    • The focus screen in the Df is identical to the D800E which I also own. However, there is a difference in the VF optics which means the VF is dimmer. That makes it a wee bit easier to see what’s in focus. The difference isn’t massive, probably that between being comfortable of optical focus at F2.8 on the D800e, closer to F2 on the Df. However, it’s worth pointing out to manual shooters that the green dot confirmation is more accurate if you leave the camera in AF mode when you use a MF lens.

      • I find that the green dot is very accurate with the DF. Maybe they improved this with the DF I can’t really know for sure. As for using AF mode with MF lenses, I never tested this but have been leaving it on AF as well with MFlenses. So far so good, much better than with my Sony Alpha 850 and MF lenses.

  5. I agree, I own the Nokton 58, previously used it on my NEX 7 as a portrait lens, now I use it on my A7r and it’s a dream to use it! The rendering is typical Voigtlander look, though there’s more fringing wide open, once stopped down it disappears and I’m not sure, but I feel that Voigt went for the dreamy look wide open.

  6. Nice short review Steve. One more thing, I like the way people here treat each other with respect in a civilized manner. Can’t say the same about DPR where people consistently insult each other and bash this camera by bashing the owners as well. Thanks for making this happen.

  7. I’m a big fan of the 20mm, 28mm and 40mm voigtlanders. I probably don’t own the 58 purely because I have a Noct!

    They are great lenses for street shooting and are very sharp in the centre. The 20mm suffers a bit on the D800E, but its immaculate on the Df.

    Can’t remember if you’ve tried either the voigtlander 40mm or the Nikkor 105mm AIS F2.5, but they are both definitely worth a look too.

  8. Big fan of the Voigtlander lenses. A pity they stopped making the 125mm and 180mm APO lenses. Though I also agree with Huss the Nikkor 55mm Micro’s are fantastic.

    Thanks for the review.

    • I just would go one step further ans wonder why buying any 3rd party glass ever ?
      The Nikon DF strength is to work which every Nikon lens made ever – so why go
      for such crappy looking Voigtlander ?

      Try the Nikkor P 3,5/55 Micro and the Nikkor H 3,5/28 lens instead or if you need
      the Nikkor H 2,0/50 and Nikkor N 2,0/28 for a fraction of the price !

      • Because some 3rd party glass is not nobly better made and sharper with better character, it is cheaper many times. The Voigtlander lenses are tremendous values. Fantastic lenses, superb build, nice feel and size. Why would I want a 55 3.5 to replace a 58 1.4? Totally different lenses. The Voigtlander 58 1.4 is amazingly sharp, even wide open. Fantastic bargain if you do not mind manual focus.

        • I am not sure if anyone who go for this nice retro style Nikon need to buy
          a Voigtlander which look like a 3rd party crap out of the 70s.
          If money is the problem buy a Nikon D610 and stay with Nikon lens.
          If reto is what you want buy Nikkor AI lens or these better build Pre-AI Nikkors
          the Nikon DF is ready use.

          It’s my opinion – I have them and I am lucky with the results I get
          even on my Nikon D800 what I suppose is the much better camera.

          • Sometimes what you call “3rd party crap” is not only made better but performs better and costs less. As is the case with the 58 1.4. It is not about money but having a superior lens and paying less is a bonus. I am not about brand snobbery, I am about whatever works well. Besides, Nikon AI lenses are good but not GREAT. Many are soft wide open (most are) and have flaws. CHaracter..yes, but there are better quality lenses out there from 3rd parties.

          • Dear Steve please dont get me wrong.
            I do not accept brand snobbery too – thats why I kicked off all
            of my Leica stuff on Ebay.
            But on the other side if I found someting good I dont need
            something new instead just because its new.
            I dont pay lots of dollars more just for a lens seems to be
            a little bit sharper than my old one.
            Even in our digital world with all the lens profiles and automatic
            software correction – who will see it ?

            I am not a Nikon DF guy because its too expensive.
            It´s no camera for professionals in my opinion and if
            I would buy it because its retro I would also prefer the
            original (retro) Nikkor lenes………

  9. youre killing me. im trying to decide on a mirrorless, and you keep posting this sexy beast. …. must….. resist….

  10. Nice mini review. I’m not sure as to how these lenses aren’t as refined as the new Nikkor 58 1.4. These CVs are much more solidly made as the Nikkor has a ‘fake’ outer shell that is meant to mimic the look of the classic 1.2 58. The Nikkor is also very plastic and lots of people have had focus issues w it.
    You still need to try the Nikkor 55 2.8 Micro Ais on the DF…
    It’s a cracker and u can pick one up for about $100 if u don’t want to buy one new.

    • Yeah, my inclination would be to go out and buy a set of lightly used AIs Nikkors for this camera. Most are reasonably priced and several of them had exceptional IQ.

      Nice thing about the AI and AIs Nikkors from roughly the same period is that Nikon was quite diligent about ensuring that their IC was color consistent across lenses. Might seem like a small thing, but in today’s age of digital, swapping lenses and maintaining color consistency is a nice perk. Not sure today’s CV lenses bother with that from focal length to focal length, though I don’t know for certain.

    • Yes yes yes Huss, I’m sure you’re right, but the rendering of the new 58 Nikkor (particularly in available light portraits, preferaby with a dark background and daylight falling in from a side window 😉 ) is something to behold. It feels light but not cheap, and it’s a funny fat short shape…

  11. Hello,

    Thank you for this post, I’m interested in these two lenses since I bought the 40mm f2 that I like it so much. I sent you a guest post proposition about it, I hope you will like it.
    How can you compare the 28mm and the 58mm with the 40mm? I red that the corners and the edges of the 28mm were not so good.


    • I can confirm, that the edges need to be stopped down to f5.6 and peak at f8.0, what made me upset at my first impression testing (that is, when I take a new lens to the extremes, corner close ups wide open and so on… 🙂 ). But the center is said to be sharper than the 2/28 Zeiss. So draw your own conclusions. I’d recommend to buy the smaller CV. The characteristics of the CV makes sense: You’ll get a small lens with excellent center performance and nice out of focus rendering and if you wish to do landscape photography you just go to f5.6. And it draws colors nicely. (MingThein has a good test of this lens.) I use this CV 2.8/28mm color skopar with my Canon 6D as a small travel combo and I did not realize the soft corners, nor printed, nor on the screen. So my first impression showed as irrelevant in practice.

      Compared to the CV 40mm Ultron, latter might be a bit sharper technically but irrelevantly in practice. (There is a nice close up macro lens coming with the 40 Ultron.) Both lenses are much underestimated lenses, very well built to last and real value (no matter in whatever relation to the price). These pancake lenses should not be considered as compromise lenses, they are not. Both really need to get more attention. I strongly believe that Cosina Voigtlander offers lenses for photographers, not for people who like the best tech specs on paper.

      I was thinking about buying into a smaller second system, because Canon DSLR are a bit out of fashion compared with the current mirror less cameras. Cosina Voigtlander’s 40 and 28 together with a BlackRapid camerastrap made the smaller second system obsolete and saved quite a bit money for me.

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