Quick Test: Sony A7s and the Voigtlander 15 Heliar!

Quick Test: Sony A7s and the Voigtlander 15 Heliar!

Well guys..I just found my next favorite camera, and one that is now up there with my fave of all times. In the same company for me as the Leica M and Olympus E-M1 and Sony RX1. In fact, the Sony A7s is one hell of a camera. I have been using it non stop since getting it in my hands and loving every moment of it. It is much more than just a video enthusiasts camera. It is much more than a low light shooters dream camera. It is actually both of those but much more because it is an amazingly capable and superb camera for ANY type of shooting. Even with its low 12MP output (same as the legendary Nikon D700) this Sony A7s has it all. Decent Speed, great build, a shutter that sounds quieter to me than the A7 and A7s and now, as I just found out, no real horrible issues with the Voigtlander 15 Heliar VM (Leica mount) lens. The camera also will AF in LOW light without the use of AF ASSIST. It is not blazing when no light is there but it does indeed AF and it does so accurately.

On the A7 and A7r this lens had some issues as it does on the Leica M. Magenta corners and edges. Most use it for B&W only because of this. On the A7s, after just a few quick test JPEG snaps in my backyard, I see no real issues and shooting this lens in color is now possible on a full frame digital without having to worry about colored edges. It is not perfect of course as it is a try 15mm lens. You will get some vignetting wide open and maybe some slight colored edges but nothing like it was on the previous cameras, or Leica M.

I have yet to try other wide angles on the A7s and I am aware that some have more issues than others but this is a good sign. The Voigtlander 15 is one of my all time fave lenses just for the fun factor and low-cost of $600. You can read about it here when I tested it on  a Leica M. My very old review on the M8 is here. Others have tested it on the A7, here is one of those articles. 

The test images below were shot about 10 minutes ago in my backyard and I haven’t yet used the lens anywhere else but plan to all next week in some situations. So far so good! You can buy the 15 Voigtlander from Cameraquest HERE or B&H Photo HERE. It is a fantastic wide-angle that when used on an A7 will give you a true 15mm FOV. It is quite an amazing lens for the $599 retail price.

SO FAR, THE SONY A7S IS THE FULL FRAME MIRRORLESS TO BEAT for what it offers. My pick SO FAR for Camera of the Year 2014. Order it at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Images below with the Voigtlander 15 VM lens..click for larger. ALL OOC JPEGS! I will have some “real” images with this combo in my review coming within 2 weeks.







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  1. Hello everyone! I don’t know which wide angle to choose for christmas… could you tell me what would have the best IQ on an A7s :
    – voigtlander 15
    – zeiss ZM 18 f4
    – or Zeiss ZM 21 f2.8


  2. Hey Steve, so close to buying my A7S….(will use your link of course) did you use a view finder with the 15mm heliar on the A7S?…. is that a bad question? 🙂

    • You just use the built in EVF or LCD…no need for any external finder as the A7 series is WYSIWYG – The A7 is not a rangefinder so you will be able to see the entire 15mm frame in the EVF.

  3. Hey, I have a quick question,

    Do we know why the lens has issues with a leica M and not with the sony? The sensors are the same size and the distance lens-sensor is the same too, right?

    Forgive my candidness, but I don’t get it.

    Also, you mentioned AF in the first paragraph, but the lens is manual right?

  4. Hi Steve, thanks for the samples. What M to E adapter do you use? I picked up a cheaper one but it has a lot of play…

  5. Thanks! 🙂

    It looks like there is some corner mush + color shifts. The A7 does not seem far off from this. Could you comment on that? TIA!

  6. Hi Steve,
    I am very curious about the silent shutter function. Do you know what is the maximum shutter speed that can be used with it? Is it still limited to only 5FPS?


  7. First and last picture – upper left corner – looks like magenta color to me, not vignetting. First I though my eyes are fooling me and it’s probably vignetting, but after second look – it’s not. Anybody has same thoughts or is it just me?

  8. Thanks Steve, you made my day. I’m sold!

    This is exactly what I wanted to hear. I love the CV15 but it has been imprisoned in a monochrome world. As much as I love the results, I would be glad to liberate it.

    (seriously, thank you)

  9. Gotta laugh here. Every time I mention the D4 to folks I get the, “…oh, but not enough Mpx, only 16.2 and I’m a big time shooter so only the D800’s 36 for me, the D4 images are soooo inferior…”. Of course, if you’re above ISO 400 the D4 leaves the D800 gasping. and colors? Don’t get me started! Those huge pixels just POP/ Burst with color! But the “Real Nikon Men” will hear nothing of it as they wax about their huge… ummm, images.

    Now you’re suggesting a mere 12Mpx camera is any good for anything but P&S… heresy…! May you be burnt at the stake with the light of 100 Elinchrom Pros for your lies and blasphemy ….

    I love you Man, just reality, nothing more or less… of the horror… the hor..ror…

  10. I applaud Sony for trying all kinds of variations in their cameras. It’s no secret that fewer, larger photosites on a sensor make for low noise and higher sensitivity. I think many (myself included) find 12 megapixels too small for our work, and cameras like the D4 or Df do about as well at the low light game, giving 16 megapixels to boot. It’s good to have choices, but I can’t seem to bond with these Sony bodies.

    • bvhleica, you need to check the ISO comparison tool on dpreview.com. Same studio scene, it shows the A7s clearly better at hight ISOs than the DF. until I saw that I thought the same as you.

      Steve, can you check the A7s for sensor reflections that can affect the A7/r? They often appear with highlights in the frame and show as coloured orbs.


      • Without question the A7s beats the Df in high ISO. NO question about it. I’ve used both extensively. The Df is great but the A7s is better, and not only better at high ISO but quicker to AF and easier to manual focus than the Df. I like both cameras though the Df came in with a lot of negative criticisms. The A7s feels “right” to me after using all A7 cameras. It does not feel clunky in the slightest. It feels amazing with Leica glass in it and the whole sluggishness is gone. Its fantastic, really. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this camera. As a note, I shot some video at ISO 12,800 in near darkness and it looks incredible. Very impressive.

        • Steve, you mentioned that it’s amazing with Leica glass. Both A7 and A7R had issues even with 50mm Leica lenses. Is it NOT the case with A7S?

      • I just checked the comparison tool and at ISO 51200 there is a big difference. The Sony is very, very capable. Now when I need night-vision goggles-photography there is a tool out there for me.

    • Not sure but the big brains on LL tell us that more/smaller pixels = lower noise, all other things being equal.

      • Each photosite has the job of gathering as many photons as possible during an exposure. The larger the photosite, the more photons gathered. The ratio of photons to internally generated noise is a rough guide to quality. You want the largest signal-to-noise ratio you can get.

  11. Dear Steve
    Just a thank you!
    The A7R just demand too much patience and carefullness/tripodwork for my mental condition.
    The A7 I just didn’t know.
    But the Sony-colours are tempting
    And with your remarks and findings combined with those from Michael Reichmann, I think it will have to be a A7S!!

  12. I still love my Fuji X100….BUT….Why Steve?!!! WhyYYYYYYYYY?????! Giving myself lines ‘I must not covet’, ‘I must not covet’, ‘I mu.. 🙂

  13. That is great news Steve!!! Looks like the camera for me too! I have the 12mm and hope it works as good:)))

  14. Thank you steve for this short check. I also love my 15mm (22,5 on APS-C) heliar and like to use it on my nex5n. if i want that extra Field of view i stitch 3 vertical images to get the FF Field of view but even as a 22.5mm lens the heliar is a little wonder.

    the a7s looks like a good body for all this beloved little wide angle lenses!
    I am looking forward to your full review.

    Thank you for that extraordinary good work (also the a6000 review!)


    • Michael,

      I have the CV 15mm, but the first version, not the later. Funnily enough I also use it on my NEX 5N along with my A7.

      It has amazing central sharpness but on the A7 at FF the poor edge performance, curvature of field, producing very soft images is quite noticeable. I see very little evidence, if at all, of chromatic aberration. Perhaps this has been obliterated by the very soft edge performance.

      However, on the NEX 5N the more central sweet spot of the Heliar is being used and this combo provides a very good wide angle view indeed.

  15. The voigtlander 15mm is my favourite wide angle lens…like many voigtlander lenses it has a lot of “personality” especially on a7. However, where it really shines is in combination with Alpha 6000 and the close up voigtlander adapter…super! You can see some samples on my site ..http://photodefacto.blogspot.dk/

  16. 1) I’m used to 10 megapixal pictures (V1 and LX3 are my favourite compacs), but isn’t the 12 megapixel of the A7S a bit limiting?
    2) Is that correct? Steve writes that autofocus works with the Heliar lens. I thought this lens was manual only. Or does Steve mean focus confirmation, perhaps?

  17. The best wide angle on the A7r is Sony`s 10-18mm zoom. Used in FF format between 12-16mm it delivers results at least as good as the ones seen here with the A7s CV 15 combo with extra resolution, flexibility and AF as bonus.

    • The 10-18 is nice but HUGE! The Voigt is tiny, metal build, and feels super solid on the camera. I adore this lens and always have, even with the color problems on the M and A7r and A7. On the A7s it is fantastic. Shot it tonight more and while it is no Leica in pop and contrast it is a very fun, small, easy to use wide angle that looks killer on the cam. But yes, the 10-18 Sony is great on the A7 or A6000, I agree 100%. A friend has the combo and loves it.

      • Hey Steve, sorry to ask this in an old thread – Does this lens really suffer from none of its flaws with the A7s? Or would you recommending waiting for the mkIII to become available?

  18. Damn! Just yesterday I convinced myself that I must resist temptation. You’re not making it easy!

    Thanks for the great work Steve.

  19. Sweetness
    It’s not only colour shifts that are an issue, but also pixel smearing in the corners. The A7 and A7r do that, the A7s does not seem to.
    I wonder how this puppy works with my Leica 18mm Super Elmar.. Steve, if you don’t have one and happen to be in LA anytime soon, you can borrow mine to test.

    Best regards

  20. I was connected to your site just to ask you if you try the intension of a7s with the 15mm …. thanks! aspect more details!

    • so, if the voigt 15mm works nice on the sony a7s, the voigt 21mm f4 and the 25mm f4 must do the same.

  21. Thank you Steve. Looks rather good indeed. I am wondering whether the large pixels show less colour shift simply because most of the light (over the spectrum) is not shifted enough to ‘leave’ the pixel. But that is just a speculation.

  22. I wasn’t going to and I can’t really afford to, but you give me no other choice but to sell off, save up and buy an A7s and a mighty Mitakon! This seems to be the ultimate combo I’ve been dreaming of for quite a while now!

  23. It looks great and a surprise for me as I didn’t expect the magenta corners to be so good. I can’t wait for some other wide angle lens to be tried, especially the contax g lens I have.

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