Quick 1st Look: Voigtlander 40/2.8 Aspherical Heliar for Sony E-Mount!
My Sony A7s with the brand new Artisan & Artist ACAM-310 Red Silk Strap
Yesterday another new lens arrived via the wonderful mailwoman who delivers so much gear here she had to ask me what it is I do for a living 🙂 The new Voigtlander 40mm F/2.8 Heliar Aspherical lens is a beauty, especially on the A7 series of cameras. It is small, collapsible, solid and made to a high standard. But this lens is unique as it is a Leica M mount lens (Voigtlander VM) but can not be used on a Leica M as there would be no way to focus it. Instead it is designed to be used with Sony E Mount using the Voigtlander VM to E close focus adapter. Yep, just mount this lens to the adapter and then on to your A7 or A6000 or any E mount camera, full frame or crop sensor, and you will have a gorgeous small lens that will deliver sharp yet beautiful results.
Image below is from cameraquest.com where I received the lens from… you can see the cap, hood, etc.
When I mounted it to my A7s it gave the camera a solid heft that I loved and in use it was very easy to focus. The color is rich, the sharpness is there without being analytical or overdone and while there is slight vignetting wide open at f/2.8, it adds to the character of the lens.
The lens comes with a cap, a hood and is collapsible on the A7 series of cameras. When collapsed it makes for a very nice compact lens. Even when extended it is compact. After only testing this lens for a brief moment yesterday after it arrived I was very impressed with the handling, build and image quality. I only snapped three shots with it so far but will be getting out this week and weekend with the lens so a full review will be on the way soon..and damn, looks like yet another lens I will want to purchase. At $400 it is a very good buy and if you have the VM to E adapter already, a no brainer. NOTE: This lens is only designed to work with the Voigtlander close focus M to E adapter but I think any adapter that is similar (close focus) will work (HAWK). Still I recommend the Voigtlander 100% for adapting M lenses to E mount.
So if you own this adapter, which IMO is the best adapter made for converting Leica M lenses to Sony E mount, then this gorgeous lens is a MUST BUY! It gives that old school feeling, look and the rendering is quite nice.
The lens is IN STOCK now at Cameraquest at the direct link HERE.
My full review of this lens will be up in about 10-14 days!
A question: with the 40mm 2.8 Heliar mounted on my A7r and release without lens enabled, when I go to the focus settings in the menus, I get the message “Invalid because lens not attached. Attach the lens correctly”. The exposures I make are fine and all seems to work well except that the metadata for the images doesn’t show the aperture I used. Is all of this normal since I’m not using dedicated FE mount autofocus lenses?
That lens will never show the metadata on the A7 series. It’s an M mount lens, but not usable on an M (focusing anyway), but make sure your adapter is locked in all the way. Are you using the Voigtlander Close Focus Adapter? If not that would be your issue (for the message)
Yes I’m using the Voigtlander Close Focus Adapter. I’ve remounted everything correctly and checked the instructions supplied. No mistakes there. Still getting that message. However I must also mention that in the menu, the focus mode is at M and is greyed over. Not sharp white. I can only imagine that because there is no electronic interaction between the VM CF adapter and the A7r, the focus mode setting options are disabled because they are irrelevant. Its all manual as its supposed to be. Am I right? What happens on your setup?
How would you say this lens compares with the Leica 40mm f/2? That lens is pretty much my go-to walking around lens on the A7s.
Hi Steve, Just bought an A7r with the Zeiss 50 f1.8, which I find too big, unwieldy and unattractive. After your youtube video on this, I’m on the verge of buying this lens with the Voigtlander close focus adapter also because I want to go back to manual focusing which I have had difficulties with because of my shortsightedness. My questions:
1. Will the A7r use the coloured focus peaking with this lens to show I’m in focus ?
2. Can I use aperture priority mode with this lens?
3. Can I use shutter speed priority (can’t imagine how)?
In other words, except for autofocus, does everything else work the same on the A7 bodies with third party manual focus lenses?
3. Yes, you would just adjust the lens aperture as needed
and yes, its just like using an AF lens but you do not have AF. Everything else is the same.
Many thanks Steve, I’ve ordered the lens and adapter now. Can’t wait! I bought the Sony RX1 soon after it was introduced. Not just for the full frame capability in such a small size, but also for the Zeiss optics, which I’ve been a fan of ever since I bought the Contax RTS with Zeiss 85 f1.4 back in the late 70s! Your comments in your video review about the Voigtlander 40mm collapsible lens’ rendition and contrast was just too compelling. Very curious to see how it stacks up….
hi Steve always like your stuff. By the way, I ordered this lens the moment I heard about it. I just thought it was a jewel as it reminded me of the Leica elmar 50 2.8 collapsible and it reminded me of the lens of my Rolie 35s. I also have the Zeiss 35 autofocus but knowing how nice maual voigtlanders are for quality, I thought I couldn’t miss. Looking very much forward to picking up my lens from my other home location. 🙂
Hi Steve! In your review of A7S, you mentioned Zeiss 45 f/2 Planar is also a fantastic lens. Since you tried both already, I’d really like to know which one is a better choice in your opinion.
Steve, where did you get that lovely red wrist strap?
Hi Steve! Nice reviews, as usual! Still, this is probably the first time I don’t agree with you 😉 First: I do not see the logic in limiting the use of this lens by leaving out a focussing mechanism, since they put in an M-Mount (would be a great lens to use on my M-P or M3!!!). Second: More parts that have connections that can always represent a source of problems. And by the way… If you take off the lens hood and back cover from the Sony, will there still be a huge size difference? 😉
However. Please keep up the great work and I love the enthusiasm you express every time you review!!!
P.S.: Leica and Sony are the best!
Yes, the Sony lens will still be 2-3X larger if you remove lens hoods from both lenses, and much wider/thicker as well. Using the Adapter is actually pretty nice. Most who own an A7 (that I know) already own the adapter. So this lens and future lenses will be awesome as they are pretty cheap in comparison to M mount lenses and they are beautifully made in construction and design. The lens is also quite fantastic in rendering. If you want to use a lens on your M, there are tons of Voigtlander choices already. First I thought it was silly for them to do it this way but after using it, and thinking of future lenses, they were able to keep the lenses tiny by doing it like this ad using the adapter for focusing. When they come out with more lenses they will be much more affordable and all can be used with the adapter, which is the best on the market for stability, construction and function. IMO.
Good point! As a matter of fact I still love my Voigtländer 15mm and 50mm 1.1… Thanks for your advice!
Hi Nice presentation! I have a Leica Leitz Summicron-C 1:2/40 mm to my A7s and Novoflex NEX to Leica M. I think that lens also give you nice compactness. Have you any experience with this lens on A7s? Would I gain anything with the Voightlander adapter for my Leica?
Hello Steve. I have the same question as Joseph above. How does it compare to the Voigtlander 40mm 1.4? Thanks. BTW, I really like your video reviews.
The 40 1.4 is quite different. 1.4 of course, more expensive and not as sharp when at 1.4 of course. I would have to try side by side but the cool thing about this one is that it is collapsable and teeny tiny. Also Nickel instead of black. If you did not need 1.4, this lens is it. If you wanted 1.4, the 40 would be preferred. But at 2.8 I would guess there is minimal difference though this was made for E mount full frame, so it may do better than the 40 1.4.
I’m glad to see a lens that finally gives us something closer to a full-frame “compact.” I’d be very interested in knowing how this lens compares optically to the Voigtlander 40mm 1.4, which I have. This one does look very appealing, especially for its collapsibility, but the 1.4 is the same price, pretty tiny too, and gets you 2 more stops. I’m guessing based on your comments that the 2.8 is sharper and maybe has less CA.
My other question would be about corners on the a7r–the 40mm 1.4 does have a little of the famous corner smearing, but not much by the time you get to 2.8. I’m sure you wouldn’t see any of that on the a7s.
Would be interesting to find out if it works with the Hawks close focus adapter…. Which I already have. Technically, since this lens can’t be used without the adapter…. Actual price is $700
It should, same adapter type. As long as it has the focusing mechanism it will work.
I just bought the heliar to be used with my hawk adapter and I confirm it won’t fit into the hawks. Voigtlander must have done some funny stuff. I suspect the “legs” of the lens are a bit wider. I further assume it won’t fit in any genuine m mount too.
Sorry, but what is the point apart from retro-quirkiness over the SEL35F28Z, with AF and automatic lens correction profiles?
Lots of pros vs the 35 2.8 Sony…I have both here and have used the 35 Extensively.
For starters, the Sony is 2X the size. The Voigtlander is tiny and solid. Made like an old school lens, which is nice. 2nd, it has way more character and is just as sharp of a lens. 3rd, it is cheaper. 4th, many of us prefer using lenses such as this with manual focus (real MF not like the focus by wire of the AF lenses) as it is easy, fun and makes us feel like we are actually working for a photo. Not that it is hard at all but it is a nice way of shooting as it slows you down, much like using a Leica M. I’d take a manual focus lens like this any day over the larger, more expensive, cheaper built AF lenses. The Sony 35 has not been on my A7s in months, neither has the 55 1.8. Why? Because it is so much fun using the numerous manual focus lenses available from many manufactures. Hundreds of lenses are available and all have a different way of rendering the image.
I hate to disagree with you Steve, but the Sony 35 is the best rendering lens for the A7s when shot at night. The 55 is next to useless for reasons I cannot understand but the 35 will go all the way to 102,400 ISO and produce stunning results.
I love using manual focus lenses too. My current favorite is the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm F3.5, which zone focuses perfectly and produces none of the cyan on the right hand of the frame that is evident on the M 240.
The Summicron 35mm F2 8 – Elements is also a favorite, and also zone focusses great.
However, manual focus lenses are a lot harder to focus fast with the A7s in very low light.
For this, the Sony FE 35 is still king (until the 35 1.4 is released in March).
ANY lens will work on the A7s at ISO 102,000. I have used the Voigtlander 15 and 40 as well as the Sony 35 and 55, all worked just great at high ISO and at night. No difference at all in that regard (noise or ability). This Voigtlnader is a better lens than the Sony 35 for sharpness and bokeh, without a question or doubt. I now have quite a few images with both lenses and the Sony/Zeiss is sort of sterile in comparison. I am buying this review sample (Voigt). I can focus any of these old lenses on the A7s in low or bright light just the same as well.
Specifically, why can’t you mount this on a Leica M(240) and focus via live view? Is it the close focus aspect?
Because you would not be able to focus the lens. The lens needs the adapter to focus, as in, there is NO focusing mechanism on the lens itself making it IMPOSSIBLE to focus on ANY camera without the adapter. It is made for E mount. If you put it on an M 240 you can snap a few shots but they will not be in focus 🙂
Thanks for the report, Steve,
Cost wise (also size, versatility, etc), an M Rokkor makes more sense than this lens. If someone is in to collapsible lenses then the old Elmar 5cm f/3.5 can’t be beat. It is a tough sell for Cosina in the face of many old gems out there.
I hope they come up with something more useful than such “fun” lenses in the future.
I have a mint old Elmar 5cm 3.5 and it is not nearly as good as this lens is on the A7s for color and sharpness. The Elmar is a fine lens but has a much more classic rendering. I also have a 50 2.8 Elmar here and I am digging the 40 2.8 more on the A7s..more contrast and pop. The good thing is all of these lenses offer a different look, character and color signature..we can choose what we like best. I have so many lenses here and all are different yet fantastic in their own way. So far though this 40 2.8 is up there with the best in IQ and design/build/looks. I’d take it over the 5CM Elmar 3.5 though for performance, and I am preferring it over the 2.8 Elmar as well. $400 is a great price for this lens and I will most likely purchase this review sample even though I have six 50’s here in M mount.
Really beautiful mix !
Yes, it is screw mount. Thank you very much for continuous inspiration!
That would make for one compact NEX6. How does the lens compare to the 20mm 2.8 e-mount for sharpness etc? I guess that’s the other obvious choice for a small package.
Great site Steve – keep up the good work!
I have one question : I want to mount an collapsible Leica Summar F2 50 mm on Sony A7.
Can you please let me know what adapter rings should I use ?
Thank you very much in advance and keep up the wonderful work on this site!
All you need is the Voigtlander VM to E adapter as long as your lens is an M mount. If it is screw mount then you need the $10 Screw Mount to M adapter and then the Voigtlander adapter.
Another nice lens from Cosina!