Quick User Report: Using the Voigtlander 40 1.4 on the Sony A7s
by Devin Jameson
Just wanted to post a few images recently made with the Sony a7s and Nokton 40mm 1.4 SC.
Sharp at the focus point, even wide open—IF you nail the focus
Sharpness picks up quickly when stopped down if you prefer a clinical look or are shooting landscapes (also vignetting goes away by f/2.8 or so)
Very compact size, even with the Voigtlander Close-Focus adapter
Character is very “interesting”
Great build quality with smooth focusing ring and aperture clicks
Randomness factor–you never know what you might get when shooting wide open!
0.7 meter minimum focus distance—closer to 0.3 meter with VM-E adapter
It’s not a Leica 50 Lux
Rather heavy vignetting
Bokeh is somewhat nervous (I’ve learned to love this)
Flare (I like the randomness of flare, so this isn’t a con for me)
I expect to see a 50mm focal length, so the transition to 40mm is a little tough, but should be fine in time
All in all, it’s a fun lens that lives on my a7s. Check out the sample images below—most were shot wide open.
My favourite lens since I have owned the A7s, and it made me buy another 4 Voigtlanders including the 35mm 1.2 and 50mm 1.5. But this 40mm is still the favourite!
Hi Joris I was thinking of getting the 35mm 1.2 instead of the 40mm 1.4 for general use….what would ou suggest?
You’re probably way past this decision but it’ll probably pop up again especially with them being rereleased.
The 35 1.2 is the safe work lens for when you just want the inoffensive oof but it comes at the cost of weight being as heavy or heavier than most mirrorless systems most people are arsed to carry.
The 35/40 1.4 is still (05.11.16) one of the cheapest modern m mounts with delivery way above its pay grade and comes with a bit of bite and friction in rendering as most lighter lens solutions do.
If you know which side of the fence you are regarding the use of ZM or later zeiss vs. Old m39 lenses you probably know which of the respective lenses you prefer.
I love this lens. This has been my primary lens on my A7r the past few weeks. The Sony/Zeiss 35 and 55 are spectacularly sharp and have smooth bokeh, and if I want “by-the-book” shots I stick with them. But this one has character, is technically very good at f/2.0 (smooth bokeh, sharp, not much CA), and has its own nice quirks. I sometimes wonder if I’m lacking some of the range and richness of colors with this lens that I get with the Sony/Zeiss lenses. I generally have to do a lot of post-processing to make sure there isn’t a green tinge to my photos.
This is the first M mount lens I ever bought and I used to shoot it on my GF1. The 3D pop on this lens is crazy. When the lighting is right and your subject is within a certain range, it’s like you can peel them out of the photo. I love the images that I can get from this lens.
This is the opposite of a clinical lens. BUT…
-Bokeh becomes smooth when stopped down to 2.0
-This lens has great 3d pop and center sharpness @ 2.0.
-Lens flares look great.
-Vignetting looks great and adds to the filmic feel.
-Compared to the Voiglander 40mm 2.0 the 1.4 beats that in sharpness 3d pop and color.
My only complaint is the Mexican hat field curvature which tends to lead to corner smearing.
Devin, I like this lens and the way it renders having used it on both Sony NEX and M4/3 systems. An image here (link below) demonstrates how it renders in a reasonably closely framed portrait shot. In this image the bokeh is very nice in my view. I can vouch that its a lens that is worth having. At maybe $400-$500 its priced well and has nice build quality although as Devin says it is not a Leica Lux. Its size suits NEX and M4/3 cameras nicely. Cheers Peter
Nice shot Peter. You’re right–the bokeh looks smoother there. I’ll attribute that to the “randomness” factor of the lens.
But great review showing how this lens performs.
Worst, best, who’s to say really 😉
were the colors adjusted here in post or are these OOC jpegs?
Colors adjusted in post.
Please, could you tell me if some kind of filter was applied in processing? To me, the 200 iso images look like they were taken at 2000 ISO, which seems uncharacteristic of an A7S.
Yep–there is a lot of post-processing going on.
Stan: the bokeh is definitely strange on this lens. FYI the rainbow thing is flare, which this lens does not protect against very well. When I want “smoother” bokeh, I use another lens. 🙂
I love this lens. A great all-rounder, that I consider to be a tight 35, rather than a loose 50.
I just want to say that I’ve heard some bashes about vignetting from these adapted M lenses on the A7 family of cameras… I probably don’t have to point out as person who owned and shot this lens on an M9 and M7 for a few years… but I will… it vignettes wide open on a Leica M, film or digital, has at times a less than gorgeous bokeh, the colors here look exactly like what I was getting on my M9 from this lens. I’m not defending the lens as much as I’m expressing the fact that I’m non-plussed when I hear people complain about certain issues that M-mount lenses have on this A7’s. But I am very new to all this Sony A7 stuff so I should probably keep my trap shut. I will add that I got my A7 ii a couple of days ago and I haven’t mounted my 50 Lux on it … I put the 35 Nokton 1.2 ii on and I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to take it off. It’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve taken the lens off 1.2 yet. Focus peaking is an amazing thing. I don’t see any vignetting issues or anything that would bother me but I also haven’t popped the card out yet so..
The 40 Nokton is truly a great lens. I just sold mine about a year ago but I can imagine it would make a great companion to an A7. It is incredibly sharp. At f2 it’s as sharp as anyone could ever need. Straight lines. Tiny and light yet solid. I felt very confident buying the 35 1.2 because I’d been so happy with the 40 1.4. anyway. Nice pictures. Can’t beat that lens for the money and size.
You are correct, this 40 will vignette on the Leica M9 or M 240 just the same but the Sony can give you better overall IQ.
Is not a Noctilux?
No. It doesn’t need to be.
It’s an excellent lens. You buy just a lens and save the other 90%.
Nerves are in the photographer.
I’m not normally one to bang on about bokeh, but there’s something very odd about the OOF areas here. What’s with the weird rainbow thing going on in the first picture? And in a number of the images, the background looks more like film emulsion that’s melted. I guess bokeh is a love it or hate it thing….
This is the 40mm f1.4 “single coat” version of the lens, the colors are suppose to look faded and filmic, there is more lens flare, and less contrast.
the bokeh is like this due to the lens design i think, it’s about the same on the multicoat version.
i’ve also had the same combo on my A7 and 40mm f1.4 SC, it was a very nice combo
I don’t have an issue at all with the faded / filmic look – there’s definitely a place for that. But I don’t think the psychedelic rainbow in the first image falls into that category. Anyhow, the world would be a very dull place if we all liked the same things…!
True true! Me, I love the lens flare in image #1..just adds character though I would not use it every time. It has its place.
It hurts my eyes too !!!
Hmmm…a Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 and an f/2.8, both close to the same price. Any thoughts on which might be preferable and why?
The 40 2.8 is for Sony E Mount, the 40 1.4 is a Leica M mount. The 40 2.8 is smaller, and in nickel finish. The 40 1.4 is black and larger. The 40 2.8 NEEDS the Adapter to work, which keeps it small. The 40 2.8 has better Bokeh IMO but will not do 1.4 😉 The 40- 2.8 also vignettes wide open a bit. So for better color and smoother Bokeh, choose the 40 2.8. For faster aperture and funky bokeh, choose the 40 1.4 😉 Either way you need the adapter.
While both of them require an adapter, only the 2.8 requires the close focus adapter. I personally have the 40mm 1.4 with the close focus adapter (on the A7II thanks to Steve’s enthusiastic reviews) but you could get away with a $40 adapter and save $250 by going the 1.4 route.
The close focus adapter is unique as it will allow you to close focus and M mount lens, which has previously been impossible. It’s also the best made adapter and one that will last for the long haul, unlike most of the $20-$40 ones which come loose or startup loose. I have owned 6-7 of those cheap ones ranging from $11 to $50 and all were subpar after much use. I always say its bet to buy right the 1st time and with the close focus adapter you get a very well made adapter that also allows you to do things the others ones will not let you do. (as you know). So owning it is well worth it as now I can use the 40 2.8 made for e mount, or use any M mount glass with it as well. In fact, I am buying another so I can have two different M lenses on each of my cameras (A7s and A7II). Also just picked up a Nikon S to E adapter as some of this old Nikon S glass is so good and soooooo cheap! That’s what is so awesome with the Sony cameras, ANY old RF lens can be adapted and used.