A Gorgeous Lens for your Sony A7RII or A9. My current favorite.

A Gorgeous Lens for your Sony A7RII or A9. My current favorite.

By Steve Huff

Ever since this lens dropped into my mailbox I have had it on my Sony A9. Yes, the A9. A camera that was made for pure speed, and blazing auto focus in any situation yet I am using a manual focus f/1.2 lens on it and have been for weeks. Sure, I have swapped out the lens from time to time when I needed that AF but for a quality of photo that just looks beautiful, a little dreamlike and even ethereal at times it always gives back beautiful color, nice sharpness even wide open, and a perfect blend of contrast out of the camera. Voigtlander has really stepped it up with this lens, and I now prefer it to the Zeiss Loxia line for Sony, for this focal length (35-50). Being a 40mm, it does seem odd at first (being so used to 35mm and 50mm) but using it with an EVF camera like the Sony A9 or A7RIII is a joy and it did not take long for me to really start enjoying the 40mm focal length. In fact, I now prefer it to 35mm as that extra 5mm of reach does change it up.

THIS IS THE SONY E MOUNT VERSION, which MAY be different from the M mount version coming any day now.

As soon as you turn the solid, weighty focus ring the camera explodes the view in the EVF (if you set it up this way) so you can nail focus every time. Want peaking instead? Sure, no problem.

With these new EVF’s from Sony, shooting in manual focus is a breeze and quite fun. Low light, good light, indoor or out, this lens can shoot in any lighting scenario and being an f/1.2 lens, it is like a “Noctilux Mini” at 1/10th the price and for SONY. Made for E mount.

You guys who have followed me for years know how much I adore manual fast glass, but GOOD glass. Every now an again a jewel comes along that ticks all the right boxes. This is one such lens. It delivers in IQ, in size, in build and feel and it stays pretty small with a perfect fit to any Sony A7 or A9 series camera. It’s THAT good, even guest reviewer Chad Wadsworth agrees. 

If you have $1059 to spend on a lens, and shoot Sony AND you want a very fast aperture with a beautiful rendering and color performance as well as being a very well made manual focus lens, with manual aperture dial as well…then TAKE A LOOK AT THIS LENS! You can rent it before buying as well at lens rentals.com but it’s lovely, and a lens that delivers the goods and makes your Sony shoot and feel like an old school yet modern shooter. This lens, and ANY lens should be judged only by using it how it was designed to be used. TAKING REAL PHOTOS. When using this lens in this way, it’s one of my all time faves already. I have seen no CA issues, no bokeh issues, no sharpness issues and the color has been phenomenal with my A9 and the new A7RIII. I have not yet tried the M mount but the Sony E Mount ROCKS. I find it to be superior to the older 35 f/1.2 II in sharpness, color and overall character.

You can buy the 40mm f/1.2 HERE at Amazon via Prime. You can also buy it at Cameraquest.com direct.

Images below that you may have already seen, but even so, it shows what this lens character is all about. Shot on the A9 and A7RIII:

CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION!

22 Comments

  1. If I had the money I’d drop the money on this lens today to put on my A7’s. One of my favorite cameras I’ve ever owned was a Canonet QL17 GIII with it’s 40mm f1.7. Shouldn’t have gotten rid of it. The 40mm lens is a suprisingly perfect focal length for general shooting. Just enough shorter than 50/55mm to be better for indoor use, and just that little bit longer than 35mm to produce a slightly more appropriate look for portraits. Reasons 28mm lenses work so well as standard lenses on APS-C cameras. Until it was stolen a Sigma 28mm f1.8 was the lens that lived on my Nikon D70, and I tend to keep my Sony 28mm f2 on my NEX-6 as something I can pull out and grab a shot in a pinch.

  2. Would all the good quality of this lens work as well on a Sony a6500? I realize the crop-factor would bring it out to about 60mm. Have been looking for a good, sharp manual lens.
    Thanks for a well balanced and informative review.

    Bob
    Green Bay

  3. I remember when Cosina used to produce ‘cheap and cheerful’ lenses. It’s great to see that they have taken the Voigtlander name forward and even enhanced it beyond its original status. It’s a pity that other Far East manufactures haven’t always done the same with old famous names.

  4. Focus throw is ridiculously far too short to not being mentioned as such in reports.
    Between distance scale 1.3m and 2m it’s not even a matter of 1mm for a say 10cm distance. (Roughly a mere 2cm from 1m to infinity!)
    Portraits are doable (focus on eyes), despite this crazy silly short throw, but really; it needs to be criticized next to all praise Voighlander does deserves for this great lens such as also for their “same generation” 65mm but witch in turn needs to be scolded for not having received the same click-less aperture option that I leave enabled permanently on the 40mm even though I do not film).

    • I find the focus throw PERFECT for me. Some lenses have much too long of a focus throw. This one, for me, IMO, is perfect. It’s tough to miss focus with this lens, E Mount, on a Sony A9 or A7. We all have different tastes and no company, none, can please everyone.

      • A 35 – 50mm lens where the distance-scale between 1.3m and 4m is compressed into a mere 10mm throw is in Your opinion, a company’s PERFECT decision.
        It’s refreshing, because often exclusively-Manual-Focus lenses are praised for their smooth and precise, proportionally graduated long focus mechanism (if they indeed have these attributes over AF-MF lenses or other MF lenses) and I shall learn now to detect such arguments as an commercial attempt to hide unadapted tiring focus throws.
        So for Artist photographers (not only techy nerds), these mere 10mm implementation for a 1.3m to 4m stretch is a particularly revolutionary fine-mechanic achievement that merits to be much more highlighted.
        Just a suggestion.

        • Questions to those who film
          1) With or without extra Follow-Focus aides; is the (extra-short) focus-throw distance of this f 1.2 40mm a concern?
          2) Voightlander’s “Selective Aperture Control System” (as they call themselves their mechanism that enables the lens operator to alternate the option for either clicking or click-less aperture settings) is missing on the 65mm mako (not so on the 40mm Nokton). Do You know of a way to render the E-Mount 65 mm / F2
          Macro Apo-Lanthar click-less (reversible or permanently)?
          Thank You

        • > A 35 – 50mm lens where the distance-scale between 1.3m
          > and 4m is compressed into a mere 10mm throw

          The very fact that you mention “10mm throw” indicates that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

          What matters in terms of precision is the *angle* of rotation, not the distance — e.g. “10mm” — between the markings.

          For the same angle of rotation, the distance between the markings is going to depend on the diameter of the ring carrying the markings.

          If a tiny lens has a lens barrel whose diameter is, say, 20mm, then the distance between the markings of a 180-degree rotation would be 31.416mm.

          If a large-ish lens has a lens barrel whose diameter is, say, 70mm, then the distance between the markings of a 180-degree rotation would be 109.96mm — i.e. 3.5 times the marking distance on the smaller lens.

          This Nokton 40mm has a scalloped focus ring whose diameter is significantly larger than the “neck” close to the mount, where the distance markings are. This larger diameter should make precision focusing easier.

          As to the precision required, methinks Cosina know a bit more about what kind of focus throw — i.e. rotation angle — is suitable for a manual focus lens than you, especially for stills photography.

          Given that you also inquire about aperture de-clicking, I suspect your area of interest is more movies than stills. You should thus simply consider whether lenses whose effective focus ring diameter can be easily increased e.g. by using a follow-focus ring wouldn’t be more suitable for your intended applications.

  5. I am intrigued, but not yet 100% convinced.

    There are side-by-side comparisons which show that this lens is optically a lot worse than the Loxia 35/2 at the same apertures.

    The LoCA (“color bokeh”) seems quite severe on this lens. It even reminds me of the cheap 50/1.4’s from Canon and Nikon.

    • Not in my experience. Id take this over two 35f/2 Loxias. I use it for photos though, not test charts and nonsense that has nothing to do with real photography. SO. you are saying that the images here are of bad optical quality for a $1k f/1.2 lens? 99% of these are shot at 1.2, wide open and I have had NO issues at all. Neither has Chad who has also reviewed the lens here. For real photos, this lens is a winner and competes with much more pricier lenses. Anyone who judges a lens by test charts of any kind is missing out on so much good gear, as it is never about that as they should be judged IN USE, by taking photos. ; ) For me, this bests even some Leica glass I have used in the past.

      • Thanks for your answer, Steve. I’m not talking about test charts and clinical sharpness. I’m talking about obvious aberrations like the LoCA artifacts on the pictures with the car.

        Chad and you take masterful, gorgeous pictures with this lens. My concern is that identical results might have been possible with a cheap $300 Nikkor 50/1.4D which exhibits similar aberrations. I’m not going to romanticize the minute differences between a 40/1.2 and a 50/1.4. I don’t want to drop $1k on a lens only to find out it is more art than function.

        I guess the only way to find out for sure is to try the lens myself.

        • Well, we all like what we like. I have used hundreds of lenses over the last 10 years. I have used countless cameras. I do not look at an image and look for flaws, because if I do not see them when I look at the image itself then it is not an issue. I have shot with cheap 50 1.4’s and they always look just like that..cheap 50 1.4’s. Output is usually flatter, color is off or not as pronounced, and they are not very sharp wide open. This lens, at f/1.2 is sharper than most of those cheap 1.8’s when they are wide open. By f/1.8 this lens is BITINGLY sharp without being clinical. To me, it is a masterpiece for the cost. Do you think someone who looks at a print of an image with this lens, say if it were in a gallery…do you think someone would say “I see LoCA here, many he used a bad lens”. No, not at all. Would never happen as 99% of people have no Clie what LoCA even is ; ) The lens is gorgeous, it is beautiful and I have no special skills to exploit it, it just is what it is. Lovely lens that performs no matter when or how I use it. For me it is the mix of color (which is usually only seen in more expensive lenses) and Bokeh and the overall rendering. The size is also perfect for a Sony. For the cost, if one enjoys manual focus and fast glass, is hard to beat for E mount. You could rent one from lensrentals.com for a few days and try it, as I understand not everything I like is for everyone. You may hate it! Let me know if you give it a try and what you think though! Thank you.

  6. I’m getting the m-mount version this Friday for the A7rmkii, so I can choose between autofocus (Techart) or manual focus. Have I made a good decision? I’m about to find out!

  7. Every one of those photos has something to say about that lens, and it’s all good news. Thanks for the heads up Steve.

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