We’re back with an exclusive first impressions of the Voigtlander Nokton Vintage Line 75mm F/1.5 Aspherical VM lens, which many Leica users have been waiting for. We’ll be comparing it to the Leica 75mm F/2.5 Summarit and Noctilux 75mm F/1.25 lenses.
It’s not an entirely fair comparison pitting a S$1000 lens against a S$19,000 lens, but since we have the photos, why not?
Let’s dive into it. This lens comes in black and silver, we’re running the black variant on the Panasonic S1R with an adaptor, but it’s a very small lens for the focal length. The build quality is beautiful and feels great in the hand. The black lens with white markings fits the S1R very well, and you’re going to like this if you have the Leica SL.
There’s a screw-on metal hood as well, standard with Voigtlander lenses, and it has a filter size of 58mm. The lens only weighs 350g, which is quite remarkable for a lens that has 6 groups, 7 elements and 1 aspherical element.
You’ll notice when shooting that this isn’t a super sharp lens until you stop it down, but even then, it’s not as sharp as the Summarit at all. It has a particular dream-like quality to it. The focus throw is also very short, so you’ll be able to get subjects in focus quickly.
There’s also a nice click to the aperture ring; it’s not too tight or too loose, but it’s definitely a photographer’s lens. Another nice thing is that the close focusing distance is at 0.75m while the Summarit is at around 1m, so you’ll most likely get a bit more usability with the Voigtlander.
With 75mm lenses on a rangefinder, it’s always a bit tricky since the focusing box is small. Using this lens on the SL, S1R or another mirrorless camera might be a little more enjoyable. And because of the short focus throw, it’s easier to focus on those cameras.
This is a fantastic portraiture lens, since the rendering is a little softer with that dreamy look. There’s a bit of a swirl but nothing too distracting. If you don’t like a busy bokeh, you’ll like this lens.
Now, a lot of people like to ask “is the build quality as good as Leica?” and the build quality of the Voigtlander is really good, but you do have to give Leica credit for their lenses. We’d say that the build quality for this lens is approximately 85% as good as the build quality for Leica’s lenses, and that’s really good when you consider the price difference.
For portrait shots, there’s nice skin tone, separation and the colours are quite similar to the Summarit. With photos taken against harsh light, there is noticeable chromatic aberration but it gets better when stopping down the aperture.
There is also purple fringing on metallic materials in photos, but it’s easily corrected in Lightroom or other post-processing software programs.
Wide open at F/1.5, there’s a bit of vignetting around the edges, but when stopped down, the vignetting is gone but the colour shift changes a little, which definitely is something to take note of. Photos are otherwise sharp and retains a great deal of details.
Comparing to the Noctilux, you’ll notice that the Voigtlander lens has a bit more aberration and it’s not as controlled as the Noctilux. The bokeh on the Voigtlander also has more of a hexagonal shape with more edges than the Noctilux.
The Noctilux also edges out the Voigtlander ever so slightly in sharpness, but overall, the Voigtlander performs admirably for its price point.