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Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review

  
 
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


FM Rolling Review: Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar
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FM Rolling Review: Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar

The wait is finally over! Long production delays sparked anticipation of the Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar lens, and this month Voigtlander ultimately delivered.

It's not like Sony shooters didn't have anything else in their bags to work with. Most were satisfied with the Voigtlander 65mm f/2 Macro APO-Lanthar, because you have to admit, it does have superb resolution/contrast, lack of color aberration, and 1:2 macro capabilities. However, the expectation with this new lens - was that the Voigtlander 110/2.5 APO would improve MFD working distance at life size magnification and deliver ever better image quality.

A big feature of the CV 110/2.5 APO is a modern apochromatic optical design (APO) and the 8 anomalous partial dispersion elements, or in other words a lot of special glass. In the past, superior axial chromatic aberration correction, was like an impossible dream. Lens designers love to market some of their lenses as true APO, but we all know very few optical designs ever come close to filling the void. I had high hopes and I decided to put this lens through the ringer - and with these high expectations I couldn't even find a trace of color aberration. The CV 110 brings APO to a whole new level. Literally, the best I've ever seen.

If onion bokeh is not your thing, you're in luck. Since they avoided the use of aspherical elements in the optical design, you're left with clean specular highlights on your images. No more onion rings.
The CV 110 also features a 3-group floating mechanism allowing it to maintain high image quality from macro to infinity.

Check out the optical design diagram below:





Here is a summary with links to the tests and sample images:
  1. Side-by-side "size" comparison to CV 65/2 APO at different distances
  2. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between CV 110/2.5 APO vs Batis 135/2.8 APO
  3. Infinity Resolution/contrast comparison between CV 110/2.5 APO vs FE 100-400 GM @110mm and f/5.6
  4. Field Curvature and Focus shift
  5. Sunstar Rendering
  6. Macro Performance at 1:1 Magnification
  7. Specular Highlights (Rendering)
  8. Flare Resistance and sunstar rendering at infinity
  9. Flare Resistance compared to Loxia 85 and 100-400GM lenses
  10. Final Thoughts
  11. Sample images (Macro)
  12. Sample images (Portrait)



__________________________________

First Impressions:

Voigtlander keeps rolling out top notch lenses for the Sony E-mount. I've tested every one I could get my hands on and without a doubt, up until yesterday - the highest resolution and mostly color aberration corrected I'd ever seen was on the Voigtlander 65/2 Macro APO-Lanthar.

Now, the newly released 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar promises to keep similar levels of resolution, contrast and aberration correction while adding 1:1 macro capability and longer working distance, and it does. Voigtlander even managed to keep the size of the 110mm f/2.5 APO just about the same as the CV 65/2 APO lens. It's only 8mm longer when compared.


Just like the other Voigtlander lenses, you get the quality of an all metal construction and tight tolerance build. There's also a 10-blade straight aperture mechanism with the precision of 1/3 stop increments. Video users might not like that it cannot be de-clicked, but keep in mind that this is a macro lens and it hands you well-defined 10-point sunstars, the kind that landscape photographers drool over.


Unlike the CV 65/2, the 110/2.5's aperture ring is located near the lens mount instead of the front. I have to admit that this was kinda different and an adjustment for me. But, after a couple days shooting mostly macro, I came to appreciate the aperture ring's position since it's much easier to adjust when the lens is fully extended - almost doubling in size.

Let's talk about the focus ring for a minute. It has just the right amount of resistance and within a 90 degree rotation you can go from infinity to 0.7m.
This focus throw allows for precision but it's also pretty sensitive. The slightest rotation throws your subject out of focus, which is something that I personally don't mind
since I like to know that my subject is tack sharp when manually focusing.

But it does take a little travel time to get from infinity to MFD, because the ring has to be rotated a full circle -- plus an extra 90 degrees.
And, the lens almost doubles in size at 1:1 but barely extends at non-macro distances. At 1m, the barrel only extends about 10mm keeping a comfortable lens' weight distribution at portrait distances.

You might think that this lens is a bit on the heavy side at 763g (my measure) and since the large elements are located towards the front of the lens, it can feel a tad front-heavy, especially when extended. One easy solution is to add a RRS bracket (or similar) on your A7RIII which extends the height of the camera to make shooting with heavier lenses more comfortable.

Compared to the CV 65/2 APO, the new 110mm is only about 8mm longer and weighs 150g more. This difference in weight is noticeable when the lenses are mounted, especially because the CV 65/2's front element is deeply recessed making weight distribution concentrated closer to the mount. At 1:2 Macro setting for both lenses, and where the CV 65/2 APO is fully extended, they are exactly same length.

In my opinion, the Zeiss Batis 135/2.8 APO is the only real competition to the CV 110, even though it's not a macro. I'm basing this on image quality (APO), speed, and focal length.
I compared them for resolution and contrast, and they were pretty much neck and neck.

As a side note, unlike the Loxia line of lenses - the CV 110 lens reports subject distance, and it's capable of 5-axis image stabilization. I've been able to capture tack sharp images down to 1/30 and 1/60s shutter speeds.

At first, 110mm focal length may seem odd for many photographers but I find it to be the sweet spot between 85mm and 135mm which I think provides the ideal distance for un-distorted portraits.

The lens' floating mechanism allows high resolution at any distance from MFD to infinity and it's quite a sight to see such high quality images within this enormous range -- from 1:1 macro magnification as well as infinity distance for landscapes. This was a former feature on the Voigtlander 65/2 Macro APO lens and I'm thrilled that it's a part of the 110mm's optical design as well.

Here is the 110/2.5 APO compared side by side with two other lenses for size reference: (FE 24/1.4 GM and CV 65/2 APO)





Voigtlander Macro APO Lanthar 110mm f/2.5 E-mount Main Features
  1. Optical design: 14 lenses in 12 groups (8 anomalous partial dispersion elements)
  2. Maximum shooting magnification: 1:1
  3. f/2.5 to f/22
  4. 10 diaphragm blades (Beautiful sunstars starting at f/4)
  5. Angle of view: 22.6 (Making the lens 108mm at infinity distance)
  6. MFD: 35cm (In 1:1 macro with lens extended, the real working distance is ~ 7 inches or 17.78cm)
  7. Maximum diameter total length: 3.08 x 3.92" (78.4 99.7 mm)
  8. Filter diameter: 58mm (Commum with Voigtlander lenses)
  9. Mount: E-mount (full frame) with electronic contact
  10. Aperture click: 1/3 step without the option of de-clicking...sorry video folks!
  11. Weight: 763g (weighted without caps)
  12. Supplied Accessory: Front Cap, Rear Cap, Lens Hood (Two front caps: One for lens and another for hood)
  13. EXIF data, auto lens correction, focus peaking and 5-axis lens stabilization



Dec 09, 2018 at 01:24 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Let's see some comparisons at infinity distance with the Batis 135/2.8 APO. First some side-by-side....




Here is the full image thumbnail showing the areas demonstrated at 1:1 magnification.

  1. Distance: Infinity
  2. Focus: Center - Best of three @ 12.4x magnification
  3. WB: Daylight for both lenses
  4. Both Lenses perfectly centered using my decentering test
  5. Software: Lightroom with FM Default Landscape Sharpening. All other settings set to default
PS: Vignetting and distortion were NOT corrected



Center resolution comparison between CV 110/2.5 APO vs Batis 135/2.8 APO:

PS: For these crops, I focused on the center area for both lenses


Optimum aperture:

CV 110/2.5: f/4
Batis 135/2.8: f/4





Center @f/2.8: Both lenses very similar even though the Batis has a longer focal length







Center @f4: Small improvement for both lenses. Perhaps their optimal aperture. When comparing the RAW files, I see the Voigtlander showing slight higher contrast and resolution. This is impressive since it has a shorter FL.







Center @f/5.6: Not much changed from f/4







Center @f/8: Signs of diffraction for both lenses







Center @f/11: Noticeable diffraction







Here is a comparison for the Voigtlander 110mm from f/2.5 to f/2.8. Not much difference at all.




Dec 09, 2018 at 01:40 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Mid-field resolution comparison between CV 110/2.5 APO vs Batis 135/2.8 APO:

PS: For these crops, I focused on the mid-field area due to a slight field curvature for the CV 110/2.5. Batis was focused at center since it does not have any apparent field curvature.

Optimum aperture:

CV 110/2.5: f/4
Batis 135/2.8: f/4





Mid-field @f/2.8: Slight edge in resolution for the Batis 135







Mid-field @f/4: The Voigtlander improves and actually slightly surpasses the Batis. It's a very small difference though







Mid-field @f/5.6: Very similar performance between the two lenses







Mid-field @f/8: First signs of diffraction for both







Mid-field @f/11: Noticeable diffraction









Dec 09, 2018 at 01:43 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Extreme Edge resolution comparison between CV 110/2.5 APO vs Batis 135/2.8 APO:

PS: For these crops, I focused on the mid-field area due to a slight field curvature for the CV 110/2.5. Batis was focused at center since it does not have any apparent field curvature.





Extreme edge @f/2.8: Very slight advantage for the Batis but boy these lenses are so close in performance







Extreme edge @f/4: The CV 110 gets closer and now they are very similar







Extreme edge @f/5.6: Same as f/4







Extreme edge @f/8: The Voigtlander 110 does slightly better here







Extreme edge @f/11: Both diffract and look similar now







Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 vs f/2.8: Pretty much no difference here




Dec 09, 2018 at 01:44 AM
smpetty
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Wow, neck and neck performance between two magnificent lenses! Thanks, Fred!


Dec 09, 2018 at 02:01 PM
fplstudio
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Great review!


Dec 09, 2018 at 03:17 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Well, these CV APO should be bought as investments . If CV decides to stop making these, the used market will explode. I sold my CV 125 APO back in the day for much less than what they went for a few years after that, still regretted that decision.


Dec 09, 2018 at 03:35 PM
DaveFP
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Batis seems a bit sharper; slightly better micro-contrast?

Maybe the CV is not optimized for distant details.



Dec 09, 2018 at 03:37 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


DaveFP wrote:
Batis seems a bit sharper; slightly better micro-contrast?

Maybe the CV is not optimized for distant details.


It's not "as" optimized. The difference is not huge even with a direct comparison at 1:1. I imagine any other macro lens in the same shoe would fare much worse.



Dec 09, 2018 at 03:43 PM
thrice
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


I'm not seeing it. Maybe it looks that way because of the longer FL of the Batis.

DaveFP wrote:
Batis seems a bit sharper; slightly better micro-contrast?

Maybe the CV is not optimized for distant details.




Dec 09, 2018 at 04:18 PM
 


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GMPhotography
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


DaveFP wrote:
Batis seems a bit sharper; slightly better micro-contrast?

Maybe the CV is not optimized for distant details.


Have to agree and it does look like micro contrast.



Dec 09, 2018 at 04:22 PM
pdmphoto
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


I am seeing more CA on the CV, and oversharpening effects (small tree trunks on the left edge) that I don't see in the Batis. A little better optimized CA correction, and a little less sharpening might bring them closer.


Dec 09, 2018 at 05:42 PM
pdmphoto
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Cross posted these 1:1 macro results in the other CV 100 thread.

I've done some indoor macro tests and the results are consistent. At the tested apertures, f/2.8- 5.6, the 110 macro is just a tad sharper than my excellent Sony 90. I am splitting hairs when it comes to sharpness, even in the corners. They are both superb for sharpness. The Sony 90 has slightly higher contrast. The Sony 90 tends to be a little red, while the VC 110 tends to be a little yellow/green (same as I saw with the 65 APO). The one place where the VC 100 stands out is its APO qualities. The OOF areas of the Sony 90 have red/green fringing, where the VC 100 have much lower color fringing.

Here is a shot near the corner of both lenses at 1:1 at f/5.6. Because of the differences in focal length and the physical extension of the 110 at 1:1 it is nearly impossible to get exact pictures. Because of the limited DOF, you might see one area that looks a little sharper than the other pic. I've done a few tests and the result are consistent concerning sharpness, contrast, and color. Not sure why the Sony came out at 1/125 sec, while the VC came in at 1/250. I didn't see much difference in my other tests. I would be inclined to believe the Sony may have some camera shake which could affect sharpness in this example, but I don't think I am seeing any here.









Dec 09, 2018 at 06:24 PM
pdmphoto
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Here is where the real difference shows up. Worst case - black against a white background. The color fringing on the Sony becomes apparent. One might notice the red tendency in the Sony and the green/yellow in the VC. it looks like the 110 wasn't quite at 1:1 here, and it also looks to have a slightly higher exposure. That along with the lower contrast helps with detail in the darker areas. These were taken in manual mode at the same aperture and shutter speed with daylight white balance; handheld with SS on, and taken at different angles, so I wouldn't judge them too much for sharpness.








Dec 09, 2018 at 06:25 PM
jhinkey
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


If I have to squint that hard to see the resolution difference between the 110 CV and the 135 Batis, then I would call them equals. Especially since the 135 has an inherent perceptual resolution advantage due to the longer FL.


Dec 09, 2018 at 06:42 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


jhinkey wrote:
If I have to squint that hard to see the resolution difference between the 110 CV and the 135 Batis, then I would call them equals. Especially since the 135 has an inherent perceptual resolution advantage due to the longer FL.


At f/2.8 I see them very close (Batis slightly better) which is a great performance for the Batis since it's wide open. At f/4 and smaller I give a small edge for the Voigtlander in resolution and contrast but as you say the different is pretty small and perhaps within copy variation.

Two things to consider though: The Voigtlander is a 1:1 macro lens and this infinity performance is quite incredible for this type of lens. It's also shorter in focal length compared to the Batis 135/2.8 which should be another disadvantage when comparing these lenses at pixel level.



Dec 09, 2018 at 07:20 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Can we see some bokeh? The original CV 125 has exceptional bokeh. I think that might be an important differentiator from the Batis. We'll get more bokeh and hopefully better bokeh.


Dec 09, 2018 at 07:43 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


CV 110/2.5 APO: Field Curvature and Focus shift

By design, macro lenses are pretty much flat field, especially those with longer focal lengths. It was not something I really expected to see with the CV 110/2.5 but it's there at infinity distance. At macro distance, I could not detect any curvature though.

I've noticed that when focusing at center, mid-field and extreme corners would do slightly worse in vice-versa which is a clear case of field curvature. So, when using the Voigtlander 110/2.5 for landscapes, it would be preferable to focus your subject mid-field and step the lens down to f/4 or f/5.6 for the field curvature to be completely masked. For those curious about the Batis 135/2.8, I can't detect any significant field curvature.

There is zero focus shift when focusing at macro or infinity distance.

Here is an example showing the difference in resolution caused by field curvature when focusing at mid-field (LEFT crop) and at center (RIGHT crop):




Mid-Field Area




Dec 09, 2018 at 07:46 PM
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


New Voigtlander 110/2.5 FE lens alongside classic 125/2.5 Nikon Mount




Dec 09, 2018 at 07:55 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar Review


Sunstar Rendering:

Thanks to its 10-straight-blade aperture mechanism, the CV 110/2.5 APO captures beautiful 10-point sunstars.
It seems that f/5.6 is the optimal aperture for well-defined sunstars but I will update this post with more samples and an aperture series when the weather permits.

For now, here are a couple samples showing sunstar rendering with this lens:





  ILCE-7RM3    Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 110mm F2.5 lens    110mm    f/5.0    1/320s    100 ISO    +1.7 EV  






  ILCE-7RM3    Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 110mm F2.5 lens    110mm    f/5.6    1/60s    500 ISO    +1.7 EV  




Dec 09, 2018 at 07:56 PM
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