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Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


I just got some good lighting right now and was able to compare the Voigt 50/2 APO to the 65/2 APO and 50/1.4 ZA at infinity. I already had some samples yesterday but lighting was not ideal. The tests today confirm my early findings.
I will start updating the first post with some resolution, contrast and comparisons right now.



Dec 12, 2019 at 06:54 PM
philip_pj
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


There is a significant industry-wide incentive to have you believe in the superiority of fast lenses, despite their drawbacks in design, development time, cost, practicality, utility.

It's a strange situation when one realises that so many studio pro portrait shooters frequently use f5.6-f11, even lower - to get enough DOF so their clients can see a better representation rather than that expensive OOF enveloping half the face and most of the hair.

And at the top of the tree, Leica's best performing lenses are f2 lenses. No one will argue the new SL 50/1.4 does better at any common aperture than the equivalent SL 50/2, despite virtually identical complexity (50/2: 12/10; SL 50/1.4: 11/9). In fact, the SL 50/2 is stronger at f2 than the SL 50/1.4 is at f2.8. That's one modern age example of what happens when the same design effort is put into the slower lens as that lavished on faster optics. The 50/2 AL appears to be another.

No one should construe the above as an argument against the true use cases of fast lenses, it's why both should coexist in lens ranges, plus even slower lenses. Not many f2 Otus/Milvus/Sigma/Canon high end lenses out there, though. They might have been as affordable and useful as this Voigtlander APO-Lanthar.

https://petapixel.com/2019/04/12/shooting-portraits-wide-open-versus-stopping-down/
(courtesy of Michael Zhang and Miguel Quiles)

https://au.leica-camera.com/Photography/Leica-SL/SL-Lenses/Prime-Lenses (source page for MTF data sheets)



Dec 12, 2019 at 07:12 PM
ysultan
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


and here comes Fred's teaser 😃

Fred Miranda wrote:
I just got some good lighting right now and was able to compare the Voigt 50/2 APO to the 65/2 APO and 50/1.4 ZA at infinity. I already had some samples yesterday but lighting was not ideal. The tests today confirm my early findings.
I will start updating the first post with some resolution, contrast and comparisons right now.




Dec 12, 2019 at 08:00 PM
ftllens
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


lol guys F2 is not THAT slow


Dec 12, 2019 at 08:22 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


About the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar lens:

Sony A7R IV sensor has finally found its soul mate!

The Voigtlander 50mm f/2 is the third APO-Lanthar lens released for the Sony E-mount. Although not a macro lens like the Voigtlander 65mm f/2 and 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO-Lanthar, it's compact and weighs only 361 grams (measured).
Inheriting the apochromatic optical design, the Voigtlander 50/2 APO is highly corrected to eliminate optical aberrations including longitudinal chromatic aberration.





Its optical design consists of 10 elements in 8 groups with two (2) double sided aspherical elements, five (5) with anomalous partial dispersion and an integrated floating-focus system.









The Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar is a great balance between optical performance and compactness. It addition, the newly designed 12-aperture blade employs a special shape that becomes completely circular not only wide open, but also at f/2.8.


Full Specifications:












Lens hood included: The lens comes with two (2) caps, one for the lens (49mm) and another for the hood (58mm)


















Infinity Performance compared to Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA - Back to top of page










I consider the Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA one of the sharpest 50mm lenses on the market (If not the sharpest at center). However, the resolution peak is only available at dead center. When inspecting image off-axis (away from center) resolution drops drastically, especially towards the mid-field at wide apertures. At the extreme corners resolution improves again.
How does the new Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-LANTHAR compare? Here are some 100% crops showing center, mid-field and extreme corner areas.

My CV 50mm f/2 APO review copy is perfectly symmetric and so is the FE 50/1.4 ZA.


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








  1. Distance: Infinity
  2. Camera: Sony A7R IV
  3. Focus: Center - Best of three @ 12.4x magnification
  4. WB: Daylight
  5. Lens perfectly centered using my decentering test
  6. Software: Lightroom with my default landscape sharpening. All other settings set to default
PS: Vignetting and distortion were NOT corrected. All in-camera corrections turned 'off'.


Center Resolution and Contrast:









The CV 50/2 APO came very close to the FE 50/1.4 ZA @f/2 on this crop. Considering the Voigtlander is wide open, it's a superb performance.










Already at f/2.5, the Voigtlander matches the Sony.










Equal at f/2.8. Any perceivable differences are probably due to lighting.










Equal at f/4.










At f/5.6, the Voigtlander starts to pull slightly ahead.










Both diffract at f/8 but the Voigtlander seems to retain more micro-contrast.




Mid-field Resolution and Contrast:








Notice above: mid-field performance is the Sony 50/1.4 ZA Achilles' heel. On the A7R IV, the discrepancy between center and mid-field resolution is even more evident. This is not a copy issue as I've tested half of dozen copies of this lens and they all perform the same way. It is not due to field curvature as focusing at mid-field does not improve. On the other hand, the Voigtlander 50/2 APO does something remarkable. It retains high resolution and contrast at mid-field even wide open. Very few 50mm lenses have this capability.









The Sony improves at f/2.5 and so does the Voigtlander.









At f/2.8, mid-field performance is not as troublesome for the Sony anymore but the Voigtlander still performs way better.









Both lenses slightly improve. Sony lags behind.









At f/5.6 not much changes.









Diffraction reduces micro-contrast for both lenses.





Extreme Corner Resolution and Contrast:








Both very good at f/2 at the extreme corners. The Voigtlander has higher vignetting at f/2 but I prefer its color rendering (subjective)









At f/2.5, both lenses slightly improve.









Similar to f/2.5.









Strong performance for both lenses at f/4.









The Voigtlander pulls ahead at f/5.6.









At f/8, both diffract.



Dec 12, 2019 at 10:38 PM
philip_pj
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


'F2 is not THAT slow.'

Tell it to the lens producers, I'm sure they will be all ears.



Dec 12, 2019 at 10:48 PM
philip_pj
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Thanks so much, Fred. The solid f8 diffraction result is good news, given many want a small field lens.

Midfield - excellent at f2-f2.8; it looks like those flat line MTF curves CV released were close to reality - ultra flat field, like the 65/2. (In the latest manufacture interview posted by Juha, it seems they use an MTF machine in a complex assembly process.)

Corners - 50/2 has good 3D at f5.6.

If you have a moment to reply, how do you think it compares to the 65/2, adjusted for magnification?



Dec 12, 2019 at 11:09 PM
ftllens
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


im laughing at how nice the IQ is per the size. it's like the power-to-weight ratio of a f1 car.


Dec 13, 2019 at 12:32 AM
hanay78
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Thank you very much Fred for the comparisons!

I got the impression that the colors of the ZA are significantly more vivid. Also that in the corner there is non negligible magenta color cast. Are that impressions true?

Regards and thanks in advance!

Jorge


Fred Miranda wrote:
I just got some good lighting right now and was able to compare the Voigt 50/2 APO to the 65/2 APO and 50/1.4 ZA at infinity. I already had some samples yesterday but lighting was not ideal. The tests today confirm my early findings.
I will start updating the first post with some resolution, contrast and comparisons right now.





Dec 13, 2019 at 04:40 AM
nhsonyshooter
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Thanks for the images Fred! This has helped with some of my GAS for this lens. Even though much bigger and heavier I'm not getting rid of the 50 1.4 "again". Pairs too nicely with the 24gm. The 1.4 and Eye AF is just to useful to me. It sure is a great job by Voigtlander though in such a small package. Now just tell them to make a 35mm APO and they might tempt me back into MF. Heck I really miss the 40 1.2 and those sunstars so I may be coming back in anyway


Dec 13, 2019 at 05:44 AM
 


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realVivek
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


My take- it is a glorious lens!


Dec 13, 2019 at 09:55 AM
j4nu
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p.3 #12 · p.3 #12 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Wow at that midfield dip of ZA. I read about it many times, but that's the first time it struck me that hard due to direct comparison to such a strong competitor.
I think I'll stay (for my uses) with f/1.4 & AF (and heavy weight/size) though .



Dec 13, 2019 at 10:11 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #13 · p.3 #13 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


philip_pj wrote:
Thanks so much, Fred. The solid f8 diffraction result is good news, given many want a small field lens.

Midfield - excellent at f2-f2.8; it looks like those flat line MTF curves CV released were close to reality - ultra flat field, like the 65/2. (In the latest manufacture interview posted by Juha, it seems they use an MTF machine in a complex assembly process.)

Corners - 50/2 has good 3D at f5.6.

If you have a moment to reply, how do you think it compares to the 65/2, adjusted for magnification?


I will post a comparison to the Voigtlander 65/2 APO today but from my initial reaction inspecting the crops, these two lenses have similar characteristics. (flat field, neutral SA, low CA and very sharp across the field)



Dec 13, 2019 at 10:13 AM
Paul-John
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p.3 #14 · p.3 #14 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Here are some photos comparing the 50mm ZA, CV 50mm 1.2 Noct and CV 50mm f/2 APO. Enjoy.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul-nadin/albums/72157712187004938/with/49213497281/

Apertures from f/5.6 to wide open focused on chair (near) and toaster (far)



Dec 13, 2019 at 10:25 AM
wwcampbell
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p.3 #15 · p.3 #15 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Mine is due to be delivered on in three days. I'm looking at this lens as a possible replacement for my Leica 50mm Summicron APO, my most used lens ever. If it works out I'll be selling my Leica gear. This is a major development for me.

My approach to testing is just to shoot the hell out of it for a couple of weeks to see if I can make interesting pictures with it, looking for backlighting, flares, bokeh opportunities, traditional landscape and city scape, portraits, details, and doing stitches - I like shooting wide and often used stitching to get there.

I'm very happy with he CV 21 f1.4, 40 f1.4 and 65 Lanthar - All interesting lenses shot wide open that go dead sharp and high contrast when shot stopped down to f4.0 or so. This plus a bunch of pixels and good highlight and shadow recovery in the riv add up to the best kit for my purposes that I've ever shot with.



Dec 13, 2019 at 10:59 AM
wwcampbell
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p.3 #16 · p.3 #16 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Mine is due to be delivered on in three days. I'm looking at this lens as a possible replacement for my Leica 50mm Summicron APO, my most used lens ever. If it works out I'll be selling my Leica gear. This is a major development for me.

My approach to testing is just to shoot the hell out of it for a couple of weeks to see if I can make interesting pictures with it, looking for backlighting, flares, bokeh opportunities, traditional landscape and city scape, portraits, details, and doing stitches - I like shooting wide and often used stitching to get there.

I'm very happy with he CV 21 f1.4, 40 f1.4 and 65 Lanthar - All interesting lenses shot wide open that go dead sharp and high contrast when shot stopped down to f4.0 or so. This plus a bunch of pixels and good highlight and shadow recovery in the riv add up to the best kit for my purposes that I've ever shot with.



Dec 13, 2019 at 10:59 AM
John Borrelli
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p.3 #17 · p.3 #17 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


I am glad to hear Fredís positive comments on the performance of the lens at maximum aperture. As a landscape shooter, I donít often use this aperture but I am always concerned about the performance of a lens as a viewing lens at maximum aperture. For those of us who focus at maximum aperture this is an important lens criteria. I have been using the Sony FE 50mm 1.8 and although it performs well enough at the apertures I typically use manually focusing at maximum aperture has been a weakness of the lens.


Dec 13, 2019 at 11:01 AM
Paul-John
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p.3 #18 · p.3 #18 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


One surprise from my tests earlier is that the CV APO lets in approx half a stop more light at the same aperture as the Zeiss. The 1.2 lets in about 2/3 stop more light compared to the Zeiss.

The main difference is the bokeh. The 1.2's bokeh has visible aperture blades in the highlights from f2 and smaller. The Zeiss converts those lemon shaped bokeh balls into rounder shapes at the edge of the frame.



Dec 13, 2019 at 11:18 AM
trogdon
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p.3 #19 · p.3 #19 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Voigtlander has another home run on their hands it seems. Just give us an 85mm and let the loxia line be trampled completely!


Dec 13, 2019 at 11:20 AM
saxguy
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p.3 #20 · p.3 #20 · Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Review


Paul-John wrote:
One surprise from my tests earlier is that the CV APO lets in approx half a stop more light at the same aperture as the Zeiss. The 1.2 lets in about 2/3 stop more light compared to the Zeiss.

The main difference is the bokeh. The 1.2's bokeh has visible aperture blades in the highlights from f2 and smaller. The Zeiss converts those lemon shaped bokeh balls into rounder shapes at the edge of the frame.


I've read that the maximum T stop of the 50 1.4 ZA is 1.6 (at f/1.4), so it seems this is close to what you're experiencing - the T stop of the CV might be better than 2 wide open.




Dec 13, 2019 at 11:21 AM
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