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FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical

  
 
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical
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B&H Photo | CameraQuest | Adorama | Amazon


Review Quick Links:
  1. About the lens
  2. Initial Thoughts
  3. Infinity Resolution and Contrast performance
  4. Flare resistance | Ring Flare (reflection)
  5. Specular Highlights (Bokeh balls shape)
  6. Distortion
  7. Sunstar rendering
  8. Coma Performance (Sagittal Flare)
  9. Sony vs Leica: Color and rendering
  10. Sony vs Leica: Color and rendering 2
  11. Sony vs Leica: Color and rendering 3
  12. Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II: MC vs SC
  13. Close-up Performance
  14. CA Correction (Axial and Lateral CA)
  15. Final Thoughts
  16. Sample Images 1
  17. Sample Images 2
  18. Sample Images 3
  19. Sample Images 4

FM member's sample images:
  1. @Alpha_Geist: Sample 1, 2, 3
  2. @Bicyclelad: Sample 1, 2, 3











About the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical lens

The new Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II replaces the previous version with an improved optical formula and two aspheric surfaces. It has 8 elements in 7 groups and is equipped with a 12-blade aperture. The optical design seems reminiscent of the Voigtlander Nokton 75mm f/1.5 Aspherical, except that it has an extra element and no anomalous partial dispersion glass.

Here is how they compare: Voigtlander 75/1.5 (top), Voigtlander 50/1.5 II (bottom)











The lens is very compact with total length of only 36.9mm and a 43mm filter thread (55.3mm diameter). It focus down to 0.7m and is available in black, silver and nickel (brass) styles in both single coating and multi-coating.











Main specifications:
  1. Focal length: 50mm
  2. Lens configurations: 7 groups 8 elements
  3. Angle of view: 46.3
  4. Number of aperture blades: 12 sheets
  5. Minimal focus distance (MFD): 0.7m
  6. Maximum diameter x total length: φ55.3 36.9mm
  7. Filter size: φ43mm
  8. Weight: Silver / Black 198g, Nickel Black Paint 255g
  9. Color: Silver / black , nickel black paint (brass exterior , black paint on black)
  10. Coating: MC (multi-coating) , SC (single coating)
  11. Lens hood: LH-6 (sold separately)












Initial Thoughts:

My initial impression after testing the lens at infinity and close-up distances is that even though the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical is extremely compact and light, it's also capable of high image quality. When the subject is at mid-distance (>2m), the lens is sharp wide open. Resolution and contrast diminishes at close-up distances though due to residual spherical aberration since the lens is not equipped with a floating system.

Reminiscent of the Voigtlander Nokton 75/1.5's character, some may find the slight glow effect at close distance pleasant for subjects like close-up portraits and flowers. Spherical aberration is noticeably reduced at f/2 and nearly dissapears starting at f/2.4 for both lenses. Stopping down the aperture to f/2.4 also convincingly reduces axial color aberration.

On the Leica M10, the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II is sharp from wide open even at the extreme corners. It's a superb performance for such small and fast lens. However, when adapting it to a Sony body, be warned there's induced field curvature and it requires f/4 to achieve a similar performance towards the corners. This happens because the lens was designed for the thinner Leica sensor. Having said that, it does not look bad even wide open on the Sony A7R IV.

Physically, it's a unique lens. Voigtlander offers six style flavors going from all black, all silver and a charming brass nickel 'Panda' style. The three style variations are offered in single coating or multi-coating which affects contrast and flare resistance. Initially I'm reviewing the black MC version but will eventually test the single coated one later on.

I find the double grip ring attractive with the perfect amount of resistance for its 90 degree focus throw. The aperture clicks feel solid, precise and move in half-stops. The lens has a great build with a high tolerance construction.

Similar to the Voigtlander 75mm f/1.5 Nokton vintage "black" style, it's curious that the focusing distance markings on the CV 50/1.5 II are only available in meters (not feet) and everything is engraved in white (no red). Both lenses have the "Made in Japan" and serial number engraved in discreet black color and are only noticeable upon close inspection.










The front lens ID ring typeface appears similar to the Voigtlander 75/1.5's as well, although the font is slightly different. The coating version is printed in green accentuating its vintage style.










The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II aspherical black and silver styles weigh 198 grams while the nickel black paint (brass exterior) weighs 255 grams. It's refreshing to have so many style and coating options. I like the 'Panda' styling, even though it costs an extra $100. However, I prefer my lenses to be as light as possible, so my personal preference is for the black version to match both my Leica M10 and Sony A7R IV cameras.



Oct 24, 2020 at 04:55 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Infinity Resolution and Contrast performance on Sony and Leica cameras

My review copy is well centered, free of any focus plane tilt or swing. (Tested for centering on Sony A7R IV and Leica M10)

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II performs well at infinity distance. There is a small focus shift noticeable from wide open to about f/2.8 and therefore there was a need to refocus when testing both cameras. The lens was designed for the Leica thinner sensor and therefore performs better on the M10, especially at wider apertures. There is a resolution hit when adapting it on the Sony A7R IV due to induced field curvature (Sony has a thicker sensor). However, as demonstrated below this performance penalty is not as severe as with other M lenses.

Just like with the Voigtlander 75/1.5 Nokton, there is a mid-field dip in resolution when shooting the CV 50/1.5 II at wider apertures (For both Sony and Leica). -- This should not be confused with field curvature. I believe it's an optical design compromise in order to keep this lenses as compact as possible.

The Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.5 II is a versatile lens and would work well for many applications including landscapes. It's already optimal across the field at f/4 for the Leica and at f/8 for the Sony.


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
  4. Lens well centered using my decentering test
  5. 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'.


f/1.5
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - The Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II is capable of great resolution from wide open at mid and infinity distance. Sony shows a bit more detail since it was downsampled from 61MP







Mid-Field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - There is a mid-field dip in resolution (not field curvature) for both Leica and Sony. It's more severe on the Sony due to induced field curvature







Extreme corners: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - The Leica performs great wide open at the extreme corners while it's just ok on the Sony




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:12 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


f/2
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Both lenses improve slightly from f/1.5 to f/2. Similar performance on both cameras







Mid-field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Very minor change from f/1.5 to f/2 at mid-field







Extreme corner: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Also only a slight improvement from f/1.5 to f/2




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:14 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


f/2.8
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Noticeable improvement in resolution/contrast from f/2 to f/2.8. (both cameras)







Mid-field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Both Sony and Leica improve noticeably from f/2 to f/2.8. Leica still ahead.







Extreme corner: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Noticeably improvement for both cameras but the Sony still can't match the Leica corners




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:15 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


f/4
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT): Not much changes from f/2.8 to f/4. It looks like f/2.8 was optimal for both cameras







Mid-field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT): Both lenses improve in terms of resolution and contrast from f/2.8 to f/4. Sony improves a tad more but still behind







Extreme corner: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Both improve. It looks like we are approaching the optimal aperture. Sony is still slightly behind




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:15 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


f/5.6
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Not much changes in terms of resolution from f/4 to f/5.6







Mid-field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - Sony improves further and gets closer to the Leica's performance







Extreme corner: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - The Sony almost matches the Leica now as depth of field finally masks the induced field curvature.




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:16 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


f/8
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical at Center, Mid-field and Extreme corner





Center: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT): Not much changes from f/5.6 to f/8, except for slightly lower micro-contrast for both cameras







Mid-field: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT) - It looks like the Sony improves slightly and now matches the Leica







Extreme corner: Sony A7R4 (LEFT), Leica M10 (RIGHT): It looks like the Sony and Leica are equal now




Oct 24, 2020 at 06:16 PM
philip_pj
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Another great expose, thank you! Some serious contrast from the a7rIV. Why these comparisons are useful is that if Cosina fail to make us a Sony E version, the lens will be more than acceptable for several given purposes, like f5.6-f11 landscapes/cityscapes.

There is no sterner test than the 61mp. The a7rIV f2.8 centre image shows what the little guy has to offer here, wow. The M10 shows more CA in centre at wider apertures. All in all, very impressive, so far.



Oct 24, 2020 at 06:32 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Image Sample 1

Here are a few samples from a walk-around under cloudy/flat lighting. I find rendering smooth for most of the frame but slightly busier towards the corners even on the Leica. Shooting on the thicker Sony sensor, makes things worse but overall still pleasant rendering all things considered.

There are a couple things I dislike but were expected for such small fast lens: Exposure vignetting (darkening of the edges), and optical vignetting (causing slight sharper corner and cat-eye bokeh). Depending on distance and background, I sometimes see noticeable swirling. All this makes the lens have a unique character since it's not super corrected and so far, I like the look.

All images shot wide open:






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.2    1/90s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.7    1/60s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.2    1/60s    320 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.4    1/60s    250 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.2    1/90s    320 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/60s    800 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.4    1/60s    320 ISO    0.0 EV  




Oct 24, 2020 at 10:08 PM
expwmbat
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Interesting lens. Not sure I see anything here that would cause me to give up the ZM C-Sonnar for this one. Thoughts about how they compare?

Daniel



Oct 25, 2020 at 07:47 AM
 


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slickturner
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


I'd like to see similar shots taken with your Sony a7riv.



Oct 25, 2020 at 09:42 AM
slickturner
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Well,.... that went over like a lead balloon.😢


Oct 25, 2020 at 04:29 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


I have not received the single coated version yet but it will be printed in blue instead of green.

Cameraquest just posted new pictures of both versions.



























Oct 25, 2020 at 05:17 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Image Samples 2

Some portraits of my Anime daughter.
Yes, she's always in character.

Minimal post or corrections.




  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/1.7    1/2000s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/4.0    1/1000s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10    Voigtlander VM 50mm f/1.5 Nokton II Aspherical lens    50mm    f/3.4    1/750s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






1:1 crop from the second image above




Oct 25, 2020 at 06:52 PM
Alpha_Geist
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


For me, portraits and MFD to medium distances is where Ill extensively be using this lens. Fred has me exited for next week!


Oct 25, 2020 at 07:47 PM
d.s.
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Fred, Have you noticed any obvious focus shift so far? I know Cosina was able to substantially reduce it with the 35/1.4 II. Of course, they didn't lop off a half inch like they have with this new lens.


Oct 25, 2020 at 09:07 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Are the portraits of your daughter all wide open? The shutter speed changed 1.5 stops between the first and the third photo. And the bokeh balls are quite round at the mid zone area in the second and third photos, suggesting the lens may have been stopped down slightly.

When you get to the starburst section, I'd like to know how round the aperture opening remains at f/2 and f/2.8 and how stopping down 1-2 stops affects bokeh balls, as it may help minimize the wide open cats eye effect that is quite noticeable already slightly off-axis.



Oct 26, 2020 at 09:33 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


rscheffler wrote:
Are the portraits of your daughter all wide open? The shutter speed changed 1.5 stops between the first and the third photo. And the bokeh balls are quite round at the mid zone area in the second and third photos, suggesting the lens may have been stopped down slightly.

When you get to the starburst section, I'd like to know how round the aperture opening remains at f/2 and f/2.8 and how stopping down 1-2 stops affects bokeh balls, as it may help minimize the wide open cats eye effect that is quite noticeable already slightly off-axis.


The first wide open (f/1.5), second (f/2) and third (f/2.4). Do not pay attention to the f/numbers reported by Leica as they are just estimations and usually inaccurate.



Oct 26, 2020 at 10:47 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


Close-up Performance

Here is a sequence showing the close-up performance at MFD in half-stops. I used a test chart on my computer monitor.
There is a small focus shift but nothing very noticeable even when shooting on the Leica.

Wide open, there is visible spherical aberration which is minimized when the lens is stopped down to f/2 and especially f/2.4.
Just like with the Voigtlander 75/1.5, the CV 50/1.5 performs great at MFD starting at f/2.4.





LEFT (f/1.5) - RIGHT (f/2)







LEFT (f/2) - RIGHT (f/2.4)







LEFT (f/2.4) - RIGHT (f/2.8)







LEFT (f/2.8) - RIGHT (f/3.3)







LEFT (f/3.3) - RIGHT (f/4)




Oct 26, 2020 at 10:49 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · FM Review: Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 II Aspherical


slickturner wrote:
I'd like to see similar shots taken with your Sony a7riv.


Sure, I will post samples with the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 II adapted to the Sony. I will also post side by side Sony vs Leica so we can visualize the difference in rendering due to induced field curvature.



Oct 26, 2020 at 10:51 AM
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