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Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #1 · p.3 #1 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Ulysseita wrote:
Seriously close to what I got from my former 40mm from Voigtlander, the tiny 1.4.

Without knowing what lens the pictures were coming from, I would say that, a 35 or 40 1.4.
Same feeling, same rendering and behaviour.


Yes, all three lenses are "Classic" optical designs with under corrected aberrations as rendering signature. I see some differences between them depending on the subject distance though. The new 50/1.5 Heliar performs better at close distance and goes a step further in terms of glow and uniqueness when a subject is focused at mid or long distance. I will post a comparison to the Nokton 35/1.4 II Classic.



Sep 26, 2021 at 10:35 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #2 · p.3 #2 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Sep 27, 2021 at 10:34 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #3 · p.3 #3 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review



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Rendering comparison: Voigtlander 50/1.5 Heliar vs Voigtlander 50/1.2 Nokton vs Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar vs Leica 50/1.4 Lux

2 meter distance at f/1.4 or f/1.5
All wide open, except for the Voigtlander 50/1.2 Nokton which was stopped down to f/1.4. Ignore the aperture setting from the EXIF since Leica M bodies do not report this correctly.






















Sep 29, 2021 at 12:02 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #4 · p.3 #4 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


2 meter distance at f/2






















Sep 29, 2021 at 12:10 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #5 · p.3 #5 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


From the four 50mm lenses compared above, the one with the widest FOV is the Voigtlander 50/1.2 Nokton followed closely by the 50/1.5 Heliar.

Both Leica 50/1.4 Lux and Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar have noticeably narrower FOV than the other two.

-----

When comparing the Voigtlander and Zeiss "Classic" lenses, the Heliar's higher wide open SA induces a glow around the subject area and therefore there is less resolution and contrast there. The out of the focus bokeh is also busier than the Zeiss Sonnar which is noticeably smoother.

The Voigtlander 50/1.2 Nokton and Leica 50/1.4 Lux's rendering is similar to my eyes and any difference is due to FOV differences since they were shot from the same distance. Their focus transition zone is smoother compared to the Sonnar and way smoother compared to the Heliar. The Leica Lux's differential is lower axial CA.

Stopped down to f/2, resolution and contrast improve for all four lenses but more so for the Voigtlander 50/1.5 Heliar Classic with much lower glow at f/2. However, OOF rendering is still not as smooth compared to the other three lenses.



Sep 29, 2021 at 12:20 PM
rscheffler
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p.3 #6 · p.3 #6 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


It's interesting comparing the wide open images. Background objects in the Heliar image appear more defined and give the impression of somewhat less separation from the subject. Also the corners are considerably more in focus. Probably a combination of field curvature and optical vignetting?

This reinforces my impression that the Heliar's forte is sub-2m subject distances with ample background separation.



Sep 29, 2021 at 12:50 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #7 · p.3 #7 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Sep 30, 2021 at 09:50 AM
AirStream
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p.3 #8 · p.3 #8 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


The recent fashion for old lens designs is interesting. And odd. We are finally able to make well-corrected lenses at (sort of) affordable prices and people start longing for the aberrations and other imperfections we used to long to get rid of.


Oct 01, 2021 at 09:19 PM
DaveFP
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p.3 #9 · p.3 #9 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


AirStream wrote:
The recent fashion for old lens designs is interesting. And odd. We are finally able to make well-corrected lenses at (sort of) affordable prices and people start longing for the aberrations and other imperfections we used to long to get rid of.


Quite typical actually.

We want perfect until we get it.

Then we find it trite and boring.




Oct 02, 2021 at 06:14 PM
torifile
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p.3 #10 · p.3 #10 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Fake Plastic Trees, one of my favorite Radiohead songs, is about this very thing.

DaveFP wrote:
Quite typical actually.

We want perfect until we get it.

Then we find it trite and boring.





Oct 03, 2021 at 07:49 AM
 


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fsiagian
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p.3 #11 · p.3 #11 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


The rendering is very nice but the plane of focus is not sharp enough for me, which I believe is intentional.


Oct 03, 2021 at 12:51 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #12 · p.3 #12 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


fsiagian wrote:
The rendering is very nice but the plane of focus is not sharp enough for me, which I believe is intentional.


Yes, wide open rendering is glowy intentionally, especially at mid-distance. It's a character lens and this look may not be desired if sharpness at f/1.5 is a main consideration.



Oct 03, 2021 at 01:01 PM
freaklikeme
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p.3 #13 · p.3 #13 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Thanks for the review, Fred. Good and informative, as always.

That's a touch more SA than I prefer.



Oct 03, 2021 at 04:56 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #14 · p.3 #14 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


freaklikeme wrote:
Thanks for the review, Fred. Good and informative, as always.

That's a touch more SA than I prefer.


Yes, that extra SA seems to be its main characteristic and I agree that it's not for everyone even though I've been enjoying shooting with it. It's a 50mm lens that offers a distinctive look and feel to the images that could work well for certain applications like weddings for example.



Oct 04, 2021 at 09:15 PM
4ALL
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p.3 #15 · p.3 #15 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


More like a macro lens that creates beautiful images. Most macro lenses were too sharp and flattened the perspective. this subject brings out the target while maintaining a unique background blur. It is definitely different and everyone will judge if it is for him, but it cannot be compared with any other lens. It's something new that no one has ever dared to produce. IMHO the lens is typical for macro photography applications. However, it redefines the concept of macro photography. IMHO is not suitable for shots other than at close range. It's a bit of a disappointment for me, that's not what I've been waiting. Heliar pampers us with something else.


Oct 05, 2021 at 09:43 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.3 #16 · p.3 #16 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


4ALL wrote:
More like a macro lens that creates beautiful images. Most macro lenses were too sharp and flattened the perspective. this subject brings out the target while maintaining a unique background blur. It is definitely different and everyone will judge if it is for him, but it cannot be compared with any other lens. It's something new that no one has ever dared to produce. IMHO the lens is typical for macro photography applications. However, it redefines the concept of macro photography. IMHO is not suitable for shots other than at close range. It's a bit of a disappointment for me,
...Show more

The Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar's magnification is ~ 1:8 so hardly a macro lens.

I agree that rendering is quite unique at close-up range, so when shooting flowers for example. What is surprising to me is that spherical aberration is actually less prominent at MFD compared to mid-distance. You can see that effect in my sample images. Usually it's the opposite.

Starting at 1.5m, think of the CV 50/1.5 Heliar as a "soft focus" lens.



Oct 05, 2021 at 10:37 AM
SoundHound
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p.3 #17 · p.3 #17 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Reminds me of my ‘60’s era Nikkor 50mm F1.4 wide open on my FTn-more’s the pity.


Oct 06, 2021 at 05:01 AM
Panda5
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p.3 #18 · p.3 #18 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Thank you for the detailed review! Really enjoyed that.

This is only the 2nd brand new lens I've purchased, the 1st being the f2 Heliar with the R3M so its safe to say that I do enjoy Heliar (Or in this case; derived) lenses.

Just created an account to chime in with my thoughts on it which appear to mirror what the Juha and Fred have said thus far. I've been shooting on film and yet to test on a digital body.

-Optimised for close range with glow becoming more prevalent as you move to infinity.
-At f2 this glow is effectively gone
-The f2 version is more modern in its rendering and does appear to be optimised for infinity. Ive yet to do a side by side test but my initial feeling is that it was sharper across the frame. Then again, only 1m MFD.
-In the soft focus discussion, I would say that this lens gives the best of both worlds. At 1.5 at 0.7m portrait distance, it actually doesnt appear to be too much of this soft focus glow. As noted earlier, this appears to come in closer to infinity.
- On film at least, the softness seen in the edges at infinity do not appear to be as smeary as that seen on the digital examples provided by Fred even at the wider apertures. In fact, its rather acceptable. but there is a lot of field curvature.

In some ways Id compare this to the nikkor 1.4 rf lenses which exhibits similar characteristics with additional veiling flare at 1.4 and so going forward I think I will use this lens in the same manner I use the Nikkor. "Wide open for character".

(If I can figure out how to post photos here Ill update with some examples)




Oct 06, 2021 at 05:17 PM
DaveFP
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p.3 #19 · p.3 #19 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


I have a number of lenses with significant SA wide open.

I enjoy their dual-character nature.

That said these images strike me as being too soft for anything other than a special effect.



Oct 06, 2021 at 06:10 PM
genji
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p.3 #20 · p.3 #20 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


DaveFP wrote:
I have a number of lenses with significant SA wide open.

I enjoy their dual-character nature.

That said these images strike me as being too soft for anything other than a special effect.


+1

This is why I returned my copy, particularly since I already have the Nikkor-S.C 50/1.4 in both LTM and S mounts.



Oct 06, 2021 at 06:51 PM
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