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Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review

  
 
YumMango
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p.7 #1 · p.7 #1 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


I have the Heliar Classic and the 50mm Nokton 1.5 II. I struggle to decide which one to attach. I find that I use the Heliar Classic more often because when stopped down at enough distance I don't see too much difference, although if I look for it I can probably see it. But in the right circumstances I can get some pretty out there effects, and I like having that option. That said, for travel, I don't think I'd bring the Heliar Classic as my only lens. But maybe the 35mm CV 1.7 Ultron and the HC make a nice team. I just wish the 1.7 Ultron was smaller. I think that's my dream lens.



Oct 20, 2022 at 06:07 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.7 #2 · p.7 #2 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Yesterday I tried my Voigtlander 50/1.5 Heliar with the TAP2 AF adapter. It worked quite well even in low light. I was able to lock on the eye or the head of the subject.
All shots wide open.




  ILCE-7M4    TECHART LM-EA9 lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/60s    500 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7M4    TECHART LM-EA9 lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/200s    640 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7M4    TECHART LM-EA9 lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/500s    2000 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7M4    TECHART LM-EA9 lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/500s    1600 ISO    0.0 EV  






  ILCE-7M4    TECHART LM-EA9 lens    50mm    f/2.0    1/500s    1250 ISO    0.0 EV  




Nov 13, 2022 at 05:54 PM
rscheffler
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p.7 #3 · p.7 #3 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review



DavidBM wrote:
Of course old school macro lenses are the exception: they were no-floating and non-aspherical and optimised for a higher magnification (often 1:10 on the basis that it would then be acceptable at MFD and acceptable at infinity, even though in both cases worse than at 1:10).

With a non floating lens the exact magnification it's optimised for is just a design choice, usually it was infinity just because of how designers imagine the lens would be used, but not always (some older portrait lenses seem to have been optimised for about 2 metres).

Fred Miranda wrote:
Good point David.
What is unique about the 50/1.5 Heliar is that it's not a macro lens but it was optimized for close focus.

DavidBM wrote:
Yep; I wonder if it is designed that way for portrait use at say 1:20 like some of the older DSLR portrait lenses? Or is optimised even closer, like near MFD?


IIRC the Nikkor 50/1.4 rangefinder lens, a Sonnar design, was also a better performer at nearer distances. It's also quite a dual-character lens - very glowy with wild bokeh wide open, but picks up a lot of contrast and calms down somewhat stopped down a touch. I should take a closer look at my copy again.



Nov 13, 2022 at 07:13 PM
Desmolicious
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p.7 #4 · p.7 #4 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


rscheffler wrote:
IIRC the Nikkor 50/1.4 rangefinder lens, a Sonnar design, was also a better performer at nearer distances. It's also quite a dual-character lens - very glowy with wild bokeh wide open, but picks up a lot of contrast and calms down somewhat stopped down a touch. I should take a closer look at my copy again.


Correct! The one I had was excellent to mid distance, but produced smeary corners at infinity. And this was on film using my Nikon S2, so not due to some digital sensor incompatibility.




Nov 13, 2022 at 11:29 PM
phinix
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p.7 #5 · p.7 #5 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


YumMango wrote:
I have the Heliar Classic and the 50mm Nokton 1.5 II. I struggle to decide which one to attach. I find that I use the Heliar Classic more often because when stopped down at enough distance I don't see too much difference, although if I look for it I can probably see it. But in the right circumstances I can get some pretty out there effects, and I like having that option. That said, for travel, I don't think I'd bring the Heliar Classic as my only lens. But maybe the 35mm CV 1.7 Ultron and the HC make a
...Show more

Would you say 50mm Nokton 1.5 II is better than Heliar Classic? Like, closer to 40/1.2 better?



Nov 14, 2022 at 04:48 AM
rscheffler
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p.7 #6 · p.7 #6 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review



phinix wrote:
Would you say 50mm Nokton 1.5 II is better than Heliar Classic? Like, closer to 40/1.2 better?


Fred did a review of the 50/1.5 Nokton II here. It will be better corrected than the Heliar Classic.



Nov 14, 2022 at 10:56 AM
dieterson
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p.7 #7 · p.7 #7 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


@Fred Miranda: it looks a lot like the Nokton 35 f1.4 Classic wide open - even a bit more "classic"


Nov 14, 2022 at 12:02 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.7 #8 · p.7 #8 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


dieterson wrote:
@Fred Miranda@: it looks a lot like the Nokton 35 f1.4 Classic wide open - even a bit more "classic"


I think there is more glow with the 50/1.5 Heliar which makes rendering more similar to the Leica 35/1.4 lux pre-asph.
The CV 35/1.4 II is actually better corrected compared to these two lenses.



Nov 14, 2022 at 12:06 PM
YumMango
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p.7 #9 · p.7 #9 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


phinix wrote:
Would you say 50mm Nokton 1.5 II is better than Heliar Classic? Like, closer to 40/1.2 better?



The Nokton 1.5 offers solid performance at a good price point with favorable size and weight. Much better reviewers than I note the lens turns softer at distances closer than 2 meters.

Speaking just for myself, I don't shoot a lot of 50mm so having a small but good 50mm (and economical!) hits the sweet spot. But that said, because I don't shoot a lot at 50mm, I think I prefer a lens with more character if I reach for this focal range. I think 50mm has a more "romantic" feel than my preferred focal length of 35mm, so if I'm going romantic I might as well lean into that. This is why I actually like the Heliar Classic better.

Is the Heliar Classic a better lens? No, at least not in the ordinary sense. I'd say the vast majority of people should consider the Nokton, especially if it's your first or primary lens. But that is cautious and measured advice. And this is photography, where being cautious and measured is sometimes the flaw itself. The reality is that for most photos, the differences are small enough that I don't care. Now if like me you take photos wide open then you will encounter differences that are more pronounced. And sometimes the differences matter.

Take a look at FM's test photos of both lenses. He does a nice job of demonstrating their output and he notes the differences. Look at the "2 meter distance at f/1.4 or f/1.5" photos of the Heliar Classic. Does the glow on the license plate or the badge bother you? The glow might bug me, especially on a photo like that where I want to blur the background but get accurate reporting of the car. So that is an example where just about any other lens is a better choice. But look at his other samples, especially where FM leans into the dreaminess. Now I love the results. Look at the cactuses on Sample 6. Just lovely. Now look at his family photos from November 13. These are more "normal" photos and less romantic. I think the lens is doing a solid job with "everyday" shooting. I could care less that his daughter's shoes are glowing in the last of the cheerleading photos. Similarly, there is a glow on his daughter's face on the second shot. The glow might bother other people but not me.

Consider the close up photos Dana Scruggs took for the New York Times of Jann Wenner on September 10, 2022: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/10/style/jann-wenner.html I have no idea what lens she used but I'm guessing it might be a 50mm (or perhaps more). The black and white photos are "flawed" in traditional terms but they are fantastic images complete with bold lens qualities. I've taken too many boring photos in my life. I think that I'd rather have more flawed photos.



Nov 14, 2022 at 12:24 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.7 #10 · p.7 #10 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


YumMango wrote:
The Nokton 1.5 offers solid performance at a good price point with favorable size and weight. Much better reviewers than I note the lens turns softer at distances closer than 2 meters.

Speaking just for myself, I don't shoot a lot of 50mm so having a small but good 50mm (and economical!) hits the sweet spot. But that said, because I don't shoot a lot at 50mm, I think I prefer a lens with more character if I reach for this focal range. I think 50mm has a more "romantic" feel than my preferred focal length of 35mm, so if
...Show more

Shooter pay the big bucks to get that glow from their Leica lenses and the 35/1.4 Lux is a good example of that. The CV 50/1.5 Heliar performs similarly having strong character wide open + a sharp/modern draw stopped down. Unique to the Heliar is the stronger performance at close distance. I love both Leica 35/1.4 lux and CV 50/1.5 Heliar rendering but if one prefer less glow (SA + coma aberration), the CV 35/1.4 II Nokton could be a better choice.



Nov 14, 2022 at 12:38 PM
 


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Fred Miranda
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p.7 #11 · p.7 #11 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


As a curiosity, I compared the CV 50/1.5 Heliar @f/2 vs Leica 50/2 Summicron Rigid v2 wide open and to my surprise, the background rendering is very similar.
So, the Heliar has the 'classic' rendering at f/2 and a very unique and glowy character wide open.

Around the center area, the Rigid is sharper than the Heliar though but one has to inspect it close to notice a difference. Both weight exactly the same at 257 grams and although the Rigid is slightly longer, it blocks less of the frame-line because it's thinner at the end of the barrel. One advantage of the Heliar is that it focuses down to 0.5m while the Rigid's MFD is 1m.

The Rigid is also narrower than 50mm. My copy shows 51.9mm.

Here are a few side-by-side crops at 50% magnification comparing their rendering a various distances.












































Jan 30, 2023 at 02:10 PM
hmzimelka
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p.7 #12 · p.7 #12 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
As a curiosity, I compared the CV 50/1.5 Heliar @f/2 vs Leica 50/2 Summicron Rigid v2 wide open and to my surprise, the background rendering is very similar.
So, the Heliar has the 'classic' rendering at f/2 and a very unique and glowy character wide open.

Around the center area, the Rigid is sharper than the Heliar though but one has to inspect it close to notice a difference. Both weight exactly the same at 257 grams and although the Rigid is slightly longer, it blocks less of the frame-line because it's thinner at the end of the barrel. One advantage
...Show more

Quite uncanny how similar they are!



Jan 30, 2023 at 02:24 PM
mapgraphs
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p.7 #13 · p.7 #13 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


@ f/1.5

Mixed precipitation

Similar to the early uncoated and later coated Summitars as well...



Jan 31, 2023 at 06:31 PM
Maknof
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p.7 #14 · p.7 #14 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


The Heliar is one of most interesting Lenses of last two year.
It is all about rendering, and get a real heliar design with f/1.5, make the example of mix of modern progress with old thing, it show us how computing, new materials and older ideas can mix up.
It is a nieche in which Cosina achieve wonderful results.

If i did not find find a Jupiter-3 in Lomography version last year at a fair price on used market i suely bought this one.



Jan 31, 2023 at 07:44 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.7 #15 · p.7 #15 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Maknof wrote:
The Heliar is one of most interesting Lenses of last two year.
It is all about rendering, and get a real heliar design with f/1.5, make the example of mix of modern progress with old thing, it show us how computing, new materials and older ideas can mix up.
It is a nieche in which Cosina achieve wonderful results.

If i did not find find a Jupiter-3 in Lomography version last year at a fair price on used market i suely bought this one.


That's an interesting lens as well. Could you post some samples?




Feb 01, 2023 at 12:31 AM
mapgraphs
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p.7 #16 · p.7 #16 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Maknof wrote:
The Heliar is one of most interesting Lenses of last two year.
It is all about rendering, and get a real heliar design with f/1.5, make the example of mix of modern progress with old thing, it show us how computing, new materials and older ideas can mix up.
It is a nieche in which Cosina achieve wonderful results.

If i did not find find a Jupiter-3 in Lomography version last year at a fair price on used market i suely bought this one.


After getting the Heliar, I picked up a coated post-war Summitar, and added an early 1960s J-3 from a Ukrainian vendor. They're complimented by some of the Sonnar based designs from DJ Optical. The Heliar is a fast 50mm lens that one can build a system around...




Feb 01, 2023 at 07:52 AM
Maknof
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p.7 #17 · p.7 #17 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
That's an interesting lens as well. Could you post some samples?



Certainly , till last update i used 50mm summilux pre asph profile, first two closeup test. Lomography version can focus 70cm.
Cam and helicoyd are brass, long focus throw 270







J3 f/1,5 70cm

  LEICA SL2-S    50mm    f/2.4    1/60s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  







J3 f/5.6-8 same scene as before

  LEICA SL2-S    50mm    f/5.6    1/60s    2500 ISO    0.0 EV  







It can flare a lot cause the cam ring was left bare brass and reflect on sensor

  LEICA SL2-S    0mm    f/1.2    1/640s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Feb 01, 2023 at 05:26 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.7 #18 · p.7 #18 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Maknof wrote:
Certainly , till last update i used 50mm summilux pre asph profile, first two closeup test. Lomography version can focus 70cm.
Cam and helicoyd are brass, long focus throw 270


Thanks for the samples. It looks like Lomography stopped producing it?
Does it get sharper at closer distance like the Heliar 1.5/50?

Interesting rendering. Although full of character, the rendering seems smoother than the Heliar's. Not sure.
Too bad about the sensor flare. That's the kind of flare/reflection I personally don't like.



Feb 01, 2023 at 05:36 PM
Maknof
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p.7 #19 · p.7 #19 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Other some sample







Dog wide open Jupiter-3







Unedited poirtature, only for sample, Jupiter 3 + Tiffen pro-mist 1/2







A cart, wide open.




Feb 01, 2023 at 05:40 PM
Maknof
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p.7 #20 · p.7 #20 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Heliar Classic Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
Thanks for the samples. It looks like Lomography stopped producing it?
Does it get sharper at closer distance like the Heliar 1.5/50?

Interesting rendering. Although full of character, the rendering seems smoother than the Heliar's. Not sure.
Too bad about the sensor flare. That's the kind of flare/reflection I personally don't like.


Before Dombass war, was possible find some from Russia, new and boxed.
At longer distance for landscaping, you need f11 at least, and it is still soft, like the Sonnar.
It is a lens that never get sharper, above 4 yards it get simply worst, more glowy, more chromatic aberrations if you do not close iris.
Great for poirtrature or old taste cinematic look. Without specular highlights instead bubbles you get the painterly look (last sample)
The ring flare can be solved with paint, on the cam ring.












No specular highlights




Feb 01, 2023 at 05:58 PM
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