The Lens Build Quality is
Nothing Short of Superb
Manufactured by Cosina, this Voigtlander Nokton 58mm
f/1.4 SL II becomes the second brand new SL II series
lens. The design is not new, but springboards off the Voigtlander Topcor 58mm f/1.4 SL that was manufactured in back in 2003 in extremely limited quantities (only 1600 units). It is reported that only a few Topcors that ever got out of the Japanese market whereby the newer Nokton is shipping around the world. The Nokton has seen a little revision over the previous model. A new finish is the most obvious change - it's now solid black and now features a CPU allowing you can use a camera's matrix metering functions. When mounted on an
camera it has an
equivalent field-of-view similar to a classic 85mm lens which quite obviously becomes quite attractive for shooting
Although the lens is full format and has no
The lens build quality is nothing short of superb - it features a metal outer barrel and it becomes pure pleasure to operate the focus ring which is well-damped. There's a bit of a lens extension when focusing in closer distances and there's no rotation of the front element. It provides manual focusing only which is typical for every Voigtlander
SL lens. This may seem a bit strange, but the camera's in-focus indicator
showing in the viewfinder stays active so there is always have some guidance in
addition to the visual response and a split-screen image helps improve your
keeper rate especially with large aperture shooting.
Based on sample images, the lens overexposes around 2/3 f-stops. Being a somewhat constant value to correct, it's not a basic show-stopper, although the aspect is a bit disturbing.
The Nokton creates only minor degrees of barrel distortions being (0.3%) and is not much to be concerned about in field environments.
Obviously the 58mm f/1.4 lens features an
which is ultra-large and therefore causes some vignetting wide open even when mounted on a DSLR APS-C camera. At f/1.4 this amounts to around 0.7EV which at times could become
visible. The issue pretty much disappears from f/2 on.
This Nokton produces superb resolution numbers while in lab conditions. But there's no
surprise that the lens produces it's weakest performance wide open at f/1.4 - while he center resolution is excellent, the border areas are soft. taken as a whole, the level of contrast is also not very high at the f/1.4 opening which is somewhat disappointing regarding its reputation - a few of you might associate "Nokton" with the legendary Noct-Nikkor which
allegedly produces great results starting right at the maximum aperture (not as much at medium apertures). The contrast increases at f/2 while the borders recuperate to acceptable levels. A quality boost kicks in at f/2.8. and maximum performance is arrives by f/5.6 and then the lens starts to exceed resolution capabilities of a 10mp image sensor.
CA (Chromatic Aberrations)
Lateral Chromatic aberrations ( harsh color shadows with contrast transitions) are mostly well under control and not to relevant in the field which average around 0.5px at the image border areas.
The bokeh quality, out-of-focus blur, is as expected, of major significance for a lens with an ultra-large aperture. The Nokton performs well in this area, but not perfect.
This Nokton comes up with somewhat of an outlining appearance at f/1.4 and f/2 although it goes away by f/2.8. At f/4 a few traces of a depreciating circular aperture shape remain although f/4 is most likely not a normal setting in for bokeh conditions. Surrounding the in-focus position the focus transitions are completely smooth although the lens created a less than favorable background blur.
The Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II is a fascinating new submission in the prime lens field. The slightly more stretched than usual focal length is particularly nice for DSLR APS-C photographers - an "equivalent" to field-of-view of "85mm" is about exactly the sweet spot for portrait photography. From a technical standpoint the lens is rather soft at f/1.4 for both border resolution along with overall contrast. Starting at f/2 and even more at f/2.8 the quality improves a lot and the bokeh quality is also at it's best in the region of these settings. The utter resolution potential in set free at medium aperture openings where the lens reaches the top of it's game. The distortion levels are
nonexistent in field conditions while lateral CAs along with vignetting are also hardly an issue. The lens is without question a beautiful piece of
craftsmanship and pure joy to shoot in spite having no AF. Although the unvarying 2/3EV overexposure is a somewhat of a gaffe although it's something that can bet dealt with. The lens features an attractive price of about
$450. so if
you're looking for a more classic way to photograph, this may be enough reason to choose it instead of the Nikon AF while being a viable substitute to the 50mm Zeiss T* f/1.4 ZF. although not a superior option.
An f/1.4 lens is not usually as efficient as the same manufacture's f/1.8
or f/2 lenses, even when both are stopped down to f/5.6. the lens with the
wider aperture is heaver and more expensive, so don't choose it as your
standard unless you are planning a great deal of photography poor light
conditions. There' plenty of reasons for using a wide aperture, but avoid
buying a lens with an aperture wider than you need. No Autofocus.
Mar 30, 2011
• Front & Rear Lens Caps
• 1-Year Warranty