I acquired this lens as I had been wanting a fast 50mm equivalent on a APS-C crop sensor namely my Nex5n for a while. While I have 50mm 1.4’s these turn out to be 75mm f1.4’s on APS-C, great for portraits, but not always the best suited for a lot of general shooting applications. When I first found out about the Voigtlander Classic 35mm f1.4 it sounded perfect. This would give me a 52.5mm equivalent lens with a nice fast speed of f1.4, the only downfalls being it would only have the Depth of Field and Bokeh of a 35mm lens, but this is all due to the crop factor making it be a 52.5mm and the lens really only being a 35mm. My copy is in M-Mount for Leica cameras, I us an adapter to shoot it on my Nex5n , which is great because it means I can also shoot it on a Leica M if I can ever afford one. hahaha
The first thing I did after my adapter arrived for this was to throw it on my Nex and take it out for an initial test. I ended up liking it so much that it stayed glued to my Nex for the next week and a half. This is just a few of my initial thoughts about the lens with a few of my test shots made a long the way.
Well the first thing I always find myself interested in with fast glass, I must admit, is how sharp the lens is wide open. Here is the very first shot I took with this lens.
(as usual click images to see larger)
The lens is a bit soft wide open, but really only when compared other apertures stopped down just a little, which I feel lends itself quite good for portraits due to this slight softness.
I next of course wanted to test the depth of field and bokeh as well, after all that is half the fun of fast glass. The depth of field I found to be shallow enough for most of my purposes, however I did find the bokeh to be a bit jittery or nervous.
The bokeh is of course still fine for most purposes and the lens is perfectly sharp once stopped down to about f2. I must also note that I love that the Voigtlander Classic 35mm 1.4 has half clicks between each stop, giving you that extra choice when wanting to select your aperture.
The speed of focus with this lens I feel was a little inhibited by the fact you do not focus using the ring as you normally would, but instead via a thumb tab on the ring. I did find this cost me a shot here or there, but not so much that I couldn’t grab these two.
I was finding this lens to be a stella little walk around lens. Great sharpness, colour and contrast, it was easy enough to focus once you got used to the thumb tab, it felt robust in my hand and produced wonderful images.
So all in all it has been shaping up to be a fantastic little performer. A few days later I wanted to test my theory that it could be a great portrait lens. The first shot here is one I took sneaking up on my eldest dog Dengis as he lay on our bed the sencond was from the day after when out for dinner with my girl Lisa in Fremantle and the third of my mother from earlier the same day when out for a drink, I applied a soft filter effect to this in light room to show that even when so sharp it just means the percieved detail is still there when softening it up in post. I think it actually performs quite satisfactorily for a candid portrait lens.
[f2 iso200 1/30s]
Another thing I noticed while out having a walk with the lens is that is not to bad in the distortion category, so it is rather satisfactory for architecture as it does not seem to bend your lines too noticeably at all.
I the end my main reason initially for purchasing this lens was for live band shooting purposes, where fast glass is a huge help, however my current 50mm 1.4’s were a bit too long, this lens slots nicely into my line-up filling the gap perfectly.
I would like to finish up this little first test run with this lens with a few of my favorite live shots taken during this test period at our annual cancer council charity fund-raiser show ‘Mosh for a Cure’.
[f2 iso200 1/200s]
(local band ‘Iconoclast’)
Overall I find this to be a fantastic little lens which is quickly becoming one of my firm favorites.
I seems to shine in most situations and is a great ‘normal’ lens for the Sony Nex system. I hope you have enjoyed this first little test. I hope to do a more in depth review in the future, but for now I feel this is a decent initial test.