A week and a half with the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 on Nex5n…

Cameras, Digital, Lenses, Photography Discussion


Voigtlander Classic 35 1.4 on Nex5n

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)

[f1.4 iso100 1/4000s]

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.

[f1.4 iso100 1/4000s]

[f1.4 iso100 1/4000s]

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.

[f2 iso100 1/4000s]

[f2 iso100 1/4000s]

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.

[f2 iso100 1/4000s]

[f2 iso200 1/4000s]

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.

[f2 iso200 1/4000s]

[f2 iso200 1/800s]

[f2 iso100 1/160s]

[f2 iso100 1/4000s]

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]

[f2 iso800 1/60s]

[f2 iso800 1/400s]

(I gave this one a soft filter effect in Lightroom)

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.

[f2 iso800 1/1600s]

[f2 iso800 1/3200s]

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 ‘Remember the South’)

[f2 iso200 1/200s]

(local band ‘Remember the South’)

[f2 iso200 1/200s]

(local band ‘Iconoclast’)

(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.

8 thoughts on “A week and a half with the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 on Nex5n…

  1. martin@martinirwinphotography.com'

    Very nice photos! I have this lens, and use it with my NEX-7. It’s a fantastic lens, and renders beautifully on the NEX-7’s dense sensor.

    1. Oh I bet it does. Glad to hear it renders so nicely on the nex7 too. I cannot wait for the new nex9 full frame so we can enjoy our great glass in all it’s true glory. Thank you for commenting,I hope you have a great day and continue to enjoy snapping with that combo. šŸ™‚

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  3. stu.6969@hotmail.co.uk'

    Thank you so much for this insight on the V 35mm 1.4.

    I’ve been deliberatingredients for ages about whether I should get one or not.

    I have the NEX C3 and love manual glass. It will be replacing a Pentax SMC Takumar 28mm 3.5.

    I also shoot a lot of bands but I’m wanting something smaller than the Canon 60D I’m using at present.

    I’m guessing I’ll get a similar result on my C3 as you get on your 5N.

    Thanks for the review again. It’s exactly what I wanted to hear.


    1. I shoot a lot of live bands here in Perth, that is why I got this lens for my Nex’s to give me the 50mm perspective and the low light ability. I have since upgraded to an A7r and love the wider perspective from this lens. I actually started using two off camera flashes for extra light so I can stop this down to around f4 and get very nice results. I have been slack updating my site. I will post some examples soon if you would like?

  4. stu.6969@hotmail.co.uk'


    Great review (and you said a lot of things I was hoping to hear).

    I’m considering the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 to stick on my NEX-C3 for a carry round lens because my Canon 60D and barrage of lenses is no fun in the ‘carry round’ department.

    Do you reckon I’ll get similar results as from your NEX5?

    Same size sensor with only slightly higher reolution.

    I’m saving up as from now.

    1. Oh definitely you would get similar results to my Nex5n. I now use this lens on my a7r where it is an absolutely stellar performer again. I do hope you get this lens. You will love it. šŸ™‚

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