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Voigtlander 35mm Nokton f12


Active Member
Voigtlander 35mm Nokton f1.2 lens just arrived from Stephen Gandy (Camera Quest) this week.


- first rolls (Tri-X, 320 ISO & Neopan 1600, 800 ISO & development pulled one stop) look great. Minimal falloff - not nearly as noticeable, like on the Noctilux wide open.
- comparing it to my negs shot with the 35mm Summilux ASPH, the Nokton seems just as good. But please bear in mind that I'm shooting with the above fast, B&W film - there may be more of a difference if you shoot with ultra fine, slow, colour slide film.

Build quality & handling

- old style, scalloped focus barrel is very smooth. I thought I might miss not having a focus handle, as on my other M lenses, but not so, thanks to the nice action. Aperture ring has positive clicks.
- Size is substantial & it's a heavy lens, but not nearly as awkward as a Noctilux.
- Black finish is nice, altho' not spectacular. White & red markings are not as brightly painted as on Leica lenses.


- purchased the optional M-style, vented hood. Nice, all-metal piece in a dark gray, crackle finish. Seems to provide a bit more physical as well as flare protection compared to the minimal shade that comes with the lens (altho' that one is nicely made too - also, less instrusive in the viewfinder). Both hoods lock onto the lens with a threaded screw.

- metal Voigtlander 35mm finder. Spectacular optics, very bright & clear. A bit of a tight fit in the MP's hotshoe, but nothing a bit of filing can't solve.

So far, this lens performs superbly and considering the price (under $1000 US) it's a great value.
Marco thank you for the report. A couple of months ago I also bought a Voigtlander 35mm lens, but mine is at the opposite end of the spectrum from yours, I got the f2.5 Pancake which is now discontinued by CV - I don't like focusing tabs coming from an SLR background.

If you don't need the speed this is a great lens, very sharp even wide-open, nice OOF, excellent build quality with a brass focusing ring and the thing is tiny even with the lens hood on it. The focusing ring has a less than 90 degree throw from closest to infinity. Takes 43mm filters.

I'm very impressed with this lens and would recommend it to others. CV are continuing to manufacture the classic version of the lens which is optically identical to the pancake, but the focusing ring is replaced by a tab on the classic. Both lenses can still be obtained from Steve Gandy and Rich Pinto (PhotoVillage).
Hey Peter;

Thanks for the info. I agree with your comment - if you don't need the speed, there's no need for the faster lens. The slower lens (such as your f2.5 pancake) invariably costs less, is lighter, handier, and probably superior optically in the mid-range f-stops. A better buy, certainly.

In the 50mm range for M cameras, I found that to be true between the Noctilux and the Summicron. The Summicron is optically superior, lighter, easier to handle and a heck of a lot cheaper.

However, the reason I have the Nokton and Noctilux is, for my personal work, I stopped using flash several years ago. I needed larger apertures beyond f2, in order to avoid "golfball" grain from excessive push-processing of film. So that's why I've acquired these faster lenses.

Focusing handles or tabs are a funny thing. I started photography as a teenager with a beat-up old M-body that had a 50mm lens with a tab. I guess I got used to it, and for me, not having a focusing tab takes some relearning.
The tab like/dislike is definitely personal. My first "real" camera was a Zenit SLR and I've never used anything but SLRs until my first Leica about 6 months ago. I like the Leica M a lot but I'm keeping my F3!

These Voigtlander lenses are pretty good - definitely better than my Nikon glass. I'm hoping to get a 21mm/f4 Color-Skopar at some time in the future. I have never had a lens as wide as that and I'm really looking forward to it, and the difference in price between it and the Leica equivalent is just ridiculous - I think the CV lens is $339 and that includes the finder!
Marco, If you want to inprove the focusing on the new lems, order a "STEER" from Lutz Konnermann. I use one on my Noctilux and the new 90MM Summicrom. You are able to focue with one finger which is faster, steadier and more accurate(especially wide open in the dimmest of light).
Now that I have owned the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 for a month I can share my first thoughts about it in case it helps .
I have never used the Leica summilux 35mm asph. and of what I have read this must be a better lense , but at another price.
I have attached in the forum web some photos taken on the wedding of a nephew.
The ones made on interiors where shot hand held at 1/30 sg and f1.2 or 1.4.
Exteriors where shot on a cloudy day at f/4 or f/5.6 at higher speeds.
Film was Sensia 400 which I find is a little grainy. Provia 400 is a better film , but I did not had it at that moment.
Camera an M7 0.58x .
The colour balance on interior photos had to be seriously corrected on photoshop as light was tungsten and nasty fluorescent.
Original Tiff files are of a much better quality than the ones I have managed to convert for the web.
The lense is very good at f4 and beyond.
From f1.2 to f2 It has less image quality ,good definition and lower contrast but it is very, very useable. The resistance to flare is EXCELENT even at full aperture. Something really very important for the standard use of this lense. Look at the light sources in the interior photos.
Vigneting is important at full aperture in the extreme corners, which I usually crop.But this is from a test roll I shot at home of a cream colour wall. In normal interior photos it will be difficult to notice (as with all but the very worse vigneting lenses).
From this same test roll I verified that f1.2 is a little bit optimistic as there is a small sub exposure , something that has been already written by more expert photographers.
Conclusion: I am sure it is not as good as the Summilux asph. but it is a good lense that can be used with no fear at the wide apertures where it is supposed to be used.Its contrast is not so terrible as it has been written.Its resistance to flare is superb.This lense is allowing me photos under circunstances I could have never thought about and its price is reasonable in comparisson to the Summilux.
More mussings about the Nokton.
I just picked up from development another test roll of the Nokton that has puzzled me .
The test pictures are taken in the same place of my room,as I do with every lense.
Using a tripod I photograph a creamy wall with five drawings of trees hanged on it. Theese have a lot of detail and are painted in charcoal.
They reflect contrast and definition problems very good.
The wooden headboard of a bed, with a lot of veins, can also be seen.
The shooting distance to the wall is about 2,6 meters with the 35mm. so focus accuracy is not critical.
Film is always Sensia 100.
I look at the slides with a magnifier and also project them.
Overall contrast at all apertures is similar.
The first impression of the photos taken at different apertures is about the same and it is fairly decent.
When you look at them with more care the overall contrast improves beyond f2.8, but not by much.
The delineation of the branches and leaves of the charcoal drawings clearly improves beyond f2.8. I dont know how to call this, microcontrast?, definition?. The edges are seen clearly better at smaller apertures.
I still find a small , but perceptible,under-exposure at 1.2 compared to the rest of all apertures that are very much the same between them. I did this test with several camera speeds to eliminate a possible shutter deviation (M7 camera).
On the Chasseur D,images test of the Nokton the exposure accuracy at 1.2 is about the same as 1.4 , 2 and 2.8.(-1/3 EV) and gradually tends to 0 EV at smaller apertures).By this I should not have found any differences at 1.2 compared to 1.4 , but I did. Of course this can be a s&le difference.
Based on this tests I could say that this lense has a good overall contrast at all apertures (although it improves a bit beyond 2.8).
Also that what clearly improves beyond 2.8 is definition or delineation of fine details, which are not very good at wide apertures.
Pardon me if these tests are not very scientifical , which they are not.I also know they are not in the exact same line as others , much more qualified , have written.
My tests are only done with care and they are very useful for me to understand the behaviour of my lenses.
I've had over a month now to use this lens, so I thought I'd add a few more comments.

- the width of the lens barrel near the bayonet mount makes it a bit harder to reach the lens release button on the body. Not a big deal, but it is noticeable. I was changing from the Nokton to a 90mm last nite during a fast-moving, martial arts event (had a 24mm on the other body) & it did slow the lens change a touch.

- I miss not having the fat, red dot that almost all modern Leitz/Leica lenses have. It's amazing how that little feature makes lens changing fast & intuitive. The Nokton has a narrow red marking & it takes a split second longer to find this when working under pressure. Once again, not a deal-breaker, but noticeable.

- the optional vented hood is excellent. Provides great protection, both optically & physically (I run all my lenses without UV filters). The only minor downside is that the lens cap provided with the Nokton is meant to go over the standard hood. It won't fit over the vented hood or the lens itself.

- focusing action is very smooth. Can't fault it at all.

- Optically, I'm very happy with the lens so far. As stated before, I use grainy to very grainy, B&W film (Tri-X, Neopan 1600 or TMZ) so optical differences for me are often not as critical as for someone using Velvia or Kodachrome. Irwin Puts'interesting review of this lens mentioned that someone who uses B&W film, esp. Tri-X, with its acutance & good edge sharpness, would find this lens acceptable. Since I don't shoot slow colour slide film, the Nokton has certainly met my specific requirements.