Voigtländer 10.5mm F0.95 MFT Nokton
£950 / $1099 www.voigtlander.com
A part of the ongoing expansion of manual focus lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, the Voigtländer 10.5mm F0.95 super wide angle is also that company’s fourth F0.95 Nokton in its MFT series. Attached to a Micro Four Thirds body, the 10.5mm focal length behaves as a 21mm would on a full-frame system, providing a 93° angle of view. Designed for stills and video photographers, it features an adjustable aperture ring that can be used uncoupled for continuous and silent f-stop alterations.
The lens is neither especially small nor light, though for the specification it is a good deal more compact than a similar lens for a full-frame or even APS-C system. The weight is all aft of the middle section, right under the focusing ring, so it sits comfortably enough on either prism-style or flat-topped bodies. I used it primarily on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 for this test, on which it looks quite at home, but also tried it on the Lumix DMC-GX7, on which it was surprisingly comfortable as well.
As the lens is manual focus it needs to be matched with a camera that has either a high resolution EVF or rear screen, with a sensible focus peaking system. If you intend to use it wide open for the drama of a shallow depth of field combined with the wide angle, peaking sensitivity needs to be set to low so that only what is sharp peaks.
Having said that, not too much will be sharp with the lens used at F0.95 anyway as, unsurprisingly resolution isn’t at its best at that aperture. Stopping down to F5.6 gets the best out of what the lens has to offer, and closing beyond F8 sees a gradual down-turn in the clear rendition of fine detail.
|ISO 200, f/0.95, 1/8000sec||ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/200sec|
In truth it never gets critically sharp, and at all apertures there is a significant difference between center and edge definition. If you are buying for shooting movies this may not matter too much, as even in 4K picture quality looks nice, but stills workers hoping to blow up big will have to fashion their expectations.
Getting close and going wide
The lens is remarkable in its lack of distortion however, and the shape and size of the picture doesn’t change as we focus through the range to infinity. I enjoyed its ability to focus to closer than 17cm/7in, and the surprising visual effects that can be had with a wide aperture and the wide view when close to the subject. Even at that distance we only manage 4:1 macro, but the proximity is impressive as is the degree of softening – and vignetting – around the edges of the frame that adds to the shallow depth of field effect.
|As can be seen in the samples, chromatic separation is a feature of mid-to-high contrast edges, but not to the extent that can’t be fixed automatically in ACR or Capture One.|
The lens seems very well built, and both focus and aperture rings turn smoothly and with just enough resistance – though perhaps not entirely silently. It is certainly a lot of fun to use, but I rather wished it was a little sharper in the middle for stills.
Also, a very special thank you to Stephen Gandy at CameraQuest for providing the US copy of this lens.
Voigtländer 10.5mm F0.95 MFT Nokton real-world samples (45 samples)