IMHO: Voigtlander Nokton Aspherical 50mm F1.5 LTM

Lens with packaging

Lens with packaging

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm F1.5 LTM (Leica thread mount version) This beauty happened to be the first adapted lens I purchased for my Fuji X-Pro1. While it performs exceptionally well (especially considering the price), it certainly is not a perfect lens; but it does compare quite favourably to most other fast 50mm lenses. It is well built, like most of the Voigtlander lenses of today. Its size and weight, as well as its styling seem quite well suited to the Fuji X-Pro1. I had to use a LTM to M mount adapter, as well as my Rayqual M to Fuji X adapter.

One flaw in the design of this lens is the hard-to-see lens mounting index. It’s a small and thin red line on the side of the lens mount. This makes it harder to see in dim lighting, or with weaker eye sight. One can get used to it over time, or find a way to enlarge the marking.

The focus operates smoothly, with the focus ring feeling well dampened. The aperture ring is also smooth, but the clicks feel too soft. This second design flaw makes it very easy to accidentally change the aperture with a light flick of the finger. In comparison, the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 has very distinct aperture clicks on its ring; and therefore is less likely to shift by accident.

Performance wise, this 50mm shows a great deal of character in its smooth bokeh and sharpness (when stopped down a bit). It does seem to show a bit of CA when wide open (which at this point seems to be the constant across many of the Voigtlander lenses). Where the CA is very noticeable is shooting wide open in extreme lighting conditions. I love to shoot in aquariums whenever I travel abroad, and this lens did not perform as well as I had hoped for. Find another lens to use in those situations – you have been cautioned!

Voigtlander has recently released an updated Nokton 50mm F1.5 in an M mount. Current reviews seem to indicate that this new version performs the same as the LTM version. The only notable changes are the physical size (49mm on the new version vs 58mm filter thread on the old), and a closer MFD on the new version (0.7 feet versus the older’s 0.9 feet). The physical design differs in that the new version’s body is based on the older Nokton of the 1950’s. If I can get my hands on the new M version, I would love to do a quick side-by-side comparison.

Strengths:

– Great rendering of shots, nice character

– Nice bokeh

– Solid construction

– focus ring is smooth

– fairly compact size

– bought at retail, this lens was a decent price

Weaknesses:

– Noticeable chromatic aberration at wide open apertures, especially in harsh lighting

– aperture ring clicks are a bit soft, may get shifted too easily

– lens mount index is hard to see (just a red line on the mount)

Sample Pics:

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