Second Look: Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 lens

This post could be subtitled—“Reality Sets In.”

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

We’re experiencing a nicer than normal Fall here in Colorado. (I hope that’s not a jinx and it snows before I can post this but that’s the way it goes here in the Rockies.) I woke our this morning, looked out the window and the light outside was spectacular, so I grabbed my Olympus EM-5 Mark I stuck on the Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 lens and headed to O’Brien Park in Parker, CO.

voighty.Obrien

If you’re just tuning in, I suggest you first read Part 1…OK, welcome back. One of the things I commented on in that post was the imbalance of the 1.29 lb Nokton when mounted on the Lumix G6 I used to make the illustration for that post. The EM-5 Mark I is slightly lighter (15 oz) that the G6 but I use a metal Neewer CSC Hand Grip that sells for a bargain $14.89 (incl shipping) on eBay, so the balance of this heavier combo was much, much better.E-M5-grip

There is a popular Internet myth that Micro Four-thirds format does not offer any depth-of-field control and that creating shallow depth-of-field is impossible. Here’s something to think about: Just because a camera has a small (17.3 x 13mm) sensor and no mirror doesn’t means the laws of optics that we’ve learned since Leonardo da Vinci used the camera obscura, have been repealed. You can read Mark’s take on it here: Depth of Field with Small Sensors.

There is also the whole question of a lens’ sweet spot. To obtain maximum levels of sharpness, the traditional advice was to stop your lens down 2.5 to 3-stops from its maximum aperture. For the Nokton that would be f/8 –f/5.6. Let me digress for a moment: Why does the Nokton lack the f/22 aperture that landscape photographers who enjoy this focal length might like. I know this because one of them asked that question when I let him put the lens on his brand new EM-5 Mark II.

wide.open.voighty

Back on track: And with the 10.5mm Nokton having such a wide aperture, I would be remiss if I didn’t try it at f/0.95 and here’s what I found. It’s just as crispy wide open as it is at f/8. Bokeh enthusiasts will find that the out-of-focus areas to be just that, nothing special. The lens has a tendency to overexpose every so slightly when shot this way but that may also be attributed to its 93 degree angle-of-view taking in more dark area in the above example.

There are always photographers who demand the best. They are Zeiss’ best customers and if that’s you the Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 is just the lens you’ve been looking for. But ultimately it’s a specialized lens within a specialty. It is designed for Micro Four-thirds shooters who like shooting wide-angle lenses (I‘ve got my hand raised) and need to shoot those wide-angle photographs under low light (not necessarily me but sometimes…)

I am hoping to put together a part three in which I jump into that very setting—the requirement for a wide-angle lens and shooting under low light. It will be for either Mirrorless Photo Tips or for one of our sister blogs, so stay tuned.

Bargain hunters should know that, as I write this, Camera Quest has a used Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 lens priced at $799.