Voigtlander 50mm F/1.5 Nokton
After shooting with the 28mm focal length for about two years exclusively, I was making a transition to shooting Leica only; and selling all of my Nikon equipment to fund a used Leica M240. At this time, I was also selling my Leica 28mm Elmarit lens to help fund a 50mm and 35mm lens for my two Leica bodies. As always when looking for new lenses I found myself going to Voigtlander as they make some of the best lenses I have ever used and are significantly cheaper than the sometimes overprices Leica lenses. I had always loved the 50mm focal length and for my travel and commercial work, as this lens is a jack of all trades. When looking for a 50mm I wanted it to have a fast aperture and beautiful bokeh as I am often hired to take portraits for models and bloggers, so this would be important. And that was when I decided the Voigtlander 50mm F/1.5 Nokton would be the lens I would purchase. I chose this lens over others because it was significantly cheaper than the Zeiss and Leica equivalents yet still had a very fast aperture.
As soon as I unboxed this lens and mounted it on my Leica M3 I had fond memories of the 50mm summicron I had owned a few years back. I immediately fell in love with the ergonomics and design of the lens. Though this lens does not have a focusing tab which I am a huge fan of it does however have a dimpled focusing ring making focusing very quick and precise. This lens comes in black or silver. I purchased the black version as I thought it looked much nicer. The lens has six elements in five groups giving it fantastic contrast and rendition. This lens maximum aperture is F/16 and it stops down in half stops to F/1.5. Like older summicron lenses this lens has ten aperture blades meaning the bokeh is very smooth and not distracting.
Not long after purchasing this lens I was going to Thailand for just over a week and thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to test this lens out in the real world. I didn’t take as many photos as expected as I was there to visit my partner I was still able to get some fantastic shots and really bond with this lens. When in Thailand I was using the Leica M3 and Ilford HP5 film. Having the combination of a 400-speed film and a lens that can be used in low light conditions made it extremely versatile, allowing me to shoot on beaches, streets and even night clubs without any issues. Most of the photographs I took were in extreme low light conditions at F/1.5, though there were some examples shot in daylight at F/8. After shooting with this lens for just over a week I knew it would be a keeper and after developing the images I was amazed with the performance of this lens regardless of cost.
About a month later I was hired to do a photoshoot with a fashion blogger. At this time, I had not long purchased my used Leica M240, so this would be a perfect situation to test this combo in. Since the Leica M240 has a different viewfinder base length than the Leica M3 I was concerned focusing at F/1.5 and nailing focus would be difficult. But I was quickly mistaken. As said before focusing this lens accurately is a joy and can be done with great ease. The shoot was a success the client very happy with the results and myself happy with the results as well.
Overall this lens must be the best 50mm lens I have ever owned. The images are sharp, the bokeh is creamy and the lens feels fantastic in the hands. The only possible downside to this lens is that wide open the lens is slightly soft in the corners, but this is due to the design and classic characteristic of the lens. I personally love lenses with this effect but even by F/2 this is corrected in many ways this lens reminds me of the original summicron that I owned. I would one day like to try the original 50mm summilux to see how it compares to this lens as they have similar apertures. Nevertheless, a used version one summilux will between £1,200 and £1,600 depending on condition whereas the Voigtlander Nokton costs £599 new and can be had for as little as £349 as I paid for mine.