Tyson Robichaud reviews the Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 lens for Micro Four Thirds →

December 17, 2014 |

This is an outstanding review, including two series of images that clearly show the behavior of the lens across the entire aperture range. I for one was surprised to see the subtle variations across different F-stops, as well as how good it is wide open. Every lens reviewer out there should do this.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Voigtlander lenses for Micro Four Thirds. There are currently three — soon to be four — lenses in the lineup, and they’re all incredibly well-built and fast, with a maximum aperture of f/0.95. For those of you keeping score, that’s almost one full stop faster than its closest Micro Four Thirds competitor, the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2. This is how ridiculous that number is:

I love being able to save a stop or two in ISO value while out and about in the darker hours, and the focal length lends itself beautifully to candid, intimate shots, portraiture or street shooting. It’s heavy, but compared to an equivalent full frame optic, what am I saying, there are so few full frame optics even close to offering this set of skills that for those few that are out there, I’ll never even be able to dream of affording them. That, I believe, is the best thing that this lens offers. It’s built to last and gives micro 4/3 shooters an optical tool that most every photographer dreams about.

That’s exactly what’s so great about the Micro Four Thirds system. The 2x crop-factor of the sensor means that depth of field and high-ISO performance are roughly equivalent to a full-frame lens with double the focal length and F-stop number. For example, the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 would be roughly equivalent to an 85mm f/1.8 full-frame lens in terms of depth of field and high-ISO performance. However, speed — or rather, light-gathering ability — does not follow the same rule, and is the same regardless of the system. What this means is that the Voigtlander is actually a true f/0.95 lens in terms of speed, and it would be capable of capturing the exact same amount of light as a full-frame f/0.95 lens.

This extreme light-gathering ability would be priced in the multi-thousand-dollar range if it were a full-frame lens. For example, the legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 comes in at a whopping $10,745 on Amazon right now. By comparison, the $999 price tag of the Voigtlander looks rather quaint if you ask me. Robichaud seems to agree:

It’s not cheap, that is for sure. But this is not a cheaply made lens, and if you look at what it provides, there is no lens for any system, anywhere that can do what this lens does for near this same price at this same level of build and image quality that I’ve ever heard of. In that way, maybe it is kinda cheap.