MirrorLessons continues their series of reviews of the spectacular Voigtlander primes for the Micro Four Thirds system. This time around it’s the 42.5mm f/0.95 and by the looks of it, it didn’t disappoint.
On one hand, I loved the purely mechanical build of the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 and the accuracy of the manual focus ring. The 0.95 aperture makes subject isolation a breeze and the bokeh is as creamy as custard. On the other, I’d be reluctant to give up autofocus completely. And with offerings like the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 and Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 on the market, it is possible to have a very fast aperture, beautiful bokeh and that razor-like sharpness that is so desirable from a portrait lens.
One thing to keep in mind when considering these specialty lenses is that they’re not about technical perfection, but about character. Clinically sharp lenses can actually have a detrimental effect on certain types of photography, and portraiture is probably the best example of that. Once a lens is so sharp that it starts revealing imperfections, the overall effect may stop being pleasant and cross the line into unflattering territory.
Yes, the Panasonic Nocticron is sharper, especially in the corners, but it’s so clinically perfect that in some cases its images can look a bit artificial. The same thing has been said about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8.
Those lenses may be technically better, and they’re definitely amazing, but none of them can match the character and unique look of the Voigtlander primes.1 Much like in life certain flaws can add to a person’s character, in photography perfection is rarely what makes for an interesting photograph.
In their defense, these lenses have unique looks of their own, and many people even prefer them to the Voigtlanders. It’s largely a matter of personal preference.↩