Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
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Leica Summicron 35mm v4 vs Voigtlander Nokton 35mm v2 – By Vincent Bihler

June 1, 2020

When I bought my first Leica M4 back in 2014, I decided to couple it with a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 S.C that I bought new (first time of my life I bought anything new). It was a great moment. I absolutely loved it and ignored its flaws as it was all I could buy myself at that time. I was so happy with it.

But time went on and as many of you may know, once you start thinking “Leica”, it is very hard to resist to the temptation of getting more gear… German gear… So I ended up selling that Nokton to get myself a nice Leica Summicron 35mm v4 (aka the King of Bokeh).

It was like a dream to have such combo in my hands. I also felt a bit dumb having spent 500 bucks more for a lens that was 1 stop slower… But it was supposed to be better overall – it was supposed to be the King of Bokeh. I kept it a long long time, changed cameras, from M4 to M6, to M9-p, to M4 again, then M6 again… But the lens remained the same.

I then one day started to shoot “semi-pro” and as I was getting paid for some work, I thought I had to step up and get an even better lens. So I sold the Leica Summicron 35mm v4 to purchase a Summilux ASPH pre-FLE. This lens was crazy good and behaved as planned. As perfect as you can dream of for a 35mm. But it lacked the classic character I love for my personal photography, and it is a bit on the heavy side.

So as nostalgic as I was, I bought a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm 1.4 S.C. – but this time the new v2 – and again I was in love… But long story short, history had to repeat itself, and I finally got my hands on another Summicron 35mm v4. So with both lenses in my hands, I decided to make a comparison between the two. I wanted to know if these two lenses I keep coming back to are really that different or if there is anything that would justify the current skyrocketing prices of the so-called King of Bokeh.

Characteristics

The Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 v4, also called the King of Bokeh, for some obscure reason, is a “vintage lens” made in the 80s. It’s optical formula is similar to the one of the Summilux pre-aspherical, with a stop less and a shorter minimum focusing distance of 0.7m. This Summicron is known to be the smallest 35mm f/2 ever made for a Leica M camera. And it is also known for being an overall great all rounder lens, being both sharp all across the field when stopped down, and quite romantic wide opened with classic traits like strong coma, vignetting, moderate glow. Colour saturation is nice and beautifully balanced too.

Leica Summicron-M 35mm f2 version 4

Leica Summicron-M 35mm f2 version 4

Summicron 35mm v4 optical diagram

Voigtlander Nokton CLASSIC 35mm f1.4 S.C II

Voigtlander Nokton CLASSIC 35mm f1.4 S.C II

The Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 v2 is a “modern lens” sold for the first time in 2019 and has been made to improve some traits of its older brother, the Nokton v1. The Nokton version II keeps much the same optical formula with only one lens element that has being changed for an abnormal dispersion glass. As such, this version 2 has seen a global performance increase. It has less distortion (about 2.1% vs. 3% for the v1), better field of focus flatness with no more soft ring in the middle field, and lens focus shift. I also noticed, comparing the two versions that the new one tends to have a rounder bokeh balls and thus tends to render less swirl effect. I don’t know if it is good or bad though.

Nokton CLASSIC 35mm optical diagram

Build quality wise, the Leica Summicron and Voigtlander Nokton are very similar. Both have very smooth focusing action, nicely clicked diaphragms, nice finish, engraved markings, bayonet hoods. The Nokton is slightly bigger than the Summicron. But this had to be expected with one more stop. While the Summicron is the smallest 35mm f2 I’ve ever seen, the Nokton is the smallest 35mm f/1.4 being mass produced.

Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton

Size comparison

Comparing the optical properties

Both the Leica Summicron and Voigtlander Nokton are non-aspherical, and thus should show things like wide open glow, coma, vignetting, moderate sharpness. The Leica Summicron has been highly appreciated and regarded as an excellent all round lens. Not too sharp like its ASPH counterpart, nice character, great bokeh at middle apertures, no distortion. On the other hand, the Voigtlander Nokton has often been said to be a “character” lens, with many things that could be better like focus shift, distortion, sharpness consistency, fuzzy bokeh. But what does this all mean in real life?

The Battle

I propose you to play a little game with me. Among the following pictures, try to determine which is the Leica Summicron and Voigtlander Nokton without skipping to the end.

Leica Summicron Voigtlander NoktonLeica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton
Leica Summicron Voigtlander Nokton

So, are you confident in your guesses? I’d love to know in the comments if you got it right. As you might have guessed by the last comparison, the photos on the left are from the Summicron and on the right, the Nokton…

You can find high resolution files there.

Conclusions

The following I am about to say is highly subjective as it is all about personal preferences and observations, but here is what I observed on high resolution scans:

  • At small apertures (f/8), beside a bit distortion for the Nokton that is only rarely visible, the lenses are almost indistinguishable. Look at the right side of the fridge picture for the distortion.
  • At medium apertures (f/4, f/5.6) the Nokton has more contrast “pop” and more separation.
  • At larger apertures (f/2, f/2.8) the Nokton seems clearly superior to me. Sharper, more contrast and smoother bokeh. It looks like that the Nokton is a tad brighter that the Summicron at given f/stops.
  • Wide open performances (f/1.4 vs f/2) performs very similarly. Look at the nightscape shot this is the only one here shot at f/1.4 with the Nokton.
  • Both lenses have the same kind of flare that seems to be about the same at equivalent apertures. At f/1.4 the Nokton is the worst, but that was to be expected.
  • Colours – sorry, as I am confined and cannot access my local lab for C41, so you will have to trust me on this from previous experience – are better with the Summicron. Better saturation and separation, warmer.

All in all, I have quite a lot of difficulty now to justify keeping the Leica Summicron King of Bokeh. I clearly did not expect the differences to play out in this direction and was confident about the fact that the Leica lens was always the better one. I am not saying the Summicron is bad, but the comparisons I did just showed to me that, maybe, higher price doesn’t always mean “better”.

Now, that was the brain speaking, but the heart saying different things. Some people will speak of “gear coherence”, some other will talk of the “Leica glow”, that the Leica Summicron surely has wide open. The Summicron can also evoke the “charm” and “gear lust” only some gear can bring to its owner.

So is one better than the other, both in terms of the quality of the outcome, and all the other reasons we might like to own gear, it’s all up to you and your preferences. Can you guess which one I will be keeping?

Thanks for reading, and I hope I hadn’t caused to much trouble to you 😉

Feel free to visit my instagram and Kamerakraft webpage if you like film Leicas or film scanning devices.

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44 Comments

  • Reply
    Adrian Cullen
    June 1, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I’m astounded. I preferred the right hand shots all the way. Better contrast and sharper. I use a Biogon ZM but sometimes hanker after something smaller. The Zeiss thought is a great lens though…..

  • Reply
    Iaeaix
    June 1, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Interesting.
    I always thought the Voigtlander is a no comparison with Summicron V4 in terms of color/micro contrast/pop etc.., and I never intended to own Voigtlander therefore.
    Ended up sticking with the V1 Summicron since then.

    • Reply
      Jimmy Cheng
      September 1, 2020 at 8:29 am

      I think there’s something wrong with the testing method here. I bought a voigtlander nokton mc v2 after reading this review and found my summicron v4 out perform it in almsot every way… Especailly sharptness from f2-f4.

  • Reply
    Zvonimir
    June 1, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    The degree of discrimination involvd in this comparison is extraordinary. Am I right in supposing that you would reject out of hand a good photo taken with a Brownie Hawkeye, given its limits on resolution, contrast, Bokeh, etc.?

    Perhaps I am too easy to please. I bought used an eight element 35mm Summichron for my M3 in 1987. It has given me many hundreds of photos from all over the world. However, I don’t think I could locate Bokeh in any of them, as I don’t know what it looks like.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 1, 2020 at 9:55 pm

      Actually no, I absolutely love shooting with some very unsharp lenses. The aim I had here was just to determine if I could justify myself keeping the KOB from an imaging point of view VS the Nokton. The thing is that both lenses are actually stellar performers 😉 As I wrote in the end, all of this is highly subjective and everyone will have their own opinion as no lens is really better than another photographically speaking: they both take pictures. It’s a matter of preferences.

  • Reply
    Mike
    June 1, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Hi, Vincent!
    Thank you for a great job done with this article. I share most of your thoughts. I guess this information will be truly helpful for those who are making those hard decisions.
    I also owned both lenses at some point and ended up sticking with the Summicron (I’m shooting color film most of the time). For me it has a perfect combination of great unique image look (I couldn’t find any other lens with that special dreamy glow in some situations) and performance (build quality, smoothness, size). Also it’s the latest Leica 35mm lens made specificly for the film cameras (and it will only raise price wise since it’s no longer produced). So I always recommend to keep it till you can, you won’t regret it.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 1, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      I think it is all about the look and how you feel with your gear in the end 🙂 Being inspired and taking pictures is all that matters in the end!

  • Reply
    Bruno Chalifour
    June 1, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks Vincent for the work done. First let us remember we are comparing apples and oranges. A lens, the Summicron, designed some 50 years ago or so, with one, the new Nokton, recently designed (computer-assisted optical calculations, new lens coating). Another detail lies in the fact that your examples could definitely have satisfied our visual curiosity had they been shot in a more systematic (and kinda “scientific”) way: camera on tripod (one blurred Summicron image (interior) definitely shows signs of camera shake). Another one could have been to focus the lenses on exactly the same areas (at least two images show different focusing points for the same subject … or one of the two lenses has its internal lenses slightly out of alignment, which is also possible). I am just saying these things, which you already know, for your readers who might be less experienced than you are. In the end, the choice of a lens is partly objective and partly subjective: and today’s Nokton should be better than yesterday’s Summicron in the same way that today’s Summicron (asph) should be technically/objectively better than today’s Nokton. Your comparison still makes a good point: the design and performances of lenses have been greatly improved in 50 years. One of the problems of Voigtlander lenses (probably a consequence of the choices made to keep prices down and not to compete too closely with the equivalent Zeiss lenses for Leica Ms—if I heard well produced by the same company) is how they behave in the corners at their widest apertures, one area they cannot compete with Leitz/Leica lenses. It would be interesting to see that (shots taken with the camera on a tripod this time so that we judge the qualities/flaws of the lenses and not your ability to hold a camera at low shutter speeds. In the end the best lens is probably 1-the one we can afford, 2-the one that makes us confident in its results, confident enough to take images and not leave it on a shelf or at the bottom of a bag (this happened to me with a Nokton 35 mm f 1.4 (1st generation) ones I compared it to the Nokton 35 mm f 1.2 II (version III is even better and a comparison I made between the two may appear soon here). After my first test (f 1.4 vs f 1.2 II) I could not keep on using the f 1.4 knowing what was happening in the corners (I tend to play a lot with edges and corners in my images (as a personal discipline I do not crop my images so I need usable information in those areas. Moreover I definitely do not systematically add artificial vignetting in Lightroom to conceal the deficiencies of my lenses or my framing ;o) ). So the f 1.4 went and I kept the f 1.2 in spite of its size (something that was fixed with the latest version III). Both Nokton f 1.2 (version II and III) still show more vignetting and less definition at f 1.4 and f 2 than the current Summilux and Summicron (but they do not play in the same budget league).

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 1, 2020 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Bruno,
      Thanks for your feedback. I admit I could have made things more systemic. But it actually ain’t my thing to use tripod as I tend to prefer “real life” pictures. But I can swear I did my best with each of these shots (and look again for the interior shot on the google drive files, this is not camerashake (I was sat for that shot) but most likely veiling of the summicron).
      About these lenses being apple and oranges, I would say not that much. The Nokton uses an optical formula which is 60 to 70 years old… and is single coated. Now the improvements reached thanks to abnormal dispersion glass is something else. But I consider both lenses to be “classical” as no aspherical lens has been used and only a limited number of lens elements. Also the Summicron I used is the nicest I ever saw. It’s from the mid 90s, and had absolutely 0 fog…
      About the Nokton 1.2 versions, this time I think it is totally apple versus oranges as these lenses are aspherical very complex (and large) lens formulas. But they sure are great!

      • Reply
        Bruno Chalifour
        June 4, 2020 at 9:53 pm

        It IS camera shake in the left one of the last couple of images. You can clearly see it in the background where (blurred) objects show superimposed multiple images. Camera shake has little to do with whether one is standing, sitting or lying for that matter. The cause is often either the pressure on the shutter-release button (and the way one holds one camera) or the shutter itself…. or a combination of both. Regarding fog, a Summicron from the 1990s having fog would be rather surprising unless one had kept it in a very damp basement in the tropics. ;o) Mine dates back from the early 1980s and does not show any fog either neither a 50 mm from the 1950s for that matter (and fog would not produced what can be seen in the background of the above-mentioned photograph).

  • Reply
    Bruno Chalifour
    June 1, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    By the way Vincent, very nice images on your Instagram account which I recommend to all (and no artificially added vignetting it seems, which I greatly appreciated). All the best,

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 1, 2020 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Bruno, I appreciate 🙂

  • Reply
    jh
    June 1, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Very interesting, I picked the one on the right, gulp and it was the Nokton. Enough said 🙂

  • Reply
    Giuseppe Papale
    June 1, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    I guessed the Nokton on the right after looking at the first images; I owned several 35 mm including the summicron asph and the 35 pre FLe (which I sold because it was too heavy; focus shift aside) but I believe from what I see that the Nokton performs very well and I would take it in place of the summicron 35. Thanks for sharing the test results.

    • Reply
      Jimmy Cheng
      September 1, 2020 at 8:30 am

      no do not do that. This test is flawed! I just bought a brand now nokton 1.4 MC ii and it is not as sharp as my cron v4, not even close from f2-f4.

  • Reply
    Calum
    June 1, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for the great review and experiment — I was sure I preferred the photos on the right, and was surprised by the result. My wallet will be delighted, thanks!

  • Reply
    Grady Carter
    June 1, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Omg, I chose the Voigtländer on 90% of the photos you you’ve presented here!!! I have to believe my eyes. Not that there was anything major that stuck out between all the images, however, the Voigtländer had noticeable clarity. I wonder if the Leica had any haze Because even slight haze will make a difference on backlit subject matter. I would love to see the color difference… Thanks for the comparison!!!

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 1, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      Hi Grady,
      Ït was a mint summicron. Absolutely no fog whatsoever!

  • Reply
    Immo
    June 1, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    I think both are great lenses – and people do not buy either of them for sharpness, but the mentioned “character” and the compact size. Many photographers even play with the flaws of the Nokton (have a look at Andre Josselin on Instagram). Plus, it’s a matter of budget, with the Nokton being half of what a good Summicron costs used…

  • Reply
    Nick Clark
    June 1, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    Very interesting, thank you! Personally I really enjoy the ‘in use’ samples – the photography world has enough systematic reviews of test charts 🙂

    A minor correction, the Summicron v4 is no longer the smallest 35/f2 for Leica M. That title belongs to the outstanding Voigtlander 35/f2 Ultron.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 2, 2020 at 7:24 am

      Hi, thanks for the kind words 🙂
      I might be wrong, but having used the two, I think the summicron is still the shorter one 😉

    • Reply
      Bruno Chalifour
      June 4, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      If outstanding means blurred in the corners at f2 … yes indeed outstanding. ;o)

    • Reply
      Corvus
      November 20, 2020 at 8:21 am

      I agree, the 35 F2 Ultron is so amazing. So small. Voigtlander is really doing well. I’m also stunned by the Voigt 50 APO for Sony.

  • Reply
    Marc Wick
    June 1, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    Really a very good comparison Vincent with real life photos and not with brickwalls. Looking through your photos and guessing which lens was used was a lot of fun. I think everybody looks a bit different to the photos and I did not look at sharpness, or Bokeh. I was just looking at the photos and decided which one do I like more? In 10 photos, I have chosen the left side. Why? I can not say it, it was just on a gut level, just to looking at the photo and asking myself: which one do you like more.? You see, very subjective and I am sure that the result can be totally different when I try this again. As a result both lenses are very good and depending on the result the photographer wants to achieve, you can choose between these lenses.

  • Reply
    Daniel
    June 2, 2020 at 12:15 am

    any chance you can make a Summilux 35 1.4 ASPH comparison to the Voigtlander? Im saving up for the Summilux but if the comparison is anything like this I would rather go with the CV and save my money!

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 2, 2020 at 7:26 am

      Go for the Lux, it is worlds better 😉 it is an aspherical lens, super sharp already wide open. Really not in the same league. Price is another whole different story too 😉

  • Reply
    Jim Kuo
    June 2, 2020 at 1:11 am

    Great job! I own both the Summicron 35mm v4 and original version of the VC 35/1.4. I like both, but prefer the ‘cron for my personal work. It is more expensive, but will hold its value much longer.

  • Reply
    Peter Maynard
    June 2, 2020 at 3:19 am

    I had the V4 Summicron 35mm and for some reason never really bonded with it. Though it is a highly competent lens (obviously) 35mm is not a focal length I use a great deal preferring a longer lens for most of my purposes. So in part I think the issue was that it seemed that having a lens valued at around $2000 sitting in a cupboard doing nothing for 90% of the time was a waste. I sold it and used the money for some other purchase and unlike some lenses I have sold I cannot say I really regret it – not because it is a bad lens but rather because it was not for me.

    I did however eventually ( several years later) buy a second hand Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 (first version) from a friend, swapping it for a Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 which I owned plus some cash – which seemed a good deal for me as somehow I never really bonded with that lens either. On reflection in addition to the focal length issue already mentioned, I think it has something to do with the form factor . Small bodied lenses like the two I mentioned often seem too small for me to handle comfortably. While the big 35mm f1.2 is perfect. But that is just me. Also I have seldom place too much of a premium on pure lens performance and much prefer character and interesting rendering.

  • Reply
    BennyBaha
    June 2, 2020 at 6:22 am

    Fantastic comparison and story with how you go to this point and why you shoot. I really appreciate the side by side shots and being clear in your subjective comparison. In this black and white battle, I much prefer the Nokton with its contrast and sharpness. I would love to see a review in colour film. I have the Voigtlander 35mm Color-Skopar f/2.5 and I don’t see myself selling it and upgrading to either of these two lenses, I just don’t have the disposable income to justify it. But its great to see some Voigtlander love.

    • Reply
      Bruno Chalifour
      June 4, 2020 at 10:03 pm

      Bennybaha, you make a good point relative to…. relative contrast. Leitz and Zeiss lenses (the ones for Hasselblad) tended to be less contrasty than Japanese ones such as Nikon, Canon. Contrast can always be added. The problem with contrast is while images look sharper straight from the camera, the results show fewer nuances, especially in color. As a result Leitz and Zeiss lenses traditionally would give subtler colors (and midtones/grays in black and white) than traditional Japanese lenses.

  • Reply
    Andrea Taurisano
    June 2, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Nice “real life” comparison, Vincent. Like others, I also guessed that the crispier images on the right hand side just had to be the ‘cron, and I was surprised to see the opposite was true. Actually, I got a little doubt viewing the thrid last photo (night shot with a bit of city scape), where the right hand side shot seems to show more coma than the left one. Using this Nokton as a daily shooter, I know it’s quite prone to that. The same photo and the night shot below it also seem to have a bit more grain than the corresponding left side images, but am not sure why that would be the case, as I assume the shots belong to the same film roll and identical scanning settings were used for all frames.
    Anyway, although not scientifically rigorous, these comparisons are much more useful to us photographers than MTF curves are. If only we bought our gear based on purely rational thinking.. Last but not least, nice IG-gallery.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 2, 2020 at 8:12 am

      Thanks so much for the kind words Andrea 🙂

  • Reply
    Victor
    June 2, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Nice comparison, Vincent!

    I’ve guessed the lenses correctly, but I guess I just knew what to expect from both lenses even if don’t own/have not tried either 🙂 I’m a big fan of VC lenses and at some point was also confronted with a similar choice as you, i.e. VC40 1.4 (which is supposed to be better optically than VC 35 1.4) vs summicron-C 40. Considering how similar 35 and 40 are, and the thread on fredmiranda regarding comparison of 35v4 vs Summicron-C I think it’s makes sense to share my findings on those two in context of your post. In the end I kept the summicron because:

    1) it’s really more like a 35 mm lens (I estimated mine is ~37 mm) and Nokton is almost 50 (45 or so, and I wanted ~35), so these are really two different lenses (well, this bit is irrelevant for lenses considered above). I did consider but did not get 35f1.4 for reasons below and because I could not find one with decent price.
    2) size (although VC is still a smallish lens) and
    3) colours and contrast both on film and digital.

    Regarding the sharpness, I did not notice any differences at equal apertures on film, and only slight on digital (on my A7 Nokton was sharper in the centre but more affected by thick filter stack and dropped faster in the corners if not re-focussed). I also think that your samples may be consistent with my findings: perceived sharpness is higher for VC due to the higher contrast it has (like their other lenses), but actual sharpness is hard to assess with the samples above and on film in general. If you try to look for details, you can find areas of higher detail exhibited by both lenses, so all in all they are pretty comparable. On digital you’d probably see ~0.5-1 stop difference between f2-f5.6 with the two in the centre (VC leading), and somewhat of a mixed bag outside of the central area. I did controlled shots from a tripod on digital and it’s really a very minor difference.

    In any case, at f5.6-8 both already resolve 42 mpix on A7r2 through most of the frame and thus any sharpness differences become irrelevant. In the centre it would be f2.8 or even 2.0 (on film anyway). I think in real life any sharpness difference at any apertures be mostly masked by hand shake/focussing accuracy/film grain as I believe is the case also in your samples (what’s the film, btw?). It all runs down then to differences in color (VC being cooler and leica warmer), contrast (VC way more contrastier), bokeh (VC much smoother in most settings), handling and price (both are nice to handle, leica more expensive). I was not able to justify v4 price and VC (35/40) weight/size for myself, and hence summicron-40 (which I consider a cheap, small and competent substitute for 35v4). I also like lower contrast of summicron better (it’s easier to increase contrast than to decrease it), and, strangely, it’s not-so-smooth bokeh (character!). It also applies for 35v4 if the price is taken out of equation, but price is not related to optical traits of a lens but rather dictated by market. The problem with 35v4 is that it’s over-hyped and thus price is inflated too much. With some luck you can get 35-asph for not much more, and that lens is in entirely another league so if you’re ready to pay 1.5k eur for a small 35, just go all the way and get a better lens 🙂 The question whether it’s 3x better (while a stop slower) is up to you though.

  • Reply
    jeremystrange
    June 2, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Like many others I preferred the shots on the right for quite a few of those. Food for thought! Thank you for writing such a thoughtful, articles like this are why I continually come back to 35mmc.

  • Reply
    Zach B
    June 3, 2020 at 12:52 am

    Not a scientific test, but one that I think best shows what people should expect when using both lenses. I was a big surprised by how well the Voigtlander lens did. I own quite of few LTM Voigtlander lenses and have sold a few of the M-mount lenses in favor of a Zeiss ZM system that perfectly matches my needs.

    But content like this is really great for photographers just getting into M-mount lenses and trying to decide how to best spend their money. I always recommend Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses for people just entering the system. Good comparison.

  • Reply
    TT
    June 3, 2020 at 5:38 am

    This comparison came right in time. I was looking for my M10 one 35mm ”film look” lens. First looking for some Zeiss but didnt want to go too digital tough..Anyways. Lastly got this but multi coated versin 2. I would say that even most people tend to prefer photos on the right side does not give 100% feedback. I have had 2 Ultrons before (F2 and 1.7). Both amazing lenses for the money but i did not liked the design. At the same time i had latest Summicron 50. If you look the pictures of the Voigtlanders, you think wow, but if you own them side by side longer time of the period, you coming the see the difference better and maybe even prefer much more Summicrons. EVEN you first wowed the photos from Voigtlander. What makes Leica lenses good is they are pretty equal in many situations and lightning conditions. Specially corners are VC-s weak point. So what i want to say is thats its not like you look the pictures 5seconds and saying what lens is ”better”. BUT for what you have done is really nice. Thank you. For my with 35 1.4 M.CII the money was a deciding factor.

  • Reply
    ed
    June 22, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Vincent, great comparison, The Voigtländer really shines especially when up against the faux-“king of Bokeh” that isn’t. The wide-open images looks really dull.

    Question, please tell me that the grip on your camera isn’t drilled into the body. Had palpitations when I saw it.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      June 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

      The handle is one I make with my recently created brand Kamerakraft. Feel free to visit my website to know more about it :
      kamerakraft.com
      (Be reassured, no drills needed to install it 😉 )

  • Reply
    Wojtek
    July 2, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Hi,
    Fantastic article. I would like to ask you for one important thing related with the Nokton – the focus shift. I currently shoot with M240-P with Nokton 1.2v2 – it is great but way too big. I mainly shoot street and portraits of my wife & son. I used to have a Summilux 35 pre-asph. which focus shift was abnormal what annoyed me and I sold that lens, however IMHO its character was mindblowing. I know that the Nokton 1.4 is it’s copy but the issue above stops me. Did you face any focus shift problems? No one speaks about it loudly… I don’t want to buy a summicron to get f/2.0 with clinical performance but rather have relatively usable f/1.4 – unfortunately if the focus shift is not completly resolved I will stay with my current lens or go for Cron…
    Many thanks in advance for any help 🙂

  • Reply
    Illya Swan
    August 7, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    I just sold my Nokton V1 last weekend because it produced inconsistent results at wider apertures (low sharpness, focus shift, and distortion). Zeiss Biogon F2 was my next target, but your images made me reconsider Nokton V2. Did you notice a big difference in image quality between the 2 versions?

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      November 20, 2020 at 8:47 am

      Basic image qualities are not that different. What the v2 does better is a better sharpness across the field except in the angles, it has less distortion and less focus shift.

  • Reply
    Jimmy Cheng
    September 1, 2020 at 8:27 am

    I think there must be something wrong with your copy of summicron, as I have just done the same sharpness test with a newly bought voigtlander 35mm Nokton MC v2 (after reading your review actually). I was originally thinking about replacing my summicron with the nokton but unfortunately, after extensive tests on a tripod with my m9p, and here is what I found:

    The summicron v4 is consistently sharper at all apertures. The biggest difference being between f2.8-f4. The difference is quite obvious and visible. The cron is pin sharp at the center from f2 all the way to f8, whereas the voigtlander didn’t really perform that well between f1.4-f4, not until f5.6 that it starts to clean up and show comparable performance.

    I think your review might be misleading to a lot of readers, and I hope you can maybe do a more systematic comparison.

    • Reply
      vincentbihler
      September 1, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Hi Jimmy,

      I think your conclusions might be a bit fast.

      First of all, there are more chances that you may have bought a Nokton with lesser performance than that I had a lemon summicron as Japanese Voigtlander quality check is supposed to be less good than German Leica’s.

      Then one other thing to be considered is that I recently faced my Nokton sample against a v1 summicron (which is supposed to be amongst the sharpest summicrons ever) and my conclusions from f2 are not quite different from this article… So it may be possible too that I had a particularly good copy of the Nokton. But it also means to me that Leica classic lenses performances is not that particular under f4…

      Historically, that summicron v4 has never been regarded as a super sharp lens anyway, but as a journalistic character lens that integrates Leica’s aesthetics, yes. I think when choosing a classical lens, may it be a Leica, voigtlander, canon, etc, this choice might be led by character and aesthetics as sharpness is not as consistent as one would wish from sample to sample, etc. I don’t do any testings on particular non-reallife sharpness benches for that reason. And if I did, I wouldn’t do that on film anyway 😉

      Choice is up to anyone and my review is only related to my own experience.

  • Reply
    Preston
    October 21, 2020 at 4:12 am

    In my search for a small, fast 35, I purchased this lens up a couple of weeks ago. While I haven’t had a chance to push it the way I do my Zeiss Biogon, I have to say I really dig it.

    You and I are both a fan of the Zeiss Sonnar 1,5, and I find that a lot of the so-called flaws this lens exhibits are very similar to shooting the Sonnar.

    The Sonnar isn’t *tac sharp,” that’s what the 50mm Planar is for. The Voigtlander 35 isn’t “tac sharp,” that’s what the Biogon is for.

    That said, both the Sonnar and the Voigtlander 35 are paintbrushes. They render beautifully, and for my work, that’s what’s most important.

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