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Voigtlander 35/1.4 Nokton -- underrated?
Old 03-26-2012   #1
armanius
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Voigtlander 35/1.4 Nokton -- underrated?

When people discuss fast 35's, it seems like the Nokton 35/1.4 Classic is either forgotten or an after thought. Instead, the discussion is generally focused on the Summilux, Summicron, Biogon, and the Nokton 35/1.2. Even the Skopar 35/2.5 gets more love than the Classic.

The Classic was actually my first M lens. But over the last two years, I started neglecting it. And as of lately, I've been wanting to supplement or replace it with another 35. After all, it's soft wide open, has focus shift problems, and it's just a Summilux wanna-be!

I picked up a Biogon three weeks ago and loved it. But I had to give up the Biogon (and 3 other lenses) to get a 50 Lux. I ended up finally dusting the Classic and taking it out for a spin last weekend. After using it again, I found myself falling in love with its qualities once more. Is it sharp wide open? Sharp enough for an amateur like me. Does it suffer from focus shift? Probably, but I'm shooting it wide open anyway. But most importantly, it has character! The out of focus rendering is actually very pleasant (to my eyes anyway).

Here are a few of the photos that I took during that spin. Nothing artistically enlightening. But it does show that unique character that the Classic has. All shot side open (if I remember correctly). Some cropping and PP in LR4, particularly for exposure. Downsampled to 1024 pixels.














ps: Thanks for indulging my rationalization.

pps: But in spite of the rationalization, I ordered a Biogon-C anyway!!!

Thanks for dropping by!
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Old 03-26-2012   #2
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it's a very good lens that has been picked apart since it's release.
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Old 03-26-2012   #3
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I think it's a pretty awesome little lens.

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Old 03-26-2012   #4
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Yeah, it's an awesome lens. Circular flare is the only downside to me. The 28mm f/2 they make is great too. The hood for the 35 is pretty nice, but I'm not sure how functional it is as far as preventing flare. That and it detracts from it's tiny excellence.

I really appreciate that Voigtlander makes those two lenses in particular since there's no alternative to them that isn't exorbitantly priced.
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Old 03-26-2012   #5
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circular flare- I bought a cheapo 43mm screw-in vented hood and since I got it I've had none. which kinda sucks because I like the circular flare.

I'll probably get the proper hood when I destroy this one.
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Old 03-26-2012   #6
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I have a multitude of 35's - ranging from f1.2 to 3.5 - and the most used one is my Nokton Classic 35f1.4 SC. It is good, really good. I am not worried about the circular flare - haven't really encountered it - even after 1000's of rolls with mine (I have two - just in case). It does exactly what it is supposed to do in black/white and film. Gives me pictures that I like. I have the 35f1.4 Summilux ( alate on in the 3.4xx xxx range) and I prefer the Nokton 35f1.4 any day.
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Old 03-26-2012   #7
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Nokton 35f1.4 SC @ f1.4 and 1/60s. Kodak XX and Adox developer.
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Old 03-26-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom A
I have the 35f1.4 Summilux ( alate on in the 3.4xx xxx range) and I prefer the Nokton 35f1.4 any day.
Tom,

If you need someone to babysit your 'Lux I'll be happy to volunteer
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Old 03-26-2012   #9
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New York. last October. Arista 400 Premium, Adox MQ developer. M2 and Nokton 35f1.4 SC.
There are details in the dark shadows to the right - but I wanted the window and the guy well defined so I let them go black.
Flare! What Flare!
I suspect that most of the problems with the 35f14 Nokton is user error more than anything inherent in the lens design. It was designed to be a reasonably priced alternative to the later version of the Summilux 35f1.4 pre-asph. It is a better lens, both optically and ergonomically.
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Old 03-26-2012   #10
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I can live with the flaws of my 35mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH (coma & circular shaped flare) but the barrel-distortion of the CV 35/1.4 ....
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Old 03-26-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
I can live with the flaws of my 35mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH (coma & circular shaped flare) but the barrel-distortion of the CV 35/1.4 ....
Nokton has coma too
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Old 03-26-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc
I can live with the flaws of my 35mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH (coma & circular shaped flare) but the barrel-distortion of the CV 35/1.4 ....
That's my issue. Love the size and the build quality is nice but the distortion is pretty noticeable.

That said, it all depends on what you shoot. For many it's not a big deal.
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Old 03-26-2012   #13
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I like the little Nokton. I had the pleasure of shooting one for a few days (thanks Darren!) and I really enjoyed the lens. I couldn't seem to get the focus really sharp at f/1.4, but everywhere else the lens was great!

Here's a few samples:
First shot @ f/1.4 (I think I took this around 6:30 AM!)

2nd shot @ f/1.4 as well

Both shots on Portra 160, shot at ASA 100
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File Type: jpg march-001.jpg (127.6 KB, 310 views)
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Old 03-26-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
I can live with the flaws of my 35mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH (coma & circular shaped flare) but the barrel-distortion of the CV 35/1.4 ....
I can live with the barrel distortion of the Nokton (it's not that bad, really)... but the 1m minimum focus distance of the Summilux...
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Old 03-26-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mooge View Post
I can live with the barrel distortion of the Nokton (it's not that bad, really)... but the 1m minimum focus distance of the Summilux...
1m minimum focus distance can be a deal-breaker sometimes but I usually use this lens set to around 1 - 2m and also the googled M3 version (vs 1 ?) focuses down to 0.65m (but not sure about this ...)
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Old 03-26-2012   #16
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My only lens.
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Old 03-26-2012   #17
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Eery so often I consider picking up this lens.
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Old 03-26-2012   #18
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The 35/1.4 Nokton SC is the lens that pretty much lives on my M8. Sometimes I think I should get another one to use on my other cameras.
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Old 03-26-2012   #19
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It's good enough and best value for money, like most of other CV lens.
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Old 03-26-2012   #20
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Nice to see so many fellow 35/1.4 owners happy with it! Here are three of my favorites photos with it. This first one was published in a California travel magazine. My one and only published photo.


Griswold's Sausalito vacation on bike!! by Armanius, on Flickr


Quick shot with minimal focus by Armanius, on Flickr


Nice clothes make her happy! by Armanius, on Flickr
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Old 03-26-2012   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc
I can live with the flaws of my 35mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH (coma & circular shaped flare) but the barrel-distortion of the CV 35/1.4 ....
Interesting Gabor. Distortion never seemed to bother you when using the Noctilux...
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Old 03-26-2012   #22
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Interesting Gabor. Distortion never seemed to bother you when using the Noctilux...
It is less obvious when using the Noctilux, hardly remarkable with the Noctilux except I start looking for it.
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Old 03-26-2012   #23
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Actually both 1.0 Noctilux and 50 pre asph Summilux distort more than the Nokton. The Nokton's distortion is less obvious when you actually use it.
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Old 03-26-2012   #24
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Quote:
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Actually both 1.0 Noctilux and 50 pre asph Summilux distort more than the Nokton. The Nokton's distortion is less obvious when you actually use it.
Ken Rockwell recommends +2.0 for both, 50/1.0 Noctilux & CV 35/1.4, to correct for distortion in Photoshop for 3m distance and 2.2 for the Noctilux at 10m (to compensate for the different fov for both focal length).
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Old 03-26-2012   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
Ken Rockwell recommends +2.0 for both, 50/1.0 Noctilux & CV 35/1.4, to correct for distortion in Photoshop for 3m distance and 2.2 for the Noctilux at 10m (to compensate for the different fov for both focal length).
Ken Rockwell... anybody still trust that guy?
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Old 03-26-2012   #26
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Ken Rockwell... anybody still trust that guy?
Why would he have to cheat about his recommendations for correction values for lens distortion ?
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Old 03-26-2012   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddoc View Post
Why would he have to cheat about his recommendations for correction values for lens distortion ?
Just read what he writes about Voigtländer 35mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic - "This Voigtländer lens is significantly softer at large apertures than LEICA's first SUMMILUX 35mm f/1.4 (1960-1995), which is LEICA's softest modern 35mm lens".

I had both lenses and wide open Lux was much softer. And all tests and reviews I have read also confirms this (and KR just states the opposite to the obvious).

Just one example:
http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2009/1...c-lens-review/

In fact, I traded my old Summilux for some other gear and kept the Nokton.
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Old 03-26-2012   #28
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I did use it for a time and it was a good performer. Nevertheless, I shoot a lot wide open and anytimes a subject was not in the center, it resulted too soft to my taste. This was my main bug with it. Also, I prefer the smoother bokeh and stronger contrast of the Summilux Asph but this is personal taste.

I easily deal with focus shift on my Lux, so it can be done on the CV too.
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Old 03-27-2012   #29
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In love with my S.C. Favourite lens for walking.


Find it sharp where I want it to be. @1.4





The colors... mmmm
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Old 03-27-2012   #30
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This is a recent shot with the MC 35/1.4, perspective/distortion uncorrected, focus on the door:



This is an older one that I shot for testing distortion and that convinced me that the lens is a keeper:



Yes, one can see slight distortion in some situations, but there are so many lenses where distortion is similar or worse, and nobody cares .... Including, for instance, the 35/1.2, or the new 28 Perar, the Leica lenses mentioned above, etc. BTW, even the 35/1.4 Asph has distortion of similar magnitude (I've only tried v1).

Did you ever compare to your Nikon F mount lenses, including 35/2 and 35/1.4 ? Now there are some heavily distorting lenses .... (I have the 35/2).

For some reason the 35/1.4 Nokton is the only one where slight distortion seems to matter on the intertubes ... "Internet Rufmord" if you ask me And don't get me started on "Focus Shift" or "softness". Whoever complains about this should first get an RF collimation on his/her Leica, then we can talk. Yes, the 35/1.4 is soft in the corners wide open, but so is my pre-asph Summicron, stop for stop, they are so comparable, that you cann't distinguish them even when pixel peeping.

And nothing against the pre-asph 35 Summilux in your hands, it seems to work for you. For me, however, it would be unusable in most situations at f1.4 due to "glow", I much rather have a slightly distorting lens that I can correct for in photoshop, but that focuses down to 0.7m without prominent veiling flare.

And just for fun, another recent 1.4 Nokton beach shot (I've shown this before)



And an older Bokeh shot (with worst case background):



Try that with the pre-asph Summilux, and there will be coma "butterflies" all over the place.

The 1.4 Nokton is very, very good for my purposes. And it's not really a matter of price for me.

People call the Nokton "affordable", but IMO, a US 500 lens is not cheap for most any photographer out there, except for the very few people who are used to the insane current Leica lens prices.

The 35/1.4 Nokton for me is the perfect partner to "Big Bertha", in particular wrt bokeh and distortion. Sometimes, when I use M3 only, I pair Bertha with the 40/1.4. Where I consider the 35/1.4 good, the 40/1.4 is outstanding, very sharp and rectilinear.

Roland.
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Old 03-27-2012   #31
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I bought one a few months ago, and it's the only 35 I need now. It tends to take the role of internet whipping-boy when people discuss M-mount 35s, especially when the topic is mirrorless digital bodies. The cult of sharpness looks down on it, but it's a gorgeous, character-ful lens.

I shot this series with it (SC version): http://trevorwilsonphoto.com/work/20...rday-february/

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Old 03-27-2012   #32
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I too, have often considered getting this lens to replace my Ultron, but I seem to notice "jittery" out-of-focus background in a lot of shots from this lens (exactly as the samples in this thread shows).

I don't like those. So my Ultron stays.
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Old 03-27-2012   #33
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i had one and sold it a while back. at the time, i thought it was a pretty good lens. since then, i've come to appreciate all the comments about busy bokeh. i might buy a 40/1.4 but i don't think i'd re-buy the 35.
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Old 03-27-2012   #34
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I wanted to like this lens, but the one I had exhibited extreme barrel distortion. To the extent I felt that the lens (at least my copy) was defective.
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Old 03-27-2012   #35
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It's basically the only lens I use since I got it. Haven't tried any other 35s but it's certainly good enough for me.
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Old 03-27-2012   #36
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Nice pics there Ferider, Joosep and RegularChickens.

@Ferider. You do have a point that $500 isn't cheap at all. But so many of us have been partially de-sensitized at the insane Leica prices that $500 seems cheap!

Keep the photos coming folks!
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Old 04-03-2012   #37
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It front focuses at 1.4 at times. Probably a user fault than anything else. It's my most used focal length on my RD1s.

Some say the Boke isn't good enough, but I wasn't complaining. ;-)

What I like about it? - Size and it's a f1.4! Reasonably priced.

Close up ...


On film ...
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Old 04-03-2012   #38
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At times I wonder if people are talking about the same lens. The minor distortion I see wide open is nothing (if you come from most other systems than leica). If you pair it with the compact size (by any standard - and especially for a 1.4) and it's reasonable price, it is actutally a bargain in its own right - even if it is not cheap.
Underrated? I don't know and don't really care. I like the one I have and it is not for sale. When CV discontinues this lens, we will probably see a change to a more positive view of this model - as appears to be the case for all of their discontinued lenses.
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Old 04-03-2012   #39
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Few shots with 35/1.4 SC on M8.2.


First Catch of the Season by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr


Aim good. by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr


"Web Site" by Suguru Nishioka, on Flickr
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Old 04-03-2012   #40
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Quote:
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The minor distortion I see wide open is nothing (if you come from most other systems than leica).
The distortion is not there only wide open. I see it pretty clearly in many of my photos, but it bothers me in only a few (and frankly, if those were otherwise better photos, I would not mind the distortion). It is my most used lens.

Anyway, when you look at lenses for a certain system (Leica M in this case), you mostly compare against lenses for the same system. For the Leica M system, the 35/1.4 is considerably cheaper than pretty much anything else. Which is pretty suspicious when it is actually a tiny, 1.4 lens that appear well-built. There must be something wrong with the lens - what exactly, why is it cheaper? I think it is mostly in this context that we talk about its weaknesses. And sure, it is not perfect. Pay more and you get no distortion and no focus shift with the Zeiss 35/2 (as well as getting a significantly bulkier lens and losing a stop), and so on.

The problem is that in Internet chatter the weaknesses get blown out of proportion.
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