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Distortion - Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 SC
Old 07-04-2014   #1
schlops
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Distortion - Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 SC

I recently finally bought a Leica M6 and because of my budget the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 SC for it.

Now I noticed this crazy distortion on the bottom right. Is this completly normal for that lens? this seems to be a little over the top for a $600+ lens (for my taste)
it starts 2-3 rows up and gets really out of hand at the bottom.

this is not the only pic I noticed it.



feedback is more than welcome!


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Old 07-04-2014   #2
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It's a well known "feature" of this lens. It's a compromise beteween size, speed, quality and cost.
As for the 600$ part, the only cheaper 135 format 35mm f1.4 lens is the samyang/rokinon for SLR cameras, and it's huge in comparison.
If you don't like the distortion of this lens, you should buy zeiss biogon 35mm f2 (it has none), or shell out quite a bit more money for summilux, if you need f1.4
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Old 07-04-2014   #3
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... iirc the nokton was formulated to look like the summilux that everyone held in high esteem at the time ... but as usual what is seen as 'character' in a summilux is often portrayed as a fault in a nokton
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Old 07-04-2014   #4
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The distortion looks normal.

If you want to see the whole truth, make as perfectly leveled and aligned picture as possible of a brick wall or a similar test subject.
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Old 07-04-2014   #5
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From your photo, it seems your camera is pointed slightly to your right at where you stand. You can see a bit of the top step at bottom right. This makes the bottom part of your right side seem to "distort" more than the left.
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Old 07-04-2014   #6
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This is perfectly normal for the Nokton, and it's also why I sold mine again. A matter of taste really, and I'm into straight lines...
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Old 07-04-2014   #7
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even if we got somehow used to it, to construct a 1.4 / 35 for 135 film/FF sensors is a demanding story. This is a Gauss type and it is somehow beyond what this design is normally used for.

One has to take trade-offs. The Biogon is actually a more complicated design, has a lower speed and a higher price.

I do not know about the distortion of the Leica Gauss type 35 mm lenses, they might be similar, or not?
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Old 07-04-2014   #8
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The Leitz 35 mm Summilux-M pre-ASPH is free from any noticeable distortion. The CV 35/1.4 is a copy with the attempt to improve some flaws of the Summilux, notably contrast at f/1.4 while trying to keep size and handling identical. Drawback of the slightly changed optical design is the distortion.
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Old 07-04-2014   #9
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Lens design is always about compromise, whether it be speed, contrast, distortion, weight or cost.

And then there are discussions about focus shift, rendering of the image, rendering of the out-of-focus parts, flare and the intangible qualities of v2 vs. v3 vs. v4, etc.

By the way, I probably wouldn't want a lens with this much distortion, although if I did own it, I definitely would remember not to use it in certain situations even though you sometime have no choice.
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Old 07-04-2014   #10
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http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=62491

I did a comparison years ago and noted this as a concern but it's hard to fault a compact, M-mount, fast, 35mm $600 lens....

Cheers,
Dave
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Old 07-04-2014   #11
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My subjects are mainly family and friends (few, if any straight lines), so the distortion doesn't bother me.
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Old 07-04-2014   #12
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Thanks for the fast and informative answers everybody! I appreciate it.

I read that the distortion is common with this lens, but that is a little too much for my taste. I never saw that as I normaly don't care about straight lines especially in street photography.

but with this project I need straight lines, I guess I have to borrow a Summilux because right now I honestly can't afford it.

@dcsang

I will read your comparison in a minute!!
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Old 07-04-2014   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lss View Post
The distortion looks normal.

If you want to see the whole truth, make as perfectly leveled and aligned picture as possible of a brick wall or a similar test subject.
I will post one in a few days!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent.G View Post
From your photo, it seems your camera is pointed slightly to your right at where you stand. You can see a bit of the top step at bottom right. This makes the bottom part of your right side seem to "distort" more than the left.

yeah I noticed that too, it's not completely horizontal.

maybe its just bothering me, because the stair on the right is a little lighter and you see it just on the right side.


I will try to hold the camera perfectly in level
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Old 07-04-2014   #14
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... if you can manage with a slower speed you could try the skopar f2.5/35, I've not noticed any distortion with that, or the summaron f2.8 for that matter if you want less contrast
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Old 07-04-2014   #15
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A rather simple question for you guys/girls:

Would the Multi Coated version of the lens have the same distortion effect?
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Old 07-04-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schlops View Post
A rather simple question for you guys/girls:

Would the Multi Coated version of the lens have the same distortion effect?
Yes.

Mine was MC - the formula remains the same - only the coating is different b/w the two types.

Cheers,
Dave
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Old 07-04-2014   #17
Erik van Straten
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The Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f1.7 has no distortion and is overall a much better lens. I really do not understand why there is no M-version of that lens.

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Old 07-04-2014   #18
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On the other hand, I am glad it is so undervalued. I was able to buy an excellent one for $200, as I recall. It's the best 35 I have ever used.

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Old 07-04-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyhead View Post
My subjects are mainly family and friends (few, if any straight lines), so the distortion doesn't bother me.
I usually try not to distort my mother in law too much...
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Old 07-04-2014   #20
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Speaking of distorting mothers-in-law... Often with wide angle lenses placing someone's head (for example) in/near a corner will appear to squish it out of shape.

There is a balance between this distortion and the barrel distortion OP illustrated. Some barrel distortion is beneficial in reducing the corner squish to some extent.

Also, in digital post-processing the barrel distortion can be eliminated/reduced for those shots where it's a problem... At the cost of some reduction in resolution that may not be noticed any more than when straightening the horizon.
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Old 07-04-2014   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Often with wide angle lenses placing someone's head (for example) in/near a corner will appear to squish it out of shape.
Strictly speaking this is no distortion, but the consequence of the laws of perspective. When looking the photograph from the correct distance this "distortion" disappears.

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Old 07-04-2014   #22
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I've had the SC version and the MC version, and they are both great lenses. I sold the SC version because I prefer a more modern look. I really liked the MC version but I sold it because I wasn't into the 35mm focal length for a while and needed the cash. I regret selling it.

Much later I had the budget to buy a Biogon, and it is really a great lens. You pay for the zero distortion though, once in the purchase price and from then on in the size. The Biogon really is as large as the 50mm Planar, and I have to look at them very closely to determine which is which. I tried the Skopar 35/2.5 too, and it is a wonderfully performing lens in a very small size. However, I found it too small for my large hands, and the f2.5 too limiting for my frequent indoor and dark European winter photos. Although I'm very happy with the Biogon, I'm often tempted to pick up another Nokton MC for its handling and extra stop.

I'm probably doomed to keep changing my mind and wanting the lens I don't have, so my plan is to keep the Biogon for now, and maybe buy another Nokton MC when my budget allows it. My advice is to keep the Nokton until you are very familiar with it and sure as to whether the distortion bothers you. For me the focus shift was a bigger issue until I got over the learning curve of how to deal with it, and the distortion never actually bothered me. I guess that's just a reflection of what I was shooting with it.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 07-04-2014   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Strictly speaking this is no distortion, but the consequence of the laws of perspective. When looking the photograph from the correct distance this "distortion" disappears.

Erik.
yep ... it's just the result of the planar projection, like looking at a flat map of a spherical world
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Old 07-05-2014   #24
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Just create a correction profile in LR then apply on import, you'll never notice it was there.
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Old 07-07-2014   #25
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Arrow

Quote:
Originally Posted by hans voralberg View Post
Just create a correction profile in LR then apply on import, you'll never notice it was there.
sadly I can't do that in the darkroom..



You're all talking about the lens.

How is it possible that the lens on my Konica Hexar AF (which I used before for a long time, but had to get a Leica because the shortest exposure time is 1/250) is performing soooo good? It's small, really sharp wide open, no distortion. never found a problem with it.
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Old 07-07-2014   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbeiflex View Post
I've had the SC version and the MC version, and they are both great lenses. I sold the SC version because I prefer a more modern look. I really liked the MC version but I sold it because I wasn't into the 35mm focal length for a while and needed the cash. I regret selling it.

Much later I had the budget to buy a Biogon, and it is really a great lens. You pay for the zero distortion though, once in the purchase price and from then on in the size. The Biogon really is as large as the 50mm Planar, and I have to look at them very closely to determine which is which. I tried the Skopar 35/2.5 too, and it is a wonderfully performing lens in a very small size. However, I found it too small for my large hands, and the f2.5 too limiting for my frequent indoor and dark European winter photos. Although I'm very happy with the Biogon, I'm often tempted to pick up another Nokton MC for its handling and extra stop.

I'm probably doomed to keep changing my mind and wanting the lens I don't have, so my plan is to keep the Biogon for now, and maybe buy another Nokton MC when my budget allows it. My advice is to keep the Nokton until you are very familiar with it and sure as to whether the distortion bothers you. For me the focus shift was a bigger issue until I got over the learning curve of how to deal with it, and the distortion never actually bothered me. I guess that's just a reflection of what I was shooting with it.

Cheers,
Rob
I would love to get another lens, but I'm soo used to having a faster lens. f2.8 isn't enough for me. So I had to go for the Nokton :/

It's just a compromise for now to be honest.
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Old 07-08-2014   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schlops View Post
You're all talking about the lens.

How is it possible that the lens on my Konica Hexar AF (which I used before for a long time, but had to get a Leica because the shortest exposure time is 1/250) is performing soooo good? It's small, really sharp wide open, no distortion. never found a problem with it.
Well, there really isn't anything that the camera body can do to cause linear distortion: it is a property of the design of the lens. It was very hard for me to see the distortion of your sample picture, as the camera seems to not have been exactly square on to the subject, and the normal perspective effect was more significant than the distortion.

I don't know why you are seeing more objectionable distortion with the Leica than with the Hexar, because it really should not be possible. Are you sure that everything else was identical, including precise alignment with the subject? The only thing that suggests itself to me is that you tended to use smaller apertures with the Hexar due to its lower maximum shutter speed, as linear distortion may vary with aperture.

I have heard complaints about distortion and focus shift with the Nokton 35, but in the pictures I have seen, the effects are not really all that great, and I would probably be looking for one of these lenses myself, except that I already have a CV 35mm f1.7 Ultron, and I have not been able to find any problems at all with that lens. The only complaints I have ever heard about the Ultron were about the ergonomics (very subjective, it works great for me) and a tendency to be too sharp and contrasty, which I find amusing.

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Old 07-08-2014   #28
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This is a perfect example of a problem I have had for all my Photographic life. It took many minutes and finally use of a straightedge on the screen to realize exactly what was being discussed. When I finally realized that they were commenting on the slight curvature of some of the lines of bricks. I have always been taught that wide angle lenses were usually to display some pincushion distortion based on the wideness of the lense. I was always of the thought that this could be reduced the more square you presented the camera lense to the subject. In this photo there is some pincushion (maybe not the proper term) based on use of a straight edge but then looking at the photograph it is apparent that the camera is NOT square with the subject but at an angle. For this reason I didn't at first glance pay any attention to the slight (in my view) distortion. I'm glad for once I am actually able to understand what people are talking about in a presentation on these forums. In so many of the cases I am NEVER able to perceive what they are talking about. I am usually a happy camper because I CAN'T see what others are referring to in the picture and that makes me more satisfied with my lesser expensive lenses.
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Old 07-08-2014   #29
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Adding to the above, I think some users are offended by any suggestion that their lens has distortion. As if this is a condemnation of the lens for poor quality. Actually, it's unusual for a lens not to have any distortion, though often it takes close examination to see. So (at least for me) it's just a comment on one characteristic of the lens.

And the minimal distortion in modern lenses is rarely a problem in practice, as it is often masked by the nature of the subject matter. I have one camera where it is a problem affecting the quality of the photo, a Belomo made in Belarus attempting to copy the Olympus XA. It has strong wavy distortion, certainly worthy of mention, but this is a rarity these days.

So the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 has a little barrel distortion, as does the expensive Leica 70mm Summarit-S -- not a big deal. I wouldn't be concerned about a little distortion, but it's reasonable I think to be aware of the characteristics of your lenses...
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Old 07-08-2014   #30
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I think its all about intent.

If part of what draws me eye to a scene is a particular line, if I compose specifically because of a particular set of lines and then if I the results aren't matching what I envision... yeah, I'm going to be frustrated by the lens. If those aren't a focus of the composition, the distortion may not be be an issue at all.

Every lens design is about compromises. The Nokton went for small size, affordable and fast. Distortion was part of the compromise. The ZM 35s made different compromises (speed and size for low distortion). The Leica lens is fast and relatively small but at a high manufacturing cost.

Its all about finding the right set of compromises for you. Otherwise we'd all be shooting with large format cameras or iphones.
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