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Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4
M-Mount NOKTON Classic (2004-)
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic

Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic (43mm filters, 6.9 oz./197g, about $529). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these specialized lenses when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.

October 2011   Voigtländer Reviews   LEICA   LEICA Lenses   All Reviews

See also LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm f/2.



not quite as good as 1974's LEICA 40/2

Ergonomics: #ergo
Usefulness: a very queer focal length for LEICA


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Ritz Camera

I use Adorama, Amazon, eBay, Ritz, B&H, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

This Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 lens to fit LEICA M cameras is not for use on any LEICA M cameras other than the LEICA CL and the Minolta CLE, which are the only LEICAs with viewfinder frames for 40mm lenses. The only other camera with a LEICA M mount and a 40mm finder frame is the plastic Voigtländer Bessa R3M with 1:1 finder.

It would be foolish to use this lens on any other camera simply because no other LEICA M mount camera has a 40mm viewfinder frame. Used on other LEICA M cameras, this 40mm lens calls-up the 50mm finder frame, leading to very weak images which have far more in them than indicated by the viewfinder.

Yes, you could buy an accessory 40mm viewfinder if you are a total dweeb, but why would you want to torture yourself with having to use one finder to compose and another to focus when you could use a 35mm lens, for which your camera will have a viewfinder frame?

You also could take advantage of the LEICA M9-P's very sloppy finder that shows much less than the actual image, and use a second finger to force the LEICA M9-P's finder to the 35mm setting, and so long as you can hold it there, you've got a fairly accurate finder that shows just a little less than you'll get on your frame. Since you'd have to keep a finger on the preview lever to keep it from defaulting back to 50mm, this isn't a good idea when you should just use a 35mm or 50mm lens that will work properly.

This lens attempts to improve on the LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 of the early 1970s, however that LEICA lens is usually sharper and has a little less distortion and used for less money than this lens, so why anyone would want this lens is beyond me.


Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic.

Voigtländer 40/1.4. enlarge.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations


Optics        top

7 conventional spherical elements in 6 groups.


Also comes in a less common but otherwise identical "S. C." single-coated version.


Diaphragm       top

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic.

Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. enlarge.

10 straight blades.

Stops down to f/16.

Half-stop clicks.

Straight sides at all apertures except f/16, at which aperture it is perfectly circular.


Close Focus       top

0.7 meters (2.3 feet).


Angle of View       top



Caps        top

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic.

Capped Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4.

Voigtländer includes a plastic rear M cap (complete with LEICA's three classic nubs for removing and attaching screw-mount adapters to M cameras), and a plastic 43mm pinch-type front cap.


Size        top

Voigtländer specifies 30mm (1.2") long by 55mm (2.17") diameter.


Weight        top

6.935 oz. (196.6g), measured.

Voigtländer specifies 6.2 oz. (175g).


Hood        top

Extra-cost LH-5 (or LH-6) bayonet metal hood, not included.


Made in        top



Introduced        top



Scope of Delivery        top

You get the lens with caps in a plastic bag inside two white foam pieces, with a folded sheet of instructions outside.

Box, Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4



Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Overall   Bokeh   Color   Diaphragm Calibration   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff   Filters   Finder Blockage   

Focus    Lateral Color Fringes   Materials & Construction    

Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars


Overall     performance   top

This Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 is almost as sharp as, and has a little bit more distortion than the LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2.


Bokeh       performance     top

Bokeh, the character of out of focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is poor at f/1.4, good to neutral at f/2, and neutral at f/2.8.

This Voigtländer's bokeh is better than the LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 at f/2, and the same at f/2.8 and smaller.


Color Rendition        performance     top

Color rendition seems identical to the LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 against which I compared it directly.


Diaphragm Calibration     performance   top

The calibration is right-on: the meter in my M9 tracks each half-stop click perfectly throughout the entire range, except at f/1.4 as expected.


Distortion     performance   top

The Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 has no visible distortion.

For more critical photogrammetric use, use this coefficient in Photoshop's lens distortion filter.

10' (3m)

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Its minor distortion is complex; the sides pull-in a little more than the rest, so this correction leaves an invisible amount of waviness.

The LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 has no distortion.


Ergonomics     performance   top

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic.

Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4. enlarge.

Ergonomics are wonderful.

Focus is silky-smooth and has no play. The focus tab is solid metal, not just plastic like the LEICA lenses.

The aperture ring has detents and a grip that feels like LEICA's SUMMICRON 35mm f/1.4 (1960-1995).

The red numbers are almost invisible. I shoot my product shots with boosted saturation that makes these red numbers much easier to read here than they actually are.


Falloff (darker corners)     performance   top

Falloff is visible at f/1.4 and f/2, and gone otherwise.

LEICA doesn't bother to offer a profile for the M9 because only an idiot would shoot this on an M9.

I've made this more obvious by shooting a gray field and presenting these against a gray background:


Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 falloff on full-frame M9 at infinity.

No lens profile:


© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.




Filters, use with     performance   top

Voigtländer uses a non-standard 43 x 0.75mm filter thread.

Nothing from LEICA matches this.

43mm filters were popular with Nikon Rangefinder Cameras of the 1950s, and the LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 used a 43mm filter from 1959-1991, however these were all fine-pitch 0.5mm threaded filters.

Not only is this Voigtländer a lens for fools, you'll also have to carry another set of 43 x 0.75mm (the modern 43mm filter thread pitch ) filters just for it.


Finder Blockage     performance   top

There is no finder blockage, yay!

This is a small lens.


Focus     performance   top

Focus feels great, although with a tiny bit more drag than LEICA lenses. Since this lens has a metal focus tab compared to modern LEICA's plastic tabs, I'll cal this a draw.

Focus accuracy will vary with time, temperature, and with every individual sample of lens and every individual sample of camera. Your experience will vary.

Focus accuracy of this lens sample, at least on the sample of LEICA M9 with which I tried this lens, is poor. My results at f/1.4 consistently were focused behind the intended subject. Not a lot behind the subject, but enough for a 40mm lens that ought to be perfect that I'm calling this lens off for it.


Lateral Color Fringes     performance   top

The Voigtländer's 40/1.4 has nearly no lateral color fringes.

If you go out of your way to excite them, there is a tiny amount of red-cyan.


Materials and Construction     performance   top

Rear, Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4

Rear, Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4. enlarge.

This Voigtländer is very well made; just as well made as the Zeiss lenses made in the same factory.

Honestly, it feels just as good as LEICA lenses even if I don't prefer the styling. I'll bet that in 30 years, these Japanese lenses will have less internal fog and still have viable lubrication, while LEICA lenses will need internal cleaning and relubrication.


Hood bayonet

Chromed metal.


Filter threads

Chromed metal.


Barrels, aperture and focus rings

Black anodized aluminum.


Focus helicoids




Chromed brass.



Engraved and filled with paint.


Serial Number and "Made in Japan"

Engraved on bottom lens and left in black.


Red index dot

Plastic ball.


Sharpness     performance   top

The more you know about photography, the more you know that lens sharpness doesn't matter.

This said, the original LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 of the early 1970s is usually a little sharper.

This Voigtländer, shot foolishly on a LEICA M9, is softer at f/1.4 from veiling spherical aberration flare all over. It's much better in the center at f/2, and gets sharper at f/2.8 and then again at f/4.

In the corners, there is coma, and the corners keep improving until f/8. This is a polite way of saying that you have to stop down to f/8 with this lens to get corners as sharp as the LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FAG is at f/1.4.

As a vaguely double-Gauss design, it's actually softest in the zonal areas in a donut at about 18mm away from the center. In this zone, it also keeps improving until about f/8.


Spherochromatism     performance   top

As expected for a fast lens, there is some spherochromatism.

Spherochromatism, incorrectly called "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus background highlights take on slight green color fringes, and out-of-focus foreground highlights take on slight magenta fringes.


Sunstars     performance   top

With its straight 10-bladed diaphragm, the Voigtländer 40/1.4 should make perfect 10-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.


Compared         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

The LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 is usually a little sharper and has a little less distortion They are fairy similar.

The actual focal length of this lens is somewhat longer than the 40mm f/2 SUMMICRON-C, giving a slightly more narrow field of view.

Filter thread
43 x 0.75 mm
39 x 0.75 mm
concave metal tab
Metal dot on tab
Finder Blockage
Weight (actual, no hood)
Diaphragm Blades
Minimum Aperture
Pretty good
Pretty good
Made in Japan
Price (Oct. 2011, USA)
$529 new

about $400 used


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 is a foolish lens.

It's mostly useless on most cameras, working properly only on the LEICA CL, the Minolta CLE and the plastic Voigtländer Bessa R3M with 1:1 finder.

Considering that the superior LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm f/2 sells used for less money, this lens deserves no more consideration, unless you just have to have f/1.4 on your CLE, on which it will work great.

The LEICA M9-P deserves better lenses, but if you're penny wise and pound foolish, some hacks will take a grinder to the 40mm lens to force it to select the 35mm frame on LEICAs, which coupled with the inherently sloppy finder of the M9, gives a pretty good combination. Of course this renders the 40mm lens useless on the cameras for which it was originally intended — whoops!

So all in all, if you can't find a genuine 40mm SUMMICRON-C, this Voigtländer lens is great for the CL and CLE. Any other use constitutes foolishness on the part of people with too much time on their hands; get a girlfriend.

If you've found my whining and research here helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these specialized lenses when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.


More Information

Voigtländer, Japan.

Voigtländer, Japan (PDF).


Help me help you         top

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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