Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4
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.
See also LEICA SUMMICRON-C 40mm f/2.
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.
Voigtländer 40/1.4. enlarge.
7 conventional spherical elements in 6 groups.
Also comes in a less common but otherwise identical "S. C." single-coated version.
Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. enlarge.
10 straight blades.
Stops down to f/16.
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
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.
Voigtländer specifies 30mm (1.2") long by 55mm (2.17") diameter.
6.935 oz. (196.6g), measured.
Voigtländer specifies 6.2 oz. (175g).
Extra-cost LH-5 (or LH-6) bayonet metal hood, not included.
Made in 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.
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, 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 seems identical to the LEICA SUMMICRON 40mm f/2 against which I compared it directly.
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.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 has no visible distortion.
For more critical photogrammetric use, use this coefficient in Photoshop's lens distortion filter.
© 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.
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 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 uses a non-standard 43 x 0.75mm filter thread.
Nothing from LEICA matches this.
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.
There is no finder blockage, yay!
This is a small lens.
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.
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.
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.
Barrels, aperture and focus rings
Black anodized aluminum.
Engraved and filled with paint.
Serial Number and "Made in Japan"
Engraved on bottom lens and left in black.
Red index dot
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.
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.
With its straight 10-bladed diaphragm, the Voigtländer 40/1.4 should make perfect 10-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.
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.
This Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 is a foolish lens.
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.
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