Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Looking for a Night Street Shooter - Part 3 - The Lens


So I needed a wide angle Leica M mount lens, that’s  very compact, and preferably with a fast aperture for shallow depth of field.....which normally means MEGA bucks.  A new Leica 35mm Summilux is $6,500!!!  And even a ratty 40 year old used one is approaching $2K!!

After looking over cameraquest.com – a website specialising in Voigtlander cameras and lenses – I discovered a solution may be at hand.  

Voigtlander is the name of an old German camera company, that was at it’s zenith pre-WWII and enjoyed a revival in the 1950’s.  About 12 years ago the rights to the name were acquired by Cosina in Japan, who then started making Leica mount cameras and lenses.

Four lenses seemed a possibility – the Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Snapshot Skopar had excellent reviews, was very compact , but not really that fast.  The 28mm f2 Ultron was a bit too big to be pocketable, and the 40mm f1.4 Nokton a little bit too telephoto for APS-C sensor.

However the new 35mm f1.4 Nokton Classic looked just right – very compact, fast aperture, Leica M mount....and not ridiculously expensive.  Interestingly, it comes in two forms – Multi coated for higher contrast and punchy colours (like almost all other new lenses) and the special Single Coated model that had lower contrast, but gave more shadow detail.  Nice for Black and White.

Most blogs rate this lens well.  It has a little bit of barrel distortion with some light fall off at f1.4, good sharpness, and is overall similar to the previous generation Leica 35mm Summilux (non-ASPH); though not quite as good as the latest ASPH model.  The corner light fall off isn’t so much an issue on a NEX due to the APS-C crop sensor, but would need to be remembered when shooting film.

There weren’t any used ones to be found on eBay or locally, but just as I was about to buy a new one from Camera Quest, a used one popped up on Kijiji, with a $250 saving vs new – PERFECT!!  So I contacted the seller faster than a cat with its tail on fire, and it turned out that the lens was basically brand new, so we did the deal.  He had bought it and then decided he wanted a Leica Summicron for his M9.  This guy was loaded – he had just bought an M9 and a 50mm Summilux as he was “just getting into photography”.   A $12K spend alone!  Plus a $3,500 35mm Summicron.

This 35mm f1.4 Nokton I purchased turned out to be a Single Coat example.  Buying new, I would have chosen the Multi Coat as it suits my photographic style better, but as one forum suggested, its easier to increase contrast and saturation on a more neutral picture on Photoshop, than go the other way around.  So really, not a loss.

Right camera, right lens, READY TO SHOOT!!


Photos continued from Nuit Blanche Art Festival, October 2010

Sony NEX3 with Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Nokton lens

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying this series.

    I think Voigtlander was original founded in Vienna, Austria by Johann Voigtländer. I could be wrong, though.