Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Review

July 12, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar is a new manual-aperture, manual-focus ultra-wide-angle prime lens for Sony Alpha 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/4.5-f/22 and a ten-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas. It features 11 elements in 9 groups, a precision-engineered full-metal casing, weighs in at 294 grams, and can be easily de-clicked for movie making. The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar retails for £649 / $799.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 66mm and an 62mm length, the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar is a ultra-wide-angle fixed focal length optic that's well-suited to Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. Weighing in at 294g it's also not too heavy, making this lens well suited to hand-holding as well as to life on a tripod. It is also compatible with APS-C cameras, where it will produce a 22.5mm equivalent focal length.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens alongside a Sony A7R II

The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar boasts superb build quality, with all markings being both engraved and painted. The lens has an all-metal casing and also features a metal E-mount bayonet. With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The side of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The front of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The rear of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens

In front of this is the aperture ring, with 1/3EV stops ranging from f/4.5 to f/22. A second small ring directly behind the aperture ring lets you select whether the aperture ring clicks into place at each aperture stop or rotates smoothly for silent operation during movie recording. Simply pull it forward and rotate by 180 degrees until the yellow marker is on top to make it clickless, perfect for video use.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The side of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The side of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens

The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar has 11 lens elements in 9 groups and an almost symmetric lens design that promises better distortion, color correction and image field flatness. A ten-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens in-hand

There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the lens’ very short focal length and fairly fast maximum aperture alleviate the need for it. A non-removable metal petal-shaped lens hood is fitted, which means that you can't use a slot-in filter system with this lens.

Focal Range

The 15mm focal length gives an angle of view of 110 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Field of view at 15mm

Manual Focussing

The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar's manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. It also has a large rotation angle of 90 degrees which enables precise focusing and moves smoothly without any play. The precise engravings in meters and feet, together with the depth of focus scale, help make manual focusing a veritable pleasure, especially in conjunction with the excellent Peaking feature offered by the Sony A-series cameras.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is rarely an issue with the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar, so much so that we couldn't find any instances of fringing in our test shots.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/4.5, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/8 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Light fall-off at 15mm

Macro

A 30cm / 11.8" minimum focus distance and a makes the lens useful for shooting reasonably close subjects, although the maximum magnification is a modest 1:12. This image is uncropped and shows how close you can get to a Compact Flash card.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Close-up performance

Bokeh

A major appeal of fast, wide-aperture prime lenses is their ability to produce an eye-catching separation between a sharp subject and a very soft out-of-focus background. Despite being such a wide-angle lens, the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar generates smooth out of focus areas through its use of a ten-bladed diaphragm, which provides smoother bokeh than nine, seven or five-blade designs. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these 100% crops to see the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar
   
Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, photos, test, sample images, compact system camera, mirrorless, csc, sony, RAW, JPEG, sony a7r, a7r ii, sony a7r ii, f4.5, 15mm, Voigtlander, Voigtlander 15mm f4.5, Super Wide Heliar, Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar, voigtlander 15mm

Tracker Pixel for Entry