Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar Review

September 30, 2016 | Mark Goldstein |


The compact and lightweight Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar is an excellent ultra-wide-angle prime lens that delivers great image quality. Sharpness in the centre of the frame is excellent throughout the aperture range, even wide open at f/5.6. The edges aren't quite so sharp, though, with f/8-f/16 producing the best results.

The Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar is a pleasure to use, thanks to its superb build quality and smooth focus and aperture rings. As this is a manual-focus only lens, you'd expect this aspect of the operation to be intuitive, and so it proved. Together with the A7R II's excellent Peaking and Manual Focus Assist features, the Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar delivered a very high percentage of keepers. The 30cm minimum focusing distance also makes the lens versatile enough to shoot close subjects.

In addition to the edge sharpness, there are only a couple of other drawbacks to the Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar. Vignetting is obvious wide-open at f/5.6, and still fairly evident at f/8, although in real-world use it's less of a problem than when photographing a white wall/test-chart. Secondly, the built-in lens hood prohibits the use of a slot-in filter system, which may or may not be a deal-breaker for some landscape photographers.

The full retail price of £719 / $999 is pretty reasonable for such a wide-angle lens, especially given the overall build and optical quality, so if you like the 12mm focal length and don't mind the maximum f/5.6 maximum aperture, then we can highly recommend the new Voigtlander 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar lens.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5