Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE Review
The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE is a fast, manual-focus classic 35mm prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/1.4-f/16 and a ten-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out-of-focus areas. The lens is comprised of 8 elements in 6 groups, has a precision-engineered full-metal casing, and weighs in at 262 grams. The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE is priced at £599 / $799 / 699 Euros. Voigtlander lens kindly loaned by the UK & Ireland distributor www.flaghead.co.uk
Ease of Use
With a maximum diameter of 67mm, a length of 40mm and weighing in at just 262g, the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE is a very compact moderate wide-angle prime lens that feels perfectly balanced on Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies, such as the A7 III that we tested it with.
The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE boasts superb build quality, with all markings being both engraved and painted. The lens has an all-metal casing and features a metal E-mount bayonet.
With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focusing 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 generous rotation angle which helps to enable precise focusing and it moves smoothly without any play at all.
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 and focus magnification features offered by the Sony A-series cameras.
The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE has 8 lens elements in 6 groups, including two aspherical elements to achieve greater sharpness. A ten-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide lovely smooth bokeh blur.
A manual aperture ring is located at the end of the lens barrel, with clickable 1/3EV stops ranging from f/1.4 to f/16. Unlike some other Voigtlander lenses that we've reviewed, this can't be de-clicked for video use.
Very usefully, the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE has electronic contacts so that it can communicate fully with the camera body, which means that EXIF data is saved and features like focus magnification, in-camera image stabilization and lens corrections can be used.
There’s no optical image stabilisation actually built into the lens, instead it includes support for 5-axis image stabilization via the camera body.
A high quality removable metal circular-shaped lens hood is supplied in the box, which can be fitted by screwing it into the 58mm threads on the front of the lens.
The 35mm focal length gives an angle of view of 63 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.
Field of view at 35mm
Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is the biggest optical issue with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE, with quite prominent purple and green fringing in some of our test shots, as shown in the examples below.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
Light fall-off is very noticeable wide open at f/1.4, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/5.6 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame.
The 30cm minimum focus distance and maximum magnification ratio of 1:6.3 makes the lens reasonably useful for shooting close subjects.
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. The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE 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 images to see the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE’s bokeh quality for yourself.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.