Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 FE Review

April 4, 2018 | Mark Goldstein |

Conclusion

As its name suggests, the very compact, lightweight manual focus Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 lens takes a classic design and makes it available for the very latest Sony full-frame cameras, but while it delivers on the handling and build quality fronts, the image quality sadly falls a little short of modern standards.

Using this lens on the latest Sony A7 III camera is a veritable breeze thanks to the class-leading manual focusing experience, a combination of the beautifully damped, subtly responsive manual focus ring on the lens and the excellent peaking/manual focus assist functions on the camera.

We did miss having a de-clickable aperture ring, though, which recent Voigtlander lenses designed from the ground-up for the Sony FE system have offered, making this lens less suitable for video use.

Another legacy of the "classic" design is the bokeh effects. The combination of a full-frame sensor, 10 aperture blades and f/1.4 maximum aperture make it easy to throw the background out-of-focus, but as soon as you stop down from f/1.4 the bokeh rings become octagonal in shape, rather than circular, which you may or may not like.

Shooting wide-open at the maximum f/1.4 aperture showed some reduction in sharpness in the centre of the frame, with peak performance between f/2-f/16, while sharpness isn't quite as good at the edges, requiring you to stop down to f/4 for optimal sharpness. The lens also suffered from some obvious vignetting at f/1.4 and purple and green fringing in high-contrast shots.

In summary, if the bokeh is to your taste and you don't mind some post-processing of the vignetting/chromatic aberrations, the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F1.4 is a very compact, extremely well-built "classic 35mm" lens that's an affordable alternative to the other 35mm Sony FE lenses that are currently available.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4