Review - Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton Aspherical Fuji X mount lens

 Voigtlander lenses are very well known by manual focus shooting photographers as one of the best brand on the market. Cosina surely knows how to properly craft very smooth and accurately performing manual focusing mechanics, based on decades of successful experience. Their quality level is very close to Leica M lenses. In a well trained hands manual focusing provides unique precision of control which benefits over relying on automatic camera decision. In this article I'm providing a mini review of newest ultra-fast aperture Voigtlander lens designed for APS-C sensor - Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton Aspherical in Fuji X mount




The lens copy I'm reviewing is purchased from CameraQuest - official US distributor of Cosina Voigtlander lenses, and in my personal opinion one of the best place to purchase Voigtlander lenses due to their exceptionally great service. Looks like I've received well centered copy (checked on Siemens Star chart), so pictures should be quite representative, though I'll do only few indoor pictures today and plan to add more on the weekend.

You can also check official specs of Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 on Cosina portal.

I'd also recommend YT video review of Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton lens (in Japanese) performed by MapCamera Japan.


Mechanical performance

First impression out of the box - the lens is surprisingly not too large as for ultra fast F0.9 aperture and knowing that some electronics is packed inside. I'd say the size is very similar to Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 autofocus lens. The weight is 17oz which is about 480g, it feels very well balanced on Fuji X-T5 camera thanks to great weight centering.


Front filter thread is 62mm, and focusing ring is wide and has large diameter, which is helping to keep higher precision of focusing. I was a bit worrying about very short angular rotation at long shooting distances, but that large radius and very well dampening are making focusing pleasant and easy to do precisely. Front area is protruding by about 8mm when focused to minimal 0.35m distance.


Cosina site mentioned FLE (Floating Lens Element) involved into optical design, so I've checked that. The rear optical module is moving in much shorter range of about 4mm, which is clearly indicating FLE movement, which is slightly modifying optical formula of lens while focusing and should improve IQ overall on whole focusing range. That is more complex to make mechanics observable in premium Leica M glass optics, which adds to the lens price but also to its optical performance.



It's interesting that front glass element is surrounded by additional light catching traps to reduce reflections.


12 aperture blades have flat edges which is traditional to Voigtlander lenses, the circle formed at F2 is shown below. It should technically allow to bring sunstars looking light sources during night shots to the frame, when stopping down aperture.



Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton is equipped with short lens hood made of metal with plastic locking mechanics. Inner surface of hood is covered with antireflective felt layer.


When mounted the Voigtlander lens hood allows to easily operate with circular polarizers and other filters, and mounting protective cap. Lens still remains not very large.


Cosina decided to make the hood mount reversible for more compact lens storage in the bag. Focus ring can be still well operated with hood mounted that way, but aperture control ring will be blocked - which is a nice feature in case you tend to bump aperture ring accidentally. From the other side, lens is equipped with electronics transferring to camera details about selected aperture and focused distance.


Nice touch of quality - Cosina engineers decided to use steel posts for more durable grip of lens hood in locked position.


Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton barrel is narrow enough in the mount area, so it can be safely mounted on any Fuji X camera including X-Pro3 (known for protruding lens release button frame).




Optical performance

I've took couple of indoor shots, mostly at what this lens is designed for - wide open F0.9 aperture. It looks exotic by number, though in fact providing quite similar DOF (Depth Of Field) observable with a full frame camera when shooting using 50mm F1.4 lens wide open. It allows to get similar picture look on smaller APS-C sensor, combined with artistic flexibility of Fuji film simulations.







Few shots at F0.9 and F1.4 show that OOF blurring remains very smooth for stopping down aperture thanks to 12 blades are forming more round circle.

F0.9


F0.9 - 100% crop



F1.4



F1.4 - 100% crop




Foreground OOF blur looks different but is also smooth enough.


Lens shows longitudinal aberrations wide open which is expected to see at ultrafast F0.9


Focusing on distant objects is very easy with Fujifilm focus-zoom assist. Many prefer focus peaking, though personally I'm more confident about focus precision by looking at 100% crop.























One thing to note about Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton - infinity mark has "L" shaped indicator, and real infinity is starting at left edge of that "L", while hard stop of focus ring is slightly overpassing real infinity. I'm not big fan of such design and prefer to rely on focus hard stop rather than looking at focusing scale. Will check on that later to see if there is a mechanical way to tune hard stop to be exact infinity focus.





100% crop





100% crop. I think here is is easier to see longitudinal chromatic aberrations due to extreme wide F0.9 aperture. 








100% crop


Distant photo through 45 degree angled double-glass window













More pictures during sunny weather

Most pictures are taken at F0.9 with Fujifilm X-T5. For few close-up bird shots I switched camera to use central 10Mp part of the sensor.


100% crop











100% crop


10Mp mode


100% crop


F1.4


F1.4
















Preliminary conclusions

I'll have to wait for better chance to continue shooting in dark conditions, and also during bright sunny day to add more image samples to article. So far I like shooting with Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 Nokton, wider focus ring is very comfortable. Aperture ring is far enough and has different texture to not accidentally rotate it instead of focus, aperture click stops are snappy and hold position very well, they also are nicely audible. It's useful to be able to see selected aperture value in viewfinder, though I keep it at F0.9 all the time anyway. This lens is very much reminding me positive experience of shooting with Voigtlander 25mm F0.95 Nokton - lens I primarily used to pair with Panasonic GX1/GM1 cameras. Like that lens, 35mm Nokton is decently sharp in the center and mid area wide open, which can be improved by stopping down if more details needed. Mechanics is moving very smooth and almost silent when focusing. The lens feels well balanced on larger Fujifilm X body, however it's a bit protruding down so camera can't be positioned flat on the table.


You may be also interested to check image samples comparison with TTArtisan 35mm F0.95 lens


More pictures











Full resolution pictures can be also downloaded from this share


9 Comments

  1. Excellent review! I’m waiting on my Voigtlander 35/0.9 to be shipped by B&H, so that I can do a side by side portrait comparison vs the Fuji 33/35-1.4 lenses as well as the Mitakon 35/0.95mkii. The Mitakon is my bread and butter lens in very dimly lit cigar lounges and speakeasies, and that lens keeps getting me hired due to the way it produces in those situations, but the one downfall is the lens is de-clicked so it continuously rotates out of the 0.95 aperture. I’m very much looking forward to the clicked aperture so that I can simply shoot without having to worry about that. I also have had 4 copies of the Mitakon in a 5 year period so their quality control leaves a lot to be desired, but I wont have that worry with Voigtlander.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for feedback! Looking forward to see your review of comparison for that very popular XF lenses. You are right about Mitakon quality, I also was shooting with 4 different copies and each one required fine tuning of focusing mechanics and re-centering of front optical group. As for the aperture ring the simplest solution is to put rubber band on top to keep it secured.

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  2. Thanks for responding to my comment above. My copy of the lens should deliver on the 18th of this month so I'll put it through the paces then. I never thought about putting a rubber band on top of the Mitakon to prevent it from moving out of position, so I'll add that to my bag of tricks for future usage. Have you had a chance to shoot more with the Voigtlander 35/0.9, and if so, what has your experience been so far?

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    1. Week was busy though yes, found some time to walk with lens and take more pictures (added to article and hi-res share). It's very predictable and easy to shoot with, easy to focus and operate focus field. Handling with Fuji X-E2s is more comfortable for longer walks due to lighter set. Personally I feel that Voigtlander is delivering more clear colors comparing to past experience shooting with Mitakon Speedmaster, and I like results more.

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  3. Beautiful images, and thank you for adding them. I too see that the colors are much clearer and vibrant than the Mitakon Speedster.

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  4. Many thanks for the only review of this lens so far. I would love to see a more in-depth review of the image quality up to f2.0 since most Voigtländer lenses I have used so far have been virtually unusable under f2.0. I bought the Macro 35 on a whim and am really surprised at it. Would love to jump on this one too for low light photography and a narrower depth of field. Unfortunately, after over a dozen V's I have learned my lesson not to go for these apertures. I It usually ends up only adding more weight and size. Thus, no need having this one if I have the Macro 35.

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    1. These wider aperture lenses are targeting primary use of more shallow DOF. I'm perosnally big fan of small lenses, the smaller is better. Voigtlander 27mm F2 is a true gem, and I like its performance more than manually adapted Fujinon 27mm F2.8. For an average photo walk I'm taking something small like that. The Voigtlander 35mm F0.9 is not the one I'd carry every day, but only for more rare cases when I'll be taking portraits or some shots with stronger subject separation from the background.

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  5. Hi ! Thank you for this detailed review. I’m in a strange situation with Voigtlander for Fuji X Mount series. I personally own and love the Ultron 27mm f2. It’s really the perfect everyday lens. I can’t seem to take a bad photo with it! This lens really made me rethink manual focus lenses and sent me down a new road exploring MF options.
    That’s my trouble now, I’ve ignored some of the mixed reviews on the Nokton options for X Mount and ordered the new Nokton 50mm 1.2 to but on my XT5. In the right environments I’m getting nice (but soft) rendering photos. But lots of ugly purple and green fringing in any contrasted areas. It’s very disturbing to my eye- also confusing to me, since voigtlander is touted for so much quality. I would think that color fringing and CA would be more controlled in a lens of this class. I also noticed some of that green fringe in an out of focus area on your images here for the 35 0.9…
    Do you have any thoughts or recommendations? I can’t seem to negotiate this in my head.

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    1. Hello! Very good point on more noticeable fringing with Voigtlander fast aperture lenses. I used to purchase then sell various F1.2 Voigtlanders in M mount quite often in the past (before X mount appeared). At first I loved the rendeirng and low light performance indoor, but later often got disappointed by dramatic negative influence of fringing when shooting outside in bright light.
      It took years to learn how to poroperly use strong side of these ultrafast Voigtlanders. You are right - Voigtlander 27mm F2 is extremely easy to use, it always works great. Ultrafast primes require more planning to take a good shot. Fuji X are partially solving that by extra optically correcting their e.g. 56mm F1.2.
      There is nothing wrong if you not enjoying how lens is performing, and easiest solutoin is to return/sell it and fins one that works better for your personal preferences. Photography is an art, and I think it's important to use tools that fit better to your habits, unless you want to challenge them.

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