Initial Impression: Voigtländer 50 mm/1:2.0 APO-Lanthar E-mount lens

High performance 50mm lens

Voigtländer say that this is their “best performance standard lens ever” and that’s a pretty bold claim. It is a high performance manual focus standard lens optimised for the imaging sensors of Sony mirrorless cameras.

This is a first look article focusing on the specifications, exterior as well as initial impressions regarding the lens.

With an apochromatic optical design, the lens strives to minimise optical aberrations including longitudinal chromatic aberration. In addition, it is optimised for high contrast and resolution. Out of 10 elements (in 8 groups), five are abnormal partial dispersion glasses, and two have aspherical surfaces. The lens has a floating focus system.

The design and hopefully the performance of the lens suggests comparison to the legendary Leica APO-Summicron-M ASPH 50mm, supposedly the world’s best 50mm lens (with a stratospheric price tag of A$11,500). Hopefully the Lanthar E will deliver a significant fraction of the performance of the Leica at a small fraction of the price.

Voigtländer haven’t fully published the technical specifications of the lens yet, so I marked some entries in the following table with “TBD” which I will update once the formal specifications are published.

Specifications

Focal length50 mm
Aperture ratio1:2.0
Minimum aperture (F)16
selective aperture controlavailable
Lens construction10 elements in 8 groups
Angle of viewTBD
Aperture blade10
Minimum focus0.45 m
Maximum reproduction ratioTBD
Maximum diameterTBD
LengthTBD
MountE
Electrical contact:  Exif data transferavailable
Manual focus assistantavailable
WeightTBD
Filter size49 mm
Colorblack
OthersSelective Aperture Control System, Front cap, Rear cap, Lens Hood (and hood cap)

Photos (unboxing, lens)

The following photos show the full unboxing experience, and the lens in various angles, as well as mounted on a Sony α9.

Initial Impressions

Interestingly, the filter diameter for this lens is 49mm matching that of many Sony E-mount lenses (thus allowing the owner to reuse existing filters for Sony lenses).

The lens hood comes with it’s own (larger) lens cap (58mm) and it is possible to attach a filter directly to the outer edge of the lens hood. So two different filter sizes are compatible with the lens.

Although the aperture ring has 1/3 stops, but the lens also allows in between aperture positions for video applications.

The lens comes with a metal hood that is relatively small, which means it is possible to leave the hood on the lens all the time although it does lengthen the lens by roughly 30%.

On a full frame body, it is perfect for general purpose photography.

On an APS-C body, it acts as a short telephoto lens and also suitable for some portraiture shots.

The full metal design of the lens barrel gives a nice solid feel and the lens is relatively easy to focus using peak focusing on any recent Sony E-mount body. I am planning to shoot mainly using the Sony α7R which is my go-to body for manual focusing lenses as it has a relatively good viewfinder and above average sensor resolution.

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Posted by Chris Tham

Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal Voigtländer Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy. She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos. More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world. Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.