Real Life Review: Voigtländer 50 mm/1:3.5 Heliar Vintage M-Mount

This is a Real Life Review of the Voigtländer 50mm f3.5 M-mount (VM) lens with the Leica M10. This is a unique lens featuring a classic or vintage look but a modern lens design.

Usage Impressions

The lens is rather uniquely constructed and vaguely looks like a Dalek from the BBC Dr. Who TV series. It’s approximately shaped like a triangular cone with the base attached to the camera body and the apex containing the lens front glass element.

Almost the entire body of the lens rotates along with the focusing ring, including the aperture control which is located towards the front.

The lens is extremely small and compact for a 50mm design and almost looks like a jewel rather than a working camera lens.

Due to the unique design, the maximum aperture of the lens is a rather small f3.5. Not much light gets in through the rather small front lens, and the filter diameter is only 27mm. Still, it is brighter and faster than some (most?) kit lenses at 50mm.

The lens is a statement piece that is bound to attract attention when a photographer shoots with it. I’ve had several people start a conversation with me and some wondered whether I was using a film camera.

Due to the relatively small aperture, the lens focuses quite easily. I was pleasantly surprised that the lens has minimal optical distortion and gives good detail (particularly if it is stopped down to f8 which I frequently do). Due to the small size, it balances well with the Leica M10 or any M-mount body.

The lens also comes with a small metal lens hood that is fairly unobtrusive and can be left attached for daily use (and perhaps even enhances the unique look of the lens). It also comes with a metal lens cap with the Voigtländer logo printed on it, which further enhances the retro look of the lens.

Review Situations

In this review, I tested the lens in a variety of situations, ranging from walks to general street and architecture photography. Each situation is a separate article that can be clicked below.


I really like this lens a lot even though it is more a fashion statement rather than a purely functional piece of photography equipment.

The camera and lens combo package is light and stylish and hence perfect for street photography. The unique look will make people want to talk and interact with the photographer. At the same time, it produces image quality that is a cut above a kit zoom lens. I do not recommend using the lens in low light situations, but I put it to the test and it is still usable in a church.

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.