The original Brighton Wide Boy...
The headline grabbing feature of this lens is the 0.95 aperture which is around F1.4 equivalent on the 35mm full frame sensor. I must admit I'm increasingly sceptical of shooting most lenses wide open due to softness, but unlike the competition this lens is useable at f0.95. More than usable, it's delightful wide open.
There is of course some softness below f2.2 in the corners but the centre remains impressively sharp, far more than any full frame equivalent lens. Shooting macro wide open does show significant smearing of hard edges and highlights, which for me is an acceptable compromise for a lens this wide.
Below 2.8 there is vignette, about 1 stop or so. This is easy to correct in post and isn't huge concern. Barrel distortion is present, but is again minimal for a lens of this length.
Because the lens is fully manual in operation, there are no electronic contacts so no metadata or exif data. I'd also suggest focus peaking as a must when shooting wide open, you'd struggle to get anything sharp without and even with I found myself occasionally focus hunting to ensure I was as sharp as could be.
I think the finest feature of this lens is the handling. It's heavy, smooth and big. The focus ring is chunky and does away with any comfort grip and replaces it with hefty steel notches. I'm finding it hard to compare to anything else, because there's not much else out there to compare it to in terms of build quality. I used to shoot with medium format a lot, and this lens reminds me of the kind of thing you’d find on the old Mamiya’s or Bronicas, just a bit smaller.
Many people will instantly dismiss the Voigtlander because of the lack of auto focus, and that’s a valid concern. Shooting street scenes with manual focus was a real challenge, but it’s one I enjoyed greatly and once you get back into the swing of using manual focus again, the occasional missed shot isn’t too bad.
Below is a video with the lens in action. It was all shot on the GH4 in HD with v-log, edited and graded in premier.