Light Lens Lab – Zeiss Hologon 15mm f8 Prototype

Light Lens Lab - Zeiss Hologon 15mm f8 Prototype

Lens Review

Light Lens Lab – Zeiss Hologon 15mm f8 Prototype

Leica MP and LLL Hologon 15/8 M
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

Light Lens Lab Replica - Not a Wide-Angle Person

The Zeiss Hologon 15mm f8 in M mount is an ultra-wide and ultra-thin lens. It is so tiny that I would have mistaken it for a lens cap because of its size. It is out of reach with its scarcity in the market, with only 225 units produced. It is an ultra wide-angle lens with a focal length of 15mm and a fixed aperture at f8. Honestly, I couldn’t count the number of times I have used an ultra-wide lens on the fingers of one hand. And, I am not a wide angle person, and I have made only a few star trails with film or some spontaneously film shots with my Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 VM lens on a tram! So basically, anything wider than 21mm is not in my vocabulary, and I am less preferable o use them mainly because of their distortion. But I am thankful that I have tried this light lens lab prototype, and it can surely make some gorgeous shots out of my imagination. 

If you wanna go wild in your shots, you should go wide! Because you are out of your safety net (35mm or 50mm lenses). This time I am shooting with this light lens lab replica which is an exact copy of the original Hologon 15mm f8 in M mount.

Leica MP and LLL Hologon 15/8 M
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

History of the Original Zeiss Hologon

The Zeiss Hologon 15mm F8 is an ultra-wide angle triplet lens with a 110° angle of view for 135 cameras, and it was derived from the original Zeiss Ikon Contarex Hologon. There are only 225 sets ever produced for Leica M Cameras, making it an ultra rare collector item. The Zeiss Hologon was released in the late 1960s, and the original 15mm F8 lens was created as a fixed ultra-wide angle lens for the Hologon camera (Contarex). Leica made the remaining Hologon lenses to M-Mount in 1972 as Zeiss went bankrupt, the widest angle lens available for Leica M Rangefinders. Later Zeiss released the Hologon 16mm f8 in 1994 with improved design and contrast.

Front element
Rear element and aperture
Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

The Name "Hologon"

“The name “Hologon” is derived from the Greek holos, which translates to “everything” or “complete”, and gonia, which translates to “angle.” This so-called Greek connection is practised today when naming Zeiss optical products.

Design-wise, the Hologon lens is as complex as it is simple. The lens is a basic triplet design containing only 3 lens elements. The front and rear elements are hemispherical in shape, and all 3 elements have been polished and assembled by hand to better ensure optically correct finishes and element alignment.”

Quote from Wikiland

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

Four Versions of Hologon Ever Made

  1. Zeiss Hologon 15mm F8 Original Fixed Lens for Hologon Camera
  2. Zeiss Hologon 15mm F8 for Leica M (225 sets only)
  3. Zeiss Hologon 16mm F8 for Contax
  4. Carl Zeiss Designed 110mm F8 Hologon designed to fit Linhof large format cameras
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

Lens Distortion and Flare Resistance

Many ultra-wide lenses have severe distortion. Meaning any deformation that occurs in the images produced by a camera lens. Distortion is generally described as when straight lines appear bent or curvy in photographs.

There is barely any visible distortion, and the edge distortion is minimal. But for this light lens lab copy I think they can improve the lens coating, the flare resistance is not good enough. I have tested it on my Leica M10-P and Leica M2 with colour negatives and black and white negative film. It is perfect for the analogue world with excellent sharpness and distortion control. However, it is terrible on digital sensors due to the cyan shift. Some might call it red shifting, same as other vintage ultra-wide lenses, because the rear element is too close to the digits sensor affecting the corners performance.

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

Build Quality and Focusing

The lens is solid, but I am always afraid the rear element will break my Leica MP, so I only attached it to my Leica M2, which has bigger leg room. Attaching and dismounting the lens needs some special care. There wasn’t any “click” sound when you attached the lens. I hope they will improve that in the final production. Since this is a prototype lens, I believe they will have markings later. You can focus down to 0.2m without any rangefinder coupling. 

Focusing ring
Mount and rear element
Hologon markings

Centre Grey Filter and Viewfinder

I wish I could get a chance to test it again with a centre grey filter because the vignette is quite obvious to me making the centre always half to 1 stop brighter than the right of the photo.

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

Digital Performance

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Leica M10-P

Colour Negative Film Performance

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Kodak Vision 3 250D 5207
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Kodak Vision 3 250D 5207
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Kodak Vision 3 250D 5207

Different League with Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 VM

Though I only have a brief time shooting with this replica, it’s a delightful experience. To assist with my framing, I used my VM 15mm viewfinder as a reference. I enjoy this set-up a lot because I can get close to a subject without overthinking the proper focus, and the depth of field should be enough to get everything in focus at f/8. I am sure I will get a copy of it but not pay the market price for the original Hologon. The most beautiful part is the zero distortion which makes me want to explore more street photography with ultra-wide lenses. Whereas with Voigtlander 15mm, the distortion and the perspective are unlikely to achieve something that I wish, at least, it doesn’t seem right to me.

LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110
LLL Hologon 15/8 M, Ilford Pan 400 pushed 1600, Kodak HC-110

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