Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 Aspherical VM Review

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 Aspherical VM Review

Lens Review

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 Aspherical VM Review

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Leica M240-P Camera, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM

As a fifty guy, I’ve always kept an eye on new and exciting lenses, especially those that can provide excellent value for money. When the rumors and videos about the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens started to circulate on YouTube, I was immediately intrigued. I had previously owned the Nokton 40mm f1.2 ASPH VM and loved it, so naturally, I was eager to see what this 50mm lens had to offer. 

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Leica M240-P Camera, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM

50mm is my usual focal length. I’ve had the pleasure of trying out many lenses of this focal length including the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1, Noctilux 50mm f0.95, Nokton 50mm f1.5 ASPH II, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1 ASPH or the popular Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH. However, what I’m really after is a lens with character – something that some might even consider a flaw. Also, I need to have two lenses at each focal to give me options, usually one vintage looking, another one modern rendering. While I’m not always impressed by modern lenses, the Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH is an exception. In my opinion, it’s the perfect modern standard lens, and I was absolutely thrilled with its performance. This lens is truly one of a kind and definitely lives up to its stellar reputation. So far my overall impression to this Nokton 50mm is very positive, but it’s no longer part of my collection. 

I will discuss the pros and cons of this lens while comparing it to other similar lenses available in the market.

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Leica M240-P Camera, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM
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Kodak Portra 800, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM

Build Quality

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens is made of metal and has a solid, well-built feel to it. It reminds me of the size of my Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 SL II on my Nikon F3. For the lens design, they try to mimic the look of the classic Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 ASPH with a wider barrel. It takes 52mm filter size, the same as my Nikon SLR lenses. The lens barrel is smooth, and the aperture ring clicks firmly into place. The focus ring is also well-damped and smooth, making manual focusing a joy to use but lacking a focusing tab like the Summilux ASPH. This lens is designed for Leica M-mount cameras.

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Handling

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens does not have a slim body compared to the Summilux 50mm ASPH and it weighs around 344g. This can be both a pro and a con, depending on your preferences. On one hand, the weight adds to the overall feeling of quality. On the other hand, it can make the lens feel slightly front-heavy on some cameras.

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Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM with LH-10, Leica M3

The lens hood is detachable but quite expensive and bulky. While it does a good job of protecting the lens and reducing flare, it’s not the most convenient accessory to use. Moreover, the lens can block part of the viewfinder on some cameras, which can be a bit of a nuisance.

Additionally, it has a minimum focusing distance of 0.7m, providing users with the added benefit of capturing close-up portraits or daily life moments with ease.

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Leica M240-P Camera, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM

Image Quality

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens is known for its sharpness and impressive image quality because of the two double sided aspherical elements. The lens delivers outstanding performance, even when shooting wide open at f1.2. The centre sharpness is excellent, while the corners show some softness that improves when stopping down.

There’s a slight vignetting when shooting wide open, but it decreases as you stop down the aperture. The lens also displays some distortion, but it’s easily corrected in post-processing.

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Kentmere 400 push to 1600, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM

The bokeh produced by this lens is very pleasing to the eye, with a smooth, creamy texture that’s perfect for portrait photography and other applications where subject isolation is crucial. However, the bokeh balls can have a slight “cat’s eye” shape when shooting near the edges of the frame, which might bother some photographers. It has a very tiny touch of glow at f/1.2 when you shoot with film.

One downside to the image quality is the presence of purple fringing when shooting wide open. This chromatic aberration can be quite noticeable, especially in high-contrast situations. However, it’s important to note that this issue is significantly reduced when stopping down the aperture, and it can also be corrected in post-processing.

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Kentmere 400 push to 1600, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Kentmere 400 push to 1600, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Kentmere 400 push to 1600, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM

Performance

One of the main reasons photographers are drawn to the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens is its fast maximum aperture of f1.2. This allows for excellent low-light performance, as well as the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field for subject isolation.

The manual focus system on this lens is smooth and precise, making it easy to fine-tune your focus and nail the shot. The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM features a slightly shorter focusing throw compared to the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1 VM. Additionally, its extremely compact size makes it an ideal lens for daily use and easy transportation.

Pros

  • Compact and well-built design
  • Fast f/1.2 maximum aperture
  • Excellent centre sharpness
  • 3D pop, Creamy and pleasing bokeh 
  • Great value for money
  • Weight similar to Leica Summilux 50/1.4 asph (335g)
  • Minimum focusing distance 0.7m

Cons

  • Expensive and bulky lens hood
  • Purple fringing when shooting wide open
  • Blocks part of the viewfinder on some cameras
  • Mild vignetting and distortion
Voigtlander-nokton-50mm-50-f1.2-1.2-asph-vm-m-mount-rangefinder-lens-review-leica-kentmere-400-hk-landscape-hc110-film-f8
Kentmere Pan 400, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Kodak Double-X 5222, HC110, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Kodak Vision 3 250D at 400, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Kodak Vision 3 250D at 400, Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM

Lens Alternatives

  1. Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH M maybe a half stop slower, it still offers a creamy and pleasant transition with a traditional Leica warmth tone that is difficult to differentiate from its pricier counterpart. For photographers looking for high-quality results at a more reasonable price point, the Nokton is an excellent option.
  2. Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 ASPH Reissue (E49) is a lens that offers similar speed to the Nokton, but features spinning bokeh and softness when used at wide open. However, the Noctilux has a minimum focusing distance of only 1m and comes with a hefty price tag, making it a less practical option for photographers who need versatility in their lenses.
  3. Canon 50mm f/1.2 LTM is a great ultra-fast lens with a unique mood that produces dreamy and glowing images when used at f/1.2. However, this lens has a recurring issue with haze due to the glue and materials used in its construction. While Kanto Camera offers a complete fix by replacing the lens element, this adds an extra cost to an already expensive option. Photographers who prioritise reliability and low maintenance costs may want to consider other alternatives.
  4. Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 ASPH II VM is an excellent lens that is both small and compact, making it a versatile option for photographers on the go. It boasts a delightful swirl bokeh and delivers exceptional sharpness even when used at wide open aperture settings.
  5. The Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 VM shares many similarities with the 50mm version of this lens, but in my opinion, it performs even better. I found that the sharpness is particularly impressive when used at wide open, and there is noticeably less purple fringing compared to the 50mm version. Additionally, the 40mm focal length makes this lens more compact and easier to use as a daily lens, which I personally find more suitable than a 50mm lens.
Voigtlander-nokton-50mm-50-f1.2-1.2-asph-vm-m-mount-rangefinder-lens-review-leica-performance-look-sample-photos-hood-size-noctilux-1.2-asph-comparison-barrel
Size comparison Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 Aspherical VM (left) Leica Noctilux 50/1.2 ASPH M Reissue E49 (right)
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Size comparison with lens hood Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 Aspherical VM (left) Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 ASPH M Reissue E49 (right)

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens is an excellent choice for photographers looking for a not super compact but fast, and sharp lens at a budget-friendly price. While it does have its drawbacks, such as purple fringing and viewfinder blockage.

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM offers impressive performance at a fraction of the cost. While it might not have the same creamy and dramatic feel as the Summilux or Noctilux, its image quality is still exceptional, making it a worthy alternative for those on a budget.

It’s important to note that the lens has a more clinical and modern rendering, which some photographers might find less appealing than the character of other lenses. However, personal preference plays a big role, and for many, the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM provides a perfect balance between sharpness, bokeh, and overall image quality.

In conclusion, the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM lens is a solid performer, and I’m delighted to have had the chance to try it out. If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly, ultra-fast lens, the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 ASPH VM is definitely worth considering. Its combination of build quality, image quality, and performance makes it a great addition to any photographer’s kit. The Nokton 40mm f1.2 ASPH VM is another good alternative too!

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Fujifilm Velvia 100 (RVP), Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Fujifilm Velvia 100 (RVP), Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.2 ASPH VM
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Reflx Lab 800
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Reflx Lab 400D
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Reflx Lab 200T
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Metal replacement hood for 28/35 Leica Lens

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