When you google “best lenses for Leica”, you’ll see this Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens on top of most lists. I ordered one just for fun and couldn’t wait to test it out on some portraits. It was a dark and cloudy day in Portland, just like any other day in here this time of the year, but who needs sun and golden hour when you have coffee and cute girlfriend to take photos of.
This is not a full lens review, I honestly just wanted to show some of these portraits we took around Society Hotel in Portland and write down some thoughts in case you’re looking to get this lens for yourself.
One of the best 35mm lenses for Leica
First of all, this lens is very cheap compared to its competitors. It doesn’t feel cheap at all though, it’s heavy, firm, shiny, looks great, all that stuff. One thing I noticed right away was how soft this lens is at f1.4. It has this dreamy filmy look I’m obsessed with. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I hate sharp and modern looking photos. This Voigtlander is nothing like that, so I fell in love with it right away.
Quick note, all of these photos are heavily edited with lots of grain so you can’t really pixel peep and see how sharp or soft the photos are. You just have to trust me I guess. This is not that type of a review.
Another unique thing about this lens is its bokeh. It’s very soft, the background almost looks shaky. Again, I’m getting all those film vibes and I love it. If I need to get a clean and sharp photo though, I’d probably have to stop down to f2.8 for “best” performance. I’d lose some of that dreamy look, but good to know I can do both if I wanted to with this lens.
One of the reasons I got the Voigtlander (I already own a Leica Summarit 35mm f2.5) was the few extra stops of light. The f1.4 is great for shooting indoors and the super soft look is a nice added bonus. That being said, focusing with a rangefinder and a f1.4 lens is not easy at all, especially if you’re taking photos of people and dogs who constantly move. I missed the focus badly in these but somehow ended up loving the photos even more.
Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 is a great, unique lens for a great price. It’ll probably stay on my Leica M most of the time from now on and I can’t wait to take it with me on all these trips around Oregon.
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