Last Updated on 10/05/2022 by Mark Beckenbach
I was talking with a former colleague the other day about the gear I am currently reviewing. When I mentioned I was enjoying Voigtlander, Holly said she thought the Brooklyn hipster vibe looked good on me. This elicited a laugh because we used to joke that Voigtlander was only for hipsters. But, my experience with the Nokton 21mm opened my eyes to the brand’s appeal. And I was curious to see how the Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 50mm f2 lens would compare.
APO lenses gravitate towards the quest for perfection, or what I call boring. However, being that the 50mm Lanthar is from Voigtlander, there was a good chance I would feel less deflated with the experience of the lens. While it doesn’t have as much character as the Nokton, it isn’t clinical. And for $1,049, it strikes a balance of beautiful optics with character that doesn’t require a lot of editing. Are the optics enough to overlook the lack of weather resistance? Keep reading to find out.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
The Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 50mm f2 aspherical lens is a fantastic focal length for most photography needs. The compact, lightweight design makes it a comfortable choice for long work days. It’s a great choice for both full-frame and crop sensor Sony cameras.
The APO 50mm f2 lens creates wonderfully sharp images with beautiful colors, luscious bokeh when you want it, and minimal imperfections. Don’t worry; it isn’t clinical or boring. Voigtlander left just enough character in its design to keep it interesting. Photographs require little editing. Contrast lovers may want to push it a little in-camera or in post-production in certain situations.
This 50mm is an excellent choice for most applications. However, being that it’s a Voigtlander, there is no weather-sealing. The lens holds up just fine in light rainfall and moderate dust. However, it isn’t something you’ll want to take with you in adverse weather conditions.
Pros and Cons
- Beautiful colors
- Sharp with plenty of details
- Minimal imperfections
- Easy to achieve focus manually
- Ideal focal length
- Lightweight and comfortable to work with
- No weather-resistance
- I’d prefer a bit more contrast, but I’m being picky. Leica has much nicer contrast and colors.
- The lens cap kept falling off in my bag.
The Voigtlander 50mm f2 lens isn’t exactly innovative. APO functionality removes unsightly highlight fringing, and the lens produces minimal distortion. Plus, it also gives photos a bit extra contrast. It leaves just enough character in the design to keep it from feeling stale.
The Voigtlander 50mm Lanthar weighs less than a pound and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
It has a classic manual focus lens design. The depth of scale ring is closest to the lens mount. Next is the focusing ring. Voigtlander uses a mixture of shapes and textures here that is quite nice. You will find a click-style aperture ring at the end of the lens.
The 50mm lens accommodates a 49mm-sized filter.
The Voigtlander Lanthar has an all-metal design with contrasting textures. It looks and feels solid. However, the lens lacks weather-sealing and isn’t dustproof. The 50mm lens will withstand moderate moisture and some dusty winds. I wouldn’t recommend taking it with you in adverse weather conditions. Additionally, the lens cap would not stay on while inside my camera bag. This was annoying to say the least. It could simply be this one copy, however it’s something to make a note of.
Photographers well-versed with manual focus will find it effortless to see when images slide into focus. Those who are less familiar will appreciate the magnification and focus peaking. Achieving manual focus with this lens is swift and easy.
Ease Of Use
The Voigtlander 50mm f2 lens will feel very familiar if you have ever worked with Fujifilm or Leica M. You will find this lens easy to use even if it is your first time dabbling in manual focus. It follows a classic blueprint design with a mixture of textures and shapes. Making aperture and focal adjustments quickly becomes second nature.
Sony’s a1 viewfinder is nice and bright, making it easy to see when images are focused. You can always utilize magnification and focus peaking. Magnification was remarkable to use when my subject was far away or when my eyes were tired. I only used focus peaking in low light when I needed to quell my second guessing. Seeing the camera verify that an image was in focus was comforting when I couldn’t be sure.
The Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 50mm lens produces excellent optics with minimal distortion. Any imperfections are easily corrected in post-production if they bother you. The vibrant images are sharp with plenty of detail. And bokeh is plentiful when you want it.
Voigtlander’s Lanthar 50mm f2 lens makes it easy to create lustrous bokeh when you want it. Get close to your subject, open up to the widest aperture, and create plenty of background separation. The results are beautiful. Additionally, the 12-blade diaphragm helps maintain a round-shaped, aesthetically pleasing bokeh.
The 50mm f2 lens produces beautifully vibrant colors that pop with sufficient contrast in hard lighting situations. Skin tones are true to life, and the greens are never overbearing thanks to its aspherical elements. I appreciate the cooler bluish tones against golden hues as the sun crossed the horizon. If you prefer more contrast, take a minute to increase it in-camera. Otherwise, you will find yourself pushing it in post-production in flatly lit scenes. Against the closest Leica APO Chromatic lens, the Voigtlander isn’t as contrasty.
The Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 50mm lens manages to suppress many unwanted imperfections. Chromatic aberrations are almost non-existent. Distortions are minimal and efficiently corrected in post-production. It isn’t so technically sound to be void of character. Sun and light stars are still possible. Although, it’s challenging to get any other sort of lens flare of the lens.
Voigtlander’s 50mm f2 lens is sharp with plenty of detail. Only the corners and outermost edges are soft with a wide open aperture. Stop down to f2.8 and watch the sharpness extend noticeably further throughout the frame.
This is an example of the image zoomed in at 100%. Sony camera bodies are a great compliment to this lens. The pairing creates plenty of detail and allows for significant cropping.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the product can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
Who Should Buy The Voigtländer APO-Lanthar 50mm Lens?
It’s no secret that there are a plethora of 50mm lens options for the Sony system. Most of them are autofocus lenses. This lens would be a great addition for any photographer who enjoys manual focus. The change of pace is lovely in this fast-paced world. I would strongly consider this lens if I were a Sony user in the market for a new 50mm lens.
The 50mm workhorse is ideal for portraits, weddings, photojournalism, landscape, travel, cityscape, and street photography. If anything is missing from that lens, chances are the 50mm lens can cover it. That is, as long as the weather conditions allow for it. Voigtlander lenses are not dustproof, and they are not weather sealed.
The aspherical elements in this APO lens significantly reduce unwanted chromatic aberrations, flares, and distortion. It is still possible to achieve light and sun stars. There is minimal vignetting when the aperture is at f2.
Images are colorful and, for the most part, have adequate contrast. The best contrast is naturally in harsh light. You will find yourself seeking it out with this lens if you appreciate contrast. Photographs do require a little finessing in flatter light. Regardless, minimal editing is needed with this lens.
You can rent one from Lensrentals or purchase a Voigtlander Lanthar 50mm f2 lens for $1,049 if you are ready to commit.
Tech specs are from the Lensrentals listing.
- Angle of View: 46.5°
- Aperture Blades: 12
- Aspherical Elements: 2
- Autofocus: Manual Focus Only
- Brand: Voigtlander
- Compatibility: Full Frame
- Diameter: 2.5″
- Filter Size: 49.0mm
- Focal Length: 50.0-50.0
- Groups/Elements: 8/10
- Hood Included: Yes
- Image Stabilization: No
- Item Type: Lens
- Length: 2.4″
- Lens Type: Normal Range
- Max Aperture: 2.0
- Maximum Magnification: 0.15x
- Minimum Aperture: 16.0
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.5feet
- Mount: Sony E
- Partial-Dispersion Elements: 5
- Weight: 0.8 lb.
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