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03-20-2012, 02:32 AM   #1
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31ltd versus Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 Version 1

Since I have sold my beloved 31ltd, before bidding her farewell, I thought I's quickly compare it to the lens that is taken her place - the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 in M-mount (to sit on my Nex-5n).

The Voigt I have is the limited edition chrome version. It's significantly bigger and heavier than the 31ltd, the focus is much stiffer but nicely dampened. It's a big and impressive lens except on the NEX, you don't really want big. Of course on the NEX, 31ltd needs an adapter which makes it significantly bulkier but we don't have that problem with the K-5.

Pentax can focus down to 0.3m while the Voigtlander only to 0.7m except with Hawk's factory helicoid adapter when it goes down to about 0.3m.

So how do these two lenses which are similarly specified and command a very similar price compare?

Leica users have raved about the Voigt even comparing it to the 7k Summilux 35 FLE and it's certainly gathered a following. I expected this newer and better specced lens to trounce our little beauty, but see for yourselves.

This is of course a quick and dirty imprecise test and I will try to do a few more in the morning before sending the lens on to its lucky new owner.

PS It looks like the first Voigt picture is taken at a faster aperture than the Pentax which shows in the shallower depth of field and smoother bokeh and of course less sharpness on the petals. I will look into this when I try to redo the test in the morning but it reconfirmed my view that we do get excellent primes from Pentax.

Last edited by DanielT74; 03-20-2012 at 02:37 AM.
03-20-2012, 02:56 AM   #2
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After looking at these would appear that your down-grading. Might want to cancel the sale.
03-20-2012, 02:57 AM   #3
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I used to own voigt and now I own 31mm ltd. I've found the voigt to be be very soft wide open, also less contrasty. Even when it was stopped down it was soft, so I sold it. Also Voigt was very prone to CA and PF, 31mm is as well, but you need more extreme situation and it isn't anywhere near as bad as voigt. I've to say, they do not compare and 31mm spanks it in every way I can think off.

I also used to own Leica 50mm f1.4, now that was a nice lens and I really liked it. Issue is, I couldn't justify owning such an expensive lens. So I've sold it for a fair bit of profit.
03-20-2012, 03:47 AM   #4
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I don't find my Voigt to be soft wide open. Of course it sharpens up (the contrast goes up) when stopped down, but it is still quite sharp at f1.2:

But yes, in some sense it appears that I am downgrading - can't pull out of the sale though!

03-20-2012, 07:00 AM   #5
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The crop at 1.8 says it all to me. The 31 all the way.
03-20-2012, 08:13 AM   #6
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I would keep the 31ltd. It is more expensive later on to buy again :P
03-20-2012, 09:51 AM   #7

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This test is unfair on the Nokton, which is a short-register rangefinder lens.
The sharply angled light rays coming out of it
do not match well with the perpendicular sensor wells on the NEX.
So the FA 31, a telecentric lens designed for SLRs,
has an advantage on the NEX sensor.

For a fair comparison, try both lenses on film.
Or for a fair digital comparison, with 12MB CMOS sensors,
try the FA 31 on a K-r or K-x
and the Nokton on the angled sensor
of the Ricoh GXR Leica M-mountor.
03-20-2012, 11:25 AM   #8
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Holy macaroni!
The 31ltd has made a believer out of me.
Great job btw.

I wonder if we could expect the results could change under controlled settings?

03-20-2012, 01:36 PM   #9
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I hate to pile on, but yeah, the evidence presented points me toward the 31 Ltd.
03-20-2012, 02:38 PM   #10
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Well, I was surprised too, and lytrytyr may have a point in saying that the NEX sensor is possibly not the best for evaluating the Nokton, but at close focus when the rear element is furthest from the sensor plane, I didn't think it would matter much. I have also shot the Nokton at infinity focus and it doesn't exhibit (I think) any of the banding artifacts like the wide-angle Zeiss lenses.

I shot some more test images this morning and they came out the same - 31ltd is sharper.

Mind you sharpness isn't everything and Nokton has lovely bokeh and other characteristics, plus the ability to go to f1.2 which is significant and it's useable there. So 31ltd's victory is qualified I'd say.

PS I guess had I done the test before selling it, I may have kept it (though I do like f1.2 I must say).

Here's a Voigt @1.2 and a crop:

Last edited by DanielT74; 03-20-2012 at 03:35 PM.
03-20-2012, 04:52 PM   #11
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These comparisons are very hard to do right, and from what I see here, there is a problem with this test as well. In the 2.8 crops, the upper left and the lower right flower petal are actually sharper with the Nokton, which to me suggests that the focal plane in the Nokton shot was further back, possibly even behind the flower. Extrapolating from there, I'm suspecting the focal plane is not even within the 1.8 crop for the Nokton.
03-20-2012, 05:46 PM   #12
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Good point, but I redid the test with flat subject (fridge!) and got the same results - will post them up ASAP.
03-20-2012, 07:57 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deiberson Quote
After looking at these would appear that your down-grading. Might want to cancel the sale.
... What he said...

03-22-2012, 08:30 AM   #14
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Leica user's have raved about the 1.2/35 mm Voigtländer lens.... not really. It is a very nice lens at a very decent price level for an M lens, but 1) Leica users are no ravers and 2) the Lux 35 has its advantages...
You also want to chekc edges sharpness, ... and actually compare both on an M9 full frame - that would be a nice test.
03-22-2012, 02:19 PM   #15
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No offense to Leica users intended, zapp, I am one myself. But I don't own an M9 - if someone here (in Melbourne) does and would like to lend it to me, I'd be happy to test it some more.

A friend has lend me an old Olympus Pen 35/1.8 and I will have a look at how it performs in the coming days.

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