Voigtlander Heliar 15mm Test Drive
The other day I had the opportunity to take the new Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III Lens for Sony E for a test drive using the Sony A7R. The results were pretty otherworldly for amazing landscapes. The sharpness of the lens, all the way into the extreme corners, passed my professional scrutiny. What is really pleasing is the fact that the Sony E-Mount version of the Voigtländer communicates all necessary EXIF data to the camera. It also automatically engages manual focus assist when you turn the manual focus dial on the lens.
I had to trade out several legacy lenses in order to raise enough money to cover the cost of this lens. Here’s a few more test examples from the same shoot, below.
Other thoughts regarding the Voigtlander…
All-in-all this lens really nails everything I need in a ultra wide for landscapes. When I finally switched to Sony Full Frame a few months ago from Micro Four Thirds – I was completely surprised by the unexpected learning curve that came with moving back into full-frame. The truth is, legacy glass works well on cropped sensors because the small sensor cuts out the imperfect corners of most legacy lenses while only utilizing the best part of the lens in the center. Switching up to a 36 megapixel sensor on a Sony Alpha A7R amplifies the smallest flaws of old 35mm lenses. So the HUNT for decent wide angle turned into quite a chore.
Bad Experiences with Samyang vs Voigtlander!?
There are a few legacy lenses that work nicely with the Sony but when shooting with Micro Four Thirds, I was used to shooting super-wide for landscape work. So my initial choice was the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens. The first copy of this 14mm lens turned out to be a de-centered piece of trash aka a $300 dollar paper weight. The whole right side of the frame was terribly blurry. I ended up trying three times to get a decent copy of the lens and finally gave up. When I tried to reach out to Samyang /Rokinon about this negative experience, they ignored me and deleted my comments on their Facebook fan page. That inspired me to do some research which led me to Voigtlander’s offerings. I was able to secure a near-perfect copy of the Heliar 15mm III on the first round despite the fact that Cosina/Voigtlander has had some manufacturing issues with the 15mm, as well, resulting in this thread on Fred Miranda. However the latest copies of Heliar III (as of Sept. 2016) seem to be totally fixed and I got my copy from one of their latest production batches.Yes, I also heard about the new Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Auto Focus Lens for Sony E-Mount. It was announced while I was investigating the Voigtlander.
Long Hunt for a Superwide Finally Settled! 🙂
With Cosina’s ability to listen to customers, fix any quality control issues they may have, as well as having a long history in the camera business; I am decidedly in favor of Cosina/Voigtlander and their high quality products. I’m happy with this iteration of the classic Heliar 15mm Super Wide lens. It reminds me of the days when shooting with Voigtlander’s 35mm Best-L camera with a 15mm Heliar attached. I miss those old film days and I’m glad to be shooting landscapes with a Sony Full Frame.