Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 review

Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Review (35mm Nokton Classic MC Lens)(VM) + YouTube

Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Review – Reasons to buy the Nokton 35mm 1.4 vs Nokton 35mm 1.2 ASPH, Nokton vs Color Skopar 35mm f2.5, Nokton MC vs SC together with digital and film sample images. (+7Artisans 35mm f1.4). **Update** Video reviews now added for most 35mm lenses for Leica M mount!

35mm Portrait
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1. Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 – Why I bought this lens?

Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 MC (Nokton Classic) – As my photography ‘matures’ different things become important to me.  In the earlier years bigger was best.  I remember getting my first big lens, the Nikkor 80-200  f2.8 AF, and suddenly I felt like a ‘Pro’ when at family weddings as all ‘Pros’ have big cameras and big lenses don’t they?!  I then up’d my game and got myself a Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s prime lens.  Now that is a proper lens and it makes you look more like the paparazzi than a wedding photographer.

2. Wish list – Small 35mm Prime Lens

All that was a few years back.  Now I use Leica M cameras (+ medium format / large format film) and the opposite mentality applies.  Smaller and more compact is best (for me).  I have touched on this before but I am finding I am turning into more and more of a purest, with regards to my Leica M film cameras especially.  I only want to use 50mm lenses on the Leica M3 (with it’s 50mm viewfinder) and I only ‘want’ to use 35mm lenses on the Leica M2 (with 35mm viewfinder).  That is all well and good but the chosen lens needs to meet my requirements too.  There is no point me having a small camera if I then hang a big lens on the front to imbalance it.  Similarly, there is no point me putting a tiny lens on the camera if it cannot produces images that I ‘demand’.  Therefore I need to find a happy medium / middle ground that ticks most of my boxes.

Brazilian Model

3. Leica M3 vs Leica M2 – Lens Requirement

50mm  – (Leica M3)

For my Leica M3 cameras my preferred lens / focal length is the 50mm Leica Summicron f2 v5 lens as it is  smaller than the 50mm f1.4 Summilux ASPH.  I do use the Summilux if I need to work in low light and with colour film that I cannot push as easily. Black and white film is easier as I just develop as I need.

35mm – (Leica M2)

For the Leica M2 I didn’t have a 35mm lens that I was 100% happy with.  Why?:


4. 35mm Leica M Lenses I own:

4.1 Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens

The Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens is very capable (and to me very usable shot wide open for paying clients) BUT all that comes at a cost. It is big and heavy.  I think of it as my 35mm Noctilux with some slight similarities in certain conditions.  It is sharper than the Noctilux wide open but the f1.2 vs a f1.4 lens doesn’t seem to make the photo any brighter.  The Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH is sharper than the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 wide open and 35mm f1.2 design focuses to 0.5M rather than 0.7M.  Leica M cameras only focus as close as 0.7M but if used on a different camera this may be of interest.

4.2 Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 Pii lens

The Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm is one of my smallest lens but with an f2.5 widest aperture is not bright enough for many of my available light photoshoots.  an f2.5 lens also doesn’t give a nice shallow depth of field for portraits.

4.3 Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 lens

The vintage Leica Summaron is a low contrast slow ‘fun’ lens. Not for serious work but great for personal work.  Very small but flares easily and needs a lot of light being f3.5.  Closest focus distance of the Summaron 35mm is 1M (whereas for most lenses I like to use it is 0.7M).

4.4 Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 lens

If you want a fast 35mm lens but need something sharper than the Nokton, definitely check out the Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 lens. It is larger but it is better optically in all areas execpt imperfections.

4.5 New! Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 (YouTube)

Small lenses always get my attention so when the new Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 came out I had to test it. I was so impressed I later bought a copy. Here is the size next to my Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 vs Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
4.6 New! 7Artisans 35mm f1.4 (YouTube)

Bigger heavier lens but not one to be overlooked. Performed very well in my YouTube review test. I prefer the size of the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 vs 7Artisans 35mm f1.4 but the Chinese lens has a nice look and is sharper wide open. Nokton better for Leica M cameras as comes calibrated and ready to use. 7Artisans 35mm 1.4 is great for mirrorless. I love it on my Leica SL.

4.7 New! Voigtlander Nokton 35mm 1.2 VM v3 (YouTube)

Fantastic performer. I got to test this lens for YouTube. Very sharp and great contrast and smaller than my own v2 Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 mentioned above. Still much bigger than the Nokton 1.4 35mm but a completely different lens. 1.4 is artsy, 1.2 is for client work.


5. New 35mm Leica M mount lens I considered:

  • Older Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 Pre-ASPH
  • Older Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Pre-ASPH
  • Newer Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH
  • Newer Leica Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH
  • Zeiss ZM Biogon 35mm f2 T
  • Zeiss ZM Distagon 35mm f1.4 T
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 SC
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC
Leica M2 Portrait

6. Time to read (a lot) and get researching!

I spent a fair bit of time reviewing images from the Leica lenses and Voigtlander lenses.  I was happy size wise with all the Leicas and the Noktons.  They are all tiny lenses and all built to a similar high standard.  I ruled the Zeiss ZM lenses out immediately due to their bigger size.  As I already have sharp 35mm lenses size is no issue.  I am not normally a pixel peeper but I read a few reviews of the Leicas vs the Voigtlanders and yes the new Leica lenses are sharper but I bet 99% of the population could not tell images from these lenses apart once they had received basic editing. 

The little Voigtlander ‘Classic’ as it is called is not perfect by any means.  I know as I have a Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 already that I got on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A film camera (that has 40mm framelines).  Going back to the purest thing briefly, I could easily use the 40/1.4 on the M2 and I have done but I am not satisfied to guess between 35mm or 50mm framelines for the 40mm crop.  I can’t compose precisely on film if I am guessing the crop / composition.

Voigtlander 35mm f1.4

Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 MC

7. Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 – more info

The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC is not perfect as it is less sharp wide open vs new Leica lenses (in tests done by others), has heavier vignetting at wider apertures, gives soft focus corners to images wide open, has distortion so a straight line becomes slightly curved in a photo, has ‘harsh’ bokeh with highlight edges to the circles, lacks the flare resistance of modern Leica lenses, and often has some focus shift issues (f2-f4 approx).  On the upside, the colours are better (more saturated) than the cooler colours of Leica glass, I like the harsh bokeh, I like vignetting, I like soft corners for portraits, I don’t mind a glow from slight flare and I plan to use it at f1.4 so am not worried about shift. 

Better still you can buy a new Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 for about half the price of an old Leica 35mm lens and about 4 times cheaper than a new 35mm Leica Summicron ASPH /Summilux ASPH.  I was tempted to buy Leica but the older lenses are at least as soft as the Nokton wide open (it seems) and the Nokton has character rather than being clinical like the new Leica lenses (like my 50mm Summilux ASPH).  To me the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 is like a mini Noctilux in that it is the imperfections and low light ability that attract me most of all.  I have had some great results with the 40mm Nokton so that helped my decision to buy a 35mm Nokton.


8. Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 MC vs SC – Comparison

I bought the MC (multi-coated) version of the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 lens rather than the SC (single coated) as the MC version has slightly less flare and more contrast.  People often say the Voigtlander 35mm SC lens is best for black and white film and MC for colour film.  As I develop my own B&W film I control the contrast when I develop the film so I can easily develop film to be less constrasty if I need to retain more shadow detail.  On the whole it is better for me to have high contrast and more apparent sharpness in camera from the lens so I chose the MC version.  The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 MC will now spend it’s days on my Leica M2 for my ultimate travel companion and to pair with the Leica M3 + 50mm setup.

9. Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 MC vs SC – How to tell the difference?

When buying the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 lens i’m sure I was one of the many people who had to search for the phase “how to tell the difference between the Voigtlander SC and MC”.  Once you know it’s really easy to identify.  If your lens or a lens you see says “NOKTON CLASSIC” on the front and nothing after the word classic then it is the MC version (as I have)(in the photo above).  If it is a SC version there are the letters “SC” written in blue after the word CLASSIC.  Of all the people I have met using this lens i’ve never seen anyone using the SC version.  (All the lens had white writing only on the front).

10. Voigtlander Lens Flare

I love the Voigtlander lens flare. Most of the Voigtlander lenses I use give a similar look with the right conditions producing a ring of red light which looks quite cool I think!  The ring can be small like the photo below or much larger in diameter from my experience

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL Flare

11. What triggered another 35mm lens purchase?

I was shooting in London yesterday and had my Leica M3, Leica M2 and Leica M9 cameras.  I had the 40mm Nokton on the M2 and it fit like a glove.  With the leather hand strap it was the perfect street photographer camera. Very minimal and HCB like!  I then decided to take the Summilux off the Leica M3 to ‘borrow’ it on the M2 as I knew it was sharper.  The size of the Summilux just ruined the whole feel of the camera and experience in general.  Once I got home I thought to myself, I need a low light 35mm lens that is as small as the 40mm Nokton.  The size of the 50mm Summicron is good but sometimes I have to use the larger Summilux 50mm f1.4 if low light.

I have also recently being tempted by 28mm lenses such as the Leica 28mm Summicron f2 or Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8. I am most tempted buy the Elmarit for the M9 due to it’s compactness as the Leica M9 has 28mm framelines and I can adjust the ISO if need more light.  That would be perfect for a compact digital travel camera setup but for my usual work, portraits and low light weddings I needed a faster lens and not quite as wide. 50mm is still my go to focal length for portraits but 35mm is good for environmental portraits, wedding photography, street photography and when working in tighter spaces.


12. Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Portraits / Sample Photos

Leica Film camera (or Bessa R3A) + Voigtlander 35mm f1.4
Ilford Pan F 50 Portrait
Leica M2 + Rollei Retro 80S
Leica M6 + Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222
Imperfect Film
Kodak Vision3 50D
Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm f1.4
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4
Voigtlander 35 1.4
Leica M9 vs Kodak Portra Skin Tones
Leica M240 + Voigtlander 35mm f1.4
Leica M 240 Fashion NYC
Leica M 240 Colours
AMG Mercedes
Art Nude

Tempted to buy yourself a Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 lens!? 

Robert White Discount Code – Use “MRLEICA” to get 5% off Voigtlander lenses – https://www.robertwhite.co.uk/


YouTube: Voigtlander 40mm 1.4 vs 35mm 1.4


Love small 35mm lenses?

If you can cope with f2 as a maximum aperture you might want to consider the following lenses:

Leica Summicron 35mm f2 v3

Light Lens Lab 8-element (Replica of Leica Summicron 35mm f2 v1)

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 VM

Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 VM


Sharpest 35mm lens for Leica M mount? Try these lenses:

Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 ZM

Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 Ultron VM

35mm f2 APO-Lanthar Voigtlander

Leica APO-Summicron 35mm f2 vs Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH II


Best 35mm Lens? See this 35mm shoot out video

35mm f1.4 lenses for Leica M mount (and faster):

Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH

7Artisans 35mm f1.4 M mount

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm 1.2 ASPH III VM

Nokton 35mm f1.5 Voigtlander VM


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16 thoughts on “Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 Review (35mm Nokton Classic MC Lens)(VM)”

  1. good post… sometimes it’s about getting the right feel in the photos. I have an M8 and just ordered some Jupiter lenses to tie me over for a while … I’d like to get one decent Voigtlander Lens to compliment the M8. Mainly for travel and street photography.. I like the look of this 35mm 1.4 =p

    1. Thanks Jeremy! I like the size and speed especially as it can do most things I need a lens to do. That and it gives a certain look to images which I always like. I will report back soon! 🙂 Cheers.
      P.S. Jupiter lenses also good. I have a 50/1.5

      1. Yeah indeed, the Jupiter 3 hey. I had a Summarit 50/1.5 but didn’t like the flare and ergonomics of the hand focus… Currently thinking about the Voigtlander 40/1.4 MC.. I like the 35, but I’m concerned about the focus shift. I’ve not really dealt with this, or, not recognised it in other lenses. That’s my concern, what’s your thoughts?

      2. Thanks Jeremy, Yes the J3 is nice but mine is nott calibrated so I don’t use it. The Summarit a good lens. I have a very clean copy and it is quite nice if used in lower light / overcast day. Awesome bokeh. One of my best for unique images. 35/1.4 is pretty much the same as the 40/1.4. I have used the 40mm at most f stops and never had a focus shift issue, nor on the Sonnar 1.5. Only really tried the 35mm at f1.4 so far but that is what I bought it for so not worried. On focus shift I have had / seen was on a Voigtlanderr 21mm f4 which i part ex’d in a shop.

  2. Nice post and pics Matt. I feel the same…small is good. I love how compact the M6 & 50 cron combo is. If i was in the market for a 35mm I would seriously consider the 35mm 1.4 VM. Like Steve Huff says, it’s got bags of character….and I like character 🙂

  3. You read reviews saying this lens is soft at f1.4 but clicking and magnifying your images proves the opposite is true.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hi Stephen, yes it is a strange one. I think compared to many lenses it is sharp but I have sharper lenses and I tend to use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens as a benchmark. With digital it is fine, with film it can be fine but I was less happy more recently with some 35/1.4 images in terms of sharpness. That is why I currently use the 35/1.2 more.

      With all that said if it was my only lens i’m sure I would be very happy. The size is nice and it is not silly expensive.

      Hope that helps a little

      (..and remember sites like Flickr sharpen images so the original is always less so).

      1. Thanks,i never knew that about flikr.
        I have an m 262 and mostly use my wonderful 35mm f2.4 summarit but i want a fast alternative for taking similar pics to yours[hopefully] but of my 4 grand kids.
        lately i lean towards the voigtlander 40mm f1.2 vm but of course the framelines are not correct.
        I also look at the voigt 35mm f1.2 or the zeiss f1.4 which has such a good reputation.
        First world decisions i suppose.

      2. matthewosbornephotography

        Thanks Stephen, ha yes every lens has it’s pros and cons – 40mm (framelines) 1.2 (too big) 1.4 (bit softer).. that’s why I end up with too many lenses! 🙂

  4. great review! Do you have any chance to test the new Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f1.7 as well.
    I’m considering it with the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hello, thanks! I don’t think so in coming weeks but maybe in future if I can. Perhaps find review on just 1.7 then compare. Sorry.

  5. Boy oh boy i don’t even know how many versions there are of this obnoxious lens! Mine looks completely different than that in your review… one with very very strange looking lens hood on screw, heavy as a brick, big with COMPLETELY useless focal metering, and the image… my GOD the image is so blurry at any apertures, with hateful nervous bokeh, plenty of purple fringing, tons of vignetting, ABSOLUTE lack of sharpness no matter what, TOTALY impossible to use with zone focusing technique and with price tag of 600+ Euro! I hate this lens more than the words can describe it!

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thanks Ivan, hmm it sounds like you got a bad copy but yes it is not for everyone. This is quite an old review and I later sold mine and replaced it with a Voigtlander 35mm f2 Ultron.

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