My Thoughts On The Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm 1.4 S.C

Listed as the first company to ever produce mathematically calculated precision objectives, Voigtlander needs no introduction, so let's get straight into the Nokton Classic.

My initial reason for purchasing this lens was to create a more "Manual" feel for my Fujifilm Xpro-1 and that's exactly what I have achieved. The lens sits on the Xpro1 beautifully and works really well with the system. Once mounted you need to select the "Shoot without lens" option and enter the details for 40mm usage, from there you are ready to go. Using manual lenses on the Fujifilm systems unfortunately forces you to use the EVF, (unless you have the Xpro2 where you can have a EVF pop up in the OVF) but this is something you get used to quickly and can actually be quite helpful for getting correct exposure and an overall feel for what the final image will look like. 

This lens is solid, I mean solid, like a tank. It has a nice weight and the focus ring is buttery smooth. The focus ring has a nice short throw so you can focus on your subject quickly, this makes it perfect for street photography. The aperture ring is also of high quality, giving you that nice subtle click between f-stops. In regards to the lens coating on the glass, I purchased the S.C (Single Coated) giving the lens a softer and less "contrasty" feel, instead of the M.C (Multi Coated) which gives you the opposite. Either way I have read that there isn't much difference between the M.C & S.C, so go with your instinct. 

The images that this lens produces are interesting and definitely aren't for everyone, but if you are after a manual lens that produces a unique image, with a more classical feel, then this can be your perfect companion. The S.C version gives a lovely "glowy" feeling to your images with some really interesting textures that exist in the out of focus areas. The Single Coating helps with muting the colours, giving the image less vibrance, which I personally love. The S.C also really improves the shadow details in blacks and whites, so this lens is perfect for shooting monochrome.

 

"With this lens you can take your time, focus on your subject and really think about your photography both compositionally and mathematically"

 

 

With 10 aperture blades as part of it's construction, this lens produces some great round specular highlights and the Bokeh possesses a really distinct and dreamy quality. Overall this lens produces a much less contrasty image than say a Canon prime lens or a Sigma, but with a little contrast added in post production, you really do start getting some magical results. Using the Nokton Classic wide open at f/1.4 can be tricky and the results vary, but overall you are getting a soft image. Once you start stopping down to f/2 or f/2.8 she starts to get sharp. Sharpness for me isn't the main priority when looking at a lens (unless doing work for clients) but it's always a nice feeling to get that sweet spot of focusing and confidently know that your subject will be nice and sharp.

Focusing this lens can be tricky at the start. I mean it's a rangefinder lens that we are taking from it's world and throwing it into the dimension of digital photography, so don't expect this lens to work as smoothly as it does on a rangefinder camera. With all that said though, I have had no issues working it on my Xpro1 and the focusing hasn't been an issue at all. Of course, you won't be beating the AF speed of the Fujifilm lenses anytime soon, but this lens isn't for that, if anything it's for the opposite. With this lens you can take your time, focus on your subject and really think about your photography both compositionally and mathematically, like a film camera. I guess that's what this lens brings to the Fujifilm system, a more controlled experience for the photographer, a setup you can really can get into and feel more connected to. For all of my street photographers, zone focusing also works great on this lens. Because of the M-Fujifilm adapter you do lose around 0.2m from the marking guidelines, but once stopped down to say f/5.6 this becomes completely unnoticeable.

I do hear people comparing the Voigtlander 40mm Nokton to closely related Leica glass, but in reality there is no comparison and Leica will always win this battle (As it should considering the price difference) But don't let this discourage you, as what we have here is an affordable lens (£350.00 brand new) that produces excellent results and gives it's user a more distinct and unique image, I mean isn't that what photography is about?

Overall this lens has been a completely positive experience, giving my Fuji X-pro1 an entirely new lease of life. It has made me use my camera in a completely different way, mainly by forcing me to take my time (as I do when shooting film). The lens has produced some amazing results with very minimal post production needed, it is solid, compact and is constantly around my neck or in my bag.

(Below) Images taken with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 S.C (Single Coated) / Fujifilm X-Pro1