Lens review

Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II

29 September 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

When it comes to the dimensions, the Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II doesn’t differ much from other 50-58 mm class lenses. The comparison with other manual devices feautring similar parameters is presented in the following chart. Another chart shows how the lens compares with autofocus lenses. You can notice that the Voigtlander, although without an autofocus mechanism, definitely belongs to heavier devices. Undoubtedly the barrel, made entirely of metal, and the huge front element contributed to that fact.

The photo below shows the tested lens positioned between the Sony 1.4/50 and the Sigma 1.4/30.

Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II - Build quality

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The lens starts with a metal bayonet mount, having contacts which allow the communication with a body. Because of that we can control the lens’s aperture from the level of the menu, all parameters of photos taken are saved in the EXIF format and there is an in-focus indicator in the camera viewfinder. Additionally we can profit from fully-automatic flash. Inside the mount you can find a rear element with a diameter of 3 cm. When you set the focus at infinity this element is more or less at the level of the contacts and on passing to the minimum focus it hides inside the housing for about one centimeter. During focusing the whole optical system shifts so the lens doesn’t change its focal length.

Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II - Build quality

Behind the mount, already on the casing, we find an aperture ring which is metal, ribbed and one centimeter wide. Using the ring you can change the aperture every 1 EV stop so if you want to fine-tune it with more precision it’s better to do it from the body’s menu level. It’s worth knowing that in the case of the Voigtlander lenses, tested nowadays, which feature contacts (so SL II versions) you can control the aperture in two ways: either using the manual aperture ring on the lens, with the 1 EV stop change, or from the body’s level, after setting the ring at f/16 – then we can change the aperture every 1/2 or 1/3 EV of a stop.

Moving on we see a very narrow ring with depth of field markings for f/16 and f/8 apertures and the lens’s serial number with the information that it was made in Japan. Then we meet a focus ring which is 24 mm wide. Most of that ring is ribbed, with a smaller part occupied by a distance scale, expressed in meters and feet. The ring is well-damped and moves with perfect resistance. Running through the whole scale takes a turn of over 210 degrees. The range is huge making the ring is a joy to use.

During focusing the system of elements extends on a metal inner tube. As there is no front element rotation, you can use any 58 mm filter you want without the slightest problem. The front element with a diameter of 42 mm is surrounded by a casing on which you can find the name of the lens and its parameters.

The optical design of the tested Voigtlander consists of 7 elements set in 6 groups. The producer doesn’t boast of using any glass of special kind and/or shape. Inside, you can also find a circular aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/16.

Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II - Build quality

The buyer gets only two caps included in box. The LH-58 lens hood is optional.

Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f/1.4 SL II - Build quality