Lens review

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical

26 September 2012
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical is a lens with unique parameters. Apart from its older brother, the Nokton 0.95/25, there is just one more photographic device as fast as this one, available on the market, namely the Leica Noctilux 0.95/50. It would be difficult to compare those two because, after all, the Leica is a full frame instrument. Out of necessity our chart presents just a comparison between both Voigtlanders. 

In the photo below the tested Voigtlander is positioned next to two Olympus devices, the 1.8/45 and the 1.8/75. It’s worth mentioning that these two are the fastest lenses that company offers to the users of the Micro 4/3 system.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical - Build quality

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If you ever handled a Voigtlander lens you won’t be disappointed taking the Nokton 0.95/17 into your hand. Its build quality is beyond reproach – you deal here with metal and glass only. The weight of the lens is truly impressive – it seems to be as solid as a small hand grenade. It’s worth noticing that the Olympus 1.8/75, presented in the photo above, also made entirely of metal, is two times lighter than the Voigtlander!

One thing we can carp about is how easy you can scratch and/or damage the black paint, covering the metal casing. It was enough we went once outside to shoot some sample photos - the lens was just attached and then removed several times and lay in a bag next to other cameras and lenses; still we could notice several wear marks afterwards.

The lens starts with a short, metal Micro 4/3 mount. There are no contacts there, though, so the body doesn’t get any info about the focal length or aperture value; as a result it doesn’t save it in EXIF. A rear element is 2.5 cm in diameter and more or less on the same level as the mount when you set the focus at infinity. When you pass to the minimum focusing distance the lens hides by about 0.5 cm inside the casing. The lens focuses by shifting the whole optical system at once so there is no change of the focal length involved.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical - Build quality

On the black, metal casing you can see a depth of field scale first, with markings for f/16, f/8 and f/4.0 aperture. On the other side there is a serial number of the lens and an inscription “ Lens made in Japan”. Further on, there is a manual focus ring, 2.5 cm wide, the majority of which is occupied by ribs and some shallow finger groves. The remaining part features a distance scale expressed in meters and inches/feet. The ring’s work is perfect – smooth, well-damped across the whole range, exactly as you should expect in a case of a top-of-the-range manual lens. Running through the whole scale takes a turn through about 200 degrees, allowing you very precise settings.

Behind the manual focus ring starts that part of the casing which extends a bit when you pass to the minimum focusing distance. There you can also find an aperture ring, 8 mm wide. The aperture can be changed every 0.5 EV step and only turning that ring; you cannot change it using the menu of a camera, like in the case of the Voigtlander SL II devices, designed for full frame. The performance of the aperture ring is faultless by the way.

The front element is 43 mm in diameter, surrounded by inscriptions stating the name and parameters of the lens as well as a non-rotating filter thread, with a diameter of 58 mm.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical - Build quality

The lens consists of 13 elements positioned in 9 groups – two elements more than in the case of its 0.95/25 brother. One element is aspherical and one is made of glass with a very high refractive index ( a so-called Super High Refractive element). Inside you can also find a circular aperture with as many as 10 diaphragm blades which can be closed down maximally to the value of f/16.0.

Buyers get both caps and a hood with an additional cap in the box. The lens is not cheap so it is a pity the producer didn’t add any case or pouch, though.

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5 mm f/0.95 Aspherical - Build quality