Lens review

Voigtlander Nokton 35 mm f/1.2 X / Z

7 November 2022
Maciej Latałło

11. Summary


  • shapely, very solid barrel made of metal,
  • excellent image quality in the frame centre from f/2.0 upwards,
  • imperceptible longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • slight lateral chromatic aberration,
  • lack of any serious distortion problems,
  • blurry areas pleasing to the eye.


  • weak image quality in the frame centre near the maximum relative aperture,
  • not especially sharp edges of the frame,
  • problems with spherical aberration,
  • very high coma,
  • distinct vignetting,
  • weak performance against bright light.
I admit that I don't know what to think about such lenses as the tested Nokton. I can understand that there are people who like playing creatively with blur. Optics producers should offer them cheap instruments with just several elements for such a purpose. The choice is rich: you can use Cooke triplets, 4-element aplanatic lenses, anastigmats or tessars. The 5-element SainSonic Kamlan 50 mm f/1.1, that we have tested provided such a possibilities and its price was about $150.

Still, if you see much more complex and more expensive lenses, which are not so sharp you feel perplexed. A good lens should produce good quality images, if they are blurry there's nothing you can do. With a sharp lens you have a lot of possibilities – you can make it less sharp by playing with photo editors, you can apply softening or diffusion filters, you can grease the front element with lard. Finally you can make a sharp lens less sharp for ever by dropping it on the floor. It doesn't work the other way round – a blurry lens will never become sharp and crisp.

That's why I have a problem with the Voigtlander Nokton 1.2/35 X. On the one hand they did try to correct some aberrations by using 8 elements in its construction, one of them made of special glass. What's more, the Nokton is a very solid device and that's why it costs almost $650.

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Perhaps the producer wanted to offer us two things in one, it's the only explanation I can think of. The Nokton 1.2/35 might be treated as a very well-built 2/35 lens that is quite sharp in the frame centre; apertures from the f/1.2-f/1.8 range are a bonus, just for a creative blur play. Still such a solution costs almost $650 and it doesn't guarantee you good image quality on the edge of the frame by practically any aperture. If you still think it's worth your while, fine by me. Personally I am not convinced...