After an extended silence (he's been photographing in Iceland) I heard from John Lehet today, he of our previous print sale. The following, nestled deep down in a longer email, made my ears perk up:
"My other big news is a new lens, the Voigtländer 65mm ƒ/2 Apo-Lanthar Macro for Sony E mount. I'm not sure it's getting widespread love. People are saying, 'what a weird focal length,' or 'only Sony?' or 'manual focus only?' But this Voigtländer 65mm is the nicest lens I've ever owned (and I have quite a pile of them stacked up in a cabinet with desiccant). The bokeh is perhaps a little rougher than the nicest when it's stopped down in contrasty light, but overall the bokeh is very clean and neutral, variable from 'very very nice,' to 'it could be better.' The bokeh-ball shapes can be ugly 10-sided things stopped down, and cats-eyes at the edges wide open though they only show badly in contrasty light. Even with those little flaws it's really nice overall.
"But the sharpness is unbelievable from ƒ/2 through ƒ/8, and there the apochromatic correction is amazing. For my style, bokeh is really only worth anything if it is a negative ground in relationship to real sharpness. I'm going to sell my Zeiss Loxia 50mm because the Voigtländer 65mm is better at every aperture."
This is only pertinent because John has lots of good lenses and a very acute eye for lens performance. When he speaks, I listen. Thought you might be interested if you happen to have an A7II or A7RII. The latter is what John shoots these days.
At it again
In other lens news, the elves and wizards at LensRentals (or should I say elf and wizard, Aaron and Roger) have been at it again, this time doing a teardown on a truly weird 40-year-old Minolta lens. If you like clever gizmos, you'll dig this.
(Thanks to Jeff Schimberg and John Lehet)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
hugh crawford: (partial comment): "If you are looking for cheap APO glass, get an APO enlarging lens and a Leica ZOOXY focus mount. You can pick up the focus mount for $25 and ultra-sharp glass for $100 or so, $200 if you are in a rush. I just took 18,000 pictures with a Leica Focotar lens mounted to a Sony A7 via a ZOOXY last week. The Focotar doesn't claim to be apochromatic , but I can see no evidence of lateral or longitudinal chromatic aberration. The biggest problem is the extreme sharpness of the dust on the objects I am photographing, but thankfully there is Photoshop for that."
Richard: "Jim Kasson has done (is still doing?) his usual thorough examination of this lens, starting here."
Patrick Perez (partial comment): "I'm curious if the lens is actually apochromatic, if only because, if I recall correctly, when the modern Voigtlaender (A.K.A. Cosina) introduced its first branded 'APO' lens (I think it was the 90mm, but maybe a 135mm) they didn't actually claim it was apochromatic in performance, only that they were re-using the name."
John Lehet replies: As for the questions about the corrected-ness of this lens, it is really good. As noted above, Jim Kasson has been concluding that, but another good online example is Phillip Reeve's review. His torture test is a backlit fountain where of course many of the splashing drops of water are before and after the focal plane. His shot is quite clean, and a remarkable contrast to the other lenses he has subjected to that test, which show all kinds of color fringing around the drops. I have been photographing some spider webs with it in recent foggy/dewy mornings, and they are unlike any spiderwebs I've ever photographed, clean and free of color fringe. (It turns out that a foggy morning is also where this lens is at its best for bokeh, while the bokeh is rather less smooth in high contrast situations). It's not the very best bokeh lens ever, but the bokeh is good to quite good a reasonable amount of the time. For sharpness it is really good from ƒ/2 across the frame. It's not a perfect lens, or the best lens ever made (just, probably, the best lens I've ever owned, with the Loxia 21mm as the only other lens I've had in this class).
Right now it's certainly my desert island only-one-lens lens.