Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 Review

Over the last few years, the legendary Voigtlander company has produced a variety of great lenses for Sony cameras. And, as is typical with this company, every lens they’ve made has been epic.

The particular one we’ll be looking at today is the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2, a rather unique little lens that offers a strange combination: manual focus at a premium price point.

So, how does this expensive little manual lens compare to its autofocus competitors?

Let’s find out!

Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?

Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 (Summary)
26 Reviews
Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 (Summary)
- Quite small and compact
- Premium Voigtlander quality build
- Manual focus is fun and concise
- Soft wide open, but sharp stopped down
bridge in paris
The Voigtlander has character and vintage charm, but is it actually a good lens?

Build Quality

Size & Weight

If you’ve looked at any other Voigtlander lens for Sony cameras, you’ll know that they’ve produced a lot of small yet premium lenses, and the 40mm is no exception.

It measures a rather diminutive 2.32 inches (5.9cm) and yet weighs a rather hefty 14.8oz (420g). Because of this high weight rating, the lens feels sturdy and premium despite the small size, being almost reminiscent of a well-built vintage lens.

I personally love manual lenses as the lack of an autofocus system allows them to get really, really tiny. It’s great for discreet street photography!

Is the lens well-built?

So, it’s small, but let’s talk about build quality! The build quality is, without a doubt, uncompromised.

The lens, despite technically being a German brand, is manufactured in Japan by a company called Cosina (known for crafting lenses for companies such as Zeiss).


And, as we all know, products built in Japan tend to be pretty bulletproof.

The lens is made entirely out of metal, from the barrel all the way down to the lens caps and hood! I absolutely love it when lenses ditch plastic in favor of all-metal builds.

Hood & Caps

Speaking of the lens hood, it’s not a typical bayonet kind but instead is a screw-mount. For this reason, it’s not easily removable or, for that matter, reversible. Luckily, it’s tiny so storing the lens with it attached is not an issue.

The lens also includes your typical front and rear caps which are also made of metal.

voigtlander 40mm f1.2 with lens hood
The included lens hood is quite small but it gets the job done.

Weather Sealing

One negative point is that the lens actually lacks any sort of weather sealing.

This was a bit disappointing and surprising to me as, well, it’s a Voigtlander. It’s supposed to be top-of-the-line.

Build to last?

In any case, despite the lack of weather sealing, this lens is built like a tank and should last pretty much forever.

I’ve never had any durability issues with previous Voigtlander lenses, so I suspect this thing will hold up over time as well.


As for ergonomics, it’s heavy yet small, which made it feel incredibly well-balanced on my a7iii.

It’s the type of lens that you can shoot with for hours without suffering from any sort of hand fatigue. And, when you do need to put it away, it’s small enough to fit in a jacket pocket!


Aesthetically, the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 is nothing short of gorgeous. The lens barrel is a sleek black which contrasts well against the red and white engraved text.

It almost has a look that combines both industrial and minimalist design philosophies, which really exemplifies the premium feel of the lens. It really reminds me of a well-built vintage lens both in terms of quality and appearance.

Image Quality

Sharpness & Character

Image quality gets a bit weird, and it is almost as if the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 has two different personalities. Let me explain.

Wide Open

So, at wider apertures (think under F2), the lens is actually pretty soft, and renders this weird, almost dreamy aesthetic.

It looks almost like you dragged the dehaze slider in Lightroom to the left just a bit.

Some may like it and some may hate it. If you’re looking for a lens that’s extremely sharp wide open, this is not it.

Stopped Down

On the flipside, however, dropping down just a few stops provides the complete opposite.

When stopped down, the lens is stupidly sharp, rendering a near-flawless image from edge-to-edge. Contrast is very strong and the lens outperforms pretty much any of its competitors in terms of pure sharpness.

This two-faced characteristic is quite unique and is something I haven’t seen in any other lens.

street in paris with cyclist
The lens is soft and dreamy wide open, but razor sharp when stopped down.


The aperture blades in the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 are straight, which means bokeh doesn’t render perfectly round as with most lenses. This is a character-related thing, and I personally like the look.

That being said, the lens does suffer from a bit of “geometric deformation” at very wide apertures. Meaning, at F1.2 and F1.4, the bokeh is a bit “stretched” and takes on an almost cats-eye type shape near the corners.

This is something that other lenses struggle with and, if I’m honest, it’s not a huge deal. It’s unlikely you’ll be shooting at F1.2 constantly and, even if you do, it’s an effect that isn’t very noticeable. Either way, bokeh is absolutely gorgeous, even when stopped down.

woman with bokeh background
Bokeh is absolutely gorgeous when shooting wide open.

Optical Quirks & Flaws

Alright, so the lens is sharp (when stopped down) and has a lot of character, but how does it handle optical flaws such as distortion, vignette, CA, and flaring?


Starting off, the vignette is quite strong, but it’s easily fixed in post-processing, just at the risk of introducing some digital noise.

I’m personally a fan of natural vignette, though, and I think it provides just a bit more character to an already very unique lens.


The lens does suffer from a minor bit of pincushion distortion, but its hardly noticeable.

A single click in Lightroom should remedy that (there’s a built-in lens profile, more on that later).


Chromatic aberrations are fairly strong when shooting wide open, but they’re largely fixable with a single click in post-processing.

Astrophotographers, however, should note that coma (stretching of stars) is very strong.

Flare Resistance

Flaring is well-controlled and shouldn’t be a concern, especially when using the lens hood.

Even when shooting directly into the sun, the lens suffers from very little ghosting or loss of contrast.

Overall Optical Performance

Overall, I was quite impressed with the images that came out of the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2.

This is a lens that is entirely high-end and premium, and the pictures it produces shows it.

I love the character that it has, with the soft (dreamy) vibe when wide open, to the sharp, high-contrast look it has when stopped down.

Already interested in buying?

Voigtlander 40mm F1.2
26 Reviews
Voigtlander 40mm F1.2
This lens, despite a bit soft wide open, offers exceptional sharpness when stopped down.

Focusing & Other Notes

Manual Focus

The manual focus experience of the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 is spectacular as one would expect from a company that… you know, specializes in exclusively manual lenses.

The focusing ring has a nice ribbed texture that makes it easy to grip and use without having to physically look at the lens itself. It’s perfectly dampened, and the focus throw is roughly 130 degrees, allowing for decently quick but very precise focus.

As I’ve stated before, it almost feels like using a well-crafted vintage lens, and I found getting accurate focus to be incredibly easy, especially when coupled with Sony’s excellent MF assists (such as focus magnifier and peaking).

Aperture Ring

Another neat feature of this lens is the ability to set the aperture ring to be either clicked or clickless.

To switch it, there’s a small ring near the front that you pull forward and rotate 180 degrees. If the yellow line is on the top of the lens, it’s in clickless mode, and if the white dot is on top, it’s clicked.

I’ve used a lot of manual lenses with clickless apertures, and I’ve always wished I could change them as I’m much more partial to clicked rings, so this was a great feature.

Electronic Connections

Finally, I want to mention that the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 offers electronic connections. This allows the lens to function almost like any other modern lens, offering EXIF data (including aperture/focal length) and allowing other bits of information to be transferred to the camera body.

This is great because it allows the focus magnifier to activate automatically when the focusing ring is turned, making quick focus a breeze. Additionally, it allows for full 5-axis stabilization (on cameras that support it), since some of that data comes from the lens itself.

I love the inclusion of modern tech (electronics) whilst still retaining the classic feel of a manual lens.

sunset over paris river
If you’re looking for a lens with a lot of character, this Voigtlander is the way to go.

My Final Thoughts


At the end of my articles, I usually like to give comparable alternatives. To be honest, though, the Voigtlander lineup of lenses is incredibly unique in the fact that they are both premium and expensive, but are also tiny and entirely manual.

Out of anything, though, the new Sony 40mm F2.5 would be the closest competitor. It’s a bit cheaper but is still quite well built, tiny, and offers excellent optical quality. It is, however, an F2.5 lens so it loses a lot of light when compared to the Voigtlander.


Overall, the Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 is quite a unique lens. Stopped down, sharpness and clarity are excellent, but when shooting wide open it offers a sort of character that is unmatched by any other modern lens I’ve seen.

Coupling that with the tiny size and the premium build, this is a mighty little lens that is, in my opinion, perfect for the more artsy type of photographer. There’s a lot of potential with that soft, dreamy look when shooting wide open.

If you’re looking for a unique lens to add to your arsenal, this one is the way to go. I’ll include purchase links below if you’re interested in checking it out yourself. Thank you for reading.

Voigtlander 40mm F1.2
26 Reviews
Voigtlander 40mm F1.2
The Voigtlander 40mm F1.2 is a small and beautifully built manual focus lens that offers a lot of artistic potential.

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