Over the years, Voigtlander, a premium lens company, has put out a variety of incredibly high quality glass for Sony cameras.
The particular one we’ll be looking at today is the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0, a very expensive and premium manual macro lens.
So, how does this manual lens compare to its autofocus equivalents? Let’s find out.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Reasonably compact but very heavy
- Built like a tank
- Fun and concise manual focusing
- A premium macro lens
Size & Weight
Modern Voigtlander lenses are known for being fairly compact when compared to their AF equivalents, and this one is no exception.
Although a bit larger than some of the company’s other offerings, it still measures a reasonable 3.58 inches (9.1cm). The lens does extend when focused, however, adding on an whopping extra 1.75 inches (4cm) at it’s longest point.
Additionally, the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0 weighs a very chunky 22.4oz (635g), making it feel quite front-heavy even on my Sony a7, especially when the barrel is extended.
Is the lens well built?
Build quality, as one would expect from a premium lens, is entirely uncompromised.
Being manufactured in Japan (despite Voigtlander being an Austrian company), the lens is built like a tank, offering a full all-metal build even down to the lens hood.
Speaking of the lens hood, it’s incredibly small and nearly pointless. Being a screw-on kind, it can’t be reversed and taking it off for storage is not a quick task. The front element is already very recessed and protected, so I opted to just go without the lens hood to save some space.
Another minor complaint I have is that the lens lacks any sort of weather sealing. I understand it’s a manual lens, but for nearly $1000 it seems like something that shouldn’t have been left out.
Regardless, it’s a Voigtlander lens and, like all their glass, it feels incredibly durable and built to last.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
Aesthetically, the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0 is gorgeous. The lens barrel has a sleek black finish that contrasts extremely well against the white and red text engravings.
Additionally, there’s a nice red/green/blue series of lines near the front element that really tie the whole thing together. It may sound silly to discuss the aesthetics of a lens, but I do believe it’s an important aspect.
Between the incredibly premium build and the beautiful appearance, the Voigtlander reminds me of a well built vintage lens. It even has a physical clicked aperture ring!
Ergonomically, the lens isn’t the most pleasant to handle. The heavy weight tends to weigh you down after a while, and I found myself tossing it into my bag on occasion to save my wrists. Either way, I think the weight is a worthy tradeoff for the incredible build that this lens offers.
As for image quality, the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0, to put it simply, is incredible.
When shooting wide open, the lens shows incredible performance across almost the entire frame, with only minor falloff near the extreme corners.
Without getting to into the science/tests, the lens scores even higher when stopped down, offering literally flawless performance when stopped down to F5.6. Even the most extreme of pixel peepers will be hard pressed to find any flaws.
It is worth noting that, despite the incredible performance wide open, the depth of field is so razor thin that it can be hard to actually achieve that near-flawless sharpness. For the vast majority of situations, you’ll need to slow down and make sure your shot is actually entirely in focus.
Bokeh & Subject Isolation
A unique characteristic of many Voigtlander lenses is that bokeh isn’t rendered in a circular shape, but rather an almost decagonal shape. This is due to the fact that the blades are not rounded but rather straight.
It’s hard to notice in most cases and, in my opinion, completely subjective. I like it when my lenses have a bit of character, so the straight edged bokeh isn’t really a concern to me.
Speaking of which, shooting portraits is another strong point of this lens, as the wide F-stop along with the excellent bokeh make for some great subject isolation. Additionally, sunstars look amazing.
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Optical Quirks & Flaws
As for optical flaws, the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0 suffers from very little. Vignetting is fairly strong, but nothing that isn’t easily fixable either by stopping down or in post-processing.
Flaring and distortion are essentially non-existent. You can get very minor ghosting when shooting directly into the sun, but it’s some of the best performance I’ve seen on any lens.
Additionally, due to the apochromatic design, chromatic aberration is also pretty much completely non-existent.
Overall, absolutely stellar optical performance across the board.
Focusing & Other Notes
The manual focus experience on the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0 is nothing short of spectacular. It, again, feels and operates like a vintage lens.
The focusing ring is well dampened and made of bare metal, but has a few ribbed points to grip, making it easy to locate and use without having to physically look down at the lens.
As stated before, the lens barrel extends substantially when focusing, and it takes a turn of about 325 degrees to get through the entire range. Due to this, refocusing takes a while, but is quite accurate.
Another strength of this lens is that, unlike most manual lenses, it offers an electronic connection to the camera. This is incredibly powerful for a number of reasons.
First, it’s able to automatically activate the focus magnifier when the focusing ring is turned, substantially speeding up the process of getting accurate focus and allowing the photographer to avoid any extra button presses.
Second, it’s able to send EXIF data and even assist in stabilization. Sony’s newer bodies rely on the lens to get full 5-axis stabilization, and the electronic chip in this lens supports that. Stabilization is important for a macro lens so this is nice to see.
My Final Thoughts
I really do believe that in most cases, Voigtlander lenses are in a class of their own. You simply don’t see this type of build quality and sharpness is most other lenses. That being said, there are two worthy alternatives to this lens that both offer autofocus.
First would be the Sony FE 90mm F2.8, a beast of a lens that gets close in terms of optical performance, but isn’t quite as bright and also is both a bit more expensive and way larger.
Second would be the Sigma 70mm F2.8 which, while it offers 1:1 magnification, is also absolutely massive and can’t compare to the optical quality of the Voigtlander.
Before we finish this out, I want to again touch on the fact that this lens is manual. The shallow depth of field combined with the heavy weight can make it a bit challenging to achieve accurate focus, and, for that reason, some photographers may want to look towards the aforementioned autofocus alternatives.
That being said, as a huge fan of manual lenses, I absolutely love the Voigtlander 65mm F2.0. It combines an incredible and high quality build along with exceptional sharpness and optical perfection.
If you’re the type who also likes manual focus and are looking for a phenomenal macro lens, I’d suggest picking this one up. I’ll include purchase links below if you’re interested in checking it out. Thanks for reading. 🙂
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