Not too long ago, during a "teh tarik" session with the fellow PEN Lovers, I have had a chance to have a very quick try on the much sought after Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f0.95 lens. Koon Yik, the founder of the PEN Lovers group (click to find out more about the group), have the 25mm F0.95 lens, hence I grabbed it from him and mounted the beautiful lens on my Olympus PEN E-PL1. My goodness..... the bokeh... at F0.95 wide open, was unspeakably wicked.
All images were taken with Nokton 25mm F0.95 on Olympus PEN E-PL1 (except for first and last image)
The lens actually looks very small in hand, the size and weight was just right for a PEN sized camera.
First and foremost, allow me to make myself clear that I do not exactly support manual lenses. I know I know, the mirrorless system, particularly Olympus Micro 4/3 and the Sony NEX line have opened up the unique abilities to use the older legacy and manual lenses. I admit there are some really impressive manual lenses out there, with even newer options from SLR Magic and Samyang, but hey, I am an engineer, thus I am a very practical person. I prioritize functionability and usability, hence the autofocusing is a must have for all the lenses I intend to use on my photography system. However, do not get me wrong, though I do not support manual focusing, it does not mean I cannot, and do not use manual focus. There are specific situations that autofocusing may fail you, and at those times, the proficiency of using manual focusing override will save your life. I have been using manual focus for most of my macro insect photography, and have no issue executing it for my shooting needs. Lets not go too far into the autofocus vs manual focus debate, it has been lasting for decades and I don't think anyone will be able to find a full stop for it.
Now, onto the Voigtländer Nokton 25mm f0.95 lens, which I have used on my E-PL1. Focusing ring was smooth, but a little tight, due to the lens being rather new and rarely used. I had no problem finding focus at all, under the mixed dim fluorescent lighting of a local mamak shop. I only used the live view on the LCD display, and i do not have an Electronic viewfinder (I do not intend to get one). I used the 7x magnification preview to assist my manual focusing, which worked like a charm. Do take note that my subjects were not exactly staying very still, but at the same time, they were not moving too fast either. Yes, the lousy screen on the E-PL1 was good enough for me to have high enough success hit rates for my manual focusing, so there was no issue of using the lens to begin with.
The BOKEH...... look at how Koon Yik's hair blurred away behind the camera, simply irresistable !! He was holding a Panasonic G3 with the famous 20mm F1.7.
Another good demonstration of the creamy bokeh. The dude at the back was less than a meter away from the glass, yet he was blurred into oblivion.
On the whole the image still appears reasonably sharp, not tack sharp like the 45mm F1.8 or the 50mm f2 macro, but to me it is good enough for general use.
I do like the overall look and feel of the image output. It looks less digital in some sense, but maybe it was just me imagining things.
The bokeh, oh heaven !!! I have never laid my eyes on such beautiful bokeh in my life before, using Olympus 4/3 or micro 4/3 system all this time. The depth of field was so thin, the zone of focus was very narrow, extra care needs to be taken when the lens was used wide open. I acknowledge the fact that it was not exactly necessary to shoot at fully open F0.95 all the time, but seriously admit it, you buy the F0.95 lens because you want to use it at F0.95 !! I have also read about complains of the image output being rather soft with lots of chromatic aberration, especially at the corners of the lens. The reports were true, and I can evidently see the softness all across the frame at F0.95, but hey, the delicious bokeh trumps everything else. If you want tack sharp images, get the Olympus 45mm F1.8. You can’t expect one lens to do everything for you. I am not so concerned about the softness, and I find no reason why others should be. The details captured were reasonable, and still looked very presentable.
This image was taken with the kit lens 14-42mm, not the Nokton. I was being cheeky, focusing the lens through the electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic G3. Fun thing to do !!
I shall not comment further because I only used the lens for no more than 15 minutes. I apologize for the lack of beautiful images (which I would usually do my best to capture and present here), but it was just a dinner and drinks with friends, not a shooting session. I will only give elaborate user experience review if I have the lens for at least a half day full out walkabout session. Do I like the lens? I love the bokeh, non-arguable. Will I buy it? No, I don’t think so, and my answer is simple, “no autofocus”. If autofocus was included, I think this lens would definitely sit very high on my “to-buy” list of photography equipments.
So, do you crave the wonderful F0.95 super wide aperture opening?