Does the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 make a good quality “street photography” lens for the Sony NEX-7? That question has been bouncing around in my head f0r a while since I got the Sony NEX-7. I’ve been doing to many reviews and tests, that I haven’t been able to answer that question for myself until now. I decided to have some quality Father and Son time over this holiday weekend and I was very happy my son was a good sport about being a model.
In this review of the Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Aspherical Super-Wide Heliar for the Sony NEX-7, I will show you examples from many different lighting situations, talk about what I like and dislike about this lens, talk about the handling and “real world” use of the lens, and give my opinion of whether or not this lens is really worth the money.
The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Aspherical Super-Wide Heliar has a relatively short focus throw. So you don’t need to turn the focusing ring that much to focus from a couple of feet to infinity. This is great because you can focus fast even though it’s a manual focus lens. Plus you can use hyper focal focus or range focus without even using the viewfinder. The Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Aspherical is very compact and light weight so you can carry the camera in your hand or around your neck very easily. I use my Survival Camera Straps to wrist carry the Sony NEX-7 and it is very comfortable and allows me to be ready when something interesting happens.
What I like about this lens is that it’s almost like a pancake lens, it’s very compact and even with the adapter, it is very shallow. This great to carry around, place in a bag, etc. The the short focus is also a great! I can literally hold the camera with my right hand and use my pinky to focus the lens. Now that’s one-handed operation! 🙂 Since the Sony NEX-7 has a 1.5 crop factor, this puts it at 22.5mm which is around my favorite angle of view 21mm. Plus the lens has minimal distortion, great for a wide-angle lens such as this.
Unfortunately, this Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 Aspherical suffers the same fate as the very good Zeiss 18mm F4 ZM lens, Color shift on the edges of the frame. As I’ve stated in the review of the Zeiss 18mm F4 ZM lens, you can use this program call CornerFix to correct the issue, but it seems like an annoying extra step for someone like me that doesn’t do a lot of post processing. If you do lots of post processing or use Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture you can integrate this into your work flow then it’s not that big of a deal. I guess it comes down to how you post process. Does this Color shift prevent me from buying this lens? My answer is No. I figure the people who will be interested in this lens would be willing to either integrate CornerFix into their workflow, or adjust individual images as needed. As you can see for yourself from my test images this angle of view is great! Especially for “street photography”.
You’ve seen the examples so we know the lens is sharp. You’ve read the good and bad, so you know there is corner color shift, but the lens is sharp, easy to use, has low distortion, and is compact. Now you want to know if it’s worth the money? In my opinion if you are a fan of the 21mm focal length in the days 35mm film, or you are looking for a true wide-angle for a 1.5 x APS-C crop body, the answer is YES! Worth every penny. The Voigtlanders are not too expensive either, not like Leica or even Zeiss, so that’s good right? It has a Very HIGH Value to Cost Ratio in my book, and if you are an owner of a Sony 5n it may be even more valuable to you since there isn’t a color shift according to other reviews on the net.
The lens is only F4.5 isn’t that a little slow? In my opinion No. With the lens being F4.5, it allows the lens to stay compact and light weight. I like that for a “street photography” lens. In “real world” practical use, you’ll most likely have the lens between F5.6-11 anyway, for hyper focal focusing, or range focusing. I much prefer this Voigtlander15mm F4.5 lens to the Zeiss 18mm F4.0, purely on weight alone. High Praise for this lens! So if you can deal with the extra post processing needed for this lens, grab one used on the secondary market or even new they aren’t that bad, price wise, and won’t cost as much as a small used car! Happy Image Making!!