Normally when you want a wide lens, you shop for, compare, choose and buy a wide lens. In photography, it behooves one to slow down a bit and consider all things. What things? Glad you asked.
- First off super wide lenses, with their deep depth of field, do not necessarily need AF. At anything f/8 and beyond most everything is going to be in focus.
- Bullet above opens things up for adapting film lenses on a mirrorless body. With current full frame systems, which now number 3 and perhaps soon 4, you can preserve that 35mm field of view.
I adapt most all of my film lenses regardless of system. With perks like focus peaking and IBIS (sorry Canon) this makes this a simple way to expand your digital lens lineup. My personal preference is to adapt mirrorless (rangefinder) film camera lenses like Leica M and Contax G. Why? Glad you asked.
Flange focal distance. With no mirror box to contend with, like digital mirrorless cameras, film mirrorless/rangefinder cameras have much shorter flange focal distances. This means much thinner adapters. Combine this with many film rangefinder lenses being smaller than SLR lenses this makes for a smaller lens dealie.
Two things I highly recommend if you plan to shoot native film mount and adapted digital:
- Digital side: Close focus adapters. Functionally this could be done for any mount I suppose, but adapters like this are available from a few brands for M mounts. Brings macro performance to near any lens. Like a demi extension tube. You can spend as much as or more than some lenses for one. I chose this one for $39 and so far it has done just fine.
- Film side: I have winged it with a less wide lens on a rangefinder with decent results before. But at 15mm I highly recommend a viewfinder. Other than framing it is also the only way I am able to keep my hands, feet, shadow, person and things next to me out of shots.
So what have I to say for this lens? It is great. Super wide lenses can seem very limiting, but this lens does not seem to limit at all.
- Sharp wide open in the center.
- No distortion I can find.
- Unlike earlier Voigtlander 15mm variants this lens performs just fine on digital. No magenta or smeared corners. Sharp across the lens when stopped down a bit.
- While not as compact as the earlier variants it is very small compared to similarly spec’d lenses. Much smaller than the Laowa 15mm I sold when purchasing this.
- Versatile. Unlike the Laowa I can use this on my Bessa R2 also. Unlike the Sony E Mount variant of this same lens I can add macro capabilities with the close focus adapter. WIll gladly trade the chip focus assists for the added functionality.
- Build quality and aesthetics. While the Laowa’s build is every bit as sturdy it’s look is decidedly industrial compared to the Voigtlander.
- Film: There is no better super wide M mount lens available at any price. And this one costs far less than any of the closest options.
- Digital: I prefer this to any of the super wide digital options. Most AF lenses in this range are eye-watering price wise. There is a similarly priced Rokinon AF lens, but this is more compact. A $100 less expensive than the Sony E mount variant of this same lens.
- Great colors.
- Odd for a wide angle, but great bokeh when employing the close focus adapter on digital.
- Will stop myself here.
- Eh. I’ve got nothing. Would initially have said a wider aperture perhaps, but not any more. It was the right compromise to make. I would never trade the small size and reasonable price that would have been sacrificed since I have never found the aperture to be an issue in real world use.
Film sample set below. Here is an ongoing gallery that will include both film and digital.