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Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II

Introduction

Cosina, which currently owns the Voigtlander brand name, announced release of the new SL II series of SLR lenses  in the Fall of 2007. Needless to say that this announcement caught many by surprise, positive surprise obviously, since everybody believed that Cosina discontinued the SL lenses for good back in 2004. It remains to be seen whether Cosina will decide to re-introduce the entire range of SLR lenses, but at the moment the company released two standard fixed focals - 40mm f/2 Ultron and 58mm f/1.4 Nokton. Both lenses are available in Nikon Ai-S and Pentax KA mounts, but unlike their predecessors, the new Ai-S variants also have embedded CPU controllers that provide metering compatibility with modern digital SLRs. Currently new samples of Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 sells for US$379 at online resellers like CameraQuest. When used on APS-C type cameras with 1.6x crop factor, the 58mm Nokton turns into a medium telephoto lens with a field of view similar to that of a 92mm lens on a full frame body.

The optical construction of the lens consists of 7 elements in 6 groups. Build quality is pretty good - the new versions of SL series have black finish as compared to black/chrome finish for the first generation lenses. The barrel is made of metal as is the aperture ring. Focus ring is rubberized - a change compared to the older models. Another change is the snap-on front cap, which is now plastic rather then metal screw-in type. The lens no longer features bayonet lens hood thread and instead lens hood has to be screwed in to the lens filter thread. The filter ring is pretty smooth but the aperture ring feels a bit rough (the ring moves in one f-stop increments). The minimum supported aperture is f/16 and the ring moves in one full f-stop increments.

The lens is pretty compact and light, measuring 64 x 47mm (2.5 x 1.8in) and weighing 320g (11.3oz). As mentioned above, the Nikon variant of the lens has an embedded CPU that provides matrix metering when used on modern Nikon digital SLRs. The lens is fully manual, but supports electronic aperture control from Nikon cameras - you need to set the lens to f/16 aperture using the lens ring which will then allow you to set aperture levels from your camera. The minimum focusing distance is 45cm (1.4ft) and the filter thread is 58mm.

Image

The factory box includes Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II lens, front and rear caps and a manual. The lens accepts optional ($39) LH-58 dome shaped lens hood. When using the lens on a Canon SLR cameras, I relied on generic non-AF chipped Nikon F to EOS adapter from Fotodiox.

 

Summary
Lens Composition 7 elements in 6 groups
Angular Field ~40 degrees
Minimum Focus 45cm/1.47ft
Focusing Action MF
f-stop Scale f/1.4-f/16, manual
Filter Size 58mm
Lens Hood LH-58 (optional)
Weight 320g/11.3oz
Dimensions 64x47mm/2.5x1.8"
Lens Case None