I have had the Voightlander 17.5mm f0.95 lens for my micro four-thirds camera (Olympus OM-D EM5) for about 7 months now and I've taken a heck of a lot of shots with this beauty. But it's time to say goodbye to it as I am taking a step back from the micro four-thirds camera system, and moving towards an APS-C one. Yep, I'm selling this lens, but let me give you a quick overview on this little gem.
In the beginning, the feature that drew me towards this lens was the fact that I could shoot full body portraits at a 35mm full-framed equivalent at f0.95, whilst keeping the background out of focus. The other thing I was looking forward to was being able to shoot at lower ISO's during the night, being that this is such a fast lens when the aperture's wide open.
Then as I grew with this lens, I realised that there was so much more to love about the way this lens renders images - the photos you get from this lens look quite different.
From the incredible sharpness to the tonality of the images, there was nothing to not like about this. It became a permanent fixture on my OM-D and only switched out to a 25mm when I wanted to shoot some closeup portraits.
As visible from the shots below, colours that are rendered by this lens are really natural and have a slight film quality to them. Very little post-processing was done to these shots yet they look nothing like the colours that come out of Nikon and Canon cameras.
Manual-focus Only Lens
I only wished that Voightlander had created this lens with a focus confirmation chip built in like some of the other manual-focus only lenses on the DSLR systems - the Samyang/Rokinon manual focus-only lenses are a great example of this.
Missed focus shots are going to be a common issue with this lens and even after I've had a lot of practice, I still get the occasional misses. My advice is to not use the Voightlander for any run and gun type shots. Take your time and be methodical about what you're shooting. With which a thin focus slice at f0.95, you can't afford to have your subject move either. Any small movements away from or towards the focus plane could easily end you up with an out of focused shot. This also goes for the focus then recompose technique, it won't work here especially when the aperture is wide-open.
When I do nail focus though, the results are amazing. Backgrounds just gradually melt away like butter.
The Sony NEX-7 has a beautiful focus peaking feature that allows you to find your focus slice very quickly via red sprites on the EVF. For those of you who have an Olympus EP-3 or an OM-D are in luck, as there's a hack for doing the same thing as the Sony's, and it works a treat with the Voightlander.
Here is a guide on the Micro Four-Thirds forum on how to set it up.
Black & White
Black and white images can often have that timeless feel and they really draw me towards shooting street photography in this style. The Voightlander 17.5mm is well suited towards B&W street photography, provided you have a sharp eye for focus. Either that or learn the zone system for focusing and you'll be fine.
If you're already invested in the m4/3 system, this lens is going to last you forever as it's built like a tank (with an all-metal construction, which includes the lens hood). Some folks complain that it's too heavy but it is something I quickly got used to. The pro's far outweigh the con's in this regard.
I hope you've found this short review a little helpful. When I was weighing up whether or not to buy this lens last year, it took me quite a while to decide upon the purchase. Looking back on how much fun I've had with shoot with such a fast and sharp lens though, it was well worth the price.