The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 is one of those lenses which you hate or love.

There is not a medium way with it! If I’m writing a review about it than it means I’m one of those who love this lens. Period!

The word “Nokton” in Voigtlander’s lenses means that we are talking about f1.5 or wider aperture.

The 50mm focal length is considered by many as the all round length. I’m a “short focals” guy so for me 50mm is already something long! This Nokton is full of magic things (just because I love it) but if I have to talk as a technician (which I’m not) I have to admit it has a bunch of defects. Those defects are what make me liking it!

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 VM

If you buy a lens with f1.1 of maximum aperture than for sure you will want to use it at f1.1 and you will want to enjoy the bokeh. Here is where the pleasure/pain comes! If you like the smooth and creamy bokeh then you will be strongly disappointed by this lens. If you are like me (I like rude things!) then you will enjoy its wild and nervous rendering at f1.1 and its aggressive bokeh will become your drug!

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Many people are obsessed by the sharpness (I’m not at all!!) so we have to talk about the level of sharpness of this Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1. If you use this lens on a mirrorless body through the EVF then it will be not difficult to nail the perfect focus even at f1.1 and you can see that it is much sharper than many other “famous” (and a way more expensive) lenses with extreme maximum aperture.

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I recommend to use this lens like a common 50mm so, when it is the case, you can close down to f2.8 or f4 and you can see that it is really sharp. When you shoot at f1.1 you have to be a bit careful and you’ll get enough sharpness for those situations for which it has been made. Of course it isn’t a macro or an architecture lens! Mind it. It vignettes a lot even at f4!

The build quality of this lens is not bad at all even if not perfect. To be honest I have to say that mine, after 3 years of usage, needed to get the telescopic part (the part which extends during the focusing) fixed. All screws concerning that part of the lens got loose and the lens was wobbling quite a lot. On YouTube there is even a dedicated video that shows how to fix this problem which means I was not the only one facing this unpleasant situation.

That said I can ensure you that the feeling you receive holding and using this Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 is of a solid piece of metal. The focusing movement is smooth and pleasant. Anyway the biggest pleasure of using this lens is when at f1.1, through the EVF of your camera, you see everything out of focus but setting it at one moment you see your subject literally jumping out from the frame and all the rest just “disappearing”. It’s a kind of magic!!!!

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Talking about what I don’t like of this Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 will be very quick. Lets say that I feel the minimum focus distance of 1m an obstacle in some cases. Specially if you would like to make some “artistic” photos. I have already said about the likely situation of some of its parts getting loose. Not a big deal, just find someone who can tighten the right screws. It will take not more than 15 minutes.

Last thing I don’t like so much about this lens is the colors rendering. It is not totally bad but it needs a particular kind of light to render nicely and in many cases it does it like old color films back in the 80s. For someone this can be even a strong point, for someone else it will be a limit. You know it…

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I believe this Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 can be an amazing choice for those who are looking for a not expensive lens with a very strong character that can give a specific “signature” to each single photo if used at wide apertures. Closing it down it performs very well and it becomes an all purpose lens. I know that buying a f1.1 lens you’ll shoot almost always at that f stop value. In this case you’ll see that this interesting lens is more made for b/w photos than colors. Period. So if you’re a street photographer and you like to take street portraits with a lot of “mood” than this can be your lens. If you like modern rendering lenses, if you are about the extreme details and definition than, probably, you better chose some other lens.

One more important thing: if you use this Nokton on some of the modern sensors that perform very well at high ISO (like A7S/Panasonic S1/SL2s/M10/A7III) than you’ll be able to shoot even inside a cave due to his extremely wide aperture!!!

In any case I advice to use this lens on 12-16-24mpx sensors because on more performing ones it will show all its limits. Specially wide open

All photos have been taken with the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1