Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Gear

Learn about new gear, camera bodies, and lenses. Look here to learn about the tools of the trade. Perfect for a buyer looking to compare equipment and weigh the pros and cons. All products listed in the articles will be linked to a reasonable retailer. 

Gear Review  Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Super-Wide Heliar in Sony E-mount

Andrew Mohrer

After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response on my first lens review I decided to try another. Much respect to the photographers who have been pumping them out over the years. Knowing that trying to put together a review the right way would be a lot of work, I still underestimated how much time it would take.

The next step was deciding which lens to choose. Shooting with wide angle lenses was enjoyable over the past few weeks (21mm & 18mm). It opened my eyes to some new compositions and gave me a different perspective. The widest lens in my personal collection is the Zeiss 25mm f/2.

The Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III has been on my radar since its release. It was originally made in VM-Mount for M-Mount cameras. With the popularity of the Sony A7 series Voigtlander decided to make an E-Mount version. We all know you can adapt almost any lens on the Sony mirrorless cameras but I truly believe you get the best results with native lenses. You can avoid the additional cost and size you get when adding an adapter. 

I was impressed by the build quality when picking up the lens for the first time while mounting it to the A7rii. Initial impression was the 15mm is a solid well made compact lens. It features a built-in hood and being an E-Mount lens you won't lose your exif data.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/500 - Inside the New York Public Library.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/500 - Inside the New York Public Library.

I was excited to get out and start shooting immediately. This lens is no speed demon at f/4.5 but that's not such a concern during daylight hours. Natural light and fast lenses are a big part of what defines my style, so this was a big change of pace for me. More recently a lot of my street shots have been made during the late night hours using low light.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 8000 1/20 - Here is a perfect example of what you can do with 1/20 of a second and ISO 8000. Sure there is some motion and grain, but I love it!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 8000 1/20 - Here is a perfect example of what you can do with 1/20 of a second and ISO 8000. Sure there is some motion and grain, but I love it!

A couple of years ago this lens wouldn't have been an option to be considered for any type of low light photography. It's still not the ideal lens for this type of work but with the amazing low light ability of the A7rii, shooting at higher ISO's doesn't look so bad. Combine that with the IBIS and you can shoot a night scene without much problem. 

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III ISO 6400 - 1/50 - Shooting at night in NYC hunting out light sources!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III ISO 6400 - 1/50 - Shooting at night in NYC hunting out light sources!

Being the 3rd version of this lens, Voigtlander really perfected the design of the SUPER WIDE-HELIAR. The first two versions were known to suffer from color shifts and heavy vignetting. When adapted to the Sony mirrorless cameras, significant corner smearing was also evident. This third version of the lens is now available in the traditional VM-Mount and E-mount. Using the E-mount version on my Sony improves on these issues in a big way.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/125 - The new terminal for the 7 line, Hudson Yards 34th Street.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/125 - The new terminal for the 7 line, Hudson Yards 34th Street.

Another welcomed feature that you get when using the E-mount version of this lens is the added value of focus peaking. Like the Loxia line of lenses, once you rotate the focus ring it kicks in. I also notice a focusing scale that I don't remember seeing previously. 

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/160 - One of the many interesting room inside the New York Public Library.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/160 - One of the many interesting room inside the New York Public Library.

Shooting at 15mm is a whole new world to me, so much wider then the 21mm I Was using a couple weeks prior. I would call it somewhat of a specialty lens, but definitely nice to have in your bag of tricks. The distortion wasn't nearly as bad as I would have expected. The images posted in this review all had some degree of distortion correction in lightroom or photoshop. I'm running the latest versions and it's as simple as a click of a button.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/500 - A rare find, a completely empty NYC subway car!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/500 - A rare find, a completely empty NYC subway car!

I've heard people say this lens isn't sharp in the corners. It's possible that they received bad copies because I would say this lens was sharp across the board. In fact the details where quite impressive when viewing the images at home. My first day out shooting with this little 15mm was underwhelming after checking my results. It was a bit of a learning curve on how to approach shooting at this focal length. As the week went on the keepers started racking up.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/100 - Chinatown streets at night are always interesting to me. You can feel the whole scene with the 15mm!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/100 - Chinatown streets at night are always interesting to me. You can feel the whole scene with the 15mm!

You're not looking to do up-close portraits at 15mm. You're not going to be buying this lens for the bokeh. It's almost impossible to create any background blur at f/4.5 at this focal length. What you are looking for is detail and low distortion and manageable CA, and the Voigtlander comes through with these characteristics. I did notice the focus ring seemed to be slightly loose, possibly because the lens I was using was a demo.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/80 - A late night train ride. Love the lines in this one.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/80 - A late night train ride. Love the lines in this one.

Looking back at the pictures I made with this lens over the course of 3 weeks, it doesn't look like my ISO was ever set lower then 1600. Even during the day you have to really boost the ISO to get a suitable shutter speed. I do wish the lens was faster but of course this would change the design of the lens.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 6400 1/125 - Carnegie Hall in the background. Using the 15mm to create one of my classic street scenes.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 6400 1/125 - Carnegie Hall in the background. Using the 15mm to create one of my classic street scenes.

If you're looking for a compact super-wide angle lens for your Sony, look no further! Just be sure that the slow speed of this lens won't interfere with your style of photography. If you're doing landscape or architectural work I wouldn't see it being a problem. If you find yourself in more lowlight situations or doing astrophotography this may not be the best option. In that case you may want to check out the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8. It is also three times as expensive and twice the size and weight. You would also need an adapter to use it on your Sony. It is safe to say the optics are better but you have to weigh your options.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/80 - At 15mm it's amazing how much of this iconic scene at Grand Central you can fit in to the frame. 

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/80 - At 15mm it's amazing how much of this iconic scene at Grand Central you can fit in to the frame. 

In conclusion, after spending several weeks with the Voigtlander it began to grow on me. My results seemed to be getting better each day, I didn't want to give it back! It took some time adjusting to life at 15mm but it produced some beautiful shots in my opinion. I'll leave you with a couple more pictures. Hopefully they speak for themselves, enjoy...

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 1600 1/160 - You really need to push in close to get a shot like this!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 1600 1/160 - You really need to push in close to get a shot like this!

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/50 - I have been wanting to take a shot of this 24 hour car wash in the Bronx for a while.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 3200 1/50 - I have been wanting to take a shot of this 24 hour car wash in the Bronx for a while.

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 6400 1/13 - This corner was way darker then it appears in this image. I used the slow shutter to my advantage and captured some motion and love the results. Yellow taxi's have given me endless inspiration over the years...

Sony A7Rii + Voigtlander SUPER WIDE-HELIAR 15mm F4.5 III - ISO 6400 1/13 - This corner was way darker then it appears in this image. I used the slow shutter to my advantage and captured some motion and love the results. Yellow taxi's have given me endless inspiration over the years...

Special thanks to William Juseck and the good people over at Photo Village in NYC for lending me the lens. It was my first time visiting their showroom. If you're a Leica fan you should check them out. It's a beautiful place with a great selection of new and used gear, and they are an official distributor of Voigtlander lenses for North America.

See more from Andrew Mohrer at www.andrewmohrer.com