The Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm 5.6 Aspherical is a unique rectilinear full frame lens that come for E-mount and M-mount. It is the widest of its kind produced and it caught a lot of photographers, attention when it was announced for Sony E-mount and Leica M-mount. At the time of their announcement, I highly doubted the E-mount version would be the one to buy because M-mount is more versatile, but I was wrong. When a lens is this wide it needs to be tailored for the camera, and Voigtlander definitely made the M and E-Mount 10mm versions differently.
Left– E-mount (lens has a profile to correct errors built in) Right – M-mount (No profile and lots of color issues that go beyond vignetting)
When I receive a lens this wide for testing, I often return to the same brick wall for testing to see how well corrected the lens; is and the Voigtlander 10mm is amazingly well corrected, but very difficult to perfectly square with a wall. Once I had the camera set I, ran through the aperture settings on the E-mount lens without issue and it performed well at all apertures, but when switching to the M-mount 10mm I noticed some horrendous color issues. At first, I was a shocked because I have never had such a noticeable issue adapting a modern M-mount lens before. The M-mount 10mm performed fine on my M240, so there is definitely a difference in design between theses two lenses. I would not recommend mounting the M-mount version on anything but a Leica or maybe a crop sensor camera without a lot of sensor glass in the way.
Left – M-mount Right– E-mount (You can tell them apart because the M-mount gets thinner towards the base)
After shooting the Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III for Leicarumors a few years ago, I developed a love for ultra wide-angle photography and picked up the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS and Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II for when the mood strikes me, but I have never owned a rectilinear lens wider than 15mm in part because they tend to be flawed or don’t exist on the cameras I own.
There are professional reasons to shoot ultra wide-angle lenses and if you shoot architecture, a lens like this might be amazing for you to have in your bag, although a little difficult to master. I like shooting ultra wide-angle for fun, and to change my perspective a little when I am bored with shooting around 50mm, which is my go to focal length. I find it makes me reconsider composition, and it delights me to be able to shoot a multistory building standing on the side walk in front of the building. It’s interesting and challenging to find new ways to compose pictures when you shoot this wide. You can even press your camera up against a window and photograph the inside of a store/building/exhibit, which produces an odd perspective, like you took the photo from inside from a point in space that doesn’t exist. There are just so many interesting things you can do with a lens this wide.
When I did my 15mm review, I described the experience as being almost like picking up a camera again for the first time, and I still feel like ultra wide-angle photography gives me that experience since I do it so rarely. I really enjoyed shooting the 10mm Voigtlander, and the way it interfaces with the Sony A7 is surprisingly advanced, while still feeling classic and analog. Voigtlander is to be commended on their digital interface and how the camera collects all the proper metadata in addition to knowing where the camera is focused. Focus peaking and zoom are practically useless since just about everything is in focus all of the time, but the camera’s ability to tell you where you are focusing helps to more accurately zone focus the lens while shooting.
I love the colors this lens produces when photographing under good light. I’m a big fan of Leica and Zeiss colors, and some Voigtlander colors. This lens is one of the great lenses for color photography from Voigtlander. The lens plays very well with Sony colors, that are not the best out there, to create, something that I find very pleasing. I think it’s the single best feature of the lens beyond its focal length.
Lots of photographers put down Voigtlander for their build quality, but I am not sure why. I have owned quite a few of their lenses and they were always ok all the way up to Leica like. The Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm 5.6 Aspherical for E-mount is quite possibly their best built lens. Its solid metal construction has no wiggle, and it is better built than any E-mount lens I’m aware of at this time. The lens is solid. While the M-mount version is not as well constructed, but it’s still a solid lens.
When zone focusing the 10mm Voigtlander, pretty much everything is in acceptable focus from f/5.6 on, but there is some vignetting, I recommend leaving it around f/8-11, light permitting. The Sony A7 also has good enough high ISO to permit you to use this lens at night, but I did notice a magenta hue at times, which became more noticeable when pushing or pulling my images. It is an odd issue that doesn’t always present itself. The magenta hue won’t happen frequently, but it’s something to watch for in addition to small specks of fuzz or hair getting on the front element. These contaminants on the lens will become huge and stand out in your final photos if you are not careful.
The 10mm Voigtlander can be very sharp in the center, which only drops off around the edges. This lens has more than enough sharpness across the entire frame for anyone, but your results will depend on your ability to square the camera with your subject because leveling the camera isn’t enough to make your photo look right. 10mm is probably too wide for most photographers, but it’s definitely worth a try.
If the Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm 5.6 Aspherical is too wide for you, the Voigtlander 15mm is probably the ultra wide-angle lens for you. The new Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f/5.6 Aspherical, Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical III , Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III are all great options for any photographer looking for an ultra-wide rectilinear lens and it is made even better by being designed specifically for Sony E-mount now. If you shoot Sony you owe it to yourself to try at least one of these great lenses. I personally find 10mm a little too wide for me, and 12mm isn’t useful for me, so my ultra wide-angle lens of choice is the 15mm; but I wouldn’t turn down a 10mm.
More 10mm Voigtlander shots can be found on 500px here.