Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 VM Hyper Wide Heliar Aspherical Lens

Above shot with Leica SL (Typ 601)


Above shot with Leica T (Typ 701)

The Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 VM Hyper Wide Heliar Aspherical Lens is a remarkable lens.

  • Widest non fisheye currently available for FF.
  • At f/8 and setting the hyperfocal distance the lens doesn't need to be focused. The entire range of the lens is in focus, since the infinity symbol falls some way short of the f/8 mark.
  • It's beautifully made
  • This VM (Leica m-mount version) is sharp across the frame and in the corners on my Leica SL (Typ 601).
  • It's remarkably free of distortion.
  • It does 'starburst' suns.
  • It is the best super wide lens I've ever used.

I attached this to my Leica's with a Novoflex Leica M > Leica T adapter.

Now some reviews have tended to describe this lens as a bit of a 'walk on the wild side' but it's actually a seriously good, seriously useful, seriously wide angle lens. In the mirrorlessons review of the Sony e-mount version They found some corner softness, however on the Leica SL (Typ 601) there is none of that. I doubt this is anything to do with the lens and everything to do with Sony's decision to go 'full-frame' with a mount designed for APS-C sensors. There are lots of issues with wide-angles and corner softness with this mount and the Voigtlander 10mm will, I suspect, exaggerate this. Be assured that if you are considering this lens for an m-mount camera or with an adapter on other (non-e mount) cameras, you will get crisp sharp across the frame results.

It's also very useful for video. And in the sample above I would yet again point out that I used my Leica SL hand held. This is a camera and lens combination with no body or lens IS and yet with some editing in Final Cut Pro it delivers results that look like they were shot on a tripod. Eat your heart out IS fans!!! (N.B. The pan and zoom effects are 'The Ken Burns effect' in the software, which can be used for moving as well as still images.)

It is still pretty wise for APS-C sensor cameras and as you can see above it's good on one of my Leica T's. Indeed that lens combination is great for getting close to the action in 'street photography' The lack of a need to focus means it could be used in a variety of unobtrusive ways.

The drawback with the lens is that it's pretty slow at f/5.6. Any faster of course and it would be a lot bigger. It's not 12mm or 15mm Voigtlander small, but it's certainly not a big lens nor a heavy one. And considering what it does it's not that expensive either. Typical Voigtlander quality at a value for money price. And it certainly pairs with the Leica SL very well, the combination becoming a very high quality point and shoot system. However if you looking for either bokeh or any kind of depth of field effect, forget it, there simply isn't anything like that available. Even if f/5.6 is selected, which I used for the Leica T house shot above, everything looks in focus, even for close up subjects. 

To sum up. i Love it. It's a pretty unique lens and offers an interesting perspective on the world and you need to get up close and personal to get the best out of it. For me it's way better than a GoPro or any other kind of fisheye lens, since it can deliver 'straight up' images if it's used right. It does in fact produce far less distorted and unnatural looking images than I thought it was going to do and I have plans to do a lot of architectural (including my real estate interiors) photography with it. It will also make a nice set with the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 I have and my Nikon fit Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 on either my SL or T's. I could even take out out both T's, one fitted with the 10mm and one the 58mm, which would be a nice combination without being that bulky. I may well try that soon.

If you want more specs. samples and impressions then I recommend the mirrorlessons review again. Just bear in mind that with this VM version on an m-mount camera, you will get better corner performance.