I received this via email this week and — because this is a question I’m often asked — I thought I would feature this as a Q&A post:
I’ve become a regular follower of your blog and I really love it! Respect to the fact that you manage to post a good and interesting photo each day. I try do to the same and sometimes it is hard to do so.
I’ve a question however. I work with a M8 and M9 and do weddings and other documentary work, sometimes portraits, lots of editiorial work. Since I left my 5D2 at home, life began to be fun again (I mean photographically). However, sometimes I miss my 12.500 iso and 50/1.2 lens (which wasn’t sharp at all wide open btw).
I’m thinking of buying a low-light lens to use in case the light is really bad. My fastest lenses are the 35 and 50 summicron and I’m thinking about the 35/1.2 and the 40/1.4. The 50 is too quirky I think.
The difference between the two is ‘only’ a half stop, but the difference between 1/45th and 1/60th can be crucial. On the other hand, I won’t take the 35 as a daily to go lens in my bag, while the 40 will fit in very easily. The price difference is also quit big, but not that big a deal. It’s still cheap in Leica-terms.
It wouldn’t be a problem to take the 35 to important shoots as an ‘in-case’ lense, but would that half stop make the difference?
Could you give me any advice in which of these two to choose? I hope I don’t bother you too much with this these questions.
Thanks for the nice note!
The Voigtländer 35/1.2 (either Version 1 or 2) is the technically better lens with a desirable mix of both modern sharpness and classic rendering. It does not focus shift, so it won’t frustrate your focusing attempts. And it’s maximum f/1.2 aperture, as compared to other 35 lenses with a maximum aperture of f/1.4, does make a difference — not so much with respect to the extra light collected, but more in the ability to isolate subjects and create a nice “3D” effect (see an example image here). If you don’t mind the size, it’s an all-around “better” lens than the Nokton 40/1.4.
The Nokton 40/1.4 on the other hand, is just so darn small and versatile, behaving in many ways like both a 35 and a 50 lens, but it’s the technically “inferior” lens: not as sharp wide open, flares more, has been known to focus shift.
In the end, both lenses are capable of producing great images, so it really depends on what you value most – small size and versatility (40/1.4), or technical excellence (35/1.2).
It seems from your question that you already know the pros and cons of each lens, so it’s really up to personal preference.
Hope that helps, and thanks again for the nice note!