I have received my copy of the Voigtlander 65 Macro APO-Lanthar f/2 lens for the Sony E-Mount. I wish that it was also available for my Nikon F-Mount cameras, sigh. An updated CV-125mm APO-Lanthar (for Nikon) is something I have looked forward to for years, so this may be as close as I get, but on Sony rather than Nikon.
Arriving in a very attractive and form-fitting package, the lens is a solidly-built all-metal lens with a focus throw of maybe 300-degrees, just what I like for a macro lens, and that degree of focus throw reminds me of the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO Lanthar, one of the great macro lenses, which I will see how it compares to. The CV-65 is a rather pretty lens.
The f/stops go from f/2 through f/22. It has 10 diagram blades, with a minimum focus range of 12.2” (31 cm). The reproduction ration is 1:2, which I like because I seldom require 1:1, although I am sure others will complain about that. And yes, it is manual focus, with no stabilization or tripod collar. It weighs (635 g, 1.38 lb.
Although I read online that many photographers think of a 65mm Macro as a strange length and wonder how to use it, as a close-up photographer, that length is just perfect for adding context to a shot. There are very few macro lenses that I know (or use) around this size. I had the 50mm Zeiss Makro-Nikkor, but it was not corrected well enough, so I eventually sold it rather than having it sitting there on the shelf looking nice, but never used.
I also have the 50mm Leica Elmarit-R Macro that I converted to Nikon F-Mount and I use it all the time. It is a very nice lens. Yet, the idea of a wide-angle macro lens is almost an oxymoron. There are not many of them. So, I am very happy to see this from Cosina/Voigtlander and I hope it is just the first in a line of quality APO lenses like the legendary CV-125 APO Lanthar Macro that I treasure.
So, this new 65mm Macro looks good and feels good in the hand, not too big and not too heavy, but heavy enough. How does it perform?
In a word, it performs well. It is definitely sharp enough for my work. Very sharp. The color is good and needs less correction than images from the Nikon D810. If I have any problems with it, they are same as I have with the Sony A7RII, which I am not as used to as my Nikons and IMO not as well-designed, but that is a criticism of the A7RII and not the CV-85 Macro.
If I have a single complaint, it is that there is not enough contrast to the shots, but that can, to some degree, be corrected in post, but still I am not happy about that. Perhaps some of you out there will have a different experience.
Will I keep it? Not sure yet, but perhaps not, especially with the Nikon D850 coming soon. I could use the context of a wide-angle macro, but perhaps not at the expense of having to mess with the A7RII, which while I respect that camera, I don’t really like it that much. But that’s my problem. However, if they offered it in a Nikon F-Mount, I would buy it in a minute.
Here are a couple shots, with the A7RII and the CV-65 APO. The Moon Flower is a single shot, the Hibiscus is a stacked shot. In general, for about $1000, I can’t say where you could find a macro lens of this quality, but I look forward to hearing from others.
I compared both the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar to the new Voigtlander 65mm f/2 APO-Lanthar by taking shots of the same subject and found them quite similar in terms of sharpness. I see no reason to have one over the other. For me, the only reason to keep the Voigtlander 65mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar is for the wider angle. I am still considering keeping this new lens or sending it back.
As I continue to check out the Voigtlander 65mm APO-Lanthar on the Sony A7RII, I am more impressed than I at first was. This is a very nice lens at a bargain price and one that I plan to keep. I include some shots of a stacked image, along with cropped 100% close-up. Not bad, eh?
My main reason for keeping this lens will not be for the A7RII, but for its successor, whatever better camera that might be. It took me a while to separate my possible complaints about the CV-65 from my complaints about the Sony A7RII, which are mostly about the lack of dynamic range or whatever you want to call it. To my eyes (and IMO) the Nikon D810 has a better dynamic range, especially in the low ISO department. And I value that.