That Special Pop

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) – Wheaton, Maryland

One of my all time favorite lenses is the Zeiss C Sonnar T* 50/1.5 ZM, which produces an amazing “pop” to a subject when used with the aperture wide-open. It’s very light and quite compact for its specific focal length and aperture, comes with the renowned Zeiss T* anti-reflective lens coatings, has the Leica M-mount which can be used on a wide variety of camera bodies, and creates that special “pop” that some Zeiss lenses are legendary for. For a good example of what I’m describing, check out an earlier post of mine here.

Usually one can get good separation between the subject and the background by using a telephoto lens, but that gets more challenging as the lens focal length gets shorter, even with bigger apertures. It also gets even more challenging when using digital cameras versus 35mm film, because digital is so unforgiving. When using digital cameras, my all-time favorite 50mm lens is the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH, which produces the smoothest, most buttery-gorgeous bokeh I’ve ever seen in a lens. It’s also horrifically expensive ($4,795). When using 35mm film cameras, my all-time favorite 50mm lens is the Zeiss Sonnar that I already mentioned, at a much more reasonable cost ($1,261). However, the Zeiss Sonnar is a classic lens design dating back to the 1930s that doesn’t play well with color digital images, due to pretty severe chromatic aberrations. If the digital image is converted to monochrome, then the Sonnar 50/1.5 really sings with its beautiful separation between the subject and the background. But color imaging remains problematic for it.

Enter the Voigtländer APO-Lanthar 65/2.0 Macro lens.

Unlike the prior two lenses that I already mentioned, the Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO was designed from the ground up to be specifically used for Sony digital cameras. Even though the 50mm focal length has been a longtime favorite of mine, I love the results from this slightly longer 65mm lens even more – because I can use it as an all-around super lens. The APO in the name denotes that this is an apochromatic lens design, which focuses light so precisely that it virtually eliminates chromatic aberrations. Likewise, when shooting this lens wide-open, it delivers that “pop” between the subject and the background that’s so reminiscent of the classic Zeiss Sonnar look that I love, along with creamy bokeh that is reminiscent of the Leica Summilux that I love. But wait, there’s more! It’s also an APO macro lens that focuses down to a reproduction ratio of 1:2, and – the best part yet – it’s very affordable ($949). Quite the package for just one lens.

At any rate, I plan to introduce more images shot with this fantastic lens over time, as I get more comfortable with using it.


Photo info:
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

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