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I've come to appreciate the way the sunrays impose themselves on the images renderd by the Nokton classic.Just a short note because it's been an interesting bit of exploration so far ... A little tale about three Voigtländer 35mm lenses (with a Zeiss in the wings).
The Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 M.C. was my first M mount lens, and in spite of its many weaknesses (it comes bundled with all sorts of aberrations and some considerable focus shift issues), I keep liking it, even though some shots came out worse than expected because of its idiosyncracies. Rendering is "classic" (as the name suggests) mostly because of decidedly wild bokeh (swirly *and* rough) and lower than average contrast.
The Voigtländer Ultron Classic 35mm f/2 represented a breath of fresh air: even smaller, much sharper, and, though much better behaved, still quite a characterful lens in its own right. It's also contrasty and bold in its rendering - very useful, and almost, though not quite, a match for my all-time favourite compact 35mm, the Zeiss C Biogon ... Quite a feat for such a small, yet modestly fast lens!
The Voigtländer Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 II M.C. is my latest acquisition - and in many ways, it actually bridges the gap between the two earlier Voigtländer lenses: It's really quite well controlled when stopped down and sharper and contrastier than its predecessor wide open. Bokeh is a bit softer, but also muddier than the first version; the lens keeps the signature glow wide open that can, at times, be a bit imposing, especially at or near its minimum focus distance. However, what surprised me most is how good this lens is stopped down to f/2.8 or smaller; it outperforms its ancestor by a considerable margin and almost reaches the very solid levels of the tiny Ultron Classic while maintaining a slightly more balanced, less punchy rendering - quite pleasing, actually, and well suited for b&w conversions.
So, while versions I and II look almost the same and nothing major appears to have changed, you really get two distinct characteristics. This is certainly not what I was expecting - I thought the new lens would supersede the old one, not bring a new paradigm to the table ...
That begs the question: Which one of Noktons do I actually prefer? I have to admit that haven't made up my mind yet. I'd say that the original is definitely a keeper because it's so much fun to shoot on the M8 (and I've had worthwhile, if somewhat erratic results with the M10, too). The Mk II's wide open performance, while more predictable, is somewhat less striking ... but overall, optically, it can produce better results.