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Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 180mm f4

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Deebs, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Well I've finally done it. After a year of agonising about buying a used slow 180mm lens for around a thousand US dollars I've pushed the button on one in good nick in M42 mount at a not too awful price given what they go for!

    Why you ask? Because Ming Thein and Lloyd say so? Not really.

    It's just that I never take my 70-200 f4 with me overnight hiking, which is where many of my best pics come from. Never. And the Apo-Lanthar is really small; 8cm long with a 49mm filter (11cm including a Novoflex adapter which I happen to have for M42); and less than 500g.

    Ok there are slightly lighter (but not shorter) ways to get a 200 - like the Zuiko 200 f5. Cheaper too. But though that lens is fine, and so are a few others I've tried, they aren't great. 200 mm lenses just needed more tech than most manufacturers were prepared to throw at something not ultra fast.

    How good is the Apo-Lanthar going to be? Well that remains to be seen: it'll take a while to arrive.

    Here are the data points that make me confident:

    (1) I've seen careful images which show it to be a bit contrasted and sharper than the excellent Leica Apo-Telyt f 3.4 (which was my other option), except maybe at infinity (where haze tends to be the determining factor)

    (2) Ming Thien likes it, and he's pretty picky

    (3) Jim Kasson shows that the Sony 70-200 is pretty much a wash with the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 at the long end.

    (4) Jim has also shown that the Apo-Telyt is a wash with the Sony at 180 in the middle, but rather better in the edges.

    Putting all that together, I should have a lens which is at least as good as a modern zoom at 200, maybe better in the edges, and much much smaller.

    I'm not expecting miracles (a nice Loxia Apo-Tele-Tessar might give us those!) since this is a 17 year old design, absurdly overpriced just due to rarity, but I do think it'll be every bit as good as my zoom but (importantly) I'll have it with me.

    But I've given up waiting for a modern compact slow quality tele, so here goes. I can always sell it if buyers remorse gets me.....
     
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  2. jpaula

    jpaula New to TalkEmount

    9
    Jan 21, 2016
    Jose
    Hi David,
    I am trying for a while to decide if I go for a V 180 Apo. It seems to be the only portable prime tele in that focal range for a mirrorless.
    I guess you must have now a practical view on the lens. Can you share?
    Thanks.
    Jose
     
  3. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Hi Jose
    Sure. I'll try to get around to posting samples sometime, but here's my take.

    It's sharp from wide open, and very even across the frame from wide open. I have installed rectangular flock baffles I. My novo flex adapter, and that seems to deal with the wide open contrast drop that some report (most native e mounts have rectangular baffles at the end of the lens)

    It isn't as contrasty as the best modern lenses. On the other hand it's sharper across the frame than any zoom I know at 200. Still it's peak sharpness while high is not as high as the best modern primes. Not that that matters unless printing billboards for close inspection.

    It handles beautifully, and I don't find the small throw at distances a problem as some do. Maybe magnified live view helps. Sony IBIS set to 180mm makes focusing much easier because of the stabilized view.

    It really is Apochromatc which is great (but so is the Sony f4 zoom surprisingly - it seems faster lenses are the only good ones that exhibit much LOCA these days) Still most long lenses of its era weren't.

    It is, of course, very expensive. It's a little better especially in the edges than the f4 zoom, but not enough to justify purchase unless you also care about the form factor.

    I think it would be easy for a company to make a modern lens that outclassed it now. But I'm guessing they won't because a compact close focusing f4 MF medium tele lens is too much of a niche market.
    So if that's what you want, it's a good lens, and there just is no competition. But it is pricey for what it is.
     
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  4. jpaula

    jpaula New to TalkEmount

    9
    Jan 21, 2016
    Jose
    Hi David,

    Thanks a lot. Your comments are really helpful.

    I have moved from a shootkit mainly of Nikons to A7R2, and one of my central criteria for lenses is portability (provided they are good). I want to be light when traveling with the gear. And there are not much options for tele lenses. V Apo 180 is one of a kind in that regard. But expensive for its age. Your experience confirms other reports, and I think that although surely seems quite nice, it may not justify the investment.

    When shooting with Nikon I was fascinated with the V 125 Apo, but opted for a Apo-Macro-Elmarit 100 converted with Leitax. Fantastic lens which I still have and will surely keep. But is quite heavy and long for the Sony and 100 is somewhat short for my needs, although I use it on occasions. I have a M 90 Summicron which is lighter but with a shorter focal length. I may end up getting a M Apo-Telyt 135, which is fairly small and light, although also on the short range of telephoto. But I am more on the side of WA and short Tele lens.

    Some of my photos:
    www.acyclopseye.com
    José Paula

    Best regards,
    José
     
  5. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Great images Jose!

    It is tricky, isn't it. The M APo-Telyt (this is the f 3.4?) is the obvious alternative; and the A7rII gives you scope to crop.

    It's certainly said to be good. I've never used it: but Jim Kasson, who I think is a super reliable guide not just to how things are technically but also to whether it matters at all, says that the Apo-Sonnar 135 is a lot better (sharper, more APO, more micro contrast, more even at shared apertures) though he prefers the APO-Telyt for hand holding. But the Apo-Sonnar f2 is too large. for your purposes.

    But by parity that means that the inexpensive Samyang 135 f2, which Amin has raved about there and others say is likely about as good as the APO sonnar, is likely as good or better than the venerable Apo-Telyt. It's of course much cheaper (though a bit less fun to own, if that kind of things matters to you!) and would likely crop to 180/200 a little better. It also makes me doubt that the Apo Lanthar is any worse than the Apo Telyt: and the Apo Telyt is very much more expensive again!

    I think if you really expect to want to shoot at 180 a lot the Apo Lanthar might still make sense. But if you are likely to use 135 more, and only occasionally crop to 180 equivalent, then I guess it's the Apo-Telyt (better handling) our Samyang (almost a tenth of the cost, possibly optically better unbelievable though that sounds - it's their best lens, but much larger).
     
  6. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    I've eyed the 180mm APO-Lanthar on and off. I have a brilliant manual focus Nikon 200mm f/2 AI-S, but it is, of course, huge. Problem is, if I'm going to spend $1200 on a lens, I'd rather have the weight and f/2 than the compact size and f/4--particularly when my Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is already so compact and excellent...
     
  7. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Mike the Apo-Lanthar only makes sense for someone who really values a compact quality tele. The Canon/Nikon f2 200s are both amazing lenses, I expect even better at f4 than the APO lanthar AND they have the faster apertures which are nice to have.
    The APO lanthar is worth it's sticker price to me only because I take it multi day backpacking; I've never had a medium tele in those conditions before, as I would never pack one given the tradeoff in food/water/clothing that even a couple hundred grams makes.

    There is nothing else at the focal length which is anywhere near the size/weight and which is even roughly as good. It's way ahead of all the legacy 200/4 class lenses. And smaller than them.
    Maybe Zeiss will make a Loxia 180/4. That would beat it if it's a fresh design.
     
  8. jpaula

    jpaula New to TalkEmount

    9
    Jan 21, 2016
    Jose
    Thanks.

    My issue is that portability is a must to justify moving into mirrorless. At least for me, used to Nikon D700 and D800 and big lenses from Nikon and Zeiss. So I do not question the quality of F2 200 Nikons and Canons teles but only their size and weight. I know that most of the times I would not carry them.

    The CZ Apo-Sonnar is the best 135, I agree, but again dimension doesn't help. I doubt the Samyang 135 will be close in quality, but besides size its value would depreciate quite fast. One of the good things about quality lenses is that value holds, and I have been selling used ones by roughly the same price I bought them.

    For Nikon I have a few Leica-R (50, 100) and use them on the Sony, and you can find some outstanding ones at fair to high prices (80, 180). The 180 Apo-Telyt 3.4, or 180 Elmarit 2.8 are very good. Of course all these lenses are fully manual, but I always go manual. Manual focusing is much easier in Sony when compared to Nikon (even though facilitated with a Katzeye focusing screen which I had). But they are big and heavy. Also I can work with relatively slow aperture, as I intend to use the lens mainly for landscape. For portrait/street tele I use mainly the Nikon 85G/1.8 and the Leica 90/2 M Summicron.

    I am expecting Zeiss to deliver more in the Loxia line. But as the 21mm just appeared (hope it holds against the 21 ZF.2, one of my favourite lenses), I doubt we will see a 180 soon. Perhaps a 135. I definitely prefer primes to zooms, it keeps me more focused.

    So, if size is a first criterium, I am stick to
    Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 180/4 (485g) - long adapter
    Leica Apo-Telyt M 135/3.5 (450g) - short adapter

    Any other in this size/weight league?
     
  9. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    No I quite get
    No I quite get it Jose!

    For some mirrorless is (amongst other things) about a way to focus manual glass. For others its the CAF-EyeAF that makes the A7rII best in class for informal portraiture.

    But for many compactness is what justifies the switch. That's partly true for me: I am lucky enough to have both compact stuff for the wilderness, and bulkier stuff for other times.

    I think the APO telyt 135 and the APO Lanthar 180 are both best in class for compact teles. (and we can happily disagree about the Samyang viz a viz the Apo Sonnar - though I agree that many copies won't be as good, and it's not nicely built, and will of course depreciate badly. Because its too bulky for your purposes)

    So no, I don't think there's anything but these two lenses in the tele range that meets your needs. They are both very expensive for what they are - and resale value doesn't help if you don't resell - but like I said, there's nothing else!

    It sometimes really amazes me that for all the stuff that's out there, compact high quality not too fast medium teles are so hard to find. My only hope is that maybe when Voigtlander have finished with their series of compact slow ultrawides for E, they'll do the same for teles....
     
  10. Mus Aziz

    Mus Aziz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    566
    Sep 3, 2015
    Mus

    :rofl:
     
  11. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    if you stuck a +2 tele converter on the 90 summicron, you will have a 180/4, same as the voigtlander. just a thought.
     
  12. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Ask What? Ming Who? I'm confused...
     
  13. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    That's certainly an option. It'd be fine, but I think not nearly as sharp wide open after the converter had done its business. You might be even better off cropping on a high MP camera; sure you lose pixels but you don't get degradation from the converter. I've noticed that cropping on a 42 MP pixel often gives better results than a converter.
    As Jose suggested, the 135 Apo Telyt might also be an alternative; it should crop down nicely too.