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Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III vs Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Aug 25, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Time for a quick f/8 battle between a Super-Wide Heliar at 15mm and a Vario-Tessar at 16mm.

    20693759230_b0b0d25f8a_c.
    _DSC3123
    by Amin Sabet, on Flickr

    Above left: Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III Lens (M-Mount, adapted, manual focus)
    Above right: Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens (E-mount, native)


    Technical details:
    • I shot both lenses on a Sony A7RII with image stabilization disabled, tripod, self-timer, and silent mode. Manual focus on the home front door. Multiple focus/refocus attempts to make sure results shown are representative.
    • RAW files were processed in Capture One Pro 8.3.2 with automatic color fringing correction for both lenses.
    • I enabled automatic distortion correction for the Sony lens. The corrected Sony image has a similar amount of barrel distortion (minimal) to the uncorrrected Voigtlander image.


    Test scene, resized, Voigtlander:

    20261799013_ec7b72f09a_c.
    _DSC3121
    by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    Test scene, resized, Sony Zeiss:

    20694758210_791e34286a_c.
    _DSC3119
    by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    No surprise there, the Voigtlander at 15mm is wider than the Sony Zeiss at 16mm.


    In all of the crops below, the Voigtlander is on the left, the Sony Zeiss on the right.


    20856752406_233527c5e1_o.


    20695053758_779e4edd60_o.


    20696282839_43362cf3a4_o.


    20694966530_ed14f6c73c_o.


    20873354882_efe1e6c5d3_o.


    20890258711_052753249b_o.


    20883029395_f3d244d416_o.


    Conclusions:
    • In all crops besides the second one (top of telephone pole), the Voigtlander comes out ahead. In most cases the difference is minimal, but in the foreground extreme corners, the difference is great. As is always the case, field curvature plays a role, and a different point of focus would have given different results.
    • The Sony corners are a little sharper if you don't correct the moderate barrel distortion (data not shown), but even then the results are similar.
    • Both lenses have moderate color fringing, but you don't see it because of automatic correction. Interestingly, the Voigtlander mainly shows purple fringing, while the Sony mostly shows red/cyan.

    Personal bottom line: I'm keeping the Super-Wide Heliar. The Sony zoom will go back to B&H.


    20695082479_de685fa2f1_c.
    _DSC3125
    by Amin Sabet, on Flickr


    Full-res Voigtlander JPEG: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/565/20261799013_f1e57ba32d_o.jpg

    Full-res Sony JPEG: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/734/20694758210_8344bca892_o.jpg

    Raw files for download: 15-16mm.zip
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    When you look at the full images, the Sony Zeiss does look nicer thanks to the higher contrast. Could add that in post to voigtlander image.

    I don't think anybody but a photographer would be looking at the edges of that photo. The wide angle draws your eye into the deepest part of the photo, the center.

    But its all about the size! The difference is huge. I wish Sony would make some tiny native lenses. I think that with size difference the Voigtlander wouldn't even need to beat the Sony image quality to win overall. Espescially if you already have a good 35mm.
     
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  3. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    Enjoy your new lens! I thought Sony was sharper then your shots show... I like the CV lenses for wide angle, hard to beat their size...

    I am wondering how the new CV 35mm 1.7 M will behave on Sony cameras as it will be released by Aug 28th per dc.watch but I have not seen any samples yet...
     
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  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    That's the main thing for me. I have a good 35mm already, and 35mm is my favorite focal length. The Voigtlander is so easy to take along just in case I need to go really wide. That it's sharper and less expensive just amounts to icing on the cake. Plus I just like using primes more than zooms.
     
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Wow, I've never seen that kind of softness in the corners with my 16-35mm. The Voigtländer certainly is impressive, but I wonder if there's something wrong with that Sony.
     
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  6. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran

    370
    Feb 5, 2014
    Australia
    I recently picked up a 6 month old Voigtlander 15mm and a new Zeiss 35mm f2.8 with a $200 rebate. Both cost me less than the 16-35 on its own here in Oz. For me it was all about the size but its good to know the little 15mm holds its own against the 16-35. DSC03342.
     
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  7. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    And with the A7Rii you can pretty much just crop the Voigtlander image to get a good 28/24mm field of view.
     
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  8. Jman13

    Jman13 TalkEmount Regular

    87
    Jul 4, 2014
    I've been using the FD 20/2.8 and 24/2.8 for my wide angle needs on my A7 II, and have thought about adding one of these lenses to cover the really wide end. I tested the 16-35 in January and really liked the lens, and I'm definitely leaning that way. The Voigtlander looks amazing, but I find that something this wide is somewhat frustrating in a prime, as I will end up changing lenses often between this, a 20 and a 24 (and I'd need three spots in my bag for the wide end). Sure, you could crop, but then that makes composing in the field more difficult.
     
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  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Could be. Maybe my chosen focus point was too deep and this is just a DOF issue? Fwiw, both lenses show good edge sharpness and would have sharp corners if the corner were more distant, like shooting from the top of a hill.
     
  10. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I usually don't experience such a kind of unsharpness with my FE 16-35mm as well. That said, I've found it very difficult to reproducibly get critically sharp shots with either the FE 16-35mm or FE 24-70mm. In my experience those zoom lenses are hard to tame, up to a point where I consider going back to MF primes for landscape shots. Might be that your next test shot with the FE 16-35mm looks different; also it can make a difference between focussing wide-open or at the taking aperture (f/8 in this case). I read an assessment of Lloyd Chambers of the FE 16-35mm and also there results came up that were a little surprising to me.
     
  11. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Hi @addieleman@addieleman - I focused wide open, then stopped down. Did this about 20 times to make sure I was getting reproducible results. Lloyd Chambers' shot does look similar to mine in terms of foreground corners at f/8: http://diglloyd.com/blog/2015/20150823_1116-SonyA7R_II-Sony16_35f4-aseries-DanaLake.html

    But I do think that a shorter focus distance would have given better foreground corners without much effect on distant details. I'll do a lot more shooting before I post my review of this lens.
     
  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I went out and reshot this using a very near focus point, the leaf near the far bottom right corner of the frame. Unfortunately wind conditions were such that I had to push the ISO pretty hard and push the corners, especially on the Voigtlander image, but I think the results are still usable.

    With a focus point in the bottom right corner of the frame, both lenses put in a fairly sharp extreme corner (Voigtlander detail somewhat obscured by noise because of the lower exposure / harder push):

    20909251155_49d1da481e_o.


    They both stay sharp in the center, though not as sharp as when the focus was on the house. This time the Sony lens had the slight edge in detail:

    20286662874_63e24cdaaa_o.


    But focusing on a very near target to eliminate the foreground disparity results in increased disparity in the far corners:

    20288234723_ae4273c9ea_o.


    Choosing an intermediate focus distance would no doubt give an intermediate performance, but it's clear to me that the Voigtlander is the sharper lens in this shootout. Of course it can't zoom!
     
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  13. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    This result is more in line with my experience, Amin. My usual shortcut when shooting landscapes is to try to put the focus about 1/3 into the desired DOF. So my foreground corners usually remain fairly clean, unless I screw up. :rolleyes:

    Thanks for this test. I was tempted by the Voigtländer, but it's hard to justify owning it and the 16-35mm.
     
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    1/3 into the DOF would be intermediate between the two results I showed and probably a better overall result than either of the settings I tested. I'll find a better test scene and redo the test that way on Saturday morning when, weather permitting, I do the rest of my shooting for the 16-35 review.
     
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  15. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    In the end that's pretty damn good performance from a zoom. And lets face it- unless you viewed a 20x30 print from 6 inches you'd never see the difference. Sometimes a computer monitor is not a photographers best friend.:)
     
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  16. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    How true. A week ago I had a 40x60cm print made from a picture taken with the FE 24-70mm which generally isn't highly regarded. I did this for the sole purpose to know once and for all how such a print would turn out compared to what I see when pixel-peeping on the screen. And while I won't say the print shows perfect sharpness, it's more than good enough to my eyes and I wouldn't hesitate to hang it on the wall.
     
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  17. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    20
    Sep 14, 2015
    David
    Ad, I am mystified by the hate heaped on the 24-70 f4. It's a lot better than my old Mk 1 Canon 24-70 f2.8, that's for sure. It's downright excellent between 28 and 50. Its very good at 24, at least mine is. It's a bit disappointing at 60-70. What more could anyone hope for in a small wide to tele zoom? I don't use it much except when multi-day hiking, but it's a textbook case in how reputations develop. I think Klaus at Photozone had a bad copy (and a bad experience with the useless Sony service) so he gave it a bad review. Some others liked it, others found the corners at the extremes a little lacking. But soon people just started repeating how terrible it is, and soon 'everyone' knew it was a dog.

    Actually this lens was crucial in my decision a couple of years ago to go Sony.

    I took the sample images of it from Imaging Resource, downscaled them to 16MP and compared them with the images of the well regarded Panny 12-35 I was using on M43; the result was that the Sony was as good in all the corners and better in the middle. Yes the panny was a little more even, but never better in absolute terms if you are interested in actual system results (lens+sensor).

    I then knew that if I went Sony I had a compact set up for hiking that was at least as good and mostly better in IQ compared with my M43 kit, and vastly better when I was able to use primes.
     
  18. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I noticed that too. I often don't agree with what's said about the image quality of a lens, depends a lot on who's saying it and even then I want to look for myself. And then there's sample variation; I tested all copies of the three native FE zooms before I bought them.
     
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  19. Xterra

    Xterra TalkEmount Regular

    93
    Feb 8, 2016
    Strasbourg, France
    David
    Based on your Review Amin, Thank You!, I decided to get the Voigtländer 15mm III Sony E mount. I waited until Voigländer would make it for a native Sony FE mount, so I get the EXIF data transmitted into my RAW files just like my 50mm Zeiss Loxia.
    Perhaps a "revised" test is due with the native mount. :)
    I am considering replacing my 16-35 f/4 with Voigländer 15mm f/4.5 III E-mount ; Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Sony/Zeiss 35 f/2.8
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
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