The new Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH lens for Sony E-mount cameras isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not that it will wrestle you to the ground or throw you like a bull in a rodeo; rather, it challenges your skills as a photographer. Speaking as someone who routinely shoots with 15mm rectilinear lenses, Voigtlander’s Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH is a whole other animal.
Even looking straight ahead, you’re simultaneously looking up, down, and way off to your left and right. The lens’s 130-degree diagonal angle of view captures an image field that’s just a few degrees shy of the field of view of our eyes (approximately 138° AoV). You might say Voigtlander’s Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH sees things the way we do… but it isn’t that simple.
Taking wahoo fisheye-pictures is easy with this lens. On the other hand, capturing images that take advantage of this lens’s creative and visual capabilities without looking gimmicky requires a good measure of care and thoughtfulness. And that’s the challenge. Though I found the extreme field of view intimidating at first, I quickly got the hang of leveling my camera using the gridlines in my viewfinder and the edges of the frame.
When it comes to architecture, interiors, and landscape photography, I’m a strong advocate of using a tripod. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to avoid keystone distortion and maintain parallel lines when photographing buildings and architectural details.
Capturing bold, graphic photographs of New York’s Jacob Javits Center is a cakewalk when shooting with Voigtlander’s Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f/5.6 ASPH.
With gridlines turned on and the SteadyShot mode of my Sony a7R II set to 10mm, the pictures I captured displayed little if any evidence of being made with such an extremely wide-angle lens. In a few cases, the images looked as if they were taken with a 35mm focal length lens.
These two monochrome images show how “normal” photographs captured with this incredibly wide lens can appear when angled properly.
As for the specs, the Voigtlander Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH contains 13 elements in 10 groups. The minimum focus is 11.81" (30 cm), and its 10-blade diaphragm produces star-like specular highlights, even when shooting at the wide end of its f/5.6 to f/22 aperture range. Despite the notably flat profile of the front element of the lens, the lens is simply too wide for screw-in filters. An understandably shallow lens shade protrudes ever so slightly from the front of the lens.
The lens weighs a respectable 13.09 oz (371 g) and it balances very nicely on Sony a7-series cameras. In addition to indented aperture clicks, the aperture ring can also be set to rotate fluidly for smooth, click-free video capture.
As with Voigtlander lenses in general, the all-aluminum construction is first-class, with clearly defined f/clicks and smooth focusing.
As one would expect, it’s easy to exploit the ultra-wide-angle properties of Voigtlander’s widest angle lens.
Speaking of focusing, at wide apertures, everything from about 2' to infinity comes into focus. Stop the aperture down to f/16 or 22 and pretty much everything from the dust on the front lens element to infinity comes into focus. Turn on focus peaking and it seems like the entire viewfinder turns red. If you’re a devotee of selective focus you’re going to find this lens frustrating… very frustrating.
Pictures taken with Voigtlander’s Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH displayed far less vignetting than I expected, especially when compared to earlier-generation 15mm and 12mm rectilinear lenses from Voigtlander, in which falloff toward the extreme corners of the frame is more pronounced.
Edge sharpness when shooting at wider apertures is soft and “stretchy,” but it does improve once you stop the lens down 2 to 3 stops. Center sharpness is quite good, even at wider apertures, and gets even better stopped down. Contrast levels are right on the dime, most notably when shooting in monochrome.
Magenta and/or cyan color smear, long the bane of ultra-wide lenses on full-frame digital cameras, is pretty much nonexistent with Voigtlander’s Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH, at least on Sony a7R II and a7S-series cameras. There’s also evidence of chromatic color fringing along contrasty edges—most notably toward the edges, but nothing that can’t be corrected post-capture.
Voigtlander’s new Heliar-Hyper Wide 10mm f5.6 ASPH works equally effectively when mounted on any of Sony’s APS-C format E-mount cameras, albeit with an AoV equivalent of a 15mm rectilinear lens, which by itself is nothing to sneeze at.
If you own a Sony E-mount camera and you’ve been shy about shooting with wider-angle lenses, your time has arrived.
Any thought on how this lens in Leica M version via adapter might perform on Micro Four Thirds?
I have the 15mm Heliar III and use it on my Olympus and it is magnificent. Super sharp all the way to the corners with very high contrast and color saturation. Just amazing. I wonder if the corner softness on the 10mm would be moderated or eliminated on Micro Four Thirds due to the crop factor? The crop factor would make it a 20mm but that is still a very wide and usable focal length.
Well, first of all, I lack your wonderful compositional skills. So there's that. I purchased this lens and my copy had very soft edges. I am interested about whether you think about the possibility that this was user error, since I don't deny that possibility. However, I focused on the subject in the center and test the lens stopped down, and was not happy with the edges. Your pictures do now show this issue. I may try another copy.
If you would be so kind, I'd appreciate you having a look at images I posted on my Flickr page. Please PM me there with any comments.
I checked out your Flickr page and have to agree the edges are softer in your photos compared to the edges of the photos I obtained with my sample. Have you tried a different lens? Consistancy differences between otherwise identical lenses from most all lens manufacturers is not uncommon. Try another lens before you write off this interesting optic. As a rule I have found most Voigtlander lenses to be extaordinary especially considering their relative cost.
As for image composition I suggest avoiding hard camera angles - keystone distortion comes up real fast with this lens. Try maintaining a level camera whenever possible.
Can you please provide some more information on the settings you used for some of your shots. I am very interested in the wide angle lenses and look forward to either getting the 10mm Voightlander or waitning for the 12 mm.
Some of your shots, (red car, motorcycle) appera similar to a fish eye lens result. Where the other photos do not.
Most of these images were captured with the lens stopped down to about 2-stops (f/11) in order to improve edge sharpness and reduce vignetting, which is surprisingly minimal for a lens of this nature. As for the fisheye look of some images, if you take anther look you'll notice the only images that appear Bozo are the ones in which I'm looking up or downwards. Images taken with a level camera appear wide - but not wacky. Do keep in mind anything located towards the corners of the frame with ultra-wide lenses will have a certain degree of 'stretchiness', but all things considered this lens is quite tame compared to others of this genre.
Will it be offered for the OM-D EM-5 do you know?
To the best of my knowledge Voigtlander will only be offering this lens in Sony E-mount and VM (Leica M) mounts. The VM version should be out before years end according to press releases from Voigtlander. That said, you will most likely be able to use the VM version on your OM-D EM-5 via adapter. (BTW you're gonna love it... it's insane!)
There is a native 10.5mm lens for a Micro Four Third camera, the Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95. Just bear in mind that both this lens and the full frame version with an adapter will deliver a narrower angle of view (approximately 20mm) on your camera due to the sensor crop factor. To get anything resembling this field of view you would need to look at something like the Panasonic 7-14mm. On the plus side, the native lens is way faster than the Heliar.