Voigtlander has done a beautiful job on the Leica M version of the 50/2 APO-Lanthar, with a chromed ring and large knurled focusing ring and a front-end aperture ring with a 12-blade diaphragm. This is much better in haptics/ergonomics than the Leica 50/2 APO, which has a narrow short-throw focusing ring and with a sloppy-feeling aperture ring. IMO, nothing by Leica is as well done as the Voigtlander 50/2 APO-Lanthar in either optical performance or ergonomics/haptics*.
If it performs as well on Leica M as on Sony mirrorless (optical design might suffer due to differing sensor glass thickness), then it will the the sharpest, best corrected 50mm lens ever available for Leica M. I expect it to easily outperform the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M at 1/8 the price and with much better haptics/ergonomics.
* Based on my experience with the FE mount version of the Voigtlander 50/2 APO-Lanthar. The about $5100 Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH (Black Chrome Edition) might the exception for lenses by Leica with more usable ergonomics. But that’s fiscal insanity when for $2000 less you can have both the CV 50/2 APO-Lanthar and the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4.
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Stepan K writes:
I got my copy of the Voigtlander M 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar for M-mount yesterday. I don't have anything useful to compare it to on me, just the original Leica Summicron 50 f/2 (modern non-apo), but thought you might be interested.
First impressions: The build quality is top notch. Much better than my Voigtlander 180/4 and 35/1.7. Focusing ring very smooth, aperture ring clicks a bit like Leica 90/2 AA - loud satisfying clicks. Both rings have a bit more resistance than modern Leica lenses - will be great for precise focusing, not so much for fast street shooting. The design is very close to the Leica 50 Apo black chrome, except maybe the finish's a bit more glossy and the lettering is different.
Size&weight: Doesn't block the viewfinder too much, I forget that it's there. The weight distribution on M10 is a bit more into the lens due to the barrel being quite long: you can just barely make the body stand on the bottom plate, but I swear if I blow on it, it tips over. I bet Leica 50 Apo is lighter and shorter and doesn't do this, but I'm nitpicking. I can still fit the lens with caps in the front jeans pocket.
mage quality: Unsurprisingly, it blows the 50 cron pre-apo out of the water. Contrast is insane, resolution is very high (single-pixel hair resolves easily on the 24mpx sensor). I don't know what you need to value to buy the Leica 'Cron when this is available for half as much.
It does vignette a fair bit more, but that's correctable these days. I shot a silver car in full sun and the LoCA is there but you have to look for it, kind of like the Voigtländer 50 APO E-mount samples I've seen. Bokeh looks like the Gaussian blur - completely neutral. Colors are superb, no visible color cast. Overall, I think I'm only keeping my 'cron 50 to write a detailed comparison with pictures for my blog; I can probably sell it for ~ the 1099 EUR that I paid for the Voigt. What an awesome lens.
DIGLLOYD: to get the best out of the CV 50/2 APO-Lanthar, avoid the optical rangefinder like the plague, and use magnified Live View through the EVF. A tiny focus change takes you away from peak performance, as with all ultra high performance lenses.