Leica M (Typ 240): Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Type III

Introduction | Body with Lens Attached | Some Technical Data | Does the Lens Work on the Leica M (Typ 240)? | Sample Images | Close-Up Behavior | Conclusions | Links

On these pages you can find my first personal experiences with my M-mount lenses at the Leica M (Typ 240). This page is devoted to the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III lens, the second lens that I bought after purchasing the Leica M (Typ 240), and which replaces my Type II lens, because the latter showed serious color shading at the Leica M.

All lens pages: Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 | Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 III | Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/4.5 | Leica Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH. | Leica Elmar-M 24mm f/3.8 ASPH. | Voigtländer 25mm f/4 (M39) | Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 | Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8 | Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 | Voigtländer 75mm f/2.5 (M39) | Leitz Hektor 85mm f/2.5 (M39) | Leitz Elmar-C 90mm f/4 | Leitz Tele-Elmarit-M 90mm f/2.8 | Leitz Tele-Elmar 135mm f/4

See also: Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 - Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III versus Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 - Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 versus Leica Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH. versus Leica Elmar 24mm f/3.8

 

Introduction

Since the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 (now also called Type II...) exhibited strong magenta color shading, I decided to exchange it against the new type III version of this lens (S/N: 8633274) in October 2016 in order to have less trouble and work with color shading. This lens is larger and heavier, though. Regrettably, the corners of the photos did not satisfy me so that I sent the lens to the dealer who sent it to the Voigtländer service. Voigtländer, however, claimed that the lens is OK and sent it back untouched. Note that this lens, just like the previous version II, has an in-built lens hood.

         
         
   

Photos: Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III

 

Body with Lens Attached

 
     
    

Photos: Leica M (Typ 240) with Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III lens

 

Some Technical Data

Focal length 15 mm
Angle of view (35mm film) 110° diagonal
Maximum aperture 4.5
f-stop range 4.5-22
Number of iris blades 10
Number of lenses/groups 11/9
Shortest distance 0.5 m (0.7...inf)
Weight 247 g
Length 55.2 mm
Maximum diameter 64.8 mm
Filter thread 58 mm
Lens hood integrated
Smallest object field / magnification 1106 x 737 mm / 1:31 (Voigtländer)

 

Does the Lens Work on the Leica M (Typ 240)?

Color Shading and Vignetting

When I looked for tests of the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III lens on the Internet, I found statements by Steve Huff and Ken Rockwell saying that this lens does not produce any color shading. The dealer where I bought the lens (Foto-Mundus) was much more cautious with his opinion on this matter, though:.

Therefore, I was exited to find out how my sample would behave in this respect. I took a number of photos under conditions where I expected to find color shifts:

    

f/4.5

 

f/4.5

 

f/4.5

 

f/8

I would say, I cannot see any, but I may be wrong (download the original files for closer inspection).

In order to confirm this finding, I took "calibration shots" as I did for the other lenses. This time, however, I set EV to 0 and to +1 (as I usually do for calibration shots). I set lens detection to "off" and also did not check any manual lens settings.

Lens Detection Option, EV f/4.5 f/8
"Off"
EV 0
"Off"
EV +1

This more or less confirms the more informal findings: Color shading is hard to see, if there is any. Vignetting is there, but I do not find it disturbing.

All in all, this result is good enough for me - I do not see any need for manual lens settings and/or post-processing.

Fuzzy Edges and Corners

Regrettably, the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III lens does not have a good reputation with respect to its behavior at the edges and in the corners. While some users are satisfied with their samples, many other complain about their samples. Therefore, I was curious how may sample would behave and took some informal test shots by hand, where the upper corners are more or less "covered", at different f-stops (the f/22 photos showed camera shake and are therefore not shown):

         

f/4.5 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/5.6 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/8 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   
f/11 - click image for original   Section from top left - click for larger version   Section from top right - click for larger version
   

f/16 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

My sample regrettably "satisfied" my fears: the corners were fuzzy or even mushy, which did not improve a lot when I stopped down. Perhaps f/16 might be acceptable, but f/8 and maybe f/11 are not. I was unsure how to deal with this issue and thought about sending the lens to the dealer for a repair. But first of all, I replicated the test (more or less...) on a tripod so that camera shake was not an issue and the sections were more similar:

         

f/4.5 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/5.6 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/8 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/11 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/16 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

   

f/22 - click image for original

 

Section from top left - click for larger version

 

Section from top right - click for larger version

The re-test suggested to me that you need at least f/8, or better, f/11 for acceptable results. At f/22, diffraction sets in, and the images get softer again.

A few more comparison samples (please download the samples to inspect the corners):

   

f/4.5

 

f/16

In my opinion, my Type III sample was much worse in the corners than my now sold Type II sample was. Regrettably, the latter exhibited strong color shading, which was the reason why I sold it in the end. Therefore, I decided to send my sample to the dealer for a repair (the dealer sent it to Voigtländer). On December 8, 2016, the lens arrived at my home, and I found that Ringfoto/Voigtländer found the to be 100% OK and did not repair it. According to them, the fuzziness can only be seen when the edges are magnified extremely, and secondly, such fuzziness is to expected for super wide angle lenses. Here is the respective section from the letter (in German):

Photo: The comment from Ringfoto/Voigtländer in German (click the image for the complete letter)

Admittedly, I am not happy with this comment, and I do not agree with Ringfoto/Voigtländer that the fuzziness can only be seen at extreme magnifications. For the moment, however, I will leave things as they are. People who are interested in this matter are invited to download the original photos so that they can make up their own minds...

 

Sample Images

Below are some samples taken with the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III lens (click the images to view the unprocessed original files in a new window). There has no color shading correction been done for these photos.

    
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 

Further Sample Images

These samples are similar to the usual demonstration photos:

    
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 

Some Sun Stars

 
     
    
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
   

Already presented above...

 

 

 

Close-Up Behavior

Smallest Object Field / Magnification

Smallest object field/width 1106 x 737 mm (calculated)
Magnification 1:31 (calculated)

Closest Distance

   

As a super wide angle lens, the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III is not a "winner" in the close-up realm.

 

Conclusions

Disclaimer: I am not a lens expert who sees marked differences between various Leica and/or other lenses. I can check for soft corners, find differences in color rendition, and, in rare cases, may discover a "3D look", but that's all. Please regard therefore my conclusions as the verdict of a "layman".

My sample of the Voigtländer Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 III does not exhibit color shading, but the edges and corners are too soft for my taste. Therefore, I sent it to the dealer who forwarded it to Ringfoto/Voigtländer for closer examination. Ringfoto/Voigtländer sent the lens back without having made any adjustments because, in their opinion, it is 100% OK. I am not satisfied with this reply, but will leave things as they are. People who are interested in this matter may download the original photos and make up their own minds on this matter...

Otherwise, I am quite content with the results that this lens produces. Voigtländer states that they improved the contrast, and it looks as if it has indeed improved. Like its predecessor, this is one of the lenses that I use the least, which is not surprising for such a short focal length. A good strategy is to take such a lens as your only lens with you when you go on a walk ...

 

Links

 

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22.01.2017