Which Voigtländer Lens to choose - classic, modern, APO or Heliar?
Updated: Feb 16
Sharpness is a bourgeois concept
.... Henry Cartier-Bresson
Even if you are an existing Voigtländer user, we urge you to first read our detailed article on Understanding Voigtländer Lenses. It is important that you know how the names & designs came about, though they are totally independent of each other, but there is always a pattern that makes understanding the overall philosophy better.
Whether to choose a classic or a modern or an APO lens is a very difficult question to answer indeed. This question baffles mostly those who are looking at our VM-mount catalogue to either use natively on a Leica M body, or even those who swap across different mirrorless bodies using adapters barring a few exceptions in our other mounts where similar curiosity arises. Hopefully, this post can simplify & make decision making a lot easier.
We will try to objectively explain what each one of these designs have to offer. If that resonates with what you have in your mind too, then this article has met its goal of providing those helpful pointers & directions. It is further important to mention that the commonality for all our lenses regardless of their design configuration is that they will give you the signature Voigtländer 3D rendering (or subject roundness), rich colours regardless of the coating, excellent micro-contrast and very balanced skin tones - this in itself is a major feat to have and you get that even with our most affordable leses. The simple reason is that they all share the same glass elements with highest refractive index and coatings.
So no choice is good or bad - a price of the lens is not a measure of its image quality & performance either. As we have said it several times, all lenses have their own unique individual characteristics. This is what set them apart and this what one must always be looking for in a lens, regardless of its technical prowess.
Before biasing yourself based on ubiquitously ill conceived opinions such as -
a classic lens is only good for film cameras because it lacks resolution X
a classic lens will show excessive coma, aberrations & fringing with sensors that has AA filters X
a single coated lens is low contrast, flares a lot & is not meant for coloured photography X
An APO lens is the ultimate lens because it has all 3-axis correction X
Only an APO lens will meet the high resolution spec of my 60MP camera sensor X
A modern lens is the safer option because it has an aspherical element X
A modern lens will have better coatings X
A fast lens without floating element will not be sharp X
A lens that is not sharp wide open is not great X
What to expect from a cheap lens or if it is expensive then it has to be the best X
And the gobbledygook