Voigtlander 58/1.4 or Rokinon 85/1.4? Or...

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I am sitting on the ledge here, one little push away from becoming an owner of a Voigtlander Nokton 58/1.4. An equally weak push would tip me the other way, which for now looks like Rokinon 85/1.4... but could easily be something else :Confused:

Hoping to hear your experiences with either of these two lenses, but feel free to throw other ideas into the mix (please read below first).

I shoot Nikon film and digital crop camera and want something in the standard to portrait FL that does well in low light. Think low light street/candid shots with possible point light sources. The lens would also double as my MF portrait lens.
Currently considering the Voigtlander 58/1.4 and Rokinon/Samyang 85/1.4.

Requirements: Must be good in the f/1.4-f/2 range. Good as in sharp (as it is reasonably possible). Must be a full frame lens. Manual focus.

Rokinon is primarily a portrait lens, while Voigtlander is more of a general purpose lens and both seem to excel in their primary roles. Voigtlander seems to be very good at taking portraits too.
Rokinon is $300, Voigtlander is $450 and both are hard to find used.

I already have Nikkor 35/1.4 AI-S and AF 85/1.8D, neither of which is very sharp in that range, though they rock in other ways or apertures.

I am not interested in Nikkor 50mm as that's too close to 35. For a while the 50/1.2 was in the mix but then got dropped for this reason.

I am not willing to spend more than what Voigtlander costs - even that is a bit of a stretch for this lens.

If there is anything you can say to help me decide, please do. Otherwise, I will have to flip a coin or ask my wife which is even more random than the coin flip.

Hopefully this made some sense.
Thanks.
 
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I just bought a new Voiglander 58 a few weeks ago from Photovillage in NYC. Honestly, I have not used the lens much, but it is a real, real nice lens. I really like the 58mm on my D3. The focus ring is smooth as butter, with a long throw. Lens feels crafted right up there with Zeiss. Focusing at 1.4 is beautiful. Lens is sharp at 1.4, nice OOF area. Lens has a very appealing character.

Mike
 
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https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=282735

That's a thread about the Rok. I've posted a few 100 percent crops you can look at, plus some thoughts on it. Although I've never posted a 100 percent crop at f/1.4.

But one more thing I'll say, it's a $250 f/1.4 85mm prime. Expect lots of sample variation and cruddy build quality. If you're expecting to go head to head with a pro built nikkor AIS and a very well thought of AFD prime... well it's going to fall short, very short. It does reasonably well wide open but don't got expecting it to be razor sharp wide open. Honestly if you weren't happy with the nikkor 35mm f/1.4 I think you'll be deeply disappointed with the Rok. You get what you pay for more or less, and while for $250 most of us who own it have been shocked at the bang for the buck we've received simply put if you nit pick this lens you won't be happy with it. It comes with some pretty heavy compromises. Save for build quality it's a good lens that meets most real world expectations but picky users are probably going to be disappointed.
 
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Mad Hatter,

thanks for the link and quick review here (and the in-depth one over there).

Just one clarification: I love my 35/1.4 AI-S but its performance below f/2 cannot be described as sharp. Its qualities lie elsewhere, plus I want something a bit longer.

Now back to the Rokinon.
I know that this lens does not have the built of best Nikkors, and that would be too much to expect from a $300 lens. From all reviews though, it looks like its built is (much) better than the price would suggest. After all, my Nikon 85/1.8D is not a tank either.
Pictures posted in that thread are talking in its favor, and I haven't heard of sample variation in this case - complaints from those with bad copies would be popping up in forums and I haven't come across any.
Finally, I wouldn't call myself too picky and I rarely look at 100% crops. When I do, it usually means that problems are somewhat visible even without pixel peeping. Besides, this is a f/1.4 portrait lens - we shouldn't care much about corner performance and sharpness at small apertures, and obviously Rokinon has great rendering of OOF areas.

I like the Rokinon, it definitely beats the Nokton in standard portrait work. It's also $150 cheaper (non-chipped version even more).

Thanks again.
 
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Just took this last nite, incandescent living room lighting

Not as in focus as I would like, shot at F1.4, ISO800, D3. Could have given a bit more contrast,opened the shadows a bit...less red. etc. BTW, this lens naturally renders warmer than my Nikons. Quickly printed out on matte, has a look like a painting.

Mike

_DSC8257web-1020-.jpg
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Withouta doubt the 85 f/1.8 is built better than the rok.

Based on what you've posted I'd say that optically you'd be happy with the rok. But if you're planning on putting it into heavy use I'd be weary of it, especially the aperture ring/diaphram.

If like me you only plan on pulling it out of the bag every now and then, and when you use it you keep it glued at 1.4 I'd say buy it. If it's going to be a workhorse I'd suggest finding a good copy of the ais f/1.4. It's built like a brick poop house and it is reputed to be even better than the afd 1.4. Lots of reviewers have said that. For only about $150 more than the rok I'd look into it.
 
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One more thing, the 85 f1.4 AIS does not exhibit the same sort of dream like softness that many fast ais primes do wide open like the 35 f1.4 that you own. Just to add some contraversy/drama to the thread I'll mention that ken rockwell says that prior to the release of the g model that the ais version is the best 85 f/1.4 built by nikon. Others have said the same.
 
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Oh, believe me, I wouldn't be considering the Rokinon if it was possible to find a decent copy of the 85/1.4 AI-S Nikkor for $150 more.
 
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Rokinon is very useable at F1.4, its as sharp as the Nikon 85mm F1.4 wide open. However, it never catches up when stepped down.

The Voigt 58 is very good at all apertures is and very sharp stepped down. The roki will have a noticeably more blurred and smoother backgrounds when used wide open.

The Roki feels very cheap when compared to the Voigt however its still not terrible or anything.
 
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I really like the Rokinon and may end up getting both, but if I am honest and pour a bucket of ice cold water over my head, I know that Nokton is what ticks more boxes.
Now I have to be honest and find that bucket...
 

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