Voigtländer 15mm Heliar - which version for crop-sensor digital ?


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7:40 PM
Sep 17, 2019

I am looking to expand on my lenses for my Epson R-D1s, and have been looking for a Voigtländer 15mm Super-Wide Heliar. I know there have been a few versions of this lens now. To my knowledge, there is the original - L39 (although I seem to have found a couple L39 variants? One with all white accent paint, and one with red accent paint?), a Version II - M Mount with focus tab and a Version III - M Mount, no focus tab; focus ring.

Which one of the Voigtländer 15mm is considered the best of the bunch? I also ask this question specifically with digital in mind - digital APSC, at that (will be used on my R-D1).

I ask this, mainly in general of - are the newer models an improvement or a downgrade over the earlier models? But I also saw on a Ken Rockwell review for a 15mm Super-Wide, that it is great on film, but not so much on a Leica M9 because "its rear nodal point is too close to the sensor". Is this an M9 issue, or a digital in general? Which of the 15mm's suffer from this? Is it something to even worry about?

As of right now, I am set on the Voigtländer Super-Wide Heliar II. But I wanna know, is this the best of the 15mm lineup? Is it the best choice of the lot on APSC digital?
Are there other (relatively budget friendly) M-Mount 15mms I could consider? One that is a little faster than f/4.5 would be nice...👀

Thank yous for any insight !
I tried my original LTM version with adapter on a friend’s M8. It worked very well, colour and resolution were good and there was no vignetting that I could see. The early one is scale focus only, but think later ones may couple to rangefinder.
I've also used the LTM 15mm Heliar on my M8 with good results. Should work well on the RD-1. It looks like there are some samples of this combo on flickr.

I chose the LTM version mostly because it's so compact, and so I can use it with my LTM film bodies.

On my M240 there's the usual color shift on the left and right sides, which is the most annoying effect of the having the rear element so close to the sensor. Newer versions of the lens have been redesigned to avoid this, but they're a bit bulkier as a result.
I second what the others have said and might add that usually the LTM version should come with the viewfinder free of charge (it was bundled that way back in the 2000s).
Which one of the Voigtländer 15mm is considered the best of the bunch?
Without a doubt the m-mount V.III. I have used both the V.II and the V.III on the Epson and the V.II pales in comparison. Cheers, OtL PS. I also use a Zeiss Distagon T* 4/18 ZM. It performs well on various mirrorless cameras and film Leica's but not on the Epsons since it protrudes too deep into the camera's body.
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I bought the original LTM 15mm to use on my APS-C Fuji X-mount digital bodies years ago as I could also use it with every screw mount body in the house. It's rare I use it on film (15mm really is super wide), but it works very well on the X-Pros, so it should also be just fine on the Epson.

Here's one with the LTM 15mm Super Wide Heliar from the X-Pro 1 back in 2018, for instance:

Nick Web.jpg

No weird colours or smearing in the corners on the smaller sensor. It's a cracking little lens - and the 90º focus throw and huge depth of field makes it very fast to use. Focuses down to 30cm as well, if I remember correctly.

But yes, make sure you get it with the 15mm viewfinder - they should come as a complete set.

(And then you can pick up the fancy little case to hold them together!)
As the plan is to use the lens on a crop sensor, isn’t the 15mm finder too wide? A 21mm finder would probably be closer to reality.
I use the LTM version of the Heliar 15 with a LTM-M screw on adapter. It works well on my Ricoh GXR, if you're wondering about how it performs on a crop sensor.
As the plan is to use the lens on a crop sensor, isn’t the 15mm finder too wide? A 21mm finder would probably be closer to reality.
True, but selling the LTM version without the finder would/should decrease the price, so paying full price for it without will come back to bite you later. And if you have the finder, you can then use the lens on film or full frame digital (albeit probably only in monochrome) as well.