The Nokton Classic is an infamous lens that, if anything, is known for it's interesting bokeh rendering. When I purchsaed my Leica m2, it came with this lens, so I was willing to give it a go! As you'll find out, I am not disappointed and have grown accustomed to the charm and character of its rendering.
As with most of my articles, I won't be sharing many "technical specs" regarding this lens. Rather, I'll be discussing it from a user experience and image-creating perspective.
What I Love About This Lens
This lens has a lot of character. Something about it makes snapshot look like memories. Though it's not a "clean lens", it interesting rendering more than makes up for itself. It renders skin-tones pleasantly and has what I consider to be great, pronounced, yet not overdone bokeh.
I like that this lens opens up to f/1.4. And at 1.4, it has "a look". But, that doesn't mean it's not great at smaller apertures. At f/4-5.6 it renders very pleasant and makes for great candids while still allowing some good fall-off.
What I'm Not a Fan Of
Now, on to some of the downsides to this lens. First off, it is not a technically sharp lens. I say that sort of tongue in cheek. Sharpness, for what I use this lens for, is not a big deal. If I wanted it for close up product shots that were going to be blow up for large, close viewing, the lack of resolution would be unacceptable.
But, I will say this in the Nokton's favor: I've seen lenses that produce images that aren't sharp and things don't look in focus, and I've seen lenses that produce images that you'd never think they weren't that sharp, until you start pixel-peeping and you notice that the resolve isn't that great.
The Nokton Classic is the latter of those two. Unless you're a sharpness/resolultion Nazi, you wouldn't think much about sharpness unless you blew it up to 16 x 20 or were zooming in 100-200%. Again, here's where the Nokton's strong suit, it's character, outweighs it's technical downsides.
The focus ring is smooth. The aperture ring feels a bit thin, but has a pleasure click and works just fine. It's small and light-weight, so it makes for a great walk-around companion. Paired with the Leica m2, this is a fantastic lens in terms of making feel like you can take great images on the go.
When I grab my m2, I know I can go out and make images that I'll cherish both from a "capturing moments" perspective, as well as an artistic perspective. It gives me the feeling that I have a broad range of capturing what my mind's eye sees on the go.
A Word of the Different Nokton Classic Versions
There are two versions of this lens:
To learn a little more about which is best for you, be sure to read our article on the single-coated vs multi coated and how to tell the difference.
Though the Voigtlander Nokton Classic isn't quite as impressive of a lens in terms of sharpness compared to other M-mount options, it's a wonderful 35mm low-light lens that makes up for it's "lack of perfection" with it's depth of character and charm.