The Voigtlander Heliar Hyper Wide-Angle 10mm f/5.6 is the first rectilinear 10mm (non-fisheye) lens available for 35mm (full-frame) format cameras. It’s a manual focus lens but the Sony E-mount version can be used with focus peaking and a magnified view to help with focusing. Despite the 130-degree angle of view, distortion is controlled extremely well. It produces high-quality results, with the best being at f/11.
Voigtlander Heliar Hyper Wide-Angle 10mm f/5.6 has a metal barrel and an integrated metal lens hood. The lens cap is the slip-over type.
Voigtlander has located the focusing ring towards the middle of the barrel. Conveniently, this ring is about the width of my thumb. Just in front of it, there’s a narrow ring with a white dot on one side and a yellow dash on the other. These markings are 180-degrees apart. When the white dot is at the top of the lens, the aperture ring, which is at the far end of the lens, rotates with a click. However, it can be ‘declicked’ by pushing the dot/dash ring forward and rotating until the yellow dash is at the top.
Inside the barrel, the lens’s 13 elements are arranged in 10 groups.
The closest focusing distance is just 30cm and there’s no filter thread.
Voigtlander produces the 10mm f5.6 Hyper Wide Heliar Aspherical with the Sony E and Leica M mounts. I had the Sony E-mount version and I tested it on the Sony A7R III.
- Rectilinear 10mm lens for full-frame format
- 130° angle of view
- Sony E-mount or Leica M-mount
- Integrated lens hood
- Integrated CPU enables EXIF data recording, Manual Focus Assist, Focus Distance Info, Lens Correction Data, 5-Axis Image Stabilization
- 1/3 click stop
- Declickable Aperture Control System
- Read our Sony A7 III Review
Build and Handling
Both the aperture ring and the focusing ring move with a smooth movement and just the right amount of tension. There are whole stop aperture markings running from f/5.6 to f/22, but it’s possible to adjust in 1/3Ev steps.
It only takes approximately a quarter of a turn of the focus ring to rotate from the closest focusing point to the furthest. As soon as you start to rotate the focusing ring, the image in the viewfinder of the Sony A7R III magnifies to make the details clearer. I’ve set button C2 to magnify the view for lenses without this feature and pressing it takes the magnification higher.
Even with this and the focus peaking, the focusing takes a bit of practice. However, the very short focal length brings extensive depth of field and an aperture of f/8 gets everything from the closest focusing point to infinity sharp.
Voigtlander recommends that you use a level to help distortion-free photos. It’s easy to see why as tipping the camera up or down quickly exaggerates the perspective. However, it’s impressive how well the lens controls curvilinear distortion. There’s just a hint of barrel distortion which makes the lens acceptable for use with architecture.
There’s a good level of detail but naturally, sharpness falls off towards the corners of the frame. However, it’s not bad, especially considering the focal length. The sharpest results are produced at f/11. There’s a hint of softening by diffraction at f/16 and it’s more noticeable at f/22 – but only really if you look at 100%.
What is more noticeable, however, is the degree of vignetting at narrower apertures. The corner shading is very heavy at f/22. If you’re shooting a bright landscape, you may get away with it – and you can adjust images post-capture, but it’s advisable to open up a bit. Given the extensive depth of field that’s possible with the lens at more modest apertures, there’s no real reason to close down beyond f/11 unless the conditions are very bright.
In the absence of a filter thread, you need a specialist holder if you want to fit a filter.
Given the shortness of the focal length, I was expecting to see quite a bit of chromatic aberration, but it’s actually very well controlled. I saw the odd example of fringing when photographing backlit trees and plants but it’s easily removed from raw files.
The lens is also quite resistant to flare, although some is inevitable if you include the sun in or close to the edge of the frame. But I didn’t see any strange colour casts or lots of hot spots bouncing around.
A 10mm lens doesn’t suit every subject but a rectilinear lens is more versatile than a fisheye optic. You need to be especially careful to avoid your shadow appearing in shots and to watch out for miscellaneous items entering the frame. If you’re out with other people, you may find yourself running ahead to take a photograph because they don’t usually understand how wide an angle of view 130-degrees is.
After a little practise with the focusing, or perhaps more accurately using the available depth of field, the Voigtlander Heliar Hyper Wide-Angle 10mm f/5.6 becomes easy and fun to use. The results from f/5.6-f/16 are also very good, but if you can, stick with f/11.
In summary, the Voigtlander 10mm f5.6 Hyper Wide Heliar Aspherical an excellent landscape lens and it could prove very useful for photographing architecture and the night sky.