East Grinstead photographer and filmmaker Nitsan Simantov. Wedding photography and commercial video production in London and West Sussex.

Compact goodness - Voightlander 35mm f1.4 & Sony A7

A few years ago I bought the Fujian 35mm f1.7 lens to use together with my NEX-5n and later the NEX-6. That was lots of fun, a good focal length with some nice bokeh, and compact enough to carry comfortably.

Sony NEX-5n and Fujian 35mm f1.7

Shooting on the Sony NEX-6 and Fujian 35mm f1.7.

I really like that tiny size, but I really do prefer the look of a 35mm lens on full frame, so a setup I have wanted for a very long time is a compact full frame camera with a fast 35mm, which would, first of all, be used for my "non-work" shooting (like traveling, hanging out with friends and family, etc.)

I don't feel too restricted by the 35mm focal length, I can shoot a nice wide-ish street shot, a group of people, a close up portrait or even things as small as a bug. It's not as versatile as a zoom lens, but if you've seen my work then you'd know I'm a fan of bokeh.

This 5D setup was my general "walk around" kit. The A7 kit is some 700g, over a kilogram lighter.

So that's where the Sony A7s and the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 come into it. They allow me to comfortably take something I really love shooting on. I love shooting with my 5D, I just don't love lugging it around, and now every time I leave the house the question comes up, "Do I take my camera or my skateboard?", if you haven't guessed already, I love skating, and since my camera doesn't get me anywhere very fast, the answer is usually, the skateboard.

I'm really starting to love this lens. Here's a shot with the A7 and Voigtlander 35mm f1.4. The adapter is still in the mail, so this was just done with some "freelensing", which just means hand-holding the lens in front of the camera.

But even if I'm not skating, the 5D and Samyang 35mm are a 1.75KG set, which is perfectly fine when I'm working on a shoot, but not all that comfortable or inconspicuous for general day-to-day stuff, traveling, sports, etc. I will likely get (or make) myself a compact belt case for the A7, which would provide some protection and prevent the a7 from swinging around while the main strap is still on my shoulder.

As an example of this combination, here's a photo from an album-art shoot with Dave Press, shot the 5D mark III and Samyang 35mm f1.4.

A close up of the tiny little Voigtlander next to the A7 with the almost-pancake (half a cupcake maybe?) Sony 16-50mm.

A close up of the tiny little Voigtlander next to the A7 with the almost-pancake (half a cupcake maybe?) Sony 16-50mm.

You might notice one big issue with the specs of the Voigtlander, it has a minimum focusing distance of 70mm, an issue I've had to put up with for a while with my Samyang 85mm, which is a gorgeous lens, but i will focus no closer than a full meter. I'm really glad I spent ages on google, because I found a solution, and it's called a helicoid adapter.

A helicoid is the mechanism that pushes a lens's glass forward and back as you turn the focus ring, so what happens when you make an adapter that can push a lens forward like some sort of fully variable macro tube? Pure magic. That's what the **** happens.

The Camdiox adapter I got on ebay, slightly more expensive than a standard adapter.

I no longer have to free-lens to get my close up shots, and I no longer have to let crappy minimum focusing distances prevent me from getting a lens I want. The one pictured is a larger one to adapt my Canon mount lenses, my smaller Leica mount one for the Voigtlander is still somewhere in China.