The Voigtländer 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar from the Japanese manufacturer Cosina is a mild wide-angle prime lens designed for mirrorless cameras and corrected for full-frame sensors. A popular focal length for street photography and general-purpose use, it features a relatively bright f2.0 focal ratio. It’s manual focus and manual aperture only but has contacts to communicate EXIF data and works well with MF support from the camera. The Voigtländer 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar is made in Japan and costs around 1099 EUR / 1049 USD / 849 GBP for Nikon’s Z-mount. It is similarly priced for Sony E-mount and although it looks a bit different the optical formula is the same.
For this review I tested the Voigtländer 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar on a 45MP Nikon Z7 camera to judge optical performance against the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S, Sony FE 35mm f1.8, and Zeiss Batis 40mm f2 CF (shot on a 42MP Sony A7R II). And as Cosina claims the lens to be their “highest-performing quasi-wide-angle lens ever” I’ll also compare performance against the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art which is well known for its excellent image quality. So if you’re interested in whether the qualities of the Voigtländer outweigh the hassles of manual focus when selecting a mild wide-angle prime lens for your Nikon or Sony mirrorless camera, you’ve come to the right place!
And if you’re not sure whether you prefer 35mm or 50mm focal length have a look at my Voigtländer 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar review, where the lens earned a Highly Recommended.
Facts and features
As usual I’ll have a look at the technical data of the new Voigtländer 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar first. I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a  if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage. For comparison I use the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S (“Z-Nikkor” for short), Zeiss Batis 40mm f2 CF (“Zeiss”), and Sony FE 35mm f1.8 (“Sony FE”).
Size (diameter x length): The Voigtländer is pretty small at only 68 x 70mm (2.7 x 2.8in.). The lens hood adds 17mm and is 63mm in diameter and the lens extends by 6mm when focused to minimum object distance. The Z-Nikkor is 73 x 86mm + 48mm lens hood, the Zeiss is 81 x 87mm + 40mm lens hood, the Sony FE is 66 x 73mm + 25mm lens hood. [+]
Weight: 360g (12.7 oz.) plus 17g for the lens hood. The Z-Nikkor is 364g + 30g lens hood, the Zeiss is 362g + 32g lens hood, the Sony FE is 280g + 16g lens hood. 
Optics: 11 elements (including 5 special dispersion and 2 aspherical) in 9 groups, same as with the Z-Nikkor and Sony FE. The Zeiss is a 9/8 design. [+]
Closest focus distance in manual focus is 0.35m (1.2ft.) with a magnification of 1:6.6 which is not much. Maximum magnification of the Z-Nikkor is 1:5.3, the Zeiss achieves 1:3.1, the Sony FE goes to 1:3.9. [-]
Filter-thread: 52mm on the Voigtländer, the Z-Nikkor has 62mm, the Zeiss has 67mm, and Sony FE use 55mm filters. [+]
Image stabilization: The lenses in this comparison don’t have optical stabilization. You only get the built-in sensor-shift stabilization which most modern mirrorless camera bodies provide. 
Auto focus: No, the Voigtländer is manual focus only. The focus ring has the usual linear gearing of manual focus lenses with distance markings in m and ft plus a dof indicator. The Z-Nikkor, Zeiss, and Sony FE have the typical non-linear gearing of focus-by-wire and no distance or dof scales – except for the Zeiss which has an OLED display for focus distance and depth of field. [-]
Although the Voigtländer has only manual focus and manual aperture operation the lens has contacts to communicate EXIF data like focal length and aperture to the camera. The E-mount version also communicates the focus distance which allows Sony Alpha cameras to support 5-axis image stabilization, while on a stabilized Nikon Z camera only three axis are supported. Some of the MF support is also activated like the viewfinder magnification on Sony cameras or changing the focus point frame color on a Nikon Z body. 
Covers full frame/FX or smaller. Same with the alternatives. [+]
Price: 1099 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1049 USD / 849 GBP. The Z-Nikkor currently goes for about 870 EUR / 850 USD / 850 GBP, the Zeiss is at 1080 EUR / 1210 USD / 800 GBP, the Sony FE is at around 550 EUR / 750 USD / 550 GBP. 
The Voigtländer (and Zeiss) comes without a pouch but the metal lens hood is included. It is of the screw-on type and is not reversible for transport but you can put the front lens-cap on with the lens hood attached. Both the Z-Nikkor and Sony FE come with a soft pouch and reversible lens hood with bayonet coupling. 
Aperture ring: The Voigtländer has a dedicated aperture ring with 1/3 click-stops from f2.0 to f16. On the Z-mount version, the click-stops cannot be switched off. But on the E-mount version you can turn the front ring to de-click the aperture. The Z-Nikkor has a multi-function control ring which can be assigned by the camera to operate the aperture, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, focus – or simply switched off. The Zeiss and Sony FE have no aperture ring. [+]
Sealing: No, the Voigtländer doesn’t even have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount. The Z-Nikkor, Zeiss, and Sony FE have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction. [-]
At a score of 3[-]/5/5[+] the Voigtländer 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar has no outstanding features on paper – except that it’s pretty small and its full metal construction leaves a very sturdy and well engineered impression. But the lens is manual focus and manual aperture only, is not weather sealed, and offers only a pretty meagre magnification for close-ups. So with a price that’s higher than most alternatives with autofocus it comes down to whether the optical qualities of the Voigtländer are superior to what the other lenses offer.
The ribbed surface of the focus ring is 18mm wide and easy to grip. It turns 135 degrees the way Nikon users are used to (and on the E-mount version the way Sony users are used to). The focus throw is perfect for quick distance adjustments but still fine (enough) to put the focal plane exactly where it should be. The focus ring runs very smooth but is damped well enough that you cannot easily move it with one finger. Still I’m not happy with the minimal distance between aperture ring and focus ring of 7 mm: When you have the camera at your eyes and grab for the aperture ring you might easily dislodge the focus.
Focus operation of the Voigtländer is not audible from the outside and if you record video with the built-in microphone turning the focus ring produces only a very low mechanical noise. The aperture clicks register a bit stronger on the internal microphone so it’s a pity that Cosina didn’t implement the de-clickable aperture ring of the E-mount version on the Z-mount version too. As you pull-focus, you’ll notice quite some focus breathing: the image became 11% more magnified when I adjusted focus from infinity to 0.46m (1:10 magnification). This is pretty obvious when shooting videos.
Next check out my quality results!Check prices on the Voigtlander 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!