The Voigtländer 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar from the Japanese manufacturer Cosina is a standard 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 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar for Nikon’s Z-mount was announced in May 2022, is made in Japan, and costs around 1099 EUR / 1049 USD / 849 GBP. The lens is also available at a lower price in Sony’s E-mount and although it looks a bit different the optical formula is the same.
For this review I tested the Voigtländer 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar on the 45MP Nikon Z7 camera to judge optical performance against the Nikon Z 50mm f1.8 S and Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA shot on a 42MP Sony A7R II. So if you’re interested in whether the qualities of the Voigtländer outweigh the hassles of manual focus when selecting a standard prime lens for your Nikon or Sony mirrorless camera, you’ve come to the right place!
Facts and features
As usual I’ll have a look at the technical data of the new Voigtländer 50mm 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 50mm f1.8 S (“Z-Nikkor” for short) and Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA (“Sony ZA”).
Size (diameter x length): The Voigtländer is pretty small at only 68 x 64mm (2.7 x 2.5in.). The lens hood adds 22mm and is 61mm in diameter and the lens extends by 9mm when focused to minimum object distance. The Z-Nikkor is 76 x 87mm + 40mm lens hood, the Sony ZA is 64 x 71mm + 49mm lens hood. [+]
Weight: 387g (13.7 oz.) plus 19g for the lens hood. The Z-Nikkor is 412g + 27g lens hood, the Sony ZA is 281g + 41g lens hood. 
Optics: 10 elements (including 5 special dispersion and 2 aspherical) in 8 groups. The Z-Nikkor is a 12/9 design, the Sony ZA is 7/5. [+]
Closest focus distance in manual focus is 0.45m (1.5ft.) with a magnification of 1:6.4 which is not much but par for the course. The maximum magnification of the Z-Nikkor is 1:6, the Sony ZA achieves 1:6.9. 
Use with teleconverters: None of the lenses in this comparison can be used with teleconverters. 
Filter-thread: 52mm on the Voigtländer, the Z-Nikkor has 58mm, the Sony ZA 49mm. [+]
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 and Sony ZA have the typical non-linear gearing of focus-by-wire and no distance or dof scales. [-]
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 550 EUR / 500 USD / 500 GBP (with rebates), the Sony ZA is at 699 EUR / 998 USD / 679 GBP. 
The Voigtländer comes without a pouch but the metal lens hood is included. It is of the screw-on type and is not reversible for transport. Putting the front lens-cap on with the lens hood attached is a bit of a fiddly affair. Both the Z-Nikkor and Sony ZA 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 push/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 Sony ZA has no aperture ring. [+]
Sealing: No, the Voigtländer doesn’t even have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount. Both the Z-Nikkor and Sony ZA have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction. [-]
At a score of 2[-]/0/5[+] the Voigtländer 50mm 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 and is not weather sealed. So with a price that’s higher than the 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 only 4mm: 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 14% more magnified when I adjusted focus from infinity to 0.62m (1:10 magnification). This is very obvious when shooting videos.
Next check out my quality results!Check prices on the Voigtländer 50/2 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!