The sacred white elephant: the Voigtlander 125/2.5 Apo-Lanthar

Started Jan 14, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Emil Varadi
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The sacred white elephant: the Voigtlander 125/2.5 Apo-Lanthar
Jan 14, 2011

They say this lens is as rare as hen’s teeth or as a white alligator. In my country, if they say something is rare as a white raven, you know that your chances of getting it is somewhere close to the likelihood of winning the top prize in lottery. If you did not know already, then you now have an idea how difficult it is to get in posession of a Voigtlander 125/2.5 Apo-Lanthar.

Exactly a week ago, on Friday evening, I was browsing the web, and I could not believe my eyes: a camera shop in Budapest was offering an Apo-Lanthar on their website for a sum of roughly 1000 euros. Oh my! This is a crisis stricken country and I had a crisis stricken photography budget. Man, I couldn't even afford a 35/1.8 DX! But this was an entirely different animal! The most sought after exotic of all exotics. You know that another one will not cross your path in a lifetime. I decided overnight to go for it!

About 10 years ago, as a beginner, I had seen a new Apo Lanthar in another camera shop, but I had no idea what it was capable of (what, no AF? Jesus, they still sell these?) and I opted for the 70-300 ED. But some years ago images of flowers on a Japanese website made with this lens simply knocked me out. I saw the most gorgeous bokeh (and I do have the 85/1.4 AFD) and the most poetic rendition of flowers I ever saw. This prompted me to search for it in shops, but no luck. A few years later I learned from this forum that a global hunt for the Apo Lanthar was on, but never thought one would ever come my way.

So I knew I had to raise funds somehow to buy the lens, but selling my car or mortgaging the house over the weekend was not possible and anyway to slow to solve my problem. I also knew I had to be there when the shop opened on Monday to be first. So I borrowed the money from a friend. He was under the impression that I was nuts, but was too polite to say so. I could borrow his Zeiss ZF 100/2 any time, or his Nikkor 200-400/4. I tried to explain, but he remained kind of unconvinced.

Anyway, in the shop I found the lens was in a mint condition. No scratches, and the blades functioned perfectly. The young shop assistant told me: “You know, this is a very nice lens.” You bet, I thought and I told him with a broad smile: “I know what I’m buying.”

At home, my wife wanted to file for a divorce and I may have to sell off my D-300 to repay the debt.

So I now feel as if I got a sacred white elephant. It’s a damned big honour but the costs are tremendous.

 Emil Varadi's gear list:Emil Varadi's gear list
Fujifilm X-S1 Nikon D300 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G +5 more
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