Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

Started Apr 13, 2019 | Discussions
sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

So, within next few weeks, I ll be buying my first lens for my a6300. I m over 70% macro (remaining 30% is mostly landscape during travel). Some little night sky/star photography at times, which I always found fascinating to explore (still trying to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights!)

Anyhow, although my pockets are usually empty, I ve decided that something 'just good' isn't good enough for me - so I m looking to acquire a top lens for the job. I ve done some extensive research over the subject - or should I say - not too extensive, as I ve missed the fairly recent Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO from my list of candidates. Up until yesterday, I was almost certain that I m gonna go for the Sony G, having already eliminated Voigtlander's little brother (2/65 APO), as I wanted something that would at least achieve 1:1 magnification (as a proper macro lens should do in my opinion!)

Now though, I m having a dilemma as to which I should pick - the Sony or the Voigtlander?

Spec-wise, major prons/cons are easily distinguished, even by a novice such as myself i.e:

Sony 90mm G Macro: AF, OSS, internal focusing

Voigtlander 110mm APO Macro: tad sharper (but how much?), better build quality, 3yr warranty

In practice, and for someone like me who's primarily interested in macro (e.g. insects and other small animals), I ll have to consider that if I was to go with the Voigtlander, I ll almost certainly have to use a tripod, as my hands don't tend to be very steady (at best!). Lack of in-lens stabilization, plus the lack of IBIS for the a6300 (hence the need for using a tripod), means that I would miss a number of shot opportunities (vs going hand-held with the Sony).

Another thing to take into account is that I am a total novice. Just to give you an estimation 'how much', is that I am currently learning (with a help of a book), what 'aperture' is and how that, in conjunction with the shutter speed and ISO affects the final result...Hence my concern - how well someone like me would be able to work and exploit the full potential of a manual lens (Voigtlander). Would I be able to even get close to producing photos that match the level that I would otherwise achieve if I picked the 'easy' path (AF/Sony)?

As you see, I might not have a clue about photography concepts (yet!), but I can do some decent research. Although the 110mm Voigtlander is relatively new yet, statistically, it would live up to its reputation and be at least as good as the 2/65APO. If that's the case in the end, I strongly believe that the 110mm would be the ideal solution for someone getting serious with macro. Both the Sony and the Voigtlander are superb lenses, there's no single thread of doubt in my head about that - it's just that I think that if utilized to it's full potential (i.e. in the hands of an expert), the Voigtlander is a click above the Sony. You get Zeiss-level quality glass at half the price.

Many of you would argue that I won't be disappointed by picking either of the two. It's just that I only get to pick one - besides I don't really believe that anyone would be willing to pay another 1K at a later stage for owning both. The difference between them doesn't justify paying that much in my opinion. Also, 'inevitably' whichever of the two I decide to go for, it's 2nd use will be landscapes. But from what I read, I think both are capable of at least average/good in shooting landscapes.

One thing I don't like about either of the two is the lack of proper weather sealing. How on earth a macro lens is released without at least some basic weather-proofing (e.g. a gasket)? Sony claims 'dust and moisture resistance for the 90mm Macro G. On the other hand, Voigtlander (being more honest?) claims none. Shooting macro means inevitably spending time outside e.g. in a forest. This lack of confidence somewhat puts me off. Obviously I wouldn't go out in pouring rain even if both body and lens claimed to be water-tight, but there are cases some accidental water splash is unavoidable. Had plenty of that whilst taking waterfall shots in Iceland. I borrowed a friend's a5000 (which doesn't claim any weather proofing), but still didn't have any issues. Do any of you had any issues with any of your (not sealed) lenses taking a mild punishment (humidity, mild rain etc)? Or am I being paranoid thinking that the lack of weather proofing is almost certainly a disaster? I d be particularly interested to hear more from people who own the particular Sony 90mm G Macro or any recent prime from the Voigtlander APO lineup.

One final though/consideration. I am reading that Sony lenses have among the largest fluctuation as far as copy quality is concerned. All of my above considerations assume a 'perfect' (or at least - an 'above average') copy both of the Sony/Voigtlander. But if statistics are correct, then I m having less chances of picking a decent copy of the Sony (if I decided to go with the Sony). And that is also an issue in my case, as I am in no position to check upon the quality of my copy, in order to request for a replacement if needed be....heck, even if I picked an awfully de-centered Sony, it would still blow me away with it's image quality, as so far I ve only shot with the 16-50mm kit lens (and before that, with a Galaxy S7..!). Do you see my point?

I think I ve covered everything - so what do you reckon? Which one should I go for (and why)?

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
Sony a5000 Sony a6300
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jerste Regular Member • Posts: 275
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
1

Based on you experience the choice is simple, go with the Sony lens - its lighter and has OSS and AF, I do not know why you would like give up on these 3 features.

 jerste's gear list:jerste's gear list
Nikon D500 Sony a7R IV Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3
OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

jerste wrote:

Based on you experience the choice is simple, go with the Sony lens - its lighter and has OSS and AF, I do not know why you would like give up on these 3 features.

It's what you said (OSS + AF) versus slightly better optical + build quality.

(minus my steep learning curve for going out all manual of course)

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

sanosai wrote:

jerste wrote:

Based on you experience the choice is simple, go with the Sony lens - its lighter and has OSS and AF, I do not know why you would like give up on these 3 features.

It's what you said (OSS + AF) versus slightly better optical + build quality.

(minus my steep learning curve for going out all manual of course)

Just to add up - regarding AF in particular. I am quoting a very detailed resource on macro :

"Auto focus is not really a good idea in the macro range. Very often you will want to set the magnification and then move the lens to focus, and the danger with an AF lens is that focus may shift, even if you lock it. It’s also easier to magnify the image and get exactly the part you want in focus with manual focus than moving the AF point, using AF, locking it, and then checking to make sure it was correct"

Then, it goes on saying that the Sony 90mm G Macro is particularly good even in MF mode:

"Of course AF is useful for general and portrait work if you want your macro lens to be a general lens. But for specifically macro purposes, AF is no advantage, and generally speaking, MF lenses have better MF than AF ones. The Sony 90mm has somewhat better MF than most AF lenses: you can put it in a linear mode where you choose the magnification and moves the lens, just like with a manual lens"

Which is great, as it means that in my case, for shooting bugs, I can still use MF on the Sony (once I get hold of it...) No as smooth as in a pure, well constructed, MF lens (Voigtlander), but still effective. Which makes me wonder to what extend I can expect to get decent results from the Voigtlander when it comes to shooting landscapes.

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
jerste Regular Member • Posts: 275
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
2

I assure you can shoot plenty of subjects handheld using AF and OSS, including moving bugs and inflight bugs. Sure OSS is not so effecive in macro range but you still gain 1-2 stops with OSS. Tripod is also cumbersome especially when you start shooting macro. Sharpeness is irrelevant here, both are sharp enough. Shooting handheld is more fun, it is much easier to change pov, angle. On light  body as a6300 you want better balanced light lens.

 jerste's gear list:jerste's gear list
Nikon D500 Sony a7R IV Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3
dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,569
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
2

It sounds as though are trying to make a case for the Voightlander.  If you want totally manual focus and don't feel a need for stabilization then go for it.  I don't know how the prices or size/weight of the Voightlander compares with the Sony.

Most shooting with "macro" lenses really isn't in the true macro range, but is closeup shooting at ranges just slightly closer than other lenses allow.  In these situations AF and the extra stabilization are extremely useful.  As to build quality or the warrantee time, I've never heard of problems with the Sony that would make this an issue.  In fact, the only lens I have consistently heard of issues that would warrant concern is the old Zeiss A-mount 16-50 that was popular in the early KM and Sony DSLR days.  I've been using Minolta, KM, and Sony lenses for over 50 years and have never had a problem with one.

To me the advantages of the Sony 90mm Macro make it a no brainer--but that's just my opinion.

 dkeller's gear list:dkeller's gear list
Sony a7 II Sony SLT-A68 Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro +4 more
OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
1

dkeller wrote:

It sounds as though are trying to make a case for the Voightlander. If you want totally manual focus and don't feel a need for stabilization then go for it. I don't know how the prices or size/weight of the Voightlander compares with the Sony.

Given weights are 602g (Sony) vs 771g (Voightlander), but apart from that, the latter is extending quite a bit, hence weight is distributed even further towards the front.

Another disadvantage for the Voightlander is in regard to shooting video with this lens.

Most shooting with "macro" lenses really isn't in the true macro range, but is closeup shooting at ranges just slightly closer than other lenses allow. In these situations AF and the extra stabilization are extremely useful.

From what I ve read, I would be mostly concerned about (lack of) stabilization here. Or at least until I upgrade to a body that supports IBIS. As for the usefulness of AF in really close-up/macro scenarios, I guess that would come in hand especially for a beginner like myself, but others claim that AF isn't really an asset whilst shooting bugs

As to build quality or the warrantee time, I've never heard of problems with the Sony that would make this an issue. In fact, the only lens I have consistently heard of issues that would warrant concern is the old Zeiss A-mount 16-50 that was popular in the early KM and Sony DSLR days. I've been using Minolta, KM, and Sony lenses for over 50 years and have never had a problem with one.

That's good to hear. From the looks of it, build quality on the Voightlander is superior, but as long as the Sony doesn't wear off substantially over time, I ll be happy with that.

To me the advantages of the Sony 90mm Macro make it a no brainer--but that's just my opinion.

I m still try to weight those pros/cons for each, see where my priorities are. Despite going down the 'sensible' choice that the Sony is, I can't help but think that the Voightlander is also a great lens. Optically, it might as well surpass the Sony in several areas. And that intrigues me. Because optical quality is at the very top as a criterion for choosing a lens. Of course, usability is also important (here Sony definitely has upper hand). Regardless of that, many people seemed very positive about this lens (rolling reviews here and here ). So, it's a hard choice to make.

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
Gandalf2401 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
2

Hello, I've got the 90mm Macro together with a sony A7. It's a great lens, nevertheless in my opinion autofocus and stabilization are both not required for macrophotography. Normally you set the desired range or magnification before coming near your object. For sharpness you just move your camera in and out until you got the sharpness correct, then press your shutter. Concerning stabilization, for really closeups on insects most photographers use a flash with a home made diffusor. Then you can have 1/20 sec or more shutterspeed to prevent black background. The very short flash duration (usually around 1/1000 sec) will get your object sharp even without stabilization. For landscape photography I recommend to use a tripod and switching stabilization off. Cheers

OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

Gandalf2401 wrote:

Hello, I've got the 90mm Macro together with a sony A7. It's a great lens, nevertheless in my opinion autofocus and stabilization are both not required for macrophotography. Normally you set the desired range or magnification before coming near your object. For sharpness you just move your camera in and out until you got the sharpness correct, then press your shutter. Concerning stabilization, for really closeups on insects most photographers use a flash with a home made diffusor. Then you can have 1/20 sec or more shutterspeed to prevent black background. The very short flash duration (usually around 1/1000 sec) will get your object sharp even without stabilization.

So, in other words you claim that (for 1:1 macro) you can still use a MF, non-stabilized lens and still go handheld and earn good results, right?

For landscape photography I recommend to use a tripod and switching stabilization off. Cheers

That's for the Sony 90mm G, correct?

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
Gandalf2401 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
2

All pictures taken handheld. They are sharp because the flash duration is very short, so flash duration becomes effective shutter speed. Best aperture in my case is around 9 for sufficient depth of field. With this aperture you need a flash anyway to get enough light in your camera. Handheld is easier  because you can move your camera back and forth, taking pictures, when Sharpness seams OK.

Gandalf2401 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO
3

For landscape I use my Sony 12-24 4,0 or Tamron 28-75 with a tripod. Here is a picture of my macro setup.

OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

Gandalf2401 wrote:

For landscape I use my Sony 12-24 4,0 or Tamron 28-75 with a tripod. Here is a picture of my macro setup.

It's quite amazing you can get within 30cm from those insects with that thing - without startling them!

For some of those pictures above - the magnification seems to be bit more than 1:1 - am I wrong? Did you use any sort of close-up lens on top of the G90? Or is it just the G90?

Also, have to ask - was stabilization off? Both lens (OSS) and body (IBIS)?

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
Gandalf2401 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

Lens Stabilization was on, but I don't think it made a big difference. My Sony a7i does not have body stabilization. Magnification was not more than 1:1, but I did a little cropping in lightroom. When moving slowly, insects often stay at their position. It's like hunting, except nothing get killed at the end.

OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

Gandalf2401 wrote:

Lens Stabilization was on, but I don't think it made a big difference. My Sony a7i does not have body stabilization. Magnification was not more than 1:1, but I did a little cropping in lightroom. When moving slowly, insects often stay at their position. It's like hunting, except nothing get killed at the end.

Getting 'shot' but not killed

Slowest shutter speed (1/80sec) was the image with the green fly. I wonder what's the slowest shutter speed can be used (on an unsteady hand such as mine!) and still retain that sharpness you ve achieved in those shots.

If the lack of image stabilization isn't much of an issue (lack of AF too - as many suggest), then, there's nothing between the Sony and the Voigtlander (that lacks both). In the case of 1:1 macro shooting, only thing that should matter is the sharpness achieved by either of those two lenses whilst 1:1 and at minimum focus distance. I am talking wide open, and throughout the entire image (center, corners). For which there's not conclusive evidence yet, as most reviews for the 110 APO are still rolling

Other 'nice to have' features include video shooting - for which the Sony should have the upper hand (as you definitely need AF there - maybe even stabilization I daresay!)

Then, it's build quality and weather proofing consideration - which will last longer in the long term. E.g. that Voigtlander extends which probably means there's more chance of it accumulating dirt over the long term. The Sony, although it doesn't extend externally whilst focusing, could well be prone to humidity/moisture entering via the buttons on the lens body.

I m paranoid right? Most votes so far go for the Sony...

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,569
Clarifying Points

Note he used a flash for these shots so the 1/80 S shutter speed isn't relevant as the flash in producing an effective exposure on less than 1/1000 S.

How much of your shooting will be true macro in the 1:1 range?   It is the very close range where autofocus doesn't matter and steadiness isn't an issue ONLY when using flash or a tripod.

If you are using this as a close up (as opposed to macro) without flash or tripod than both auto focus and stabilization DO become important considerations.  Also consider general use as a 90mm lens in non-closeup/macro situations.

 dkeller's gear list:dkeller's gear list
Sony a7 II Sony SLT-A68 Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro +4 more
OP sanosai Regular Member • Posts: 209
Re: Clarifying Points

dkeller wrote:

Note he used a flash for these shots so the 1/80 S shutter speed isn't relevant as the flash in producing an effective exposure on less than 1/1000 S.

How much of your shooting will be true macro in the 1:1 range? It is the very close range where autofocus doesn't matter and steadiness isn't an issue ONLY when using flash or a tripod.

Most of my shooting will be true 1:1 macro, yes.

If you are using this as a close up (as opposed to macro) without flash or tripod than both auto focus and stabilization DO become important considerations. Also consider general use as a 90mm lens in non-closeup/macro situations.

As I currently own no other lenses (expect for the 16-50mm kit lens), I also intend to use the 90mm for landscape use as well. I know, not very ideal (as it's not wide enough), even more considering I d be using it on an a6300 (where essentially it becomes 135mm!)

I am slightly leaning towards the Sony now - not because of the AF, OSS goodies - but mostly because I read that on 1:1 macro it is slightly sharper (the Voigtlander gains the upper hand in longer distances). Given the fact that 1:1 macro will be my primary use of the lens, I guess the Sony makes more sense.

Despite the undisputed superior quality build for the Voigtlander, it's been 4 years since the Sony has been released. It still receives excellent critics and I haven't come across any complains in regards to it failing in any way. In fact, I ve heard complains on few Sony GM lenses failing to work properly - but I guess some failure rate is inevitable for any product/manufacturer. In my case for the particular lens, the main concern is that I ll be lucky enough to get a decent copy of it, but when purchasing time comes, I might be calling here for help to verify that! I ll have to check with local shops here on the return policy on that (e.g. how many days, how can I prove I got a bad/de-centered copy etc). But I ll try to be positive about it

 sanosai's gear list:sanosai's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,569
Re: Clarifying Points

I think you'll find many uses for 90 mm in landscape photography with an APS-C camera. I certainly have put the longer ranges to good use on mine, as well as on my FF camera. A misconception of landscape photography is that you have to use a wide angle and take in the entire scene in one shot. Often you are better off focusing on one aspect, such as a distant formation. The sharp as a tack 90 certainly is no slouch at that either.  And really excels at details with flowers and such

 dkeller's gear list:dkeller's gear list
Sony a7 II Sony SLT-A68 Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro +4 more
mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 7,366
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

I’m sorry to push this old thread up again, but I ‘m curious. What lens did you choose? 
I’m in the same situation as you, and trying to choose between Voigtlander 110mm macro and Sony 90mm macro.

thank you

 mujana's gear list:mujana's gear list
Sigma DP3 Merrill Sony a7R IV Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 +6 more
nkistrup
nkistrup Senior Member • Posts: 2,560
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

mujana wrote:

I’m sorry to push this old thread up again, but I ‘m curious. What lens did you choose?
I’m in the same situation as you, and trying to choose between Voigtlander 110mm macro and Sony 90mm macro.

thank you

Rented both over a month ago, with the emphasis on infrared shooting.  Have tested 10 lenses for the a6300, and the Voigtlander 110mm macro is THE WORST for infrared.

That aside, both lenses were sharp shooting in visible light, but found the 110mm a much better option (can't justify it now,  but it's on my wish list for next year).

  1. Sharper; comparable to the Zeiss 100mm Makro my Nikon D7100
  2. Must better working distance; and the 20mm is highly significant & always preferred longer focal lengths for close-up work, since my subjects are further away
  3. Manual Focus ring is incredibly smooth

And the need to set aperture on the lens doesn't bother me, since I already have 2 Zeiss Loxias, and almost always shoot in manual exposure.

If you are really torn, rent first.  Good luck!

Niels

 nkistrup's gear list:nkistrup's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Nikon D7100 Sony a7 III Sony a6400 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +10 more
mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 7,366
Re: Sony 90mm G Macro vs Voigtlander 110mm Macro APO

nkistrup wrote:

mujana wrote:

I’m sorry to push this old thread up again, but I ‘m curious. What lens did you choose?
I’m in the same situation as you, and trying to choose between Voigtlander 110mm macro and Sony 90mm macro.

thank you

Rented both over a month ago, with the emphasis on infrared shooting. Have tested 10 lenses for the a6300, and the Voigtlander 110mm macro is THE WORST for infrared.

That aside, both lenses were sharp shooting in visible light, but found the 110mm a much better option (can't justify it now, but it's on my wish list for next year).

  1. Sharper; comparable to the Zeiss 100mm Makro my Nikon D7100
  2. Must better working distance; and the 20mm is highly significant & always preferred longer focal lengths for close-up work, since my subjects are further away
  3. Manual Focus ring is incredibly smooth

And the need to set aperture on the lens doesn't bother me, since I already have 2 Zeiss Loxias, and almost always shoot in manual exposure.

If you are really torn, rent first. Good luck!

Niels

Thank you Niels. I don’t do infrared shooting. Longer reach should indeed be an advantage. With my 16-35GM and the Batis 85 I’m very happy with the AF of the A7RIV! Ofcourse with macro that could be very different, and I don’t mind MF at all. The throw of the Voigtlander is very long and that of the 90mm maybe a bit short. Apart from that, the Voigtlander extends quite a bit. That didn’t bother you?

 mujana's gear list:mujana's gear list
Sigma DP3 Merrill Sony a7R IV Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 +6 more
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