Viltrox AF 23mm F1.4 E E-mount lens review by waldo_posth

reviewer#45575 date: Aug-25-2020
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:- Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon ZA F/2.0 24mm
- Sony Carl Zeiss FE Vario-Tessar F/4.0 16-35mm ZA OSS
- Tamron SP F/1.8 35mm Di USD
- Konica Hexanon AR F/1.7 40mm
- Minolta Rokkor MD F/1.8 35mm
price paid:285 Euro
positive:- affordability;
- relatively small and lightweight - well balanced in combination with the A6XXX bodies;
- metal build gives it a solid haptic feel;
- fast: F/1.4! There is no other AF APS-C lens in this class;
- sharp (corner to corner) from F/2.8 on;
- aperture ring with A setting;
- flare is not a problem with this lens;
negative:- autofocus gets stuck after 3-4 shutter actuations (camera has to be powered off and on again to make the AF work again);
- slight moustache distortion that is difficult to correct without lens profiles (not available at the time of writing this review) - IMO not usable for architecture photography;
- somehow desaturated colors (can be healed in PP);
- less contrast @ F/1.4;
- visible chromatic aberrations with aperture wide open in high contrast situations;
comment:This is a beautiful and easy to handle lens that fits the Sony E-mount bodies very well. The fast aperture of F/1.4 creates a nice bokeh - although corners remain rather soft at that aperture. But stopped down the lens is quite sharp. It has a de-clicked aperture ring which allows one to rather quickly move from the A setting (aperture controlled by the camera body) to F/1.4 - something I really appreciated. Unfortunately moving back to A always leaves you with F/2.0 instead of the aperture which had been chosen before moving to F/1.4 - which is a bit of a nuisance.
Currently there are no lens profiles (e.g. for Photoshop) to correct the slight moustache-type distortion of the lens which is not easily correctable in PP - for me this disqualifies the lens for architecture photography.

The big drawback has been the AF functionality. AF is sometimes hunting and the lens does not seem to be as fast as my Sony lenses (e.g. the Sony F/3.5-5.6 18-135mm OSS zoom lens). A severe problem with my copy was the AF which got stuck after I had actuated the shutter a couple of times. AF (all modes) then did no longer work at all. The camera had to powered down and switched on again to get the AF working - but only for another couple of shots. Then you had to repeat the procedure. To me it is not clear whether this is a problem of my copy or a more general problem (which might then be solved by a new firmware version - the lens has a USB interface). For me this was the reason to return the lens - and I doubt whether I will get another copy when all these glitches are eliminated. To me the lens' reliability seems to be a crucial problem. The AF problem has been the reason for me to give a sharpness rating of 3.5 - without theseproblems it would have been a 4.5.
@ IR photographers: the lens has a very slight hot spot which one can live with (it's not always a joy to remove it in PP) becoming visible stopping down to F/6.3 - F/7.1 on. Of course, it's not visible @ F/1.4.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 4
  • sharpness: 4.38
  • color: 4.25
  • build: 5.00
  • distortion: 4.50
  • flare control: 4.25
  • overall: 4.48 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania