In order to shoot inside the tight space of the F-18 in Top Gun: Maverick, the production chose the tiny but robust Voigtlander lenses. These all-metal lenses were well paired with Sony VENICE’s Rialto extension units. Here are a few words about the Voigtlander glass.
Voigtlander: World’s longest-lived camera and lens makers
Voigtlander was one of the world’s longest-lived camera and lens makers. The brand which was founded in 1756 in Vienna, is still used by other firms. In the 19th century, Voigtlander made optical products including opera glasses and periscopic lenses. In 1840, the Hungarian Josef Petzval designed the innovative Petzval lens for Voigtlander which owned the widest relative aperture of any then made (about f/3). Voigtlander also made cameras, including the first all-metal daguerreotype camera. Nevertheless, the company’s specialty was (and still is) developing small full metal lenses. Since 1999, Voigtlander branded products have been manufactured and marketed (under special licensing agreements) by the Japanese optics and camera company Cosina.
Compact, robust, and sharp
The main three characteristics of Voigtlander’s lenses are compactness, toughness, and sharpness. That would be the perfect combination for the specific utilization like in Top Gun: Maverick. As explained, the lens is a full metal body and built like a tank, however, it’s not weather-sealed (per definition). Furthermore, it’s a fully manual lens, although the lens does communicate electronically with the camera due to electric connectors. Moreover, the lens is designed by an old-fashioned (vintage?) concept. Voigtlander’s lenses are sharp. In fact, they’re one of the sharpest lenses of their kind. Tests show sharp imagery even on the edge of the lens and even when wide opened. As for the price, Voigtlander lenses are not cheap. Taking into consideration that it’s not a cinema lens, and it’s full manual, the price is relatively steep. For instance, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 costs $700, and Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.0 costs $1,800. Both of these models can cover large sensors.
Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.0
The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.0 is the latest lens from Voigtlander that was announced half a year ago. The wide f/1.0 aperture grants solid low light capabilities and Its 12 blades provide a smooth, circular look, while sharpness is maintained throughout its focus and aperture range. Like all Voigtlander lenses, the Nokton 50mm f/1.0 owns a robust, all-metal construction and classic black finish. This lens was not used in Top Gun: Maverick, however, we’d guess they have used the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 which was announced 10 years ago. The Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 is well-suited to interior subjects while the bright f/1.8 maximum aperture benefits working in low-light conditions. That makes it the perfect lens for the F-18’s cockpit. However, this lens has a built-in, non-removable lens hood that helps to prevent lens flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color fidelity when working in strongly lit conditions. And as you can explore, the lenses inside the F-18 were without any lens hood. Anyway, it was another breed of Voigtlander glass.
It’s enjoyable to reveal that ‘affordable’ glass is being used to shoot for the big screen. Indeed, there’re situations when you can’t utilize big & heavy cinema lenses. For instance, the FPV drone shots in Ambulance were made on cheap lenses (articles here and here), and so are the Top Gun: Maverick’s shots inside the F-18 cockpit. However, the last is aimed to be screened on the huge canvas (IMAX theater), but rest assured it will look awesome. So next time, while chewing your popcorn and watching those insane ‘cockpit shots’ in Top Gun: Maverick, say thx to the Voigtlanders.
Here’re the products mentioned in the article, and the links to purchase them from authorized dealers.
- Voigtlander lenses
My earliest memories of creating images as a youngster date back to the early fifties when my father gave me a Voigtlander Bessamatic which had a Color Skopar 50mm F/2.8 lens. Been hooked on image creation since then. Ah that Voigtlander. It was a great camera.
At the moment I have only one Voigtlander lens . It is the 15mm f/4.5 in M mount . Using it on the Sony E and Nikon Z mounts adapted . I’m thinking of getting more VM mount lenses to bi adapt .
The 40mm f/1.2 and 65mm f/2.0 macro are two I’m trying to decide between for next . But both will be mine eventually.