All posts by Phillip Reeve

I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

Rolling Review: Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar

The Voigtlander 3.5/21 is a tiny, relatively affordable, manual focus lens for the Sony FE system. In this rolling revie I evaluate it’s performance.

Image Samples

You can find most images shown in this image in full resolution in this album.

Specifications

Diameter 63 mm
Length 40 mm
Filter Thread 52 mm
Weight 230 g
Max. Magnification
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 0.2 m
Number of aperture blades 10
Elements/ Groups 9/8

The Voigtlander 3.5/21 sells for $699 at B&H or amazon.com.749€ at ebay.de (affiliate links).

6.11.18: Updated Alternatives, Sharpness, Alternatives and conclusion

Continue reading Rolling Review: Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar

Voigtlander 110mm F2.5 APO Macro Hands-On: Photokina Recap Part 5

Specifications

Diameter 78 mm
Length 100 mm
Filter Thread 58 mm
Weight 771 g
Max. Magnification 1:1
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 0.35 m
Number of aperture blades 10
Elements/ Groups 14/12

$1099 at B&H (affiliate link)

I think it came across from my review that I was quite impressed by the Voigtländer 2/65‘s performance. So when Cosina announced the 2.5/110 they had my attention and I made my interest in a review copy known immediately. For some reason though the release date has been postponed from August. I hope we don’t have to wait much longer.

Features

The Voigtlander 110mm F2.5 APO-Lanthar Macro focuses down to a magnification ratio of 1:1. Unlike the Sony FE 2.8/90 it does not focus internally so it extends a lot when focused at smaller objects. I couldn’t test the working distance at PK but it will be interesting to see how it compares to the Sony macro.

Another key-feature is the APO-correction. While other companies have used this term rather generously the 2/65 APO offers a really high degree of correction for any kind of CA so the expectation is quite high here. Conditions at PK didn’t allow for much testing of the CA-correction.

Another “feature” is that this is the longest native manual focus lens in E-mount. I think together with my 1.2/40 and the new 3.5/21 it could form a really nice three prime set which covers almost any application I would have for it from landscape over macro to portrait. If your focus is on portraits you will almost certainly be better served by the mighty GM 1.4/85 and eye-AF. But if you like to take an occasional portrait while your focus is on other applications and you enjoy manual focus this lens might work very well for you. At least that is what I am hoping for.

Handling

Voigtlander 2/65 besides 2.5/110

At Photokina I could handle a copy and take some images. I was positively surprised to note that the 110mm Macro is just 9mm longer than the 65mm. This is possible because while the 65’s front element is deeply recessed the 110mm’s is not. Another advantage is a more reasonable filter size of 58mm. This is shared by most other Voigtlanders.

I can’t say that much about the handling: The focus ring felt nice. I didn’t use it enough to notice how it balances. The aperture ring has moved from the front to the back which one will get used to. So it most likely will be what one has come to expect from a modern Voigtlander lens which is a very pleasant to use lens.

both lenses fully extended

Optical performance

Again I didn’t learn a lot from the short usage at PK. An exhausting fair where you are constantly bombarded by information and sounds isn’t a good testing ground. You can find my test images in this set. They were handheld and didn’t show anything unexpected.

One aspect I looked at was bokeh and cat-eyes. This is the full image and out of focus highlights look pretty smooth and not defined. Cat-eyes are pronounced though.

I also don’t see any onion rings which is good news.

Conclusion

I didn’t learn much about the CV 2.5/110 APO at Pk but I didn’t learn anything negative either. I look forward to either reviewing it myself or reading David’s review, depending who gets one first. I think it could find a constant place in my kit.

Photokina Recap Part 1: Viltrox E-mount lenses

Until a couple of days ago I knew Viltrox only as a manufacturer of more affordable electronic adapters. But then I came across this post on SAR announcing that they will release three new lenses, two of them in E-mount. So before I met Bastian I had to check them out.

Viltrox 85mm F1.8

  • The manual focus 1.8/85 has electrical contacts and you control the aperture with the camera.
  • The focus ring felt really nice: no play and just the right amount of resistance. Built quality in general left a positive impression.
  • I was told it would be released in about a month for $299 which is $100 more than SAR reports.
  • I took a few images which showed no obvious weaknesses but they are cropped to APS-C. I guess the lens reported as an APS-C lens so the camera cropped automatically.

So my first impression was quite positive. I think it could become an attractive budget alternative to the lighter Sony FE 1.8/85 if they manage to release it without issues and move the price down a little.

Compared to CV 1.2/40

Viltrox 20mm F1.8 ASPH

  • Again my pricing info differed from the one on SAR: I was told it would be $489.
  • Sceduled release: 1 month from now
  • No electrical contacts on this one.

You don’t see any pictures of this lens because their prototype was stolen. At that price it isn’t very far away from the (almost as fast)Tokina 2/20 which has exifs and a known manufacturer, so I think it won’t be an easy entry to the market.

Viltrox 85mm F1.8 STM

  • This AF version will only come in Fuji X-mount.
  • I tested it with their own Fuji X-H1 and relied on their setup but AF felt pretty slow to me.
  • I was told it would be released in about 3 months for $379.

Conclusion

A new player in the field is certainly good news, and I am really pleased that they have some electronics expertise so they can provide EXIF. A few minutes at their booth is not enough info to judge their products, but my first impression was positive enough that I would consider reviewing some of their lenses once they are released.

9 golden rules to buy the wrong lens

Usually we try to give you good advice. In this article we do our best to give you bad advice. So here are 9 golden rules to make sure that you buy the wrong lens.

1. Sharpness is all that matters

You should discard any but the very sharpest lenses and put the sharpness high above any other aspects. Only inspecting your über-large prints with a loupe will impress your neighbor more than the super heavy $5000 lens you took that picture with.

2. Buy Bob’s favorite lens

Continue reading 9 golden rules to buy the wrong lens