Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 E-mount Hands-on: Photokina Recap Part 3


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

Despite my appreciation for Voigtländer lenses which usually balance performance, size, handling and price in a way that suits my needs like few others I initially couldn’t find a reason to buy their new 3.5/21 since I have been eying the Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 for quite some time and Jannik, Bastian and David all vouch for it’s excellence.

And just when I had the funds together and was waiting for a good offer on a used Loxia the specs and price for the CV 3.5/21 were announced. These made me preorder it.

The Voigtlander 3.5/21 weights 230g which is a little more than half as much as the Loxia which comes in at 394g. At 40mm it is also significantly shorter than the 73mm Loxia. I paid about 650€ for my preorder at Robert White which is less than half as much as the Loxia. It also focuses a little closer (20cm vs 25cm).

So I will get a truly small lens which I expect to take with me more often. I think there will be a few situations when the Loxias faster speed would have been handy. For astro photography for example but that is not where my focus is so it is not a significant compromise for me. This is nothing but speculation but at that size and price I don’t quite expect the CV 3.5/21 to reach the Loxia’s performance. I hope it will be close enough that it won’t matter for my photography. So I think that the CV could be a really interesting lens because of the very compact size and competetive pricing aswell as the good flare resistance and contrast I have come to expect from a Voigtlander lens.

I could take a few test shots at PK which you can find here. They don’t reveal much because the conditions were pretty bad but at least they tell me that the Voigtlander has decent enough corners from wide open. Anything more detailed will have to wait until I have my own copy. We will also compare it to the Loxia.

I got an estimated shipping date of November while other places talked of October. So check back in a month or so for my rolling review.

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

18 thoughts on “Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 E-mount Hands-on: Photokina Recap Part 3”

  1. Hi Phillip!

    I posted this on the 65 macro thread, seems it got stuck (assumed spam?)

    I just discovered some of these Voigtlanders (the 65 is one, but it seems that all of the non wides do) report focusing distance to the body, whereas nine of the Loxias don’t.

    This is relevant because focus distance is required for 5 axis stabilization (without it, with just focal length, you get 3 axis).

    Could you test this and report it in your future reviews? It should be simple enough to test (even for lenses you don’t have in hand): just see if focus distance is/was reported in the EXIF data.

    Thanks for your efforts!

      1. Didn’t think of that. Are they straight out of camera? Flickr must be removing the tag, because it’s absent.

        The tag is non-standard, so most tools drop it. All the photos I tried from your 65 review lack it, but the RAWs from the dpreview gallery (1) have it.

        The most reliable way I know to check for this is with exiftool (2): exiftool -FocusDistance2 [PHOTO.ARW]

        Lenses without a distance encoder either report infinity at all times, or lack such info.

        But without straight out of camera images, it’s not easy information to come by (that’s why I was nudging you guys to include it in reviews, if it’s not too much of a bother).

        From what I could gather:
        – neither of my Loxias (50, 85) have this;
        – apparently none of the Loxias do;
        – the Voigtlander 65 does.

        And going through Cosina’s website (3), information is absent from Voigtlander’s website:
        – the Wide Heliar don’t have this;
        – all their other FE-mount lenses do.

        The main advantage is 5-Axis stabilization on bodies that support it.

        1) https://www.dpreview.com/products/voigtlander/lenses/voigtlander_65_2_macro/sample-photos
        2) https://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool
        3) http://www.cosina.co.jp/seihin/voigtlander/english/e-e-mount

      2. Sony does not use standard Subject Distance tag for that. It has a proprietary tag for focus position. Exiftool recognizes it as either FocusPosition or FocusPosition2, and even presents derived (calculated) FocusDistance or FocusDistance2 tags. I don’t think FocusPositions survives the flickr or most Raw processors.

        Alternatively, if camera shows focus distance scale while using manual focus, you can assume lens communicates focus position to the camera.

        1. Thanks for the additional info. My reply must of got stuck because of links.

          It seems all FE Voigtlanders apart from the Wide Heliars support this, none of the Loxias do.

  2. Voigtlander is coming with lots of interesting e-mount options recently… How would you rate the vignetting? Also did you have a chance to try the 50/1.2?

  3. can’t wait for the review! I was actually thinking of preordering this one, since as it was announced you guys were not showing any real interest in it (probably because of the Loxia 😊 and CV 110mm that was announced at the same time) so now I will wait for the review and if it clicks my boxes this is gonna be bday present to myself… 😁

  4. I am excited about this for the same reasons. I have the VM 21/4 and have found it pretty good considering, but some optimization, communication with the body, and slightly wider all for about an ounce of weight sounds like a great upgrade.

  5. Hi Phillip,

    Thanks for all these good news on interesting new products, which have been more or less systematically ignored by most reports focusing on the big brands. And speaking of missing accounts, what ever happened to Voigtländer’s f/2.5 110mm Apo Lanthar? I have seen some accounts of it being demoed in previous shows (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FQf-ty1s7Xs), but the absence of mention of it is a bit too loud and disconcerting by now. Especially for those of us who have already pre-ordered it.


  6. Wow, I can’t wait for the review!. If the picture quality is similar to that of Loxia 21, I will probably sell it for this one.. The 21 Lox can get quite heavy sometimes :^)

  7. Hi Phillip,
    when the CV21/3,5 is similar to my Voigtländer Color Skopar 20mm f/3 ,5 SL II for Nikon you will have a nice good and small wide-angle lens.
    I use my lens on a A7r with no problems.
    Good luck Chris

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