Voigtländer 28mm f/2
Voigtländer 28mm f/2 (46mm filters, 8.6 oz./243g with tiny hood, about $629). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these specialized lenses when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.
Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9 Review (obsolete)
This Voigtländer 28mm f/2 lens for LEICA isn't as sharp as LEICA's SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH for use on a LEICA M9 if you like to split pixels, but for one-sixth the price, this Voigtländer lens is great for use on the Zeiss Ikon, Leitz Minolta CLE and the nasty little Voigtländer bodies. 99% of the time the images will be the same if you're worried about the picture and not the pixels.
The reason you want only the genuine LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH on the digital LEICA M9 is because it's a little better, and since the M9 is depreciating at the rate of thousands of dollars per year due to digital rot while LEICA lenses only go up in value. It is foolish economy to try to save a little bit of money on a cheap lens today, while investing in a professional lens that only goes up in value costs but a fraction of what you're paying for an M9 and its replacements in coming years. Buy the SUMMICRON-M ASPH today, and you're set for a lifetime, while the poor man always winds up paying twice on his way to get what he really wants.
For 35mm cameras, this Voigtländer is great; I doubt that there's any significant difference in optical performance visible on film (I only tested it on a digital M9), and its distortion, ghosting, diaphragm and mechanical quality are all first-rate. Lens price shouldn't matter if you're shooting an M9, but if price matters for 35mm cameras, sure, for $629, this is an awesome lens.
If price matters and you own an M9, you bought the wrong camera, but by all means also consider the superb LEICA ELMARIT-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH, whose optics are also sharper than this Voigtländer lens for half the price of the SUMMICRON-M ASPH.
The slight sharpness difference between this lens and real LEICA lenses is only significant if you're a pixel-counting nature and landscape shooter as I am. Most people who shoot LEICA do so for people, news and street photography, for which this Voigtländer lens is superb for it's lack of geometric distortion, high contrast, fantastic handling, reasonable size and the same build quality as LEICA.
Voigtländer 28/2. enlarge.
Of course you'll need an external 28mm finder for LEICAs made before about 1980, as these LEICAs have no 28mm finder frames.
It is not coded into the LEICA M9's database, and it of course has no LEICA 6-dot markings on its mount. Therefore, you'll have to select your preference of 28mm options in your M9's lens menus if you want "28mm" coded into your M9's EXIF data. I found the 28/2.8 11809 profile was the best with this lens; feel free to experiment.
10 conventional spherical elements in 8 groups.
The entrance and exit pupils appear identical in size, and the lack of distortion suggest that this is a reasonably conventional (non-retrofocus) design, with some expected separation between the two principle points.
Voigtländer 28mm f/2 at f/5.6. enlarge.
10 straight blades.
Stops down to f/22.
Straight sides at all apertures except f/22, at which aperture it is perfectly circular.
Close Focus top
0.7 meters (2.3 feet).
Angle of View top
Voigtländer 28mm f/2 with hood and caps. enlarge.
Voigtländer includes a plastic rear M cap (complete with LEICA's three classic nubs for removing and attaching screw-mount adapters to M cameras), and a plastic 46mm pinch-type front cap.
No cap is included for the hood; the 46mm cap will attaches inside the hood. LEICA's 46mm caps can't do that, but Voigtländer's can, ha ha!
HINT: Use a standard Nikon 52mm cap and it will fit perfectly on the front lip of the hood, which is much easier than trying to poke Voigtländer's silly little 46mm cap straight down inside the hood.
Voigtländer specifies 51.2mm (2.02") long by 55mm (2.17") diameter.
8.570 (243.0g), measured, with hood.
8.380 oz. (237.6g), measured without hood.
Voigtländer's specifies 8.607 oz. (244g).
A screw-in metal hood is included. It's just a little female-threaded metal band that attaches over a dedicated male thread on the outside of the lens.
Made in top
Announced 17 July 2008, replacing the screw-mount Voigtländer 28mm f/1.9.
Scope of Delivery top
You get the lens, caps, hood and a folded sheet of instructions.
This Voigtländer 28mm f/2 is never as sharp at the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH or LEICA ELMARIT-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH if you're a pixel-counter, however everything else, especially the mechanics and other optical qualities are superb, making this a great contender as your next 28mm lens.
Bokeh, the character of out of focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is only fair.
Out of focus backgrounds remain somewhat distracting, not fading away into smoothness.
This is rarely an issue; the only time backgrounds are out of focus enough to notice this with a 28mm lens is at f/2 and at very close focus distances; depth of field is usually so deep that few things get that far out of focus.
Color rendition seems identical to the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH against which I compared it directly.
The calibration is right-on: the meter in my M9 tracks each half-stop click perfectly throughout the entire range, even at f/2.
Few lenses track all the way to maximum aperture, while this Voigtländer lens does.
The Voigtländer 28mm f/2 has no visible distortion.
For more critical photogrammetric use, use this coefficient in Photoshop's lens distortion filter.
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Voigtländer 28mm f/2. enlarge.
Ergonomics are wonderful.
Focus is silky-smooth and has no play. The focus tab is solid metal, not just plastic like the LEICA lenses.
The aperture ring has stiffer detents and a thinner grip, requiring more finger pressure and more concentration than LEICA's aperture rings.
The red numbers are almost invisible. I shoot my product shots with boosted saturation that makes these red numbers more easy to read here than they actually are; this is how the red numbers and mounting dot really look under most light:
Actual colors, Voigtländer 28mm f/2.
The worst thing about this lens ergonomically is that it blocks half the viewfinder, making picture-taking a pain, unless you don't really care what's in your picture.
Falloff is invisible on a LEICA M9 except at f/2, where it is merely minor.
I've made this more obvious by shooting a gray field and presenting these against a gray background:
These samples are monochrome; your choice of lens profile will alter the color rendition.
Almost all 46mm filters work great, even the slightly fatter B+W brand filters.
LEICA 46mm filters and HOYA filters work great.
If your 46mm filter has a much larger-than-usual outside mount diameter, for instance, Contax 46mm filters for the Contax G system, the hood threads won't slip over the filter. You'll have to screw in the filters after the hood's attached, and good luck removing Contax filters from inside the hood.
Finder blockage is moderate to severe. It's my biggest complaint with this lens: I can't see out of half of my viewfinder!
Viewfinder blockage at infinity.
Viewfinder blockage at 0.7 meters.
There are no ghosts or flare.
To see anything amiss, you'll have to point the lens straight into the blinding sun, and deliberately place something dark in one corner against which any flare might become visible.
In these four examples, the unblocked California sun is in the lower left.
Pointed into the sun at f/2 f/4, f/8 and f/16.
Focus feels great, although with a bit more drag than LEICA lenses.
Focus accuracy will vary with time, temperature, and with every individual sample of lens and every individual sample of camera. Your experience will vary.
Focus accuracy of this lens sample, at least on the sample of LEICA M9 with which I tried this lens, is fine.
The focus is sometimes slightly behind the intended subject at f/2 with this sample, however this lens' softness at f/2 renders this invisible — nothing is sharp enough under the microscope to notice any shift. (With the much sharper LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH, there is a well-defined "perfect focus" zone.)
Unlike 90mm lenses, 28mm lenses have such deep field that focus accuracy is never a problem with rangefinder cameras; focus accuracy with wide lenses is one of the strong points of rangefinder cameras.
The Voigtländer's 28/2 has no lateral color fringes, excellent performance.
Rear, Voigtländer 28mm f/2. enlarge.
This Voigtländer is very well made; just as well made as the Zeiss lenses made in the same factory.
Honestly, it feels just as good as LEICA lenses even if I don't prefer the styling. I'll bet that in 30 years, these Japanese lenses will have less internal fog and still have viable lubrication, while LEICA lenses will need internal cleaning and relubrication.
Black anodized aluminum, painted flat-black inside.
Hood threads on lens
Black anodized aluminum.
Black anodized aluminum.
Barrels, aperture and focus rings
Black anodized aluminum.
Seem like brass.
Engraved and filled with paint.
Serial Number and "Made in Japan"
Engraved on bottom of barrel and left in black.
Red index dot
A problem with ultrawide lenses, which this is not, and a problem with wide lenses on the LEICA M9 is peripheral color shift. On the M9 with wide lenses, this comes from the ever-present issue of the difference in position of the lens' rear nodal point compared to the optimum position.
LEICA uses lens profiles to correct this with LEICA lenses, but with foreign lenses, you're on your own. Maybe a LEICA lens' profile is close enough, maybe not.
In this case, the profile for the LEICA ELMARIT 28mm f/2.8 11809 seems perfect, in fact, maybe too perfect because the complete elimination of falloff can look weird. Our eyes expect some falloff to make images look their best.
Here are complete LEICA M9 frames in color made with this Voigtländer lens at f/8 mit various lens profiles:
Experiment to taste. At f/2 and f/2.8 there will be more falloff.
The more you know about photography, the more you know that lens sharpness doesn't matter.
This Voigtländer lens is never as sharp as either of the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH or LEICA ELMARIT-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH as shot on the LEICA M9 if you're comparing them directly as I did, but for normal use, I wouldn't worry about it. Also, this Voigtlander lens was slightly decentered, making the left side zone softer than the right as seen at infinity. I doubt anyone would notice in real photos of three-dimensional objects.
As I covered at the Introduction, only a short-sighted person would soil a LEICA M9 with this lens if money was an issue, and on 35mm film or with lesser cameras, I doubt that anyone would ever notice any difference.
As expected for a wide lens, I never noticed any spherochromatism.
Crop from much larger image at f/8.
With its straight 10-bladed diaphragm, the Voigtländer 28/2 makes perfect 10-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.
These are all about the same size, weight and mechanical quality. They all come with a hood.
All have the same effective focal length; there is no slight difference in image size among these lenses as there often is with other lenses.
This Voigtländer 28mm f/2 is a great lens, just not as great as LEICA's current 28mm lenses.
If price matters, which it most certainly should not for use with the LEICA M9, this 28mm lens is a great idea for use with lesser cameras, as well as 35mm LEICAs.
The LEICA lenses are just a little bit better in every way, and because lenses only go up in value, you should never deny yourself the lenses you know you deserve today.
If shooting a lesser camera, for one-sixth the price of the LEICA SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH, this Voigtländer lens does pretty much the same thing, and if you're not counting pixels, is great at everything.
If you've found my work here helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these specialized lenses when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.
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