Voigtländer 40mm f/2
Voigtlander 40mm f/2 SL-II, Nikon mount. enlarge. (52mm or 39mm filters, 6.337 oz./179.6g, about $410. Also comes in Canon EOS and Pentax mounts.) This one came from this link to it at Adorama. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use that, or any of these links, when you get anything Thanks! Ken.
Ultra-compact, super high-quality fast normal lens for film, FX and DX. It could be the only lens you need for everything.
No autofocus; I wouldn't use it for sports, kids or action since it's too hard for me to track focus by hand.
I am addressing the Nikon version here, and using it on full-frame. You may make the usual inferences when used on different cameras or formats.
It works great on just about any camera, especially on Nikon FX and Canon full-frame cameras.
It's a joy to use: its focus feels better than my Nikon lenses!
I never thought it would come to this, but this Voigtländer lens is better than Nikon's own lenses: it has better optics, better mechanics, and better ergonomics. How about that!
40mm is the ideal normal lens. It's never too long like a 50mm, and never too short like a 35mm.
This lens comes with a dedicated close-up lens and 52mm -> 39mm filter adapter. The filter adapter doubles as an impromptu hood.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2, hood and close-up filter. enlarge.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 is a manual-focus lens, and has an on-board computer to work with the meters and electronics all Nikon manual focus, autofocus and digital cameras.
So long as you don't mind moving the ultra-smooth focus ring all by yourself (it's so nice you're going to want to play with it even when not shooting), this AI-P type lens should be compatible with every Nikon made since 1977.
The Canon version also has CPU contacts for what should be complete compatibility with metering and exposure automation on any of the Canon EOS 35mm and digital cameras made from 1987 through today. You have to focus by hand (look for the AF sensor blips to confirm focus instantly), and otherwise you're all set.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.
Cosina calls this the Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f/2 SL-II Aspherical.
6 elements in 5 groups.
The rear element has two aspherical surfaces.
Focal Length: 40mm, which looks like 60mm when used on DX.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II at f/5.6. enlarge.
9 curved blades give a pretty much round aperture at every setting.
Stops down to f/22.
Aperture Ring top
Close Focus top
Voigtländer throws in a free close-up lens good for a close focus of 0.82 feet (0.25m).
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
1:4 with included close-up lens.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II, hood adapter and close-up lens. enlarge.
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Filter Thread top
A 52mm -> 39mm adapter is included for the close-up lens, which also lets you use 39mm filters.
The 39mm threads are fine (0.5mm) pitch, which matches LEICA.
Does not rotate.
Voigtländer specifies 24.5mm extension from flange by 63mm diameter.
6.337 oz. (179.6g), measured.
You may use the 52mm -> 39mm adapter as a hood.
Made in top
It comes in a small, semi-glossy black corrugated cardboard box with two white foam inserts.
Box, Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II.
What you get: 40/2. 52-39mm Adapter, 39mm close-up, and 39mm cap. enlarge.
The 40mm f/2 SL-II is a sharp, compact, well-made lens.
To get that settled right now, here are crops from the top right corner of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images:
Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors.
You'll never see this much difference in actual photos among these all-excellent lenses; in this case, I shot them in a way that would exaggerate the differences as much as possible.
Not only is this Voigtländer sharper than the sharpest Nikon here, the 50/1.8 D, as I've shown before, the 50/1.8D is sharper than Nikon's 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S, thus this Voigtländer ought to be much sharper than Nikon's best zoom, at least in odd conditions where any difference would be visible.
Manual focus is so nice I don't know how to put it in words. It's like a LEICA lens, but with a perfect rubber grip around it. it's at least as smooth as Nikon manual-focus lenses, and much nicer than Nikon's AF lenses.
Focus is as smooth as silk, perfectly damped with no play.
Lesser digital cameras, like the D300s and down, usually have just one "OK" focus dot, which is not as precise as two arrows and a dot.
You can't get much out-of-focus with a 40mm lens.
If you do, bokeh, the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is mediocre.
Here are crops from the center of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images, focused at 3 meters (10") with reference vegetation at 15 meters. Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors:
The color rendition of this Voigtländer lens seems the same as my Nikkors.
Fast wide and normal lenses usually have coma, which is weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners. They happen at large apertures. Coma goes away as stopped down, and tends not to be seen in slower and tele lenses. Coma is an artifact of spherical aberration; see also saggital coma flare.
This said, this aspherical 40mm f/2 lens doesn't have any coma, which makes it superior to the other lenses compared here. The aspherical element clears up the coma.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 has very minor barrel distortion on FX, and no visible distortion on DX.
It can be corrected by plugging these figures into Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Used with the close-up lens, I don't see any distortion.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/2's ergonomics are perfect.
The focus and aperture controls are just right!
Falloff on FX is visible at f/2, almost gone at f/2.8, and gone by f/4.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:
There is no problem with vignetting, even with combinations of thick filters.
You have your choice of standard 52mm filters, of use LEICA 39x0.5mm filters with the included adapter ring.
Ghosts are a non-issue. Point it into the sun, give way too much exposure for a dark foreground object, go blind trying to frame this, and there is still little to no flare or ghosting.
If you've got ghosts, you'd better call a psychic, since the only way to get optical ghosts is to point this at the sun in such a way that will probably make you blind.
There are no lateral color fringes on the D300 or D3, which would correct them if the lens had any.
I haven't tried it on Canon, which can't correct for this.
It's not convenient to carry and attach and remove the included dedicated close-up lens, but if you do, it works very well.
Here's how close you get on full-frame:
With close-up lens on full-frame.
And it's sharp all over, too.
Crop at 100% from above, f/4.
I was expecting great performance, since the close-up lens is designed expressly to work with the design of this lens.
Here's a window screen, full-image:
Crop at 100% from top left corner of above f/8.
Any lack of side or corner sharpness will most likely be from a lack of aligning the subject into the plane of best focus more than any lens limitations.
Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.
The Voigtländer NIKKOR 40mm f/2 SL-II is built better than most Nikon lenses today.
Anodized aluminum (no enamel).
Filter Adapter and Hood
Threaded anodized aluminum, engraved.
Metal, rubber covered.
Feels like brass: smooth and silky with no play or need for damping grease.
Engraved into barrel and filled with paint.
Machined anodized aluminum.
Engraved into the metal and filled with paint.
Identity and Serial Number
On the bottom of the barrel, engraved into the metal and filled with paint.
Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
Mild clicking from the diaphragm blades and actuation system.
With those caveats, the 40mm f/2 SL-II is among the sharpest lenses I've used on a Nikon. As shown above, it's sharper than Nikon's sharpest fixed normal lenses.
Due to its superior aspherical optical design, the Voigtländer 40/2 is sharp and contrasty even wide-open, while Nikon's last-millenium spherical fixed-lens designs are often less contrasty wide open, and blurrier in the corners.
As you saw above, this darn Voigtländer is decades ahead of Nikon; even at f/2 in the corner of FX it's sharp and clear at high magnification.
Under even more stringent test conditions it it a tiny bit less contrasty at f/2 in the far corners, but still easily superior to anything from Nikon.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 has a little bit of spherochromatism (out-of-focus highlights can sometimes take on a little bit of green or magenta color fringes).
You really have to push it to see this, since this lens generally has such deep depth of field.
Its diaphragm is so round that I doubt it will make any sunstars on bright points of light.
I'd rather it used 9 straight blades instead of curved, which would give us sunstars.
As I showed at Performance, the Voigtländer is the sharpest of all. That's as expected, since all these old Nikon designs date to the previous millennium, and the 45P's Tessar design decades to 1902. The Voigtländer is several steps ahead.
For action and people snaps I'd use eitherof the AF Nikons to get autofocus.
I dislike the Nikon 45/2.8P. It's too darn small to focus, and it's so small that Nikon removed any way to grab the lens for mounting. You have to grab the Nikon 45/2.8P by the focus or aperture ring to mount it; all these other lenses have something solid by which to grab them.
The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II is an optically and ergonomically superb lens. I am quite surprised, as this is the first time I've ever seen a lens whose optics and ergonomics I prefer to Nikon's own classic manual-focus lenses.
If you want one, go for it!
I'd pitch the 39mm Voigtländer cap and get a new 52mm "pinch" type Nikon cap.
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