Author Topic: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?  (Read 1292 times)

Derek of Venango

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Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« on: January 05, 2019, 21:34:56 »
Hello and Happy New Year to all.

I have a desire for a "semi-normal" manual focus prime lens. Don't really want 50mm or 35mm. The VC 40mm f/2 Ultron seems interesting as a general purpose lens in an appealing form factor for my D-750. B&H has it on sale for $419 USD.

Is there a reason it doesn't seem to get much love? I can't find much real world use info. I know some here have this lens. Is it sharp enough at the edges for landscape use.

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2019, 22:25:56 »
The reason for the CV 40/2 not being "popular" is probably it falls neither in the wide nor the normal lens category. Thus one either tends to shoot it alone (in a single-lens kit) or combine with for example 20 + 85/90 mm lenses.

My copy which is an SL.2 (ie. with CPU contacts) is nice and sharp. The focusing is very smooth and the lens itself is quite small and inobtrusive.

Airy

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2019, 23:59:52 »
I also got the SL2, not the most recent version with scalloped focus ring.

To me, this lens feels "normal", albeit on the wide side of the "normal" range (subjectively, 40-58mm). Honestly, I am now used to 40-45 (CV, Tamron) and 58 (CV, Noct), which I tend to prefer to 50. 58 is better if portraits are envisaged; 40-45 is better for general purpose shooting. But that's another debate. Back to the matter:

Pros :
size and weight ;
mechanical quality, handling (nice focussing feel !)
sharpness (not as even as many contemporary lenses : the CV 40/2 was not designed for test chart shooters, but for real photographers) ;
color (quite neutral) and contrast ;
the close-up lens.

Cons :
Barrel distortion tends to be conspicuous at all focusing distances  ;
bokeh is so-so : wide open, highlights are rendered as atolls (doughnut plus central dot), for instance ;
flare : on night shots, bright lights tend to be surrounded by halos which may look good, but are artifacts all the same.

Overall : versatile, good IQ, has no equivalent, reasonable price given the features ==> recommended.
Good pairing with e.g. 105/2.5, which is one of my 2-lens travel combinations (the other one being 28 + 58).
Airy Magnien

Derek of Venango

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019, 01:10:57 »
Thank you Birna and Airy and for encouraging thoughts.

Guess I was kinda put off by 50mm in the film days. I have no need for portraiture work but have the 70-200/ 2.8 if required :) Plus I have the Zeiss 25/2.8 and expect to add a 20mm prime sooner than later (another story, not decided on Nikon AIS or Zeiss 18 or 21mm.) for true landscape.

Thus, I still see need for a compact walk-around lens as I do some environmental field work for my brother documenting pipeline/wetlands compliance. I have even given thought to a smaller mirror-less such as the Fuji XT-20 with the 23mm f/2 for such work and as an "almost" pocket-able solution (but more absolute $$$). Does the latter make better sense?

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2019, 01:29:50 »
I mainly use the 40/2 as a walk-around lens on my Df. Works nicely. I find the bokeh more than adequate but this will of course depend on lens settings and scene light.

While there is some barrel distortion, I never found it troublesome and only notice it for close shots -- if I care to look for this. Can easily be removed in the RAW software as well.

Having another system for a specific purpose might seem ideal, however, there is a need to carry doubles of everything including lenses, batteries and chargers, and there will always be a slight latency when you switch from one system to the other. Thus I would not recommend the practice in general, but like any other broad statement there will be exceptions and I admittedly have examples of this myself.

Derek of Venango

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 23:30:43 »
Birna & Airy, I take it that this lens is not optimized for infinity? Does it ever get very good to excellent edge to edge and if so what f stops? I presume diffraction sets in around f/11?

Roland Vink

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2019, 00:30:48 »
I bought the original 40/2 Ultron years ago in my quest to find a "standard" lens with smoother bokeh than my Nikkors. I was disappointed in that respect, and sold it after finding the AI 50/1.8 had nicer rendering - smoother than the AI-S 50/1.8 pancake and 50/1.4 that I tried previously.

However, looking back at the pictures I took with this lens (shot on slide film), the sharpness, contrast and colours were excellent. I can't comment on barrel distortion as it doesn't show up on my nature shots, but I don't recall it being noticeable. Performance at far distances also seemed good although I usually stop well down for landscapes and I don't have any pictures actually shot at infinity. The bokeh, while "complex" still resulted in pleasing pictures, so maybe I should have kept it. I have read several reviews which commented favourably on the bokeh so maybe I had a "bad" sample, or the optics have been changed slightly? For example, from LensRentals:
Quote
This lens has some very specific appeal. It’s a tiny little pancake lens that is great for a wide aperture walkaround. Also, it’s a very sharp lens with nice bokeh at a very reasonable price.

The latest incarnation is styled like a 1960s Nikkor-H 50/2, and it focuses much closer, giving 1:4 magnification, both features are attractive to me so I have considered giving this lens another chance...

Derek of Venango

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2019, 03:28:08 »
Thanks Roland. You always have valuable input! The newest iteration is Ultron IIs so I have no idea what they tweaked optically, if anything. Thus my questions regarding sweet spot apertures for edge sharpness and especially at distance.

schwett

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2019, 04:37:43 »
i like this little lens. on my copy i find the focus ring a little stiff and a little hard to "find" with the hand, considering how very very tiny the lens is. it makes for a very handy little package on any of the non-pro nikon DLSRs. i've shot it on the 700, 800, 810, 850.

these shots are not intended to be examples of superlative anything, just illustrative of the way i use this lens casually. it has a nice rendition of color and highlight to my eye.








Birna Rørslett

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2019, 08:53:19 »
A few images to indicate how I use the 40/2 SL.2. My copy focuses buttery smooth, by the way.

All with the Df, on which camera the 40 Voigtländer fits perfectly. This is the chrome nose version with a beautifully finished scalloped focusing collar in satin black, and the CPU implant.

Derek of Venango

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2019, 22:30:27 »
Ah, great Schwett and Birna! Thanks for posting very engaging fotos. Kids are awesome.

I agree, it renders colors beautifully, preferring/punching up the reds to my eye. I like the way that green foliage renders more neutral. Also, to my untrained and aging eyes, it seems very sharp edge to edge (brick, curb and honey comb in signage). Then again, I am sure both of you are playing to the lens strengths.  ;D

Don't seem to notice any alarming barrel distortion. Perhaps some pincushion in the street ... Oh wait, I think that's a pothole! ;)

Birna, is that a cucumber tree? Very cool (if the pun fits) shot.


Birna Rørslett

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2019, 22:47:40 »
Nope, a London Plane (Platanus × acerifolia). Frequently used in cities as it stands pollution better.

Airy

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 00:06:58 »
Then again, I am sure both of you are playing to the lens strengths.  ;D

Don't seem to notice any alarming barrel distortion. Perhaps some pincushion in the street ... Oh wait, I think that's a pothole! ;)

Birna's first and last shot display barrel distortion that I (not: everybody) would object to. Schwett's pics seem to have been corrected in PP. But, as Birna said, this is a minor concern.
The only major concern, in my case, would be against-the-light shooting. Sorry, too busy this evening to grab the example shots. In a few words, my use case is "pipe organs in front of a brightly lit, white glass window" and is not forgiving. This is where other reputable lenses such as the Zeiss 50/2 ZF2 also failed (not the Milvus though), so it does not disqualify the CV40/2. But it is a "fly in the ointment", as far as my particular photographic activites are concerned.

In the sample pics, I recognize the same qualities that I appreciated myself, including edge-to-edge sharpness (on stopping down... say, f/4 or narrower), popping colors (esp. reds), as others also noticed.

Once again, no (affordable) lens is perfect, and this one displays a nice set of pros.
Airy Magnien

Derek of Venango

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 03:24:43 »
Hey everyone, thanks for the valued input. I have one coming from B&H!

I think it will be a fun lens. Who knows, it might even push me toward a Df.

And Airy, post a shot of the pipe organ when you get a chance as I am curious to see. :)

Airy

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Re: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron Opinions?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2019, 18:28:25 »
Sure. You do not need to be afraid of "buyer remorse" though - very good choice.
Airy Magnien