The Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4 is a great lens with superb center sharpness and pleasant micro contrast. But more importantly it’s really fun to use. It has an exciting wide-angle focal length on full frame cameras, but if you put it on an APS-C or M43-camera you get the 35mm equivalent of 37.5mm or 50mm respectively. I tested the lens on my X-pro2 with great results.
Amazing build and great image quality
The Voigtländer lens offers great image quality and superb build at a fraction of the cost of anything Leica. Sure, it’s not as optically refined, and its light gathering capabilities leave a lot to be desired with a rather small maximum aperture of F4. But personally I have learned to love this lens, and it’s now one of my most used lenses on the X-pro2.
The completely mechanic design feels solid in the hand, and the aperture ring clicks reassuringly on both full and half stops. Another great feature of this lens, is the focus tab that gives a very comfortable way of manual focusing, in traditional Leica style.
It’s perfect for mirrorless cameras
The lens comes with the Leica M-mount, and is therefore made with full frame Leica rangefinder cameras in mind. That being said, I suspect many will want to adapt this lens to other cameras, and that can easily be done on most mirrorless cameras with 35mm, APS-C or M43 sensors. All you need is a simple adapter. I usually go for the cheapest ones from Amazon, like this one for Fujifilm, this one for Sony or this one for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
There are no electronics in the lens, and its manual focus only. The aperture ring is also completely mechanic, meaning there is no need to buy any of the more expensive adapters that allow you to change the aperture in camera.
Don’t forget the crop factor
Do bear in mind putting this lens on cameras with sensor sizes smaller than 35mm will alter the FOV (field of view), ultimately changing the look of your images. Below I’ve listed the 35mm equivalent focal length you can expect from this 25mm full frame lens on different sized sensors.
Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4 gives you the 35mm equivalent FOV of:
- 37.5mm on a camera with an APS-C sensor
- 50mm on a camera with a Micro Four Thirds (M43) sensor
Personally I’ve shot this lens on the Fujifilm X-pro2 with an APS-C sized sensor, and I love the 37.5mm equivalent field of view it gives me. Putting it very close to the traditional documentary style 35mm field of view, it makes the lens perfect for street photography, or just as an allround lens for daily snaps.
On a Micro Four Thirds system you are looking at a 50mm equivalent field of view, which is another traditional focal length widely popularized by the father of street photography Henri Cartier-Bresson, back in the day. As I recently bought an Olympus Pen-F I’ll be sure to post an update in the blog section when I have tried the lens on that camera too.
On full frame mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7-series you are looking at the original 25mm focal length, which can yield some very interesting wide angle results, albeit making it a little less desirable for traditional portraits. However, as I’ve written about in another post, wide angle lenses can be pretty cool for portraits with attitude.
Great image quality and color
The Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4 has colored me impressed (sorry, I had to) with beautiful rendition and great centre sharpness all the way down to F4. The corners will still be softer than desirable at this point, but by F5.6 you’re looking at much better sharpness throughout the frame. All in all it’s not the sharpest lens in the world, but at no point have I felt like a lack of sharpness has been holding me back.
Personally I didn’t buy this lens for its sharpness, and especially for my street photography I have no problems whatsoever with a few soft corners. I like to think of it as charm, but I know your opinion might differ from mine in this regard. After wall, I’m probably the internet’s least picky reviewer when it comes to technical quality. When it comes to joy of use, however, I am very very picky. Why? Because I believe fun factor and usability is far more important than tech specs when you’re out and about – trying to create beautiful images.
Put off by F4 aperture? Don’t be, it makes the lens incredibly small!
You might think of F4 as off-putting, but hear me out: having a maximum aperture of F4 means the optics can be incredibly tiny compared to similar lenses with bigger F-stop numbers. With a total length of 30.3 cm or 1.2 inches, the lens can look almost strangely small on some bigger cameras. It’s generally a positive thing though, as it can make your setup very discreet. Perfect for street style snaps. It also means the lens will look good on smaller cameras like my Pen-F.
Manual focus like a champ
With the built in focusing tab it’s both comfortable and easy to hit focus with the Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4. On a Leica you would naturally use the rangefinder for focusing the lens, but for those of you wanting to adapt it to mirrorless cameras, I recommend using your camera’s built in manual focus peaking.
With peaking activated you will easily see what areas are in focus in the viewfinder. For street photographers I recommend putting the lens to F5.6 or F8. From there you can quickly and easily use zone focusing to nail focus each time. And because this lens is (fairly) wide angle, depending on the camera you put it on, focusing will never be a big hassle anyways.
The close focusing capabilities of the lens are nothing to write home about at 50 cm or 1.5 feet. It’s more than enough for portraits, but don’t expect any macro wonders with it.
The Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4 is a true gem
If you’re looking for a tiny walk-around lens for street photography – or just everyday use – with great image quality and manual focus, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm F4. It’s incredibly fun to use and the manual focus tab coupled with focus peaking in your camera makes it easy to get focus right. Sure, auto focus is handy, but nothing beats the pure joy of a manual focus lens when you have time to enjoy photography. And to me, enjoying photography is more important than any amount of megapixels or other fancy features.
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