Voigtlander 28mm 1.9

  1. Voigtlander 28mm F2 Review
  2. Voigtlander 28mm 1.9 Review
  3. Voigtlander 28mm 1.9
  4. Voigtlander 28mm 1.9 Mods

Voigtlander 28mm F2 Review

The decrepit parking garage is reduced to just a pit now. Old things leaving way for the new. Checking the progress a few times a week I’m not sure if it’s her or me that’s more fascinated by the excavators dancing below.

The Voigtländer 28/1.9 Ultron is a fast wide angle lens that’s well made and plays well with more cameras than most comparable alternatives. It’s also very reasonably priced.

Some trade offs have been made to reach the specifications but overall the balance struck is a good one for a lot of use cases. Depending on your preferences certain traits can even make it come out ahead of some higher end alternatives. It’s not for everyone though and the compromises means there are a few caveats to recommending it. But let’s break it down a bit.

Specifications

At 28mm the Ultron offers an easy to use moderate wide angle of view. The fast f/1.9 aperture makes the lens useable handheld even in very low light.

Launched in 2000 it’s an early Cosina-made Voigtländer lens – just a handful of their lenses had been released before it*. The Leica Summicron 28/2 was released the same year but up until this point there weren’t any 28mm lenses faster than f/2.8 for use on Leica cameras.

As is to be expected for such a fast lens, the 28/1.9 is one of the larger Cosina Voigtlander lenses, weighing in at 10 oz. With lens shade. It takes up about 15% of the finder with the.72 M6. Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm f/3.5 Screw Mount - Discontinued SOLD OUT. The Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f/2.0 Manual Focus M Mount Lens is a medium but compact size lens than its 28mm f/1.9 predecessor with a focusing lever. It is ideal lens for shooting in low light situations, with excellent focusing results. A standard Leica M-mount is used for this lens, making it compatible with the Voigtlander Bessa R-2/3/4 & T.

* This isn’t really the place for going into history, but the Japanese optical manufacturing company Cosina bought the rights to the Voigtländer name in 1999. Since then they’ve designed and produced lenses and cameras branded with the Austrian/German company name in addition to producing lenses for other marquees e.g. Zeiss.

The aperture specification of f/1.9 is an unusual one – the difference to an f/2 lens is negligible. It almost feels like it’s been added for bragging rights to ensure that this was the fastest 28mm lens for Leica cameras available at the time of its release (and remains so for LTM cameras I believe). Regardless of the specifications the lens is certainly nice and fast.

Leica Thread Mount

The Ultron is a thread mount lens, the first I’ve reviewed on the site. Commonly referred to as LTM – Leica Thread Mount, but also known as screw mount or M39 the standard was developed by Leica for their early cameras. In practical terms it allows the Ultron to be mounted on a wider range of cameras than if it was M-mount. The only minor downside is that if you want to shoot it on an M-mount camera it requires an adapter.

Generally LTM lenses are limited to a close focus distance of 1m, but the Ultron goes down to 0.7m, the current M-mount standard. Certainly a pleasant feature if you aim to shoot it on M-mount cameras.

The lens comes with a Leica Thread Mount, though a simple adapter makes it fully compatible with all M-cameras too.

Versions & design

There’s only one version of the Ultron f/1.9, reportedly produced until 2008 the lens was unchanged throughout. An f/2 sibling for M-mount was launched a few years later but beyond the similar specifications that lens seems to be very different to the f/1.9 LTM lens.

The design is a somewhat complex 9 element retrofocus layout built around a roughly symmetrical center. The rearmost element is aspheric. The design isn’t too notable in its own right but does results in a few interesting characteristics that I’ll go over in a bit.

Length 48 mm
Diaphragm 10 blades, f/1.9-f/22, half stops
MFD 0.7m

– Leica M9

Appearance & construction

The Ultron is reasonably compact considering its specs. It’s not a small lens by rangefinder standards, but still moderately sized and comparable to most similar lenses (and far smaller than comparable SLR or mirrorless alternatives).

As expected coming from Voigtländer, the Ultron is a very well made lens, practically noting but metal and glass. This means it’s quite heavy for its size.

What’s cooking good looking

It’s styled with obvious inspiration from a few classic Leica lenses. The overall proportions and fluted focus ring makes it look a lot like for instance the earlier versions of the Leica Summilux 50/1.4.

The lens is available in both chrome and black finishes. Here too a nod is given to Leica classics with the finish wearing to yellow metal instead of a white one, which is more common. This mimics the brass used in some Leica lenses* (especially coveted by collectors). The black finish Ultron in particular can look a lot like the black paint Leica equivalents as it wears.

* It’s probably not actually brass though. The lens would probably be quite a bit heavier if that was the case. I’ve seen some reports of the material instead being aluminium that’s been anodized yellowish to look like brass and then lacquered with the final finish on top. This might come across as a little dishonest, though it does keep the weight down.

This sort of mimicry generally rubs me the wrong way but here it comes off as a homage rather than a ripoff. Voigtländer certainly breaks enough new ground here to not make the lens feel like a rehash. Besides it’s hard to complain as the end result is quite nice looking.

Markings & scales

Markings are engraved and painted using the typeface Helvetica Neue.

On a black lens the metric focus scale and depth of field scale are white, black on a silver lens. The imperial scale is red. The shade of red is very subdued and hard to read in lower light.

Full aperture stops are engraved on the aperture dial in addition to the f/1.9 stop. The stops are closer together at smaller apertures.

How does it feel (to treat me like you do…)

Changing settings on the lens furthers the impression of a well made lens. Everything feels solid and distinct. Only a very small amount of play when racking the focus ring back and forth suggest anything else than perfect build quality.

The focus ring moves smoothly throughout the range with moderate and well balanced resistance. You can preset the focus distance and having it stay put reasonably well, but it also feels easy and light to turn.

Distinct clicks mark aperture setting changes. Full and half stops have clicks with the addition of the f/1.9 stop click and exception of a missing half stop between f/16 and f/22.

The aperture itself has 10 blades. A generous trait that allows for smooth bokeh at intermediate aperture settings and nicer looking sun stars than with fewer blades.

Accessories

Hood

The lens is supplied with a well made, petal shaped hood with wrinkle finish. Despite being nicely made there are a few issues with it in practice.

The hood is secured by turning a protruding screw that in turn contracts inside mounts of the hood. Unfortunately the screw really gets in your way a lot of the time in my experience. It makes the camera snag on things and interferes with changing the aperture.

Also as LTM lenses can be mounted without lining up exactly the same every time the hood doesn’t come with any indexing mark and doesn’t snap into correct position – you simply need to pay attention to put it on straight. And since you can end up with shaded corners in the resulting images, due to the shape of the hood, you can’t really get sloppy with this.

The last strike against the hood is that it makes the lens even bigger, turning it from an acceptably sized lens to one that feels quite unwieldy.

All this means I very rarely use the lens with the hood mounted. Even though that means occasional flare.

The lens, with hood and with cap mounted.

Lens caps

A felt lined, friction fit lens cap is also delivered with the lens. It’s well made, looks nice and fits well with a good amount of friction. Windows ce 6.0 media player download. However it’s sized to fit over the hood and can’t be used on the lens itself. So I’ve ended up mostly using an aftermarket cap.

There’s of course also a black plastic rear mount cap. As usual it’s a bland affair, but it works perfectly fine.

Focus handle

An additional and unusual accessory is also supplied – a small screw in focusing lever. I’ve not seen many references to it elsewhere so it’s probably easy to miss (and to misplace probably).

The tiny focus handle screws in to the underside of the lens.

On the underside of the focusing ring there’s a small slot that accepts the little aluminium handle. Screwing it in fits it securely. The bright handle looks a little out of place on a black lens though it’s still a great addition for those that enjoy focus tabs or levers.

Ergonomics

The Ultron handles well overall. Caveats are mostly centered around preferences rather than inherent issues with the design of the lens.

Setting aperture

The aperture dial has clear and distinct stops with enough resistance to avoid accidental changes. The dial is on the thin side, but finely ribbed and easy to grip even in hot weather or with gloves.

That the distance between stops is slightly different depending on the settings can throw your muscle memory off a little bit, especially with the camera to your eye. Likewise the additional tiny stop between f/1.9 and f/2 can also throw you off a bit. Neither niggle is much of an issue in practice though, as the clicks are so distinct the implications in use aren’t really there.

Note the finely ribbed aperture dial closest to the front of the lens, as well as the scalloped focus ring with ribbing in the grooves. The focusing lever is also mounted here.

Focusing

The scalloped focusing ring works well. The ribbing in the grooves gives good grip and the contouring makes it easy to gauge how much you move the ring.

The focus throw is pretty short at 90° and a hair. This makes the lens quite fast to work with while retaining more than good enough accuracy.

Obviously it’s not really possible to tell the focus distance by feel alone using just the ring. However the included focusing lever offers a pretty good remedy.

With the focusing lever in place

Screwing in the little handle adds some flexibility regarding how to focus.

It’s possible to use the lever exclusively making the lens feel more in line with other LTM lenses. With practice it becomes easy to both set and sense the selected focusing distance by feel alone.

To my tastes the handle isn’t quite as comfortable as a concave focusing tab though and feels a little more fiddly. So I’ve ended up alternating between both the lever and the ring, depending on the situation. This has ended up rather fluid and a quite pleasant way of focusing. Overall rather reminiscent of how I shoot the Zeiss ZM lenses.

So while I still prefer a dedicated focusing tab the addition of the little lever means I’m more comfortable with the Ultron than with just a plain ring.

However this is also an area where personal preferences vary a bit – the previous owner of this lens noted that he didn’t like the lever one bit and preferred the focusing ring even to tabbed lenses. Others might feel the lack of a tab a showstopper. So depending on which camp you fall in the Ultron might be slightly less than optimal, or way ahead of a lot of alternatives.

Size and balance

While certainly at the upper end of a compact lens the Ultron is still a fairly well balanced lens. It feels quite at home on most M-mount cameras.

Mounted on an LTM camera is a little different story though. As most LTM cameras are a quite compact the lens can start to feel overly large, dwarfing the camera itself. The overall package can still feel quite enjoyable in practice though, despite the balance being somewhat unusual. Still it undeniably takes away a bit of the appeal of the LTM cameras and doesn’t feel quite in line with the ethos of those cameras.

Viewfinder blockage

A drawback with the size of the Ultron is that in conjunction with the angle of view* there’s noticeable viewfinder blockage when shot on most M-mount cameras.

* The framing area for a longer lens is smaller in the viewfinder so even though the lens is similar in size to many 50mm lenses the blockage is more noticeable with the 28mm focal length.

A good portion of the bottom right of your viewfinder will be taken up by the lens which can make it difficult to compose accurately.

Voigtlander 28mm 1.9 Review

Adding the hood makes the situation way worse – a huge chunk of the viewfinder is now blocked. So from this perspective shooting the lens with the hood simply isn’t practical.

Without the hood though it’s just about acceptable. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s one of the tradeoffs you likely need to live with to get this sort of speed in a wide angle lens*.

* The similarly specced Leica Summicron 28/2 ASPH for instance, is slightly shorter and has a little bit less blockage, but it’s still in the same ballpark.

Placing the Ultron (middle) next to a few of the alternatives gives a bit of context to the size. Compared to the Voigtländer 25/4 on the far left the Ultron looks huge, but remember the two stop difference in light gathering. The Leica Summicron 28/2 ASPH on the right is slightly smaller, making for a little bit less viewfinder blockage.

Shooting the lens on an LTM camera generally requires an external viewfinder to match the focal length. And as those tend to be placed slightly farther away from the lens the blockage ends up not being really noticeable or problematic.

Shooting the lens on a camera with live view obviously also gets around any viewfinder blockage.

Overall

So to sum up then the Ultron is solid, if not quite ideal in terms of handling. We’re not close to done yet though – let’s move on.

Image quality

The Ultron performs reasonably well considering its specifications. It’s evident that speed was favored over correction of aberrations. From an objective standpoints there are a few things making it fall behind benchmark lenses.

In practice though a lot of the drawbacks are minor. Certain aspects of the rendering can even come across as more appealing under some circumstances than with more well corrected lenses.

Personally I’m not sold on the output, but can certainly see a few reasons why someone with different tastes would prefer it over some of the lenses I most enjoy. Overall it offers an interesting blend of traits which aren’t distinctly modern or classic but straddles different eras in an at times quite successful way.

An interesting trait is that the lens behaves surprisingly well on mirrorless cameras, without significant ray angle issues. This is unusual for wide angle LTM/M-mount lenses and depending on what camera(s) you want to use the lens on on this characteristic alone might make it a better choice than some of the options.

Resolution & contrast

In terms of sharpness the Ultron does ok. On axis resolution is reasonably high already wide open and fairly even across the frame, though slightly wavy field curvature leads to a bit of unpredictability in the results. Edges and corners only trail the center very slightly in terms of definition. Resolution is higher when shooting at close range, at a distance definition is lower.

At moderate frequencies the contrast is more subdued however. Global contrast is moderate while mid-level and micro-contrast is low. Correction of spherical aberration is comparatively low and adds to the less pronounced contrast. At times this can make the overall impression a little indistinct, in particular at wider aperture settings.

Stopping down improves sharpness. Resolution increases and contrast is more defined. By f/2.8 the overall impression is pretty good and beyond f/4 the output is admirable with very little to complain about.

To demonstrate the contrast characteristics the above scene is a fair example (view larger). Below are 1:1 crops from two regions – close to the center and at the left edge of the frame. For each region there are crops for f/1.9 and f/8.

As evident by the crops in particular the definition of detail is somewhat indistinct wide open. Resolution is slightly higher at closer ranges and the overall impression is slightly more convincing, but this is still a representative example. Stopped down on the other hand the definition is excellent across the entire field.

Colour

The color palette is somewhat muted. Close colors have a tendency to blend together and saturation is lower than with most Leica and Zeiss lenses. Colors overall tend to look natural and relaxed, if somewhat muddy at times.

Bokeh & transitions

For a fast wide angle lens the Ultron has pretty pleasant bokeh. Thanks to the relatively low correction of spherical aberration blur circles has fairly gentle edges and the overall impression comes across as smoother than expected.

As it’s a wide angle lens and the effective aperture is small there’s not huge amounts of blur though. So even wide open and at close distances there will still be quite a bit of texture and context.

Transitions are gentle overall with gradual planes of focus. This means a rather indistinct sense of separation but also makes the lens forgiving to use zone focused.

Generally the Ultron has surprisingly smooth bokeh. Even in the extremely challenging example above (view larger), with harsh light and a very busy background, the overall impression holds up quite well. Below are two crops – one from a high contrast region, representing a worst case scenario, the other from a less challenging area, representing a more typical out of focus rendition.

Aberrations

As mentioned there’s a bit of spherical aberration visible at wider aperture settings. Highlights can have a subtle glow and high contrast areas can show drops in contrast.

A little bit of focus shift away from the camera can be observed as you stop down (likely an effect of the mentioned spherical aberration). It’s noticeable between f/2.8 and f/4 at closer distances. It’s not generally bad enough to be a problem but it’s a little unfortunate as f/2.8 would otherwise be a good go-to aperture setting.

Very slight distortion can be observed when straight lines are close to the image circle periphery. It’s not enough to cause issues under most circumstances though for exacting purposes correction might be required. There’s also observable coma at larger aperture settings in particular.

There’s pronounced vignetting in at wider apertures. Stopping down clears it up reasonably well and it’s not too noticeable beyond f/4, even though it can be seen throughout most of the aperture range.

The Ultron is quite susceptible to flare. Strong light sources in or close to the frame often results in ghosting. The strong blue color commonly seen in these ghosts can be particularly distracting. The hood helps, but with the practical drawbacks of its use I tend to simply accept the risk of flare and live with it in the results. Still it’s not an impressive performer in this regard.

The Ultron is quite prone to flare. This is a pretty good example where most of the frame has one type of ghost or another. Unfortunately this is a pretty common occurance.

Differences between mediums

The evaluation above is valid regardless of capture medium, but nuances exist and since digital is more revealing in many cases that’s the primary medium for analysis. On film the rendering of course carries over but the subtleties can be perceived slightly different.

Digital

The gentler contrast of the Ultron can look appealing when shot on digital, taking a bit of harshness off of the resulting images. Still the muted colors and somewhat muddy midtones means that it feels like a little bit of zest is missing at times.

Color film

I tend to prefer higher contrast output when shooting color film, but if you prefer a gentler look the Ultron can deliver. Like on digital I do feel the overall impression can come across as a little lifeless under some circumstances though.

Black & white film

I’ve yet to shoot it on B&W film, but from a few conversions black & white might just be where the Ultron is at its best. The gentler contrast and slight glow gives a pleasant ambience to the resulting images. Still there’s enough resolution and separation to make for a strong overall impression. Some of the drawbacks that are apparent in color comes across as less problematic in monochrome.

Overall rendering

There’s always a struggle between capturing objective and subjective qualities when describing the rendering of a lens.

Objectively the Ultron has a few pretty apparent drawbacks when pitted against the benchmarks of its class. The overall impression isn’t quite up to the standards of something more well corrected.

Subjectively I’m also not sold on the output. To my eye the rendering is a little too indistinct and lacks the presence you can get with a higher performing lens.

Still I recognize that there are some qualities to the Ultron that can be quite appealing to someone with different preferences, especially under some circumstances. So taking a different angle I’ll try and frame the lenses strengths for a moment –

The output of the Ultron offers traits of both classic and modern characteristics as well as offers flexibility in its signature. The gentler look at wider apertures can come across as more appealing than alternatives with higher levels of correction. The slight glow, balanced bokeh and subtle transitions gives a pleasant impression. Stopping down increases performance rapidly and by f/4 the output is quite impressive. From this point on there’s very little separating the Ultron and the benchmarks of its class.

Going just the few kilometres to where we’ve agreed to meet feels like a small adventure. As we finally spot the well used bike she’s suddenly apprehensive. We pay for it and start heading back. Before long her joy is obvious.

In use

I quite enjoy the 28mm focal length. It’s clearly wide without becoming overbearingly so. It’s dynamic without being hard to use in the way very wide lenses tend to be. I could happily shoot this focal length as my only one and not feel too limited in what I could do. It’s better still in a two lens pairing. And combined with something slightly longer, like a 50, you have a two lens kit that gets you a lot of flexibility without breaking your back or piggy bank.

I got the Ultron on a bit of a whim. I got a very reasonable price on it when I bought it together with the Voigtländer 75/2.5 – a lens I’d been looking for since quite a while. I’d also been curious about the M-mount f/2 Ultron since handling one a few years ago. So when the opportunity popped up I figured the f/1.9 was worth a go too. Especially since I’d recently gotten a Leica II and felt like switching around a bit in my line up to have a few lenses to use on that little camera.

So this purchase was a bit more rash than usual. So it’s maybe not too surprising that I found it probably wasn’t exactly what I’d been looking for in this range.

For use on an LTM camera the lens is bigger than I’d like. As soon as it’s mounted the size advantage of the camera disappears, negating one of the main reasons I have one.

Shooting it on my M-mount cameras it was also subconsciously going up against the Leica Summicron 28/2 ASPH, one of my all time favorite lenses. I was of course aware that the comparison isn’t totally fair, as one is several times the price of the other. But it’s hard to not draw comparisons when the two lenses share so many similarities. And undeniably a part of me hoped to be able to replace the expensive Summicron with the cheaper Ultron and be able to use one and the same lens for both my LTM and M cameras.

Unsurprisingly that didn’t quite turn out as I’d hoped. It’s simply not quite the right fit for my current set up at the moment.

Instead I’ll probably try to sell or trade my way towards one of the more compact LTM 28 lenses to find a better fit in my current setup. Which is also the reason I’m putting together this review after owning the lens for just a few months, shorter than I usually prefer to have to get a know a piece of gear.

That’s not to say that shooting the Ultron hasn’t been an interesting experience. It’s been informative in regards to understanding my own preferences in terms of rendering and ergonomics. It’s also delivered a few surprises and a number of images I’m still quite happy with.

– Sony A7

In use on different cameras

On the Leica II

While the balance is a bit off with a lens this large on the tiny Barnack Leica the handling is still surprisingly pleasant. As only a 50mm viewfinder is integrated in Leicas LTM cameras an external viewfinder is practically required. This actually ends up pretty nice as with most external finders there’s way less viewfinder blockage. With the lenses gentle transitions it’s also easier to use zone focused – a very fast and enjoyable way to shoot the LTM cameras. Thanks to the fast aperture the combination also remains useable handheld under all but the dimmest conditions. So it’s got quite a few things going for it, but to me the size is a bit of a showstopper – it’s far bigger than I’d like for use on this little Leica.

Voigtlander 28mm 1.9

On the Leica M3

An adapter is required to mount the LTM lens on the M-mount camera. Like on the LTM camera above the large magnification viewfinder on the M3 practically requires an external finder to shoot 28mm lenses. This works just about as well as on the Leica II and it makes for a fine combination if you don’t have a camera with a lower magnification viewfinder. The combination feels well balanced and remains usable in even very low light.

On the Leica M4-P

This feels like a very natural pairing. The lens balances well on the camera. There’s also framelines for 28mm lenses in the viewfinder making the combination even easier to use than the ones above. Remember to get the adapter that brings up the correct set of framelines. The main apparent drawback is noticeable blockage of the framing area in the finder. Thanks to the fast aperture the combination is usable even in very low light.

On the Leica M9

A pleasant setup to shoot. An adapter is required but the viewfinder has framelines for 28mm lenses (remember to get the adapter that brings up the correct set of framelines). The combination feels well balanced and the handling is nice overall. There’s a little bit of color shift across the frame but either 28mm profile takes care of most of it. Though for critical use it might make sense to do in post processing using a custom profile. Performance is good overall and the combination is usable even in very low light.

On the Sony A7

Surprisingly solid performance with very little given up across the field compared to when shot on film. Almost no color shift. The relatively good high ISO performance of the Sony combined with the lenses fast aperture means it’s usable even under exceptionally low light. An adapter is obviously required to mount the lens. I’ve opted to fit both the lens and camera with an M-mount adapter which has worked perfectly fine, though it’s of course possible to opt for just an LTM to E-mount one. The native FE 28/2 probably makes more sense as a lens specifically for an A7 camera, but if you’re looking for a 28mm lens to use on both the Sony (or another mirrorless camera) and an LTM or M-mount camera then the Ultron might actually be one of the best choices.

– Leica M9

Alternatives

While the case for the Ultron maybe hasn’t been quite waterproof so far, here its relevance becomes clear. There simply aren’t many as versatile options in the 28mm range. If you want one to use on an LTM camera you’ve got just a few choices and if you also want something fast the Ultron is the only game in town.

Depending on the specifics in what you’re looking for one or a few of the options below might make sense.

Leica Summicron 28/2 ASPH

Well the obvious and not so obvious place to start is with this excellent lens. Similar in spec the Summicron more or less kills the Ultron across the board. It’s an exceptional performer with sharp and contrasty output, great color and a beautiful overall rendering. Ergonomics are perfect and it’s slightly smaller too.

There are a few caveats to the Summicron though, with price being the main one. The Leica is several times the price of the Voigtländer, and while deprecation is low that can certainly be a significant barrier to entry. The Summicron is also only available in M-mount so can’t be used on the LTM cameras. It also doesn’t perform as well on mirrorless cameras. Bokeh is often slightly more appealing on the Ultron too and in terms of performance the gap shrinks significantly once you start stopping down the lenses.

But if you don’t mind tying up a big chunk of change in a lens and aim to use it mainly on an M-mount camera the Summicron is the better choice.

If you on the other hand want something fast on a budget, a lens to use on an LTM or mirrorless camera or simply something with a slightly gentler character then the Ultron is the way to go.

Voigtländer 28/2 Ultron

The other obvious option is the successor to the Ultron – another Ultron. I’ve only tried this M-mount lens very briefly but it made a lasting impression. It handles very well and reportedly offers higher contrast than the f/1.9 version, though with more severe focus shift. It’s slightly smaller, has a more well integrated hood and has a similarly reasonable price. As I’ve not tried it myself I don’t know how it stacks up beyond that, but overall it looks like an appealing lens. The main drawback compared to the f/1.9 version is that it’s an M-mount lens thus precluding use on LTM cameras.

28mm

Voigtländer 28/3.5 Color Skopar

I’ve had my eye on this much more compact LTM lens for a while. It looks like a swell lens. Image quality, contrast in particular, looks like a step up over the Ultron. It probably balances better on the smaller LTM cameras thanks to the compact size. Unfortunately the prices for the lens has reached eye-watering levels in the past few years and I’m not sure that I personally feel that the high price is fully motivated. The speed is a little limiting and the ergonomics look slightly short of ideal. Still I’d love to have a go with one if I can get my hands on one for a reasonable price.

Voigtländer 25/4 Color Skopar

Available in both LTM and M-mount versions this slightly wider lens is a lot of fun to shoot. I’ve shot the M-mount version a lot. It’s slower than the Ultron but beyond that I find it preferable in almost every way. It’s way smaller and lighter. Contrast is higher and color a bit more refined on the little Skopar. Ergonomics differ a little between the LTM and M-mount versions of the lens, but the M-mount version is excellent in this regard. Doesn’t play as well on mirrorless cameras though and the slower speed can definitely be limiting as light gets lower.

Zeiss ZM 28/2.8

I’ve owned this slightly slower lens by Zeiss in the past and shot it extensively. This was before starting up this site though and consequently I’ve not reviewed it. It more or less crushes the Ultron in terms of objective performance. Contrast is way higher and the color palette more appealing. There’s very little flare and the lens is more compact and lighter too. It’s a bit more expensive and in some situations the rendering can come across as harsh. I still prefer the output from the Zeiss but can definitely see some people enjoying the rendering from the Ultron more. The Zeiss is also only available in M-mount.

Avenon 28/3.5

I’ve been keeping an eye out for this little LTM lens for a while now. It’s not exactly rare but not super common either. Still the prices are reasonable and it looks like a pleasant performer overall. There are a few versions with different ergonomic features, most looking slightly better than on the Ultron. It’s also very compact and light and would probably make a very good fit on an LTM camera. It’s a little on the slow side though and here the Ultron certainly has an edge.

Conclusion

Voigtlander 28mm 1.9 Mods

Cons

  • Overall rendering lacks a bit of zest with low contrast and muted color palette. At wider aperture in particular performance isn’t up to the standards of benchmarks in the class.
  • Low level of correction of several of the common aberrations. Susceptibility to flare, spherical aberration and slight focus shift just to name a few.
  • There’s noticeable and distracting blockage of the framing area in the viewfinder of most M-mount cameras.
  • It’s nice that the hood is included but its design is less than optimal in several ways, making it pretty close to useless in practice.

Pros

  • The wide angle of view and large maximum aperture makes for a lens that can be used under almost any conditions and circumstance.
  • Very reasonable price.
  • Excellent build quality and pretty styling.
  • Very good ergonomics. The add on focusing lever gives flexibility in how to focus depending on your preferences.
  • Plays well with more cameras than most of its peers.
  • The gentler rendering can look quite appealing. Some might even prefer the character to more highly corrected alternatives.
  • Stopped down performance is very good and indistinguishable from benchmark lenses most of the time.

– Leica M9

Sometimes you come across lenses that you know in an instant you will enjoy, other times the opposite is true.

It quickly became apparent to me that the Ultron wasn’t a good fit for me. It’s a little larger than I prefer and its ergonomics aren’t quite to my taste. Neither issue is significant but combined with an output signature I simply don’t find very appealing means there are other lenses that I’d rather shoot.

Still I’m not oblivious to the numerous strengths the lens offers. I mean just look at the list above. It really has quite a bit going for it.

So if you’re looking for a fast wide angle, a good lens to use on both rangefinder and mirrorless cameras, a lens to mount on an LTM camera, something with gentler contrast than most contemporary offerings or if you’re simply on a budget, then the Ultron makes for an easy recommendation.

All photos in this review were taken by me, using the Leica II, Leica M4-P & Leica M9 or Sony A7. All film was scanned on the Plustek 8200i. Exif-data is intact. Open any image in a new window for a closer look.