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Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR lens.

|  Voigtlander Color Skopar 28mm f/2.8 SL-II in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features

Color Skopar 28mm f/2.8 SL-II

This manual focus wide angle lens is available to fit Nikon and Canon SLR cameras but we will be looking specifically at the Nikon version here. Both versions of this lens are manual focus, but sport electronic contacts to fully support all metering modes and aperture control from each brand of camera. The lens costs around £480, which is around twice what Nikon's own 28mm f/2.8D lens costs and a little more than Canon's 28mm f/2.8 EF lens with image stabilisation, so it will be very interesting to see how this lens performs.

Voigtlander Color Skopar Sl II N 28mm F2 8 Lens (1)

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Handling and features
It can be said that things aren't made as well as they used to be, but certainly not in the case of this Voigtlander optic. This lens feels very solidly built, thanks to the all-metal construction. Size-wise, this lens is very compact, looking more like a standard pancake lens than a wide angle optic, and although it is very well built, it only weighs 180g, which should make this lens ideal for travel. It makes a great, compact companion for the Nikon D600 body used for testing.

The focusing ring is silky smooth to operate and has just the right amount of resistance, which makes it a pleasure to apply fine adjustments. Closest focus for this lens is 22cm, which is fairly typical for a lens of this type. The lens doesn't focus internally, extending by around 5mm at its closest focus. Electronic contacts to support metering and aperture control functions of the camera are provided. Nikon users will have to ensure that the lens is set to f/22, which is marked orange on the aperture ring for the lens to work properly on modern cameras. Unfortunately, there is no system provided for locking the aperture at this setting.

The lens accepts 52mm filters, and the filter ring does not rotate during focusing, which is great for use with graduated and polarising filters. No lens hood is supplied as standard with this lens.

Voigtlander Color Skopar Sl II N 28mm F2 8 Lens (5)

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Performance

Sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding at maximum aperture, with clarity towards the edges of the frame just shy of very good levels. Stopping down improves sharpness towards the edges of the frame to excellent levels between f/5.6 and f/8, whilst maintaining outstanding clarity in the centre of the frame.

Resolution @ 28mm
Resolution @ 28mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are a little high towards the edges fo the frame, exceeding one pixel width at all apertures. This level may become apparent, especially along high contrast edges near the edges of the frame and will show if harsh crops are taken from these areas.

Chromatic aberration @ 28mm
Chromatic aberration @ 28mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is very pronounced, with the corners being 3.06 stops darker than the centre of the frame at maximum aperture. Although falloff does decrease as the aperture is stopped down, it needs to be stopped down to f/11 before the image area is visually uniform in illumination.

Imatest detected 1.01% barrel distortion, which is an extremely low level of distortion for a wide angle lens. If absolutely straight lines are paramount, you'll be glad to know that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying corrections straightforward.

Contrast is good, even when shooting into the light and this lens seems quite resistant to flare. No hood is supplied as standard with this lens but a compact-style LH-28N hood can be picked up for around £45.

Voigtlander Color Skopar 28mm f/2.8 SL-II Sample Photos

Value for Money

The Nikon version of this lens costs around £480 from RobertWhite, which is over twice what Nikon's 28mm f/2.8D lens costs, being available for around £230. However, the Voigtlander lens is more compact and better built, although it does lack autofocus.

Canon camera owners will naturally compare this lens to the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM, which sports image stabilisation and silent ultrasonic autofocus for around £70 less than the £500 the Canon version of this Voigtlander optic costs. As with the Nikon optic, the Voigtlander lens is better built and more compact than the Canon lens.

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Verdict

There is no doubt that this is an exceptionally high quality lens, delivering outstanding sharpness in the centre of the frame from maximum aperture. Whether it will represent good value for you is another matter. If the compact size, which is reminiscent of a pancake lens appeals to you, then the extra cost over manufacturer's own alternatives may be worth it to you. The slightly high levels of chromatic aberrations towards the edges of the frame and falloff may not be to everyone's taste, however, the silky smooth manual focus action and great build quality will be.

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Pros

Outstanding sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture
Excellent sharpness across the frame when stopped down
Very good build quality
Smooth manual focus action
Compact size

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar SL II SLR Lens Cons

CA towards edges of the frame


Voigtlander Color Skopar 28mm f/2.8 SL-II Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
  • Nikon AI-S
Focal Length28mm
Angle of View76
Max Aperturef/3.5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size39mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus70cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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Leif 16 777
29 Oct 2013 3:55PM
Going by the narrow boat picture, I think you should clean the sensor. Grin
ElSid 13 11 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2013 11:21AM
It may be more expensive than the AF Nikkor but it's somewhat cheaper than the manual version with the added advantage that it can be used with electronic AF bodies as well as mechanical ones...
30 Oct 2013 1:00PM
I use this little gem on my Nikon D7000. With the smaller DX-Sensor there are no problems at the edges of the frame. I highly recommend the Voigtlaender 28mm 2.8 for the use on smaller sensors if you like manual focusing. It is lightweighted but built like a little tank.

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