Voigtlander 28mm F/2 Ultron
My first steps into wide angle street photography began with this lens. The Voigtlander 28mm F/2 Ultron. I brought this lens at a time when I was wanting to experiment, and had been using the 50mm focal length for about five years. Though most people would have gone from 50mm to 35mm I wanted to take it a step further and go 28mm. I first had thoughts about this focal length when I noticed most photographs taken by my favorite photographer; Garry Winogrand were taken using a 28mm. Garry Winogrand has been a very influential person in my life setting the basis for my understanding of photography.
The Voigtlander 28mm f/2 ultron is a 28mm lens with ten elements in eight groups. This is quite a simple wide-angle lens design considering the Nikon 28mm f/1.8G has elven elements in nine groups. This lens also has ten aperture blades and stops down to f/22. This lens is similarly sized to the Leica equivalent but has a round lens hood so does not block the viewfinder. Please note, if you are using this lens on an M3, M2 or M4 you will have to purchase an external finder as these cameras don't support 28mm frame lines.
When shooting with any 28mm you'll need to get close, like very close. I found myself pre – focusing to one meter and using my legs to frame and focus the image. As for how the lens feels in the hands it feels very good. The lens has a focusing tab which is my only problem with some other voigtlander lenses lacking. This allows you to focus very quickly and much more accurately than other methods I have personally found. The lens is light at 244g so can easily be shot with all day. My only small issue with this lens is how thin the aperture ring is. I found myself pinching it rather than gripping it in many cases though this for me want a deal breaker as I tend to stay at f/8 or f/11 when shooting on the streets.
This lens is very well corrected with low distortion and minimal flaring. Like many Voigtlander lenses the new lens design gives rich colours and excellent contrast making images straight out of camera very usable. I used this lens for just over a year and shot with it in all conditions from the sweltering London underground during the summer, minus 10-degree conditions in the Polish winter and even the radioactive wastes of Chernobyl. In every situation this lens performed fantastically.
This lens is a must get for someone wanting a wide-angle M mount lens. Other than older Canon or Nikon rangefinder lenses the only competitors this lens has is from Leica and Zeiss. Zeiss make a 28mm Biogon F/2.8 which is slightly more expensive and larger and selling in used condition as a new Voigtlander 28mm f/2. And from Leica you will be paying around £400 more for a used Leica 28mm Elmarit f/2.8, or well over £1000 more for the equivalent Summicron. I have owned the Leica 28mm Elmarit f/2.8 version 3 and did not find there to be much difference. Sure, if you are shooting landscapes and printing large prints you may see a difference but as I don’t usually print larger than 16x12 so I didnt find the lenses to be that much different. That being said I much prefer the design and ergonomics of the Leica Elmarit lens compared to the Voigtlander, but is that worth the extra £400? Only you can answer that question