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State of the ART: The Little Lens That Could Read More

State of the ART: The Little Lens That Could

Fine art photographer Pete Myers talks about his love for the Cosina Voigtländer CV ULTRON 40mm SLii, a lens he considers to be "The Little Lens That Could."

CV 28/1.9 Ultron - two years on.

Robert Clark , Jan 26, 2005; 12:51 p.m.

I'm thinking of getting one of these, have read the reports, but would like to know if people are still happy with the lens after some time of using it. Does it stand comparison with the Leica Summicron?

How does it stand normal use? Does it suck dust in, does it get sloppy? Does the paint wear off? (Is there much of a difference between the black and silver lenses?).

I use mostly Leica or older Pentax lenses and I'm happy with the wear of both of these, they both seem very tough, are the Voigtländers any worse?


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Alex S. , Jan 26, 2005; 01:03 p.m.

I've had a C/V 28/1.9 for 2 years and I'm fairly happy. Mechanically it is quite good. Optically it is very good in my view. Especially wide open it has than old pre-Aspherical Summicron feel--or "glow" if you wish. It is there because the aberations are not as well controlled as in the 'cron 28/2 ASPH. Certainly the latter is in every way the superior lens. But the C/V 28/1.9 is well made. The paint is rather weak (I'm talking about black). Mechanically it has not been problematic. It has the added virtue of have the Leica thread mount, which means you can use it with both LTM and M cameras. Optically, it is not as good chart-wise as the 'cron 28/2, particularly wide open, but becomes almost as good stopped down. For the money it is a very good deal. You may even like its visual effects more than the 'cron 28/2.

Frederick Muller , Jan 26, 2005; 05:18 p.m.

I recently took both on a trip to compare them. The Summicron is perfection; the Ultron is excellent. Very flare resistent, very sharp. The chrome finish is nice. I think it's eye candy, but that's just me. The thing looks so much like a '60's Summilux 50, but the chrome isn't as nice and the construction is so obviously lighter. Still, it's sweet. I really like to shoot backlit, often right into the sun. No problems with either. The hood on the Ultron is terrible; I don't bother using it. The hood on the Summicron is outstanding. Big and deep, it does the job. I'm thinking of modifying a Summicron hood for use on the Ultron (it will not fit out of the box even though they are the same filter size and have similar mounting lips because the Summicron hood has wire stop to keep the rectangular shape aligned on the lens. Even so, working without the hood, in backlit conditions (a hood doesn't matter shooting into the sun), it was hard to get the Ultron to flare. If you toss the hood, you have no cap. Use the cap from a Summilux 50 Aspherical. Same diameter. Or just put a filter on and don't worry about a cap. Great ergonomics on the Ultron. Short focusing throw, smooth focus. One complaint: with an adapter to mount it on an M, it's hard to line up with the lens lock. Solution: glue a button on the lens where the Leica red dot should sit so you can mount by feel.

Frederick Muller , Jan 26, 2005; 05:27 p.m.

For what it's worth, I took this with a 28 ultron ...

Attachment: backlit.jpg

Bishop VC , Jan 26, 2005; 09:35 p.m.

Have had mine for a couple of years. Pretty much lives on my CLE.

Like it lots.

Peter Volle , Jan 27, 2005; 04:35 a.m.

I bought a used one a few months ago. It is a black one. It's paint doesn't wear off. I can't compare it's performance with Leica glass of the same focal length but it does play in the same league as my Leica lenses optically. There is no visible dust inside. It's a little soft wide open but very sharp and contrasty when stopped down a bit. Mechanically it is not so nice; focussing and setting the f-stop is quite stiff, on the other hand there is too much play in the moving parts, but then I don't know what the first owner did to the lens. The mechanical problems don't seem to affect the results. Tolerances of the rangefinder coupling are within the DOF range of the lens at all apertures. It's not Leica glass, but for me this most definitely is a keeper.

Peter Svensson , Jan 27, 2005; 10:16 a.m.

I got rid of mine. I found it poor wide open. The aperture ring seized up once, and I had to send it in for service. Could have been a bad sample. I replaced it with a Hexanon 28/2.8, which is better than the Ultron at 2.8.

Anthony Oresteen , Jan 27, 2005; 12:27 p.m.

I bought one in late 2001. It has proved to be a very fine lens over the years. I use it with my M4-P. If stolen, I would get another!

Frederick Muller , Jan 27, 2005; 04:46 p.m.

Here's another way of looking at it ... when I got the Summicron, I thought I might dust the Ultron. The more I used them both, the more I found things to like about both of them. So I will keep both, and will work both. I guess it's the old saw about not selling off a lens you like, and have taken good pictures with.

Stuart Richardson , Jan 28, 2005; 01:03 a.m.

I have one and I like it. I think it is one of the better made voigtlander lenses, and I have had no problems with its performance. I will say this though: now that I have a 35 and a 21, I hardly ever use it. I just don't find it a very useful focal length. The 35 is a better general purpose wide angle, and the 21 is better for when you want a very wide field of view. The 28 is like the middle child, struggling to find its niche.

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