Voigtlander — the best pound for pound lenses
It was a happy day for me in March, 2013 when I got my Leica M6. It was the second-hand bargain I've been waiting for. But then I realized there was only one caveat I didn't exactly thought about: I had no money left for lens.
And there came this 35mm f1.4 lens from this totally unknown brand to me so far in my rescue. Gambling with my funds, I bought the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4. I was ready for my rangefinder adventure.
It was, as far as I could tell, an amazing lens. The Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 is really small for such a bright lens. The built is super solid, all metal. I had absolutelly nothing to complain about, quite the contrary: surprisingly it seemed by far the best lens I've ever owned.
So I thought: if this is so good, imagine what a Leica Summicron is like! During that year I saved enough money to buy me — once more, second-hand — a 35mm Leica Summicron.
What can I say. I'd love to tell you that the Summicron is out of this world and justify my investiment (financial and emotional). It should obviously be far beyond the a lot cheaper Voigtlander. Leica's legendary glass is, of course, all you could ask for. Built, image quality, design — everything is close to perfection. But the truth is that they're not that far apart, and I could live happily ever after with the Voigtlander.
Plot twist: none of them are my favorite Leica mount lens, though. A year later, I bought what I consider the best lens, according my very own flawed criteria, which takes a lot into consideration size and weight — the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm f2.5.
I bought mine at Adorama. While writing this, I didn't see it listed there, and at B&H it's listed as "no longer available". It would be so sad if this lens were discontinued. The Color-Skopar is very small, super compact, and really cheap. I think I paid US$ 200,00 for mine, new. The elegant metal-made hood is sold separately. A lot better than the plasticky and awkward Leica hood (now revised for the new lens's version).
I didn't stop at the M-mount, though. Being a long time Nikon user, I eventually discovered what would become my favorite F-mount lens. Yes, it's a Voigtlander lens: the 40mm f2. I also owe the 28mm f2.8, equally awesome. They’re also available for Canon mount.
Voigtlander lens are solid, all-metal made and slim. The size is very important to me, and these lens are ideal for portability and discretion. Image quality isn't my primary concern. I don't pixel peep. If I like what I see, that's fine to me. But even there, Voigtlander excels. In Ken Rockwell's review of the 40mm Ultron, he demonstrates that in fact the lens presents superior image quality over Nikon's.
As long as you don't mind manual focusing, the Voigtlander (made by Cosina, by the way) will always be an excellent choise for photographers looking for quality, affordable and small-sized lens.