Lens review

Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical

9 November 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

In terms of dimensions the Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical is on the border between a big „pancake” and a small standard lens. As a matter of fact the tested device is not big in itself and you can call it a very atypical construction. So atypical that it would be difficult to find anything on the market for comparison – the lens is one representative of the species. Classic “pancakes” designed for full frame feature rather f/2.8 apertures. Fast standard lenses for a change would rather have f/1.4-f/1.8 and be physically much bulkier.

The photo below shows the tested lens positioned between the Voigtlander 1.4/58 and the Sigma 1.4/30.

Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

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The Voigtlanger is a short device - it sticks out from the camera body only by 23.5 mm. The lens starts with a metal bayonet mount containing contacts to pass information about the focal length and the aperture to the camera; when it comes to the aperture you can actually control it from the camera’s menu level. Inside the mount you can find a rear element with a diameter of 22 mm which changes its position during focusing. The focusing process entails the shift of the whole optical system at once so at infinity the rear element is almost on the same level as the mount and at minimum focus it hides inside the mount by about 0.5 of a centimeter.

Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

The barrel of the lens and all pieces on it are made of metal. Immediately behind the mount we meet the manual aperture ring. Setting the aperture at f/22 allows us to control it from the camera’s menu level. You can do it manually as well but then you should remember that the ring stop in such a case amounts to 1 EV without any possibility of choosing any values in between.

Moving on, we find an immobile and narrow ring on which there are depth of field markings for f/22, f/16 and f/8.0 apertures. Then, we have a manual focus ring. It is about 1 centimeter wide and ribbed in the middle of its height. The second half occupies a distance scale expressed in meters and feet. Running through the scale takes a turn of 130 degrees. This value is very comfortable and, at the depth of field offered by 40 mm focal length, it allows you very precise settings. It’s worth adding that the ring is a joy to use: its work is well-damped and smooth, as it should be. As we mentioned before, the movements of the ring make the whole optical system shift so passing to the minimum focus the system of elements, surrounded by a small inner tube, extends by about 0.5 of a centimeter outside the barrel.

Looking at the front we can see a front element with a diameter of about 23 mm. It is surrounded first by a threaded fragment of the barrel and then by inscriptions with the name and parameters of the lens. Further on, there is a non-rotating filter thread 52 mm in diameter. You can screw in a ring, included in the box, which can be used as a hood and a mount of a small cap. When that ring is detached from the lens we don’t have any possibility to cover the front element with a cap.

In terms of optical construction we deal here with a simple system of 6 elements positioned in 5 groups. In the middle of the lens you can also find an aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to the value of f/22.

Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

The buyer gets two caps included. The smaller cap for the front element is attached to a special metal cover in the shape of a narrow ring which you can screw in the lens and use as a lens hood. A single element close-up lens, also included in the product bundle, is mounted on the same ring.

Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

As its name indicates, the single element close-up lens is designed for close-up photos. When you use it, the value of the minimum focus decreases but, at the same time, we lose the possibility of setting the focus at infinity. In the case of an instrument with such parameters, designed to work on full frame, the usefulness of a close-up lens is low. You can see it in the photos below, presenting the front cap (the size of more or less a 5 PLN coin). These are full frames from the Nikon D3x shot with and without the close-up lens, in both cases at the minimum focus.

Nikon D3x + Voigtlander 2/40
Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality
Nikon D3x + Voigtlander 2/40 + close-up lens
Voigtlander Ultron 40 mm f/2 SL II Aspherical - Build quality