Lens review

Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical

24 November 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical, as it befits a „pancake”, is small and well-put-together. However, it would be difficult for this lens to compete with other “pancakes” designed for smaller sensors in mirrorless systems, so fashionable nowadays. It shouldn’t surprise us because the Voigtlander was designed as an ultra-wide angle lens which, on full frame, gives us almost 95 degrees. A comparison to any other instrument would be tricky. In the photo below you can see it positioned next to two Olympus “pancakes”: the 2.8/25 and the 2.8/17.

Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

The Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 is a manual classic device and it was constructed in that spirit. The lens doesn’t have any plastic or rubber elements – only metal and glass. It starts with a metal bayonet mount including contacts. They allow to transfer information about basic parameters to a body and also to control the aperture, to confirm the sharpness and to manage the light meter seamlessly.

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Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

Roughly on the same level as the contacts, inside the mount, we can find a rear element. Taking into account the fact that its task is to “disperse” the light on the surface of a full frame sensor, it is really tiny because it is only about 1 centimeter in diameter. The element is positioned the closest to the sensor when the lens is set at infinity and it moves away from the sensor by circa 0.5 centimeter (along the whole optical system) on passing to the minimum focus, which amounts to 0.2 meter.

On the black and metal lens barrel, right behind the mount, you can find the manual aperture ring. You can change it in the range from f/3.5 to f/22 so every 1 EV ( but at the beginning the distance is bigger because after f/3.5 we must set f/5.6 immediately). You should remember, though, that the aperture can be also operated via the camera and there we can change its value every 1/3 EV . The aperture ring is about 1 cm wide, with ribbed sides which are supposed to guarantee a more comfortable grip.

Further on, there is a very narrow ring, on which were etched depth of field markings by f/3.5, f/8.0, f/11, f/16 and f/22 aperture. Right beside it we find a manual focus ring. One part of it includes a distance scale, expressed in feet and meters, the second part is ribbed, ensuring a better grip. The ring moves very smoothly and is well-damped. Running through the whole scale takes a 180-degree turn. Taking into account the significant depth of field, provided by the parameters of the lens, such a value is more than enough for very comfortable work. With some practice, the lack of autofocus will be hardly felt.

A narrow case sticks out of the lens, even if you set the device at infinity, and a front element is fixed on it, 3 cm in diameter. It is surrounded by an inscription with the name of the lens and a non-rotating filter thread, with a diameter of 52 mm.

The optical construction consists of 9 elements positioned in 6 groups. The element the closest to the detector is aspherical. Inside we can also find an aperture with nine diaphragm blades, which can be closed down to the value of f/22.

Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical - Build quality

It’s worth mentioning here that the constructors of the Voigtlander had to save on the number of elements to reduce the dimensions of the lens. Other full frame devices of the 20-21 mm class feature much more elements, often including low-dispersion parts – you can see it very clearly if you consult the following chart.

The number of accessories you get in box is rather modest – the producer includes just the caps and the box itself. Optionally you can buy a LH-20 lens hood.

Voigtlander Color Skopar 20 mm f/3.5 SL II Aspherical - Build quality