Rangefinder Lens Review | Voigtlander 21mm F4 CS

A concise review, after a few months (sample images provided)

Fox Foto Co

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Ironically, the only photo I have of the lens on one of my cameras is the combo that least used it. The well loved, but short lived Leica SL. I didn’t keep the SL long, but it lead me to love the 20/21mm focal length and to double down on the BW experience with the M246 Monochrom.

READ ME: I like *most* of them quite a bit, and would recommend most people to pick up a copy of any of these for themselves. This review series is NOT about the professional specs of the lens, but more so the character, any quirks, and my experience with them.

Logic behind purchase: Originally meant for usage on my Epson RD1s, a CCD crop sensor 6mpx rangefinder camera from the early 2000s. Intended use was to get close to a 32mm (disposable 90s film point and shoot) framing for a two week trip to Vietnam this past spring. For that purpose the lens performed pretty much as hoped.

Impressions: I have hesitated to make a review about this lens for a while because it is simultaneously underwhelming and yet also ALWAYS in my bag or on a camera. It’s an f/4 21mm. It’s wide and it’s not super fast but it's good enough. The lens has however, much in the same way the Ricoh GRiii 28mm FOV did, converted me more toward wide angle lenses this year. This Voigtlander lens is why I am frequently using my vintage Zeiss 20mm on my Canon R6 (mirrorless) and Pentax Spotmatic (film). The positive experience and great** build quality is also what led me to purchase the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton later in the year as well.

**I say great, but after mounting it on adapters the focusing ring became immediately much stiffer around the infinity stop, and I could find what seemed like excessive lubrication grease exposed in areas I feel like I shouldn’t be. I can’t speak more to this problem as it has seemed to have self-fixed over a few months of usage. Not sure if it was the adapter or the lens at fault, but strange nonetheless.

Size/Weight: It’s quite small and light, but solid feeling. In fact, it’s my smallest lens I carry around with me regularly. Voightlander makes a larger 21mm f/1.4 that I can’t really see a huge use case for, and from what I have read it’s size obstructs the view in rangefinder. I think the small 21mm is a great point-and-shoot walk around lens with great sharpness for its size and price point.

Favorite Usage: Landscapes and Street Photography (more toward the architecture and abstract side, less focused on…

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