28mm has just arrived on the block!
For the longest time, the combination of 35mm and 50mm prime lenses has fit almost every aspect of my personal work, but recently I've felt the desire add a new change in perspective to my tool belt.
In street photography and other environmental genres, 28mm not only increases the field of view but also creates a more dynamic and open presentation of a scene or action due to the more dramatic perspective.
The Leica Summarit 35mm F2.5 was a beautiful lens for the two years I made photographs with it, but I desired a shallower depth of field and greater low light capability. I also invested in the 50mm Summarit, only using it sparingly until I sold it around a year later.
In 2017 I switched to the Voigtländer 35mm F1.7 Ultron. With sharp optics designed for modern digital sensors, it was a great choice for both my fine art landscape work and black and white film at the same time. I've always opted for high-quality optics for my cameras and the modern Voigtländer lenses have continuously impressed me when comparing them to similar offerings from Leica.
That is one of the major issues with shooting M-mount cameras. While they are built tough with impressive optics, Leica lenses are prohibitively expensive for most people on a 5-digit income, which is where Voigtländer comes into play. They offer a modern trinity of lenses that compares favourably to any Leica in terms of construction and optical quality and yet won't break the bank, often coming in at 1/6th the price of the equivalent Leica lens.
Now after some deliberation, I have finally made the jump to owning the Voigtländer 28mm F2 Ultron. Along with the 50mm F1.5 Nokton as well, and my tried and true 35mm F1.7 Ultron, I now have the trio of lenses perfect for all kinds of rangefinder-style work, from dynamic street scenes to quiet, focused portraits.
All three lens are constructed extremely well, each with their own metallic heft and precise movements. Focusing is always very smooth and accurate. On my 50mm the focus ring is a little harder to move but nothing ever feels rough, cheap or loose.
The optics are just about as impressive in their own ways to similar Leica offerings. Bokeh is smooth and clean without the often distracting "doughnut-rings" of some exorbitantly-priced Leica lenses. I've noticed when trying the latest Leica offerings that some models including the Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH and Summicron equivalent exhibit distracting out-of-focus rings in busy backgrounds. My $30 Nikon 50mm pancake suffers this problem. I wouldn’t expect a $6,500 lens to!
I would recommend these lenses to anyone considering a Leica system and wanting to shoot with high-quality optics without the budget to afford the Leica brand for every component of their kit. The 28mm F2 Ultron, 35mm F1.7 Ultron and 50mm F1.5 Nokton are perfect for film and digital cameras alike.
What about the results? I have a large body of work shot on the Leica M7 and the 35mm F1.7 over the last few years, as well as a small sample of 50mm work and brand new photographs with the 28mm F2 Ultron.
Once I have more work with the 28mm, I’ll update this post to reflect. As yet, I’ve only exposed a few rolls of TRI-X.