Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar Review

November 9, 2018 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE is a 21mm ultra-wide-angle manual-focus prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/3.5-f/22 and a ten-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out-of-focus areas. The lens is comprised of 9 elements in 8 groups, has a precision-engineered full-metal casing, and weighs in at just 230 grams. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE is priced at £565 / $699 / 599 Euros.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 63mm, a length of 40mm and weighing in at just 230g, the Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE is a very compact moderate wide-angle prime lens that feels perfectly balanced on Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies, such as the A7 III and A7R II cameras that we tested it with.

The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE boasts superb build quality, with all markings being both engraved and painted. The lens has an all-metal casing and features a metal E-mount bayonet.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focusing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. It also has a generous rotation angle which helps to enable precise focusing and it moves smoothly without any play at all.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

The precise engravings in meters and feet, together with the depth of focus scale, help make manual focusing a veritable pleasure, especially in conjunction with the excellent peaking and focus magnification features offered by the Sony A-series cameras.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE has 9 lens elements in 8 groups, including one aspherical element to achieve greater sharpness and one low dispersion element to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations. A ten-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur.

A manual aperture ring is located at the end of the lens barrel, with clickable 1/3EV stops ranging from f/3.5 to f/22. Unlike some other Voigtlander lenses that we've reviewed, this can't be de-clicked for video use.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Very usefully, the Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE has electronic contacts so that it can communicate fully with the camera body, which means that EXIF data is saved and features like focus magnification, in-camera image stabilization and lens corrections can be used.

There’s no optical image stabilisation actually built into the lens, instead it includes support for 5-axis image stabilization via the camera body.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

A high quality removable metal circular-shaped lens hood that measures 10mm in depth is supplied in the box, which can be fitted by screwing it into the 52mm threads on the front of the lens.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

 

Focal Range

The 21mm focal length gives an angle of view of 91.2 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is a fairly big issue with the Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE, with quite prominent purple and green fringing in some of our test shots, as shown in the examples below.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE
   
Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE  

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is very noticeable wide open at f/3.5. Stop down to f/5.6 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Macro

The 20cm minimum focus distance and maximum magnification ratio of 1:6.45 makes the lens reasonably useful for shooting close subjects.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Bokeh

Despite being a wide-angle lens and only having a maximum aperture of f/3.5, the Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE generates quite smooth out of focus areas through its use of a ten-bladed diaphragm, which provides smoother bokeh than nine, seven or five-blade designs. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these images to see the Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 Color-Skopar FE

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.