Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 ASPH VM – Perfect for Newcomers

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 ASPH VM - Perfect for Newcomers

Lens Review

Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f2 ASPH VM – Perfect for Newcomers

voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-leica-m10-digital-low-light-sydney-wedding-australia
Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney

The Voigtländer Vintage Line Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH lens for M mount was released in 2019. Initially, I had not planned to acquire one since I already possessed the Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 V1. So, why did I end up purchasing it? The simple answer is the hood, and my desire for a modern lens with an f/2 aperture. It bears a striking resemblance to the famous Leica Summilux Steel Rim. At that time, Leica had not reissued the Steel Rim, so it was thrilling to find something like that hood on the market. I have been gradually gathering enough images to compile a review, including color transparencies, B&W negatives, color negatives, and digital files. I am now assembling all of this material into a review. This lens is an excellent compact option, likely the most budget-friendly and comparable to the modern Summicron ASPH available, producing images that are exceptionally clean and sharp. There are two “flaws” for me: vignetting and diffraction at f/8. Aside from that, I am extremely pleased with it.

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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney
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Kodak Ektachrome E100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Hong Kong

Voigtlander New Lenses

Voigtländer has released a plethora of impressive lenses, including the APO-Lanthar 50mm and 35mm, as well as the Ultron 28mm f/2 II. They then released an updated version of the Nokton 35mm f/1.2 III and have now even announced the Nokton 28mm f/1.5 ASPH VM. Their innovation and ambition are evident in the market. The optical quality continues to improve, and the lenses offer various designs and finishes, such as black paint and red lettering, features that are highly coveted by photography enthusiasts for their lenses.

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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney

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Build Quality

The lens is solidly constructed, featuring 8 elements in 5 groups, including one double-sided aspherical element and an anomalous partial dispersion glass, which I presume aids in correcting chromatic aberrations. It weighs a mere 170 grams, and I am particularly fond of the font and detail work on this lens. It accepts the common 39mm filter thread, allowing me to use the same colour filters for B&W film as I do with my Summicron 35mm f/2 V1. The hood boasts a well-executed design and finish. Personally, I find the small focusing lever a bit bothersome. Other reviews have mentioned issues with sticky focusing or even receiving a defective product; fortunately, in my experience with this lens, which I’ve owned three times, I’ve encountered no such problems. I would suggest checking the lens carefully before making a purchase. In terms of size, this lens is considerably more compact than the Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH and is even smaller than my Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 V1.

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Kodak Ektar 100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne

Ultron 35mm f/2 Type I and II

Voigtländer redesigned and released the Type II version in March 2021, maintaining that the optical formulas of both versions are identical. The distinction lies solely in their aesthetics: Type II is available in black paint and silver finishes, whereas Type I sports a classic vintage appearance with a small focusing lever. Personally, I’m not a fan of this lever and have a preference for a focusing tab. The release of Type II excited me because it featured the focusing tab I prefer. However, the overall design of the lens seemed too simplistic for my taste. I opted for the black paint version, but ultimately, I sold it in favor of the Type I. Have any of you had a similar experience?

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Type II (left) vs Type I (right)
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Type II (left) vs Type I (right)

Minimum Focusing Distance 0.58M

It’s important to remain aware of the minimum focusing distance, as the rangefinder coupling won’t function at distances closer than 0.7 meters. This limitation is something to consider with M mount lenses, although they do allow for close focusing on rangefinder digital cameras, or even zone focusing by estimation. As for the tactile experience, I would prefer the lens to offer some resistance when adjusting the focus between the range of 0.58 meters and 0.7 meters, similar to the mechanism found in the newer Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 ( 11726) or the Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ( 11728).

Bokeh

Some reviewers have characterized the background rendering of this lens as “busy,” but personally, I find it quite appealing, reminiscent of the Summicron 35mm f/2 V4, often hailed as the “King of Bokeh,” with its distinctive fish-scale bokeh pattern. The slight swirliness can be advantageous for highlighting the subject against the background.

voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-kodak-ektar-100-film-negative-color-portrait-bokeh
Kodak Ektar 100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne
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Kodak Ektar 100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne

Flaws: Vignetting and Diffraction

Although I haven’t conducted a formal technical comparison, I believe it’s important for our readers to be aware that vignetting is quite noticeable when the lens is wide open. It’s more pronounced than what I’ve observed with other Summicron 35mm f/2 lenses I’ve used. I find myself considering vignetting as a creative feature, thinking that shooting at f/2 can produce darker corners and add a sense of three-dimensionality to the images. 

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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Hong Kong
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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney

Another issue is lens diffraction, which seems to yield optimal results at f/5.6. Past this aperture, such as at f/8 or f/11, there is a noticeable decrease in image quality, so this is something to be mindful of, especially when shooting landscapes or trying to stop down the lens to f/8 in pursuit of peak sharpness. This diffraction isn’t as evident on film, but it’s a consideration for digital shooters.

voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-leica-m10-digital-bnw-beach-bondi-australia-sydney-raining
Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney
voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-kodak-ektar-100-film-negative-color-melbourne-beach
Kodak Ektar 100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne

Alternatives

  • Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH – Expensive, image quality should be quite comparable
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.5 ASPH – Well balanced and reasonable priced
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 Classic II – Bokeh is distracting but compact
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 III ASPH – Good separation and weight reduction versus version 2
voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-kodak-ektachrome-e100-slide-beach-pui-O-hong-kong-dogs-2
Kodak Ektachrome E100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Hong Kong
voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-kodak-ektachrome-e100-slide-beach-pui-O-hong-kong-dogs
Kodak Ektachrome E100, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Hong Kong

Final Thoughts

Considering its price point and compact size, I find little to complain about with this lens. Its portability and performance make it a top recommendation of mine for those new to the Leica ecosystem. In my experience, it doesn’t fall short when compared to the Summicron 35mm ASPH, holding its own with remarkable image quality.

For those in search of a faster lens without breaking the bank, the Voigtländer Nokton Vintage 35mm f/1.5 ASPH emerges as a compelling alternative. It offers a wider aperture at a still accessible cost, which might cater to the needs of photographers looking for that extra light-gathering capability and depth of field control.

As for my personal journey with this lens, having sold and repurchased it multiple times speaks volumes about its enduring appeal. It has a way of consistently delivering stunning images that surprise and delight. This reaffirms my decision to keep it as a staple in my gear collection, appreciating the unique qualities it brings to my photography, especially when considering the aforementioned vignetting and diffraction characteristics that can be turned into creative assets in the right context. Its minor flaws are far outweighed by the excellent value and the distinct visual signature it imparts to the photographs.

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Kodak Double-X pushed 400, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne
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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Melbourne
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Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney
voigtlander-ultron-35mm-f2-35-m-mount-vm-asph-review-lens-rangefinder-leica-m10-digital-low-light-sydney-wedding-australia-music-band
Leica M10, Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 ASPH, Sydney
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Reflx Lab 800
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Reflx Lab 400D
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Reflx Lab 500T (35mm Film)
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Reflx Lab 500T (120)

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