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Voigtlander COLOR-SKOPAR 50mm f/2.2 Lens Release

What is the point of this lens? Voigtlander has unveiled its latest addition to the renowned Color-Skopar line, the COLOR-SKOPAR 50mm f/2.2 VM lens, designed for Leica M-mount cameras. This announcement has stirred the photography community, particularly among fans of the ultra-compact 28mm and 35mm Color-Skopar lenses. However, the new 50mm Color-Skopar seems to be a contentious entry in the lineup.

Compact Style with a Catch

The Voigtlander Color-Skopar lenses have been celebrated for their ultra-compact size, a feature particularly appreciated in the 28mm and 35mm variants. These lenses are known for their portability, making them ideal companions for street photographers and travelers. The new 50mm Color-Skopar, however, deviates from this tradition. While still relatively compact, it is noticeably larger than its 28mm and 35mm siblings, which raises questions about its practicality and appeal.

Detailed Specifications and Features

Despite its size, the 50mm Color-Skopar boasts several features aimed at enhancing usability and performance:

  • Compact Design: The lens maintains a relatively short overall length from the mount surface, measuring just 30mm, and uses a traditional 39mm filter diameter. This compact design is intended to make it easy to carry and store.
  • Focusing Lever: Designed for excellent operability, the focusing lever is easy to grip and supports quick, reliable focusing.
  • Minimum Shooting Distance: The lens allows for close-up shooting with a minimum focusing distance of 0.5m, especially useful when paired with a camera equipped with Live View.
  • Dedicated Hood: A compact straight-type hood is included, which does not block the rangefinder window, enhancing convenience.
  • Manual Focus: The lens features a smooth manual focus control, thanks to its all-metal helicoid unit and high-quality grease, allowing for precise adjustments.
  • VM Mount Compatibility: The lens uses the VM mount, compatible with Leica M-mount cameras. It can also be adapted for use with mirrorless digital cameras.
  • Rangefinder Interlocking System: Ensures precise focusing even at wide apertures, with a full-size image circle compatible with the full-frame 35mm format.

The Controversy: Is the 50mm Color-Skopar Worth It?

The new 50mm Color-Skopar, while featuring the trademark sharpness and build quality of Voigtlander lenses, has sparked debate. At f/2.2, the lens is relatively slow, making it less suitable for low-light street photography and achieving shallow depth of field compared to faster alternatives. When compared to the Leica 50mm f/2.0 Summicron or the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux, the 50mm Color-Skopar appears less appealing.

The primary advantage of the Voigtlander Color-Skopar lenses has been their compactness and portability, which seem compromised in this 50mm variant. The 50mm focal length is well-covered by Leica’s own offerings, which provide faster apertures and potentially better performance, albeit at a higher cost.

My Opinion

As a longtime user and admirer of Voigtlander lenses, particularly the 28mm and 35mm Color-Skopar models, the new 50mm Color-Skopar feels like a misstep. The increase in size detracts from the compact charm that made the previous models so attractive. Additionally, the f/2.2 aperture is too slow for my needs, particularly in low-light conditions or when seeking a shallow depth of field.

For those who have invested in a Leica body, the primary allure is often the exceptional quality of Leica lenses. While Voigtlander lenses provide an affordable way to explore new focal lengths or experiment with different optics, the 50mm Color-Skopar does not offer enough advantages to justify choosing it over Leica’s own 50mm lenses.

If you are considering a 50mm lens for your Leica M-mount camera, my recommendation would be to invest in a Leica 50mm f/2.0 Summicron or the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux. These lenses, while more expensive, offer superior performance and faster apertures that are more suited to a variety of shooting conditions.

The Voigtlander COLOR-SKOPAR 50mm f/2.2 VM lens is set to start shipping in July 2024. While it maintains the high build quality and manual focus precision Voigtlander is known for, its larger size and slower aperture may limit its appeal. For photographers who prioritize compactness and low-light performance, there are more suitable alternatives available within the Leica lens lineup.

7 Responses

  1. The color skopar 50mm f2.2 the SMALLEST 50mm ever made for M mount by a large margin (excluding collapsibles), and most likely the lightest at a ridiculous 135g.

    In street photography, the most common approach is to stop down to f5.6-11, so the aperture doesn’t really matter, but the size and weight does – which is the lenses greatest strength.

    Something seems very off and untrustworthy about this article – smells like a conflict of interest.

    1. I’m more giving my own opinion here. The Leica lenses on the M are already very small, and light. At least for me they are. And my style is to shoot wide open. For me, this new lens doesn’t seem like it is something I’d use. I always believe that if you buy a Leica body, put Leica lenses on it. But I get it, others have a different view, and I respect that and yours, especially if you have a different shooting style.

    2. Agreed, the vibe is odd. Also heavily glosses over the huge price difference between CV lenses and nearest comparable Leicas, as if everyone has Summicron funds at their disposal. However – as a film shooter, I do wish CV would compromise less on vignetting in their designs – it’s almost like they consider it a house style.

  2. You’re suggesting the 50 lux as an alternative to a tiny $475 third party lens?

    Not sure you’re the right person to talk about this lens.

    1. The lens is the most important part of any camera. The point is if you spend upwards of $9000 on a Leica film body or around $15,000 (Australian) on an digital body, why put a cheap lens on it? There is no point in splashing the cash on a Leica M if you are not prepared to put a quality lens on it, like a Leica Summilux. You are better off investing in a cheaper body and more expensive lenses. That is unless you are buying the camera as a piece of jewellery to wear around your neck and not use it as the picture making tool it is designed to be.

      1. Many CV lenses – the 50mm 1.2 and 2 APO to name a couple – are essentially perfect modern optics, not “cheap” lenses. An M2 is £1000-£1300, or 2,200AUD, not 9,000. You might want to examine your own snobbery before suggesting other users are artless dentists for not buying a Leica lux or APO.

        1. It is not snobbery. It is more a matter of if you are going to invest in the best camera brand, Leica, use the best glass. You wouldn’t put a Ford Focus engine into a Ferrari car chassis. And remember, the lens is the most important part of the camera. I get it, you may disagree with me. I am fortunate enough to own a lot of Leica gear that I’ve purchased. But For my type of shooting, I always prefer fast glass and just enjoy taking photos shot wide open at F2.0 or F1.4.

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