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Voigtländer 40mm f/2
Aspherical Full-Frame AI-P (2007- )
© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 SL-II, Nikon mount. enlarge. (52mm or 39mm filters, 6.337 oz./179.6g, about $410. Also comes in Canon EOS and Pentax mounts.) This one came from this link to it at Adorama. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use that, or any of these links, when you get anything Thanks! Ken.


September 2010       more Voigtländer Reviews    Nikon   Canon   LEICA   Pentax


Ideal Uses

Ultra-compact, super high-quality fast normal lens for film, FX and DX. It could be the only lens you need for everything.


Not for

No autofocus; I wouldn't use it for sports, kids or action since it's too hard for me to track focus by hand.

For Nikon DX cameras, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S is as good optically, and adds autofocus, for half the price.


Ergonomics: (manual focus)


Introduction       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations


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The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II is a tiny, ultra-high performance normal lens that comes in versions for Nikon, Canon EOS and Pentax. The Pentax mount has been discontinued from lack of interest.

I am addressing the Nikon version here, and using it on full-frame. You may make the usual inferences when used on different cameras or formats.

It works great on just about any camera, especially on Nikon FX and Canon full-frame cameras.

It's a joy to use: its focus feels better than my Nikon lenses!

I never thought it would come to this, but this Voigtländer lens is better than Nikon's own lenses: it has better optics, better mechanics, and better ergonomics. How about that!

40mm is the ideal normal lens. It's never too long like a 50mm, and never too short like a 35mm.

This lens comes with a dedicated close-up lens and 52mm -> 39mm filter adapter. The filter adapter doubles as an impromptu hood.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2, hood and close-up filter. enlarge.


Compatibility       intro     top

The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 is a manual-focus lens, and has an on-board computer to work with the meters and electronics all Nikon manual focus, autofocus and digital cameras.

So long as you don't mind moving the ultra-smooth focus ring all by yourself (it's so nice you're going to want to play with it even when not shooting), this AI-P type lens should be compatible with every Nikon made since 1977.

The Canon version also has CPU contacts for what should be complete compatibility with metering and exposure automation on any of the Canon EOS 35mm and digital cameras made from 1987 through today. You have to focus by hand (look for the AF sensor blips to confirm focus instantly), and otherwise you're all set.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.


Specifications         top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations


Cosina calls this the Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f/2 SL-II Aspherical.


Optics            top

6 elements in 5 groups.

The rear element has two aspherical surfaces.


Focal Length: 40mm, which looks like 60mm when used on DX.


Diaphragm            top

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II at f/5.6. enlarge.

9 curved blades give a pretty much round aperture at every setting.

Stops down to f/22.


Aperture Ring            top



Full-stop clicks.


Close Focus            top

1.25 feet.

0.38 meters.

Voigtländer throws in a free close-up lens good for a close focus of 0.82 feet (0.25m).


Maximum Reproduction Ratio            top


1:4 with included close-up lens.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II, hood adapter and close-up lens. enlarge.


Hard Infinity Focus Stop?            top


This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.


Focus Scale            top



Depth-of-Field Scale            top



Infra-Red Focus Index            top



Filter Thread            top

52mm, metal.

A 52mm -> 39mm adapter is included for the close-up lens, which also lets you use 39mm filters.

The 39mm threads are fine (0.5mm) pitch, which matches LEICA.

Does not rotate.


Size            top

Voigtländer specifies 24.5mm extension from flange by 63mm diameter.


Weight            top

6.337 oz. (179.6g), measured.


Hood            top

You may use the 52mm -> 39mm adapter as a hood.


Made in            top



Packaging            top

It comes in a small, semi-glossy black corrugated cardboard box with two white foam inserts.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Box, Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II.


Voigtlander 40mm f/2

What you get: 40/2. 52-39mm Adapter, 39mm close-up, and 39mm cap. enlarge.



Performance       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Overall   Focus    Bokeh    Color    Coma    Distortion   Ergonomics   

Falloff    Filters    Ghosts   Color Fringes   Macro    Mechanics    

Sharpness    Spherochromatism    Sunstars


Overall      performance     top

The 40mm f/2 SL-II is a sharp, compact, well-made lens.

This Voigtländer 40mm f/2 is better-made and sharper than any of the Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D, 45mm f/2.8 AI-P or 50mm f/1.8 AF-D.

To get that settled right now, here are crops from the top right corner of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images:

Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D
Nikon 45mm f/2.8 P Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-D


Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors.

You'll never see this much difference in actual photos among these all-excellent lenses; in this case, I shot them in a way that would exaggerate the differences as much as possible.

Not only is this Voigtländer sharper than the sharpest Nikon here, the 50/1.8 D, as I've shown before, the 50/1.8D is sharper than Nikon's 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S, thus this Voigtländer ought to be much sharper than Nikon's best zoom, at least in odd conditions where any difference would be visible.


Focus      performance     top

Manual focus is so nice I don't know how to put it in words. It's like a LEICA lens, but with a perfect rubber grip around it. it's at least as smooth as Nikon manual-focus lenses, and much nicer than Nikon's AF lenses.

Focus is as smooth as silk, perfectly damped with no play.

The D3, D3X, D3s, D700, F4, F5, F6 and most professional AF cameras have three very precise electronic manual focus indicators, with which this lens works perfectly.

Lesser digital cameras, like the D300s and down, usually have just one "OK" focus dot, which is not as precise as two arrows and a dot.


Bokeh      performance     top

You can't get much out-of-focus with a 40mm lens.

If you do, bokeh, the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is mediocre.

Here are crops from the center of 100% FX 12MP (D3 or D700) images, focused at 3 meters (10") with reference vegetation at 15 meters. Printed full-image at this size, these would be about 42 x 28" (105 x 70cm) prints, at least as seen on most 100 DPI computer monitors:


Color Rendition      performance     top

The color rendition of this Voigtländer lens seems the same as my Nikkors.


Coma      performance     top

Fast wide and normal lenses usually have coma, which is weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners. They happen at large apertures. Coma goes away as stopped down, and tends not to be seen in slower and tele lenses. Coma is an artifact of spherical aberration; see also saggital coma flare.

This said, this aspherical 40mm f/2 lens doesn't have any coma, which makes it superior to the other lenses compared here. The aspherical element clears up the coma.


Distortion      performance     top

The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 has very minor barrel distortion on FX, and no visible distortion on DX.

It can be corrected by plugging these figures into Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

FX and Film
10' (3m)

© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Used with the close-up lens, I don't see any distortion.


Ergonomics      performance     top

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.

The Voigtländer 40mm f/2's ergonomics are perfect.

The focus and aperture controls are just right!


Falloff (darkened corners)          performance     top

Falloff on FX is visible at f/2, almost gone at f/2.8, and gone by f/4.

It shouldn't be an issue on DX (see crop factor).

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:


Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II falloff on FX and film at infinity, no correction.


© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.




Filters, Use with      performance     top

There is no problem with vignetting, even with combinations of thick filters.

You have your choice of standard 52mm filters, of use LEICA 39x0.5mm filters with the included adapter ring.

Good times!


Ghosts      performance     top

Ghosts are a non-issue. Point it into the sun, give way too much exposure for a dark foreground object, go blind trying to frame this, and there is still little to no flare or ghosting.

If you've got ghosts, you'd better call a psychic, since the only way to get optical ghosts is to point this at the sun in such a way that will probably make you blind.


Lateral Color Fringes      performance     top

There are no lateral color fringes on the D300 or D3, which would correct them if the lens had any.

I haven't tried it on Canon, which can't correct for this.


Macro      performance     top

It's not convenient to carry and attach and remove the included dedicated close-up lens, but if you do, it works very well.

Here's how close you get on full-frame:

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

With close-up lens on full-frame.

And it's sharp all over, too.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Crop at 100% from above, f/4.

I was expecting great performance, since the close-up lens is designed expressly to work with the design of this lens.

Here's a window screen, full-image:

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Window screen.


Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Crop at 100% from top left corner of above f/8.

Any lack of side or corner sharpness will most likely be from a lack of aligning the subject into the plane of best focus more than any lens limitations.


Mechanics      performance     top

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II. enlarge.

The Voigtländer NIKKOR 40mm f/2 SL-II is built better than most Nikon lenses today.


Barrel Exterior

Anodized aluminum (no enamel).


Filter Threads

Anodized aluminum.


Filter Adapter and Hood

Threaded anodized aluminum, engraved.


Focus Ring

Metal, rubber covered.


Focus Helicoids

Feels like brass: smooth and silky with no play or need for damping grease.


Depth-of-Field Scale

Engraved into barrel and filled with paint.



All metal.


Aperture Ring

Machined anodized aluminum.

Engraved markings.






Engraved into the metal and filled with paint.


Identity and Serial Number

On the bottom of the barrel, engraved into the metal and filled with paint.


Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount)



Noises When Shaken

Mild clicking from the diaphragm blades and actuation system.


Made in



Sharpness      performance     top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

With those caveats, the 40mm f/2 SL-II is among the sharpest lenses I've used on a Nikon. As shown above, it's sharper than Nikon's sharpest fixed normal lenses.

Due to its superior aspherical optical design, the Voigtländer 40/2 is sharp and contrasty even wide-open, while Nikon's last-millenium spherical fixed-lens designs are often less contrasty wide open, and blurrier in the corners.

As you saw above, this darn Voigtländer is decades ahead of Nikon; even at f/2 in the corner of FX it's sharp and clear at high magnification.

Under even more stringent test conditions it it a tiny bit less contrasty at f/2 in the far corners, but still easily superior to anything from Nikon.

Criminy, it's worlds ahead of LEICA's 1973 40mm f/2 SUMMICRON-C, and seems as good as LEICA's newest 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M ASPH, even though I haven't shot them on the same camera.


Spherochromatism      performance     top

The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 has a little bit of spherochromatism (out-of-focus highlights can sometimes take on a little bit of green or magenta color fringes).

You really have to push it to see this, since this lens generally has such deep depth of field.


Sunstars      performance     top

Its diaphragm is so round that I doubt it will make any sunstars on bright points of light.

I'd rather it used 9 straight blades instead of curved, which would give us sunstars.



Compared        top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Voigtlander 40mm f/2

Nikon 35/2D, Voigtländer 40mm f/2, Nikon 45/2.8P and 50/1.8D. enlarge.

The Nikon Nikon 35/2D and 50/1.8D are mostly plastic. The 50/1.8D is made in Red China.

As I showed at Performance, the Voigtländer is the sharpest of all. That's as expected, since all these old Nikon designs date to the previous millennium, and the 45P's Tessar design decades to 1902. The Voigtländer is several steps ahead.

For action and people snaps I'd use eitherof the AF Nikons to get autofocus.

I dislike the Nikon 45/2.8P. It's too darn small to focus, and it's so small that Nikon removed any way to grab the lens for mounting. You have to grab the Nikon 45/2.8P by the focus or aperture ring to mount it; all these other lenses have something solid by which to grab them.


Recommendations       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Compared   Recommendations

The Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II is an optically and ergonomically superb lens. I am quite surprised, as this is the first time I've ever seen a lens whose optics and ergonomics I prefer to Nikon's own classic manual-focus lenses.

If you want one, go for it!


Deployment      top

I'd leave either a 52mm Nikon Clear (NC - UV) filter, or a 52mm Hoya Super HMC UV on the lens at all times.

I'd pitch the 39mm Voigtländer cap and get a new 52mm "pinch" type Nikon cap.


Help me help you         top

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The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, eBay, Ritz, Calumet and J&R and when you get anything. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

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If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

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Thanks for reading!

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

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