View Full Version : Voigtlander Color Skopar 50mm/2.5
The Color Skopar 50mm/2.5 is the best selling lens in Japan and as a user of this lens I can attest to its excellent quality in construction but the lens is a bit soft, especially when doing portrait. Reviews on the internet are mainly negative and I am rather perplexed on why a mediocre lens is so popular in Japan?Any comments from users of this lens?
Hi Peter -- Is the lens really "soft", though? Or soft in what respect? To me "soft" implies "unsharp".
I have not used the 2.5/50, just read comments from others and seen posted jpg images. They look sharp, but what can one really say from only seeing online jpg images? One thing that is evident online though is slight noticeable pincussion distortion.
In discussing this "soft" issue, others who use the lens suggest a better term for its character would be "smooth". Do you agree? If the lens is unsharp, then I might agree on "mediocre", but "smooth" would be good. Some users (in Norway and Germany for example) express happiness with its performance.
It's been suggested too that Japenese users are more concerned than most with the nature of out-of-focus areas. That this lens has nice "bokeh" then appeals to the Japanese, perhaps explaining its popularity there.
I guess you are right in that aspect. I am a user of the lens and it does shows a more smooth image but I received many feedback from friends who are only interested in razor sharp imagery that the lens makes images that are a bit soft (I guess it is a euphemism for out of focus?) But I am very impressed with the lens heavy construction and it is a joy to use. As for the pin-cushion distortion, I could live with that.
Hi -- I am interested in your impression of the lens's character and sharpness. I don't have a 50mm to fit my M-mount cameras, so if this is a good performer on top of solid construction, small size, and modest price, that would be good to know.
I too could live with up to about 1% barrel distortion.
How does this lens's "look" compare with other lenses you use? If you examined the negs closely under magnification, do in-focus details seem any less sharp than from other lenses? Have you had any enlargements made that were a bit disappointing in detail sharpness?
If there are some shots that seem "soft", could it be focus errors or camera shake on only those shots and not others? Feedback from others' observations can be quite useful, but the very best impressions come from one's own examination.
Would you say the out-of-focus areas have a (Japanese-pleasing) smoothness to tonal transitions? No "doubling" of lines or sharp-edged circular highlights? ;-)
Oops, I meant "pincushion" distortion, not barrel. But either kind seems to become too noticeable around 1% or so, going by magazine lens tests. From posted images shot with the 50 Skopar I'd guess the distortion to be at about that level or a bit less...
I guess only the photos will tell. You could go to www.pgallery.net/imago-singapura/
Please go to the People folder and take a look at the photos Blind Street Entertainer and Mobile Phone Culture. The first photo was taken indoor at 1/60 and f/2.5. The next photo was taken in a Metro train (rather dim) at 1/30 and f/2.5. What do you think?
Hi Peter, thanks. After looking, I recall seeing your online pics before. :-) The blind musician has some OOF background, which seems smooth though at the low resolution I can't assess sharpness or be sure if some of the light spots in the distance are hard-edged. Of the other pictures, I'd guess the Nurse shots might be 35mm lens, and the second one has some OOF background that looks smooth. The Photographer and Trishaw Rider could be 50mm?
I think one really would need to examine enlargements or magnified negs, and perhaps in comparison with known-sharp examples to know how well that 50 Skopar performs....
Actually the Photographer and Trishaw Rider are shot from my 35mm/2.5 Color Skopar. You are quite right in the aspect of lens evaluation. I used to find the slightly soft image rendered by the 50mm Skopar distressing but I have learnt to appreciate its 'character' it does give a nice warm glow to the subject. Anyway, I am doing mostly landscape and street and I guess the subject and composition is more important. I do find razor sharp images rather unrealistic you know. Who sees the world razor sharp anyway?
Who indeed? Not I, though all else being equal, sharpness is nice. Let me dig one more time for comparisons... Would you say your 50 Skopar delivers less detail sharpness than your 35 Skopar? Looking at clothing patterns, hair, foliage...
I would say my 35mm Skopar does show more fine details than the 50mm Skopar. There is no doubt about about it. But it is the smooth characteristic of the 50mm that makes me happy about the lens, it has the old 35mm Summaron look and I was told by a respected source that the 50mm Skopar was designed with the help of Leica IIIf. Guess Mr. Kobayashi really likes the pre-M series lens looks in his photos. In fact I would be buying a black 50mm Skopar soon to complement my existing silver one, to complete the collection you see. I am really addicted to RF photography! I never had so much fun in photography since my first Yashica SLR!
Thanks, Peter, for the comparison. It might be a good companion to my 35 Summicron (first version).
Buy a second 50 Skopar? How about a black 50 Nokton instead, for a different look and different circumstances? I understand this lens is a bit controversial too...
There is certainly something attractive about a direct-view viewfinder, an immediacy with the subject.
In fact, the 50mm Skopar does bear a resemblance to the first version 35mm Summicron. Really handy focusing tab too, if you like to focus with one. The reason that I would like to buy another 50mm Skopar is that I do alot of streetwork and Nokton may be just too big for the job. For low light I would use Ultron 35mm/1.7, which is one of the best lens of the Voigtlander line-up. Another 50mm Skopar as stand-by for the next few decades of my life in RF photography. When I discover RF, I would want no other camera system. Guess sort of like marriage! Even my wife is jealous of Bessa R2 and the lenses!
Funny how perception about this lens has changed in 9 years.
Funny how perception about this lens has changed in 9 years.
The interweb's chattering-classes prefer to scorn the new stuff ... that just leaves those of us that actually own and use the things still telling the truth about them
PS I've not noticed any distortion whatsoever in the 6 or 7 years I've been using mine
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