5 Frames with a Voigtlander 21mm Color-Skopar

For the majority of my work I generally use a 50mm or 35mm lens, but recently I gave in to temptation and bought a Voigtlander 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar. This Leica screw mount lens came with an M-mount adapter so I can use it on my M4, but I decided to try it out on my iiif first. Even with the addition of a 21mm viewfinder in the camera’s cold shoe this made for a lightweight and compact kit. All of the images here are from the first roll of film I shot with this lens. For those who may want to know, I used good old Tri-X and developed it in FPP-110 (an HC-110 replacement from Film Photography Project), dilution B.

I consider 21mm an extreme wide angle lens. There are some pros and cons to working this wide. One of the pros is that the depth of field at f/8 or better lets me zone focus and quickly grab shots on the street without having to take time to align the images in the rangefinder. In some instances I don’t even bother with the 21mm viewfinder, I can just shoot from the hip. Such was the case with this image of the child strapped to his mother’s back. This literally happened “in the blink of an eye” as I noticed them walking by.

The corresponding “con” to having extreme depth of field is that background details can be intrusive, and can lessen the dimensionality that makes an image “pop.” I must confess to sometimes artificially blurring a background using Photoshop so that my foreground subject stands out more prominently.

This second image from my stroll through Baltimore’s Inner Harbor promenade allowed me to slow down and compose, as this dude stopped me and asked me to take his picture. He was disappointed when he asked to see it and I showed him the back of the camera, sans LCD screen. But I did get his contact info and sent this to him.

Before leaving downtown Baltimore for my next destination I made good use of the ultra-wide perspective to capture this urban architecture composition.

Next stop was the cemetery near my home. I’ve been photographing there for over 20 years, and it seems like there’s always something new to catch my eye. This study, a simple rumination on shape and tone, illustrates another “pro” of shooting wide: this was a dimly lit scene but the 21-mm optic allowed me to shoot handheld with good sharpness and depth of field.

I like how an extreme wide-angle lens’ exaggerated perspective allows me to isolate my main subject and push everything else back, where those secondary subjects can play their supporting role. This plinth could not have been captured so predominantly in the frame with a longer lens.

It’s so much fun to explore a new focal length. This isn’t likely to be my (or most people’s) go-to lens, but occasionally going out in the field with a lens like this is a great way to refresh one’s vision.

Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-free Experience

There are two ways to experience 35mmc without the adverts:

Paid Subscription - £2.99 per month and you'll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).
Subscribe here.

Content contributor - become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.
Sign up here.

About The Author

10 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Voigtlander 21mm Color-Skopar”

  1. Great write up and some lovely shots. I was lucky enough recently to pick up an M-mount 21/4 Color Skopar for peanuts. Fantastic bit of glass and so so tiny.

  2. Nice photos, Walter. The Voigtländer LTM lenses & viewfinders work so well with the Barnack Leicas.
    I use the 15, 25, and 35 screw mount combos.

    Your review makes me want to find a 21!

  3. Nice post. I own the 21 for long time and quite like it. I just found that without the viewfinder it is hard to frame properly, and I have problems with the plastic viewfinder, I changed it once when under warranty and then finally bought the metal 21/24 viewfinder. I like the shots with 21 as they can be very dynamic.

  4. Good stuff Walter. Just before the pandemic I picked up a M4p. Didn’t do anything with it until recently. It came with a Voigtlander beautiful but tiny 35mm 1.4. I wanted a wider lens and not sure why but ended up with that same 21mm Voigtlander. I’m near the end of a roll and can’t wait to wrap up and get it processed. I decided to shoot two-frame portraits of strangers I come across using whichever lens seems appropriate to the situation. You’ve inspired me to write about my results…when I know what they are.
    Thank you.

  5. Castelli Daniel

    I bought the 21 in a VM mount in 2017. Took it to the UK along w/a 40mm on my CL (film). I bought both the viewfinder & the shade. The 21 is a goofy lens, but I loved the extreme DOF @ f/8. Got some good stuff & it makes a nice, tidy camera/film combo.
    Good luck with it.

  6. A good write up and sample photos, thanks. I had a 25mm Skopar on a Leica ig (no viewfinder so even more compact), zone focusing and with the external viewfinder. I think your choice of 21mm as a complement to 50 is a good one – I decided to go even more extreme, a 15mm Voigtlander, instead of the 25. Post a follow up please!

  7. Thanks for that, and for those great photos. I followed exactly the same route as you, but with the 15mm super wide Heliar on my M4 and IIIc. I agree absolutely with your conclusions, and when (if) I get photos as good as yours I will post them.

  8. A lovely lens indeed. Like the first and third frame. I have used it on my Minolta CLE and later M10-P. I am not sure if it’s that case, I always feel this lens shows less barrel distortion on film than on digital sensor…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top