Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL Asperical
5 frames with...

5 frames with a Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL Asperical for Pentax – By Aivaras

February 23, 2020

It’s already been a year and I half since I burned all the bridges and refused to own any digital camera – I now shoot exclusively on film cameras or an iPhone. I rarely miss “proper” digital cameras – there are situations when life would be easier if I had one, but on the other hand everything is more simple with less choices. What I do miss is one focal length that I occasionally used on my digital Sony, a 21mm. So, after some reserch, I got one for my stable of Pentax film cameras: the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL Asperical.

Voigtlander did a great job building this lens. It was available for a few brands of cameras, and as far as I see they have some sort of modern version of it for Sony E mount now. I’m not totally sure if the internal design is the same for E mount lens, but it has the same compact design, same field of wiew and same maximum aperture.

My version is made for Pentax K mount. The lens is modern both in its build and high image quality. I’m very happy with sharpness and I love the punchy colors and contrast in pictures. It does have one image quality flaw, and thats a bit of vignetting. This doesn’t bother me though as I quite like it, in fact in some cases I even add some vignetting in post process. In terms of light gathering, the lens is quite slow with its maximum aperture of only f/3.5. This brings two drawbags: first, subject separation by shallow depth of field possibilities are limited; second, it gathers less light, so I prepare to have steady hand in poor light conditions.

The Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL Asperical has electronic contacts and “communicates” with the camera body meaning that all shooting modes can be used. I noticed one strange thing though, it doesn’t show the f/stop in camera finder in the wat Pentax lenses do. But, as far as I see the camera metering reacts, it “knows” what f/stop is set on the lens. Maybe its only my copy of lens, I don’t know, but anyway, I don’t care. It’s also worth a mention that there is lockable “A” position on aperture ring.

My favorite features of the lens, or at least the main factors that played a role in the decision to get the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm were its compactness and relatively short minimal focusing distance. The lens diameter is 63mm, length 28.8mm, with a weight of 205 grams. Taking into account that famous the Pentax 43mm f/1.9 Limited “pancake” lens has a diameter of 64mm and a width of 27mm, so it’s very close in size! As such, the Voigtlander is wide focal length “pancake” style lens that you can take anywhere without thinking about space and weight. As for the minimum focusing distance, it’s 20cm! I like to shoot small details and with such close focus it’s still possible to get at least some subject separation.

So far I’m very happy with Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm and I’m happy that I’ve regained the possibility to shoot really wide on film.

Pentax SuperA, Kodak Portra 400

Pentax MZ-3, Kodak portra 400

Pentax MZ-3, Kodak portra 400

Pentax SuperA, Kodak Portra 400

Pentax MZ-3, Kodak portra 400

Thanks for reading!
More shots with this lens could be found here: www.beautifulgrain.com


I tried to sneak in 6 frames, did I succeed? 😉

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  • Reply
    February 23, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Skilled use of the wide AOV! Particularly like the image of the boots on the sand.

    My experience with this lens and a digital camera was quite different. Had a Nikon D700 at the time and edges & corners remained soft even @ ƒ/8. Returned it on account of this. It does not seems an issue in film, though.
    It was however, one of the more flare-resistant lenses I’ve ever used.

    • Reply
      February 24, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks! As for the quality, film and my requirements for IQ are more forgiving…

  • Reply
    February 24, 2020 at 3:46 am

    Me: Hey, I’m a Pentax user, I need a good wide prime.
    *Looks up price*
    Discontinued across the board and massively marked up on ebay.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Yes, you succeed, Nice lens, nice colours…

    • Reply
      Andrew Craig
      February 24, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Interesting! A nice looking Cosina 20mm f/3.8 in K-mount fell to me (it probably didn’t have any aspherecal element). As I don’t have K-mount stuff anymore, I auctioned it. It made 52 GBP!
      It seems a good idea to remember who owns the rights to the Voigtländer name (I think the Cosinas were well regarded)…

      • Reply
        February 24, 2020 at 5:02 pm

        Sounds interesting. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 26, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Really like the shot of the boots on the beach.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2020 at 8:19 am

    I have that lens. I love the build quality and the feel of it. Sadly though I haven’t been able to get more than 5% of my shots in focus with that lens. I’m using a Metabones adapter (Nikon F to Sony E) on my Sony ILCME 7 II. All other Nikon mount lenses I own work well and as expected in this setup. Only the Voigtlânder can’t produce sharp images. I’ve tried closeup, focus stacking, all kinds of aperture between f/3.6-f/22. Getting desperate here. If anyone has any ideas I’d be grateful to hear about it. I’m not even taking the lens in my bag anymore.

    • Reply
      April 18, 2020 at 8:25 am

      Sorry for your problem. Well from the point of logic – things should be straightforward with mirrorless body… You should see if you are in focus or not during the shot, with focus magnification feature. Another thought – are your shots not in focus or they are simply too soft?

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