Voigtlander Ultron 21mm F1.8 Review

By Yvonne

Voigtlander Ultron21mm F1.8 is an extremely wide-angle lens. However, it captures lots of light and you will need to slow down in order to get edge-to-edge sharpness.

Voigtlander Ultron 21mm F1.8 Review

Voigtlander Ultron 21mm F1.8

Let's get to the bottom

Voigtlander Ultron21mm F1.8 is an extremely wide-angle lens. However, it captures lots of light and you will need to slow down in order to get edge-to-edge sharpness.

The pros

  • View from a wide angle.
  • Large aperture
  • Concentrates to 0.5 meters
  • High quality build.


  • There is some edge softness in larger apertures.
  • Notable color fringing
  • It is large for a rangefinder lens.

Voigtlander Ultron21mm F1.8 (1,149) has a wide field of view and can capture lots of light. The center sharpness of its f/1.8 aperture is exceptional with some softness around the edges. The camera can lock onto subjects within a half-meter (20 inches) of the subject, allowing for a very shallow depth field. Landscape photographers will appreciate the sharp edges when they are stopped down. This is a great value, particularly when you consider the $7,650 Leica Summilux M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH.

The Ultron (Amazon: $1,149.00) can focus as close as 0.5-meter, which is beyond the 0.7-meter capability of most rangefinder cameras. The Ultron can be paired with the Leica M ($4,999.99 Amazon). You will have the ability to use Live View or an EVF to verify focus as you get closer. This is in addition, you don't need Live View on a full-time camera like the Sony Alpha 7. You'll need to use a lens that has a film rangefinder, or an unsupported body like the Leica M Monochrom (at Amazon)(Opens new window), to determine the focus.

The Ultron lens is a rangefinder lens. Manual focus is not possible. The Ultron's metal construction includes a large, knurled focal ring as well as a physical aperture setting with clicks at half the speed of f/1.8 to f/22. It turns easily, yet it is tight enough. The barrel has a printed depth-of-field scale with markings at f/1.8, f/4 and f/11 in full stop increments.

It is large in size, measuring 3.6x2.7 inches (HD), and supporting 58mm front filters. It has a metal lens hood built in to the barrel. The Ultron is noticeably larger than Voigtlander’s Color-Skopar21mm F4 (1 by 2.1 in, 4.8 ounces), however it captures four times as much light through its largest aperture.

Imatest was used to test the sharpness, distortion and color rendering of the lens when it was paired with the Leica M full frame (Typ 244). It scores 2,150 lines per picture at f/1.8 on a center weighted sharpness test. This is better than the 1,800 lines required to label an image as sharp. However, performance isn't consistent across frames. While the center third of the frame is sharp (3,012 line), the middle third (1,559 line) is soft and the edges (529 line) are fuzzy.

It doesn't help to stop at f/2, but at the f/2.8 score, average scores jump to 2,541 line. While the center (3,510 and middle thirds (1,892 lines), show lots of detail, outer edges (617) still look a little muddy. The average score rises to 3,006 lines at f/4, while the outer edges reach 1,095 lines. Sharp edges will be satisfied with results at f/5.6. They show 1,782 lines and an average of 3,274 line. The lens is at its best at f/8—its average score is 3,128 lines and even the very outer edges top 2,200 lines. 

It is very well-corrected for distortion. It does display purple color fringing at high contrast. It doesn't matter if it is tree branches against the sky, or light shining through windows panes. It diminishes with f/4, but the effect is still evident. It's easy enough to fix in Lightroom—I found that dialing in a setting of 4 on the Defringe tool eliminated even the worst instances—but is a concern if you don't like to edit images.

The purple in the Grand Central Terminal image has been edited using Lightroom. However, you can see the result without any editing. It is difficult for any lens to see this, but it was easy for the Leica Super Elmar-M18mm f/3.8 ASPH. The image was captured under the same conditions as before, and it didn't show any color fringing.

The Voigtlander Ultra 21mm F1.8 wide-angle lens is a great choice if you are looking for an ideal rangefinder/mirrorless option. The center of this lens is sharp even when wide open. Most of the frame displays a lot detail at f/2.8 with edges-to-edge crispness at f/5.6. This lens is a bargain compared to Leica's 21mm Summilux which can capture more light than the Leica.

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