If you’re searching for an ultra-high performance “pancake” prime with superior optics and build quality — look no further. The Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f2.0 SL-II is a must-have fixed lens. Admittedly, I’m a gear-head and love finely crafted equipment. The lens body on the Ultron exudes excellence: all anodized aluminum barrel and threads with a rubber-coated metal focus ring. The build quality is better than some of my Canon L-lens. The optics are exceptional: The aspherical lens offers fast, sharp images with minimal barrel distortion, no discernible chromatic aberration and minimal fall-off—even wide open. The close-up ring adapter doubles as a modest lens hood. The included 39mm close-up lens attachment allows you achieve close focus at 0.82ft (0.25m)—a lovely added bonus!
The Ultron is old-school: featuring an all-manual focus, but the smooth, well-dampened focus ring is accurate and easy to use. Despite the lack of auto focus, the Voigtländer Ultron 40mm SL-II has a built-in microchip that communicates with the aperture and shutter controls of the camera and works with the focus points in your AF viewfinder. Once you’ve dialed in the manual focus, the illuminated focus point and audible beep ensures a focused shot.
The perfect lighter weight, compact walk-around lens — great for landscapes, street photography, portraits and macro work.
I find this lens a perfect lighter weight, compact walk-around lens — great for landscapes, street photography, portraits and macro work. It’s not ideal for action shots due to manual focus. This lens replaces my inexpensive Canon 50mm f1.8. I think the 40mm is the perfect Goldilock lens length: more versatile than the 50mm (sometimes too long) or the wide 35mm (sometimes too short with more barrel distortion).
The Voigtländer Ultron 40mm bokeh (aesthetic quality of intentional out-of-focus image) is fair and at times disappointing. At 40mm, you’re not going to achieve the same creamy soft blurry background that a long lens produces. The 9-blade aperture makes for a round and pleasing aperture at most settings, but the nearly round polygonal bokeh shapes are—at times—layered, like an onion when observed at magnification. Given the terrific overall quality of the lens, this subtle irregularity can be overlooked by all but the most discriminating photographer.
The Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f2.0 SL-II is a fun lens and lightens the load on your DSLR camera. While the retail price is steep (around $500), the quality optics, impeccable build, and natural angle of view found in a 40mm standard lens (close to how one’s eye perceives objects) make the Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f2.0 a high-value addition to your prime lens collection. This review was performed on the Canon EF mount. Voigtländer offers a Nikon mount as well.