Voigtländer Braunschweig Anastigmat Voigtar 11cm f/4.5 on SL2
The Voigtländer Bessa folders camera is a classic medium format camera that uses 120 film to produce 6×9 cm format photos. It is a popular foldable camera that Voigtländer is famous for, and it comes in different options of lens and shutters.
The lens of one of these 1930s Bessa camera is decoupled from the body, and end up in a bin at the local camera market, and I picked it up original as a relic display a couple of years ago. Back then I didn’t know much about how to adapt old lens, but as the mechanical shutter is still working, I thought it is a nice item to have.
People adopt abandoned child. I adopt abandoned old lensesHintingimage.
The Voigtar Anastigmat lens is a simple 3 glass elements (Cooke Triplet type) construction. The minimum number of glass elements means that there is less barrier between the scene and the camera image sensor, bring richer colour that is less filtered. The image may not be as corrected like modern glass with multi-group construction, special glasses or anti-reflective coatings. I love this type of lens, similar to Elmar, Tessar, Skopar and the likes. The look and feel is unique to each design.
Lens: Voigtländer – Braunschweig / Anastigmat Voigtar 11cm f/4,5
Aperture: f/4,5 – f/22
10 bladed aperure
1/250 sec to 1 sec plus a B and T setting
Fast forward a few years, I have a few more adaptor rings and understand it is all about spacing the lens to mirrorless camera for the focusing to work. Micro adaptor ring that has allow additional adjustments to focal distance made it easy to get the lens to work on the full focus range, and for this lens it is between 1m to infinity.
On the 6×9 cm photo, the 110mm lens equate to approximately 47.2mm focal length in 35mm terms, designed as a standard lens . As this medium format lens is used on the Leica SL2 full frame camera, the recorded image is cropped significantly so I am only using the very centre of the lens, which is the sharper and less distorted part of the lens.
Aperture range is between F4.5-F22, but the subject isolation is much stronger as a crop. It does behave like a 110mm crop lens.
The Lens itself is rather compact, but I need to add quite a few M42 extension tubes to get a the desirable distance to the sensor plane.
How to use it on Leica SL2 without a bellow? I use the following:
At F4.5, the focal plane is very thin on this medium format lens. There is a glow to the image that is vintage and a little magical. The Bokeh has some texture, some people will hate it, others may like it, and it mostly melt away. At F5.6 the image clear up quite a bit and more depth is in focus. The 10 rounded aperture blades produce nicely defined round bokeh, but there is some blue and yellow fringing. At F8 it is very sharp but the soft bokeh is like a F2 lens that is native to 35mm format. The colour and texture is rich in the captured frame. The character also shift dramatically between these apertures.
Blue and unique yellow fringing can be visible against bright backgrounds. Lightroom will not be able to remove this one automatically. Must be careful when shooting against bright sky.
For a ninety years old lens, it is drawing the scene nicely at F6.8 and above. I am happy with the sharpness and details. Medium format lens has this stronger sense of depth I enjoy very much.
Medium format focus range can be precisely controlled even at a longer distance. Most of my lenses will be 100% in focus from 5-10 to infinity. It is easily to separate longer range subject for further backgrounds
Got to be careful with the aperture setting, as the depth of field is so shallow, at shaded or darker condition, it can be difficult to capture all in focus in the balance of reasonable aperture.
Overall I enjoy adapting this Voigtar lens on SL2. With modern mirrorless camera, it is a breeze to do manual focus on high resolution viewfinder, the lens is stablised to combat shaking without tripod and the files are rich in colour. The subject isolation ability is terrific, and the wider aperture has special character, almost render like a different lens. The draw backs are the relatively smaller apertures, the strong flare (that J.J. Abrams will be proud of) and the funky fringing. It is a rotten tomato for others and a treasure for me.