New lens coming out soon: Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm F3.5 SL II Aspherical (for Nikon Ai-s)


  • Expected Release Date: February 28, 2009
  • Focal length: 20mm 
  • Angle: 94 degrees 
  • Relative aperture: 1:3.5 
  • Minimum aperture 6 of 9 pieces: F22 
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.2m 
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9 pieces
  • Weight: 205g 
  • Maximum total length × diameter: 63 × 28.8mm 
  • Filter size: 52mm 
  • Mounting: Ai-s (CPU-Chip) 
  • The price will be announced on the day of release.


This entry was posted in Nikon Lenses. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • ko

    “Focal length: 50mm ”
    It sounds funny:)

  • A F3.5 for a 50mm? What would be the advantage ?

    • Juergen

      That’s obviously a typo – as stated in the headline it’s a 20 mm, also the 94 degree picture angle would be correct then.

  • Ernst

    Why do the old European optical manufacturers steadfastly refuse to offer autofocus lenses? These guys could be serious players in the Nikon and Canon lens markets instead of boutique manufacturers.

    A third-party MF 50mm f/3.5. Brother. Considering the optical quality of Nikon’s nearly 2-stop faster AF-S version, not to mention the millions of other faster fifties out there, they’re going to have to find customers who REALLY like paint-filled engraving above all else.

    • Anonymous

      Voigtlander is in fact now Cosina, so only the name may be European, otherwise it is just as much Japanese as Nikon is.

    • Adam Maas

      Try a 3rd party 20mm aspherical design that’s smaller than Nikon’s new 35/1.8, better built than any of Nikon’s AF primes and has a properly damped focus ring.

      There’s a serious market for good MF glass. Not everybody wants AF and the poor manual focus handling and large gear sizes it brings. Or who want things like DoF scales.

      And the Voigtlander SL and SLII series lenses are optically superb. Both the 40 and 58 outperform the equivalent Nikon AF lenses (the 40 in particular outperforms the 35/2 AF-D by a massive margin at wide apertures, the 58 and 50G are both in the same ballpark, although the Voigtlander is the better of the two in most areas)

  • ___

    Maybe all the people who need an aperture ring and a distance scale above all else will get this?

    • Juergen

      That Italian site says
      “With prices ranging from 350 to 400 Euro, the current optical manual Voigtländer SL II are proposed as attractive alternatives to more conventional offerings of generic producers because of the particular combinations of focal lengths and apertures. The last wide-angle follows this tradition and bodes well for the future issuance of new classics such as the legendary Macro 125 / 2.5 apocromatico now expensive and almost impossible.”
      (Italian original starts at “Con prezzi che vanno dai 350 ai 400 Euro” and ends at “oggi costosissimo e quasi introvabile”, translation by Google, not me.)

    • Anonymous

      Well, that is a good point. If you want to do hyperfocal focusing where you are really just getting maximum depth of field and using the distance scale – this would be a great lens, and a great focal length…. and now I want one, it looks compact! Hells I likes it!

  • ___

    At least it’s a Color lens, not only B&W!

  • Mexell

    50mm must be a typo – just look at the given angle. And a 50/3.5 really doesn’t make sense.

    • Juergen

      Can be tracked back to a Japanese website and when translated e.g. through Google it says “Focal length: 50mm “

      • yes, I did the google translation as well – look at the source link

        • probably a google typo – I will correct it

          • Juergen

            Either the Japanese site made a mistake and Google translated correctly – or the Japanese site is correct and Google made a translation mistake…

            Anyway, I wonder how many they will really be able to sell in Nikon mount?!?

          • ChrisL

            Its a typo on the Mapcamera site. The lens is correctly listed on the Fujiyacamera site (as is the optional LH-20 hood).

      • It’s correct on Map Camera’s site now. I’m close enough I could go bug ’em about it, but they probably wouldn’t tell me anything. I’ve never had any luck squeezin’ info out of Japanese salespeople.

  • Anonymous

    If it has a CPU then it is in fact an AI-P lens and not just AI-s.

    • ChrisL

      That is correct, just like the 40mm f/2 and 58mm f/1.4 that they also make.

    • Adam Maas

      Yep, but Voigtlander markets them under the better known AI-S designation so people unaware of the AI-P designation know what they’re getting.

    • Hopefully the Chip works well, one of their previous lenses consistently under exposed by 2/3 of a stop.

  • Jj

    Apparently this SL is a completely new design, different from “traditional” voigtlander’s skopars – it’s aspherical, different number of elts/groups, shorter min. focusing dist from classic Skopars, different number of diaph. blades etc.
    I wonder if they’ll put this (or comparable) optics back into their leica mount “classic” lenses for bessa. After all – at least for now – they have better 20mm lens (this one) for nikon than for their own bodies.Does it mean that they wanna fight for the nikon market?
    Does anyone know what are relationships between cosina and nikon today? After all they make this FM10 thing for nikon, so they do cooperate somehow. But with this lens they start looking like a competitor.
    This lens (and maybe some further ones yet to come? ) are probably aimed at people who have some nice collections of FM2s, FM3As (me in this number), cameras that will work perfectly years after all the digital D3-s will be rendered useless due to some change in CF, SD or USB standard. This lens is for people who like to have diaphragm ring on the lens, not on 3rd level of drop down menu accessible via small ratchetty dials and knobs.
    I like the idea, and I like the price. If optical quality is reasonable, then… hmm… why not

    • Ed

      The FM cameras will work well for many years, but will there be any film??

      • Guy

        Yes there will be plenty of film.

    • rjm

      I agree that these lenses were conceived for the FM3A, but they can be used on digital SLRs too. For people who don’t mind (or enjoy?) manual focus, but prefer to have in-camera metering, auto exposure modes, and TTL functionality on a Dxx level body, they are a unique product. (no, manually focusing an AF lens does not count – shudder)

      Note that the aperture ring DOES NOT FUNCTION on digital Dxx bodies, you are forced to lock it at F22 and control aperture from the camera. That’s the price you pay for the CPU.

      I have the Ultron 40mm SLII. Hard to find fault with it.

  • Ralf

    Reviews of their other lenses suggest that they are superb. I dont own one but I wouldnt mind a nice light 20mm to take on hikes instead of a 14-24 which weighs a backbreaking 900gms.

    Its nice that Nikon has great competition – maybe put some cost pressure on the greedy buggers.

    As for autofocus – who needs that on a 20mm lens – sheesh

    • Ernst

      Autofocus is useful in any application where focus is useful.

      Contrary to popular opinion, ultra-wides benefit from AF the most. Mount a 16mm f/2.8 fisheye to a Nikon body and the viewfinder almost always looks focused, even when it isn’t. This is less of a problem with, say, a 600mm.

      Focus is less critical on slow lenses, not wide lenses.

      • rjm

        “Focus is less critical on slow lenses, not wide lenses.”

        That’s just wrong.

        Focus is less critical the wider the lens and the more its stopped down.

        A 20mm at F8, you can lock to hyperfocal and forget about it. A 200mm at F8, not so much. 😉

        • Ernst

          That’s my point: when manually focusing a 200mm lens, you can easily tell when you’re passing through the point of maximum focus. When manually focusing a 20mm lens, it’s harder. This is why autofocus is useful on wide lenses.

          A 16mm Fisheye always looks sharp in the viewfinder. Print it at 8×10 and you realize all your pictures are soft. This is why the conventional wisdom “wide lenses don’t need autofocus” is exactly wrong.

          Focus is less critical on slow lenses because WIDE OPEN they have greater DOF than fast lenses. Compare a 50mm f/1.2 and a 50mm f/1.8 WIDE OPEN and tell me which one is more sensitive to focus errors.

          You could stop them both down to f/8, but that would be to deliberately miss the point.

      • Adam Maas

        AF is useful in any situation where rough focus is useful. And MF lenses still get to use the AF system, you just have to do the driving manually.

        The only way to accurately ensure critical focus with a wide or ultra-wide lens is to use Live View and turn up the magnification to 10x. The AF system is not accurate enough with wides.

      • Ralf

        Well I’m thinking that 20mm is unlikely to be used in a situation where you need to focus quickly – not like you’ll be using it to shoot the tennis. I use WA mostly for landscapes and autofocus is useless to me. Maybe some will use it where they need autofocus, so buy a 20mm Nikkor.

        I usually stop down my WA to f8 -f11 and autofocus is really unnecessary.

  • Juergen

    “Does anyone know what are relationships between cosina and nikon today? After all they make this FM10 thing for nikon, so they do cooperate somehow. But with this lens they start looking like a competitor.”

    The Nikon FM 10 is built around the Cosina CT-1 chassis, as are other cams like the Canon T60, Nikon FE10, Olympus OM2000, Ricoh KR-5 and Yashica FX-3. Source:

    For Cosina see e. g. and read about the Voigtländer lenses.

  • MB

    This one will be manufactured by Cosina in China as all other Voigtländer lenses since Cosine bought the name, nothing European about it really.
    These are made for people looking for something exquisite and noble.
    None of those lenses could stand a comparison with Nikkor lenses, and this one will not be an exception.
    If you need something in that range look no further than Nikon 20mm f/2.8D AF NIKKOR.

    • Kiki

      @MB: What is your basis–source–for your statement:

      “None of those lenses could stand a comparison with Nikkor lenses, and this one will not be an exception.”

      Do you have any objective sources, please?

    • ChrisL

      “None of those lenses could stand a comparison with Nikkor lenses, and this one will not be an exception.”

      I guess you could perhaps read a few reviews of the existing lenses in that line-up before making uninformed and inaccurate statements like that 🙂

    • Adam Maas

      Cosina, unlike Nikon, makes all of their lenses in Japan.

      And your views on Cosina quality are distinctly at odds with reality. All of the SL and SLII lenses are at least as good as the Nikkor equivalents (if such exist). Some, like the 40/2 SLII and the (now discontinued) 125/2.5 APO-Lanthar SL Macro, are significantly better than the closest Nikon equivalents.

    • rjm

      Since I happen to have used both extensively I’ll volunteer to be the one to point out you’re clueless.

      My Ultron 40mm SLII (I’m looking it it right now) is marked “Made in Japan”. Which is more than your precious Nikkors can claim these days, eh?

      Fair point, Cosina just bought the Voigtlander name for the prestige it would bring. Also, the build quality isn’t quite in the same league as, say, the early AiS lenses. Optically however they more than hold their own. Certain things they do better, certain things they do worse.

    • MB

      No reason to take my opinion so personally.
      There is nothing wrong in China made lenses, companies like Nikon and others are making lenses and everything else there because it is impossible to achieve that level of high quality manufacturing anywhere else in the world.
      Nikon is not my precious, and I am not a Sméagol.
      Voigtländer is just a name of a German company that seized to exist back in 1956.
      Cosina is just a Japan based manufacturer that has been photo industry cuckoo bird for decades and have always made and sold their products under other names (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Contax, Yashica, Konica, Vivitar and others), and it is a shame really because Cosina have always managed to achieve very good build quality. 50 years ago Cosina designed and manufactured SLR camera that has been sold under every more or less significant name in photo industry. They have managed to modify that design and make the rangefinder camera out of it that was sold under some highly respected names (Rollei and Voigtländer for example).
      The lenses Cosina is making today are using 50 year old technology, and I personally am not willing or able to use it, so kill me. Clueless or not I could use whatever I like, and I could choose not to use what I don’t like, just as you should.
      This site would be very boring place if everyone was just drooling about every new rumor on it: oh how could I live without yet another 20mm lens.
      And you should inspect if there is anything really made in Germany in you German cars for example (hint: open the hood first!).

      • Cluebat

        Fail. Commenting on items without checking out their substance indicates you’re seriously made of fail. I’d give you a clue but it seems you’re so clueless it’s not going to help.

      • Adam Maas

        50 year old tech? Hmm, molded Asphericals are 50 year old tech? Both the 40/2 Ultron and this new 20 use molded aspherical elements. The only modern lens design elements you don’t see in the Cosina Voigtlander lenses is floating elements, and that only because Cosina’s factory is not set up to build the focusing systems for them.

        Both the 40/2 and 20/3.5 designs are new clean-sheet designs. The 58’s an older design (it’s based on the basic layout used by the Rokkor 58/1.2 and Noct-Nikkor) but that’s its selling point (A classic fast normal in a focal length we haven’t seen much of since the 80’s).

        You might want to actually read up on the designs before commenting. It just makes you look ignorant.

        oh, and btw, the CT-1 SLR chassis that Cosina rebrands (and used as the starting point for the Bessa RF’s) is 30 years old, not 50.

        • MB

          Early attempts at making aspheric lenses to correct spherical aberration were made by René Descartes in the 1620s, and by Constantijn Huygens in the 1630s. The Visby lenses produced by Vikings on the island of Gotland in the 10th or 11th century are also aspheric, but there is no evidence that the science behind the technique was known, they were ‘simply’ produced by craftsmen working from experience of what worked.

          • Adam Maas

            Yep, but I did specify MOLDED aspherics. Which are relatively new to camera optics, at least at the mass-production level (molded aspherical elements didn’t become common in optical designs until the last decade)

  • dino

    Hi guys
    being Italian, I checked the site and your translation is correct, so the most interesting speculation they do is having shortly another wonderful lens as the 125 F/2.5 apo macro which in SL I version can’t be found anywhere.

  • dino

    P.S. Italian site reports it DOES have a chip (look down)

    “Attacco a baionetta: Nikon F-Mount (Ai-S, CHIP)”

    • ChrisL

      Of course it has a chip. Look at the photo, see the electronic contacts?

  • markdphotoguy

    That is one sexy lens. 9 blade diaphragm. 0.2m close focusing. Compact. Excellent build. Kick ASS DoF scale. This on FX would be a scale and hyperfocal focusing machine (who needs AF on a lens like this?). Hope it’s sharp.

  • I have been waiting for a small prime lens like this to compliment my voigtlander 40mm SL II.. AF would be nice but optical quality is my priority, and I guess based on past experience with voigtlander that this will stomp all over the Nikon 20/2.8..

    • rjm

      All the used manual focus lenses muddy the choice, assuming the CPU isn’t the make or break feature for you.

      As well as the 20/2.8 there’s the UD 20/3.5 and the well-regarded 20/4. All sell used for the same or less than Cosina’s asking price. (as yet unknown, but not too hard to estimate at ~$500.)

      A full frame, compact 20mm lens is a tough beast to get right, there’s going to be compromises even with modern miracles such as aspherical lenses etc. It will be a fine lens, but I doubt it will obsolete the Nikkors across the board.

      • D90 user so have to relly on 3rd party like voigtlander to give me supported MF lenses, as nikon doesn’t want to 😉

  • roentarre

    This is a fantastic rumour to have. I want to have this lens myself!!

    Is this a once off production?

    • hey good to see you here 😉

      well Nikon just lost my purchase of the 35/1.8 for now, this is far more interesting..

      • rjm

        ha ha! My thought exactly. Hardly the same price bracket though….

        • true, but if I buy this I really can’t afford the 35/1.8 at the moment too…

  • Definitely a keeper. If this one is as good as my CV Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II then I may forego the ZF 25mm I had my eye on.

  • raio

    For a review of some Voigtlaenders see:, third party lenses. The APO-Lanthars still are sold, about 600 and 900 Euro. The 40 mm Ultron and 1,4/58 Nokton are both sold for 349 Euro (Brenner, Germany, “”).
    In the same factory of Cosina where the Voigtlaenders are built, some of the Zeiss-lenses are assembled,too, as a dealer told me. And the Nikkor 2,8/45 is a Zeiss-construction, too ….

  • Well, there already is a Nikon version of this lens: The old f:4/20mm Ai, with the same weight and even filter size. Optically it is great (one of Galen Rowell’s favourites), even wide open. Unfortunately it is a bit hard to find, as it was only produced for a year or two. And who needs AF for wide 20mm landscapes? The photojournalists can take the 2.8/20 AF instead.

    • ChrisL

      Almost every lens had the 52mm filter size at that time.

      I have and like the Nikkor 20mm f/4, mine is currently having an AI kit fitted for use on D90. Lovely, compact, sharp, flare-resistant lens. Interested to see how the Skopar compares. Looks about the same size as the CV 40/2, which makes it even more compact.

  • The lens ans its data extremly similar to the superb but 30 year old 20 3.5 AIS nikkor. Well, superb from f8 on and the most flare resistant lens I know!

    • Adam Maas

      There’s one major difference, the Voigtlander is an Aspherical design. This should mean that it will have much better edge performance than the 20/3.5 Nikkor.

  • David

    20-30mm on a Nikon in 35mm 1.5 ratio

  • UF

    It’s my old Nikkor 20mm ƒ4! Now made by the allies!

  • ChrisL
    • ChrisL

      Rumour confirmed, official announcement

  • Back to top