You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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A few weeks back I was in Riceball Photography shop where our friend Leon tempted me with the new Voigtlander 21mmF3.5. This is a beautiful lens, particularly with the metal hood attached. I had a try on my M262 in the corridor of the mall (below) and also a week later on the M6 (above).

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I was very enthusiast about the test shots, very sharp, no distortion to my eyes, no color shift on the digital sensor, unlike the test I did of the old Super Angulon F4 a couple weeks before (see below).

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At a price of about 800USD, even when adding the hood (100USD) and the finder (200 USD for 21-25 metal finder), this is a steal for a bout a third of the price of the next Leica lens.

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VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

At this point I came back to my senses and remembered that I bought a 21mmF4 Color Skopar back in 2013, to fit the Leica IIIc. This lens did not get a lot of love for the following reasons : the plastic finder is shait and was replaced once and repaired twice, the color banding on the digital bodies is awful, more subjectively I have a bit of difficulty with the 21mm : I always end up with skewed perspectives that I don’t like very much and also, yes, 21mm is very wide.

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Street shot : VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder : 21mm is wide but gives very dynamic shots

So the reasoning was that, as I have a 21mm already, why not try to address the finder issue first and if I still don’t love the 21mm then there is no point getting a new one. Of course that does not address the digital issue, but everything in its own time.

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Vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

So lets hunt for a 21mm finder. There is a bit of  choice on the market : the plastic VC, the metal 21-25 VC, the old Leica in plastic or metal version, the Leica Universal Wide Finder. Ken Rockwell vouches for the plastic version of the Leica, but I ended up with the VC metal version that Riceball provided me in two weeks.

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More vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

The VC metal finder is a nice piece of kit. It feels very good in the hand, (it better for about 200 USD), fits the cameras (IIIc, M6 and M262) and provide a nice view. I immediately tried it on the digital body and on two rolls of film. and I must say I am pleased with the results.

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Horizontal framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder
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More Horizontal framing ( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)
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More vertical and back light( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)

So now what about the 21mm? Well I will probably have to shoot more before I decide, but already I think going back to my VC 21F4 by buying a new finder was a smart move : shall I love the 21mm and get the new lens, I already have a finder, shall I want to sell it I have a full kit now, or maybe I can just stick with the 21F4 for a  while.

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The 21 is very (very very) wide, the three street shots in this page were taken at about 2 to 3 meters from the subjects and they feel like I was miles away, so I will really need to step very close for my candid shots.

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I generally shoot 28, 35 and 50 Summicrons, so I must say that F4 is not mindblowing, but this is minor. On another hand the 21F4 is very tiny and pleasant to use, so I feel very comfortable when walking around that I look inconspicuous.

On a final note about the color shifting on digital bodies, some of the Leica profiles help correct it, I think one the 28mm F2.8 profile provides better results that others, have try.

  • Film color shots done on Kodak Portra 160NC with Leica M6 Classic
  • B&W shots done on Kodak TriX with Leica M6 Classic
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You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

This is the second roll shot with the Hasselblad during the outing to Mc Pherson area. The Lego buildings at this point were behind us, so not too many shots of the “Mondrian” colorful pattern here.

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Shots are done with the faithful Hasselblad 500cm, with 80mmF2.8 and I used a more than 2 years expired roll of Rollei CR200 .

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When I collected the slides from the shop I watched them on light box there and they really looked brilliant. Once scanned I must say I am a bit disappointed, maybe not trying hard enough.

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I  think the high contrast of the slides make it difficult to scan.

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Also the weather started to turn a bit more cloudy and the colors less saturated.

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This type of shots may benefit from using a tripos as well.

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2019-18-Hassie-6-9  Being a slow shooter I did not finished the film that day so I carried the Hassie in Lavender area the following week and walked from there to my fav lab t bring the roll

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Tibetan Buddhist  temple in Beaty lane

I love this area, I used to hang around there weekly until two years ago, it goes under a slow gentrification, but still very interesting with its workshops, warehouses, small shops, bars, coffee shops…

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One of the commercial buildings along Lavender road
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On Jalan Besar a shrine in front of a Feng Shui consultant

I don’t like the rendering of the next two shots, but sure they look vintage enough.

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Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Waterloo street
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Waterloo street life

All in all a nice set, but not as nice as the Portra roll of McPherson “Lego”buildings . It does not seem the film has suffered from being expired, but it was kept in the fridge most of the time.

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide