Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 Review
The new mid-telephoto lens from Voigtlander! The Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 VM lens (Leica M mount). I had the chance to test the lens during my recent trip to Poland so here is my mini Voigtlander 90mm APO review.
New 90mm lens for Leica M cameras
Hi friends! I’m excited to share this new lens from Voigtlander with you. Firstly, a special thanks to Flaghead Photographic for sending me the lens to test. I had the opportunity to use the lens daily for a week while I was in Gdansk. It was used on the Leica CL (APS-C), Leica SL and a Leica M camera and once back from the trip I used it on the Panasonic Lumix S5 too. I tend to normally refer to Leica as that is what I know but you can of course adapt this Leica M mount lens to any mirrorless camera.
This written review accompanies my Voigtlander 90mm f2.8 APO-Skopar YouTube video (linked below) and includes photos that you can review at your own pace. Some images are full res if you want to pixel peep but please bear in mind that shooting in the snow, fog and various adverse conditions may not show the lens at it’s best. Let’s get into the review!
New! Voigtlander 90mm APO Skopar VM lens
Following the release of the Voigtlander 35mm f2 APO and Voigtlander 50mm f2 APO lenses (Leica M mount)(full reviews linked below), we now have the Voigtlander 9omm f/2.8 APO Skopar VM lens. If you like to carry a pair or trio of prime lenses the 90mm works really well at the longer end. I really appreciated the compression from the 90mm focal length and I cover that more below.
Compact 90mm lens for Leica M
If you’ve ever used a Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH like I use (linked below) you may assume that 90mm lenses have to be big and heavy. This stops me using some lenses, regardless of how good they are optically, as often I physically cannot carry the extra size and weight when shooting overseas.
The Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 ticks all the boxes in this department as it is both compact and lightweight at only 250g (8.8oz). It has a 39mm filter thread to give you some idea of the width of the lens and the length is only 6cm.
Leica M Cameras + 90mm Voigtlander APO
I had my Leica M4-P film camera with me in Poland and on multiple occasions I stole the lens from the digital cameras to shoot film with it. Once I could see how good it was optically on digital I did not hesitate to shoot film with it. (In contrast, I was testing another new Leica M mount lens for a video to come soon and I didn’t once consider to put that lens on my Leica M film camera. It just wasn’t good enough to bother wasting film).
Being a small and lightweight 90mm lens, it balances really nicely on a Leica M film camera. Not only that, with the lens being only 6cm long there is zero viewfinder blockage without the hood attached. (With the hood attached there is perhaps 2% finder blockage so nothing to worry about – see video).
Voigtlander APO-Skopar sharpness test
Photography is absolutely not all about sharpness BUT I wont make sub par images for the sake of it if I have another lens that does a better job for my taste. (This is a huge topic and out of the scope of this post but in general I like sharp enough lenses for film and i’m happy with softer dreamy lenses for digital (if the final look is worth the softness). (Big topic I know but this is why I always love to test sharpness when I get a new lens. Once I know a lens is good enough I can sit back and relax.. or it gets sold if I have something better to use).
Sharpness Comparison Test – Voigtlander 90mm f2.8 vs Leica
Infinity Test – Sharpness
1m Test – Sharpness
1m Test – Sharpness (Comparison)
Using the APO-Skopar on the Leica CL
For those of you that don’t know, the Leica CL is an APS-C mirrorless camera with a 1.5x crop factor. That means the Leica CL + Voigtlander 90mm f2.8 APO-Skopar is the equivalent of 135mm in full frame terms. I’m not sure exactly but perhaps similar to 135mm f4 as you get less shallow DOF on crop sensor bodies (ie. it won’t look like 135mm f2.8 on a FF camera). The 135mm equivalent gives an amazing compression effect to images if you have the space to use that focal length. By having the Leica CL body with me it gave me 2 lenses in 1. 135mm on the CL and 90mm on the Leica SL.
Leica SL with the 90mm Voigtlander APO-Skopar
My main digital camera currently is still the full frame Leica SL mirrorless camera. I shot most of my 90mm APO lens photos with the Leica SL as I don’t normally need 135mm (if used on the CL). 90mm is a perfect focal length for portraits but also compression landscape / street photo photos. As a digital Leica M camera shooter for a long time, Leica M9, Leica M8, Leica M240, I have always avoided wet and similar damp conditions when taking photos.
The Leica SL is a weather sealed camera so when I woke up to heavy snowfall I only had one camera-lens combo that could really work for me. The Leica SL gave me confidence that if a bit of snow got on the outside of the camera I was not too worried and the deep lens hood of the Voigtlander APO 90mm lens meant snow was not hitting the front of the lens. Voigtlander M mount lenses are not weather sealed but I tried to keep the worst of the snow off the lens and the hood worked great for when I was taking my shots.
As the scene of Gdansk in the snow looked just so perfect I was using the lens on the Leica M4-P too for some hopefully timeless looking film photos. I’m excited to develop the film and will add the images to this post at a later date.
Voigtlander 90mm f/2.8 APO-Skopar Sample Photos
90mm Voigtlander APO-Skopar Landscapes / Travel
Street Photography with the 90mm Voigtlander APO
Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 Portraits (CL & SL)
*Join Patreon to see how I lit this portraits and some BTS videos
MrLeica Leica SL Lightoom Presets
All images shared in this post were shot in RAW and edited in Lightroom with my new MrLeica Leica SL Lightroom preset B&W2. I say new as I already have the original Leica SL preset for sale but the new preset pack includes 2 additional B&W presets and 2 colour preset.
These will be my most used presets when using the Leica SL camera but you can actually use them on any camera file. I applied the Leica SL LR preset to my Leica CL RAW files to prove that point and to give a similar look across all images from my Poland trip.
Voigtlander 90mm f2.8 APO Skopar Film Photos
As mentioned, I shot the Voigtlander APO-Skopar on my Leica M4-P film camera too. Once I develop my film I will share the images here so be sure to check back in the new year! (I shot Kodak Double-X 5222 B&W movie film so hopefully that will add to the look of the Gdansk in the snow images (especially!). I composed many of my shots to try to avoid modern signs of life for this reason and the snow helped I think.
Affordable 90mm lens for Leica?
In terms of price, the Voigtlander 90mm f2 APO-Skopar offers great value against modern Leica 90mm lenses. From my simple testing the APO lens works as well or perhaps even better than my much loved Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens and at less than 4x the cost ($4000 vs $800).
If you want something cheaper the best back for the buck Leica 90mm lens is still the vintage Leica Elmar 9cm f4 LTM lens that I use. These are screw mount lenses so you need the LTM-M adapter to use on a Leica M camera. If you are patient you can find nice copies of these lenses for as little as £100 or £150. Not only that, if you see my 90mm shoot out video below, it is a nice performer too.
Voigtlander APO-Skopar 90mm f2.8 VM Price
The 90mm APO-Skopar is currently listing for around £719 or $799 at the time of publishing. If you live in the US you can buy the lens at Amazon, B&H, Adorama in silver or black. (See all links in my KitList).
**If you are a Nikon F mount shooter you can buy the Nikon F mount version here from Amazon, B&H, Adorama.
If you live in the UK you can get 5% off the list price of all Voigtlander lenses using the discount code “MRLEICA” at https://www.robertwhite.co.uk/
Alternative 90mm Leica M lenses
I guess I’ve covered this in the price section but in summary, the cheapest is the vintage 9cm Elmar. For a f2.8 lens you can look at the Leica Elmarit 90mm f2.8 or the Leica Tele-Elmarit 90mm f2.8 M lenses. If you don’t need a Leica M camera rangefinder coupled lens you can save a lot of money and get the Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f2.8 instead. I use this with my Leica R cameras but also on digital. If you want the smallest and closest focusing 90mm Leica lens look at the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens.
Do I recommend the Voigtlander 90mm APO lens?
Leica Elmar 9cm f4 LTM lens
The 9cm Elmar is great on Leica iii Barnack cameras plus M bodies via adapter.
The Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm gives a high performing, very compact setup.
R Lenses like the Leica Elmarit-R 90mm f2.8 lens
I made this video before getting the 90mm Leica R lens but it shows how I use Leica R lenses on Leica M digital cameras. (I use these lenses mostly on the Leica SL or Panasonic Lumix S5).
Leica Summicron 90mm f2 M (Pre-ASPH) lens
The older Pre-ASPH Leica Summicron 90mm f2 lens is big and heavy but it is so good for portraits. One of the best.
Comparing 90mm Lenses
Here was one of my mass lens shoot out videos where I compared my 90mm lenses. Worth a watch if you are unsure what lens to buy but if you are still stuck contact me via Zoom.
More Voigtlander APO lenses for Leica
As mentioned above, Voigtlander also brought us the high performing 35mm APO and 50mm APO lenses. Both are stellar performers and very well corrected.
Voigtlander 35mm f2 APO-Lanthar ASPH lens
Voigtlander 50mm f2 APO-Lanthar ASPH lens
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