For a long time I have been looking for the “ultimate lens” for my weird needs and finally it seems like I have found it with the Voigtlander 27mm F2.

On a recent trip to Japan I found more than a beautiful and interesting country. I found a lens I did not know existed and that fit my strange needs. I have had the Fujifilm X-T2 for 5-6 years by now and have on occasions tried to replace it both with an X-E4 and an X-Pro3 which I returned. One thing I took from the X-E4 was how compact it was with the 27mm pancake lens. I really liked the fact that I had a super capable camera in a size I could put into my pocket. I also liked the image quality coming of of the combination of X-E4 and the 27mm Fuji lens. But the 27mm F2.8 did not feel as well constructed as other Fuji lenses. The “clickable” aperture ring felt cheaper.

Ever since I returned that camera with the lens I have been looking for a compact lens in the 23-27mm range. I bought a 7artisans 35mm 1.2 lens which I really like. It is manual focus – but I like that. It is however a little bit heavy and the 35mm focal length is a bit tight for me. I still use it on occasion but I keep returning to my 23mm F2 Fuji lens as the focal length suits me better.

I bought a Pergear 25mm F1.8, but returned it almost the same day as the image quality was too bad for my taste. After this lens I gave up as no manufacturer seemed to have what I was after.

Japan

Enter my holiday to Japan. First camera store I walk into I find the Fuji 27mm pancake available a lot cheaper that what I can buy it for in Europe. But looking around I also find this Voigtlander 27mm F2 that I did not know existed.

The store lets my try it on my X-T2 and I take a few test shots, and really like what I see. The image quality seemed very good as well as close up focusing wide open. It felt super high quality. The clickable aperture ring had 1/3 stops and had a just the right amount of feedback and resistance to it. The focusing was done by a protrusion that made it feel just like my old Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. I was hooked.

There was however one problem.

They only had it in silver, which I did not like as my camera is the all black version. So I walk out of the store with no lens. The rest of the day and the day after, whenever we walk by a camera store I ask for that lens, but no one has it in stock. I considered buying it in silver just to have it. But luckily one of the last camera stores I walk into in Tokyo finds a single one and by some strange coincidence the one they have left is a black one – so I bought it immediately.

X-T2 Voigtlander 27mm F2

To my eyes, this lens looks perfect on the X-T2. As we shall see, it also functions beautifully and renders colors like no other lens I have had on the camera.

Fujifilm X-T2 F-stop setup

There was one setting I had to change in camera as it did not show F-stop numbers in the viewfinder. From what I could read online, apparently the camera recognizes the lens as a video-lens and hence you have to manually change the setting to display f-stop.

But under “Set up” 2/3 down there is an option to change “Aperture unit for cinema lens”. This should be changed to “F NUMBER” – then it works as intended.

Photos

Usually when I travel I use my 23mm F2 Fuji lens or the 18-55 kit lens, that exceeds my expectation each time I use it. Up until this point in Japan I had been walking around with the 18-55, so the weight and handling difference was massive.

I do not have any direct comparison shots between the two or three lenses yet, but I can give an unscientific comparison shot from the hotel where we lived.

The first one is with the 18-55 kit lens and the second one is with the 27mm F2 Voigtlander.

These are of course very unscientific as they are not even shot on the same day or close to the same focal length. So take them with every grain of salt available. But on a big screen it is possible to see that the Voigtlander seems to render with more contrast and higher resolution. Even accounting for difference in light, focal length etc.

Colors are subjective, depends on editing and hence are difficult to communicate. But there is something about this lens that really makes the colors stand out.

The image above really displays this “pop” from the colors. But even in scenes where there aren’t as many colors you can still see the “pop”.

The lens really renders all scenes with incredible sharpness and “pop” – for lack of better word.

Downsides

Of course the lens is not without its faults. No lens is perfect.

First thing comes from the spec-sheet. It is not weather-sealed. This may not be the biggest issue for a lot of people, but I really like that I can take my 23mm F2 Fuji lens with me no matter the weather. Had this lens been weather-sealed then I would probably have sold my 23mm F2. But now I will keep it for days or scenarios where weather-sealing comes in handy.

Second issue with the lens is actually also one of its strengths. As mentioned somewhere above I like the way the focus mechanism is designed with a little tab you can adjust with your index finger. Just like my old Minolta Hi-Matic 7s.

The problem arises ones you go from normal landscape to portrait and tilt the camera. Then the focusing-lever that is a the perfect spot when the camera is level, suddenly almost disappears.

Perhaps it is a matter of getting used to it, but almost every time I tilt the camera to shoot portrait, then I have to spend a second finding the focusing-lever.

Final thing that is a bit annoying is the cap for the lens with the little lens hood on. For some reason they have designed it as screw-mount, which makes no sense at all. Apparently caps from old 35mm film canisters should work – but I have yet to test that theory.

Conclusion

All in all I am super happy with this lens! It is exactly what I was looking for. It is the right focal length, the right size and weight, the right feel – just everything.

The only other issue I ran into while in Japan was trying out the new Nikon ZF.

That was an interesting camera! Luckily – or not – they did not have it in stock yet, when I was there, so I could not buy it. But I am very tempted by that camera.