The Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar 25mm

wpid-IMAG0047.jpgI’m finding that, of all my lenses, it’s the Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar 25mm that spends most time fixed to my camera. It’s a really lovely lens and a lot of the shots on this site were taken with it.

It’s lightweight and absolutely tiny, even with the adaptor, and on the NEX5n its equivalent focal length is close to the classic 35mm. Optically it’s of fine quality, very sharp across the frame, with good contrast.

Being a manual-focus lens it has a proper distance scale, something that so many modern lenses don’t, so you can set focus without needing to confirm in-camera. Best of all, it’s wide enough that it simply doesn’t need focusing at all for most shots. On the NEX5n an aperture of f8 and focus distance of 3.93 metres (the hyperfocal distance) will result in everything between 1.9 m and infinity being in focus (near enough). This makes it perfect for street photography, where auto-focus will often be too slow or likely to target the wrong thing.

It’s a great landscape lens too.

One nice feature, if more accurate focus is required, is that there are click-stops at 1m, 1.5m and 3m so it’s easy to rapidly focus by feel alone. There is a focusing lever too, which is wonderful.

The only real downside is that, with a maximum aperture of f4, it’s a rather slow lens. This can bring shutter speeds down a lot in low light, and it’s certainly not for night shooting. It’s also not capable of narrow depth of field and creamy bokeh (or much bokeh at all) but if I want that I’ll switch to my Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 anyway. Of course there’s no way the lens could have been this small if it offered wider apertures so it’s a trade-off. For daytime shooting with large depth-of-field it’s simply perfect.

This screw-mount Snapshot Skopar is now discontinued and has been replaced by the M mount rangefinder-coupled Color Skopar which is optically identical but doesn’t have the click-stops.

At current rates you should be able to pick one up used for something in the region of £200.

A word of warning however: like a number of rangefinder wide-angle lenses the 25mm Skopar can lead to colour-shift issues on some digital cameras, notably the NEX7 and the Leica M9. This can normally be fixed by software (Cornerfix) and will not of course effect monochrome shots. Corner sharpness may however also suffer and will be difficult to fix. Check with someone who knows before parting with your cash. On the NEX5n I have not noticed any issues.

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13 thoughts on “The Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar 25mm

    • I consider myself fortunate that I bought this lens in 2007, initially, to use on a Leica MD-2 with the 25mm finder. When I later bought a 21mm f3.4 Super-Angulon for the MD-2 I transferred the VC 25mm f4 to a spare M4-P I had. As mine is the screw-mount version, I got hold of a screw-bayonet adapter for 50/75 lenses. This leaves the inside of the M4-P viewfinder clear. As the widest frame on M4-P as well as M6/7/MP is 28mm, theres a small space outside this. I reckon this means the viewfinder will be 25-26 mm by itself. Stopped down to at least F8, depth of field when focused on 3 metres runs from 1.3 metres to infinity. Half stops on the aperture ring are a nice touch too. I had this on the old Canon breechlock, chrome mounting ring FD lenses I used on an ancient F1. When I switched to Nikon F, I found the old Nikkors only had full F stops.

  1. Hi Chris, after searching for new lenses for my nex-6, I found your post on this strange and beautiful gear. I’m still a newbie on the Nex world, and have my little set of legacy and third party lens: two Minolta AF (the 50 1.7 and 28 2.8), a Helios 44m-2, the toy Fujian 35mm f 1,7, and the kit zoom 16-50 3.5/5.6. I also have a new Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II, that I’ve used one or two times, then it goes back in its box.

    The Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar is in pole position in my wishlist, but I don’t know much about it. How do it performs in terms of sharpness and color rendition in comparison with the kit zoom lens? I know there is also an M mount version (black), the Color Skopar 25mm f/4 that many say it is near the same in comparison with the Snapshot.

    Thanks in advance for your tips and sorry for my endless comment.

    • Hi Paolo,

      I’ve not done any formal sharpness or colour comparisons between the kit zoom and the Snapshot Skopar. The two key benefits of the Snapshot are its tiny size and the fact that it has distance markings so you can zone focus. The Nex and Snapshot are a very small combination indeed, which you certainly can’t say about the kit zoom! Not only is the size helpful in terms of carrying but it also makes the camera less intimidating if you are photographing people. As for zone focusing, as I mention in the post, if you set things right, and have enough light to allow an aperture of F8, you can pretty much shoot without focusing at all.This really does make a difference in something like street photography because the Nex doesn’t auto-focus that quickly sometimes.

      The kit zoom does not have a great reputation; I found it to be ok but not exactly overwhelming. I have no issues with the colour or sharpness of the Snapshot Skopar – though you will want to be sure your adaptor has the correct tolerance and is of reasonable quality.

      I would suggest that if you have no need for the small size or zone focusing then you might not want to spend the £200 plus on a Snapshot Skopar just to replace the kit zoom. I think it may well be superior to the kit zoom but you would need to test for yourself how significant the difference is.

      • I don’t want to replace *only* the kit zoom, but also the other lens that I use often for street shooting: the Minolta AF 28mm f2.8. This lens have good performance, not brilliant. I’m still a noob in street photography. I’ve tried to zone focus with it, but it’s really difficult. The thing that makes me more prone to buy the Snapshot Skopar is the size, because with the Minolta nearly ALL the subjects were looking at me as they were saying “Oh my god what is that? A Bazooka?” Anyways, thanks for your suggestions. In this period my goal is to buy lenses to shrink the size of the nex-lens combo.

  2. another question: do I need the original voigtlander viewfinder to mount the lens on the nex-6? or the live view is working? I mean, when mounted can I use focus peaking as for other type of manual legacy lenses? thanks.

    • Like any manual lens mounted on the Nex you will be able to use the live view and focus peaking. To he honest though I generally use the Snapshot Skopar to zone focus so focus peaking is not required.

  3. Hi Chris
    Thanks for your very interesting and informative article re the Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar 25mm. Do you know if there are adapters to Nikon cameras or where I could find out please?
    Many thanks

    • If you mean Nikon SLRs then you are most likely out of luck. The problem is the flange distance (basically the distance between lens and film or sensor). If the flange distance of the camera you want to use is smaller than that of the lens then you can use an adapter but if it’s larger then there is nothing you can do (because the lens would have to be inside the camera in order to focus correctly). Old rangefinder lenses have very small flange distances so they normally only adapt well to the modern breed of mirrorless cameras, which are very thin.

      http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/~westin/misc/mounts-by-register.html

  4. just found this when searching out a problem i have with my screw mount 25mm color skopar snapshot when attached to my fuji xe1 by a cheap eBay adapter, it is focusing way past infinity even when set to 0.7m focus point only the distance is in focus?
    do you have any experience of this issue or of compatible adapters that may cure the problem as when i screw the lens out from the adapter a few turns, focusing becomes normal according to the lens markings, but then i have about a 3mm app between the lens and adapter?
    really need to make this lens work with my camera so I’m hoping there is an adapter compatible out there somewhere….

    • That sounds unusually extreme, even for a cheap adapter. Many adapters focus a little past infinity, it’s a cheap way of ensuring that infinity focus is definitely available even with a degree of manufacturing inaccuracy – but they don’t normally go way past it. I’ve used a number of adapters, both cheap and more expensive, and all have worked fine – though as mentioned there is a degree of focusing past infinity. I’d certainly try another adapter if I was you. I can’t recommend a specific one because they really are so variable and I’m not a Fuji shooter.

  5. I use this lens a lot for street photography with a pair of black Leica M4-P bodies. The widest frame in the viewfinder is 28mm so I just use that. I’m sure 3mm is nothing to worry about. I move the focus ring just off infinity and make sure the lens is stopped down to f8. Very decent shots. Not an expensive lens to buy used. Not rangefinder coupled though.

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