Lenses... musings and questions

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Ricochetrider, Jan 25, 2022.

  1. I have a sweet Voigltander R3m that came with a 40mm f1.4 Nokton Classic lens- which someone somewhere along the line suggested was paired specifically with that camera- as though the two were made for one another. Along the way I've picked up a 50mm lens as well, b/c isn't 50mm the classic focal length for a 35mm format camera?

    But the 40mm & 50mm focal lengths are close enough together that I cannot tell them apart, looking at the subsequent photos.
    SO, I've been considering selling off one of these lenses and getting something a bit "further apart"- whether or not to keep the original 40mm & ditch the 50, or keep the 50 and sell the 40? etc etc, on & on and this internal debate will likely not be decided soon! :)

    So I'm constantly keeping my eye open for info another lenses (in Voigltander's line-up).They seem to create masses of a couple different focal lengths in several mounts. For example they have more than a couple 50s and a handful of 35s.... possibly a few 28mm lenses also! Some of these fall into their "Vintage Line" with single coatings and "character" built in! Others are multi-coated, modern lenses that get rave reviews and much love. Which indeed creates its whole own conundrum, no doubt worthy of a dedicated conversation elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, I've come across someone talking about the Voigltander 35mm f1.7 Ultron, which by & large is very well regarded. I'm not really a fan of wide angle lenses, per se, but (and here is today's question)

    as I have a 40mm lens,- and the f1.4 multi coated Nokton Classic is just superb if not a bit clunky on the ergonomics with its "focus tab"- wouldn't the 35 be just a wee bit wider? Or is that 5mmm difference in focal length significant enough that the 35 breaks over into the category of being a true "wide angle" lens?

    Attn: admins & moderators- wasn't certain where to put this post, it's more a lens question than a "rangefinder" question, yet the R3m is from the early 2000s... perhaps not super "classic" .... If there's another spot for this that's you deem more appropriate, please move this to there.
    ralf_j. likes this.
  2. SCL


    If you happen to have a zoom lens covering that fl range (even for a different camera) take a look and see if the difference between 35mm and 40mm is significant to you.
    Jochen likes this.
  3. NTIM On a 24x30mm camera, the 50mm is actually just a little longer than "normal" (SQRT diagonal). Lots of people like something in the 40s mm range.
  4. 20x36 mm, that is
  5. You already answered your question - yes, 35 and 40 are too close together for the difference to matter. Many consider 35 and 50 too close together and suggest to pair a 50 with a 28 or a 35 with a 75/85/90.

    FWIW, keep the 40mm Nokton.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  6. 42-43mm is the actual normal for 35mm.50mm was excepted as such as that what was commonly available back in the day.
  7. It's an endless debate as to which is the "correct" focal length lens for the 35mm format. Technically, the 40mm length is held to be correct, but somewhere in the 50's is generally accepted to be "normal", right out to 58mm if you happen to be a Helios 44 user. Generally speaking, I'm not a great fan of the 35mm focal length, much preferring the 28mm as a step down from say, a 50mm lens, and I'm sure I really wouldn't notice much practical difference between the 40 and 50mm Voigtlander lenses in question.

    That being said, there are so many other factors other than focal length to be considered when adding lenses to a collection. For example, I'm a great admirer of the Voigtlander 35/3.5 Skoparon I use on the Prominents; it's very sharp from corner to corner, produces very contrasty images with very little veiling or flare, and creates a pleasant bokeh. If the OP wants to quit either the 40mm or 50mm lenses in question, these sort of factors should be of prime consideration in making the choice.
    ralf_j. and Ricochetrider like this.
  8. Thanks guys, good food for thought here.

    I actually do have a zoom lens- a 12/40 for my old Olympus OMD EM1, so will definitely take a look at the diff between35 & 40- I'm sure it's negligible- and has been mentioned, the difference between 35 & 50 might be also too close to discern?

    Near as I can tell, many of Voigltander's offerings these days are pretty darn good. Having read many reviews on various lenses, the gripes are usually minimal, and often somewhat nit-picky- especially on their lenses multi-coated that are built to modern standards (as opposed to their Vintage Line with their built-in "character" ie; flaws).

    Thanks again, I am wide open to further discussion on the matter.
  9. AJG


    Another way to figure this out right be to look at the metadata from your digital cameras and see what focal lengths you use the most. Bridge in Photoshop will tell you the 35 mm equivalent focal length if you're not shooting a full frame digital camera. For me, there is a substantial difference between 35 and 50, but not between 35 and 40. I own a Voigtlander 21 f/4 for my Contax rangefinders that I have been quite pleased with so I don't think you would go far wrong with another Voigtlander lens in a different focal length.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  10. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    I like the 40mm focal length as a good compromise between 35mm and 50mm focal lengths, and it were me I'd keep it if I already had one. However, I find 35mm just a bit wide to use as a "standard" lens, though some people do. A 40mm combined with a 28mm and short tele would cover most shooting situations. For example, the Minolta CLE rangefinder was offered with 3 lenses (28mm 40mm, and 90mm).
    Ricochetrider and Jochen like this.
  11. Am I wrong or is your R3 offering 75, 40/90, 50 frame lines and Voigtländer neither make goggled 35mms nor would Leica's fit?
    In another thread you mentioned being fond of not overly many controls on cameras.
    Following @m42dave above I'd suggest selling your 50mm, picking up a nice (priced?) 90/4 and never touching that frame line selector again.

    My personal happily single lens is a "longer than normal". I only have a 120/2.8 for P6 and the 50/2 feels welded on the 1.33 crop body. Its beennages ago that I shot a Ricoh(?) with fixed 40mm. Given a choice I'd rather bag my Retina II with fixed 50/2. During my wild 6x6 days I shot mostly 135, followed by 55mm and rarely the fixed 75mm on my 2nd camera.
    Yes, 90mm on RFs is challenging; I don't recommend pairing it with slower films.
    Back to 35, 40, 50mm: 35mm with auxiliary finder is clumsy enough to suck! If thats all you have, you 'll only use it when absolutely needed. And zone focusing isn't really an option.
    50mm was the longest that HCB managed to focus quick enough and is a popular focal length for that practical reason. And yes, sometimes it is just the right lens (but I still don't like it very much).
    40, counterweighted by 90, should be fine. My main bag holds 90, 35, 21 (+15 for selfies). Maybe the 25mm Snapshot Skopar is for you, at the really wide end? Keeping stuff you don't like rather compact is usually a good idea.
    Once you got a somewhat reasonable kit out, everything boils down to "shoot what you have, as good as you can". i.e. you 'll move and compose for the lens at hand. Changing lenses wastes opportunities, thats why I recommend bringing just 3 and accepting gaps between them.
  12. I would pick the one you like best and go with it. I’m one of those who sees no use for a 35 so next would be a 28 or 24 for me. An 85 or 90 would round a good set for most people I suspect.

    Rick H
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  13. I suggest keeping the 40mm lens.

    Personally, I always liked 35mm, and when I bought my first SLR (Nikon FM in 1979)
    I bought it with the AI 35/2.0. Much of my photography at the time was either
    indoors (where often you can't move back) and large scenery such as national parks.

    But 40mm is a little less wide, and a little wider than 50mm, and as others note,
    the diagonal of a 35mm frame is closer to 43mm, the usual rule for a "normal" lens.

    As well as I know it, 25mm lenses were common for 35mm movie film, with (about)
    a 18x24mm frame. When going to 24x36mm, someone doubled the 25mm to 50mm.
    (Many years ago.)
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  14. AH thanks again for the further input everyone.
    @jochen YES the R3m does have frame line settings for 75, 40/90, & 50mm lenses.

    The 40mm f1.4 Nokton Classic renders wonderfully and no doubt; I'm sure it's widely & well regarded. The only gripe I have with it is its focus "tab"- which I find to be less than friendly in the ergonomic sense- one kinda has to fiddle around to find it- vs having a continuously available focus ring? Voigtlander's 75mm lens IIRC is their dedicated portrait lens? Perhaps the 40mm/75mm combination for the R3m is best? 75mm as a "lite" tele lens might actually suit my shooting style quite well.
  15. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    I like that idea too, if you were limited to 2 lenses: the 40mm as a slightly wide "standard" lens, and the 75mm would be useful for general shooting when you want a more "cropped" perspective, but without the marked telephoto effect of a longer lens.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  16. Test them both wide open. Maybe one does better wide open, or one is better for bokeh. If not, sell one off if it is not serving you.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  17. No point having both a 35mm and a 40mm to me. Pick one or the other. I personally prefer 40mm if given the choice. Although if paring with a longer 75-90mm lens I'd take the 35mm. The Nokton is faster, but the Ultron is smaller...
  18. I only have a focusing tab on my 35mm Hexanon and am fine with it (although I haven't mastered advanced skills like single handed shooting or blind zone focusing). Are you sure to remain uncomfortable forever or could more dryswimming build the muscle memory needed to enjoy that lens?
    40 & 75mm is pairing a not wide with a not long. We have different frame lines; Leica's 75mm suck, so I surely won't buy a lens for them. Dunno if Voigtländer is worth getting. AFAIK Ringfoto have rights on the brand, here in Germany, so prices of Cosina's stuff get marked up to "no longer competitive". Things are probably better elsewhere.
    I'd buy any 90mm Rokkor or Elmar C that comes my way for cheap, while also looking for an old colapsible Elmar, if I had nothing else to burn film. - My PJ beater 'cron stays at home, due to stiff and wide open successless focusing (if a 85mm Nikkor comes my way, I'll replace it) and the Macro Elmar is nice to carry.
    YMMV, but I am encouraging to dare a bit of a gap between 2 lenses.

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