The Voigtlander 40/2 lens for the Nikon F mount has been around in various incarnations since the company’s original SL line up. We have the original SL, the SL II (which will be the focus of this review), and the new SL IIS. I know, confusing right? Key differences between the three as follows…the SL was not chipped for use on modern cameras and had a bayonet style hood mount. The SL II added the chip along with some cosmetic upgrades, including a rubber focus grip. This second iteration ditched the meter coupling prong as well. Cosina (the manufacturer of the Voigtlander brand) must have figured adding the metering chip rendered the prong obsolete. The SL IIS comes in both black and silver tips and recreates the pre-ai Nikon style. The aperture prong was put back in, making it metering compatible with all Nikon SLR bodies.
6 Elements | 5 Groups
Filter Ø = 52mm
Min Focus = 0.38m
Weight = 180g (202g w/Caps + Hood)
Length = 28.5mm
This is where the Voigtlander 40 really shines. First off, lets talk about size. This lens is so small and light, it removes all excuses to not leave on your camera body or in your bag. Even though I have Nikon’s 50/1.8 plastic fantastic, I find myself using this 40mm as my go to normal lens.
Even though the focus ring is narrow, the knurled texture makes it very easy to locate while the camera is up to the eye, in shooting position. The focusing motion is very smooth and fluid. Unlike the Voigtlander 58/1.4, starting the ring rotation does not require extra effort. This enables the use of one finger to dial in careful focus.
Feel free to leave the lens hood on all the time. It’s great that it adds negligible length to the body. I do suggest getting the very common 52mm filters, rather than using 39mm filters that screw into the end of the hood. The 52’s will match up with a wide variety of other Nikon manual lenses, saving you from lugging around duplicate filters in different sizes.
My one disappointment with this lens is the removal of the lens metering couple on the aperture ring. The other versions of this lens have the prongs that enable metering with vintage bodies. I have a Nikon F TN that would pair perfectly, but I recognize that most shooters are using F3 and newer bodies. If you have a body w/coupling meter, the only option is an external meter.
I can not recommend this lens enough. It’s a sharp lens that’s small, light, fast, and affordable. The Voigtlander 40/2 is my go to when using a one lens set up for travel. If I was in the market for it today, I would definitely opt for the newer, more stylish, backward compatible third version, the SL IIS.