|Review of the Voigtländer AF 28-210mm f/4.2-6.5 VMV APO-Zoomar for Canon EOS|
The initial plan about this review actually was to include a series of test shots and concentrate on picture quality, but I didn't find the time and thus sold the lens before taking them. The following is a roundup of its first impression.
This lens was the first Voigtländer lens I ever held in my hands, and it was slight a surprise. The Voigtländer lenses were all made by Cosina. Of their AF lenses I only knew the 19-35mm before, which I don't nearly remember as a build like a tank construction nor did I share the optical experience of a Plastic Fantastic, that is widely considered a good alternative to the Canon 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM.
This Voigtländer lens is compact, but quite heavy, producing a very solid build feel. The lens I bought had the same matte silver finish like the EOS 300s, 3000s and 300D, perfectly. There are also Cosina branded versions of this lens available, as well as some Vitacon lenses of the same, each in either silver or black finish.
The lens has an inner focusing system, so the front lens or filter thread do not rotate. This allows for a flower shaped lens hood, that is available and usually included (I bought this lens used and didn't have the lens hood delivered with it).
The zoom ring has a good size and utilizes the bigger part of the static portion of the lens. It is equipped with a wide rubber ring.
The AF is reasonably fast (although still a bit too slow for sports or little frantic birdies) and working very quietly compared to other entry level third party lenses or even some entry level Canon AF lenses. It is also working quite accurately without much correction, no hunting.
The manual focus ring is hard to find if you don't know where to look for it. Looking at the design, my first guess was the frontal part of the tube that is holding the front lens, but it doesn't rotate at all. Instead, the focus ring is directly located in front of the zoom ring within the fixed main part of the lens. It has a small distance scale printed on. The distance scale is good just for orientation, not for focusing by exact given distance. This lens also is everything else than optimal for manual focusing since it only takes 1/8 of a full rotation to focus from minimum to infinity. On the other side manual focus is possible with a steady hand and some patience, since the ring doesn't have any free play. The minimum focus varies depending on focal length. The Instruction Booklet names the following distances: 50cm (1.64') @ 28mm, 58cm (1.9') @ 35mm, 74cm (2.43') @ 50mm, 90cm (2.95') @ 70mm, 97cm (3.18) @ 100mm and 90cm (2.95') again @ 210mm. The focus ring also rotates during AF operation, but due to it's small size and a missing rubber ring on it you will never have any trouble holding the lens while auto focusing. The lens is balanced very well by holding it at the zoom ring.
The lens has aperture openings of f/4.2 to f/6.5. My 350D did not recognize f/6.5 at any focal length, nor did a 1000FN that I picked randomly. For 28mm to 60mm it will give an f/4.5 option, from 60mm to 210mm it's f/5.6, although the view finder is still getting recognizable darker over the whole upper range of tele, starting at approx. 100mm. But even under low light conditions neither the 350D nor a 1000FN had considerable focusing difficulties (neither of these cameras were used with flash nor do they feature aux AF assist lights). I even took the Voigtländer out for a just for fun circus shooting and got acceptable results without technical complications. Just for the matter of completeness, the maximum apertures are f/22 up to 35mm, f/27 until 100mm and f/32 for the rest of the tele range.
The lens shows the typical distortion (typical for a super zoom), barrel on the wide side, cushion for the rest, both noticeable through the viewfinder. The barrel reaches from 28mm to approximately 35mm, the cushion starts somewhere at approximately 45mm.
Voigtländer called this lens an APO lens, while the said-to-be-similar lens in the Cosina lineup is not called apochromatic but aspherical. I don't have a clue about this. The resolution of the lens seems to be ok for a lens of this type - not trashy at all, but of course by no means professional. But like all reviews will have to point out, a professional will not go for a lens like this, so why bothering?
If you are looking for a cheapo super tele in addition to your Canon EF-S 18-55mm standard lens, and if you are willing to either ignore the slight distortion or to use some software to correct it, this lens might be your choice. On a digital body it will convert into a 45-336mm lens (equivalent to full frame format), which is way beyond (almost) everything you can shoot without a tripod under normal light conditions. And if you are not going do some serious architecture shooting the distortions will probably not even bother you.