Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Rare Beauty

Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 DKL -- World's first zoom lens for the 35mm format phtography. Here fitted with the DKL to EOS adapter 

Today's show changed venue from the Thornhill Community Centre to a hotel conference room in Toronto, closer to where I live.  I found it to be smaller/more crowded than the old place.  There seemed to be fewer vendors as well.

I went there with some M-Mount/LTM lenses in mind, but all of them are way out of my budget.  I especially was looking for a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 for the Prominent.  I saw some sample pictures from this lens and I really like it.  But, couldn't find one.  Instead, bought a Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 lens.  This is definitely not a common lens and it is in really good condition.  It was the world's first zoom lens for 35mm format, with a constant f2.8 aperture to boot.  It definitely set a high standard for others to follow.  It come in different mounts, like DKL (which mine is), Exaktar, M42 and possibly other mounts.  This lens was built like the proverbial out house.  Even after 50 years, the lens feels like it was made this year.  The focus is butterly smooth and the zoom action is amazing. Truly one of the best engineered lenses.

William -- NEX-5 & Voigtlander Zoomar 36-82mm f2.8 @ f2.8. Click for larger.

I knew being the first zoom lens, there were many compromises in the design, so I didn't really expect it to perform well.  Definitely not a contender with today's zoom lenses.  I have a DKL to EOS adapter for my other DKL lenses and I was able to snap a few pictures with this zoom.  Sure enough, the corners are bad, even on the 1.5x sensor of the NEX, but the center of the frame is reasonably sharp.  Even stopping down didn't produce sharp corners.   I bought it purely because it was the world's first zoom lens for 35mm format, and I want to own a piece of photographic history.  Do not buy this lens if you are looking great optical performance. Any of today's cheap zooms will be optically better, though built quality is entirely another matter.

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