The oddly and charmingly named (but what Voigtlander is not oddly and charmingly named) 35mm Color Skopar is among the smallest and lightest 35mm lenses you can get in Leica M mount. At around $500 new, it is also one of the least expensive. It is an excellent choice for your 35mm lens whether or not price is a consideration.
“I started to develop feelings for this lens despite myself. Despite myself? You see, you really don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”
I had finally bought a digital Leica (the M-P 240) not too long before moving to Mumbai a few years ago. At the same time I got a new 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM to go with it. I had an excellent vintage 35mm Leica f/2.8 Summaron, a lens that renders amazing pictures, but I am protective of that lens and the attached magnifying goggles make it awkward to keep undamaged when not in use. I had been using the 35mm focal length more and more and wanted a modern lens as part the kit accompanying the M-P 240 and the Zeiss Planar. To be honest, what I really wanted was a Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH Summicron, but those don’t appear for much less than $2,000 and I had much less than $2,000. I did my research and, in the end, decided on the Color Skopar. The 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss Biogon ZM was a lens I gave serious consideration to (as it would have made a nice Zeiss set along with the Planar) but that lens is close to $1,000 and in the end a grand is more than I wanted to spend on a lens that might not be with me forever. Not that the Color Skopar was cheap, mind you, but that the Biogon was more.
I had read that the Color Skopar was small and, undoubtedly, I’d seen photos, but when she arrived I was shocked. The Color Skopar is tiny. It’s so small that when the hood doubles her size she’s still tiny (hood not included, another $60, and needed as the lens cap is terrible). The Color Skopar was so small I put it on the Leica and spent a long time just staring at her, all petite and shiny, cute and new, marveling at how itsy bitsy she was. I took my first photos with her and even on the back screen I could tell they were very, very special indeed. Beautiful even.
I started to develop feelings for this lens despite myself. Despite myself? You see, you really don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. If you don’t believe me they even wrote a song about it. As I said earlier, the lens I really wanted was an ASPH Summicron but I had to settle on the Voigtlander. But there I was, marveling at Miss Color Skopar’s beauty, her performance, how I always wanted to take her out with me and yet still I kept longing for another lens. She knew. I knew she knew. She tried so hard to prove herself to me. She was never a burden and she showed me beauty wherever we went. She was my companion and partner on numerous adventures, on multiple shoots for different development NGOs, during a grueling day following Ganpati processions though Mumbai, and on trips around the Subcontinent.
“…what I really wanted was a Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH Summicron, but those don’t appear for much less than $2,000 and I had much less than $2,000.”
The 35mm Color Skopar renders beautifully on the M-P 240 and, I don’t doubt, on any other M mount camera, film or digital. The colors are lovely, saturated and true, but gentle. The lens gives fine detail and has no noticeable distortion without being clinical or boring. She wasn’t a super fast lens but was true and able and never got in my way or in the way of making a great picture. And did I mention the size? You would think such a small lens would be difficult to use but she was not. Her focus was smooth and came right to hand, and her aperture ring had two raised tabs that found your fingers with ease. Did I mention how small and light she was? So small and light I barely noticed her. And like anything good and true that you take for granted and always talk about upgrading to a flashier, more expensive model, she eventually left me. Oh, she didn’t leave. She wasn’t lost or stolen. One day she just didn’t focus right anymore. I was in Haridwar, following the Ganges. The afternoon light was beautiful and I spent an hour or two chasing it. When I checked my pictures they were clouded, like eyes full of tears. I changed to the Zeiss Planar and continued on, feeling a dull ache in my heart, hoping that the blurry pictures were my fault, that my lovely little Color Skopar was okay. But she wasn’t. Something had gone wrong. They said it was her focus helicoid but I knew better. It was a broken heart. And it was my fault. FP
All photos taken with a Leica M-P 240 and the Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Color Skopar and processed in Photoshop and DXO FilmPack – Shopping for camera gear? Use our eBay link and help support Field Photographer!