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Voigtlander Ultron Vintage Line 35mm f/2 Aspherical Type II VM - binding focus


scleake
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I will be sending my third copy of this lens back tomorrow due to the focus ring binding and wondering if anyone else has had this issue. The first copy was not smooth or I should say smooth but tight pulling from infinity back to close focus. At about the point where the focus tab was straight down the tightness was even greater. Seemed like going from close focus toward infinity it was smooth. It was if it needed "breaking in." I returned it to Amazon for an exchange but was only given a refund option - no problem. At the time I purchased this lens it was out of stock at B&H.

Lens copy number two from B&H had the same problem as the first - only much worse. The focusing would seem smooth then arbitrarily bind up - almost felt like it seized but with extra effort would become smoother again. This as with copy one was noticeable right out of the box immediately after putting a filter on the lens and mounting on my one year old Leica MP. I kept it one day, sitting in the house working the focus ring while thinking if I should ask B&H for a replacement or refund. I opted for a replacement which arrived two days ago.

Today I took copy number three out shooting and all seemed fine at first and then this copy started doing the exact thing as copy number two. Back home I could replicate the sticking and binding then it freeing up to smooth again. Also, I notice that if I had the camera in my lap on it's back with the lens aimed straight up then focus seemed to become smooth.

Turns out copy number one was the best of the three but based on my experience with Voightlander and many other lenses over the years found it unacceptable.

I have this lenses baby sister the Ultron Vintage Line 28mm f/2 Aspherical Type II and it was silky smooth right out of the box - an absolute gem of a lens. The 28 and 35 are beautiful black paint on brass. Along with the 28 I own two other Voightlander lenses and all three have the right focus "feel." Needless to say I am disappointed as the lens in question is beautiful and is an Aspherical 35mm which is my favorite focus length. I have the 35mm Voightlander Nockton Classic VII MC f/1.4 - to me it is easy to handle small and light but is lacking in sharpness though I plan to keep it and continue using on my Fuji X mount cameras. I had heard great things about the Ultron Vintage Line 35mm f/2 Aspherical Type II and enjoying the 28mm sister lens, I had high expectations for this lens.

I don't have a beef with Voightlander or any other parties but am curious if anyone else has experienced this problem and believe Voightlander needs to hear about this issue. 

Thanks!

 

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A few others here mentioned some tight focus action in one direction or another, at least one of whom said it became smooth with use.  I spoke with Stephen Gandy, owner of CameraQuest, the Voigtlander US distributor, and asked about this a few weeks ago when I was considering purchase. He downplayed the issue, aware of some returns, but seemingly not sharing the concern. Essentially he told me not to worry and that he offered a 30 day return policy with no questions asked when purchased directly from CameraQuest.

Jeff
 

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It's probably due to lens focus grease not being uniformly applied during manufacture. Rotate the focus ring a few times back and forth and it even it out and any sticking will go away pretty quickly.

 

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Thanks. Have worked it as to distribute any lubrication. If I lay camera on it's back the focus is very smooth. If I leave it focused to infinity it seems stuck there when I put camera to my eye from that position. This is repeatable every time. Very strange!

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I have a v1 Summilux with a similar characteristic. Held in landscape mode the focus is light and smooth, but in portrait orientation heavier and a bit rough. I’ve just learned to live with it.

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Since this post, I have been in touch with Mr Gandy this afternoon. He suggested trying different ways of focusing but no real answers so far. I use it like I always use this camera and not a problem with any other VM right out of the box.

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18 minutes ago, Siriusone59 said:

My copy of this lens tends to bind just a bit when going from infinity to close at about the 7 feet mark.  So far it has only been slightly annoying.  I do wonder if very cold temperature would make it even worse.

Thanks - good to know and maybe hope for this lens - I really want it to work but with hood $1K, I have 30 days to return. Thing is, I am 66 yrs old, not as agile as I once was, wear glasses and left eyed shooter so focusing a rangefinder is at best a challenge but one I enjoy very much. Yesterday, my first day out shooting with this lens, I found myself crouched down in a slightly awkward position composing a vertical shot and it basically stuck - for the first time. Up until then I was happy as a lark with it. I'm in South Carolina - it's been mild here but I wonder about the performance in colder conditions too. Seems I'm talking myself into returning it!!  Thanks!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/19/2022 at 3:12 PM, scleake said:

I will be sending my third copy of this lens back tomorrow due to the focus ring binding and wondering if anyone else has had this issue. The first copy was not smooth or I should say smooth but tight pulling from infinity back to close focus. At about the point where the focus tab was straight down the tightness was even greater. Seemed like going from close focus toward infinity it was smooth. It was if it needed "breaking in." I returned it to Amazon for an exchange but was only given a refund option - no problem. At the time I purchased this lens it was out of stock at B&H.

Lens copy number two from B&H had the same problem as the first - only much worse. The focusing would seem smooth then arbitrarily bind up - almost felt like it seized but with extra effort would become smoother again. This as with copy one was noticeable right out of the box immediately after putting a filter on the lens and mounting on my one year old Leica MP. I kept it one day, sitting in the house working the focus ring while thinking if I should ask B&H for a replacement or refund. I opted for a replacement which arrived two days ago.

Today I took copy number three out shooting and all seemed fine at first and then this copy started doing the exact thing as copy number two. Back home I could replicate the sticking and binding then it freeing up to smooth again. Also, I notice that if I had the camera in my lap on it's back with the lens aimed straight up then focus seemed to become smooth.

Turns out copy number one was the best of the three but based on my experience with Voightlander and many other lenses over the years found it unacceptable.

I have this lenses baby sister the Ultron Vintage Line 28mm f/2 Aspherical Type II and it was silky smooth right out of the box - an absolute gem of a lens. The 28 and 35 are beautiful black paint on brass. Along with the 28 I own two other Voightlander lenses and all three have the right focus "feel." Needless to say I am disappointed as the lens in question is beautiful and is an Aspherical 35mm which is my favorite focus length. I have the 35mm Voightlander Nockton Classic VII MC f/1.4 - to me it is easy to handle small and light but is lacking in sharpness though I plan to keep it and continue using on my Fuji X mount cameras. I had heard great things about the Ultron Vintage Line 35mm f/2 Aspherical Type II and enjoying the 28mm sister lens, I had high expectations for this lens.

I don't have a beef with Voightlander or any other parties but am curious if anyone else has experienced this problem and believe Voightlander needs to hear about this issue. 

Thanks!

 

I have the Ultron II asph and it locked up on me once. Actually, I loaned it to a friend to try out and it locked up when he was using it. 

I just held the lens and applied increasing pressure until something "clicked" and gave  way. That was several months ago and it's never happened again through heavy use. 

A possible cause was that the person I loaned it to might have been attempting to focus beyond the point where the lens loses contact with the focus wheel in the camera. 

The lens is fantastic. Tack sharp, great contrast, small, light, very well built (brass!), smooth focus and solid aperture clicks.

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Update on this gem of a lens. I am in waiting mode before going for another copy of this lens. All of the wonderful things mentioned about this lens are so very true. I only recently developed the roll of film I shot with my copies of this lens - very nice results. Still, I found the intermittent binding to be a problem for me. No regrets in sending them back only that I don't yet own this lens.  Mr Gandy has offered a special discounted price on any Voightlander lens I purchase in the future. Again, I love the three VM lenses I do own, especially the little 28mm baby brother to the 35, it is awesome, and look forward to getting the 35 at some point. Thanks for the input here. Also to Voightlander, Mr Gandy and understanding vendors,

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>>The focusing would seem smooth then arbitrarily bind up - almost felt like it seized but with extra effort would become smoother again. This as with copy one was noticeable right out of the box immediately after putting a filter on the lens and mounting on my one year old Leica MP.

This is exactly what happened to my (Silver) version.  I talked to the supplier (Red Dot in London) who said they'd not experienced any other copies with this problem.  I returned the lens for a refund and bought the Nokton classic II instead, which I love.  The Ultron II was a great performing lens but the binding annoyed me a lot (in use over several days).  I also didn't care for the swirly bokeh in pics with vegetation or foliage in the background.  I did find that "on its back" the focus didn't bind, so I considered it a design flaw with the radius of the focus ring and tab design conspiring to cause the assembly to bind in the middle of its travel, due to the course helical/metal used/poor performing grease or whatever.

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This could also be related to high tension in the body mount springs that hold the lens tightly to the body. I have a 1955 M3 where the mount is very tight (hard to turn the lens to the latching point), and a couple of my lenses have the focus slightly bind when mounted on this body, but not on my other M bodies. Most of my other lenses are fine on this body, so it depends on the lens design as well as the body. I assume the extra tension on the mounting lugs adds very slight distortion to the mount. I think Leica noted this several years ago with on a new lens, where they recalled and beefed up the lens body around the mount. - maybe the 21 super Elmar? This may explain how multiple samples of a lens have this issues on some bodies, while other users have no problem.

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Thanks, I can see where that is possible, something as you described relating to the internal clearances/tolerances. I only have the one Leica body, a year old MP Black Paint I bought new. Since I have had no issues with the 3 other Voightlander lenses or the 2 Leica lenses I own, would that suggest a problem with the lens design or a quality control issue and not the camera body?  I am in South Carolina and we have had moderate temps during this time but maybe its possible slight variations in temps could affect the focusing. The last copy seemed fine until I took the combo outside. After shooting 6 - 8 frames it stuck then loosened, a few no problem frames then it re-occurred. Once back inside I could replicate the problem. Also, I found when I laid the camera on it's back then went to either the landscape or portrait orientation it would stick/bind every time. Possibly an issue with a particular run or batch of lenses since this isn't a widespread problem? Good info and hope the folks at Cosina learn of this issue.

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Just to test Tom's theory, I checked mine a while ago without mounting it.  It tried to stick a little passed the 7 ft mark, further turning had it free and I'm almost certain it will remain that way until I use it again.  

Seems when I take it out on the camera, it will stick only when I'm not expecting it...maybe it just wants more attention.

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It's a really tiny lens and the focus ring is made thin, and hence could be subject to deformation under pressure. Also Cosina could have reduced the amount of lubrication used during manufacture.

Don't press too hard on the focus tab. Rather move it gently in the direction of rotation.

 

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Posted (edited)

So I got this lens 2 weeks ago, black paint 35mm. I had same issue. Focus was really rough and tight in certain spots. I took the lens off my camera, put the caps back on and just turned the focus ring back and forth for 30min. Then I just started using it. Was better after doing that. 2 weeks later today, it’s basically completely smooth. Doesn’t hang anymore. Lens was sharp from day one, rough or not, so I didn’t exch it.

This is my 2nd lens from them, first being the 35mm nokton classic. This ultron amazes me. Better than 35summicron and smaller. Really great

 

 

 

 

Edited by t4r2017
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On 4/8/2022 at 11:27 AM, t4r2017 said:

So I got this lens 2 weeks ago, black paint 35mm. I had same issue. Focus was really rough and tight in certain spots. I took the lens off my camera, put the caps back on and just turned the focus ring back and forth for 30min. Then I just started using it. Was better after doing that. 2 weeks later today, it’s basically completely smooth. Doesn’t hang anymore. Lens was sharp from day one, rough or not, so I didn’t exch it.

 

 

 

 

 

After reading this I tried the same thing, gave it about 30 minutes of wear-in.  Today I was using it and had no problems at all with it sticking.  Really like the lens and pleased that it only needed more use to get it focusing smoothly.  It's a keeper for my kit.

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