The 50mm f/0,95 Noctilux was quite a sensation when it was introduced a few years ago. In spite of its high price, it has remained as a very popular lens in the lineup of Leica lenses. Here is another look at a very extensive test of that lens:
By Florian C.A. Czech
Not so long ago Alex Görlitz from Foto Görlitz wrote to me. "Your review of the M10 (https://flowflo.blogspot.co.at/p/der-leica-salesmanager-eastern-europ.html) is really great. I do not know when I last read such a good report. Say you really like to write reports about equipment? " That depends, was my answer, if I'm interested and I'm convinced, yes! Which lens would you like to test, Alex asked me, presenting me with a not so easy task. In the last years with Leica I already had almost all lenses on my M's and found the perfect equipment for me and my way of photographing. All together with top lenses from Leica, Zeiss and Voigtländer. For me it is important that a lens has character! It does not matter to me which name is on it - the performance must fit! What is overestimated on lenses in my opinion is how sharp a lens is. I join Ken Rockwell who says, "The more you know about photography, the more you know that lens sharpness does not matter. Sharpness is the most overrated aspect of lens performance! "Https://kenrockwell.com/tech/lens-sharpness.htm And he is right! Sharpness is just an easy to measure criterion, as well as contrast and resolution. Vignetting and distortion are also easy to measure, and so all the photo magazines set out to evaluate lenses based solely on these criteria. Funny thing is that the people who perform tests in laboratories, the test candidates themselves never had on their cameras ... I'm not photographing test charts under laboratory conditions! It is important to me how a lens performs in the hard everyday life of a photographer - the character of the lens and last but not least the usability and quality of the production are really important to me. The only thing that matters is the finished photograph! But how do you evaluate the character of a lens? That's not so easy. It depends a lot on the photographer's taste and the actual field of application. The most important thing, however, is that you have a comparison and experience. That's the only way to really judge how good a lens is!
I strongly recommend the leather protector from Leica for a good grip of this not very light combination!
So back to the beginning: I had the last 40 years, which I photograph now, almost everything in front of my eyes. 35mm, medium format, SLR, mirrorless system cameras, etc. and ended up again at a Leica M, which makes me happy about everything! (Why can you read here: https://flowflo.blogspot.co.at/p/der-leica-salesmanager-eastern-europ.html) And - I've found in recent years, the perfect lenses for me. My luck is that as a loyal customer, I was always able to test the lenses myself before making my decision and form my own opinion. Decisive for this assessment are on the one hand the quality of the lens and the character, on the other hand the price - performance ratio. If two lenses for my area of application offer almost identical performance, I opt for the cheaper, no matter which name it says - point! So which lenses would really irritate me now? What did not I have on my M? Then the question of Alex Görliz was quite easy to answer: There are two lenses that really interest me - these are the legendary Leica Noctilux-M 50 / 0.95 and the brand new Leica Apo Noctilux 75 / 1.25. Since the 75 was on the way, Alex promptly sent me the 50th Nocti and we agreed that I will test the 75er Apo in connection and not at the same time with the 50th Noctilux.
The best made lens in the world
First Impressions - Production quality
A few days later I already had the communication in my mailbox that a package from Foto Görlitz at the UPS base at my pharmacy around the corner is ready to pick up. Honestly, I was pretty excited and already so excited when I set out to pick up the lens. The more disappointed I was when I took over the quite large package. It was surprisingly easy and for a moment I thought, there can not possibly be the Leica Noctilux inside and Foto Görlitz sent me something different as a consolation ... On the way home, my steps became faster and my curiosity rose to the limit! What might be inside? Carefully I opened the large package and found a Leica typical leather quiver amidst the generously designed with bubble wrap cardboard. When I took the quiver in my hand to take out the lens, I was surprised again by the very high weight and especially when I held the lens in my hands, the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm 1: 0,95 / 50 ASPH! I do not know how to put it in words ... The lens has suddenly estimated to be ten times as heavy when unpacked ... With its dimensions of 73 x 75 mm, it brings a proud 700 grams on the scales. And I mean that consistently positive. I was and am overwhelmed by the build quality. The lens looks as if it were made of glass and metal, without air bubbles. And indeed there is a lot of glass and metal installed.
With the Leica leather protector this combination is great in the hand and with the Rock & Roll Strap makes it comfortable to carry!
I grab greedy for the aperture ring to turn it. Wow - so supple, almost without friction and yet with clear but gentle clicks, the aperture ring, which is designed in half-fade stages, snaps in precisely. A pleasure! I know of no other lens, which makes so supple and full at the same time adjust the aperture.
Next is the removal ring. Again wow! So smooth, it can be turned, with just the right resistance to focus precisely. Not too easy, not too heavy. I have not seen or felt this precision with any other lens. So manual focus must go! As some of you know, I'm a big fan of really old Leica glass. Leica still makes the highest quality lens frames for me today - but nevertheless I find the lenses of the "golden" Leica years from the period 1930 to the end of the 60s undefeated. This is also the reason why these old lenses still work flawlessly and are so often bought. This is also the reason for the value stability of Leica lenses! With this Noctilux, launched in 2008, the third version, Leica once again joins this unsurpassed manufacturing quality. I do not know any other Leica lens apart from the Leica Apo-Summicron 50 and the Leica Noctilux-M 1: 1.25 / 75mm ASPH maybe, which can compete with today's Noctilux 0.95. This is probably also the reason why this lens is supplied in a classy presentation box with glossy black fabric and has a special position in the Leica lens program. For me it is currently the best-made Leica lens and at all the currently best-made lens in the world. Now I can also understand that there are people who put this 10,400 - euro lens into a glass cabinet to take it from time to time in order to play with it, to enjoy the manufacturing quality and at the same time a value investment have. Thinking for a minute ... No, I can not quite understand them! This lens belongs to a Leica M to excel in what it's made for - producing unique photographs under the guidance of the photographer! First set to my Leica, doubles the weight of my M10. With attached Visoflex finder, original leather protector from Leica and the terrific custom-made, 140 cm long Rock & Roll Strap, this combination brings a proud 1750 grams on the scales. Since I'm a "big boy", that does not bother me. Of course, this setup is the opposite of my Vintage Summaron 2,8 cm at the M10, but as I said that is fine for me. Two things make the combination much easier to carry with: Firstly, my original leather Leica protector. Through this you keep this combination safe and non-slip in the right hand. And second, the sensational Rock & Roll Strap from https://rocknrollstraps.com. In a special order of 140cm, I wear my M diagonally over the left shoulder. The length of the strap I have measured so that the camera hangs on ledge height and I have her with loosely hanging arm by hand always at hand, without having to move up or down. In addition, the weight of even this combination is distributed pleasantly on the shoulder, back and chest. The construction of the Rock & Roll Strap additionally absorbs the weight of the station wagon comfortably. All in all, this station wagon is very comfortable for me to wear for a whole day. Facing the eye, this combination lies like a rock in my hands. The left hand under the lens to adjust the aperture and distance, the right hand encloses the camera on the right and is responsible for additional stability and triggering. It feels perfect to me. Due to the weight and the large contact surfaces in my hands, I hold a perfectly balanced unit which allows synonymous long shutter speeds from the hand or a blur impossible! The focus distance is short enough to focus quickly and long enough to allow for precise focus. This is also helped by the large lens diameter, which makes focusing very comfortable. I think this combination was excellent. It is a great pleasure to focus even with open aperture and rangefinder.
With a little practice, you can also get fast-moving subjects! Aperture 0.95
Speaking of focusing ... Handling a rangefinder basically requires some time to get used to someone who is not used to working with it. But once you have learned to handle it, you do not want anything else. A tip from me: Always sets the distance between two shots to infinity. So you always turn into the same direction until the image in the rangefinder appears sharp. In most cases, it's as fast as autofocus, and usually even faster, and I always know where the focus is - there are no false focuses.
Depending on the recording distance, however, it becomes critical below aperture 2. At aperture 1.4 and even more at aperture 0.95, highest concentration is announced. Especially if the shooting distance is less than three meters. If there are 3 meters and aperture 0.95 still a focal plane of about 20cm, so it decreases at 2 meters to about 4.5cm and at a recording distance of 1 meter to not quite 1 cm. Of course, that takes a lot of practice. Those of you who have worked with aperture 1.4 on an M with the range finder will get the hang of it quickly. Anyway, it is no longer fast and sloppy. This inevitably leads to blurred images. It's a challenge and not recommended for beginners in the M system. But I already love it at the M, because I have to prepare even better for the picture! To be sloppy is not! You have to take your time and this forces you to get in contact with the scene and the people, especially in street photography, while you focus precisely. Of course you have to be able to stand that. But if you get involved, you will be rewarded with extraordinary recordings!
To catch such situations well, you should plan the recording.
I love this lens after a short time for street shooting! Aperture 0.95
In any case, I fell in love with the Nocti after the first street scenes in this lens. Even moving subjects are possible with a little more practice! And then there is still the great Visoflexsucher of Leica. I like to use it again and again - no matter which lens. This viewfinder makes the M a different camera and extends the range considerably! But especially with the Noctilux 0.95 it makes eg. Portrait shots a breeze. Of course you should also work here prudently. If you do that, you can quickly focus on the millimeter! - Great! Also worth mentioning is the built-in lens hood! You take them off and with a left turn you fix them against accidental insertion. It effectively stops stray light from the side, but it does not protect much against front lens damage due to the design, because the diameter of this 60mm lens is very large and the lens hood is rather small in comparison. Also, it happened to me again and again that the lens hood has unintentionally retracted ... I therefore strongly recommend the use of a protective filter for the front lens. Likewise, a corresponding gray filter is a must, in order to be able to photograph with open aperture even in bright daylight. The solution of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 1: 2.0 / 50mm ASPH and the Leica Noctilux-M 1: 1.25 / 75mm ASPH, in which the lens hood is extended by turning, I like it much better because they are not unintentionally again can retract! It shows again that in the development of new lenses Leica listens to the photographers and installs innovations to meet our wishes. I am sure that the same solution will be installed in any new version of the 50's Noctis.
The gradation of out of focus, sharp, out of focus draws the Noctilux 0.95 quite soft and smooth!
The 50mm focal length you love or you don´t. It is unspectacular, but for that very reason very universally applicable. Anyway wants to be designed with this focal length. By itself, it produces very little tension compared to a wider-angle lens. For it scores with honest, distortion-free recordings. As a self-confessed bokeh fan, of course, I was most curious about the rendering, the drawing of the blur area, both in the background and in the foreground. I was curious about the character and soul of the world's brightest ASPH 50mm lens!
Leica Noctilux Aperture 0,95
My previous bokehking, is the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm / f1: 1.5. Compared to the Leica Summilux 50mm / f1: 1.4 ASPH I like it better from the rendering. The Lux is from the two the slightly better processed and sharper lens, the Sonnar has for me the clearly nicer bokeh! This circumstance made me grab for the Zeiss, since the lens sharpness hardly plays a role nowadays. I mean, what's that nonsense at all, if you advertise with such lenses with the perfect edge definition at open aperture? Nonsense! I do not use a lens with an open aperture, so the edges are perfectly sharp, the opposite is true. The contrast and the resolution are already much more important. But most important to me is whether a lens has a character that can put me in ecstasy.
Even the first street scenes with the Noctilux at open aperture, put me in this ecstasy! Unbelievable how this lens draws. It is an absolutely harmonious, so creamy, smoother process between blurred in the foreground, sharpness on the main subject and blurring in the background. I'm excited. The resolution is top and the colors are very pleasant for me, natural and harmonious. The distortion is zero. Even the vignetting, which can not be prevented with such highly opened lenses, is absolutely limited and can be used creatively. If you do not want to have vignetting, just turn them out while working out ..! ;)
I love the range of focus f/0,95
I could not believe my eyes when I examined the first images on the monitor of my M10. The pictures looked so great here already. On the monitor of the M10 you can see immediately whether a shot looks good or not. This was later confirmed on the 27 "monitor of my iMac. When zooming in, I was amazed again, what this lens can do! What a resolution, what a sharpness and the aperture at 0,95! And then the colors! Yes, I admit - 90% of my recordings are black and white anyway. But also shots which I have converted via Capture One11 in black and white, deliver through this lens in conjunction with the sensational sensor of the M10 perfect shades of gray. I confess: This lens has led me to one or the other color image more ..., ok, it was rather more! ;)
Street Portrais are a dream with the Nocti! Aperture 0.95
The application of this exceptional lens is huge. The first few days I still thought why this lens has even more f-stops ...? I would use it anyway only with aperture 0.95. But even at Aperture 1,4, 2, 4, 5,6 the Nocti has a very own, very nice signature! Even slightly to moderately dimmed this lens has a nicer, softer and smootheres bokeh than my Zeiss Sonnar!
Blende 0.95 durch ein Fenster aufgenommen
From aperture 5.6 upwards it holds in my opinion loose with the Leica Summicron 50, which was known for a long time as the 50s with the highest resolution and sharpness, until Leica brought the APO Summicron 50 on the market, which sets new standards ,
I'm really thrilled, the very special, beautiful character of this Noctilux 0,95. Even dimmed, it retains its appearance and its own character and is recognizable as noctilux for the skilled, experienced viewer. For my liking it beats my Zeiss Planar 50 / 1.5 easily and I have a new favorite 50s! The Noctilux 0,95 for me is the best 50mm lens! For landscape shots with open aperture, it invites you to play with sharpness and blur and produces so fantastically beautiful shots. Dimmed, it delivers perfect images with a sensational definition, resolution and perfect edge definition.
This Nocti is very good natured in backlight. If anything, it shows beautiful circular flares, which can be very well incorporated as a design element in the picture. If you turn the camera a bit, you get it out of the picture.
Do you see the circular flares?
Even portraits recordings make me extremely fun with this Noctilux, although I'm not the portrait photographer. Due to the low depth of field, one achieves very extraordinary effects at low shooting distances between one and one and a half meters. With shooting distances between three and five meters, you have this beautiful pop effect, the three-dimensional effect that we already know from the Summilux 50. This effect is much more pronounced with the Nocti, the bokeh much creamier, softer and more harmonious. A dream!
All with aperture 0.95
To be honest, I did not expect this lens to convince me with so many ways. It's an exception lens in every way, and I'm overwhelmed with the almost inexhaustible uses and beautiful harmonic effect the Nocti creates.
I always catch myself photographing trivial things with it and am pleased about the implementation that this lens offers me. I think that's what you call still life or something ...! ;)
Just from the desk ... Aperture 0.95
I like the colors of the Nocti! Blend 0.95
I love the versatility of this lens! Aperture 0.95
The Leica Noctilux-M 1: 0.95 / 50mm ASPH convinces me in its full length! € 10,400 is a lot of money, but considering the value stability and the resale value even after 20 years, this investment quickly loses its horror. The previous version, Noctilux 50/1, cost $ 1,149 in 1986. Today you pay for a good used this year (32 years old) at least about 5.500, - Euro. The current model, built in 2010, the Leicashop currently sells for € 8,400. In return, one gets, in the truest sense of the word, the most valuable lens in the world. A lens for more than one life, which always gives you pleasure and fun and can be sold even after decades without loss of value, if you ever want to give it. A lens that currently or in the past has no opponent or had! It is the brightest lens in its class, which scores with an exceptionally high imaging performance. A lens with a wonderful character and grandiose bokeh! A lens that you no longer want to give, you have photographed for a while with it. I ask myself now only one question: Which passbook I will plunder, so I can buy this, lens ...?
Me. - Thanks for your interest!
Here are some more pictures:
The course of sharpness, f 0.95
Even moving Streetshots are possible at f 0,95 with the rangefinder with a little practice!
Heimweg / 0,95
Since exactly 2 months I take pictures with the Leica Noctilux-M 1: 0,95 / 50mm ASPH. In these 2 months I took the Nocti only once from my M10: It was the time when I exchanged the test lens against my own Noctilux. After these two months in which I photographed exclusively with the Nocti, daily, - after a good thousand shots with this exceptional lens, I have to say one thing very clearly: Anyone who, like me, prints 90% of their photographs up to size A2 on fine art paper will receive unconditional medium format quality in combination with a Leica M10. More resolution, richness of detail, colorrichness and sharpness are there, I currently do not find in this class.
This lens is able to perfectly resolve the sensational sensor of the M10 so that in my opinion there are currently only two lenses that can do just that. On the one hand, this is the Leica APO-Summicron-M 1: 2.0 / 50mm ASPH and the Leica Noctilux-M 1: 1.25 / 75mm ASPH. on the other hand!
Last week in Leitz Park opening in Wetzlar, I had the opportunity to test the 75th Apo Nocti and I believe that this still a touch fine and higher dissolves than the 50s 0.95 Nocti. A detailed test will show this!
Leica Noctilux-M 1: 1.25 / 75mm ASPH. f 1,25
It was at the beginning of this incomparably beautiful, smooth bokeh and the intensity of light through which the Nocti could set me in ecstasy, now it is the other f-stops of this lens too. This bokeh never loses its creamy character, even if it diminishes naturally by dimming down! For shorter shooting distances you can still cut up to 5.6 aperture depending on your taste.
If you fade further down to aperture 8 or 11, this lens literally explodes in the direction of resolution, detail and sharpness. - Unpackable! I mean, delivers the Nocti already from 0.95 to Aperture 5.6 References!
The photographs get a three-dimensionality at f8 and f11 like I've never seen before. The image is sharp from front to back, from left to right, right up to the edges of razor blades. From the image effect and the three-dimensionality it reminds me of the most modern 4K television sets.
For me, the Leica Noctilux-M is 1: 0,95 / 50mm ASPH., is far more than a high-aperture lens with beautiful bokeh. The Leica Noctilux-M 1: 0.95 / 50mm ASPH. for me is, because of its unsurpassed field of application, its flexibility, its unconditional build quality and last but not least because of the outstanding imaging performance the most versatile and best lens in the world - point. So, now it is almost 6 months in which I use the Nocti, In these 6 months, I have only used this lens. Unbelievable how versatile the Noctilux is!
On bright days I use it with a B & W greyfiter, which takes me 3 f-stops. With this combination, I get through to 99%, without having to fade. If the light is not so bright I always use a B & W protection filter to protect my front lens.
In normal shooting distances, so from about 4-5 meters, I get along well with the rangefinder. For closer motives or in bad light, I prefer to rely on the Visoflex viewfinder. Either way, with the Nocti, precise focus is always required to generate full power.
However, those who are prepared to elaborate their photographs carefully will be rewarded with an incomparable quality and an unmistakable character. It is simply incomparable to any other lens!
Sensational sharpness at f/0.95
Every day I love the Nocti more. The manufacturing quality of this, exclusively made in Wetzlar optics, is amazing. I know no other lens which is smoother focus. The aperturestops are perfect! Not too easy - not too heavy. However, what makes me so enthusiastic about this lens is its flexibility. At aperture 0.95 you get this sensational creamy bokeh with simultaneous top sharpness on the main subject. Dimmed it explodes in the direction of sharpness and resolution without becoming sterile and thus gets its 3d character.
The Leica Noctilux-M 1: 0.95 / 50mm ASPH with my Leica M10 is the best purchase I've made for the last 40 years. Never before has photography been so much fun!
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