Dec 092009
 

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The Leica Noctilux 0.95 Review: Disclaimer and Thanks: I am truly excited to write about this Noctilux. The original F1 version is one of my favorite lenses EVER, for any camera system. When I had the opportunity to review the new Leica 0.95 Noctilux, on my Leica M9 no less, I was ECSTATIC! So I just wanted to say Thank You to Leica for letting me try it out. This review is a bit longer than my others because when I am excited about a certain camera or lens, I tend to include a ton of images (and there are MANY in this review), as well as write until my brain hurts. So without further ado, here is the Leica Noctilux .95 review…

“face in the crowd” – Noctilux 0.95 at 0.95

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Man, I am BEAT! Over the past 48 hours, I have had very little sleep and have walked about 8 miles. For me, that is quite a bit of walking, as I am no marathon man. I also gained 1/4 inch on my biceps! Why, you ask? Well, it is because I have been walking throughout New York City with the Leica M9 and the big ol’ Leica Noctilux 0.95 lens attached! Yes, this is a BIG lens. It is a HEAVY lens. It is a very expensive lens. But it also happens to be one of the most beautifully built and nicest feeling lenses I have ever touched.

When this lens was announced by Leica, I had a range of emotions. First, I was like “YES!!!, this is amazing..F0.95″ and then I said ,”Shit! No way I could EVER afford to lay out $10,000 on a lens.” After that sticker shock, I put it out of my head. I tried to ignore it. Then, one day I was talking with Seal (singer/songwriter/photographer), who said he had the Noctilux .95 and it was GORGEOUS. As a matter of fact, he also sent me some samples that he snapped from his hotel room. They were just test shots of some lamps, but I could tell from those that at F0.95 it appeared this new Noctilux had the character of a 50 Summilux ASPH rather than the old Noctilux. Very sharp, with very smooth bokeh. To see that post at the old site, click here to open it in a new window. Keep in mind, it is one of my very early posts, on the old site, and on a very slow server.

THE NOCTILUX F0.95 LENS ARRIVES – MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Anyway, let me rewind to about a week ago. UPS dropped off a huge box from Leica and inside was a loaner Noctilux 0.95 lens. They wanted me to try it out and see what I thought of it. They also knew I was a HUGE, HUGE fan of the classic Noctilux and recently purchased a used one from Ken Hansen. So for me, this new version had HUGE shoes to fill. I also knew that I had a challenge ahead of me because in my reviews I like to provide plenty of real world photos to show you how the lens will behave in the real world. I do not rely on test charts or newspaper text (though in this review I do a couple of side-by- sides). I get out there and shoot my ass off and evaluate the lens or camera by how it performed during real use.

What was really cool is that I just so happened to be taking a New York trip and the lens arrived just before I had  to leave. PERFECT! While most photographers say that this lens is not  a street shooting lens, I LOVE challenges and wanted to see if I could come away with some cool shots of the hustle and bustle of NYC while shooting a Noctilux WIDE OPEN at .95. Day and Night.

But, before my wife and I left for the Big Apple,  I took some images of the new Noctilux next to the old classic F1 version to show you the size and weight, side-by-side with the old one. Oh, and in case some of you reading this are not aware, this lens is an all MANUAL lens. Manual focus, manual aperture, etc.

OLD AND NEW – CLASSIC F1 ON THE LEFT, NEW 0.95 ON THE RIGHT

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WITH HOODS EXTENDED

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As you can see, the new version is not only taller, it is wider. It is also quite a bit heavier. Take a look at the scale shot. This is something I now do with all lens reviews so you can see the weight of the lens, as there have been times I wanted to know how heavy a lens is. These guys are some heavy lenses for a Leica M mount lens. Usually they are TINY, but these guys are monsters in comparison. The new Noctilux is almost 5 oz. more than the old version. Doesn’t sound like much, but in use, it is. The new one feels much more solid and heavy on the camera. It is the most dense and solid lens I have ever shot with. It makes the Zeiss 50 Planar look like a cheap plastic toy.

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TOP VIEW: LEFT – old noct - RIGHT – new noct

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Also, something I do with every review these days is my YOUTUBE video review. This is a short overview of the lens and shows you what it looks like, feels like, and has some of my 1st impressions upon holding the lens in my hand. I will also show you how silky smooth the new version’s aperture ring is.

So as far as build, quality, and feel, the new Noctilux ASPH is AMAZING and beats the old one in all areas of build. When I switch to the old F1 version after shooting the 0.95 version for a while, the old one feels LIGHT and SMALL on the camera. In use, this new Noctilux is a beast of a lens. It’s very front-heavy and pulls the camera down if its strapped to your body. After hours of use, it can get heavy and I am not so sure an M9 and Noctilux .95 is any lighter than say a Nikon D700 and 50 1.4. I shot this lens for 6 hours straight while in NYC, side-by-side with the old Noctilux. I wanted to see if the “character” of the new lens stayed true to the old F1 version, which many own for its unique capabilities.

SOME OF MY NOCTILUX HISTORY

Leica released the first Noctilux F1 lens in 1976 and it has now been through 5 versions, including the new one. The early versions of the lens had a screw-in hood and the 4th version, the one I own, is the 4th version with the pop-up, built-in hood and it is 6-bit coded. The optical formula of the F1 version has stayed the same throughout its life cycle, though some think its coatings have been improved in the later versions. Most of the F1 Noctilux lenses were made in Canada, including mine. The new 0.95 version is made in Germany and now has ASPHERICAL elements. Before the launch of the new version, Leica packaged up the last 100 F1 versions and put them in a humidor and sold them off with white gloves…all for a cool $15,000. These days, used F1 versions go for anywhere from $4400 to $7000, depending on version, condition, and whether or not it is 6-bit coded.

The old F1 Noct is a unique and much “lusted after” lens, but many who have owned the F1 version of the lens have sold it due to its size, weight, and long focus throw. To many, the Noctilux is a “specialty” lens. To others, they shoot it everyday and make it a part of their style. Me, I feel the Noct could easily be used as an everyday lens (though it’s more of a challenge at times), but the classic version does vignette on the M9 from F1-F4 and it is slow to focus. Still, at F5.6, it is as sharp as any 50 I have shot with.

I bought my first Noctilux f1 in 2003 for $2995 NEW from B&H PHOTO. I ended up selling it to fund a 50 Lux ASPH, as the size and focus throw of the Noct started to bug me. Then, right after I sold it, I regretted doing so. For years I kicked myself in the ass for letting that lens go, especially now that I see them for $6995. A few weeks ago, Leica dealer Ken Hansen told me he had a mint used one for a great price, so I sold my 50 Lux Pre ASPH and 35 cron to fund it. That was either a HUGE mistake or a genius decision. It could be a mistake because I may get sick of the weight of the Noctilux and end up selling it again. It could be genius as I got a killer deal on it and I can probably sell it later for more than I paid. Only time will tell, but for now I am loving the lens.

SOME SIDE BY SIDES – OLD vs NEW NOCTILUX…

I told you guys that this would be a long review, but let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it all. You now know that the 0.95 lens is bigger,  heavier, and faster than the old version. BUT, how does it compare side-by-side? The big thing for me with the 0.95 was to see if it retained any of that special Noctilux character. The swirly bokeh and soft glow wide open is something that I enjoy with the F1 Noctilux, so let’s see some samples…

Below is an image I shot of my Christmas tree with the 0.95 Noctilux at 0.95. This is wide open, baby… and it shows. Look at the way it renders. Amazing! I focused on the santa and shot each image with the camera on a tripod.

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and a 100% crop:

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Now the F1 version, shot at F1:

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Well, look at that! Magic to my eyes. To me, both versions look very special, but to be honest the 0.95 version has more shine, more brilliance, is sharper, and has less vignetting. Here is a 100% crop from the F1 shots focus point, the santa head:

f1croptree

It is immediately apparent that the new version at 0.95 is sharper than the old one at F1. YES, this F1 shot is IN FOCUS and is the way the old lens renders. It has a softness about it at F1. Some like this, some hate it. The new lens is also a corrected lens. It is a more “perfect” lens, much like the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. In many ways it reminds me of a larger, heavier, faster 50 1.4 ASPH. Here are two more crops from the two images above to show you more of how each lens works away from the center:

NOCT95CROPTREE3

NOCTF1CROPTREE3

Again, the new Noctilux is sharper and more contrasty. So, that is that. In all honesty, I feel the new lens is  a marvel of engineering. How Leica made a freaking 0.95 lens as sharp as their 50 Summilux ASPH (at the focus point)  at 1.4 tells me they are masters of glass design. Wow.

LET THERE BE LIGHT..and BOKEH!

Another reason some people fall in love with the classic Noctilux is for the way it renders out of focus background light points. Some lenses render these in a nasty, ugly way, but the Noctilux is known for its beauty and style with big oval blobs of light. I wanted to test this for myself, so I set up a tripod on my sleeping cat (who used to be a stray BTW, look at her now). It was dark in the house, so I plugged in some Christmas lights behind the cat to see how each lens would render these wide open.

LEICA NOCTILUX 0.95 AT 0.95 ON THE M9

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LEICA NOCTILUX CLASSIC F1 AT F1 ON THE M9

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You can click on the images above for larger versions. What do you see and which do you prefer? I see that the new version renders the lights in an even more pleasing “rounder” way. I also see more shallow depth of field due to the huge 0.95 aperture, as well as a bit more contrast. One thing for sure is that BOTH lenses are beautiful. At this point (which was my 1st night with the lens),  I was thinking. “Hmmm. Yea, this new $10k monster is the best built and fastest lens I have ever laid my hands on, but is it worth the $10,000 cost”? Seeing that the Leica Noctilux 0.95 is THE FASTEST LENS IN PRODUCTION TODAY FOR THE 35MM FORMAT, I guess you can say it is. It is a niche item, a specialty lens to some shooters. This is a lens you would buy for its unique look and amazing speed, BUT it also serves well as an all-purpose 50 if its all you have. While I will never buy it at $10k, many will and many have.

So here I am, almost 2000 words into this review and I have yet to post my real world photos with this lens. I told you this could be a long one :) I wanted to show those simple test shots above because it clearly demonstrates the advantage of the 0.95 version over the old one. It is sharper, has more contrast, is faster, and built to a higher standard. I also noticed during my time with it that the color is also MUCH better. My old Nocti has a yellow cast to the images and this new one is warmer, richer, and more correct. I am not going to post more side-by-sides, as I need the space for the photos, but take my word, the new lens renders VERY MUCH like the Leica Summilux 50 ASPH, which is considered the best 50mm lens in the world (well, until now). What does that mean? It means PERFECTION in sharpness, contrast, color, and brilliance, but with the ability to shoot in the dark with its 0.95 aperture.

But many of you want to know if it retains that special magic of the F1 Noctilux. When wide open at 0.95, it does indeed have some of that magical quality of the F1 version. Let’s be honest here. If you buy this lens, you are buying it for the 0.95 aperture, and this lens is simply AMAZING when shot wide open, if you like that sharp, but still somewhat dreamy and creamy look.

SOME REAL WORLD SAMPLES WITH THE NEW 0.95 NOCTILUX

When I went to New York to test this lens, I told my wife I wanted to shoot it wide open 98% of the time. Again, if I wanted an F2 lens, I would buy a Summilux or Summicron. This lens will set you back $10,000 mainly for its speed…that magical 0.95 aperture. Who would buy this to shoot it at F2, F4, or F8? NOT ME. While it can shoot at those apertures without breaking a sweat, this lens (just like the classic version), begs to be shot wide open. Past 0.95, it behaves almost EXACTLY like a 50 Summilux ASPH, maybe even with better color and contrast. Yes, this lens is just about perfect in regards to image quality.

So now that I have shown some test shots and crops, I want to show you some REAL images. What this lens is made for. REAL photography! While many reviewers stick to the scientific testing methods, I STRONGLY feel a lens should be reviewed by actually USING it for what it is made to be used for! Also, leica made this lens for us to have a 0.95 aperture, and this is how I intended to shoot it!

Here are some shots and ALL are wide open. I did shoot a few at F1.4 and F2 during the day, as my M9 is limited to 1/4000th of a second. Some have been converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro, but as far as the images, they are all straight from the RAW converter, Adobe Camera Raw. No further Post processing was done to these. Just contrast, WB, and exposure from within Camera Raw. Any “effects” you see are due to the lens and that glorious 0.95 aperture. So what you see, is what you get.

One of the first shots in NYC. Shot wide open at 0.95 and converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro

*swmcBW

While the focus throw is long with the new Noctilux, it seems faster than the old version. Focusing seemed smoother as well. As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING on the new version in regards to “in use action” was better. Right after the above image, I told my wife to stand on the steps. I took one while she smiled but liked this one better. She did not know I snapped this one, and these type of images are always better IMO :) This one was shot at 1.4.

*minasub

This was the start of our day on the streets of NYC and it was in the 30′s. I realized this would also be a good test of how well the lens acts in cold weather for extended periods of time. While it was not bitter cold, I did notice my classic F1 noct started to get stiff with its focus. The new 0.95 stayed smooth and silky all day long.

One more from later in the day at a different location, but this time at F2.8

Noctilux F0.95 at 2.8 on the M9

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As we walked the streets, I realized that it is pretty challenging to shoot at F0.95, with a long focus throw lens while my subjects were in motion. But, it was not impossible, just challenging.

COMING/GOING – M9 – LEICA NOCTILUX F0.95 AT 0.95

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I was shocked at how I nailed the image above with focus wide open. I was starting to have fun with this and realized it was possible to get some great street shots with a Noct! I did see some purple fringing/CA in the shot above. Can you see it? It’s in the mans hair. This happens with almost ANY fast lens on a digital camera in super high contrast situations. I have seen it in Nikon, Canon, and high-end Leica glass. Its more of a “digital” thing and is not something I worry about. I can say that this is the only shot out of 300 that showed this effect.

As we walked by the many bakeries and delis, I saw this couple hugging, kissing, smiling, and looking like they were madly in love. I stepped up and shot this image of them. They looked at me after I snapped and smiled. Such a nice reaction, as I was worried they may get angry. See, I am not that experienced with street shooting. I have done a bit in Chicago, but only once or twice. Back then, I used a wide angle, but this time it was the Noct. A lens that people told me would not work for street, especially wide open. So I had everything working against me. Limited street experience and shooting with a F 0.95 lens, wide open plus being worried I would get a bad reaction. But, all went very well.

TRUE LOVE – M9 – LEICA NOCTILUX 0.95 at 0.95 – CONVERTED TO B&W WITH SILVER EFEX PRO

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Many will say YEA, it’s easy to stop, compose, and focus, but keep in mind the image above was NOT posed. They had no idea I was taking an image until after I took it. I used the Noct wide open and as the day progressed, I was getting much quicker, but my focus was not always spot on due to me trying to be fast. Here is one I shot while walking. I did not even stop. I saw this man lighting his cigarette, lifted the cam, did a quick and dirty focus, and shot. He never even noticed me. This is what is so cool about the M cameras. Once you get the hang of focusing, you can just lift, focus, and shoot…and you can do it very quickly. Try getting this same image with a DSLR and F2.8 lens. It won’t happen as it will never look like this.

“lighting up” – 0.95 Noctilux at F0.95

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I was a little off with the focus in this one, but its still a good shot IMO. I was trying to capture the hustle and bustle of the streets and the people in the city. While most tourists were snapping the Empire State Building or the lights of Times Square with their big Nikons or Canons, I blended in with my M and even with this Noctilux. Nobody really noticed me. Here are a few more from NYC with this combo. ALL WIDE OPEN AT 0.95!

“steps” – 0.95

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“charmin man” – 0.95 – ISO 640

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“traffic man” – 0.95

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“spare change”? – 0.95

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“evil eye” – 0.95 – cropped

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I was having a blast in NYC with my wife and the M9/Noct combo. I also switched the new version and old version out throughout the days and will post some of my F1 shots later in this review. But while shooting with the 0.95, I had no issues with focus AT ALL. The lens was easy and smooth to change focus, though a few times the aperture did change as the dial is so smooth it moved over due to me shooting with gloves. Maybe it could have a little more friction, but it feels so nice as it is. Just be careful using it with gloves!

SOME BEAUTIFUL BOKEH

One thing the Noctilux has plenty of is BOKEH. That beautiful background blur that some lenses get so right while others get so WRONG. I have seen some lenses with absolute NASTY background blur  (the old version nikon 50 1.4 comes to mind) when wide open. The Noctilux has the most gorgeous out of focus rendering I have ever seen. EVER. PERIOD. END OF STORY. As the hours passed in NYC, I was starting to think of ways to fund this lens. I knew there was just NO WAY possible to do this, so I considered punching myself in the eye and calling Leica to tell them I was robbed! Ha ha, just kidding.

The only other lens I have ever used that had some magic like this is the Canon 85LII 1.2. That is a must have lens for any Canon shooter, but it’s even bigger and heavier than the Noctilux 0.95 and is not as good (though it is 1/5th the price). Yes, I have shot with it extensively and it is my favorite Canon lens, especially on the 5DII. But, this Noctilux is simply PERFECTION in lens design.

Seriously though, this lens was proving itself to me and I saw what a masterpiece it really is. The limitation to what it can do was ME. Put this lens in better hands and it will be even more impressive. When I would switch to the F1 version I would notice the softer look, more vignetting, and different color. Still, I have a soft spot for the old one and its more classical approach. But either lens will pump out the special and magical BOKEH. Here are some delicious, bokehlicious images…all at 0.95

ISO 160

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boygrldt

So yes, the new Noctilux retains the magical Bokeh of the original, but it presents the images in a “cleaner” way. They are sharper and crisper and they also have much less vignetting. For comparison, here is one from the classic F1 noct…

Noctilux F1 at F1

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Ahhh, these warm my heart. The classic renders in a “rounder” and gentler way. It is not as brilliant or perfect and some will say a that it is a little duller. The colors are also more muted, but hey, I am not complaining. I love the classic Noct for all of its imperfections, as well as its beauty and charm. It is a legend and today sells used for pretty big money. I have seen a new-old-stock Noctilux F1 sell recently  for $7000. The new one can be had for $10k. So the question to those that are thinking of buying this lens for the first time is wether they want the softer, less contrasty vignetting F1 version, or the new 0.95 that is pretty much perfect.

The new one would set you back $3-$4k more than a new old stock or used F1. It all comes down to what you need and want, but again, the 50 Noctilux 0.95 can be used as an everyday lens, though it is HEAVY on the M9. It’s perfect at all apertures and it does not seem to flare as easily as the old one. The color, contrast, and sharpness is about as good as it gets and wide open, it performs better than I ever dreamed. Man, maybe I can sell my car? Ha ha..

Mina in Central Park – 0.95 – the lighting was VERY flat but the lens did great

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BUT, one thing to be careful with is DEPTH OF FIELD! At its closest distance of 3.3 feet, and when shooting at F 0.95 you have to be aware of the depth of field! It is so thin, you will easily get some OOF results. Here is an image I shot with the Noctilux 0.95 wide open. The guy in the middle was leaning back a bit so his head is out of focus. I should have set the camera to F2 and a higher ISO so this image was lost due to my mistake. Be careful at 0.95!

Depth of field is very thin at 0.95! Watch your focus!

WORKINGIT

This would have been a GREAT shot if it was at F2 or if the middle guy was more forward.

UPDATE 2011 – I was able to shoot this lens on tour with Seal for 4 weeks and it gave me some of the most gorgeous images I have ever taken…

On Tour With Seal with the M9 and Noctilux ASPH…the images speak for themselves.



MY BOTTOM LINE CONCLUSION

If I were a rich man, I would own both. I would buy the 0.95 for its build, feel, faster focus, and amazing color and brilliance. I would also buy the F1 version for its more dreamlike feel and softer glow. Both are superb lenses and seeing that I can not afford the new one, I am more than happy with the old Nocti. If I were semi-rich, I would just buy the new version or possibly a 50 Lux ASPH and older Noct. But the new version… It’s all I could ever want in a 50mm lens. The ultimate 50 and one I could keep until the end of my days. If I were a middle class kind of guy, I would buy the old one (and I did), as it’s also a great, very unique lens. Damn, I love both and honestly do not think I could give my “new” old Noct up for a new one. :)

UPDATE: I now own the new Noctilux ASPH 0.95 and will NEVER give it up. It is the most magical lens I have ever owned and after shooting it extensively can say that it is a massive improvement over the old Noctilux. Think of it as a Summilux ASPH 50 on Steroids. Better color, better bokeh, and more magic.

There are some drawbacks though, so here is my pro and con list for the 0.95 Noctilux:

PROS:

  • It is probably the best built lens I have ever held in my hands
  • It is the fastest aperture lens made today for the 35mm format
  • It is an improvement over the legendary F1 version and now has Aspherical glass.
  • It is amazingly sharp, even wide open. After 1.4, it behaves much like a 50 Summilux ASPH, maybe even with better color/contrast
  • It seems easier and faster to focus over the old F1 version
  • Its image quality is simply AMAZING
  • Its BOKEH is GORGEOUS!

CONS:

  • It’s big and heavy and in that regard, kind of makes the M feel as heavy as a DSLR
  • It’s expensive. At $10,000 and soon to be raised even higher in 2010, it is not a lens for everyone (Now $10,495 as of 2011)
  • It is not as easy or as fast to focus as the 50 Lux ASPH
  • Its closest focusing distance is 3.3 feet. This is the main “bummer” with the old and new Noctilux.
  • It does lose some of the dreamy qualities of the F1 version, but to some this is a PLUS

To me, this lens will always be a “dream lens.” If there was ever a perfect lens to me, it would be this F0.95 Noctilux. It is highly improved over the old version, but it does in fact lose some of the “character” of that lens (really, the imperfections of the F1 version have been fixed). It is perfect in almost every way when it comes to image quality. I have no complaints in that regard. It may just be the best 50mm lens in the world, on any system. PERIOD. If you have the funds and are in the market for a super-fast 50 for your M, this is your lens. Just be aware of the weight and size before you buy. With that said, I find it hard to believe that ANYONE wanting a fast lens with shallow depth of field effects would be unhappy with the performance of this lens. To me, it is one reason to own an M9.

If you are interested in this lens, you can go to B&H Photo as they usually have it in stock. As of this writing, they are “accepting orders” which means you order now, and they ship it within a week or two. B&H only accepts orders when they know they have stock coming in. Ken Hansen also sells it and I believe he has 2 or 3 in stock right now. Just tell him I sent you if you e-mail him about pricing or availability. I also saw a couple of original Noctilux F1 at Amazon for sale, NEW IN BOX if that one floats your boat. Of course they also sell the new 0.95 version at Amazon as well.

On a side note, while in NYC, me and the wife toured B&H Photo and we were AMAZED at not only the size of the store, but also at all of the high-end merchandise they have on display. They have a huge, professional and customer oriented operation and it was a pleasure to take the tour. After buying from them for 14 years or so, I finally got to see their “superstore” and it is indeed pretty super. Makes me even more thrilled to have them as a sponsor of this site.

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links!

If you enjoyed this review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or facebook! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at the upper right of any page and be notified of when new reviews are posted! With that, I will leave you with a MANY more images from this amazing lens, as well as a few from the F1 version near the bottom.

THIS FIRST GROUP ARE ALL FROM THE 0.95 NOCTILUX WIDE OPEN, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

 

As I walked by this scene I lifted the camera as I walked and guessed focus. It turned out this person was homeless and the woman on the left was about to help out while the woman on the right was passing by.

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This image is one I really like, though I am not exactly sure why.

PROF4

My wife Mina in Central Park at f4. See, I did get one shot at F4!

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This guy was selling “Obama Condoms” and the guy on the left was scolding him about something. I could not hear what they were saying but did manage to grab a few shots. Here is one of them. Wide open at night in Times Square.

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I spotted this guy texting and when I grabbed this shot he was eyeballing a woman walking by. If I had a wider lens I could have gotten the woman in the frame as well.

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STRETTWO

sttnyc

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and now, a few with the classic F1 during my NYC trip, all at f1:

Inside of Macy’s and looking down one of the old wooden escalators at F1

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cppr

paperman

In the image below you can clearly see the vignetting of the F1 version, but I do not have any issues with it and in fact like it.

grst

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  103 Responses to “The Leica 50 Noctilux F 0.95 Lens Review”

  1. Woawwww ! I need it ! Is it possible to have more precision about the nights shots : speed and iso ?
    Thanks for your work (and apologize my poor english)

  2. [...] my "real world" review of the .95 Noct and also have some comparisons with the F1 Noct. The Leica 50 Noctilux F 0.95 Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS __________________ My Leica reviews & M9 Daily Diary! http://www.stevehuffphoto.com My [...]

  3. no focus shift?

  4. I saw ZERO focus shift with this lens. I shot it from wide open through F5.6 and never had focus shift at all, but then again, my current copy of the F1 Noct also has ZERO focus shift and I tested that one on a tripod for it.

  5. Thanks much, Steve. Exactly the information and examples I was looking for in one place. There are some excellent street shots in the review … my compliments.

    Have to go, because I need to sell a few lenses …

    Kurt

  6. Hi Steve, I wish I knew you were coming to NYC. I could have met you at B&H and tried out the Noctilux….Hah! Next time you come to NYC try Patsy’s Pizza on 1st Ave at E116th St. in Harlem. Anyway, would you choose the Noct over the 35mm Summilux?, which I read is the one lens you would never sell.

  7. Steve,

    Great work with these two monsters. I have to say, I still prefer the F1. Its few shortcomings are what make that lens so special. It renders such beautiful, creamy softness to the pictures and it has so much character. The .95 is just…too perfect maybe? A technological marvel for sure but I could certainly spot a pic taken with the F1 and the .95…maybe not.

  8. Excellent review, Steve. What a wonderful time you must have had with this lens. Your writing is so infectious, that for a moment, I actually thought about trying to save up for this lens…but then I rapidly came to my senses. To me, I was curious about whether you think that an ideal combo might be the 50 lux asph and nocti (gives you both the “compact” form factor of the 50 lux with it’s modern look, and the dreamy delicious old-school look of the noct f/1….

    Another lens to compare, if you can get a hold of one, is the Canon 50 mm f/0.95 dream lens from the 50′s. I have one modified to Leica M mount, which has its own unique look. I thought for a while about selling it, but in today’s economy, couldn’t get what I put into it…plus its look can be equally charming, though erring more on the dreamy side.

    Regardless, my thoughts stray. Wonderful review. Good luck convincing Leica that your great work on this site is worthy due for getting you a new Nocti from them…for free… you have my vote!

  9. I love your in the Street hands on sharing ……..Very thorough,I can taste one
    of those lenses …It would bring uplift to the work ,on Hand…………One never
    knows ……Miracles do happen………I remain Certain…………Thanks Bro.

    Hilton Braithwaite…………

  10. Wow, after reading that opening paragraph, I’ll bet the Leica PR staff was quaking about the tough, skeptical, steely-eyed, take-no-prisoners, put-’em-through-the-wringer evaluation they were about to get…

    Okay, seriously, it’s very fast and very good. But it that much faster and better than the 50mm f/1.1 Voigtlander Nokton and $7,850 in change?

  11. Ranger,

    Ha ha…seriously do you think this $10k Noctilux would be lousy? I would seriously doubt that you will find a bad review of this lens, ever. Its only fault is its price and weight/size. But, it is still smaller than most DSLR lenses.

    As for the Nokton, no, you can not get the same results with it though it is a fine lens in its own right. The Nokton does not have the micro contrast of the Leica, and it does not have .95. Sure, 1.1 is close and close enough really but if someone has $10k to burn (I do not) then the Noct is the best 50mm lens you can buy for ANY 35mm system IMO.

    BTW, I did put this lens through the ringer and it left me with no disappointments. If it had any issues, I would have mentioned them. Still, I love my F1 Noct and I also liked the Voigtlander though it was the less “magical” of the three. It seemed to have the look of a 1.4 lens more than a 1.1.

    Thanks for posting!

  12. Thanks for the review Steve, Mine’s on its way :)

  13. I see a lot of CA even with the Canon 85 L and you are exactly right, it’s a high contrast thing and you see it there in the hair ’cause the bright highlight right behind it. I don not worry a lot about it but I’m starting to keep that in mind too lol.
    I wish I were a millionaire too I need need NEED that 0.95 lens man! You also mentioned faster focus..IS IT AF???

  14. Steve, some tremendous shots in this review, really gorgeous. I love the feet + walking stick one.

  15. Really great shots!!!

  16. Man, you driving me crazy. I have not even an M9 yet, and you come up with this 0.95 monster review. Great shots/review. Keep it up.;)

    Rudy

  17. Great review, your writing is so engaging and wonderfully personal. The more I see of the M9, the more I like the way it renders color – it has a more old school reversal film feel to it, which suits the Noctilux wonderfully – especially evident in your night shots of the cop car and the newsstand.

  18. Thanks for the interesting and through review. I own the poor man’s Nocti – the original Canon 50mm F/1.2 thread mount from the sixtes. I’ve used it on an M8 and it has a distinct look with loads of CA and vignetting. I shoot with it in Haiti and it is fun to shoot in extreme low light situations.

  19. I’ve never seen such beautiful shots in a review before. Truly great shots! I really like the opening shot, the B/W of the man in Time Square. It’s just a perfect moment. I keep imagining if you’d caught a cab with an ad for Levi’s jeans or something. Makes me appreciate the moment even more.

  20. thanks Steve a terrific review and I really enjoy looking through your photos regardless of the lens you are reviewing. As for the f/0.95, some suggests (and I know you know this because you were on the thread at photo.net) that the f/0.95 may require you to take your M9 and the f/0.95 to Leica to have the two “mate,” meaning to adjust the rangefinder so that the particular f/0.95 and the particular M9 work well together in terms of focus alignment. I think you answered this above with respect to focus shift, but if you can address this a bit more that would be much appreciated. I just received my f/0.95 this week and am very much looking forward to taking some photos!

  21. Steve – no fair! It’s just not fair to take pictures like that with a $10,000 lens! How are we now supposed to sleep at night!

    Great review. Wow. Obviously I need to save my lunch money for this…

  22. Hopefully Nikon comes out with lenses like these!

  23. Amazing post !!! Bravo !!! Congratulations !!!

    I cannot afford 10,000$ for a lens. Do you think the Canon 50mm f/1.2 will give me similar result (bokeh wise) ?

    many thanks !!!

  24. I have both the F1 Noct and the Canon 1.2L and they are different. The Canon will give you a more contrasting bokeh as it is not as soft. The Canon, however, has a fair bit of vignetting which does not annoy me but I know it has bothered other people. I like them both. As I am waiting for my .95 Noct, I cannot comment on this version.

  25. actually I own both the 50 1.2 and the 85 1.2. The 50 is almost harsh compared to the 85 if you shoot in daylight/bright light/high contrast. It’s nice for portraits and product shots, though. The mk II will prob be better…

  26. Which lens < $2000 will produce a soft bokeh like the Noctilux f/0.95 ?
    I mean which will come close on a full frame camera ?
    24mm f/1.4 ?
    50mm f/1.2 ?
    85mm f/1.2 ?

  27. Hi there Steve!

    Thanks for the review. Appreciate it. However, I have some comments regarding your F/1 vs. F/095 lens comparison.

    While your final conclusion is probably right, I don’t think it’s an accurate depiction, especially of the off-center performance. Lenses have field curvatures and someone who learns the curvature of a particular lens they’re using might be able to get better performance (whether one lens has a flatter field or not).

    While the center comparison is probably accurate, if I were you, I’d shoot a flat surface at an angle so the DOF can be seen from left to right. Accurate testing of lenses while accounting for field curvatures is difficult when there’s no live view or TTL full frame focusing (like in DSLRs). So you’ll have to “search” for the field through trial and error. Even the focus and recompose method is not accurate even for slower (e.g. f/2.8) lenses at these sorts of close distances.

    Without such a test, I don’t think you can claim much about off-center performance.

    Hope you like this feedback…

    Regards,
    GTW

  28. Geno,

    Thanks for the feedback but I do “real world” lens reviews/testing. I do not do test charts or technical babble. Never have, never will. I find it boring and honestly feel it has nothing to do with photography. I usually let my samples do the talking and judge a lens by how it performs taking photographs.

    The fact is that the new Noct is a modern “perfection” type of lens. The old version, due to its imperfections has the more softer, classical type of glow going on. Which lens ones prefers depends on what look they are after.

    I am happy with my F1 but would also be thrilled with the .95. Again, thanks for reading the review. I appreciate it.

    Also, thanks to all who have commented and read the review so far. This has been my 2nd most read review to date and its only been online 24 hours. Thanks!!

    Steve

  29. Great work. You’re a terrific photographer. Using these lenses for street photography is a real challenge. My “keeper” rate would be very low. Leica lenses are fantastic. It’s unfortunate but many amateurs would not appreciate these lenses. Have you evaluated the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1? Either of Leica lenses would be fantastic for wedding photography. I’ll be happy just to get a 50mm Summilux. Doesn’t look like we’ll see any until the Leica price increases go into effect.

  30. Just found the review of the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 Nokton on your old site. Thanks.

  31. Thanks Rick!!

    I am going to upload a couple more images in a few minutes that I found on my SD card. As for the Voigtlander, I reviewed it on this site. Just click on the “Leica” tab at the top of any page and you can find it. Thanks!

    Steve

  32. Rick, the Voigtlander review is on this site, not the old. Thx…

  33. Jean Lane,

    Those are very different focal lengths. Except for the 24L, the 50L and the 85L will give you some of the nicest bokeh. But if you’re simply after smooth bokeh then there are also cheaper, slower lenses that’ll give you what you want.

    Smoothness of bokeh also depends on the magnification you view the photos at (let me know if you want to see examples).

    If anyone wants to sample the bokeh of the 50 f/1.2L lens or various 50mm lenses (including Leicas), check below:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=32602256

    GTW

  34. Steve,

    Thanks for your reply. It’s great that you want to do “real-world” tests. The difference is between doing a test in the real world vs. a test that will be meaningful in the real world.

    Just some food for thought :)

    Regards,
    GTW

  35. Geno, exactly! That is why I do what I do :)

  36. I thought Charmin Man referred to the one above, with a man and a woman’s boots showing…would’ve been really funny.

  37. [...] Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 è attualmente l’obiettivo più luminoso in produzione al mondo. Certo il prezzo è adeguato [...]

  38. Probably the best set of images i’ve seen you post! Images speak for them selves.

  39. The pictures speak for your reviews ! Excellent photography as always Steve !

  40. Thanks for all of the comments guys!

  41. Nice review, Steve. And you put the lens to very good use.
    True, it’s very front-heavy. I found the M9 Grip helps tremendously.
    Also, considering the .68 finder on the M9, the 1.25x magnifier helps me with the focusing.
    I find the focusing to be heavy, although it’s lightened up a bit since arriving new. How was the focus feel on your sample?
    Thanks, Steve.

  42. Life @ 0,95 is just wonderfull !

  43. thanks or.. well lucky you for the review ;)

    i can’t help it.. but the M9+50/0.95 photos just have the same digital look as a 5dMKII+50/1.2. maybe i need to try myself and see the difference. i’m sure there is one.. but i prefer the classic nocti look on film.. maybe that’s because i’m still printing negs in the darkroom ..

    we’ll see in 20 years which pictures will stick out and which won’t. digital could be a huge trap too with all it’s possibilities nowadays. who’s taking the picture ? the human being or the camera… long debate i know.

    cheers

  44. hi steve,
    as always, it is a pleasure to read your reviews. i got the noctilux f1,0 recently, and i am just happy with it. i also use it as a everyday lens, and even in street-photography. it’s not that easy to focus. but i find it harder to take pics of my girlfriend – she is much more impatient, and would not wait until i get the focus right…
    great lens, great review and a pleasure to read it while having my morning coffee.

    best from beijing,

    falk

  45. Wow i want one too
    Great review

  46. the 5d2 + 50mm f1.2 or 50mm f1 doesnt have the save look as m9 50 f0.95,
    i recently got my m9 and 50 f.95 and have not touch my canon unless i shoot 400mm or more ( birds and sports ).
    i have to warn you about using a leica, after shooting it you wont go back.

  47. I sold all of my sons Canon equipment and bought Leica.

  48. My brother should be banned before he starts pushing canon n fony cameras on everyone here.

  49. Just as well the “lighting up” man didn’t notice – he looks like Tony Soprano’s thinner brother.

  50. Simplemente, Ud. me ha convencido de la excelencia del 0,95. Definitivamente haré todo lo posible para adquirirlo.
    Gracias.

  51. Noctilux 0.95 -v- Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1
    ===================================

    Request.

    I would dearly love to see a side-by-side comparison of these two lenses (in the same manner as you did for the old Noctilux -v- Nokton f1.1).

    It would seem that the old Noctilux and Voigtlander are pretty much a draw. What would be very very interesting is to see how the Voigtlander compares with the new Nocti under your testing regime.

    Any chance of such a test?

    Oh, and thanks for sharing this review with us.

    Regards,

    plevyadophy

  52. Fantastic your nocti 0.95……
    happy new year!!!

  53. Congratulations, your wife is pretty.

  54. Congratulations, your wife is pretty.
    It is already 1st of January 2010 here.

  55. Steve,

    Wow. This is not a review to read, but one to study. There’s so much valuable information contained here. Thank you for your insightful and comprehensive coverage.

    I wonder if you could kindly make available the original color versions for the pictures that you’ve listed in B&W.

    Thanks again, and best,
    Roy

  56. I’m thinking of buying one to reverse-mount it to my Nikon F1.8D for Macro shots … :)

  57. I wonder what the S2 with the 50mm .95 they plan for it will look like? Maybe it will be able to go in my head and take pictures of my dreams? Mmmm :).

  58. Steve – thank you very much for the work that got into this review, excellent.

    Say, from the bokeh point of view, how do the 0.95 and the Summilux compare?

  59. Thanks Steve, excellent write-up.

    The dealmaker or -breaker for me is the minimum distance.

    Can you post some portrait shots from as close as possible?

    Million thanks in advance.

  60. I just received back my Leica M9 from Leica New Jersey, after suspecting my focus was off. Leica NJ made a bunch of adjustments (shown on the work order), including adjusting the CCD, ranger finer focus, etc. After I received the camera back from Leica, I tested it again with my Noc f/0.95 and Summilux 50mm ASPH. WOW! What a difference!!! I didn’t have much complaints about my images in the past, but did have some suspicion b/c my M6 images were sharper. At first I thought it was just the difference between focusing on the M6 vs. the CCD on M9. But now, I can focus on a single peach fuzz on a peach, and pick up even the dust particles on the fruit. Nothing escapes the sharpness of this lens especially at the center of the image. The Noc f/0.95 is a bit softer than the Lux at f/0.95, but stopped down at f/1.4 the two are essentially the same. My local Leica shop indicated that he has sent back three M9s for adjustments and received similar feedback. I don’t know whether Leica was in too much of a hurry to ship out these cameras but what a world of difference this has made for me.

  61. Ooh Steve . . .

    I never owned Leica, and i’ve been preparing myself to own one in coming months . ..

    This lens is unbelievable, and after your review, i just want to have it.

    thanks.

  62. well after reading your review of the new noct….i just plunk down more than USD10K for the King of the Night…..great review, no tech mumbo jumbo. just good old look at the pictures review – enough said.

  63. [...] So, if you’re looking for a small, light, affordable, fast manual prime for your m4/3 camera and can live with the quirks of C-mount lenses, those are the ones to go for. You can get a used one in the 25mm range (which would equal a standard 50mm in 35mm terms) for less than $50 if you’re lucky, but prices can easily go beyond the magic $1000 limit if you’re after a pseudo-Noctilux. [...]

  64. Steve Huff…Great images…..Very Leica….very noctilux…and you have a great eyes!!!

  65. Hi Steve, Thanks for your advice on the 50 Cron Vs 50 Lux. I’m waiting for my Nocti F.95. Do you recommend using filters? If so, when? I’ll be using it on M9 and MP. Leica does not recommend using filters. I would love to protect the lens. I read that to shoot wide open using ND filters are recommended. Thanks!

  66. I see the purple fringing/CA in 4 images. The mans hair, the eyeballing man, the salvation army guys, and the two gentleman walking in times square.

    • With a lens this sharp, you can’t get away from the purple fringing/CA. It used to happen on film too – we just didn’t notice.

      It’s easily fixed with some PP anyway. A small price to pay for this uber lens.

  67. I really enjoyed the site so I used my Digg account to digg it – should assist you

  68. Hi Steve,

    After lots of reading here and various other sites I decided to get a 0.95. Thanks for all the helpful info. I would have used your links to buy it, but B&H and Amazon have been backordered forever.

    It does feel like a dslr with the m9 and noct. Man – that lens is dense.

    Unfortunately after a few days of shooting mine is headed in for repair – it has about 2cm of front focus on the m9, which pretty much kills shooting it wide open. Hopefully they’ll get it back fast.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Congrats on the lens but if you didn’t already, I would send the M9 along in as well. EVERY time, and I mean EVERY time I have had a lens off on an M8 or M9 it was the camera. If you send both it then they can make sure to get it just right. When this lens is spot on with the body it is something to behold :)

      • Hey,

        After about 5 weeks in NJ the M9 and Noct are back. They got it to focus correctly.

        The 0.95 has a way of making shots look better. Great to have on the camera, but tough to take off.

        best,

        • Don’t you just HATE that – 5 weeks in NJ and they fix the focus problems for you, but don’t even bother to adjust the mount being too tight !!

  69. Man, I curently have a 7D with a pretty decent lens kit (no L lens though)… Sometimes I think about selling my kit only to get the M9….The problem is I would not have money to buy any Lens…
    I would easily trade all my photo equipment for the M9 + this 0.95 Noct…

    This is a fantastic Camera with a fantastic Lens, although I think that Leica equipment is a liitle bit too overpriced…

  70. I just purchased this lens this week and it is truly amazing. I love shooting with this lens. I am afraid the rest of my lens will be collecting dust for a while…

  71. Great Review Steve! Thanks!

    Now it costs $10,495.00 in BH :)

  72. Steve,
    Absolutely love the website. I can’t wait to buy something from your links to show my support and appreciation for your work and awesome reviews. I have a question: I just got my 0.95 and I absolutely love it. It is heavy, would you use it as your everyday lens and put a Neutral Density filter on it? I already have a 24 F 1.4 and a 90 F 2.8. Just curious. I am trying to round out my traveling bag and that beast is causing me some concerns. My local shop just got a 50 F 2.0 in and is selling it for $1,195, should I get that too.

    Regards,
    Confused :-)

  73. Dear Steve:

    Why not take out one of those Prime 31 and 70 Pentax lenses that you were raving about in your K7 review, and take some shallow depth of field Black and White shots of people in New York or where ever you can find people to photograph, and make a serious photographic comparison to those “Wowser, Overpriced Leica shots with that $10,495.00 Noctilux F:.95 Leica lens, and see if you can’t reproduce the same effect!

    Do the math…You would have to take 10,495 photos at a dollar a piece just to break even! That is only if a person would give you a dollar for their candid Leica photo!

    I challenge you to put the best Prime Pentax lens’ shots side by side with the Leica’s, just so you can prove to yourself that you could buy all the Best Optics that Pentax has to offer and still have money left over to buy a Pawnshop special, Kodak Easyshare, with just the price of this one Leica lens.

    I’ve been watching Leica’s sticker shock since 1969, and I have never seen a side by side SQF comparison in PopPhoto, of Leica’s lenses compared to some Prime Nikon/Canon/Pentax/Sigma/Tamron lenses.

    And them names…Super Elmeron, Sumicron, Angulon, Noctilux etc. etc….Who can tell what they are without a German/English dictionary. Good Optics, fine! But watch out for that Leica Name Tag…! Leica means just one thing!…..They Leica your Money!

    I owned a Minolta XD-11 which was the prototype to the Leica R-3, back when Leica priced themselves out of the photo market by not selling cameras as fast as they needed, and had to turn to Japan, to get a camera body, that they just could not conceive of.

    Minolta to the rescue, and their XD-11 was just as good too, and still the R-3 was $2,500+ 1973 dollars, for just the body, in spite of the fact that Minolta built it and turned over the patent and production process to Leica to go off and charge the Leica wonks, the Sun the Moon and the Stars for their priceless R-3 camera.

    I’ve seen some pretty good Canon/Tamron/Sigma lenses out there, and the PopPhoto SQF showed the proof in the pudding, so what gives? I tell my students about the SQF testing chart…Better Red than Dead!

    And Now Panasonic to the Rescue! My LX-5 is only $400, and Leica’s equivalent with that cute little red dot is $800.00, and it has the same identical lens and internal guts as my Lumix…So what gives? Stupid or not! O.C. Photographers will buy anything marked Leica just for the name’s sake, and that little red dot, for Snob appeal!

    Prove me wrong or call me stupid, but I will never buy a Leica, for the money that they charge for their equipment, even if it is gold plated or a hyped up limited edition camera! As a photo instructor, I tell my students, ” Real Photographers will never let their children buy Nikon or Canon, just for that same reason, that Leica uses their name to sell their wares….

    Name, Name, Name! Even if it is crap, it is still Nikon/Canon/Leica…Oooooh! I just gotta have one of them!

    Now I am not saying that the $3,500 Nikon/Canon bodies and their $36,000+ super teles are not worth it, but who can afford them? And what is PopPhoto saying to John Q. Public, when they use Jargon to excuse away, Nikon’s or Canon’s poorly made lens’ Chromatic Aberrations , Spherical Aberation’s, Barreling and Pincushioning ,Etc., when it is just plain crappy optics! And all the while, when they are reviewing a Canon/Nikon lens that would not even qualify for Sigma’s junk bin, and why would they, when Canon/Nikon are throwing buckets of money at them to hock their equipment!

    It is all the money game…Put a fancy enough name, a pretty white barrel, or a pretty red dot, and a fool will bite!

    James Humberg
    Spokane, WA
    Photo instructor

    • Thanks for your lengthy rant. I’ll keeo it short. This is a specialy lens, that excels in low light. It is the worlds fastest 35mm lens with an 0.95 aperture. No crop sensor camera with a 1.8 aperture lens will replicate the look, nor give the same quality as this lens. I have shot with everything and anything under the sun and the Noctilux has it’s own look just as Canons 85L 1.2 does.

      Is it worth $10,500? Of course not but due to what it is, Leica can sell it for this price and the crazy part is that they are back ordered for 6 months due to orders for this lens. It sells very well and four photographer friends of mine own one, most of them hobbyists.

      It is a unique lens and unless you have held one, and shot with one on a Leica M9 it is hard to understand. Thanks

      Steve

      • Dear Steve:

        Sorry for the “Photo rant”! I have as an instructor, been asked, what is the best camera? I simply reply…The one you can afford, and gives you the best photos. I also instruct them in the fine art of saving money, and buying optics and then Name.

        If all one can afford is a $300.00 Opteka 6.5 mm fish-eye, as a specialty lens, and can’t afford the Nikon’s $1,500 auto everything lens, then take the risk and buy! I did and I have taken the most fantastic shots with this totally manual F:3.5 aspheric gem, UPSTART. I would love to send you a copy so as to let you see what an affordable lens vs. an overpriced freak of nature, that nobody but the Nuvo Riche can afford, can do.

        True! Back in 1969, I was drooling all over the Willoughby Peerless’s counters, where the Hassys and Leicas, and Linhoffs dwelt! But back then all I made per month in the USCG was $175.00, and could only afford an $35.00 Lentar F:2.8 rattletrap of a tele! I have taken photos that no Leica or Nikon could….with this poor mechanical piece of disaster waiting to happen! But the excellent optics, of this cheap piece of photographic equipment. Yes I had a pittance of a camera..a Minolta SRT-101. No F1′s or A1′s, with no F:1.2 lenses….just a Minolta.

        I will never hold a Leica, but I have a close second…the Lumix LX-5…Without the $400.00 red dot! No thanks Leica! Too rich for my taste!

        Sincerely
        James Humberg

    • Is it worth it? That’s really a relative term. Certain diminished return as you approach apeture close to 1.0, but there is no substitute so like any goods or services that have no substitute, it is worth what people will pay.

      I own one, I love it, I shoot I only at f/0.95. I’ve done some side by side comparison and have satisfied myself that Leica lenses have a unique signature look that is different than my Nikon, Mamiya, and Hasselblad lenses. I do think Ken Rockwell has done some side-bby-side comparisons of Leica, Nikon, and Canon lenses, and here is one such comparison tests:

      http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/sharpness-28mm.htm

      Personally, I’ve never lost money on Leica. I can sell each of my Leica equipment for more than what I paid. I can’t say the same for my Nikon equipment. So as far as costs goes, Leica turned out to be the best bargain so far.

      Certainly am not suggesting that a $400 camera cannot take great photos, hect some of my best photos were shot with a iPhone. As Ken himself will tell you, and I am surprised you as a photog instructor didn’t really talk about this: composition is more important than lens sharpness. I’ve taken a lot of photography classes. Some for technical reasons (such as using studio equipment), and many for learning how to take good photos. The best photograhy instructors for me personally never really bothered much on comparison quality of camera lens beyond a low universal acceptance, but rather focused on how one examines light, subject matter, and emotional inspiration. Common to all of them were positive attitudes. They respected you choosing whichever form factor you preferred as best to inspire you to take great photos. For some, that means nothing more than a pink digital camera vs. a silver one (e.g., my girlgfriend). For me, Leica is on top of that list. Why? because photography is based on art, not technical specifications or cost evaluations. And as such, you should be able to choose, without being chatised, whiever tool you feel will inspire you best to capture your artistic expressions. For me, the no-compromise spirit of German engineering of Leica is such an instrument for me. My Hasselblad 500C/M is the other, because it was my father’s camera and he was my first photog instructor, not because it is a better camera than my three Nikond DSLRs which I use to shoot professional, but typically emotionally detached, assignments (e.g., catalogue work). My two cents.

      • I went to your Ken Rockwell site, and found a fixed focal length Leica 28mm, being compared to two outclassed zoom lenses…15 elements to an eight or so element Leica? Kinda like comparing Volkswagens to Lamborghini’s, or Pigs to Pigeons…Of course a fixed focal length lens will out shoot a Canon or Nikon zoom, read up on your basic photography, and besides that, the price is doubled for both these lenses due to IS electronics, making them equally overpriced to the overpriced Leica. Who wants to spend $2,000 for a 28mm lens, other than Leica devotees? Anyway, non image stabilized lenses are cheaper, .

        But back to the Rockwell Test…Everybody knows that a zoom will not perform as sharply as a fixed focal length lens, due to all the correction for the variable focal length design. Why not get a Leica Zoom, if they made one and compare it to the best Nikon Zoom? See where this is going? As for this Rockwell Leica test, I would not call it an even playing field!

        • Ken compared the fixed 28mm Leica to the Nikon and Canon zooms because those particular models ARE the sharpest 28mm that both companies make today. I own the Nikon zoom as well as the fixed 28mm f/1.4D, and the Nikon zoom, because it is a recent model, out performs the fixed focal length. Ken compared the Leica 28mm against the sharpest 28mm lens Nikon and Canon makes. that’s all. So if Nikon makes a fixed focal length 28mm today, will it outperform Elcia? Maybe, but probably at twice the weight and size.

          In any event, to make your point moot, here is a comparison of fixed-focal lengths (50mm) in which Ken compares an older model of a Leica 50mm against the new 50mm lenses from Nikon and Canon. I’ve made the comparison myself and basically agrees with his conclusion (though I used a Nikon D700).

          http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/sharpness.htm

          I bought my 50mm ASPH Leica three years ago for $2,500. It is worth $4,000 or more today on eBay. And that’s pretty much true for most of my Leica lenses. So as I said, for me, Leica has thus far been a great investment for me.

        • James Humberg, u got stickies in ur head with “I’m a broke photographer” written all over it.

          Let us the richy enjoy our money.

  74. Hi Steve, i am considering buying an M9 for reportage style wedding photograhy along with the 0.95 lens but, which of the other lenses available would you purchase for the purpose?
    Thanks in advance
    James

  75. [...] Re: Bokeh lens check this Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M Aspherical Manual Focus 11-602 B&H The Leica Noctilux 0.95 Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS [...]

  76. Steve, great images, great writings, and a great lens. I sent my Noct and M9 camera to Leica New Jersey to have them adjust lens to my M9. Did you or d you plan to review the Leica MATE lens.

  77. Thx for doing the review. Glad to see you own one.

  78. [...] Svenska Hasselblad 500 CM Och Leica M9P och monster gluggen 50mm 0.95 Noctilux.  kolla in testet.Hörs mer i veckan!Foto:   Mikael Nogueira SvenssonFoto: Anton CorbijnFoto: Anton CorbijnFoto: [...]

  79. Hi Steve,

    well, here we have another fine mess You’ve gotten me into!

    Your opening picture (the old man in NYC) has some very special Hollywood look, very nice. As if You’ve shot it with quite a long telephoto lens. Thrilling.

    What I am still missing, though, is one of Your M9 viewfinder closeup pictures that could have given us the idea of finder blockage. The Noctilux is sorta big, fat lens… together with the MATE 28-35-50. I’ve always wondered how much of the finder image was left to compose a picture?

    If only I had the cash to purchase a Noctilux! Seems I have to start saving more pennies from now on…

    Kind regards,

    Bud :-)

  80. Hello Steve,

    Thanks for this superb post. It made me buy a lotto ticket :|

    :)

    All the best,
    Sylvain.

  81. Hello Steve,
    Never had enough cash for any Leica equipment never mind this lens but years ago had a Contax fitted with an 85mm 1:2 Sonnar. Interestingly, this old lens at wide aperture produced many the characteristics of your reportage shots.
    Phil

  82. Nice lens! I already love it, even though I haven’t got to try it yet!
    Love the lens, alså the design.
    Wish they would come up with some more lenses in same class-range!
    Do you know if they will?

    Hope you’ll answer. Thanks!
    Chris

  83. I appreciate your review and hands on street photography to test the camera fully open. I took a photo course from thorsten von overgaard in London and he let some of us use this lens and everyone that did were instantly addicted and ready to sell their summilux lenses to fund this 10k euro lens. I was impressed with the results of this lens but also saw similar results from my summicron 75 asph (weighs less and do I really need this fast lens)….in the end i will also sell a couple of lenses to fund it. I would suggest that you get a sponsor from Europe so that we can continue to support you (red dot in London, meister camera in Germany) as you do with b and h. Cheers!

  84. Hi Steve,

    First, I would want to thank you for the great review. (i wish find it out earlier!)

    Personally, i love the flaw of Noct v4, that uniqness, but dxxm, i could only afford to buy one (0.95 or f1). Pay 6000 for a old tools really strike me. But if i brought the 0.95, i personally may not enjoying it so much as i think it is so modern, kinda like 85L. Hope you can give some your personal opinion.

    second, i live Hong Kong and come to Omaha for a annual meeting in May, and stop by Chicago and NYC. Do you have any idea where I could find some mint Noct v4?

    Thanks and good surfing with the new M.

    cheers
    Sam

  85. [...] suggest a prime lens anything from f1.8 to f1.4, these will suit you well. If you are rich enough, f0.95 devours light like a [...]

  86. […] Re: High def guitar shots f/5?? Call me when you get to f/.95 The Leica Noctilux 0.95 Lens Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS […]

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