Feb 042012
 

UPDATE: Lots of nonsense has been spread about this lens on the internet due to one person’s comments and one persons lens. I have never had ONE issues with this lens and I found it to be solid, well made, beautiful and to render even better than the $11k Leica Noctilux (for my tastes) all for less than half the cost. The claims that were made were uncalled for as Andrew from SLR Magic is one of the nicest guys I have met in recent years as well as one of the most helpful and generous. The SLR Magic Hyperprime is now shipping with full production versions of the lens in full production packaging. It comes with a great warranty and is a solid great performing lens. Again, my experience with it has been nothing but positive and in some cases amazing. I am not the type of guy who says “It’s only Leica for my M”  as there is tons of GREAT glass out there besides Leica. Whatever works I always say and this lens just “works”. 

Thanks again to Andrew for all he has done for everyone AND even releasing this lens which no one else had the balls to do.

The SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 LM T0.95 Lens Rolling Review…let’s get it started

With all of the hype and craziness this lens has been causing since the Los Angeles workshop I decided to start writing a rolling review for the SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 T0.95 LM lens. Basically this means I will be adding to this review, right here on this page instead of making posts every day about it. As I get new images and new thoughts I will add them here. Almost like a diary of my use with the lens over the next few months as I put it through its paces before its official release.

I am lucky to have one with me for the next few months (a black stealth edition no less) so I can test it, use it, abuse it and put it through its paces. One thing to note..this is a taste of what is to come of this lens. SLR Magic is still tweaking and improving on the lens and if I run into any issues they will fix them before going into production. They are already making a couple of improvements before shipping lenses out to the workshop attendees who agreed to be volunteers for lens testing as well. Yes, the lucky ones who were at the workshop had 1st crack :)

I already know that the image quality holds up extremely well to the $11,000 Leica Noctilux ASPH. In fact, I may prefer the rendering from this lens over the Leica, and that right there is saying a lot. Actually, now that I read that back, that is HUGE. My curiosities with the Hyperprime is to see if the build quality holds up. By the look and feel, it feels like a solid tank but you never know. Not everyone associates SLR Magic with high quality but it appears with this and their 12mm Hyperprime they have decided to go with quality, and I welcome it.

BTW, for reference you can see my Leica Noctilux ASPH review HERE that was done when the lens was first released.

If you did not see the posts I have already made about this SLR Magic lens you can see those HERE, HERE, HERE,  HERE and finally HERE.

A Brief History Of This Lens

Probably close to a year ago I heard from SLR Magic and they told me they were designing a new Leica M mount lens from the ground up. A 50mm f/0.95 lens for the Leica M mount. This was not going to be a copy of their old Hyperprime that they sell for the M4/3 mount and NEX mount. Those lenses are nice, but not “amazing” because they are soft and glowy when wide open. They are also smallish but at the same time very well built and made. Still, SLR Magic wanted to create something special that more Leica M shooters could afford. A lens much like the Leica Noctilux but at a more reasonable price.

After they mentioned their ideas they started sending me pictures of prototypes that looked great. The lens started out semi small (smaller than a Leica Noctilux ASPH) and beefy. But the images that they were happy with that they snapped with the M9 and their lens, I was not so happy with. I told them if they were going to do a lens like this, they needed to do it right. I mean, Leica users shoot with Leica for quality. We do not want to spend money on crappy or overly soft lenses. If a lens has a .95 aperture, then we want to be able to use it at that aperture! As it was at that time, the lens they were creating was really good, but it did not have any magic to it in the image quality dept. They built the lens and it was built like a tank. Solid, smooth and heavy. BUT the lens vignetted strongly and wide open it lacked sharpness and contrast. The color was a bit dull as well and I told them that I would not buy that lens for what they would have to charge for it.

They decided to go back to the drawing board, keeping me in the loop with samples, prototype images, etc. Then one day I received a couple of shots, that to me, looked pretty damn close to the $11,000 Leica. I asked them to send me a lens as soon as they could and a month or two later they did just that. When it arrived I immediately made a quick post on it as I found it very impressive. The build, the feel, the heft… it was all LEICA LIKE. It was performing scary close to the $11,000 Noctilux ASPH. Yes, the lens that has up to a year waiting list and is almost impossible to find used. If you do find one used the prices are usually jacked up to $13k. Crazy. $13,000 for a lens.

Once I saw the quality I immediately sent SLR Magic an e-mail telling them that this is a lens they should be extremely proud of. The only negatives I found with the lens was that it had some evident barrel distortion and that damn green ring on the front. I mean, the green ring looks pretty cool on my SLR Magic 12mm 1.6 for Micro 4/3 mount but on a lens of this caliber…well, it deserved a black ring! Other than that I found the lens to be pretty damn amazing even though it was one of only 6 in existence and basically still a prototype. The lens ring is even stamped with the word “concept”. With the LA Workshop approaching, Andrew from SLR Magic decided to join us and fly down with all 6 lenses. This way, you guys wouldn’t have to take my word for it but you could see what other shooters came away with who were able to shoot with the lens. If it was a bad lens, they would say so as most of these guys love their Leica lenses. I even told Andrew we could do a Noctilux/Hyperprime shootout and he welcomed it. Shows he has confidence in their design. I will in fact be doing that shootout soon so we can see just how much difference there is with sharpness, flare, bokeh, and build.

The Lens In Use  – from me and others

If you have been reading my blog posts on this lens then you know that the lens was a huge hit in Los Angeles. There were quite a few guys trying to give Andrew the cash for the lens because we all saw it the same way. The SLR Magic Hyperprime is a well built, well made, nicely engineered hunk of glass. It is not cheap and it is not a toy. In fact, it is quite the opposite of what most people thought it would be. The lens is not perfect due to the barrel distortion but it is pretty close to the Leica $11k monster. In some ways it is BETTER than the Leica, and in others it is a bit weaker.

The ways this lens is better is that it will be coming in at many thousands of dollars less than the Leica. I do not know a price but if I had to guess I would say it will run about $3500-$4000 (The price has now been announced at $4288.00 US). Others at the workshop were thinking it would be $5500. No one knows yet but if you are someone who is into the whole Noctilux ASPH lens look, then saving $7000 or so and picking this lens up would be a pretty sweet option because the Hyperprime can focus closer, is actually faster at f/0.92 and has the same great color and sharpness as the Noctilux. The areas that are weaker is that this lens has distortion (barrel) so shooting straight lines up close will reveal this. Then again, we do not buy a lens like this for architecture. It is also longer and a little but heavier though when holding both in each hand, they feel about the same. No dount about it, this is a specialty lens, and for speed and special effect freaks. Not everyone’s cup of tea. BUT for Bokeh lovers, this lens is the creamiest 50mm lens ever made for 35mm. Click the images below for larger and sharper views…

As I sat there last weekend at the workshop looking over shots with this lens as well as the Leica Noctilux I was thinking “WOW…pretty amazing that a small company such as SLR Magic were the ones to create something like this”. This lens is serious competition to the Leica, and I am not exaggerating. Here is a comment from Bill Fulcher who shot with the Hyperprime at my LA Workshop:

” Shot both and saw many images with both last weekend. The Hyper is at least as sharp at all apertures as the 0.95 Noct. The Noct has slightly better ergonomics for still shooters and is more compact. It is also backed by Leica. The Hyper has slightly better IQ, focuses closer, is much better for video and is a skosh faster. It will also be a lot less expensive. All around the pre-production Hyper impresses me as the superior lens. But I wouldn’t really argue the point if someone heavily values the areas where the Noct has the edge. Best, Bill”

So if you do not care about the name, and the slightly larger build you could save thousands of dollars by going with the HyperPrime. If the Leica name, backing and reputation is worth up to $7k then go for it. It’s all personal pref but as for performance, this lens is just about equal to the mighty Leica in regards to sharpness, and as for Bokeh it is even more creamy. Color is about the same as is the contrast.

Andrew told us that some of the lens elements come from Germany and other China. The lens is assembled in Hong Kong by hand and will NOT be able to be mass-produced due to the tight tolerances and calibration required. The 6 samples at the workshop had no issues focusing, which I found to be pretty amazing as I have had Noctilux’s that were all over the place. Not sure how they managed to pull off what Leica can never seem to do reliably. Then again, there were actually only 4 RF coupled versions there and they were each the 1st lenses made so I am sure special care went into them. I was told that each lens made will have that same special care in regards to build and calibration. I can say that Andrew was a fascinating and very passionate guy and he was truly excited about this product.

SLR Magic? Green Rings?

So who the hell is SLR Magic and why the hell are they called SLR Magic when they do not make ANY SLR products? I wondered the same thing so I asked Andrew when they started and how. SLR Magic are based in Hong Kong and started up 6 years ago making adapters for cameras and SLR lenses. They also started selling hand-made leather straps and other fun products. Soon they started the toy lenses that came in for great prices and provided fun results. They decided to start building lenses from the ground up and released a couple of NEX lenses and the fantastic 12mm 1.6 for Micro 4/3 that I LOVED. When they started telling me about this lens and showing me versions with green rings I asked for a black ring and suggested that for a Leica mount lens they may want to sell it with black instead of neon green. At the workshop mostly wanted black, but a couple liked  the green. After much thought Andrew decided on selling a “stealth” edition with some other goodies possibly to be included. Ahhhhh…much better :)

 

-

Who needs a lens Like this?

The easy answer? No one really NEEDS a lens like this. Just like no one NEEDS a Leica Noctilux ASPH. Lenses like this are purchased with the heart because they are special..they are unique..they can give a look like no other lens and it’s also super fast for this nights you want to shoot in the dark. I used the Leica Noctilux last year on tour with Seal and came away with some great stuff. I made his new album cover as well. All with the Noctilux. Lenses like this are very useful and can provide results that help separate you from the crowd but it is also very easy to get carried away with the shallow depth of field. Use it wisely and lenses like this can deliver magical results. Overuse it and it gets gimmicky. It is also NOT an everyday lens due to the weight and size, but for those times you want some magic injected into your photos a lens like this or the Leica will give it to you in mass quantities.

Some readers were commenting how this lens has no real use, but I disagree. It was a lens just like this Hyperprime (The Leica Noctilux ASPH) that gave me this shot and made me some much-needed money in 2011. These lenses do have their place and I enjoy having a super fast special effect lens on hand and in my stable.

QUICK comparison with the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH at 1.4

Below are two straight from camera shots. The 1st from the SLR Magic at T1.4 and the 2nd from the Leica 50 Lux ASPH at f/1.4 – Click each image for the full size 18PMP file. What do you think?

New Sample Images – Full size and crops – and shooting stopped down…

More updates! The images below are all out of camera (from RAW) images using the SLR Magic lens. The T stop is written on the image and you must click each image to see the full size file. Check out how sharp it is when stopped down! This lens is simply amazing and I am loving shooting with it. I took some personal shots and it was  the only lens I shot with while in Sedona AZ for the weekend.

The 1st shot is at T/2 which is more like f/1.8. Click image for the full size and check out the blue duster, which is where I focused. Wow. 

-

Below is a full size out of cam shot at T/4…click image to see the full size!

-

Another at T/4  – not full size but you can click for larger

-

Wide open at .7 meters…

-

At f/5.6 this lens is just as razor sharp as it is at any aperture – click image for large size with 100% crop embedded

-

-

Love the rendering wide open…

The price of this lens… $4,288.00 – It is NOT cheap!

SLR Magic has announced that this lens will come in at $4,288.00 US. Quite a hefty amount of cash outlay for a lens made by SLR Magic. But, they are not mass producing this lens, and each one will be hand assembled and calibrated for rangefinder use. For a Leica M mount that has the build, feel and IQ of the $11k Leica, the price of this lens is fair. BUT at this price point you have to start to think a little. Would you prefer a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH at $4k? It’s smaller..and a Leica. But, it is not f/0.92. Speed is expensive, just take a look at the Noctilux. IMO, this lens is better than the Noctilux F1, better than the Voigtlander 50 1.1 and just about equal to the Leica $11k Nocti. Just about but not quite. So at $4288 vs $11,000, one can now have an alternative to spending that huge sum of cash for a lens like this. Since this lens is hand made and assembled, SLR Magic can only produce 10 of these per month. So, I expect they will sell them all. I also expect they will fetch a good price used as well.

SLR Magic is giving a 3 year warranty with this lens and it will be available in September 2012, after Photokina. 

More samples…all wide open

Shooting this lens on a Sony NEX-5n – IN THE DARK!

When I held my Los Angeles workshop in January, Andrew from SLR Magic brought along 6 copies of this lens for all to try. We had 30+ attendees in all shooting and trying out the lens, well, most of them did. One guy, Judd Weiss had a Sony NEX-5n and was a newbie to photography. He told me the week before he learned what “Aperture” meant, lol. Great great guy though and he was able to take the SLR Magic lens, attached to his NEX-5n to a party on Saturday night to test it out. He told me that all of the photos below were shot in “near dark” conditions but the lens sucked in the light and made them appear brighter than it was. IN fact, I remember him being pretty excited by the fact that even though the room was dark, the images make it look like there was light.

He shot all of the images below wide open at T0.95 and still appears he needed faster shutter speeds, but here are a few examples from Judd in a situation where the large aperture made a difference.  When shooting in dark conditions such as this, no lens will give you razor sharp details because you are shooting in the dark at low shutter speeds and high ISO. But using a slow lens and no flash is impossible so sometimes you need the speed if this is the style you want to go after. You can visit Judd’s blog HERE.

ALL shots below were taken by Judd Weiss with his Sony NEX-5n and the SLR Magic Hyperprime WIDE OPEN, IN NEAR dark conditions!

The Barrel Distortion – How bad is it?

Many of you guys have been asking me to update this with some examples showing the barrel distortion I have been talking about. It has not really been noticeable in the images posted so far but it is there and it is EASILY seen when you shoot up close to straight lines. The closer you get to straight lines, the more pronounced the “barrel” effect will be. This is about the only area where the Leica Noctilux ASPH beats out the SLR Magic. The distortion is disapointing but out of 500 shots or so with this lens, I have noticed it maybe 6 times. It is fixable in Photoshop but even then it is not perfect. I never noticed ANY barrel distortion with the Leica Noctilux ASPH but the question is…can you deal with this fault if you are saving $7000?

This lens has a fantastic 3D effect and is sharp as a tac wide open but get up close to straight lines and you will see distortion. The middle of the image pops out while the sides get sucked in. If you do note shoot any lines, you will most likely never notice it. But it IS there.

-

A quick and dirty attempt to fix using photoshop during the RAW conversion – took about 2 seconds. 

So seeing that is is pretty much fixable, we have to ask ourselves what we shoot and what we would shoot with this lens. IT IS NOT a lens for architecture that is for sure. So far, this is the only negative I have found in comparison with the Leica 0.95.

UPDATE – February 19th 2012 – More images

Took this lens with me to a tattoo convention today but I was mainly shooting the Leica 75 Summilux. I did snap off a couple shots wide open though and MAN OH MAN, this lens performed flawlessly. I am convinced it is SHARPER wide open that the Noctilux ASPH! Again, no focus issues, no focus shift, it perfumes up close, mid distance and far distance. I continue to be more and more impressed with this lens. It seems to have the sharpness (or more of it) than the $11k Noctilux ASPH but with a bit more 3D pop and even better bokeh..oh and less CA. See the lamp below? The Nocti would have had purple fringing there :)

The 1st image below is wide open – focus on tattoo artist – THIS is one hell of a lens!  – Click the pic for larger – all other images below the 1st were also at T0.95!

UPDATE Feb 22nd 2012 – Some notes from SLR Magic on this lens to clear up some confusion

I heard from Andrew at SLR Magic today and he mentioned a few things about this lens that he wanted me to pass along. Here is what he said:

1) The CINE and LM version are different mechanically. The LM version is a mechanically different version in both mechanical design and materials for RF coupling compatibility. The only thing that is the same about the two is the optical design. Differences in materials, mechanical parts, and labor involved to calibrate the lens is the cause of the price difference. If used on a mirrorless camera with an adapter the two versions will look the same optically.

2) The lens is designed to be a professional cinema lens. What this means is that the lens does not have breathing, no focus shift, and calibrated in T stops. Breathing is when focusing will cause the angle of view to change while focusing. This is common for many lenses. Focus shift is when focal point is shifted as a lens is stopped down. This is very obvious when seen through video with the lens. T stop is the true stop of the lens so that when filmmakers switch between lenses there will be no jump in brightness. With a regular lens F stop is calculated and not measured so it will be different across lenses even from the same brand. Lastly is the stepless round aperture blades. This means you get to have everything else in between. Could help when using A mode and looking at the desired shutter speed. A bless for some and a nightmare for some.

The fact that it is a cinema lens does NOT mean it is a cheap video lens as many think. There are a lot of requirements to a good cinema lens. Lenses designed to Cinema specs can easily sell for 30-40K a piece!

What he said about focus shift and lens production…

3) Focus shift is not killing our production rate. Focus shift depends on optical design and we do not have issues with focus shift. The part where I mentioned we switch out for elements by dissembling and assembling the lens all over again is to make sure ALL copies of the T0.95 lens performs with superior optical quality (sharpness and centering). This limits our production rate for all lenses. We do not ship sub par T0.95 lenses so the answer is YES. The prototypes are hand picked. This hand picking process will also apply to every T0.95 lens that ships.

 

UPDATE: Feb 27th 2012 – The Leica Noctilux ASPH vs the SLR Magic LM on a Sony NEX-7

Ok guys, this was an image that someone took in SLR Magics shop in Hong Kong. A Sony NEX-7 was used and each lens was wide open – below are the full size images, out of camera, no PP, no tweaks, etc. Click the images for the full size 24MP files! What do YOU see? Notice one seems more zoomed in that the other? That is because the Noctilux is in reality a 52mm lens and the SLR Magic is a true 50.

 

UPDATE: The Sony NEX-7 with the Hyperprime 50 T0.95

I was out and about shooting the NEX-7 with an ALL NEW Leica to NEX adapter made by SLR Magic and was very happy with the results. Also, keep an eye here for news on this adapter because it is very unique. It is an adapter that you can twist and make the minimum focus distance of the M lenses disappear. You can focus super close now with your M lenses on the NEX system, so this is really cool. The adapter is not ready for sale just yet but seems to work very well. Check out the images below of the lens on the Sony NEX.

On the NEX-7 and super close focusing using this all new adapter. 

 -

Look at the rich colors and depth…this is wide open with an ND filter. T0.95

-

Again, wide open…click any of these images for larger versions! – ISO 640

-

T0.95 at ISO 1600 on the nEX-7

Shooting this lens on the NEX-7 was super easy. The focus peaking allowed me to focus quickly and accurately, even when wide open. The one negative about this setup though is that the lens is so front heavy on the NEX body. It is almost borderline ridiculous but with this lens on the camera be sure and hold it by the lens, not the camera body. I plan on shooting this bad boy much more on the NEX-7 as I am really liking what I see. I mean, it’s almost up there with the M9 files except they are not full frame so we get a bit of a different look. If you missed my NEX-7 review, be sure and take a look here.

ALL I ASK! HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

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. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page and Google +  page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Jan 302012
 

SLR Magic REALLY IS Magical…the LM 50 T0.95 ROCKS

WOW! So today was the last day of the workshop in Los Angeles and I have to say that this was the most amazing workshop to date. It was a jammed packed weekend with lots of cool guest speakers, many amazing passionate attendees and lots of shooting in the studio and on the street.

Today we had an education when uber talented Elizabeth Wang Lee gave us a detailed and thorough talk on street photography. This was an amazing presentation and we all learned from her detailed explanations and samples. THANK YOU ELIZABETH!

Actor/Comedian Jeff Garlin also popped in to deliver a hilarious talk on street shooting, and at the same time informed us all that he is producing a documentary on Chicago street photograoher Vivian Maier. So cool! Jeff was a RIOT and everyone had a blast, so THANK YOU JEFF!

Me and Jeff, Shot with the iPhone 4s and the Tadaa app!

and of course, more of THE SLR MAGIC MAGICAL EXPERIENCE

Andrew from SLR Magic was with us yet again and he gave everyone a chance to shoot with the new 50 LM T0.95 Hyperprime Leica M mount lens. I will put this out there right now…THIS LENS IS THE REAL DEAL FOLKS. Flat out AMAZING. It is not just me saying this, but everyone who shot with it this weekend was ready to plunk down their cash for this lens NOW. I am hoping to post many samples from everyone who shot with it soon, not just my samples. Samples from the NEX system look amazing as well so stay tuned for those…

I will also be shooting with this lens for the next few months so I can give it a thorough testing and review. I was able to bring home a special “stealth” edition of the lens which means it has a BLACK ring instead of the day glow green :) YES! (this black ring will be an option when ordering, and the ring you see below is not the final production ring)

All I can say now is that this lens blows away (yes, strong words but true) the Voigtlander 50 1.1 and is on par with the Leica Noctilux ASPH with some of the workshop attendees preferring the rendering of the Hyperprime. My feeling is that it is just as sharp at equal apertures but the Hyperprime gives a teeny but more of a classical look, but at the same time it is mixed with the sharpness of the Noctilux ASPH. The look you prefer will be up to YOU.

From what myself and many others have seen this weekend, this lens is a real giant killer in regards to image quality. Wow. There are differences but they are slight. The bokeh is “fatter” with the SLR Magic due to the larger rear element. The SLR Magic also focuses to .7 meters compared to 1 meter of the Noctilux ASPH and yes, the Hyperprime appears to have much less CA than the $11k Leica.

The Hyperprime is a 12 element non aspherical lens.

Shot wide open at T0.95 – look at the 3D effect – straight from camera – M9-P – and shot through a coffee shop window Sunday morning while buying coffee for the group. 

Like the Noctilux, this lens is a BEAST, even more of a beast than the Noctilux f/0.95. In reality, the Hyperprime is actually faster than f/0.95 so it appears this will now be the fastest lens for 35mm in production. How amazing is that?

In build, I am sure the Leica is built better but the SLR Magic is built just as solid, and is slightly heavier and larger. It is a solid lens and nothing like the old Noktor Hyperprime that I was NOT a fan of.

THIS IS NOT THE $1000 M4/3 or NEX NOKTOR LENS RELEASED 1-2 YEARS AGO!!!

This is NOT the old Noktor lens. PERIOD! So many people are confusing this with the old $1000 lens and this is an all new, built from the ground up LEICA M mount lens. It is insanely better, larger, beefier and with superb quality glass and construction.

In fact, over the past 9-10 months SLR Magic has been sending me samples from prototypes for this new M mount lens and I have been telling them “NOT GOOD ENOUGH, I WOULDN’T BUY IT”  – so they kept re-designing and finally they ended up with what we have here today. The only question you and many others have now is…how can I  get one?

BELOW: Shot by Ashwin Rao at T0.95

SLR Magic has some cool touches up their sleeve that I won’t spill the beans on just yet but they plan on officially releasing the lens in September. A long way off but there will be a few testers of the lens until then to make sure it is solid, dependable, and high in performance. The 1st ones to get a crack at the lens were those who attended the LA Workshop so hopefully this lens will make it to a few more shooters soon for more real world tests.

HOW MUCH WILL THIS LENS COST?

SLR Magic has not announced pricing yet but I do expect it (of course) to be MUCH less  than the Leica Noctilux ASPH which now comes in at $11k. At the same time, I do not expect this to be some $1000-1500 lens either, as it is a specialty lens that will be hand made and calibrated, not mass produced. It is not constructed of cheap parts and the lens oozes quality when you hold it.

Many at the workshop who held it, and shot with it were guessing and afraid this lens would come in at $5500-$6k (goes to show what others who used it thought of the quality) but my guess is that it will come in lower than that. Hopefully we will see pricing soon. No one knows at this point so it is all speculation. All I know is  that if I had a choice of buying this or the Noctilux but could save something like $7,000 by buying this lens, I would. End of story. Of course we all want and dream of the Leica but for those of us who do not have $11k in our lens funds, something like this would make an excellent alternative.

The sharpness wide open is INSANE – Click image for larger view and full 100% crop at 0.95

It appears Andrew and all of those at SLR Magic are very proud of what they have created and I am glad I had a hand to get it to where it is today in the quality department. It is a lens they should be EXTREMELY PROUD of and if the build quality and dependability hold up over the next few months I am going to say that this is indeed a GIANT KILLER of a lens. But you won’t have to take my word for it, there should a few others writing about this lens soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

More to come…but for now a few more shots from this lens and the M9-P. I chose these simple shots because I feel it shows the many qualities of the lens. Enjoy!

-

This was AT NIGHT and it was pretty dark. No flash required :) And all three of these guys wanted the Hyperprime and tried to give Andrew their order already. You can see Judd (far right) using one on his NEX-5n. Imagine the video capabilities of this lens…

-

-

-

Smooth, silky but oh so sharp (click image for larger version)

-

3D glasses not required :)

-

The depth of field is insanely shallow at T0.95

-

-

and one for fun…1st shot is with the Hyperprime at 1.4 in near darkness (hotel bar late night) and the 2nd is from the Leica 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH at 1.4. Bokeh is a little different here…”fatter” as some would call it.

CLICK EACH IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE 18MP FILE – STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA – ISO 1250 – LATE NIGHT LOW LIGHT SAMPLES

Aug 192011
 

 



Testing the Noktor 50 f/0.95 for the Sony E Mount with the new NEX-C3

Hello to all! It’s been a LONG LONG day for me but I am back in my office and doing what I love to do most, and that is to sit here at my desk while in my big comfy chair and tell you guys about my experiences when shooting with new gear :)

The 24 Hour Adventure

Yesterday afternoon my buddy Mike and I took a drive to Las Vegas, which is about a 4-5 hour drive from Phoenix. I brought along a very light kit consisting only of the Olympus E-P3 and 12mm lens and the brand new Sony NEX-C3 camera. I decided last minute to drive to Vegas just so I could have a change of scenery to test out the Noktor Sony “E” mount 50mm f/0.95 Hyperprime, which is basically the same lens (though now made in a new factory with better fit and finish) as the Micro 4/3 version I reviewed over a year ago. Seeing new things can inspire and I needed it after spending day in and day out in the hot blazing sun and brown desert that is PHOENIX. Yep, this was gonna be a quick 24 hour trip but I was excited.

Another Noktor Hyperprime?

Some of you probably remember that I was the 1st in the world to review the Noktor 50mm Hyperprime for Micro 4/3.  I was also the first to say I didn’t care for it. It was OK for what it was, but it was very soft, very low contrast, and the colors were not so hot. I did manage to get some decent shots at a wedding with it attached to an Olympus E-P2 but at the end of the day, the lens just was not for me. Shortly after that review Noktor seems to have disapeared and then later resurfaced when SLR Magic bought them out.

SLR Magic made a few tweaks to the lens design and started manufacture of the lens in a totally different factory, and then they released it for the Sony E mount. Yep, a 50mm f/0.95 lens for the Sony NEX mount cameras, which will give you a 75MM equivalent, unlike the 100mm equivalent on Micro 4/3.

Many out there argue that this lens (well, not THIS specific version) can be bought on ebay (but without the “E” or M4/3″ mount) for less than the $1000 or so Noktor charges for it. Well, the lens as it is now is pretty slick looking and does indeed come complete with the mount of your choice, a box, metal screw in lens cap, etc. None of this means SQUAT if the lens sucks though, so my curiosity was aroused.

After asking SLR Magic about this lens they shipped out the Sony version to me so I could give it away to one lucky reader in my SLR Magic/NEX contest. That was pretty cool of them to just donate the lens for me to give away. Since I had the lens here, I decided to take it out and see if it performed better on the NEX with it’s larger sensor than it did on the E-P2 and to see if the color and contrast was any better (it was pretty bad when I reviewed the 1st version of this lens on Micro 4/3)

I will make this quick as this is really just a quick look at the lens. I only shot with it for one night so all I am qualified to talk about is my quick experience with the lens.

 

FIT AND FINISH

The lens feel and looks GREAT. It’s metal, it’s very solid, and it’s built very well. This lens is actually a lens designed for cinema so the aperture ring does not click. Instead it is just free and smooth and you can lock it down with a twist of a metal knob. I left it wide open all night at f/0.95. I have NO COMPLAINTS on the build or look/feel. The build of the Hyperprime gets a B+ in my book and a lens like the Leica Noctilux gets an A+, which is a TANK. So a B+ is actually quite good for a $1000 f/0.95 lens.

PERFORMANCE

 

I will not lie or sugar coat it. As with the Micro 4/3 version, this lens is a CHALLENGE to use. I shot it all night in the Fremont street area of Las Vegas and it was tough to get sharp images. Why? Well, this lens is NOT really that sharp when wide open. It CAN be a teeny bit sharp if you nail the focus, or if you stop it down to 1.4 but using focus peaking, shooting quick, and shooting wide open was a HUGE challenge. I love challenges though so what did I think after a few hours of use? Well, I do indeed like it better on the NEX than I did on Micro 4/3 but it is still a challenge to use due to the shallow DOF.

I ONLY used the focus peaking feature of the NEX-C3 when shooting this lens. Basically, when you manually focus there are bright red areas on the screen that pop up on the in focus areas of the image. Never once did I stop and magnify the back LCD. Shooting in this manner with the Noktor and NEX was a breeze and I want to give Sony huge props for implementing this peaking feature. It works very well. BUT as I already stated the Noktor lens itself IS INDEED a somewhat soft lens when shot wide open. I mean, it is a f/0.95 50mm for around $1000 so we can not expect miracles.

The lens felt good on the NEX-C3 but the camera is just a bit too small for my tastes when using lenses like this. The grip is semi useless and everything is just too cramped. IN use, I MUCH prefer shooting the Olympus E-P3 as it is a little larger, has better controls, and feels great in my hands. The C3 was just too small for me to really get into it with the Noktor and if I were buying a NEX today, I would go with a NEX-5 over the C3, no contest. It has a better grip, feels more solid and because of this, it feels better in my hand. I can say that with the 16mm kit lens, the NEX-C3 felt good but still a little small. Maybe I am just so used to the larger grip on the NEX-5?

Ok, how about the images? I did say this was a “quick look” so let’s get to what is important, the RESULTS!

You can click on any image for a larger view and to see the pictures how they should be seen. Also please note, every image in this review was shot as a JPEG. Photoshop/Lightroom does not process NEX-C3 RAW files yet. Some of  the JPEGs had minor enhancements – Levels, contrast, color saturation, etc.

Shot wide open and from a distance using the Focus Peaking of the NEX-C3 – The Noktor gives you the dreamy creamy look. Color does seem pretty good, and better than what I got on the M4/3 version over a year ago.

-

You can get good results if you concentrate. Again, the colors are saturated and bold here. Wide open, click for larger.

-

These girls were taking photos of themselves with all of the cool lights behind them.

-

The Bokeh? What do YOU think?

-

I did NOT focus on the letters here but instead on the cable/wire in front of them. Again, wide open and you can see the look you can expect from this lens on the NEX cameras.

-

Shot very quickly as I walked by and was lucky to nail it. Again, click image for larger view!

-

A walk by shot. I raised the camera, aimed, quickly focused and when the NEX told me I had focus I fired away!

-

Another quick raise and shoot! 

-

What a combo, spongebob and chucky.

-

More Bokeh testing….Vegas is so colorful!


-

In the mirror :)

-

and stopped down to 1.4..it sharpens up quite a bit when you stop it down a little

Click the image below for a straight from camera JPEG and 100% crop shot at 0.95, wide open. 

So what is the verdict on the Noktor Hyperprime f/0.95 E mount? YOU be the judge!

Ok, some of you may have not even read what I wrote above about how I disliked the Micro 4/3 version of this lens. Well, as you can see from the images above, the lens does seem to do better in most areas when using the larger image sensor of the NEX. The color is better and the contrast is better. Period. STILL, this lens is a challenge to use. MANY shots that I took WERE soft and out of focus so I did not always nail it. I thought I did when shooting but when I looked back there were many that were just a bit off. So yes, this lens can be a challenge if you are shooting street, wide open at night! Hell, ANY fast lens is a challenge at night! This IS f/0.95!

Also, NOKTOR IS a site sponsor (see their ad to the right) and  they did send me this lens to give away as part of my contest BUT this does not mean I am going to tell you that this lens is superb. I am just telling you MY THOUGHTS after one night of use. That’s it. The build is great, the feel is great, it’s a fast 0.95 aperture lens BUT it IS SOFT wide open. It IS a challenge to shoot on the NEX and always get good results. It DOES have a dreamy creamy look, and you will either like it or you will not. YOU CAN buy a Voigtlander 50 1.1 and adapter and shoot it on the NEX but it will run you a little bit more money and it will be bigger. It will also be sharper and more correct. So it is up to you as to what you are looking for.

I guess it will come down to if you like the look of the Noktor or not. Personal preference. I mean, a Leica M9 and 50 Noctilux 0.95 will set you back $18,000. The NEX-C3 and Hyperprime will set you back well under $2000. A savings of $16,000. That is A BIG DEAL. Will you get Leica performance from this combo? NO. It MAY get you somewhat close to the look and feel of the old Leica F/1 Nocti but not quite. This combo is pretty cool though. Even with its quirks and challenges, it is indeed looking better on the NEX system that it did on Micro 4/3. Only you can decide if it is something that floats your boat! YOU be the judge!

Remember, every image in this review was shot as a JPEG as Photoshop/Lightroom does not process NEX-C3 RAW files yet. So, what you see here is not representative of the NEX-C3 and Noktor RAW performance.

Also, do not forget to enter the contest so you can WIN THIS EXACT lens! Click here to read about it and enter!

-

-

-

-

A Few Words on the Sony NEX-C3…nice but nothing groundbreaking

As you guys know, I have been a fan of the Sony NEX-5 since its release and have written many articles on it. The review, shooting it with Leica glass, comparisons, etc. The NEX-5 was never a perfect camera but the one thing it had going for it was its large APS-C sensor, nice construction, great grip, and swivel LCD. The weak link in the NEX cameras have always been the Sony lenses. Simply put, they kind of suck for any kind of critical shooting and they fail to please most “enthusiasts”.  This is why many who shoot the NEX cameras use adapters and slap on Leica glass. BUT in the past this has been slow, cumbersome, and tricky because you would have to magnify the LCD, compose, focus, then shrink the LCD and take your shot. I was never a fan of this so I always shot it with the Sony branded 16mm.

Recently Sony updated the firmware to give filters similar to Olympus’s own Art Filters as well as “Focus Peaking”. THIS is the winning feature as we can now shoot with fast 3rd party lenses and get focus MUCH quicker! No need to magnify the screen. Many of the test shots above were taken VERY quickly. I would raise the camera and quickly focus until I saw the bright red lines showing me what was in focus. BOOM! Thats it. Even with a fast 0.95 lens it was easy and do-able.

The NEX-C3 is the latest camera from Sony in the NEX lineup. It replaces the NEX-3 and what we get is now an even smaller body, a two tone black and silver trim that is very slick looking and the C3 also gets a new sensor with 2 more megapixels (went from 14 to 16). The C3 has the new “BIONZ” image processing (who thinks of these names?, lol). Everything else, in all reality is the same as the NEX-3. So new smaller and slicker body style, new sensor, and new processing. Sony also separated the SD card from the battery compartment and it now has its own little space and door. I do like  this improvement. Sony kept the same menu system and it is exactly the same as the NEX-3 and 5 with the new firmware.

I really do not see why anyone would choose a C3 over the NEX-5 right now, especially when they are about the same price, $599. I do see the NEX-5 has been discontinued as the new C5 is on the way, and then the NEX-7 which is still in the rumor phase but very likely.

The C3 is a very sweet and cool looking camera with the Sony 16mm mounted but IMO it is almost too tiny, especially if you are going to mount glass like this Noktor Hyperprime. Personally, I can’t wait for the NEX-7 as if this camera pans out as we are thinking, it is going to be a 100% winner. The NEX-C3 is sort of just here and there. Not really much of an improvement over the 3 and hard for me to get excited about. If you are looking into the NEX system, and never bought a NEX camera then I could recommend the C3 or the 5. To see the specs of the NEX-C3 and read more about it, OR TO BUY IT then click HERE. 

If you are wondering if the C3 is worth upgrading to from the NEX-3 then I would say not really. The new firmware will work just fine on your current NEX and give you the new features like Focus Peaking and the picture effects. Save your case. But if you want a new NEX then the C3 is worth considering if you want to get in to it for the least amount of money. B&H Photo usually has it in stock HERE. The NEX -C3 can indeed give you some stellar IQ with the right lenses. I’m getting fantastic results with the SLR Magic 28.28 (review coming soon).

Click image for larger – NEX-C3 with SLR Magic 28 2.8 – Out of camera JPEG!

-

PERSONALLY, I am still LOVING this Olympus E-P3 and can not recommend it more highly with the 12mm f/2 lens. It is just a joy to use and LIGHTNING fast (faster AF than the NEX). I shot with it a ton in Vegas and will post some shots later but here is one comparison I did with the E-P3 and 12mm at f/5.6 and the NEX-C3 and the 16mm 924) at f/5.6. You can click each image below to download the full size out of camera JPEGS from each camera. The NEX gives more megapixels and a different color signature but the Oly file is great as well, and the camera is soooo much fun to use. Love it! BUT, the Oly combo is about $1100 MORE expensive than the C3 combo and the C3 gives you a smoother IQ due to the larger sensor. Once again, it all depends on what you are looking for in a camera.

SONY NEX-C3 – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG – 16mm (24) – f/5.6

-

OLYMPUS  E-P3 – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC JPEG – 12mm (24) – f/5.6

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

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. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Be sure and visit the all new forums on the site HERE.

Aug 012011
 

-

Just spoke with SLR Magic/Noktor and was told that the new lens they are releasing soon is indeed a Leica M mount 0.95 50mm lens. This is an all new lens by Noktor and is made for the full frame Leica M9 as well as Leica M film cameras. The previous Noktor lens that was released for Micro 4/3 and the Sony E-Mount is a smaller lens and would not work for a full frame sensor.

This will be 6-bit coded as well. Yep, a new 50m f/0.95 lens for the M mount that will be MUCH less expensive than the Noctilux. The lens is coming soon but Noktor is still doing some design enhancements and they asked me to post a poll so you guys can help!

NOKTOR NEEDS YOUR HELP!

As you can see from the image of the prototype, the focusing ring does not appear to give much grip. I mentioned to them my preference but they had the idea of me putting up the poll to ask you for your preference.

They asked me which type of focusing ring Leica users would prefer. Scalloped, Round Barrel, or Focus Tab? Also, would you prefer a green ring on the front of the lens or a black ring? Vote in the poll below so Noktor can finish the design and get this lens released!

May 192010
 

Here is another fine article by Ashwin Rao and this time he is writing about his thoughts on the lens that had me drawing up plans to rob a bank just to fund one for myself (just kidding of course). The Leica Noctilux f/0.95 is a masterpiece but it’s not for everyone, and is one of those specialty “dream” lenses for most. So thank’s Ashwin for this great read.

Revisiting the Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95 asph

By Ashwin Rao

Hi, fellow Steve Huff readers! It’s Ashwin, back after a rather long hiatus, to bring you my perspective on Leica’s most specialized and extravagent lens, the nearly $11,000 Leica Noctilucx 50 mm f/0.95 asph. Steve got to play with this lens for a trip to New York a few months back, and what he came back with were some truly magnificent shots. Prior to reading his article, to be honest, I had no interest in owning this lens. After all, I already owned the Leica Noctilux 50 mm f/1.0 at that point, and many, myself included, have waxed poetic about the unique rendering of this lens. I couldn’t see myself justifying spending $11K of my hard-earned money for a lens that I might not use all that much, one that is big and bulky (weighing in at well over a pound) and could be challenging to use wide open. Furthermore, my experience with the Noctilux f/1, which I used rarely (for uber-low-light work), suggested that my proclivities might lie with smaller lenses.

The months passed, and I nearly forgot about the lens until I began to observe the work of a few forum buddies including Kurt Kamka, who’s written for Steve before, and a few other close friends in the photographic world. I began to hear stories of individuals who were giving up their entire lens kits to get just this one lens. I began to wonder….should I do the same?

I struggled with the decision over a couple of months, and ultimately decided that you only live once. Now was as opportune a time as any to get the lens. I rationalized that most of my photography lies between focal lengths of 35 mm and 90 mm, where Leica rangefinders truly shine. I also rationalized my kit down to a set of lenses with similar signatures. One of the issues that I have come to recognize is that Leica lenses afford so many different looks. There’s the war era look of the early Summars, Sumnmitars, and Summarex lenses. There’s the classic look, as demonstrated by the Summilux 50 mm pre-asph,A summilux 35 pre-asph, Noctilux f/1, and Summilux 75 mm f/1.4, which some might even call the Mandler-look.

I decided that I was most often shooting and most comfortable with the modern Leica look, as best represented by lenses such as the 50 mm Summilux Asph, 35 mm Summicron Asph, and 75 mm and 90 mm APO-Summicrons. Adding a new Noctilux f/0.95, from what I saw from others in possession of the lens, would complement this setup with a more modern signature.

So off went my beloved (but infrequently used) Noctilux f/1, Summilux 75 mm f/1.4, and WATE. Having raised enough cash from the sale of these lenses and a few miscellaneous but less costly sales, I contacted Ken Hansen, and 2 days later, the Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95 was in my hands!

Initial Impressions

Just like Steve, the first thing that I marveled upon, after rapidly opening the wonderfully packaged lens, is how well it is built. The new Noctilux is a BEAST, but it’s very well built. It is a dense, compact, bundle of glass and metal, and it lets you know it. It’s focusing ring rotates smoothly, and aperture ring has positive clicks but moves effortlessly. The first think I did was mount the Noctilux upon my M9, and surprise, surprise, it balanced extraordinarily well on that camera! I mounted it next upon my Leica MP, and voila, it seemed to balance equally, if not even better, on that camera.

So in summary, despite its size and weight, te Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95 seems to fit like a glove on Leica M bodies. I was thrilled! After slapping on a B+W 60 mm UV MRC filter on the camera to protect that wonderful glass, off I trudged to my first photo stroll with the lens.

Keep in mind that I live in Seattle, and the days start to get long come April. As I headed off into a sunlit evening at 6 pm for my first photo shoot with the lens, I realized that there was plently of daylight left, and the Noctilux let me know it. I found myself trying to figured out how best to shoot wide open. I stepped this ISO down to “Pull 80” and turned the M9’s shutter speed all the way down to 1/4000, and I was still finding that evening light could overexpose my images. As a result, I picked up a lovely B+W 8x ND filter to match the Noctilux (thanks to Kurt Kamka for that advise as well). This ND filter provided me enough light blockage to use the Noctilux in daylight, at a native ISO of 160, wide open, baby! The only issue I have seen at all with using the ND filter is some vignetting, which can be removed simply in light room or Nik software in post-processing….or it can be left there.

Over the past 3 weeks, I have ported the Noctilux everywhere, on hikes into the Cascade Mountains, while wading through city fairs, into darkly lit bars and smoky jazz clubs, and into the light of day, with ND filter on, of course…

Let me just say, I am in love! I am using this lens FAR more than I used my previous Noctilux. It is so useful. Whereas the old Noctilux has its signature, the Noctilux f/0.95 has a unique signature which is more modern and more true to the image in front of you. In some ways, it can be described as a Summilux 50 mm f/1.4 asph on steroids. It’s that good, that sharp, and that well corrected in most cases…The old Noctilux has a beautiful rendering, but what I found is people commenting that the shots that I took with the old Noctilux f/1 were Noctilux shots, not MY shots…hmmm…let me clarify.

To me, the old Noctilux has such a distinct look that it can superimpose its own rendering & signature upon your work. Any Leica guru in the room can pick out a Noct f/1 shot from across the room. For those looking for this signature, they have found a match made in heaven. For me, I discovered that I’d rather have my images look less derived, less “Noct”ish, so to speak. In other words, I wanted to own a lens with fast glass that would expand the bounds of my own creative vision without overlaying a dramatic character trait upon that style. The new Noctilux f/0.95 allows you this flexibility. As a result, I find that it pairs MUCH better with my current kit, which includes a couple APO-Crons, the 50 Summilux Asph, 35 Summilux Asph, and 135 mm Tele-Elmar. All of these lenses maintain that Leica charm, albeit with increased micro-contrast, slightly less “glow” (less aberrations and blooming = less glow). The IQ that I have seen from the M9 and 50 Noctilux f/0.95 rivals medium format film images, to my eye, but of course, this is VERY subjective, and I’ll allow each to make their own decision on that.

The Noctilux f/0.95 is a remarkably sharp lens, even when stopped down all of the way. It holds is performance to its closest focusing distance, which sadly remains at 1 meter. Bokeh, as one would expect, is lovely, more modern, and somewhat more geometric than the old Noctilux. An interesting characteristic that I have noted is that the bokeh seems more blurred at the center of an image (at f/0.95) than at the image periphery. TO me, this tends to create images with a more 3D rendering when the Noctilux f/0.95 is used with the M9. I am not sure if this character is due to the microlenses used by the M9’s sensor, as I have yet to develop the rolls of film that I have shot with the MP/Noct f/0.95 combo.

Finally, the Noctilux f/0.95 holds up very well when stopped down. I find that it matches the performance of the 50 mm Summilux asph in most regards from f/2.8 onwards.

Negatives

As you may see, I am smitten with the new Noctilux f/0.95. I had better be, given what I just spent, right? Hahaha.

But there are some drawbacks, for those who may be considering its purchase:

Purple fringing: I have seen this in several of my shots where there’s a very contrasty background with abrupt changes between shadow and highlight (i.e. thing tree branches against a bright sky). This does not seem to happen in every case of such useage, but it is noticeable often enough. I am not knowledgeable enough to know whether this is an inherent issue with the lens’ design or rather how the lens and M9’s sensor interact. TO me, this is not a big issue, as purple fringing can easily be removed in post-processing in most cases.

Size: It’s a big sucker. I have found this to be a non-issue for me, as I have truly enjoyed shooting the lenses and have not developed any hand or arm fatigue when using the lens on the M9 or MP. But for some, size may matter, and I suggest that you try it out prior to spending a lot of cash on this lens

Bokeh. It’s lovely….most of the time….there are times, though, when I have come across some geometric bokeh on the M9…I suspect that this has to do with the use of aspherical elements in the lens. The current Noct does not render as smoothly as its f/1 sibling. Further, bokeh seems to be a bit harsher at the edges, with less blurring, than at the center of the image. I’d give it an 4/5 on my bokeh rating scale.

F0.95 is not for the faint of heart. Focal plane thickness is miniscule at that f-stop, so be wary and be prepared for a bit of trial and error with handling focus.

Positives

Dang, if I have a negative section, I gotta list some positives:

Image quality: Honestly, the Noctilux is possibly the sharpest lens that I own. It gives the Summilux 50 mm f/1.4 asph a run for its money. I know that some people hate that term, “sharpness”, but this lens has got it. For you pixel peepers out there, there won’t be any mushiness to your images, even at f/0.95.

Focal length: 50 mm is exceptionally useful for most uses. For those who don’t mind the size of the Noctilux, this easily could be your one lens solution for the Leica M system.

3D look: Hard to explain, but there’s something in the way this lens renders transitions between focus and out-of-focus elements that really causes the parts that are in focus (hopefully, your principal subjects) to POP!

Color rendition: This lens is very well color-corrected for color photography

Build: Best built lens by Leica…and that’s saying a lot.

Aperture: f/0.95, people. It doesn’t get better than that!

The Bottom Line

I love this lens. I was lucky Ididn’t have to give up my whole kit to get it, but I did give up a lot. But I feel like I gained a lot in return. Would I buy it all over again, knowing what I now know? Yup! Whereas the lenses that I sold to get this lens were all specialty items for my brand of photography, the Noctilux f/0.95 sits happily in the middle of my kit and will be frequently used. My only remaining question is whether I will keep my 50 Summilux asph….

Thanks for reading. For those of you interested in keeping track of my ongoing journey with the Noctilux 50 mm f/095 asph, please follow the following link on flickr, which I’ll be keeping up to date:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashwinrao1/sets/72157624075806922/

You can also check out my blog at:

http://photos-ash.blogspot.com

HELP SUPPORT THIS SITE TO KEEP IT GOING AND GROWING!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H Photo, Adorama orAMAZON, 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. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you!

If you enjoyed this article/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 my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Thanks so much for visiting my site!

Mar 022010
 

Be sure to visit my Noktor Lens review Diary with much more on this lens – Click HERE to check it out!

Ok guys and gals! It’s no joke, no hoax, and yes it has arrived! The NOKTOR 50 0.95 lens is here and I only had time to snap a few shots of my son and wife to get this first look up today. Let me say only this. So far, I AM IMPRESSED (UPDATE: Well, after more shooting the bokeh is starting to bug me in some situations). No, this lens is not a “Noctilux Killer’ but it has GOBS AND GOBS of (classic) character, even on the OLYMPUS E-P2. I can not wait to shoot this in some good light and low light situations. We are supposed to get some nice sun on Thursday so I am hoping to do some nice evening portraits with this combo. By the way, in case you have not seen it yet, my E-P2 review can be read HERE.

For those of you who may not have heard about this lens it is a 50mm 0.95 aperture lens for the Micro 4/3 mount from an internet company that popped up out of the blue. After they showed up on Twitter there were speculations that this was a joke, a fake…blah blah blah. Then, I happened to get in contact with the company and they offered me a loaner to test out. I accepted of course and it arrived today, as promised!

Basically what this lens will let you do is shoot in low light using a superfast f0.95 aperture. Leica has their Noctilux f/0.95 which is absolute PERFECTION but it comes in at $10,000 and will only work on a Leica M camera. This little guy is $750 and will let all Micro 4/3 shooters go nocturnal. It will not be as sharp, as contrasty, or anywhere near as smooth as a Leica Noctilux but it doesn’t matter. This one is all about that classic look, low light shooting, and finally an offering for Micro 4/3 users to go fast without trying to find old lenses on ebay and then buying the adapters.

Which leads me to buying old used lenses on e-bay. Yes, you can search for the old C mount lenses, many of which are fast aperture like this. Sometimes you can get a deal, sometimes you can not. Many times you never know what you are getting as far as condition is concerned. I think it is great to have an option to buy a NEW lens and Noktor is providing that option, with a 2 year warranty I might add,

But, what many of us want to know is “How good is the Noktor?” – Well, I will be testing it over the next two weeks and will report all of my finding to you in a full review. I will be shooting on the Olympus E-P2. You can see the company web site at NOKTOR.COM and even place your order if you want one. They ship in April and I am guessing that I may be buying one myself because I LOVE fast glass and I love lenses with Character. This one has both :) I may end up disappointed once I get out there and really shoot it, who knows? But, so far so good.

The cool thing is that this lens is ready to rock out of the box. No adapter required, and yes, it’s a 50mm so it becomes a 100mm on M4/3 cameras. Here is a short “first look” video I put up on youtube so you can see it in my hand and in more detail…

Keep in mind, I only had this lens for maybe AN HOUR before I posted this because I have been getting hammered with e-mails asking where my first samples were! I promised some today, so here ya go!

Here it is at F0.95 with a 100% crop. You must click the image below to see the crop at 100%!

Wide open you can now get those really cool shallow depth of field effects on your Micro 4/3 camera!

I added a cross processing filter here with Nik Color Efex Pro – This was shot WIDE OPEN at f/0.95 and this is the shot that has me placing an order for this lens. Love the classic look and honestly, I have not been able to achieve this with any other lens to date on my E-P1.

Bokeh looks good to me here…

Converted this one to B&W with Nik SIlver Efex Pro

and one up close – you can see the softness and “glow” creep in but this is at 0.95 and they were both moving :)

Looks great so far! This lens may be THE reason to buy an Olympus E-P2 with its great EVF. Easy manual focus and a great looking combo (if not a tad long). Below are a couple of more shots of the lens and the lens on the camera. Check back soon for more!! BTW, B&H Photo now has the BLUE and CHAMPAGNE E-PL1’S IN STOCK! This lens will mount to these right out of the box and they are a bit less than the E-P2 at $599.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
21