First Look at the Noktor 50 f0.95 Lens on the Olympus E-P2

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.

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  1. Thank you for the review and the pictures. The bokeh looks really great. Wish I had something like this for my Nikon.

  2. I’m thinking of buying a Goyo Optical GMY45095MCN, another 50mm f/0.95 from the same OEM with exactly the same specs, but without the green anodised retaining ring. Has anyone had a go with this lens and how does it compare to the Noktor?

  3. ZDP-189:
    I don’t agree with all your comments, but let me comment at the last one specifically:
    Many great lenses are MF. Nothing wrong with that. It just means they don’t have (a) access to 4/3 spec to make it AF,or (b) have the resources to do it or (c) think it is economically worth it.
    Furthermore, when you are dealing with razor thin DOF, anything shifts around easily. Your minor movements and the subjects minor movements will always affect it. My only concern would be to make sure the MF ring has enough range; many ‘digital only’ lenses are notorious for crappy MF rings.

  4. Has anyone tried this lens by Goyo Optical: GMY45095MCN ?

    It’s the same spec by the same OEM manufacturer stated on the Noktor FAQ and retails for $485. An extra $15 would cover a m4/3 converter if you haven’t already got one. Check out their website, there’s some F=17mm f/0.95 and F=25mm f/0.95 lenses too.

    (No connection)


    Noktor FAQ:

    Goyo Optical’s range of F/0.95 lenses:

    GMY45095MCN spec sheet:

  5. I already have one on order for my PEN, and your review here has just reassured me. I was wondering what I wanted to do for the strong bokeh. I was considering the 50mm or 85mm f/1.2 for my 5DM2, but I prefer the more compact nature of my PEN for these types of photographs. When this lens came out, I was a fan from the get-go. Unlike some others that have criticized the photos on the Noktor website, I find them appealing, and I completely understand the DOF “issues”, I call them features, that this lens offers. Keep up the good work.

  6. Aaaaand sold!! I was looking for good samples. Even these few have convinced me. Sure it’s soft. Sure it’s manual focus. Sure manually focusing on the GF1 is a pain in the butt… Sure it’s big and heavy. But…at 1/10 of the price of a Noctilux, I have to give this a try…

    I just hope I get this before I head out to Florida on vacation on the 20th…I know it’s probably not going to happen but I can hope!!

  7. @Dan Valente
    >FWIW @Ark-kun, the 35mm f/1.2 is a behemoth while this Noktor seems
    What? Noktor is 480-gram behemoth here isn’t it? Nokton weights the same even though it has 2 more lens.
    >this lens is one you buy for character
    Why not buy LOMO or Holga? The character is much more pronounced.

  8. Want one. Absolutely want one. And I hope they’ll bring out a 25mm as well, ’cause I absolutely want a 25/0.95, too.

    Guess I’ll be saving a little while 🙂

  9. May I temper my earlier comment and say that I _could_ see myself owning one at some point in the future. I have owned similar lenses before. I have a sharp but too long Cosmicar 75/1.4, the excellent but unforgiving Voigtländer Nokton 50/1.1, had a “dreamy” (euphemism) Canon 50/1.2 M39, and love my EF 85/1.2L which is often best shot on manual anyway.

    As you can see, I have an unseemly fetish for impractical fast glass, which is why I’m eyeing the Noktor 50/0.95 like a John standing outside an Amsterdam cathouse. I know it’s a bad way to blow a wage packet. I know I’ll regret it, but there is the lure.

    This kind of lens should be bought by a photography club, passed around and nobody individually has to stump up more than fifty bucks. It’s not the kind of thing you’d depend on as your only lens; it’s a toy to be played with and passed on; hopefully with minimal depreciation.

    That’s why I wish Noktor all the best with this lens. I want them to sell a bunch of them so I can pick one up for half price on eBay when the original owner realises it won’t live up to the hype. My eBay name is the same as the one I’m using here; if you come to auction your lens you’ll realise the irony when you see my name in the bidder list.

    Seriously (not), buy a Nokton and fog up the lens with your breath. You’ll have roughly the same performance as the Noktor and at least you can clean it or sell it on for a decent price when you’re done. 😀

  10. Jonathan,

    This looks like it’d be outstanding for the GF1. The newest firmware revision on there is basically designed for this stuff — if you have “shoot without lens attached” mode enabled, pressing the thumb wheel in will set it to focus-zoom mode, just like if you turned the focus dial on a M4/3 lens in manual focus mode. It’s pretty swell overall.

  11. too expensive for remake of technical lens without AF. i can’t wait good contrast and resolution. bokeh is so-so. just for fans of fast lens.

  12. My comment is great work the noktor! It does provides the F0.95 solution while panasonic provided the much slower F1.7. IF the Noktor lens is the cctv one, sounds a little bit depressed, but Steve shows the convincing pictures that I do believe the noktor is a good solution for budget.Really, not badl.
    As to C-mount lens, everyone would know above 25mm will be better for the image circle covering the whole M4/3 Sensor, but above the 25mm it gains the chance that it need to be modded to fit into adapter. As I Know, similar to the noktor lens,the SenkoADL, Yakumo, Navitron 50mm/F0.95 lens need to be moded, and Modding gains the fee and risks. By the way, Purchasing the brand new single CCTV Lens is more expensive than we thought.

  13. ZDP-189: You speak very rationally, however a lot of people that want this lens are still going to want it because of the f/0.95 + native m4/3 combo.

    That said, I’m not sure if this is actually comparable to the Noctilux at f/0.95 in terms of DOF, since this lens may not have originally been made for a 35mm sensor. Just as the 20mm f/1.7 will not give as shallow a DOF as a Summilux @ f/1.7, I fear the Noktor may not give the same Noctilux characteristics that many people are expecting.

    But Steve puts it well – this lens is one you buy for character, not for crazy-shallow DOF or bokeh perfection. And for that reason alone your 7 anti-Noktor points are but a clump of weeds in the path of someone ready to shell out $750.

  14. thanX steve. impressed, impressed. hope to get one in germany. hope noktor will find a dealer for germany. Buying via USA is a bit expensive with taxes and duty…

  15. Yes, it’s generating a predictably huge amount of buzz in the blogsphere and among reviewers. However, DO NOT BUY IT, because:

    (1) I’m convinced it’s not sharp. There has never been a sharp photo shown from this lens anywhere. Positive reviewers who describe it as having “gobs and gobs of (classic) character”, being “dreamy”, etc. really mean to say “it’s horrible”. This lens is not just soft, everything is fringed. I’ve never even seen a sharp photo published from this lens even in good light with the lens stopped down. Sensors and post processing are improving all the time, so I’d give up two stops of increased noise for enhanced sharpness any day. Sharpness always trumps noise, but it’s double important in small sensors with high resolution.

    (2) The background separation you see in low light is hard to achieve in bright daylight. The EPL1’s Auto ISO starts at ISO200 and the maximum shutter speed is 1/2000s. Even manually selecting ISO100 and with an ND8 filter, is shot wide open you’ll probably have some photos with blown highlights that even RAW can’t save.

    (3) It’s the wrong focal length. With a field of view of effectively 100mm on full frame, it’s too narrow for many applications.

    (4) It has limited potential beyond M4/3. The flange to film register is short and the bayonet wide, so it cannot be converted to be used on any other camera. If/when M4/3 is abandoned, it will have no foreseeable application.

    (5) It’s too big and heavy. If you look at the back of the lens, you can see the coverage is more than half frame. That’s wasted glass.

    (6) It’s too pricey. Or rather, it’s poor value for money. It’s around the street price of the much better Voigtländer Nokton 50/1.1 and way more expensive than a comparable quality vintage c-mount lens.

    (7) It’s manual focus. Very few photographers can focus to a sufficient accuracy to shoot it wide open. A 25mm depth of field at 3m means that only if the focus is within about 10mm will the person’s entire eye (pick one) be in focus. The 3m and 5m focus positions are about 2cm apart on the focus ring. You have to hit the exact focus to within the about a mm of ring rotation before natural movement of the subject or photographer moves it out of focus.

    What we really need is a affordable, but sharp, light and compact autofocussing lens with a focal length of 20-30mm and an aperture under f/2. Wait! Isn’t that the GF-1 kit lens?

  16. Ditto Jonathan….how many people do 7D reviews? Second question…how many have done Noktor reviews?

    One thing I have noticed is that m4/3’s is really expanding as a market….the wild west of photography….and the Noktor made it just a bit wilder…

  17. Second Ashwin’s review list. So much for that impending 7D review… Steve, I believe you now know where your audience’s interest truly lies.


  18. And yes, I firmly state that Noktor should give Steve a sample for permanent testing…to compare the Noktor against any possible contender….

    1. vs Noctilux
    2. vs. Canon 50 f/0.95 RF lens
    3. vs. Nokton

    It’s gonna take time to do all of those crazy comparisons, and effort. Cummon, Noktor :)!!!

  19. I only care about quality, meaning which one is sharper. The fact that the voigtlander is slower wouldn’t matter that much. f1.1 is still very fast.

  20. Hey Roger, the Voigtlander would be the sharper lens but a little bigger, a little slower, and not the same character at all. It would all come down to if you wanted a classic or modern look, with the Voigtlander being more modern/smooth.

  21. you should also do a voigtlander 50mm f1.1 vs NOKTOR 50mm f0.95 comparison. See which one is sharper. They are both in the same price range.

  22. THe guys who made this lens in C mount (Sekor or something like that….) do make a 25 f/0.95….I bet that if this Noktor is a success, we’ll be seeing some other re-hashed versions such as a 25 f/0.95, which would be FAST normal on the m4/3

  23. Steve, phew this is headed to becoming your most visited link. I had been busy and hadn’t had a chance to peep into what you were up to, but the shots that you have taken with the Noktor really seem to shine. It seems that when used as you have used it, that is without large light sources back lighting your subjects, the lens is absolutely brilliant on the M4/3 system. Do you mind the manual focus? Is it any different than using any other lens with manual focus? I remember that you had sworn off using Leica glass on the EP-2, but you seem to enjoy this lens, and your shots are by far the best and most useful that I have seen using this lens (their website showed that their entrepreneurship is solid, be their photo taking skills are so so….). I suspect that this web link and article will sell them a crapload of lenses, which at $750 a piece, should allow you to keep the one you have at no cost (Noktor guys, are ya hearing me?hahaha…Steve’s the best pitch man out there…)….

    Seriously, nice nice work. THe micro 4/3 is maturing… front of our eyes, with offerings such as this…bringing more diversity to the game….

    I look forward to seeing more of your work from this lens, as it seems to inspire you!

  24. Just a note…using the E-P2 EVF I had no issues with focus. When I used the LCD (without magnification) the images were a bit OOF. Using the LCD with magnification was also no problem, focus was great.

    I’ll be posting more in the morning…

  25. Kevin: thanks for the clarification, sounds like both Oly and Pana camps are well covered. Although zoom on half-press as Eric suggests would be awesome and I imagine trivial to program into the next firmware on any camera. Or maybe a sensor-based focus-change detection mechanism?

    I’m dreaming here sorry.

  26. @Jonathan: Yes, the GF1 does have a one-button focus assist function. (With the latest firmware, a press of the thumbwheel goes into the zoom mode.)

  27. I agree with Charles; interesting lens, m4/3’s is in desperate need of fast primes, so I appreciate the effort, but without the electronic coupling it’s a no-go for me. I absolutely despise manually toggling in and out of 7x zoom mode while focusing the E-P1. If Olympus would set up their cameras so that a half shutter press would activate the 7x focus mode then I wouldn’t mind using non-coupled glass, but as it is now it just requires too much button mashing for my taste. Should be a fine lens for videographers though.

  28. Looking good! I like shooting with a 50 on Micro 4/3, and I happen to like the classic sharp-within-soft, available-darkness “look” ; from your examples so far it seems as if the Noktor delivers it. (If you sometimes want a crisper-looking result, Lightroom’s clarity adjustment helps a lot.)

    And you’re right about this being an unfilled niche. If you want an ultrafast 50 you can use on Micro 4/3 and prefer something you can buy new in a box, the next-least-expensive option is probably the 50/1.1 Voigtlander Nokton — I’ve got one, I use it a lot, I like it. But it’s about $400 more expensive than the Noktor, and you still need an adapter, so it probably only makes sense if you’ve also got an M-mount camera and can get double duty out of it.

    For other ultrafast-50 solutions, you’ve got to buy used and/or resort to bulky, janky lens/adapter combinations. And yeah, I’ve tried a number of those C-mount lenses you used to be able to pick up cheaply on eBay — but for most of them, full Micro 4/3 coverage is mostly wishful thinking.

    So thanks for picking up the ball, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more shots!

  29. I’m tempted to buy this, but I wish they did just one thing. Add an electronic coupling to support the AF assist. They don’t need to add AF, but allowing the camera to sense when the focus ring is being moved and activate the zoom assist would of been very nice.

  30. I agree guys, a 25 f/0.95 would be sweet. Perfect. The 35 1.2 on the M8/M9 is HUGE and still does not give this kind of look. Is this Noktor comparable with a Leica Noct? No. Will it give you unique, artistic results? Yep. That’s what I like about lenses like these.

    My test will be when I get out with it in nice light and low light. I have more images from today that I will post tomorrow morning and they look pretty good. But, this all depends on what you like. This would NOT make for a good ever day lens but rather for those times when you want this look.

    I will shoot it tomorrow stopped down to see how it goes, but so far I think it’s nice. The price of $750..again, if someone wants a NEW f/0.95 lens for their M4/3, with mount already set, then this is the only game in town. You can’t expect a company to release and sell a lens like this for $50 🙂

    So far it appears to be a low contrast, somewhat soft lens (when wide open at 0.95) with crazy bokeh. More to come….

  31. As I stated in the original post about this, this lens *Should* be a 25mm f/0.95, they could have copied the c-mount switar optical formula, b/c those are going for 14-1500 dollars used these days. FWIW @Ark-kun, the 35mm f/1.2 is a behemoth while this Noktor seems better-suited to the u4/3s cams.

  32. Meh… Voightlander Nokton 35mm F/1.2 (or F/1.1) has (nearly )the same quality as Noctilux, but costs <$800. Sorry, but it's much better quality than Noktor.

  33. I have to ditto Tyson’s question. I shoot with a Lumix G1 and the focus assist on the viewfinder invaluable since there is no glass. In many ways the viewfinder with the zooming focus assist is BETTER than glass, but if the camera can NOT zoom the viewfinder it will be tough for fine focus work.

    Looking forward to your full review.

  34. Nervous bokeh / bokeh creaminess? Gosh, I guess I have to train my eyes to see that difference.

    I do see a very even, smooth background in the coke image, and a rich, textured background in the Color Efex image. Both look beautiful, and better than I could achieve with any lens I have now.

  35. Wow! I really like this lens – I think I might have to save up for this setup you have Steve – damn you hurt my pockets! 😛

  36. Looks to be the case; if you look at the bottom of the lens (1:01 in Steve’s video above) then there are no electrical contacts that I can see, which means the MF autozoom probably won’t work. Does the GF1 have a one-button instant-zoom function though?

  37. This is a full MF lens. The camera has absolutely no way to know if you are turning the focus wheel. If you need MF Assist you’ll have to activate it manually.

  38. Still think the bokeh looks nervous, nothing of the creaminess of the much more expensive sibling. But you get what you pay for!

    How do the sizes of the Leica and this one compare?

  39. Steve, I agree with Colin in that it should be set to 50mm. The E-P1 would undoubtedly identify the 20/1.7 as a 20mm lens, which is 40mm equiv. a 50mm spec lens that is 100mm equiv would therefore be set as 50mm. My theory anyway 🙂

    Also can’t wait for an answer to Tyson’s question. Granted with the E-P1/2 it is easy to zoom in/out with a press of the OK button (when in the right shooting display mode) it would be handy to know if this is automatic.

  40. In DPR, it stated this lens is actually a CCTV lens. In Asia, a lot of users modded the CCTV to use in their M4/3, C and M-mounted camera. Just wondering what are the difference between the CCTV lenses and the camera lenses. Thanks.

  41. The question that I would absolutely kill for you to answer (before the review, which I will read no matter what) is if when in manual focus mode, if the camera recognizes that you are focusing and can go into MF assist mode (the zoomed in live view) to help with manual focus.

    If so, I am ordering this lens today based solely off the sample pictures of your wife.

    Looking forward to the full review.

  42. Jonathan, yes you do but that is a great question and I have to admit, I am not sure. My E-P2 was set to 50mm and I assume that is correct. If anyone knows the answer to that feel free to respond.

  43. Thanks KT,

    No, I just mounted the lens and got to shooting. Nothing to set or adjust! You control the Aperture on the lens and therefore you control how much light is entering the camera. Shoot in “A” mode and the E-P1/E-P2 will adjust exposure for you.


  44. Steve,

    Excellent pics though I think at 100mm it won’t be as useful as a 50mm (35mm speak) on daily basis.

    Quick question, do you have to do any settings on your E-P2 when mounting this lens? I have a E-P1 myself and have been contemplating exploring with C mount lenses, just wondering how would the camera knows what settings were on the lens if there were no electronic contacts in the mount.

  45. Thanks Stephen! Been looking to get an M mount adapter for the Zeiss ZM 50/2. Pending Steve’s full review of this lens though 🙂

  46. Wow. This is a crazy little lens. Wonder how Noktor got around the copyright infringment of the mount (can that happen?) Reminds me of the Psystar Mac-Clone. Still 750 for a f/0.95 is pretty crazy! Looking forward to the review

  47. Stephen B: any info on a MFT-C adapter would be appreciated. From what I’ve read, the C mount lenses need to protrude into the M43 camera body in order to achieve infinity focus, and also their image circle is a lot smaller leading to vignetting.

    I don’t see any vignetting at all in the above test photos!

  48. I am positively surprised by the quality of the shots taken with this lens. At 100mm, it is a specialty lens that I guess will be used mainly for portraits or events like concerts. Meaning sharpness is not the main criteria. Nevertheless, DOF being so thin that I doubt it will be usable on moving subjects, especially since the E-P2 does not have rangefinder window.

  49. are we not all missing something here though? There are a lot of great old C mount lenses that you can use with an adapter on Micro four thirds and there are plenty available on E-bay for a lot cheaper than this, also, we are talking about 50mm (100 mm in real terms) but the C mount versions have 25mm as an option as well. Actually they go wider than that but you get vignetting wider than 25 mm. They also are manual focus only so I just don’t get what the big news is about this lens.

    Have a stroll through this group to get a feel.

  50. Wow, I’m not only impressed that it’s real but also that the bokey isn’t as busy as I previously thought. I must also take back my previous comment that it was fake because the first sample photo strongly resembled a screenshot from a movie.

    Looking forward to a full review!! That Voigtlander M-4/3 adapter all of a sudden looks a bit expensive.

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