This Noktor 50 0.95 lens review diary should be read from the bottom up. The conclusion is up top, early thoughts and samples at the bottom so if this is your first visit to this review diary, start there!
For another review of this lens which is a little more positive and geared towards video use, you can check out Phillip Bloom
Entry #11 – March 08th 2010 – 6:27 PM –
The lens is being sent back to Noktor in the morning and I am done shooting with it. During my time with the lens I went from liking the lens, to hating the lens, to somewhat liking the lens. I mean, it’s an OK lens but I have to be 100% honest here.
I have to say that you can buy another 50mm lens that will perform better in almost every way for an extra $300 or so. I am talking about the Voigtlander 50 Nokton 1.1. It is a sharper lens, has better color, better contrast and is almost as fast with a 1.1 aperture. But, that lens is for Leica M mount and you will need an adapter to use it, so more expense. It’s also a fatter (larger) lens. But if 0.95 is what you want then the Noktor may be the lens you are looking for.
The NOKTOR 50 left me feeling a bit cold. Yes, it’s a superfast 0.95 aperture lens but it is really hit or miss when using it at that aperture. From its softness and low contrast to it being very hard to focus accurately when wide open I am not sure sure that it is worth the hassle. The fact is, this lens is sort of like what a Leica Noctilux F0.95 would vomit out if it were sick. It’s technically not a very good lens and many will consider it unusable until it is stopped down to F2, and at that aperture you have other choices in a 50mm lens for your m4/3 camera.
Does it allow M4/3 users to shoot in low light? Yep. Can it give good results doing so? Sometimes, but those results are very soft, and the color is very weak. The best way I can describe the color this lens puts out is that it is “dirty”. That is the term I use when a lens gives me blah color. I rarely see it these days in modern lenses but the Noktor obviously does not use any kind of exotic glass. Hell, my 1943 Leica Summitar beats the pants off of the Noktor for color and bokeh, but it’s an F2 lens so it is not quite the speed demon.
You may have seen some not so nice comments in this review/post by those who say this lens is garbage and that there are better and less expensive alternatives. Let me say that A: The lens is not garbage and it does have its uses but B: It is probably a bit pricey for what it gives you in performance and C: There is no other lens like this available new with warranty for M4/3, so maybe it is priced right. It all depends on your needs and expectations.
It may sound like I am being VERY hard on the lens but in all honesty I do like it for certain applications. For example, I think some of the wedding test shots came out nice and the bokeh in those shots is not bad at all, and in B&W they look “pleasant”. Someone here said the lens is a “Jeckyl & Hyde” and I agree. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I like it and 1 time out of 20 times I really like it. It does seem to do best in low light situations, and this my friends is what the lens is all about. It’s the 0.95 speed that potential buyers want and those shooters do not want 1.1 or 1.4. They want 0.95.
So, who would want this lens? Someone who wants the fastest lens they can buy new for their M4/3 camera and does not mind softness wide open, busy bokeh in certain scenarios, low contrast, and dull color out of the camera. If you want .95 then this is the only game in town for a new lens and with all of my complaining, keep in mind I am kind of spoiled by Leica glass. For what it is, the Noktor can (maybe) satisfy those night owls who want to go nocturnal with their M4/3 camera. Just do not expect perfection or Leica Noctilux performance because it’s not there. Yes, I was excited about the lens the first day and even considered buying one but after using it for the past week or so I decided NOT to buy one. It’s not for me, but I know some of you out there will enjoy it.
Bottom Line: The Noktor Hyperprime 50 f/0.95 does indeed do what the company advertises. It’s a super fast lens that will let you shoot at night with your M4/3 camera. They even tell you that you will get a dreamy and unique look. This is 100% fact. Noktor never tells you that the lens is sharp, or contrasty, or puts out a bright, colorful image. The lens delivers on what they claim and if the samples I have provided look good to you then you will probably be happy with the lens. Just be ready for some softness and missed focus. Also, the files will need some contrast and color boost in your favorite editing software to look their best. The main negatives? The bokeh, the softness, the contrast when wide open. The main positives? Build, from F2 down it is sharp, snappy and looks great.
You can read more at NOKTOR.COM. It appears they closed the ordering and now have an email list for stock notification. My guess is they took as many orders as they can handle for now because the BUZZ WAS HIGH with this lens. The day I posted my first look there were 40,000 visitors to this site. That’s 3X more than a normal day 🙂
Anyway, thanks for coming along with me on this Noktor test! It was fun and I enjoyed shooting with it while I had it. Some of you will love this lens, some will hate it but at least you know what to expect 🙂
Entry #10 – March 07th 2010 – 10:50PM –
One more wide open with contrast and color tweaked in Aperture 3. I kind of like the look of this one…
Entry #9 – March 07th 2010 – 10:09 AM –
I decided yesterday to do some “REAL” real world testing of this lens so I brought my E-P2/Noktor combo with me to a wedding where I shot a few images. These have been converted to B&W to fit with the others I shot w/the M9. Most were wide open because I wanted to see what this lens could do in this area for something like this. I was not the main wedding shooter so I had no problem experimenting. But when looking at these think of them as “Noktor Test Shots” not “Wedding Images” 🙂
So when actually shooting in challenging light the Noktor, while soft at 0.95 did come through and allowed me to shoot in low light where other lenses would have given up. Also, by F2 the lens is very sharp so I look at this lens as an F2 lens with the capabilities to go faster IF NEEDED. Once you go wider than F2 you suffer some imperfections that may or may not be a big deal to you.
My wrap up to this review will be up tomorrow!
Entry #8 – March 06th 2010 – 8:42 AM –
I have had quite a few e-mails asking for this so here it goes. Below you will see an image shot at 0.95 followed by a 100% crop at every aperture. These were all shot on a tripod, self timer mode and focus was critically set using the magnified LCD on the back of the camera.
The Noktor is soft wide open and at 1.4 but then starts to sharpen up as it hits F2. The lens is at its sharpest from F5.6-F8. But at this aperture, the Kit zoom would be just as sharp if not sharper. The question you have to ask yourself is why you would want this lens. If it is for the 0.95 aperture, which is why most people are interested in this lens, then be aware the lens will be soft when wide open. The lens loses contrast, color and sharpness at .95-1.4. This may be the look you are after though 🙂
Entry #7 – March 05th 2010 – 12:06 PM –
Grabbed some quick shots this morning during the soft golden light hour. Lens did better in this light. So far I have had issues with the lens in bright light, at all apertures. In low light, the lens did good. In soft light like this the lens seems to do best. I also think a lens like this would do even better on a camera with a larger sensor and more dynamic range. But, the samples below look pretty good. They can be clicked on for a larger view. I am hoping to have a sharpness test up later with crops from each aperture so we can see how sharp the lens gets as it is stopped down.
All at F0.95 – straight from camera images. Minimum focus ditance on all three.
Entry #6 – March 04th 2010 – 9:34 PM –
Been shooting more tonight and became frustrated with this lens again. For some reason I was getting bad blown highlights even when trying to shoot a silly coke can under a table lamp. Not sure if this was the lens or the sensor so I tried it with the 20 1.7 as well. First the Noktor…
ISO 200, 1/125s. f0.95
and now the 20 1.7…
So it appears to be a sensor thing. The 20 1.7 gave me the same color and the same blown area though not as bad, but I was at 1.7 on the 20. Notice how smooth the 20 1.7 bokeh is 🙂 These are right out of camera images BTW…
One thing I noticed today is that the out of camera Noktor files could really use some PP to liven them up. So here are a couple of shots that I did some processing to in CS4. I think they look much better than the samples from earlier which were right from camera samples…
Here is one I did not post earlier but it has had some PP..color boost, levels, contrast, dodge and vignette. Click for larger. This was wide open at 0.95.
Here is one I did post earlier and the out of camera image was a little bland, a little dull and a little boring. I livened this one up with some levels, contrast, color and some burning as well.
I will have this review wrapped up by the weekend for sure. Just have to do a few more tests and then post my final word. Check back soon 🙂
Entry #5 – March 04th 2010 – 12:53 PM –
Well, well, well! Finally. This update was planned for earlier but something just did not feel right. I felt like I needed more shooting time with this lens before I made any final judgements on it. My wife had the day off and we had some sunshine and nice weather so we took a drive to an old abandoned factory that I have been to before. This building will really test any camera or lens because the deeper you go in the darker it gets. I had the chance to shoot with diffused light, direct light, and almost no light. So the shots I took yesterday were scrapped because I had some that were out of focus (not sure if it was me or the lens here) and the light was not really that great. I really wanted one more crack with this lens before I gave up on it.
Yes, I was about to give up on this lens. Why? Well, in most shooting situations and light this lens will have virtually no contrast when shot wide open. It also flares quite easily, and sharpness, well, it is just not a really sharp lens. I am the first to say that sharpness is not everything but the lens seemed like it was extra soft and the color was on the dull side. If the lighting is diffused and soft you can get some sharp results and by pumping up the contrast in photoshop you can come away with an attractive photo. It all just seemed like too much work but then again, there was still something drawing me to this lens. I think it may be the fact that it is a 0.95 aperture AND for micro 4/3. This is a lens that the m4/3 crowd needs and it does have its own character though with really ugly bokeh at times. Other times though, the Bokeh can be pleasant.
I am glad I took out the lens today because these are the best results I have gotten with it so far and also show what it can do in low light, wide open, and even a little stopped down. I also brought along my M9 with a 35 Summilux and while the M9 files are flat out GORGEOUS, the NOKTOR images have a totally different look and feel. Here are the images with many available in FULL size. These are straight from the E-P2. RAW conversion was in ACR 5.6 and this is the best I could do with this lens after 3 days, and I was taking my time to critically focus with the EVF and magnification ON.
First my wife at f0.95, ISO 200 – CLICK FOR FULL SIZE JPEG
SO here, the lens looks like it would make for a really nice portrait lens. It’s soft, it has some glow and in this scenario, the bokeh is not bad at all. Here is another wide open…again, click for full size JPEG
Now HERE is what impressed me. Stopeed down to 1.4 the lens gave me some contrast and some detail…click for full size JPEG
will provide samples at f2-F11 tomorrow!
The best way I can describe the performance of this lens is that it is like comparing HDTV to the old Analog TV’s. Don’t buy the Noktor for detail as it doesn’t really have any (WHEN WIDE OPEN). I have to be honest though, the company does not claim this lens has amazing resolution. Instead they talk about its low light abilities, so what about that? THIS IS indeed what an 0.95 aperture is made for. The only issue I have with this is that the M4/3 sensors are not really ideal for lowlight or high ISO. But, let’s go deeper into the factory and into Noct territory…
I bumped up the E-P2 to ISO 640 and set the lens to f 0.95 as this room was pretty dark. There was one streak of light coming in but this was 0.95, 1/30s and ISO 640…
Now this I like. I really think that this is where this lens shines. Low light, wide open. Using it in bright light is what seemed to bring in the flare, the duller color and the unpleasant bokeh. Here is another at ISO 640, 1/60s, 0.95 – click this one for a larger look
So in this dark room the lens did indeed suck in the light when it was set at 0.95. If you were in the room you would have seen how dark it actually was. So the lens did do as advertised and I feel it would make for a useful lens in any low light scenario. Here is one that surprised me with its sharpness and color wide open. I did add contrast in CS4 for this one…click it for the full size JPEG…
and a couple more low light shots wide open…
So after reviewing these samples in low light I was impressed. The fact that I had a $750 lens in my hand that opened up to a 0.95 aperture was a big deal. Again, this lens is not up to the Noctilux level of excellence but remember, you could buy almost 15 Noktors for the price of one Noctilux 0.95 🙂 For those with a m4/3 camera this lens is a welcome addition to the lens lineup.
Now, with that said let me go over some things so far that I like/dislike with the lens, so far:
LIKES SO FAR:
- Build is solid.
- Aperture ring is nice, smooth and “clickless” but can be locked down easily
- The speed of course. The 0.95 Aperture allows you to take your m4/3 to places you have not taken it before (unless you already have one of these kinds of lenses)
- In certain lighting like evening, diffused or warm the lens can give great results.
- It has its own unique character. Different from the Noctilux, Nokton, etc. Some may like it, some may not. When the bokeh is not so ugly, I like it 🙂
- Focuses closer than M lenses.
DISLIKES SO FAR:
- Green ring on the front is a little gaudy.
- Wide open, the lens is very soft, has low contrast, and in bright light seems to blow the highlights out if you are in bright light.
- Color is not very good out of the camera. It’s dull but can be pumped up in post.
Remember, this is an ongoing review and I was going to end it today but I may continue for a few days as I found new motivation today with the factory images. No, this camera and lens will not get me the results that my M9 will but I am reviewing this for you guys, the ones who are really interested in this lens and shoot Micro 4/3. So what I am going to do is keep the lens for a little while longer and you guys can let me know what kind of tests you want to see. Remember, I can not always do side by sides with other lenses as I do not own a ton of lenses. Many ask about the Voigtlander Nokton 1.1 compared to this. All I can tell you is that yes, I have shot the Nokton 1.1 and it is sharper, has more contrast, more punchy color and the bokeh is smoother. It renders like a modern lens. The Noktor renders like an old lens with all of their faults. Many enjoy this and it can give you imteresting results. Again, this lens has a place for those who want to get creative 🙂
I may be able to update later today with more so keep an eye out here. I am hoping to shoot in some evening light with the lens today.
Yes, I went from hot to cold to very warm with this lens over the past 3 days so more real world use is in order. I also want to do some tripod stuff to eliminate any focus error. Stay tuned…
OH YEA! Some of you have requested some more examples from the M9 in the same situations…Here is one from the M9 and 35 Lux ASPH at 1.4…
Entry #4 – March 04th 2010, 8:26AM –
Stay tuned for more in a couple of hours. I will have some full size samples and some commentary about this lens which will actually wrap up this review. I have been shooting with it non stop (in good and bad light) and already reached a conclusion about it. Update soon….
Entry #3 – March 03rd 2010, 2:04PM –
Ok guys, one more update on this lens for today and then tomorrow I will have more. Here are two more shots I just grabbed and the 2nd one surprised me a bit. The dead ladybug was shot wide open using the LCD of the E-P2 (with the magnification of course) and focus was dead on.
1st, more bokeh…the same lights in the background, just farther away…
click images for larger view
Entry #2 – March 03rd 2010, 11:52AM –
It’s NOKTOR MANIA! Just some quick test shots on a tripod to show bokeh. These images are only to show the bokeh qualities of this lens from wide open through F8. They are not to judge sharpness. I will have full size samples this week for sharpness testing. I also included a shot from the same spot with the Panny 20 1.7 as well as a couple of Leica lenses on the M9, just for fun 🙂 If I am posting too much, let me know. I’ll slow down 🙂
BTW, this lens seems to at times have nice bokeh and other times have horrendous bokeh. Shooting with any trees in the background when wide open will result in some pretty distracting eye numbing effects. The shots below are better than the ones I shot yesterday in regards to Bokeh but as someone already stated in one of the comments, this lens appears to be a Jeckyll & Hyde in regards to Bokeh (out of focus rendering). Tomorrow I will have more real images as well as some 100% shots to judge how sharp it is at all apertures.
Friday I plan on getting some portraits in nice light and to see if I can avoid the harsh bokeh effects, so more real world stuff coming.
Entry #1 – March 03rd 2010, 8:22 AM – Entries may be added 1-3X per day, or once a day depending on what I can do for that day. So check back to this page for updates over the next 1-2 weeks.
The Noktor 50 f/0.95 Hyperprime Lens Review Diary, Updated DAILY – OK guys! I have decided to do a “Review Diary” on this Noktor 50 because A: I want to try something new, B: This gives all of you something new to look at every day, and C: It will probably end up having more samples than my usual reviews due to daily shooting 🙂 Oh yea, and also due to the mass amounts of e-mail asking me for more, more, more!
As most of you know I received this lens on Tuesday March 2nd 2010 and started shooting with it immediately. Over the next week or two I will be shooting images, posting medium samples, posting some full size samples, and yes, even posting some video shot with the lens on the Olympus E-P2. Why the Olympus E-P2? Well, because it is the only Micro 4/3 camera I have here and also the EVF is good enough for critical manual focus.
First of all, here is what I know about Noktor, the new USA based company that is responsible for releasing this ultra fast prime lens for the Micro 4/3 mount.
- They are called NOKTOR. Seems like a play on the famous “Noctilux” name from Leica. Noct of course, meaning Nocturnal. Their official website is HERE.
- They popped up put of the blue with their twitter account a few weeks back and announced this lens. No website at that time, just the twitter page.
- On March 1st 2010 Noktor released their official website announcing an April 15th ship date of the 50 f/0.95 lens
- A sample was shipped to me for review. Now I can share my experience with all of you!
Now, some have e-mailed me asking me if I know these guys. No, I do not. My only communication with them has been through a couple of e-mails. They are also not paying me one cent to advertise or write a review. They just let me use the lens for a little while.
Enter the The Senko 50 f/0.95
It appears to me that this lens is a direct copy of the Senko 50mm f/0.95 C-mount CCTV lens. Either that or it is actually that lens. There is a green band on the front of the Noktor lens which could in fact be covering any names or info.
The Senko lens can be found online as a C-Mount lens but it sells for over $800. Sure, you could buy it and then buy an adapter but Noktor is selling this lens, or a direct copy of it for $750 with a 2 year warranty. So I am not 100% sure as to what the deal is with the lens just yet (as in, where it comes from) but it looks exactly like, and its specs are exactly like, the Senko. The only differences are the green band and the NOKTOR engraved text on the lens. In any case the lens looks and feels nice. I may have preferred the big “NOKTOR” to be smaller and placed at the rear of the lens though 🙂
For those who are not aware, or have stumbled on to this page and are just now hearing about this lens, the Noktor 50 f/0.95 is a super fast prime lens for the micro 4/3 mount. Basically, a lens you can shoot in low light AND obtain creative shallow depth of field effects with. It is MANUAL focus and you will choose your Aperture on the lens barrel, not in the camera. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode (A mode) on your camera will allow you to concentrate on focus and let the camera take care of the exposure.
I have shot this lens a little bit more this morning as I was curious how it would do when stopped down a bit, say to F4. I basically stepped out of my back door and shot this bird feeder. The first shot is wide open at f/0.95 and the second is at F4. You can see that by F4 the bokeh cleans up a bit and the lens gets rather sharp. These were converted from RAW and have only had slight contrast adjust from with the RAW converter.
The Noktor at F/0.95 – wide open. See the glow? It’s also a bit soft when at 0.95 but seriously, you can not expect Leica performance in a $750 lens on a M 4/3 camera. IMO, for the money, this is pretty good for F 0.95. Here, the bokeh is not as crazy as when you have trees in the background 🙂 You can click the image for a 2000 pixel wide version.
and now the same scene at F4. The lens gets pretty sharp by F4 and the bokeh gets a bit smoother.
If you are reading this I am sure you have seen my other two “first look” posts. I have found some interesting comments within those posts. A couple of guys have said that you can buy this lens for $20. Ok, if I can by THIS lens, or the Senko version, meaning the 50 0.95, let me know where because I will buy 20 of them. Everything I have seen about THIS lens is that it sells for $800+ in the C-Mount. I have seen others say that Noktor is taking a $250 lens, putting an M4/3 mount on it and selling it for $750. I can say a few things about that but again, where can I buy this lens for $250? Is this for a NEW lens?
Noktor is a business. A goal of any business is to make money. Even if they pay $250 for this lens they have to install the m4/3 mount, have the NOKTOR name embedded on each lens, pay for packaging, and also pay for all of the other costs associated with running their business. They also include a 2 year warranty. I am assuming they want to grow their business not go out of business.
More on the price…as I have stated above, $750 is not really a bad price for what you get here. If you want an f0.95 lens for your m4/3 camera WITH an m4/3 mount and you want this lens to be new with a warranty then there is no other option. I found this lens (senko version) online for over $800 in C mount new so $750 is right in the ballpark of where it should be and I expect they will sell quite a few.
My Impressions So Far…
OK, my impressions so far? This lens is a bit soft wide open, and focusing at this wide of an aperture can be a challenge. The depth of field is RAZOR thin. The contrast is low, but fixable in your RAW conversion or in your image editing software if you need more. The lens also has a dreamy glow when wide open and I am expecting to get MUCH nicer color as soon as I have some sunshine! C’mon SUN! As for the bokeh…ummm, well…sometimes it seems nice and other times it seems ugly. I will be doing some Bokeh tests showing bokeh at all apertures. I am setting up a “Bokeh Test Scene” so that should be posted in the next few days.
The lens build is nice, solid, and it focuses smooth. The aperture ring does not click but it can be locked down at your aperture of choice. I feel this is the most creative lens for the m4/3 mount to date. This is NOT a lens to buy if you want crisp, sharp and smooth. It is a lens to consider if you like that soft glow, lower contrast, crazy bokeh and need a fast lens for low light 🙂 Basically, this is a great lens for “creative” uses.
Is it comparable to the legendary Leica Noctilux F1? No. Is it comparable to the Leica Noctilux F 0.95 Double NO. Those lenses are brilliant and I love the old classic Noctilux. Its rendering is like nothing else out there really and this Noktor is not a challenger to those lenses. With that said, this could be the new “Poor Mans Noctilux” as it will get you the speed but at the expense of busy bokeh and some softness wide open. Yes, M4/3 is shaping up to be a nice little system for those who like fast lenses.
Check back every day over the next week or so for more. I will add to THIS page, so bookmark it. Updates will be AT THE TOP of the page. Who knows, if the sun shines today I may add more this evening 🙂 Thanks for reading!
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I have a questions, idea, please reply to my email.
I have heard the noktor 50mm 0.95 is available on Canon EF mount now. So how about taking a speedbooster, the EF version of the 0.95 and putting it on an NEX!
What F stop would this go to then… 0.70 ? I would love to see or try this.
What are your thoughts? Sam
Where is is avail on EF mount. I’m dying to charge this lens to the game but if you have a link…that’d be sweet. All i can find i MFT and NEX
Would you recommend this lens at $200?
I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.
You make a very interesting point. I hadn’t read it from that perspective before. Excellent post!
For it’s price, it’s size, it’s speed and it’s marketing. I think will have many suitors.
If you neglect the shortcomings, the M9 is a wonderful camera. Even if It’s not the best one in the world, and common sense dictates that a DSLR – with all its bells and whistles – is a better buy.
What a rip-off! $750 for a lens that’s soft, wide open – THE major selling point. What IS the point?
And it appears from the examples above to have wildly unpredictable colour casts at different appertures.
As a photographer and film maker for nearly 50 years on everything up to feature films the ONLY CRITERIA for a lens is that it is sharp – very sharp – wide open. We’ll decide when it’s not to be.
And what’s this ‘bokeh’ bull***t? You’re talking about depth of focus – and – depth of field. No doubt the ‘bokeh-istas’ are easily influenced by trendy jargon. “Oooooh look mummy – it’s The Bokeh effect. We can make pictures like real photographers!” … who spend thousands on good, quality professional gear. Such as Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon even classic early fast Super Takumars from Pentax. Yes they are also manual. At faaaar less prices.
HyperPrime… WHA? Puhleeeeeese. Next it’ll be Super Mega Ultra Uber I’m A Believer Praise The Lad Handmade Pass Me The Colour Lens! Wow…
If you want to get really serious look at some exquisite Angenieux or a 25mm f/1.4 Kern Switar from Paillard. Yet Leica is the proper answer. How lame are these guys to use such a similarly derivitive affectation of the Leica Noctilux name. Trendoids don’t rule. The issue is not price, it’s quality.
“Gordon Arkenberg says:”? … way to go Gordon!
This is vertical marketing. If you want to waste your money on rebranded stuff… you lose the right to bleat!
Until a side by side comparison with Leica high speed lens in made, descriptions of the Noktor such as soft and not sharp, can only be ascribed to the reviewer’s eyes. At 0.95 aperture, we will all have trouble focussing our eyes, let alone the lens
This is an great review. It’s good to have a all sorts of research to compile into that “meta-research-should-I-buy” part of the brain. I appreciate your review, because although it’s obvious that this isn’t a great lens for some technical reasons, you still recognize its potential merits.
However, I do not think that current and future negative “f/0.95 is soft” criticisms are a valid since it should have already been expected as a trade off. The fact of the matter is that some people need to shoot in the f/1 to f/1.8 range with medium telephoto capabilities without stepping down exposure (e.g., concerts, night parades, parties, street photography, etc.).
Currently, this is the MAWIDSM (most affordable for what it does in the simplest method) for the micro 4/3 format. If you try to fathom alternatives to this, you have to start getting into adapters, used equipment, and some out-of-reach prices.
When it gets down to it, I have to agree with the great salient lesson of the artist. Tools are tools, they serve a purpose, and you learn how to make them work for you. Those tools could be hammers, saws, Adobe products, or cameras.
For photography as art or journalism, the wide open clarity is fine. For massive high def prints six feet wide, it’s not fine. If you don’t have a need for super low light images, save your money as this lens is not for you. If you don’t have a need for six feet wide high def prints, save your money as some other dozens of lenses and cameras are not for you.
Thanks for the wrap up and for telling it how it is. I think I’d be fine with the lens and would be able to live with it (my Canon FD 50mm f1.4 when used wide open seem to have similar tendencies to the Noktor although probably better bokeh) but the price is a bit high. But then I’m looking at the Nokton 50mm f1.1 and that’s a few hundred more. I think I’ll spend some time shooting at f1.4 and see if I can live with that. If so then I’ll go with the much cheaper Nokton 40mm f1.4. If I want faster then I’ll sell a bunch of lenses and go get the Nokton 50mm f1.1.
Unless the Noktor guys shave a hundred or two off the price…
Steve, thanks again for your exhaustive review. I already knew this lens wasn’t for me when I saw that oddly-shaped stepped-down bokeh, but then again I have also seen many great looking pictures taken with it.
I’m curious to see if they will also modify the Senko 25/0.95 for m4/3, and what you (and others) will have to say about that one 🙂
thanks for the nice and in-depth review… you have done a great job !
hope to hear from you for many lens to come..
I myself have an E-P2, and was tempting to buy the Voig 50mm F1.1 after reading your review,
but now was torn between voig 35mm F1.2 and 50mm F1.1, I like to shoot portrait with it,any suggestions is very welcome
Thank again for the great review, really appreciated
Blah, blah, blah…what I see taking place is just another fad. Why do people love fads so much? I’m calling this the “0.95” Fad (which is being added to the ridiculous “C” mount fad) This “Nokktor” lens is crap. I mean just look at the images. I guess if you like soft images and the most horrific bokeh I have ever seen, then by all means buy one. The actual speed difference between 0.95 and 1.4 is negligible. I have been shooting lower light photographs for years with f/2, f/2.8, even f/4 lenses and can count the number of times I didn’t have sufficent speed to take a photograph on one hand. You could buy a Voigtlander 35/1.4 Nokton (that’s NOKTON not NOKKTOR) classic lens for less money, get the FOV equal to 70mm thereby rendering it more useful, get much better photographs and bokeh and I could pretty much say without hesitation you will probably never curse the fact that you can’t set your aperture to 0.95. 🙂
Thanks for the info Steve. I really liked your photos with the Nokton and the M9 by the way. Hopefully its also good on the GF1 or GH1.
The Noktor is probably the same weight or heavier than the Nokton but its skinnier. I did not get a chance to try the Nokton on the E-P2 but I really liked it on the M9.
Thanks for doing these Steve! I love the wedding/test shots. This review keeps making me go back and forth over whether to get the Noktor or not. I’m also thinking about the Nokton 50mm f1.1 but that’s a few hundred more which is money that can go towards a Nokton 40mm f1.4 (something smaller). So either I get the Noktor + Nokton 40mm f1.4 OR go with the Nokton 50mm f1.1 and have a lens that can do it all (but a little chunky).
By the way, how much bigger or smaller is the Noktor compared to the Nokton 50mm f1.1?
Thank you for all your work, I’m sure you had fun though :). Looking forward to your next articles.
Anyway, it’s good, made me sure that I don’t want this lens. Your Nokton 1.1 50mm review made me buy it for my Leica, though, which I ended up selling the lens in a week’s time. And then I’ve seen it sold fast too by each succeeding buyer, same serial no …
I still love my 50mm Summilux pre-asph, no way to asph for me. And with the E-P2 IBIS, I can shoot handheld sharp with a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 (170mm in m4/3) at 1/4 speed and a 50mm is a breeze of course, so a 0.95 is not reason enough to buy a lens, it has to deliver what I want. This one is like shooting through a glass window with my Summilux pre-asph. Well, some may like it for what it is … as they say, YMMV.
thank you for the review
His samples (the ones shot with the Gf1 and the Noktor) look just about the same as mine. Not all of the samples on that page are with the Noktor, only a few that he took of his setup and the 2-3 portraits. Thx for the link.
Here you are :
Philip Bloom wrote on his blog
“I was contacted …. by a company called Noktor who are going to loan me their new 50mm F 0.95 lens for the micro four thirds system for a couple of weeks. I have no idea how much it will cost but as soon as it get it I will stick on my Lumix GF1 as I don’t have my GH1 with me and take some video and stills. SUPER FAST!!
I was lucky enough to shoot with the Leica M9 and the 0.95 50mm lens the other day. I want one, but my god that is expensive! Let’s see how much this one goes for!”
and yesterday he uploaded some samples that can be found in this entry
I have not seen ANY other photos from this lens anywhere. If you know of any sites/pages, post a link. I would love to see them. Thanks!
Steve : Have you seen pictures taken by others testing Noktor on m4/3 ? Are the results consistent or do you see some significant differences ?
I am shooting with what was sent which means the lens only. If the company does not supply a hood, I will not test it with one. It does not appear they are supplying a hood so those who buy one will not have one.
I’ll post more samples today with a tripod shot at each aperture along with a crop. The lens is soft a 0.95, OK at 1.4 and sharpens up by F2.
Check back within an hour or so 🙂
LENS HOOD and CONTRAST
Hi Steve Huff,
Thanks for the work.
Just been thinking, you seem to be shooting all these tests without a lens hood right?
Does the lens have front filter threads?
If it does, could you not place a long screw-in hood, or extend a short hood by use of black card paper, or even just make a hood entirely out of black card paper? The length of hood required can be determined by the microFT Panasonic 45-200mm lens.
Having got your lens hood in place I think it would be instructive to take some shots in similar situations to the shots you have previously taken (high contrast, low contrast, bright backgrounds, point light sources etc ), plus in situations of birght light just outside of the field of view etc to see if the hood makes any difference to the contrast you get from your images and/or bokeh quality and/or flare. Of course you will need to do side-by-side “with” and “without” hood shots for each aperture.
I was just thinking that perhaps this lens doesn’t have any good lens coatings and is therefore more susceptible to extraneous light.
Just a thought.
Thanks in advance.
Great video Sebfarges thanks for sharing!
Great job Steve, but where are the videos ? 🙂
(BTW I have the chance to find the 0.95 25mm Angenieux @ 220$, video test with GH1 here :
I think the Voiglander 50mm 1.1 bokeh is much smother. The price is also very comparable.
Those are all labeled correctly. I only took one shot at each aperture 🙂
The ones with the coloured (Christmas?) lights in the background (“bokehtest.jpg”) from March 3.
Conrad, which shots are you referring to? The 3 from today are all at 0.95…
A second thought on my previous remark. Steve, you may have mislabeled the photos. If I assume that the Noktor shots were taken at 0.95, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, the correspondence is better (and the “f/2” circle of the Noktor matches then the size of the Summicron’s). Still, the image wide open would match f/1.1, and not 0.95.
I’m seriously wondering whether this is really a f/0.95 lens. The Bokeh samples don’t match the principle that the diameter of the circle of confusion scales inversely with f-number. Well, they do in the range 2-8, but 0.95 is suddenly way off. It looks more like a f/1.5 to me. I may be wrong here since I’m not a real lens expert, so maybe someone else can help out.
Steve, can you report on what the light meter of the EP-2 tells you?
Steve, Thanks for the review – it’s actually very very useful. After your first pictures I was about to place the order (fortunately my paypal was temporarily down) – I’m glad I did not do it – I think 50mm it’s very limiting on gf1 – I’m expecting my nokton 35mm 1.4 at the moment – I guess it’ll suit my needs better – If not I’ll opt for 50mm 1.1.
Thanks for review. Where can I purchase one to mount on my EP-2?
Hi Steve, really appreciate your updates on the lens. I will wait for your final verdict on this, plus check out some more reviews. but am becoming less enthusiastic as time goes by. I think for the money, especially compared to the Lecia, it performs well, but I would personally forego the extra stop(s) and consider the Voigtlander 50mm 1.1 … keep posting, and thanks for your “real life” review.
I meant Senko… 🙂
Seems like my message got lost in the cyberspace. Kenko also has a 25 f0.95 I am sure these guys will re-badge this one too and it is in the 165g range so very light such a wide lense. Still the C-mount but 350$… Better deal for the 4-3 crowd IMHO… Have fun with the 50 man
i know these diary entries about the noktor, but those comparisons just make you love leica glass even more. the bokeh on the 35 and 50 are just beautiful. the noktor bokeh is a bit foul unless at F0.95. with those lights anyway.
Weird. Just a couple weeks ago, I was finding that 50mm f0.95 Senko for about $300 online, but now I’m not seeing it. I almost bought it too, but I had heard the rumors about the Noktor and wanted to wait and see what materialized.
Hi Steve, have you tested the .95 Voigtlander with B&W Film yet? I wonder if Film usage and traditional darkroom methods have a different look that Digital. What are your thoughts? Greetings from Jackson, Wisconsin. Steven Koves NHS ans LHSA
Thank you for replying me Steve,
> due to the requests
This was a sort that came to me due to the way the m4/3s tend to clip highlights easily. If the Leicas give us more micro / local contrast, maybe we could see a difference here.
On other way, do you still have that Voigtlander 35 1.4? ;- )
Jose, the Leica shots were not really a comparison, just thrown in for fun and due to the requests from those wanting me to show the M9 images. Thanks!
When in comparison with Leicas and other kind of lenses it would be nice that could be taken from the same body with adapter instead M9 body (not meaning this comparison is also valid)
Thanks a ton Steve- for making this an ongoing review… loved the low light shots…albiet the octagonal bokeh is a bit unusual…but hey…its not a noctilux….so us plebs should be glad at the sub $900 f0.95’s bokeh.
A few things I would love to see in the ongoing review
1. you mentioned color is a bit low… perhaps an OOC jpeg from the ep-2 will help us understand the noise patterns and color renderings !!
2.Videos made with the noktor @ 0.95 with the EP-2
3. A video clip on how the thin DOF behaves when used on the ep-2 manual focussing
Hey Tim, just updated with some low light stuff.
Hmmm…having already placed an order I will decide for myself if the shots I go for are worth the cost of this potentially novelty lens. I suppose for anything like this, there’s an initial “AAA!! AWESOME!” period before reality sinks in. Very interested in your review especially as you were more than just hot about this when you first got it! Wondering how many people placed an order yesterday after looking at your initial shots 🙂 I get decent shots with the 20mm f/1.7 on my GF1. But at night I always wanted more…I still have hope for this lens to fill at least a certain niche…
At the end of the day, one must ask…is this lens worth the expense just to get a few decent shots wide open? Does it do anything else better than the kit lens (or others) when stopped down? I guess that $750 is very good for getting .095 but in my book that gets old quickly and, from what I have seen so far, the out of focus renditions, for the most part, give me a headache.
The problem with bokeh reveals its cause.
Look at the first 2 images on bokeh test. You can see that the border of the colored circles is very noticeable more bright that the rest of the circle. This causes bad bokeh and lines doubling. The OOF circle should be brightest in the center and darken (not brighten!) to the sides in some monotonic way.
Hey Steve, looks like an interesting lens for micro 4/3 but to me the Nikon 50mm 1.2 Ais seems like a sharper lens and better deal. (have seen mint copies going for $400 and new copies are $698 with 5 year warranty)… I should be picking a copy up soon and will shoot you some samples when I do.
Thanks for all your testing on this mysterious lens. It’s a good question how a company can appear out of the blue offering a startling fast lens. For those interested, here’s how:
1. First, establish your USP, or Unique Selling Point. The more outrageous the better. Hold a meeting with your business partners and make a pitch as follows, “Leica spent years designing a cutting-edge f0.95 lens that is priced at $10,000. Why not offer a similar product at under a $1,000.” High-fives all around the boardroom at the overwhelming audacity of the proposition while blithely ignoring the technical hurdles.
2. After shaking off a hangover from the previous nights celebration of the “million dollar idea” start furiously searching the internet for a product that already exists you can “re-purpose.”
3. Meet with investors to assure them your “research and design” team is hard at work on a lens that will revolutionize photography for the common man.
4. In your spare time dream up names for the lens that sounds cool and uses the latin word for night. “Nocton, Noctinar, Noctinare, Noctor. NOCTOR! Small crisis when you realize can’t just call it a “prime.” No, it has to be something way better. Like a “hyperprime!” Slip into reverie.
5. Locate the perfect product to re-badge at the following link. http://www.avsupply.com/details/vfa5095h.shtml
Read specs; “high resolution and high contrast” (oh yeah, that’s good) “minimum distortion” (keeps getting better!) “locking screw for focus and iris” (um, well someone will find that useful). Negotiations begin with manufacturer.
6. As first shipment leaves for the U.S. you realize the name is way better when spelled with a K then with a boring old C.
7. Hire someone to engrave new name on lens, swap mount, and install gold colored alloy ring to hide the real manufacturers name.
8. Presto! You are in the business of optics!
9. As first lenses go out to enthusiasts lay awake at night wondering if anyone will notice you are selling a lens designed for factory automated machines to the photography market.
Thorkill, I agree with you 100%!!! I have always said that the m4/3 sensor can not compete with the M9 sensor and if you saw these at 100% you would REALLY see that. Also, it seems on the E_P2 that when you use these manual lenses that there is more noise in the files. I have no idea why but with M glass or even this lens the files are noisy, even at base ISO.
Thanks a lot for your efforts, I enjoy your site a lot. Looking at the current diary, I am disappointed by the octogonal “bokeh” and halos in some pictures, but quite please with many others. Could you please try to elaborate on the conditions in which they appear — and specially if they are common/annoying in everyday pictures, including “contre-jour” (a.k.a. backlit / against-light pictures) ?
And obviously, like many others, I am incredibly curious to compare its rendering to the similarly priced (albeit without direct mounting) Voigtländer Nokton 50/1.1 …
Hi Steve, sorry to say that the Nokton pictures seems somewhat….interesting.. but rather artificially looking, but cant help thinking when scolling down to the Leica-shots, just confirm some wonderfull, present, sharp and 3-dimentionally pictures, just making you want to grab the pillow….
so it just confirms to me the leica-texture, and the decision to get one, once I have…..
Wow, that christmas light shot really shows the qualities of the 35 summilux! Not that I needed any convincing. Alas, on my budget I will continue looking at the Noktor…
I’m also wondering how this lens compares to the CV Nokton 50 f/1.1 as I’ve been considering purchasing one to give the ultra fast 50 a go. Also, have you tried focusing without the EV and just using the LCD screen? Being that I own the EP-1 without the viewfinder option, I’m wondering just how hard it would be to achieve focus this way.
I’m also curious to know about your new 35 Summilux! 🙂
On entry #2: Ouch. That octagonal bokeh is really awful. I don’t believe I could live with that. But let’s see how it performs in “real world” usage.
Hey Steve, I see that you got the 35 lux asph…is it the old version or new version ;)…?
Notkor-mania is right. At the very least, this proves that an affordable low light king/queen is really desired by the m4/3 crowd. I have absolutely no doubt that this lens is simply a rebadged Senko lens, so you are getting old options, classic glow/blooming, horrid bokeh (when background is harshly lit), but nice bokeh when the background is less contrasty. I used to own a Canon 50 mmf/0.95 lens, which has very similar characteristics. As Steve has said, this is a lens that you should get if you like “the look” of it. It’s not necessarily a 50 mm lens to use for all times.
I am more and more curious about the Nokton 1.1 on the m4/3, given that the price point and f stop are “similar” but surely the Nokton 1.1 is a much better designed lens, in terms of optics. However, one still needs an adapter.
I suspect that Panasonic and Olympus are observing keenly the happenings of this lens. I am still puzzled, however, that they did not produce something like this themselves…would have sold them more than a few cameras, I’d suspect….I guess the 20 mm f/1.7 was close, but what about a 25 mm f/1.2 for around $800…think how that’d sell…LIKE HOTCAKES!
Steve, thanks for the samples and the review…at the very least, the Noktor’s interesting, and certainly will be a fun tool for those who get it….maybe sort of an expensive Lensbaby-style addition to some who desire that effect….
Even though I can’t use this lens with my current kit (M9), I’m loving any of your photo diaries and samples.
Can’t wait for the full Summitar review – I just started shooting with mine today, and I LOVE this glass! That has been one of the best finds for me on this site. Mine was made in 1942, and the performance has blown me away – it’s as much up to par with the 35 Cron I just bought. Thanks for all the great info!
Thank you for that review, you’re doing a great job so far.
My question is :
does it really gather light as a 0.95 lens should ? We’ve already seen lens that do not meet advertised specs so what about this one?
Thanks in advance.
PS : you are NOT posting too much !
Thanks for all the effort you are making with this.
Will you be doing a side-by-side comparison of this lens versus the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 in terms of bokeh and sharpness when attched to a microFT cam?
You mention that you are setting up a bokeh “test bench” Will your “test bench” include bright background highlights (bulbs etc) or items that greatly reflect light like tin foil or bottles? I think it will be interesting to see how this lens handles such things.
Does this lens have a front filter thread?
And if so, does this lens come supplied with a lens hood?
And if no hood, any chance you could ascertain from the company if they are ever likely to provide one?
Thanks in advance.
Thank you for this review, It is very helpfull ! As to me, I think this lens is great. We don’t have anything like this for micro 4/3 without adapter. So If we need to make some portrait or some sport shoot indoor we have nothing to use, maybe this lens could be the solution !
Yes, about that bokeh, it really seems a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I absolutely love the picture of your wife in your first post, where the bokeh looked smooth and creamy. In your second post, though, it looked awfully busy (although I like slight busy-ness, as with the wonderful Cosmicar/Pentax 25/1.4 C-mount lens) and seemed to aberrate heavily (although this could also have been due to the filter you added). I’m really curious to see your bokeh tests, and of course any shot you take with this lens 🙂
A: Build quality destroys the Panasonic 20 1.7. This is built like an old manual lens. Meaning, it is very solid and substantial.
B: The 20 1.7 is a 20, so it’s a wider lens. The best “everyday ” lens for M4/3 is that 20 IMO. This is a “specialty” type lens. The 20 will give you sharper images, and smoother bokeh – BUT it can not replicate the look of this lens.
C: Comparisons..Well I would but I do not have a Noctilux here at the moment.
How does it compare to the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 in terms of portability and image quality. Also, how is the build quality of the new Noktor lens?
Is there anyway you could do a three way comparison with the Noctilux, Noktor and the Panasonic pancake?