Bokeh and Sharpness with the SLR magic LM 50 T0.95 on the Leica M9-P

Bokeh and Sharpness with the SLR magic LM 50 T0.95 on the Leica M9-P

You guys have already seen what I posted last night from the new SLR Magic 50 T0.95 lens on the M9-P and I wanted to get out to day to get some shots but ended up getting stuck inside again working on the site and answering e-mails. I did get to run some errands and while I was out I snapped a few test shots to see what to expect from this new lens in regards to Bokeh and sharpness. What I am seeing is gorgeous in both areas.

The Bokeh is silky smooth and has that Leica Noctilux look and the sharpness, even wide open is remarkable. Take a look at the images below but you must click on them to see the larger versions with 100% crop embedded. I am looking forward to shooting this lens side by side with the Leica Noctilux ASPH at the workshop this weekend and of course results will be posted here, as well as a portrait test with the lens.

I have now had the lens for 24 hours and what do I see so far? I see that the main difference between this lens and the $11,000 Leica Noctilux is that the SLR magic has some barrel distortion and LESS CA than the Noctilux. I think that the SLR Magic may be a teeny bit sharper than the Leica but we will see this weekend for sure.


This image was shot as I passed through a drive through buying a cheeseburger. Wide open at 0.95, straight from camera, processed from RAW

This is an OOC JPEG from the M9 untouched.

Check this one out. When you click the image below you will see a larger version and the full 100% crop. This was shot wide open at 0.95 and look how sharp it is. Bokeh looks nice as well. You will see some CA which the Leica Noctilux has as well, but it appears the SLR Magic may have less.

Stopped down to 1.4 the lens gets even crisper…

and wide open to try and show Bokeh and sharpness – this lens performs well at all apertures I have shot with it (0.95 – 4) so far

So far so good. I will soon start a rolling review of the lens since there will be so much going on with it this weekend. This is a pretty big deal for Leica shooters. If this lens can keep this performance without breaking down or falling apart, going out of alignment or having issues then this will most likely be a home run hit for SLR Magic. Much more coning soon!


  1. Hi! and thank you Steve. The main specific quality of the Noctilux is a very different and new – almost unique – chromatic rendition. Any further test should take that in mind. I cant speculate on chromatic rendition without something to compare. The 0.95 is not a Holy Grail, in time many lenses with 0.95 or better have appeared. What makes the Leica Noctilux f/ 0.95 is (again…) the chromatic rendition. I have the Noctilux f/1 and was very surprise when I was able to compare side by side prints of both Noctilux, and…, yes, if I could afford it I would buy one immediately; this is the other reason why I am anxiously waiting for the comparison follow up. If only Steve could dissuade me form buying a Leica Noctilux f/0.95 Aspherical…………..!!

  2. Perhaps I’ll get in trouble for even suggesting this…

    But is it remotely possible that this one-off, pre-pre-pre-production lens, that looks like a noctilux and even performs like a noctilux… is actually a noctilux, dismantled and put back together in a new housing? dunno, just asking for the sake of conversation.

    • Adrian:

      Because Steve is getting a different optical result from both lenses, makes me believe that this is a new glass made by SLR Magic.

      But just for fun and as you say “for the sake of conversation”, I could make a guess on how you could find this out. The hyperprime is quoted to be T0.95 as in “Transmission Stops”, therefore its f-stop rating could be something like f/0.8 or possibly as fast as the legendary Zeiss f/0.7. In any case, I believe the hyperprime is claiming to transmit a bit more light than the Nocitlux.

      So if that is true, you can set up some lights, lock down an M9 on a tripod, put a gray card on the wall and have the Noctilux take a properly exposed, close-up shot of the card. Then without changing any settings, put the HyperPrime on the M9 and take a shot of the gray card. Finally compare the histogram of both shots on a computer. If the HyperPrime is faster, then the bump that the gray card creates will be a little bit more to the right of the histogram, than the Noctilux.

      Once you can technically establish that the HyperPrime is faster than the Noctilux, then I think it proves that the HyperPrime is using a different set of lenses. Because I cannot see how SLR Magic could have improved the Noctilux glass speed in a way that Leica had not tried before.

      Then again I’m not an optics expert, so I could be missing something here?

  3. Hi Guys:

    First off, thanks to Steve for posting this.

    Second of all, I would like to offer my personal comments on this subject.

    A while back I purchased a Ricoh GXR (with the EVF) and the A12 28mm and A12 50mm modules for documentary photography work (as per Steve’s and Seal’s suggestion in this website forum). Needless to say I love the camera and lenses, but I did however feel that I needed an addition fast lens with a slight telephoto FOV. The option I chose was the GXR m-mount, figuring that a fast 50mm lens would mean for me better light gathering, shallow DOF in the 75mm EFOV.

    When I began to look at the prices of the used Leica, Zeiss and CV m-mount lenses, I got a bit of sticker shock! The prices of the used glass was very close to that of new lenses. Furthermore when I looked at the stock of the major camera dealers, many of these new m-mount lenses were out of stock and the dealers could not say when they would be back in stock.

    For reasons that I do not understand, Leica, Zeiss and CV are not making enough lenses to fulfill worldwide demand and this shortage has inflated the prices of the used m-mount lenses. In my opinion this situation is probably exacerbated by the recent trend of photographers putting m-mount lenses on the so-called “mirrorless” system cameras, thus creating more digital cameras to which an m-mount lens can be used.

    Due to the high price, extraordinary performance and rarity, the Noctilux could be considered the “crown jewel” of the famous Leica firm. If Steve Huff’s testing shows that the SLR Magic T0.95 50mm lens is even remotely close to the quality of the Noctilux, then it would prove that a Chinese firm has the ability to seriously compete with the Germans at the highest level. And if this new SLR Magic Lens is sold at a fraction of the cost of the Leica, than I think this is a huge development.

    Furthermore, the fact that the new HyperPrime has cinematographer friendly T-stops, click-less aperture rings and the option of offering lenses without rangefinder coupling demonstrates that they are forward thinking and are not limiting themselves to putting a m-mount lens only on the Epson EP-1, Leica M8 and M9. They are definitely thinking outside the box and looking towards the future.

    Finally, I have no idea what plans SLR Magic has, but I believe that if they decide to manufacture top quality standard m-mount lenses at a price point that competes with Zeiss and CV, then the glass will fly off the dealers shelves and they will sell as much as they can produce.

    P.S. I mistakenly posted this previously in the wrong thread…sorry 🙂

  4. Damn…wish I bought a ticket to see you this weekend! Looks like a home run….hopefully the quality control will be there in the final production so that the average consumer sees the same performance that you are…

  5. Thankx Steve, your one lucky dude being able to review all the bad ass stuff, long before us mere mortals even get to see it, let alone cop a feel.
    I hold you responsible for my M9P purchase 😉

  6. This lens is very cool, but very special-purpose, and really doesn’t have a place in my outfit.

    Now, if SLR Magic were to bring out a usable, smaller, 50mm f1.4 that didn’t cost 4 grand, I’d be on it in a minute.

    • Yes I agree!

      This current F0.95 looks awesome but it is a real flagship to scream to the world: HEY WE CAN MAKE GREAT LENSES!!!

      Now that everybody is counting SLR Magic as a really really serious lens maker and designer it could be great to have, like you say, more affordable equivalence to 50mm summilux ASPH and 35mm F1.4 FLE or let say 24mm F1.4.

      I mean that, if they do something like this Nocti-killer…but let’s say to compete a 4000$ 50mm summilux f1.4 ASPH…at a price of let’s say 2500$…then who will buy a Summi or even a Cron instead?

      • $2500! Please……(-:
        All of the big players, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, market auto-focus 50mm f1.4 lenses for about $400. Even the Zeiss (manual focus) one is “only” $700. These are decent, usable lenses, although some will quibble about corner sharpness and blah blah.
        (And granted, their production quantities are in the zillions.)
        Voitlander used to make a decent lens in this class for about $500, but they retired it. Now, when Leica lenses are “unobtainium”, would be a good time to introduce a new one.

          • I was about to agree with you, but then looked at Adorama and B&H. Turns out that most of the ZM lenses, including both of the 50s, are “Currently Unavailable” at both stores. Very strange.

            Anyway, my point was
            A. More choice in the market does no harm.
            B. It doesn’t cost $2500 to make a decent 50mm lens.

          • I agree with what Paris is saying below and it is very strange to see a shortage of new Zeiss lenses. As for me, I got a GXR m-mount and I really don’t want to pay too much for a fast 50mm, so I got an adaptor and put a mint condition Canon 50mm f/1.2 FD lens on my GXR. The cost of the lens, plus Canon to LM adaptor was $250 and I am very happy with the results. If and when I come across a proper m-mount lens at a good price, I’ll get it. But right now I am in no rush!

            BTW. Greg are you still in Moscow?

    • many would still by the Leica. many do not care about cost. They either care about the brand name- or the quality- or both. Either way they would not buy anything with the name ‘slr magic’ on it.

      already you can get Zeiis and CV lenses- (for less than 2500) and people still buy leica only.

      Personally- I would like to see M mount lenses available at reasonable prices and good quality- and I would buy alternate brands.

      If this lens comes in at under 1500 I may consider selling my noct f1 and grabbing one of these.

  7. As always, I don’t begrudge Steve for his workaday images. After all, he is testing image quality on new equipment. He just doesn’t have the time to let luck allow him to come upon a scene which will make an extraordinary image. His images tell me the pros and cons of the lenses and camera bodies he reviews; that’s good enough for me.

    However, Steve’s LA workshop gathering this weekend will be the chance for someone to make a brilliant shot – I hope. I’d like to see a proper portrait and a night street shot, both done with this lens at f/0.95. Two images that will persuade me shooting with a razor-thin depth-of-field, or with enough light-gathering ability, will give a photographer sufficient justification to fork over $5,000…or whatever this lens will cost.

    Cheers to the LA workshoppers who accept my challenge.

    • NO NO NO! Leica needs to go to Hong Kong, buy the SLR Magic company and then run it like it runs it’s current lens construction department.

      That should ensure the Magic doubles in price – and only about three or four lenses emerge annually. That should stop the threat ….

      Bitter, cynical, ME? Nooooo ….

  8. I had my doubts about this lens, but I’m blown away. Fantastic photos, Steve. Sharpness, bokeh, color and all at .95. Very impressed.

    But SLR Magic guys, about the green ring; It’s like coming across the hottest girl you’ve ever seen, then realizing she has no teeth. Get rid of the green ring and I’ll buy two.

  9. SLR magic seem to listen to the forums. SInce I know you (SLR magic) guys read these forums… what do you think of all the comments about the name and green ring? Just curious if these comments have any influence.

    • We do have black color offering. However, we actually sell a higher number of green ring edition than black ring edition. We were getting emails along with the online order to be shipped the green version and not the black version ever since we had the black color offering.

  10. NIIIICE DOF. Didn’t expect it to be that sharp. Well done. This is a great lens to have. Curious how the price will be. Now just get rid of the green ring and change that name from SLR Magic to something less silly.

  11. Looks promising…

    And what about the size of this lens, it’s really huge and heavy (about 300g more than the Noct 0.95)…
    As this lens weighs 2 times the M9, the combo is it well balanced ? Does It blocks the viewfinder even more than the Noct because of the length (2cm more) ??!

    When Leica made the Noct as other M lenses, they had in mind the handling with M bodies for sure and it comes with a price…

    • True … but how many Luxes will sit unused in their box, in a cabinet, for those 10 years.

      Rather see a ‘user’ than a ‘collectible’ any day of the week.

  12. Amaizing lens , where do I pre-order and why do we have ta wait so long ? )

    I wonder if the quality will be consistent from lens to lens

  13. try to do some portraits if you can Steve
    and I want to see sharpness from subject in focus not right in the center of the frame

    thanks a lot

    • Note to self – Don’t start to type a post and return to it later and press send without reading……Really looking forward to seeing some direct comparisons with the Noctilux now.

      • Why post you type looking without? Silly, you are …..

        P.S. Stop infringing my (copyright) – Yoda ….


  14. Looks great so far.
    I look forward to seeing how it stands up to comparison with the Noctilux this weekend.

  15. The green is terrible, and I really wish the lens had click stops for aperture, but I understand it’s a cinema lens first. My only real fear is that this will cost over $5K, which while much less than a Noctilux is a lot to pay for non-Leica glass.

    • Leica or not you are getting the same or very similar performance to the Leica lens for more than half the price. I’m not knocking Leica and the prices of their lenses, I’m just saying.

      As for the green, you guys not heard of black marker pens, soon have that sorted and easily removed if necessary.

  16. They call this a cine lens and it has that bright yellow ring on the front that will reflect off a filter in a mattbox?

    Simply must lose that.

  17. What on earth are you doing going through a drive through for a cheeseburger?

    Do you have any idea how terrible fast food is for you, the planet?

    Go get some decent food and get on to that Noct test!

    ( a little tongue in cheek of course, but not the food part so much.) Really looking forward to your results!

    • I was thinking the same thing!!!! LOL!
      Steve’s diet will make him soft…but dude….that lens is sharp as hell wide open!!!!!

    • I would recommend watching some of Jamie Oliver’s TV-series about making decent food. It is a lot easier than you think and a lot healthier than this horrible fastfood.

      • Cheeseburger diets would be ‘de-rigeur’ for most of us if we needed to raise $5,000 or $11,000 for one single fast lens …. from any manufacturer!!!!!

        Seriously though, the Jamie Oliver route is equally good – he has some great Italian inspired food dishes!

        • I think this SLR Magic (needs new name) lens would be GREAT for some low- depth-of-field food photography, no doubt, isolating the shiny beef and cheese on the edge of the burger….but now I think we are officially off on a tangent.

    • You know, in principle, I agree with you. But was Steve’s photography forum really the place that you just had to make your stand against fast food? That’s just weird.

  18. Wow, this is really shaping up to be a ‘giant killer’…
    Really entertaining reading Steve, can’t wait for future posts on this. Thanks again for sharing with us. 🙂

  19. Thx Steve for the short review and samples, can’t wait to see the comparation result between this GLASS againts LEICA NOCT,.. Wow less CA than The Noct

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