Day 1 Workshop Report: Night shooting with the Hyperprime 50 T0.95

Day 1 Workshop Report: Night shooting with the Hyperprime 50 T0.95

Woo Hoo! Day one of the Los Angeles workshop has wrapped up and with over 30 of us in attendance it was an amazing night! This is gearing up to be the best workshop yet and today we all gathered at Hatakeyama Studio in downtown Los Angeles to talk cameras, lenses, passion, and everything photo

The highlight of the night was the new SLR Magic 50 T0.95 Hyperprime lens and Andrew from SLR Magic was the special guest who told us all about the new lens as he passed around 3-4 samples for everyone to try out.We then hit the streets with cameras in hand. Everything was here from M9’s, E-P3’s, GXR’s, and even a NEX-7.

Myself, Ashwin Rao and Elizabeth Wang Lee were hunting in the dark for photos as we each had our M9’s (Elizabeth was shooting it on a GXR with M mount) armed with the Hyperprime 50 T0.95. At one point during our walk we heard a loud “THUD”! We looked back and the Elizabeth’s strap came loose on her GXR and the camera and lens fell to the concrete. The Hyperprime was dented but still performed flawlessly. Guess the weight was too much for the GXR stock strap.

But only one word sums up our experience with the lens…STUNNING.

But don’t take my word for it, check out our samples below. Yep, I will let the photos speak for themselves today. The 1st set is from me and my M9P and the 2nd set from Ashwin and his trusty 2 1/2 year old M9. No PP here, just processed from RAW.

Tomorrow I will post a side by side test with a Leica Noctilux 0.95 ASPH as a few of us will be doing the model shoot with both lenses. Should be interesting! But for low light, this lens ROCKS. Any softness of NON shaprness you see is a result of missed focused, slow shutter speeds and high ISO. The lenses we were using were all calibrated spot on – and remember to click the images for larger versions!

Steve’s Set – ALL shots wide open at T0.95, which is closer to F/0.8


Ashwin’s Shots – ALL wide open

Yes Leica M shooters…you WILL want one of these lenses. More to come…


  1. I bought the 12mm hyperprime based on your review Steve. And what you are saying in theory is perfectly true as far as the live view of the E-PL2.

    I am an experienced photographer, I shoot many manual lenses for my film cameras and on digital. I have the Leica F1.4 that I use on my E-PL2 and never have any problems. But the Hyperprime is a weird one. Even a shot with a building 30 feet away at F4 with the lens on infinity produced odd focus anomalies, meaning not all elements in the shot were in focus, some things were blurry and some things sharp and it was kinda random. It is a real effect that me and my friend are both noticing with this lens.

    Basically if I did not know better I would say the 12mm hyperprime is acting like a toy lens. I have the toy lens and it did the cool weird focus thing, but I did not expect the same type of thing with the hyperprime. The effect is much less of course, but it is almost as if the lens was designed to be randomly soft or out of focus to give it a unique personality.

    Or perhaps the one they shipped me has something wrong with it.

    For the price I paid I would say the performance is subpar. The14-42 kit lens, though boring, is vastly sharper and more sure. So perhaps something is wrong with this one.

  2. Hello all,

    Let me weigh in here because I am seeing something in these pics that I also see in my new 12mm Hyperprime that
    I have been using on my Olympus E-PL2.

    I am having a problem with focus on the lens.
    It appears that the lens is not focusing on the spot that I select through the magnified viewer.
    Even when using the lens on infinity and taking pictures of subjects from over 10feet to infinity it seems that the focal point is not always where it should be expected to be.
    I would assume anything at infinity should have the same focal plane but this is not always the case even when shooting at F4 or F5.6.
    When I shoot at ten feet and under using F1.6 the lens will have focal points that seem almost random.
    When these pictures are looked at on the computer the eye will wander the frame trying to find the point that was in focus even though when I took the picture I chose a specific point of focus using the magnified viewer in the camera.
    I have a 25mm Leica F1.4 lens that I use on the same Olympus E-PL2 using the same manual focus method and this random focus issue never occurs even at F1.4.
    Can you please explain what is going on here?
    Please take a moment to look at the 50mm Hyperprime photos above.
    These photos show the same random type of focus anomalies I am seeing in the 12mm.
    I understand this is a F.95 50mm and the focal plane is very narrow by design, but this same narrow and random focal plane is also appearing on my 12mm even at F4 at infinity.
    It is really frustrating to focus perfectly, take the shot and then find that in the picture the focal point was somewhere else!

    • The Hyperprime 12mm is impossible to misfocus on an E-PL2 as you are using a live view. What you see is what you get. Period. If your shot is out of focus using live view then you did not nail the focus correctly when shooting. It is not possible to have a sharp perfect in focus view on the screen and then get an OOF shot on your image when using live view. I have the 12mm and it is fantastic. Sharp, crisp and with great color (my review is on this site). The shots at night we took were to test the lens with a photo walk in darkness. Slow shutter speeds caused the blur in my shots, and Ashwins 2 1/2 year old M9 is slightly mis-calibrated so he had a couple missed focus shots. This lens is as sharp as the Noctilux ASPH and all who used it agrees. There are no focus issues with this lens, or any of the 6 copies that were at the workshop.

  3. Get a camera with decent high ISO capability (so that’s any high end DSLR then, but not an M9), put it in 3200 ISO, fit an f1.4 prime, put exposure compensation at -1, off you go and you’ll improve on the IQ of these quite a bit, and maybe get a few where the point of focus is where you actually intended it to be… 🙂

  4. I like the bokeh 🙂

    you guys do realise that light hitting from the far edges isnt perfectly circular because the opening of the lens from the edge is elliptical right?

    nice stuff , maybe I will be able to afford a 0.95 someday

  5. Blur does not equal bokeh. I don’t like the “scrubbing bubbles” look of the corners either. I suppose if it was cheap enough it might be desirable since the Noct is so sky high.

  6. If you take into consideration this is candid, quick snap street photography. I think it proves that a lens like this helps to give you the ability to capture a moment where typically you would not be able to.
    I can’t wait to see comparison to the nocti! 😀

  7. The problem with night-time street photography isn’t the limitation of the light-gathering ability of the lens, but the lack of good light on the subject. It looks as if all of these images could have benefited from some off-camera strobe. I like in particular Steve’s shot of the men with cardboard, Ashwin’s cigarette smoker, and the portrait of Steve hamming it up for the camera. But these three would look much better with some fill light.

    My conclusion: Relying on f/0.95 won’t improve my nocturnal street photography. Better to spend a few bucks on a flash and tether it to the camera, allowing me to close down my lens, increase my chance of correct focus, sharpen the subject and open the shutter to bring out ambient light.

    I’m beginning to understand why Leica markets its Noctilux based on the depth-of-field, and not so much for its light-gathering ability.

    • Their pictures turned out just fine, also it’s kinda risky to go around flashing people in the face in the dead of night anyways. No one wants to take pictures that will make them feel like they are on an episode of cops, and besides even with the shallow DOF; the point is to capture the subject with some semblance of how it actually looked to human eyes.

  8. Love the bokeh. And the lens is sharp. Street photography at f 0.95 is no easy feat because the DOF is razor thin. Cartier-Bresson is known to have often used f8.

  9. Nice work guys, I like what I’m seeing..
    Look forward to seeing the direct comparisons.
    Any idea of the price and is that green ring staying ?

  10. What I can gather from this images is that this could be an interesting speciality lens.

    What is also really obvious from posted photos is that photographic vision, timing, ability to compose shot etc is what is important-lens blur or bokeh can blur bad composition and bad color management, a snapshot is just a snapshot, no matter what camera and lens you use

  11. Thanks for the update.

    It certainly is a challenge doing street photography with such a fast lens wide open.

    In my opinion, the question of whether or not the “look” of a lens is appealing is highly subjective. Furthermore I wonder if over time people develop a brand bias irrespective of image quality?

    Along this line, I would really like to see about 10 photos taken with both the HyperPrime and Noctilux. And I would like to see these photos posted WITHOUT mention of which lens took which photo. This way the readers can decide which lens they liked without the possibility of a brand bias. After a few days you could reveal the lenses used.

    This might be an interesting experiment?

  12. Unless I am completely blind and/or a complete idiot when it comes to being able to “see”, not a single image in this blog is causing me to hyperventilate about this lens like everybody else here…. If the fast 0.95 aperture is the only criterion for all this gushing, well, then it’s another story… Sorry.

    • exacty my feelings..

      I don’t understand why everyone on this site is about to faint from this lens. There is nothing special from the images posted in this particular entry. A f.95 lens cannot magically create light from nothing. If there simply isn’t enough light to create an interesting photo, then there simply no way around it. Look at the 2nd photo from top, is there anyting speical about it? it simply is a bad picture. Most of these pictures look like they were shot with an iphone.

      • The thing is, this lens (as with the Noctilux) does create light from nothing. If you shoot in total darkness your image will appear lit up and sometimes look bright. The 2nd photo you speak of was not meant to show sharpness as this was shot in near darkness, at low shutter speeds. An f/2 lens or iPhone would have resulted in a black frame. The hard thing for most people to grasp is that these images were shot in darkness, while moving, while on a walk. We were snapping shots, not creating art. The Noctilux that costs $11k would not have done any better. Thx for the comment though.

  13. Hi,
    Am I the only one to dislike the bokeh of this lens ?! Nothing to compare with the bokeh of the Noctilux, Canon 0.95 or even the Voïgt Nokton…
    Just have a look at the OOF shape and the ugly glow around them… Too bad because it seems to be a sharp lens wide open But for the price and the huge size (I think it’ll block the viewfinder too much) it’s not worth…
    The Nokton 1.1 is even more a bargain !! 😉

  14. the only picture that I like is the second from Ashwin
    I still waiting to see a good picture with this lens in this blog, seems to be really good, but no one has post any portrait with character and I wonder why … every thing is there, an m9, a trusty fast 50mm, and no one nail it ?
    Bad colors, bad tones, bad dinamic range
    some one please use it with a film camera and portra or trix, or at least use it with the m9 on a low iso to have good latitud, and a good postprocesing with tones acordingly

  15. Does anyone notice the “scrubbing bubbles” looking bokeh in all the corners? I don’t like it, even though I like the rendering. Theses are distracting and worse than either Noctilux versions.

  16. Great lens! I am really impressed by the rendering and boken. As its size is considerably larger than the Noct, how bad does it block the viewfinder frame lines anyway? Could you take a picture to show inside the viewfinder somehow?

  17. Sign me up for one of those lenses. The class is rocking and I am enjoying every minute of it and the new folks that I have and will meet 🙂

  18. I made some cool shots with the Hyperprime. It’s sharp in low light. The bokeh is lovely. The color is a tad on the blue side. And, he he, it’s tough and can take a ‘drop’. The lens hood is thicker – nearly double the thickness and depth of the Noctilux. Thank goodness I had it extended or I’d be doing the dishes for a while. On to day 2!

    • Ashwin and I did not see the bluish rendering at all. Wonder if your copy is variation or if it is due to the WB of the GXR? We will have to check that today. I did take a side by side last night at dinner and the color was exactly the same between the two lenses. But we will do more side by side today! Cant wait to see some of your images. 🙂

  19. Nice job with the focus!!!!!!
    You were not kidding, Steve…the SLRM is considerably bigger than the Leica lens. …but it is pulling in more light…amazing. Looks like you are all having a GREAT time too!!!! Fun photos.

  20. I’m glad Steve clarified the T-stop marking on the lens, confirming I wasn’t really too crazy thinking that this lens with its T-stop (transmission stop) being 0,95 is in fact faster than a F/0,95.

    How is then affecting focusing? I’d imagine it must be very difficult getting it spot on due to the extreme shall DoF.

    Thanks for the notes and reviews.

    All the best to LA from a snowy Finland!

    • Combo of being totally dark out, high ISO, wide open shooting with paper thin DOF and slow shutter speeds. Today we will be shooting in studio with plenty of light so we will see how it goes. If you click on the 1st image you will see it larger and it is super sharp where the focus point.

      • If that lens is not sharp in the circumstances you describe, that can only mean one of two things: the lens isn’t that good or the circumstances were too difficult. I’d go for the latter.

        Testing a “Noct” type lens in normal or studio circumstances seems irrelevant. I have a 1.2/50 Ai-S Nikkor that I’m almost ashamed of using in acceptable light (as good as it is) because that’s not what it was designed for, so I’m getting a 2.0/50 Ai (50 euros) for normal around town use with the FM2 or FA. I won’t mind so much banging into things with that lens… Same as I have a cheap but good Yashinon 2.0/50 ML with the just as cheap (35 euros) and good Contax 139 Q. The 1.4 Zeiss lenses are for the RTSIII and for special occasions.

        And why the obsessive use of 0.95? I sometimes throttle back to 2.0 (from 1.2 or 1.4) if the light allows, so I’ll get a little bit more DoF and less failed shots… 🙂

        • This lens does not to be “sharp”! Look at the “mood” they could capture with this lens. This is what really matter!

          • @Nik: I agree, to some extent, but would still like the point of focus not to be hit and miss. I don’t mind a bit of unsharpness, but prefer that to be the result of a slow shutterspeed as opposed to a missed point of focus, due to an extremely shallow DoF in difficult cirmcumstances.

            I for myself bin a portrait that might be very good for the rest, if the point of focus is on the eyelash instead of the eye, if you get my drift.

          • Got it and understand. Long time Leica- shooter (well, since 1974), so
            I’m with You! but – it is still a wonderful lens!

          • I’m not trying to be negative, but based on what I’ve seen so far you could capture the same aesthetic with a Zeiss 50 f/1.4 or Leica 50 f/2 for the same price or less than the numbers that Steve has suggested.

            Obviously you don’t have the same super narrow depth of field, but given what I’ve seen so far is it that useful?

  21. Nice shots with with an amazing lens. I am aiming for that one! Sorry for Liz’s camera
    slipping through the strap. Happened to me once with a brand new Nikon D300s.
    It survived with hardly a scratch. Keep testing interesting lenses. Thank You all.

  22. Lovely. I don’t want to get into very much details, but what shutter speed were you using in the dark night pictures?

  23. I can’t wait to read more and see more images…..I guess like many I’m keen to know more about availability and price, I’m sure you’ll let us know if your get any inside info…… Cheers

  24. Sign me up for one! AMAZING lens, period!!!! Different than the 50 mm f/0.95, with a smooth rendering, a bit of classic mixed in, lovely character…

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