The SLR Magic 50 T/0.95 in the Studio – Noctilux vs Hyperprime

The SLR Magic 50 T/0.95 in the Studio – Noctilux vs Hyperprime

So here we are at Day two of the LA workshop and everyone is having a blast. The day started with an amazing talk and presentation  from Jay Bartlett  on studio portraiture. Everyone took to the studio with their M9’s, E-P3’s, Fuji X10’s and X100’s and even a GRD III. The results were amazing and everyone came away with some beautiful shots. Mostly due to the great lighting setup from Todd as well as our lovely model, Jade Corrin. The image above was shot by Ashwin Rao with his M9 and Zeiss 85 Sonnar, one of the most beautiful portrait lenses ever for  the M system. I decided to shoot a quick portrait with the SLR Magic 50 T0.95 Hyperprime and I fired off 3 shots and 3 shots only to see if this lens would be acceptable stopped down for portraits. The Results?

Click the image below for full size file. I cropped some off of the left and bottom but the is STRAIGHT from camera, processed as RAW. M9-P, SLR Magic 50 LM Hyperime T/0.95

Not bad huh? Thats about as sharp as you can get and for a lens optimized for 0.95…what else can I say? Beautiful color and rendering. Everyone at the workshop who has shot with this lens wants one. Now.

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Just for fun comparison – Bokeh wide open at minimum focus distance – Noctilux/Hyperprime

The following images are in no way scientific. We were at lunch and messing around with the Hyperprime and Noctilux and decided to do a quick “minimum focus distance” comparison, wide open. The Noctilux at f/0.95 and the Hyperprime at T0.95, which as you may know is FASTER than f/0.95. Add in the closer focusing capability and the depth of field is extremely shallow. The good news is that this lens performs amazingly well stopped down as well.

Many of us have been shooting the lens here in Los Angeles and no one has spotted any focus shift or lack of performance when stopped down which is pretty incredible when you think about it.

On to the “just for fun” comparison…click each image for the full size out of camera file.

As always…more to come. Tomorrow is our full street shooting day here in Los Angeles…can’t wait!

one more to show how sharp this lens can be wide open. Focus was on the eye as you can see…

A group of the Hyperprimes  – Notice the all black “stealth” version on my M9-P 🙂

and finally a few more with the SLR Magic.

From left to right – Andrew from SLR Magic, me, and Ashwin Rao. Wide open!

Once again, using the lens at the aperture it was meant to be used at. Testing low light and wide open performance at a distance…no problems. Oh and this image below was shot at ISO 2500.


  1. Hello Steve,

    Fantastic!, This lens is truly superb! I am on waiting list of Noct, but the quality of the HyperPrime is forcing me to rethink. With the waiting time of 6 months to a year to get a Noct, perhaps is not bad idea to wait for the SLRMagic.

    Have you tried, just for fun, shooting it in the NEX-7? Would love to see the results on that body, specially because of the 24mpx sensor.

    Do you know, who should we contact in HyperPrime to pre-order this lens? I bet many aroudn here, myself included, are willing to pay whatever it takes to get this lens, and be in the pre-order list.



  2. The fingernails on the Noctilux image are * much * crisper. The Hyperprime is a very nice lens but does not rival the Noctilux in my opinion.

    I am not a fan of the swirly bokeh of the Hyperprime (evident on another post).

    Does the difference in sharpness justify the price margin? I believe the question is irrelevant. There is a market for Leica lenses despite the existence of cheaper alternatives (e.g. Summilux vs Zeiss or Voigtländer) so the Noctilux is no exception in this regard.

    • The Nocti nails are crisper because it was further back and has more DOF. The Hyper was at the equiv of f/0.92 and .7 meters compared to f/0.95 and one meter. These lenses are comparable in sharpness. Bokeh preferences will vary from person to person but it’s not really swirly from the Hyperprime, just creamier due to the DOF being even shallower.

      • Leaving DoF apart, there should be an “absolute” point of focus in that DoF where sharpness is very well comparable without digressing into subjects like minimum focusing distance etc. The Noct, judged by that yardstick and assuming both shots were sharp at some point to begin with, is the sharper lens, by some distance. Period.

        • Same distance same aperture these lenses are equivalent in sharpness and I have suspicions that the SLR Magic is sharper than the Leica stopped down. We will see when we do the shoot out though. The SLR magic has an ever so slight glow and the Leica is clean but both are sharp as a tac (as you can see in the other post with the 100% crop of Todd at lunch). The images here are not same aperture or same distance.

        • Shot both and saw many images with both last weekend.

          The Hyper is at least as sharp at all apertures as the 0.95 Noct.

          The Noct has slightly better ergonomics for still shooters and is more compact. It is also backed by Leica.

          The Hyper has slightly better IQ, focuses closer, is much better for video and is a skosh faster. It will also be a lot less expensive.

          All around the pre-production Hyper impresses me as the superior lens. But I wouldn’t really argue the point if someone heavily values the areas where the Noct has the edge.



  3. There’s weird blue chromatic funkiness going on around the studio model – look at her left ear. I don’t know if that was intended in the lighting or is an artifact of the lens. It’s nice to see the lens is sharp at f/4 but shouldn’t all decent lenses be sharp at f/4?

    • The $11k Leica has much more CA than this lens so….and yes, all Lenses should do well at f/4 but many were saying it was not possible for this lens to be sharp at f/4 as it is optimized for 0.95 🙂 So far me and the 20+ others who shot with it all weekend wanted to buy one on the spot. Impressive.

  4. I still love my 50m Summilux APSH the best, but sometimes I do need an ultrafast lens for certain extremely low light shootings without a tripod. I was thinking to buy the Noctilux but the price tag keeps pulling me back. Now I have a much better option! If the price is right, I would definitely take one without looking back!

  5. Promising. But…
    The real problem is producing 3 astounding prototypes is nothing like producing thousands for the mass market. If they can do that with the same quality, I am in 😉

  6. Thanks for sharing… I still think the noct bas a smoother bokeh, thé other one makes you feel like you have your eyes crossed. I visited the model’s blog…lol. If she is as vulgar in real than on her keynoard… Then you should have made a video with sound… Would have been à good laugh

  7. This is a very impressive lens. Open the first shot of the model and zoom it then look at her eyes. They are hypnotic. I want to crop that and make it a screen saver.

    But here is a question for Steve. How much is f.95 more of a gimmick than a useful feature? I want to be able to shoot in low light without a flash and understand about large aperture but I worry that shooting within, say, ten or even twenty feet that the depth of field is sooooo shallow that it is not really useful. I have tried f1.2 and f1.4 lenses and found that it was usually necessary to stop down to f2 or f2.8 to get enough in focus for the shot to work. A shot of a person’s face doesn’t work for me if just the eye is in focus but the nose is not. So I am not looking for technical explanation, just a description of the kinds of situations where this lens will capture a good shot when a Summicron will not. I understand that shooting in a concert is one place where it works but usually you have more distance in a big room.

    • The f stop is the ratio of focal length to aperture diameter whereas the T stop is the same corrected for the light loss that occurs in the lens when the light moves from the glass to the air and vice versa.

      So at f0,95 you actually underexpose your shot (a tiny little bit). If you use T0.95 you correct for the actual light loss and expose correctly.

      Why they use T stops in film making I don’t know – I’m a stills shooter 🙂

      Hope that helps! 🙂

      • The reason for the T-Stops in Cinematography is because in a single scene of a movie, the images created from several different lenses are intercut and in that case you do not want the image brightness to change from lens to lens. Please note: a still camera lens f-stop does not account for the loss of light created by the optics of the lens. The T-Stop (AKA Transmission Stop) is the actual amount of light the lens transmits through its optics. So as a DP, you can light a movie scene, use three different Panavision Primo lenses, for example a 27mm for the master shot, a 40mm for the “two shot” and an 75mm for the close ups. If you set all the lenses at T-4.0 then the exposure will be the same, not matter which lens you use.

        • Wow that’s great to know. I wondered why some lenses seem brighter or darker than others at the same aperture. I wasn’t entirely sure it was even real or if I was imagining it.

          I really wish all photography lenses where measured it T-stops then. F-stops don’t make much sense in practical use then.

          • Actually f stops are much more useful for most still photography. With modern coatings, most lenses will not lose more than a few percent of the nominal value of light, and small fractions of a stop variation in exposure are trivial to correct in processing. Besides, metering is generally done through the lens, so absorbtion has no effect on accuracy of exposure (movie cameras will be using external meters). Otoh, the slight difference in actual aperture can make a perceptible (and non-correctable) difference in the appearance of the final photo due to dof–a factor which for moving pictures is less likely to matter.

            Having said this, i would still love to have manufacturers publish t* equivalency tables for their lenses–it would be … Illuminating.

  8. Why was the model holding a Nikon? Who dared bring that D3s beast to the party? I don’t think it fit in her cosmetic bag….

  9. Is it just me, or do others also think the name “SLR Magic” combined with that ugly green ring, is a marketing disaster?

    If the lens are consistantly as good as the example Steve tests here (decentering and other faults are common with mass produced lens), then it probably won’t matter, as they will sell all they can make, but Cosina had much better grip on marketting when they resurrected the Voigländer brand for their M lens line-up.

    • SLR Magic informed us all at the workshop that the lens will be available with black ring or green – buyers choice. As you may have noticed the one I have been shooting is the “stealth” version – all black.

  10. As said above, my first reaction to seeing the full size rendition of image #1 was, WOW!

    Considering the size of the total Leica market, the premium nature of the speed of the lens, and the apparent image quality, I would not be surprised if the retail price is half the Noctilux price or more. At half the price it would be a worthy contender and the price might be high enough to limit the demand so SLRM might be able to keep up.


  11. Is jealous of a close focusing distance of 0.7 m at Magic 50 T/0.95 over 1m on my Noct.

    Ot. Is the Zeiss 85mm Sonnar taken out of the range provided by Zeiss.

  12. I wonder what are the working conditions for the SLR Magic workers? I think that is a valid issue to bring up with a company. I would not want to buy a product made in a sweatshop.

    • I wonder then why it says on your site made on mac when they are notorious for making their products in factories that exploit people by paying them miserable vages which makes Apple able to earn ridiciolous profits, its pretty selective social awareness? Anyway I’d suggest having a look at Mike Daisey’s Agony and Ectasy of Steve Jobs.

  13. Hard to believe, from what I’ve seen so far, I’m almost starting to think I like this thing more than the noct.
    It’s all academic, since I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford either, but it’s really cool to see what these guys are coming up with.

    • NOT the same lens. You are looking at the old Micro 4/3 – NEX lens which is 1000% percent different. Not the same lens at all. THIS lens is Noctilux quality – no joke. Not just me that agrees, but just about everyone who shot with it at the workshop felt the same. This is NOT a Noktor lens.

  14. Looking good. Could you show some stopped down daylight shots and comparisons with the Hyperprime as well, as one of the strength of the new Noctilux is its stellar performance across all f stops. Would be interesting to see whether the new beast is such a great “allrounder” as well.

  15. So, hypothetical question: who will calibrate/pair the Hyperprime to an M body if the two don’t match out of the box? If it was a Leica lens, obviously Leica would. My understanding is it’s very common for those purchasing the Noctilux to have Leica pair it to their body… Steve, it seems like the ones you have access to at the workshop have paired nicely, but I’m sure once they’re in regular production, that won’t always be the case. What kind of after sales support will SLR Magic offer, since this obviously won’t be an inexpensive lens, based on what you’ve hinted so far.

    And I’d love to get my hands on an 85 Sonnar…

  16. who chose that lipstick for the model… dang. no good colour and also applied poorly… the lens does seem to work well though-hows the extra weight feel?

  17. Greetings and thx a lot for your first shorts and comparison of the two lenses.

    For me personally I do like the Noctilux shot of the fingernails more but could be as you stated due to the more sharpness and 1m distance compared to the 0.7m of the Hyperprime.
    However – for sure I am not going to sell my Leica f0.95 to buy the SLR Magic counterpart but I am sure that there are quite a lot of enthusiasts out there who would buy it – if the price is “satisfying”.

    Would love to see more such studio portrait shots and of course how the setting has been, what you used to trigger the studio lamps with your M9 and so on.

    Wish you a pleasant workshop!

  18. Leica’s engineers must be nervously sweating buckets now. If the price is less than their equivalent then goodbye Leica’s myth.

  19. Now all SLR Magic has to do is change their company name and all will be right in this world again 😉

    Truly impressive images from that lens!

  20. Hey Steve, really enjoying seeing these images but all its doing is fueling the fire…….lots of us on here wanting to know how much and when this lens will be available, you must have asked them…..:-)

  21. The short focusing distance is really nice. The Noctilux still looks sharper. Not sure if the focus on the finger was dead on with the Hyperprime. Launch this lens at less than 3k and it will do really well.

      • Not much left to make a case for a 10k Noctilux. The Hyperprime just sounds like a better package. In a way it is great to see that finally “Made in China” optical equipment is amazingly good. Curious when they will launch 35mm 1.4, 21mm 1.4 etc. Still don’t like the name. 😉

        • It reminds me of the movie Back to future.
          Marty has hos made in japan camcorder and Doc says “Made in Japan?! I now know why this do not work!”

          Now we are facing the same. Our gran children will tell us in the future: Hey grandad…this tuff is so well made as It’s made in China!


  22. Looks like SLRM really came up with a winner and it looks like I will be contacting my local dealer for a pre-order!

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