SLR Magic REALLY IS Magical…the LM 50 T0.95 ROCKS

SLR Magic REALLY IS Magical…the LM 50 T0.95 ROCKS

WOW! So today was the last day of the workshop in Los Angeles and I have to say that this was the most amazing workshop to date. It was a jammed packed weekend with lots of cool guest speakers, many amazing passionate attendees and lots of shooting in the studio and on the street.

Today we had an education when uber talented Elizabeth Wang Lee gave us a detailed and thorough talk on street photography. This was an amazing presentation and we all learned from her detailed explanations and samples. THANK YOU ELIZABETH!

Actor/Comedian Jeff Garlin also popped in to deliver a hilarious talk on street shooting, and at the same time informed us all that he is producing a documentary on Chicago street photograoher Vivian Maier. So cool! Jeff was a RIOT and everyone had a blast, so THANK YOU JEFF!

Me and Jeff, Shot with the iPhone 4s and the Tadaa app!


Andrew from SLR Magic was with us yet again and he gave everyone a chance to shoot with the new 50 LM T0.95 Hyperprime Leica M mount lens. I will put this out there right now…THIS LENS IS THE REAL DEAL FOLKS. Flat out AMAZING. It is not just me saying this, but everyone who shot with it this weekend was ready to plunk down their cash for this lens NOW. I am hoping to post many samples from everyone who shot with it soon, not just my samples. Samples from the NEX system look amazing as well so stay tuned for those…

I will also be shooting with this lens for the next few months so I can give it a thorough testing and review. I was able to bring home a special “stealth” edition of the lens which means it has a BLACK ring instead of the day glow green 🙂 YES! (this black ring will be an option when ordering, and the ring you see below is not the final production ring)

All I can say now is that this lens blows away (yes, strong words but true) the Voigtlander 50 1.1 and is on par with the Leica Noctilux ASPH with some of the workshop attendees preferring the rendering of the Hyperprime. My feeling is that it is just as sharp at equal apertures but the Hyperprime gives a teeny but more of a classical look, but at the same time it is mixed with the sharpness of the Noctilux ASPH. The look you prefer will be up to YOU.

From what myself and many others have seen this weekend, this lens is a real giant killer in regards to image quality. Wow. There are differences but they are slight. The bokeh is “fatter” with the SLR Magic due to the larger rear element. The SLR Magic also focuses to .7 meters compared to 1 meter of the Noctilux ASPH and yes, the Hyperprime appears to have much less CA than the $11k Leica.

The Hyperprime is a 12 element non aspherical lens.

Shot wide open at T0.95 – look at the 3D effect – straight from camera – M9-P – and shot through a coffee shop window Sunday morning while buying coffee for the group. 

Like the Noctilux, this lens is a BEAST, even more of a beast than the Noctilux f/0.95. In reality, the Hyperprime is actually faster than f/0.95 so it appears this will now be the fastest lens for 35mm in production. How amazing is that?

In build, I am sure the Leica is built better but the SLR Magic is built just as solid, and is slightly heavier and larger. It is a solid lens and nothing like the old Noktor Hyperprime that I was NOT a fan of.

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This is NOT the old Noktor lens. PERIOD! So many people are confusing this with the old $1000 lens and this is an all new, built from the ground up LEICA M mount lens. It is insanely better, larger, beefier and with superb quality glass and construction.

In fact, over the past 9-10 months SLR Magic has been sending me samples from prototypes for this new M mount lens and I have been telling them “NOT GOOD ENOUGH, I WOULDN’T BUY IT”  – so they kept re-designing and finally they ended up with what we have here today. The only question you and many others have now is…how can I  get one?

BELOW: Shot by Ashwin Rao at T0.95

SLR Magic has some cool touches up their sleeve that I won’t spill the beans on just yet but they plan on officially releasing the lens in September. A long way off but there will be a few testers of the lens until then to make sure it is solid, dependable, and high in performance. The 1st ones to get a crack at the lens were those who attended the LA Workshop so hopefully this lens will make it to a few more shooters soon for more real world tests.


SLR Magic has not announced pricing yet but I do expect it (of course) to be MUCH less  than the Leica Noctilux ASPH which now comes in at $11k. At the same time, I do not expect this to be some $1000-1500 lens either, as it is a specialty lens that will be hand made and calibrated, not mass produced. It is not constructed of cheap parts and the lens oozes quality when you hold it.

Many at the workshop who held it, and shot with it were guessing and afraid this lens would come in at $5500-$6k (goes to show what others who used it thought of the quality) but my guess is that it will come in lower than that. Hopefully we will see pricing soon. No one knows at this point so it is all speculation. All I know is  that if I had a choice of buying this or the Noctilux but could save something like $7,000 by buying this lens, I would. End of story. Of course we all want and dream of the Leica but for those of us who do not have $11k in our lens funds, something like this would make an excellent alternative.

The sharpness wide open is INSANE – Click image for larger view and full 100% crop at 0.95

It appears Andrew and all of those at SLR Magic are very proud of what they have created and I am glad I had a hand to get it to where it is today in the quality department. It is a lens they should be EXTREMELY PROUD of and if the build quality and dependability hold up over the next few months I am going to say that this is indeed a GIANT KILLER of a lens. But you won’t have to take my word for it, there should a few others writing about this lens soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

More to come…but for now a few more shots from this lens and the M9-P. I chose these simple shots because I feel it shows the many qualities of the lens. Enjoy!

This was AT NIGHT and it was pretty dark. No flash required 🙂 And all three of these guys wanted the Hyperprime and tried to give Andrew their order already. You can see Judd (far right) using one on his NEX-5n. Imagine the video capabilities of this lens…

Smooth, silky but oh so sharp (click image for larger version)

3D glasses not required 🙂

The depth of field is insanely shallow at T0.95

and one for fun…1st shot is with the Hyperprime at 1.4 in near darkness (hotel bar late night) and the 2nd is from the Leica 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH at 1.4. Bokeh is a little different here…”fatter” as some would call it.



  1. That last summilux shot is front focused, I think. No way mine’s so soft wide open. Not a fair comparison there, I am afraid.

  2. Sometimes a that much shallow depth of field seems too unnatural to me. And at the same time, sometime, yes, it’s pure magic.
    I specially love the “Telephoning black gentleman on the porche” and the “Two street crossing girls”. Also the “Gentleman with napkin at the head of the table” is really remarkible.
    Does anybody already knows what this lens is going to cost?
    I’m already saving… (but I fear it will be too expensive).

  3. Ouch !
    What a great lens !
    Probably too expensive for my needs ; I’ll carry on with the Nokton/Canon LTM 😉

  4. Perhaps I missed the memo but who is actually MAKING the lens? I thought I saw a comment from SLR magic that indicated that it was being manufactured in Japan….Cosina contract job?

  5. as a Red Dirt/TX music/concert shooter, I would LOVE to put this thing thru some paces. If it ever gets a Nikon mount and needs tested in the Heartland, let me know please !!!

  6. I’m still waiting for my SLR Magic 12mm 1.6 Lens for
    Micro Four Thirds that was supposed to ship out more than 2 months ago.

    I can’t see SLR Magic getting this out the door in September.

    Most people associate SLR Magic and the HyperPrime brand with crappy CCTV adapted lenses that are way over priced. I think they need to buy a old classic camera brand name to sell this under (how about Kodak lol).

    SLR Magic needs to build trust with the customers not string them along with hype to only deliver some crap lens that is based off a old Machine Vision lens with a wide angle adapter glued to it or something.

    To hand over $3,000 to $5,000 to such a unproven company doesn’t sound like the best idea. Rather just get a older used Noctilux for that price.

    But after hearing Steve say it will be way over $1500 I can’t see any point wasting time lusting after this beautiful piece of glass. Good luck SLR Magic.

    • Well, the 12mm lens they sell and make is not crappy, and I asked Andrew about that lens. They are making them and shipping them as fast as they can, and selling every one they have made. That lens is superb. This new lens is also superb, and they are building them now though they will only be able to make so many per month. They can not mass produce it (at least that is what was told to us at the workshop) so it will be a specialty lens, much like the Noctilux. Personally, I would take this lens over a classic Noctilux if both were offered. No contest. But I hear ya…SLR Magic has only been around 6 years, and started with adapters, then toy lenses. They started getting into serious lenses 1 1/2 years ago and lately have been creating some wonderful glass. I hope they can get the 12 and this 50 out the door though I know it will be limited supply. They are a small (but passionate) company. We shall see!

  7. Magic 50 T/0.95 appears to be significantly larger and heavier than the Noctilux. Personally, I appreciate that the M-lenses is not greater than necessary.
    Will Magic 50 T/0.95 a lens you are dealing with around or will it only be used locally, because it’s too heavy to carry in camera bag

    • People carry far larger kits for travel all of the time. however, this will be possibly the largest RF lens ever made, in terms of overall weight and girth…it’s a biggun…

      • So Ashwin, we’ve now finally got rid of the “lugging around” argument? M9 + T0.95 = 1.6 kgs; D700 + 1.4/50 (Planar or Nikkor) = 1.6 kgs.

        Allright, let’s take the D700 + 1.2/50 Ai-S: 1.3 kgs? Lovely lens as well, ánd manual focus… 🙂

        Challenging to shoot at (T)0.95 though!

        • Unless your lugging around kit includes more than one lens.

          Also, at low ISO the D700 IQ is not equal to the M9. Of course, the D800 may be a different story. And the 50 f/1.4 G is not in the same ballpark for IQ as the Noct, as well as being more than a stop slower.

          Frankly, a 50 ‘lux on my M9 is not really comparable at all to my old D700 with my 50 f/1.4 G.

          Now, if you are talking about my D3x with the 85 f/1.4 G, one of my favorite lenses, you are talking IQ that the M9 cannot beat. Equal but different I would say.

          I’d still give the “lugging around” argument full marks.



          • Let’s compare apples with apples at the intended purpose: low light shooting with a 50, so that rules out ISO 200 shooting and rules out other focal lengths. An M9 with this beast, a D700 with a fast 50.

            In weight it’s a draw.
            In ergonomics (ease of carrying), the D700 wins.
            In high ISO capability (worth at least a stop) the D700 wins.
            The lenses/IQ? 1.4/50 AF-S, 1.4/50 Planar, 1.2/50 Ai-S Nikkor vs the SLR Magic, all at full bore? I’d call that a draw.
            Expense? Uhhh….

          • Weight: Leica wins easily if you have more than one lens
            Ergonomics; Leica wins
            Focusing: Leica
            High ISO: Draw due to faster lens on Leica
            IQ: Leica hands down with the Hyperprime
            Expense: Leica wins. Buy gear then sell lenses 10 years later for handsome profit

            I own a D3x and have owned a D3 and D700 and I have the 50 f/1.4 G as well as an M9. I’ve shot with the current Noct and the Hyperprime.

            However, your original statement referred to the weight where it is very clear that the M9 destroys the Nikon kit for equal IQ.

            In any event, I’m not going back and forth again on this.

            Good Shooting,


  8. Looks like a great lens and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want one. The price will be the deciding factor. I can’t justify more than $2000.

    • I’ve owned the Nokton and this lens “destroys” it in build, sharpness, bokeh, min focud distance and overall rendering. This lens should be compared to the Noctilux not the Nokton.

      But with that said, there is one are where the Nokton wins, distortion. Up close this lens has barrel distortion with straight lines but not a problem in my samples so far. Still I wish it wasn’t there – if it wasn’t then thee would not really be any flaws.

      I am going to do my best to compare against several lenses in my review – even doing a Nocti shoot out in Seattle with Ashwin soon. So if there are issues I’m sure we will find them. So far, from what I’ve seen so far…this is one of my all time favorite 50mm lenses.


      But I need more time to really out it to heavy use. Thx

      • Looking forward to shooting it out soon, Steve! I agree. The lens is, in every way, fantastic…Price will be a huge determinant of demand. If SLR Magic can properly service and warrantee it, and price it not too outrageously (i.e not get caught up in its own hype), it’ll be a major winner for those lucky enough to own it…

      • Regarless how this lens compares to the Nocti in technical terms, I think the market won’t respond well if it is priced over 2k, period. When people shell out 11k for the Nocti, they are not just shelling out 11k for that look. There is the Leica badge and mystic or heritage or whatever that makes people to pay so much for a lens and only use it occasionally.

        I own 4 modern(latest gen, two lux and two rit) Leica glass which I purchased within a year after a M9 purchase however I will think very hard if I have to pay 2k for a Canikon lens, for SLRM lens over 2k? I just donno.

        Given that, 5k for a 35mm Summilux feels fare… why is that… guess we all have our own excuses 🙂

  9. Anyone shoot any video with this on a Lumix Gh2?

    Looks great but if it’s over $1500 I’m getting the Nokton 1.1

        • I beg to differ. Having tried both, the hyperprime does blow the Nokton out of the water on several fronts…it’s not hyperbole…

          To my eyes, it does better with
          1. Critical focus
          2. Midrange OOF background and foreground rendering
          3. Less purple fringing
          4. f stop (f/0.92 in reality vs f/1.1)

          It loses out in terms of size (much bigger than the Nokton) and no current click stops for setting aperture, which may be better for cine lens use but less appealing for photogrpahic use….Finally, it’ll blow the Nokton’s price tag out of the water. THis won’t be cheap…

  10. That top photo, of the guy sitting at the table, is just unreal. Wow. I wonder how the SLR magic would perform on an Olympus PEN…

  11. Really impressive!
    However, I would love to know how does it compare with the Noctilux regarding size and weight.
    The Noct is already a big and heavy lens and if this one is even bigger and heavier, it might be a no go for me, although I’ve been lusting for a 0.95 M lens for quite some time now… And it is ALL YOUR FAULT, Steve!! 🙂

  12. The clarity of the shot at the top of the page of the local hanging at the coffeeshop is so sharp that it is mesmerizing!!!!!!

  13. Thx for all your examples…really looks you stirred up the interest of the people here with this Noctilux-“rival”.

    Looking forward to the final product and people using it.

    Thx again for your efforts Steve and of course kudos to SLR Magic to give you and the workshop attendants the chance to test this pre-production lens.


        • NO NO NO! Ive mentioned the about 5 times, not only in the articles but in comments. That lens you see for $1100 is NOT the same lens, AT ALL. That is a micro 4/3 or NEX mount lens and is a totally different design, about 1/4 the size, and not even close in performance. Those lenses will NOT work on a Leica M camera. This Hyperprime will not be available to order until September 2012.

  14. To be honest.

    That ISO 1250 in the last two shots (just to take an example) looks pretty awful compared to what I’m used to (the Noct looks slightly better, the noise doesn’t). ISO 1600 at f1.4 would have seen you sailing away on a D700.

  15. Really nice and tempting. Now, this is only one prototype. The challenges now are to keep this up with the machine tolerance and sample to sample consistency when the lens go into production. If SLR can keep that up, my hats off.

    Great sample shots Steve as usual, too bad though from what it looks like, I’ll be priced out for this lens. Just wondering what will be the resale value of this lens in say 5 years??

  16. Steve,
    love the Hyperprime f 0.95 pics and yoyur initial impressions. Can I ask a very basic question.

    Since this seems like the perfect lens to be used with a NEX 7 in the twilight and gloaming as the sun or moon sets or rises in the woods and fields, if I set this lens to infinity will the moon or sun and other subject matter past infinity out there on the horizon be sufficiently sharp?

    Or is t his sharpness effect with wide open aperture occur only for subject matter short of infinity? I’m not asking about circle of confusion stuff. I just want to know if I buy it will it create sufficient sharpness past infinity so as to take advantage of it massively great wide open aperture? (NOT having to jack up ISO to high levels ofr shoot extra long exposure periods, just depend upon the incredible light gathering capabilities of the lens itself).

    The article says it’s optimized to be shot wide open – does this include infinity in the deep twilight??

    Thanks for any insights.


  17. Looks like a really nice lens – I hope that it comes in at about the same price as the Voigtlander 1.1. If it’s more than 2 k – it’s a no go as far as i’m concerned. Please post a few more full-res images.

  18. any chance to correct the barrel distortion before the final production runs? that distortion will keep this lens from being in the “great” lens category. it will be excellent but not yet a legendary lens at that price with such distortion whereas most high end 50mm lenses have no visible distortion. sure disortion could be corrected in post, but not correctly at all side angles, and also loss of time and resolution.

  19. Ciao Steve, amazing photos, I’d say the best I saw so far, the bokeh is wow ! Curious to see how this lens perform on NEX. Thanks, bye for now 😉

  20. Steve,
    Besides the max ISO difference and the increased focal length using this lens,on an M8.2, do you have a guess on how this lens might work on a Leica M8.2 or on any of the film Leica cameras (like an M7)? Thank you.

  21. This is really a magical lens. It will be a huge winner if price right. $5K? Should be much less with the green ring and SLR name. Let’s see what they come out with finally.

  22. I agree with comments on the difference at 1.4 with the Lux, but your other shots show how incredible this lens is, especially the salt and pepper shot, wow! Thanks for the great info and I’ll be waiting for details of when they are ready to take orders.

  23. Steve, if you have any pull, please tell them to make a 35/0.95 for the new Fiji xpro1. O know there are size constraints, etc, but today I’m living in fantasy world.

  24. I have an old Noct that can’t focus as close as the new Noct. Sometimes I want to take the plunge into the new one just because of the close focusing capability. Now that this new grenade can focus down to 0.7m is a big selling point for me. Considering that all you experienced shooters reach the quality consensus I think I’ll take the plunge this time.

  25. I cannot wait to see the test shot’s that were taken on Nex!
    This lens looks killer, such creamy out of focus and such sharp 3d like pop, truly a lens now on my wishlist! 🙂

  26. @SLR Magic (Andrew) – amazing job on the lens! My I be one of your local tester in HK? 😉

    These shots look amazing Steve. Thanks for sharing! Maybe a workshop in Hong Kong / Asia in the near future?


    More good always! It is fun to read your reviews and previews because you make them fun to read-every time!

    Bruce Marston (up in Vermont)

      • Guess who got to take that shot ;)….?

        Jade Corinne (the model) was supercool and willing to model on command, even at lunch. At the end of the meal, she was pining for a Leica, so hopefully her boyfriend will acquiesce.

  28. Won’t you stop Steve? If you go on SLR Magic will price it at 5k! 😉

    Seriously, though, this is going to be a very challenging lens for even the best calibrated rangefinder… no focusing issue with any of the workshop students?

  29. Hey, since SLR Magic (please change that name!) is most likely still figuring out what people are willing to pay for such a non-Leica lens, lets just all say that $1600 would be max. 😉

      • I think that it is a cultural thing. It may work in China and evokes something poetic and inspirational. In Europe and in the US names like SLR Magic have a Skymall quality. Products that promise on one idea and are badly, quickly executed usually carry similar names. So SLR Magic is not just misleading, it reminds people of $120 lens solutions that you would buy at places that are not camera stores. The name is dismissing the great quality that they are putting out. From a brand perspective I can only recommend to work together with a naming agency but I don’t know how established they already are in Asia. If this is a fairly new company then I would change it soon.
        Good company names are not based on a specific product (SLR) because it makes it difficult to remain it once you want to move beyond that platform. And if electronic viewfinder development moves on like digital sensor technology then SLR cameras will be gone soon. D!RK

  30. Amazing result! They nailed it both in sharpness and 3d department! Now it’s up to the pricing! If they price it right, it will sell like hot cake. Otherwise I will just walk away and pay extra for the Noctilux. I know it produces amazing photo but at the end of the day, it’s not Leica! it’s just another Leica alternative or Leica wanna be lense to me! Harsh reality huh!

  31. Hey Steve

    Thanks again for this nice preview, keep finger crossed for the price of this beauty !

    Didn’t you say you had some plans to do a workshop in Europe ? ( Paris would be nice 🙂 )

    Cheers, JB

  32. The high contrast ‘ 3D-effect ‘ in street shots recall more the images from classic Zeiss design lenses. Any info on internal lens grouping, design influences – i.e. any Zeiss influenced ‘DNA’ in it’s construction?

    • I asked the same thing at the workshop and was shown a tiny preview of the design. All I can say is that the optical formula is unlike any lens I’ve seen. All new, ground-up design. And probably the most complex lens ever made in terms of optical formula. If I remember correctly, I think there are 12 elements but someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

      Sounds like they invested a ton of time and money in developing this lens.

  33. So as a Student I’ve got to ask: How much do you really think will it cost … which price range do you think will it be? Jason Howe estimated 4-5k$ … do you think it’s really that expensive?

  34. I saw and used this lens at the workshop. It is FOR REAL. The results are incredible, even blow up on a projector or monitor they certainly rival the Leicas. And regarding the green ring, before I saw it I was a doubter and this is coming from someone who loves black, it even won me over. They eye-catchiness factor is almost magnetic and sure to catch your subjects.

    Thank you, Steve for an awesome workshop.

  35. It’s a huge winner! Those images just jump off the screen. The Hyperprime IS worthy….as long as they production samples are comparable to the 3 or 4 versions that I shot at the workshop! We have a new legend in the works, folks!

  36. It was a fantastic lens to use and very happy with how my shots turned out definetly be getting one when it becomes available.

  37. Af first I thought “In the last photos comparing the Leica 50 Summilux to the SLR Magic T0.95 – it seems the Leica glass gives more light on the guy’s face. The Leica also has a bit more highlight retention – look at the guys hair.”

    But I believe the truth is – the difference comes from slightly different post-processing done by Steve.
    Steve probably used a little more Recovery and more Fill Light on the shot with the Leica glass.

    • Eric – the pictures say they were straight from camera (i.e., no post-processing). The Lux does look sharper (especially in the hair area), but it really is close!

      • Well, it is not the same test at t/1.4 vs f/1.4. The DOF characteristics are different if you look at the shirt. That can really change things up. But still…WOW

    • …and really, so there “may” be more light on the face shot with the Summilux. Isn’t it worth saving $7000 to rectify this in about five seconds in curves?

      • Thats it…I’m sold. I just told my 5o Summilux this morning at my local dealer to save up for this giant killer whale. I had been on the waiting list for the Noct for months now and for the first time felt glad I never got a call from my local dealer.

        I took another look at the comparisons. Look at the edges such as the top left and right yellowish bokeh. It is clearly brighter on the Hyperprime than the Summilux at 1.4. The Summilux may be slightly brighter on the face but I prefer my images to be evenly lit.

        The Hyperprime is calibrated in T stops and provides a more even/flat light gathering capability. It is almost hard to believe there is no tunnel effect. I had always much preferred the classic look of non ASPH glass but just did not like the lack of sharpness. Seems like SLR Magic has a huge achievement here and their lens is a clear winner.

  38. Wicked lens, September not too long to wait for release, $4-5k potential price tag can live with that……but, like I said in an earlier post I can see another long waiting list scenario for sure!!! It will end in frustration…!

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