Happy weekend to all, some new stuff coming soon! More Hyperprime, Crazy Comparison, & More!


TGIF! It’s Friday night and I am home in my quiet house relaxing with my old dog Scrubby. He is snoozing away on the floor next to my chair and the house is dark. I just watched TV for the past hours so I figured I would sit down and look over some snaps I shot today with the M9P, which is a camera I seem to never tire of. I may shelf it for a month or two but I always come back to it and am always enamored by its beauty, form and output. Yep, I love my M9 even after almost three years since its debut.

So what did I do today? I did not go out for photos. In fact, it was a boring old day for me here in sunny AZ. The weather was great at almost 80 degrees and sunny but I simply had nothing to do, and nothing to shoot! My fiancé is in Chicago, my best friend was working, my son was with his Mother and there was basically nothing to do after my work on the site was done today.

So after updating the site this morning I wandered around my backyard, and snapped away with my beautiful Chrome M9-P (see my updated gear page). In the image above you can see the HUGE SLR Magic lens attached and I have been shooting with this lens every chance I get..just waiting for something to go wrong..I mean, this is NOT a Leica lens. It is a lens from SLR Magic! It CAN’T be good, right? Well, that is what many think anyway.

The fact is that this is a GREAT lens. If it didn’t have the barrel distortion it would be every bit as good as the Leica Noctilux ASPH f/0.95 in it’s IQ. Still, the distortion is easily fixed but it never gets PERFECT like the Nocti. At $7k cheaper though, it is to be expected and besides, who shoots architecture with a lens like this anyway?

The fact remains though that this is a lens I never thought I would see anyone else make. It IS the FASTEST 35mm lens in production today even though it is not available until September, and  that in itself is quite the feat. Andrew from SLR Magic said the day after I posted the pricing info and his shops street address in Hong Kong he had a few visitors the next morning who saw the lens on this site. They all wanted to buy one then and there and one guy wanted TWO. Andrew found one thing interesting. All of these guys already had the Noctilux ASPH! Pretty interesting!

With their low production volume I seriously think they will sell every one they can make, even at the $4288 price tag. Also some have e-mailed me asking this question and no, I am not getting paid money to talk about this lens or write about it. SLR Magic is not even a site sponsor anymore though I keep up their little ad box on the right because I believe in what they are doing, and after meeting Andrew, I know they are passionate and really care about what they are doing. These words are just my real experience with this lens, and if there are any negative things that pop up you can be sure I will write about them. With that said, here are a few more shots from the lens with the M9P. Just snaps, nothing serious. They do show the character of the lens though.

One from the SLR Magic at T/2 – converted to B&W with some PP – click for larger. Sharpness is NOT an issue with this lens at any aperture I have tested it with. 

Another at T/2 – This is usually a bokeh torture test!

How about T/5.6 (I wish this lens was rated in F stops instead of T stops)  – click it for 100% crop!

The image below is interesting because the room was actually fairly dark. There was no window light, it was indoors and shot wide open. I was curious to see how sharp it would be, and this was 1/60th of a second. You can not get this look with a Voigtlander 1.1, or even a Lux ASPH 1.4 as the Bokeh would be totally different as would the rendering. This is the equivalent of f/0.92 and it comes into play when you have no light. 🙂

Soon I will be doing some side by side comparisons with this lens and others, so stay tuned for that. BUT they will be added to the review HERE. 

Other things coming up..

This weekend: Crazy Comparison: Nikon V1 vs Panasonic GX1

Really not so crazy I guess but I am curious myself so I may post this one over the weekend. Full size files, crops, color, noise…JUST for FUN and because I have both cameras here. I have the X zoom for the GX1 on loan along with the camera so should be interesting. Zoom against Zoom 🙂

I will also be getting my own NEX-7 in the next week or two (I hope) so I’ll be shooting more with that, and trying out the SLR Magic lens with it as well. Photo and Video.

I also have more guest articles and user reports on the way, so check back daily! BTW, I checked my stats today and this website has had over 21,000,000 views in less than 2 1/2 years and 2 million of those was in January alone! WOW!! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO VISIT HERE EVERY DAY!!! I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

I have a feeling things will get nuts around here in April when all of these new cameras start shipping and even more news leaks out. Gonna be a crazy year for us all!


  1. Steve,

    Why don’t you just physically measure the lens for it’s maximum F-value?
    After all; F = length of lens barrel divided by maximum diameter of front glass.

    T-stop mens actually testing for how much light actually goes through the lens.

    • I went to the shop too today. I took my Noctilux f/1.0 along as well. It is very different. I actually prefer the HyperPrime 50. It has less light falloff. It is much sharper. It focuses closer. Not much of a case left. I think I am ready to sell of my f/1.0. I noticed one thing though. The front of the lens is 62mm The Noctilux is E60. If the Noctilux was E62 instead of E60 by design I am sure it can be f/0.92. The cost from f/1.0 to f/0.95 was almost double. So if it is f/0.92 it would probably cost triple of my f/1.0. kudos to SLR Magic for making such a lens. I am now on the waiting list for one as well.

  2. Thanks steve,

    Andrew emailed me after reading my post (again great service), i was wrong when i said the spring in my lens mount. Andrew clarified that its the spring in the lens mount on the lens that had to be adjusted and not on my camera which should fix the problem.

  3. I happen to be one of the visitors to the shop steve mentioned. Here is my observations, do keep in mind this is from 20 mins of playing with the lens.

    The lens felt good in my hands but definitely heavy. Not something i would keep on camera all day long. its simply too front heavy for my liking. Mind you i have never shot a Nocti so i have no frame of reference except my summilux so its heavy by comparison. I have a feeling the Nocti would have the exact same problem. So its not a con of the lens itself but a limitation when you want such a fast lens.

    One thing that really got me was that there is no aperture click. The aperture ring is smooth from open to close so there will be no way to select an aperture unless you looked at the lens. I asked Andrew whether this will be added in the production models, he said no because this lens is converted from a cine lens.

    Unlike Steve, i found pronounced back focus shift at mid distance. it was shifting about 1.5m while i was aiming at a subject 5m away but it was spot on close distance. Evidently Im not the only one and different people are reporting different things. I talked it over with Andrew and he was extremely helpful in trying to test out my problem and finding a solution. He has since followed up with me and believes he found the problem which involves adjusting the spring on my lens mount. I haven’t had the chance to go back to the shop to try but i certainly will the next time i go to hk.

    Bottom line, i will most likely order the lens when it comes out. The test pictures look as sharp as my summilux. Build quality seemed extremely high. The screwed on lens cap design is great. Yes its heavy, but i don’t expect to carry it all day long. its a specialty lens and does it very well. If there was anything i would change it would be the aperture click and reduced barrel distortion. Other than that i think the lens is perfect as it is. (i was told that the green/black barrel will be a free option so nothing to change there).

    special kudos to andrew. he wasn’t in the shop that day but the shop keeper called him up and he asked me about what i thought about the lens and discussed my focusing problem. He seemed to be genuinely enjoying what he does and got back to me with a solution that same night. if only leica’s service were as good.

    • Thanks for your report but to clarify, this lens was not a converted cine lens. It was built as an all new ground up design from SLR Magic. What he meant was they originally built it as an M lens, then decided to make it a cine lens so they made it with a click less aperture ring, which I am fine with but others may have an issues with that. But Andrew is great, very passionate about what he does as well. As for the back focus, I have to say that it is probably your body that is off. Believe it or not there are SO MANY M9’s and M8’s that are out of alignment. It’s actually a pretty large number. Some M9’s will focus close but be off at mid distance. Some the opposite. Some are perfect. I have had MANY M’s through my hands and have had many sent in for alignment/calibration. As for trying it yourself with the spring adjustment, DONT DO IT! A few years ago people were doing it with the M8 and some with the m9 but it will throw your camera even more out of whack. You may get the problem solved at mid distance, then your close will be off. I would send the camera in to Leica for calibration. I think then you will find the lens does fine. I’ve shot at all distances and found no issues, and I shot with three of the lenses. Others at the workshop used all of the lenses. I believe Andrew has shot them all on his M9 as well. Many times people buy a lens and when they can’t seem to focus they either blame the lens, or their eye and many times it is the body itself.

      • Yup; I had an M8.2 which had to go back to Leica after a couple of months because it was out of alignment, and My M9 has been back twice to be set up properly (..the second time I sent my 50mm with it, and an M3 ..because the 50mm and M3 worked together perfectly, but the 50mm and M9 did not: I wanted the M9 adjusted to match the M3).

        In the end – I went there personally to explain and to check what was being done – both the M9 and the 50mm lens were adjusted to work correctly with each other ..but the 50mm still works with the M3: there’s slightly greater latitude with film than with the shallow target of the digital sensor.

        The tolerances between these things are so tight – and the wider the aperture, the more significant any discrepancy becomes – that they must be absolutely spot-on. The Leica focusing system, remember, dates from 1954 ..well, no; 1924.. so it’s really needed a redesign for many years now. It’s primitive, and has to be absolutely perfect to give sharp images at all distances with all lenses and all apertures.

  4. I am very proud of slr magic… They have been flexing there muscles as of late with quality glass that is as good as any. Steve isn’t afraid to tell them when there celebrating mediocrity… And I think that has helped them push out better lenses…. Can someone please let me know where I can find an SLR Magic 12 mm Lens for micro 4/3? I found one on eBay about a month ago but didn’t pull the trigger now I’m regretting it. It’s like they don’t exist!

  5. It’s a good camera, but in your opinion, will it be a replacement for a full frame DSLR such as Nikon D700. I currently use a D700 but have not been able to find an equivalent but lighter. Thanks.

    • The D700/800 is far from a Leica. With he Leica you take your time to compose the framing an dfocusing. The D700/800 is a fast AF beast. Leica yoi are descrete. D700/800 you are like a marcho man

      • Huh? ..Simply turn off the autofocus and use an SLR in manual mode: choose an aperture, a speed, your choice of where to focus, and take as long as you want to shoot: “..take your time to compose the framing an dfocusing”. You don’t have to buy a Leica to do that!

        • Yes, turn off AF and get a lot of misfocused shots. For most people AF is the better choice, there is not doubt about it.

          There is reason why AF was invented, it was to let photographers focus on the important aspect, which is to take photographs, not to use more time than needed on focusing.

          The same goes for built-in metering. Don’t think many people would like to use an external meter (light meter) to calculate the combinations of shutter and aperture combined with the ISO setting.

          • No, Anders; I was trying to explain to David P, above – who wrote “..With he Leica you take your time to compose the framing an dfocusing..” – that you don’t need a Leica if that’s what you want to do (to take your time composing, framing and focusing) ..you can do that with just about any camera if you want to!

            You say “..turn off AF and get a lot of misfocused shots..” ..no; I don’t think that Steve gets many misfocused shots when he focuses manually. And I don’t. I get them focused exactly how I want them.

            You say “..Don’t think many people would like to use an external meter (light meter) to calculate the combinations of shutter and aperture combined with the ISO setting.” Well, if it’s sunny-ish here in the UK, knowing that – at ISO 100 – a decent combination is 1/125th at f5.6 you don’t really need a light meter at all.

            If I’m outdoors using ISO 200 and I’m shooting at f2 for sharp pics with a blurred-away background, I know that I need 1/2000th. Or if I’m shooting somewhere duller – think outdoor market, but in the shade – I’d change that to about 1/360th.

            Generally, though, I DO use auto-focus, and auto speeds (having set the aperture I want). But I use just one central focus spot, and centre that on the one thing I want in focus, then hold the button halfway down while I move the camera to reframe what I’m shooting, but keeping that same focus.

            I was trying to point out to David P that you can take as long as you like with any camera, and that he doesn’t need a manual Leica for manual focusing.

          • I agree with everything you say, but it takes practice, that is why I said “For most people AF is the better choice”.

            Manual focus is something I would newer use unless I had to. Got a Voigtländer 40mm f/2 where my only option is to manually focus it on the D700 (fortunately metering and normal A,S,P programs still works.)

            Also for moving “targets” like children ,animals, sports etc. a good AF-system like the one in D700/D800 (or J1/V1) is prefereable as that will give you tack sharp focus almost every time if you set the shutter high enough.

            The D700 also has the brilliant 3D auto focus tracking which is invaluable if shooting sports. Start focusing on a football/tennis player and the D700 tracks focus perfectly even if something else gets in front of the player for a while.

            You mention that you know how to set the combination of aperture, shutter value and ISO at the given light. That is really the hard part to learn and it requires a lot of experience. Most photographers (9999 out of 10000) will not be able to do that.

            What I usually do is set the aperture and let the camera decide the shutter and ISO (auto ISO between 200-3200). At other times I use shutter priority (sports and fast moving things). Also the variable P-program is useful with the same ISO setting.

            But again you are absolutely right, there is nothing that prevents using manual focus on a modern DSLR.

          • When you use a Leica you want to be Discrete. Turning an SLR in manual mode is not the same. SLR is loud as well and attract too much attention.

          • Actually some of Nikons newer DSLRs like the D300s has a quiet mode and the M9 is about as loud as the Nikon D300s this mode.

            Also the new D800 has a quiet mode as far as I recall.

            But the M9 is smaller than a DSLR so in that way it may be more discrete.

      • Yeah, your answer has been writen sooooooo many times on the internet. No need for for writing the same blahblah again and again, it’s allready well known Mr. David P.! Thank you.

  6. Again and again I have to repeat myself – always looking forward to read and look at your reviews.

    Personally I am really torn between X-Pro1 and the Oly OM-D…and having in mind what LEICA my come up in summer with its new X-model…

    “Hard” times for photo-enthusiasts!


      • When you do review the new Olympus; I hope you can comment on the weather and dust sealing! For a climber and hiker, these are things that are just as important as image sharpness:) And m43 seems like it could potentially be great for my kind of stuff since it’s so light and easy to pack away.

  7. Went to the shop today, man, the thing felt & weigh like a brick but is it nice or what … interesting that the aperture ring is smooth (unlike the clicking that we are used to with Leica lens) and it is VERY NICE!!! Some saving up to do between now and Sept…

  8. Steve can you show us comparison of f/0.92 vs f/2 with same shutter speed? I have a summicron and want to know how different f2 is compared to f/0.92 unde rthe sam elighting conditions and 1/30s shutter speed as tha tis the slowest I can go without blury photos with camera shake. Thanks

    • I guess he can, but you’re gonna get an underexposed shot unless he changes the ISO to compensate, but then that’s not a fair comparison if the ISO is changed.

  9. Happy week end to you Steve !
    Nice and refreshing review on a saturday morning and well spotted about the OOF rendering in the last picture of your fiancée !
    I’d wish the SLR Magic 50 price would be lower though.
    If you have old manual C mount lenses, it would be interesting to see their look on the Nikon V1 (adapters are already available on the web) !
    Cheers, Jean-Marc.

  10. Sharp pics… who’s the pretty lady? I mean who’s the b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l lady? It’s cold at night, but sunny and warm during the day here in the Northeast. I have been photographing farm animals outdoors, so there’s always something to take photos of here in the Northeast USA. Perhaps, you could visit a shoreline and show us what sharp photos of the beach look like using your M9-P. Sunny Florida makes for a nice relaxing vacation with plenty of photo opportunities. Everyone tells me the fashion is great on the beach. Vacation… hint, hint.

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