My new Noctilux Story by Jim Main

My new Noctilux Story by Jim Main

Hi Steve,

I’ve been a reader of your excellent site for a few months now and between yourself and Thorsten Overgaard you have ‘forced me’ to the position where I just HAD to go and buy a Nocti 0.95.

I’ve been looking for a second-hand one for ages and keep missing them as they sell so quickly. Well this weekend I finally succeeded and as it was a bit more complex than walking into a shop I thought you might like the story as an example of how far us mad photographic types will go to blow a few thousand $ or £’s!!

The brief story was I came home quite late on Friday night and had a quick look on eBay to see if there was any interesting lenses on there. I spotted this new listing for a 2 week old Nocti, the story given that a girlfriend had bought it for her boyfriend but he didn’t like it (we all want a GF like that!) I stuck it on my ‘watch list’ and went to bed. When I checked in the morning and it had been taken off, I thought damn it but sent a message to the seller. To cut a long story short we ended up talking on the phone and I took the gamble that they were genuine after they sent me photos of the lens, receipts etc. I stay in S.West Scotland so I drove to Carlisle and jumped on the train to London then jumped on a tube to the Wimbledon area where the guy told me to wait for him driving by in a black Audi. At this point I’m thinking do I really want to jump in someone’s car that I don’t know! Anyway the car came past and he was with his GF so they parked up and we went to a cafe. I tried the lens and everything was above-board. She had paid the new UK price of £8k for the lens the week before in Selfridges. I got the lens and two B+W Pro1 ND filters (0.9 +1. for £6.5K, I reckon that was a relative bargain (if you can ever say £6500 for a lens is a bargain!!) He told me he’s quite a novice photographer and has an M9 but he couldn’t get used to focussing the lens and preferred the Lux 50 that he also has. It was like a scene from a film when I sat with my ipad doing an online bank transfer to him, you know the ones where the criminal is watching the progress bar tick along with the money

I then jumped back on the Tube and caught the 6:30 back to Carlisle and was in the house by 10:15, 700 mile round trip in 10 hours and a big hole in my bank account!

I’ve attached a few pics of my first shots with the lens, the face on shot in the cafe was my first ever with a Nocti and I was sold straight away (he’s the guy I bought it from). So far I’m finding it easier to focus than my Lux (not sure what to do with that now). All these pics are OOC Mono jpegs focussed using the RF. I snapped a few of my son in a field this evening on the way home from his swimming lesson. I’m blown away with the creamy look to these although for some reason a couple are showing vignetting and others aren’t?? I cropped one in the filed to straighten the horizon.

Keep up the excellent work.


Nocti Test-L1000754

Nocti Test-L1000725

Nocti Test-L1000771

Nocti Test-L1000777


  1. What a lovely story, and Im glad Im not the only person willing to go that extra mile…..I heard that there is an M240 in Duty Free at Amsterdam Airport and found myself looking up return flights for the next day. I confess that I got cold feet though, as I want to confirm whether or not it is there before I book up the flights from Heathrow. Great to hear you love the Noci and the creamy look it has – I have one on order too.

  2. I have been shooting the Lux 50 for a few years now and looking at the images I very often feel I should have stepped the lens down (and its f1.4 not 0.95). Shallow DOF is a special effect and if you use it for every other shot you are killing it. The boy in the field is so isolated from the background that it almost has a studio-shot vibe. Perhaps you should save the f.95 for those shots where it really makes magic.

    Shallow DOF is not about creating a smooth zone in your shot but emphasizing that part of the image that you want the viewer to focus on. Well, thats rather obvious but then again: why go from f2 to f1.4 if the DOF does not add to way the image gets read, you’re just blurring it more, not making a functional descision. Example below:

  3. There has been a spate of burglaries at Leica stores in London on the past few months…not to rain on your parade, but do check the SN. if you haven’t already.

  4. I think this is what Phil Spector would have done with this lens.Im sure he’s smiling at the depth of his influence,I just feel dizzy,the summilux has a better look.

  5. Ha, I have actually spoken to the same girlfriend, and she was asking for £6500. She mentioned that she was told by the sales assistant from the Leica Mayfair branch that Leica will soon stop producing these and that the price will only go up after this (is this how rumours start? :)), but I decided that a 1k saving was not big enough for the risk. Congratulations, you’ve got a good deal 🙂

  6. Really love your story and seeing the photos, I’m getting really tempted to buy the Nocti as well, if I get the money one day…or meet a girlfried that can donate me one.

    • @PRoy: The 50 APO is definitely a sharp lens to the corners…but I’m not sure at this point that I can notice $5k worth of difference over the $2k 50 ‘cron (which is one of my all time fave lenses – compact, light, easy to focus, fantastic optics)…IMHO, a Nocti comparison is apples to oranges; razor thin DOF and bulky (and expensive) on the downside, but the low light ability and dreamy bokeh is worth the money for me personally (see Jim’s photos above as proof)… If someone wanted one and only one Leica 50mm lens, I’d say go with the 50mm ‘cron (much kinder on the bank account)…for two 50mm lenses, I would definitely have the ‘cron / Nocti combo… I’m sure I’ll warm to the $7,300 APO over time (was lucky to get it for retail), but for now I’m still of the belief that the ‘cron is Leica’s best 50mm bang for the buck…

  7. Nice shots…I don’t find them flat at all. I hope that you truly enjoy your new Noct!

  8. cool i was asking about that lens as well , then disappeared of e bay N. I would have been further to travel, she did e mail me to say it was sold , small world , enjoy the noct !

    • Hi Mark,
      If you’re from Ireland then it was the same one, they mentioned they had been talking to someone from there, indeed a small world!

  9. Holy smoke !!! You really got me going with your story. You are a brave man getting in a car alone with a guy looking like this (no disrespect). Was the girlfriend pretty?
    Anyway…..I love your pictures. You deserve that lens.

  10. Great story and worth the trek…I’ve had the Nocti 0.95 since fall of ’11…despite finding the APO 50mm recently (guess I have more money than sense and drink the Leica Koolaid too much), I still revert to the Nocti…and love strapping on an ND filter and shooting wide open during the day…you’ll love the lens…

  11. I guess England does not have return policies? In the US the good camera stores will allow you to return a lens as long as it is i.n like new condition. Especially one that has been owned for such a short period of time.

    • Hi Huss, yip we pretend to have customer service here whereas you guys actually have it. I have the original receipts and I thought the same so I checked up. It’s eligible to be returned till this Wed, but if it’s been opened they have a 20% re-stocking fee on kit like this so I guess I got it for about the same price as they could have returned it for.

  12. I’m actually not a big fan of the bokeh on the boy in the field (final image). It needs more depth of field around him. It is not subtle, and looks like he’s at the “blur wall” – meaning the grass in front of him is in focus mostly, but 1mm behind him is totally out of focus. I think to make the shot great, a little more balanced bokeh around him would have really created dimensionality. Now It’s sort of distracting.

    • Hi Michael, yip I know what you mean and agree. I think that is the primary reason I know this lens will take time to learn, but that’s exactly why I’m enjoying RF photography after years of becoming photographically lazy and having a relatively easy life with things like my D3. Don’t get me wrong there, I’ve done a lot of sports photography in the past and that is the tool for that job, but with this kit I feel like I’m learning the craft of photography again and not leaving everything to super smart electronics.

      • Well I know the feeling about my skills as well. With my comment I suppose I am referring to the whole ‘cult’ of extremely fast lenses. It’s good to have the option, but I think there might be bokeh overload here on Steve’s great site.

  13. Your third photo is a spectacular portrait. Seems your efforts were worth it — and what a fun story!

    • Not sure if you mean the one in the cafe or my son in the field. The one in the cafe was my first ever shot with any Nocti, probably beginners luck but the lens kinda sold itself after I looked at it on the display.
      Thanks and glad you liked the story.

    • Thanks Simon, I know I’ve got a lot of learning still to do with this lens but I was very happy with these first few shots. I’ve taken to holding and adjusting this lens better than any of the other ones I have and I think it’s testimony to the M 240 too when you consider that these are straight out the camera mono jpegs, no tweaking in LR or PS (apart from one small ‘straighten crop’ on one which isn’t shown above). The only non-standard camera setting I have is Med-Hi sharpening.


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