Just for fun! Which one is which?

Just for fun! Which one is which? POLL!

ANSWER: After waiting ALL day to let you guys mull it over, the answer is… The TOP image was taken with the Leica 50 Summilux. The Bottom with the Nokton. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the slightly rougher Bokeh of the Nokton. The Summilux is smoother in the out of focus areas but the Nokton is $3100 cheaper. So all depends on if you want the absolute best or the next best thing 🙂 

So which one is which? Decided to have some fun today before posting anything super serious 🙂 We all know how wonderful Leica glass is, but it is so damn expensive and hard to justify for many of us. I always get asked “what lens is comparable to the 50 Summiux ASPH, but for less money”?

Well, these days I say without hesitation, the Voigtlander 50 Nokton 1.5 VM. Yep, the new Leica M mount 50 Nokton is GORGEOUS and is 85-90% of the Leica. Where it falls short is with some slight distortion when shooting straight lines up close. Other than that it is sharp, has pleasant Bokeh, great color and at a casual glance, very hard to spot the difference between it and the $4000 Leica. The Nokton can be had for $899 in black and $1099 in chrome. The Leica is $3995. 

So, which is which? Both were shot wide open at 1.4 and 1.5 on the Leica M 240 casually during one of the Palouse workshop lunches.

You can see my Nokton review HERE.

BOTH are direct from camera, shot RAW, no modifications whatsoever.

After you look, and click to see them larger vote in the poll below!


ANSWER: After waiting ALL day to let you guys mull it over, the answer is… The TOP image was taken with the Leica 50 Summilux. The Bottom with the Nokton. The easiest way to tell them apart is by the slightly rougher Bokeh of the Nokton. The Summilux is smoother in the out of focus areas but the Nokton is $3100 cheaper. So all depends on if you want the absolute best or the next best thing 🙂 


  1. I believe the price different comes from the handling of colour fringing. I looked at the top of the chair, seems like the bottom picture handles better.

  2. Is it just me or is the Colour better with the Nokton?
    Hat Band & chair covering?
    More pleasing to the eye?
    Which one is more true to subject Steve?

  3. Steve; doesn’t it also seem like the Lux is handling the highlights a little better if you look at the top of the chairs?

    How would you say the Nokton differs from the Lux in handling? Focusing?

  4. I disagree with Steve about the ‘best’ and ‘second best’ – Its what you prefer. And for me, clearly after 100+ comments for guessing and not really being able to tell much difference, its the nokton. Let’s stop fooling ourselves, the cost difference is huge, the quality is not.

  5. the fact that about 50% of the people got it right could also just mean that they got it right by pure luck. Flip a coin, and 50% of the time your guess will be right. Simple statistics 🙂

    personally, I don’t think there’s even close to a $3,100 difference. Yes, the bokeh is a tiny bit nicer on the Lux, but I like the Nokton color rendition better.

  6. What do you mean the Leica myth is blown up? Leica glass being superior or Leica “Feel” existing? 50% of the people got it right.. so for those 50% the difference may be clear (probably not all 50%, some may have had a lucky guess). To me, the top lens clearly produces more pleasing results, mainly because of the messy bokeh in the second pic. $3100 difference, I doubt it, but it is clearly better(to my eye). Now as for the “Leica feel” or “Leica look” to the image… I have to agree with you. That’s just a myth.

  7. Interesting. But, as mentioned somewhere above, the focus for the Nokton was on the front of the brim of the hat and the Lux was focused on the bow. That’s why the stitches on the chair are defined in the Lux shot and not with the Nokton. The difference, as you’ve said, is in barrel distortion and bokeh — and, as barrel distortion can be handled easily in post, bokeh is the only real world difference, aside from Leica’s better build. I’d go Nokton – but I’m cheap.

  8. How sad that the wonderful world of Photography has been reduced to”my lens is
    better than your lens”What childish nonsense to argue over what Steve specifically said was just for fun,nine out of ten people could never tell the difference and the ones who could could not care less, they accually take photographs.

    • I think you are correct. That being said, I think ten out of ten people can tell the difference between $0 and $3000.


  9. I got it right.
    Sorry but putting that Voigt on my baby would be like putting aftermarket rims on a BMW 🙁


    • If you’re talking about style then yes. If you’re interested in the performance then I suggest some OZ Superleggera (super-light_ wheels. There you can shed some 7 to 10 pounds of unsprung mass.

      This comparison suggests that there’s a difference between style and performance. In this case its $3000!

  10. Honestly I can’t say. I’ve used a 50mm ‘lux from a friend on my OMD-Em5 (sorry Leica owners, I can’t afford a Leica right now), and I bought this silver Voigtländer. I love this lens, and my friend was surprised of the overall quality and image quality delivery.

  11. When I looked without clicking the images for larger it was almost impossible to guess (of course) I even leaned towards the bottom a little, I have to admit. But when clicked to view the larger images, it took me only a sec. to see which one was leica lens. Was it better? Yes, absolutely! Was it $3K better? Heck no!

  12. When I looked without clicking the images for larger it was almost impossible to guess (of course) I even leaned towards the bottom a little, I have to admit. But when clicked to view the larger images, it took me only a sec. to see which one was leica lens. Was it better? Yes, absolutely! Was it $3K better? Heck no!

  13. Steve, very interesting! I really like the way you balance your GAS and Leica lust with a sensitivity to our wallet sizes.

    I got this one right, but I’m wondering if it was for the right reasons. It really looks like the lower one has slightly more DOF, but it may also be a focus point difference. Would love your view.

    • It was almost 50/50 but I had issues with it (glitch that would not allow e to close it) – I am going to put it back in today. More got it right than wrong but it was close.

  14. The biggest difference is the lower contrast of the Nokton which can be great for sunny days and B/W. I think the Nokton is the best kept secret in wide open sharpness and overall useability among many 50’s.

  15. Nice shots, both of them. Btw the “Law of inverse appreciation” is very funny:”I paid more so clearly MUST be better”… Please continue commenting, right now I’m going outside shooting with my sub-1000€ camera. 😉

  16. To make it a bit more difficult, it seems like you didn’t put the focus on exactly the same point? See the hat edge. Small difference + just for fun, OK, but if you want to compare….

  17. Got to this late too but the detail on the stitching on the foreground seat cushion really says a lot for a wide open 1.4 lens. That detail comes in handy open all the way and may be worth the extra money if you can afford it.

      • That might be what I’m feeling – different focus points, but where’s the Nokton’s focal point on that seat cushion? It’s on the same plane as the hat yet I see no detail in the back seam of the seat edge like in the lux shot. Might even be a case of soft around the edges.

  18. I got it right, so did many people. Like i said, the difference is there, i could easily tell. Whether it is worth $3100 is certainly subject to debate. To me, if i had to choose again, I would still go for the ‘lux, but I am sure some people find the Nokton a better bargain. I have several pics from the ‘lux that I love so much that i know i would never want them taken with an inferior lens. When everything is right, the lux can be magical.

  19. Only come here late, but I was looking to it like that: Anyway which brand, I like to see which I do like better, and it was the Lux because of the color rendering. This is a much different ‘taste’…
    Thanx for that idea!
    Ciao Axel

  20. I don’t know which is which, but in this picture I think there is a very noticeable difference in the bokeh. I don’t like the bokeh from the bottom picture.. it is too “messy” while the top is much smoother.. Not sure what that means as, but I guessed the top is Leica because I think it has a better look (to my eye). It’d be nice if, for once in my life, my preference was the cheaper option!

  21. C’mon, top one has smooth lux bokeh and high luxy micro contrast. Bottom one has busier noktie bokeh and noktie blur in the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas.

    I’ll smile when you tell me I’m wrong.

  22. Top one’s the Lux. Better color. No fringing. Damn nice Voight though. Maybe their best yet.

  23. The top looked like the Nokton in my eyes. It renders the bokeh similarly to my 35 1.2 vII.
    I don’t want to sell my Sonnar 1.5 but this does look more versatile from the reviews 🙁

  24. First I thought second photo based on better sharpness of the pattern on the hat, but then noticed the difference in focus between the lenses. And I have hard to tell which is sharper where they are focused.

    Next try bokeh. While I don’t have the Lux 50 what I remeber from the photos I seen online the bokeh is very smooth. Therefore I conclude the first is the Leica Summilux 50 Asph.

    Bokeh alone doesn’t make one lens better than the other. Personal taste matters as do what is being photographed. For Pictures of people a smooth, non disturbing bokeh is usually preferable while other images, be it of nature or technical things can look more alive with a more defined, nervous or even painterly bokeh.

    Also these photos doesn’t say Everything about all the other lens parameters that could come into play with other photos.

    Is the Lux worth it? Based on THIS photo, maybe not. But with thousands of photos that look pleasing to the Eye versus the same photos that somehow have a disturbing look to them for some who are very sensitive about the rendering of lenses a very expensive lens can actually be good value if it produces so many more pleasing photos than a similar, cheaper lens.
    That said, some may actually prefer the rendering of the Nokton/cheaper lens or not be that picky about how the bokeh looks and can save a lot of money.

    Except for optical quality there is also the often overlooked part of price equation, build quality. Here Leica is top notch while the Cosina made Voigtländers and Zeiss lenses are clearly lagging behind. I have lenses of all three as well as other brands, so I know. Also new Leica lenses are coded while others are not.

  25. To me the top image is better in bokeh and microcontrast by a good margin. The difference is not negligible, at least in my eyes. look at the fork(bokeh) right behind the hat and the 3D in the hat. I have the ‘lux and absolutely love it, but I can’t tell for sure the top one is the 50’lux. If it turns out the top one is Nokoton, i wouldn’t hesitate to buy it to replace my ‘lux. I love my ‘lux, but honestly it is too expensive a lens to carry around for daily shooting. I find myself using the Zeiss plannar more often, not becuase it is better han ‘lux, but because am less worried about scratching it or having it stolen.

  26. Always interesting – not least for how adamant some people get with their statements!

    It’s a close call in this shot for sure, but if I were a betting man I’d say that the bottom is the Nokton based on the slightly harder edges to the bright bokeh areas, and the very slightly softer rendering of the leather grain in the chair.

    As someone else said though, the focal plane is slightly different on each which you can see when looking at which part of the hat is in sharp focus, so it’s tricky!

    Bring on the results (I expect some people will go very quiet)!

  27. Top is Summilux and it is substantially smoother and worth the extra cost. I never regret buying the best, now watch me be wrong. LOL

    • You are not supposed to like it, it is not an image that one would normally take. It was done quickly for a quick comparison only. No PP, which is what makes any image POP. It’s not a test for PP or for flatness, but for an OOC image from each lens.

  28. The exact plane of focus differs a bit. On one the detail to the back of the hat top is sharper, and on the other the detail on the brim in front is sharper. That alone makes the bokeh of the fork and other objects different. That’s not a comment on the lens quality – just slight difference in focus calibration, I have two of the (optically identical) LTM Noktons, and both focus exactly right on my M9.
    I do notice more fringing with my Noktons, and this has shown up in other on-line comparisons to the Lux that have extreme contrast highlights. But for the small percentage of shots where that shows up… I’ll save $3,000.

  29. Top is Leica, based on the well known test of stitching resolution on the cover of a red chair.

    That aside, I’m still pleased with my CV Ultron 28/1.9. All of A$395 (s/h).

  30. Top is Nokton but Steve thats amazing! Both images are great and of course I will buy Nokton!!!! 😀

    • I read text, looked photos and made decision for vote. Then I read all comments and most people says same, top image is Nokton. 😀

  31. To the right, just above the mid-line of the pictures, ther’s a small bottle or some thing like that (in the background). In the upper photo this bottle is just a tad more “foggy” than in the last one…. so I say the upper photo is the Leica…. $3k is a lot for a foggy bottle….

  32. Easy. You can clearly see the reflex of each camera in the chairs, so Nokton is top and Leica is bottom.

  33. There are some peculiar difference in these pictures considering sharpness / resolution:
    seat of the chair: more sharp in 1st pic
    hat: more sharp in 2nd pic
    metal black frame of the back of the chair: more sharp in 2nd pic
    bokeh: more smooth in 1st pic

    Since I guess focus was on the hat and assuming there is no back focus issue with the Nokton, I think 2nd picture was made with the Summilux

  34. The second pic is the best, no doubt.
    Deep nicer colors and a better 3D effect and bokeh is much smoother and more refined.
    So I assume pic #2 is the Leica. It better be! LOL

  35. my GUESS is top= leica but would not bet on it….. funny thing is I am itching to buy a 50 Cron to compliment my 35cron for my M6….. this makes me really wonder…. the $$$ difference is huge.

  36. Thanks Steve, I really like your funny polls! I think the bottom is from the Summilux, because of best hat details. But I’m not so sure…Anyhow, I’m sure that I’ll be very happy if in the next future I can afford to buy the much dreamed M9 with a Nokton.

  37. Maybe me eyes are going, but the top looks best. In the bowteye on the hat the highlights look burned out , there is more shadow detail on the top of the hat. The out of focus red chairs a clearer. They both look good. How would the 50mm CZ 1.5 look?

  38. I have and shoot the 50lux as my primary lens. The top image is what first came to my mind as the correct choice. The ribbon and the hat just seemed to have 50lux stamped on it. Once I started to think about it I had trouble deciding and went down the rabbit hole. If there is a 50 nocti competing that’s brutal. I choose the top.

  39. I’m going with top for Leica. Mainly due to the small amount on bokeh on the object on the table, it seems slightly softer on the edges whereas the lower images bokeh has a defined outline which reminds me of other Nokton lenses.

  40. Very easy! The top one has easily the most pleasant bokeh, so it must be the Leica. Do not understand why people do not see that immediately. Big difference – however, is it worth the cost as it will not be seen so easily in prints? Hmmmm…

  41. Hi, first post of mine, so hello to all and thanks to Steve for this wonderful website. Am I wrong or is the focus in image 2 more in front of the subject? Table and chair show different focus areas. If bokeh is the point, I´d vote for image 1. (lux)

  42. I bought one of the first Noktons and I”m so happy right now. I voted the bottom as the Leica but honestly I’m just counting the money left in my bank account right now.

  43. Bonjour à tous, je pense que l’image du bas a été prise avec le Lux. La différence est infime ( surtout avec la restitution du net ), mais il apparaît quand même plus de tranchant sur les contours des objets, couverts de fourchette sur la table dans l’image du haut que j’attribue donc au Nokton.
    En fait, la différence d’ouverture de 0.1; nous verrons bien lorsque Steve nous délivreras le verdict.

    • If the criteria is the bokeh, then the top image has smoother out of focus details. The second image has a slightly hard edged quality, which is not regarded as “good bokeh”. However, the detail in the hat is better in the second sample, which implies better micro contrast, which may suggest Leica. So it really depends what you (Steve) think is “good bokeh” – there are lots of claims of a lens having good bokeh, but when judged on any of the criteria that might be regarded as “good”, it would appear that they are not “good” at all.

      • I saw the bokeh effect of the red sanding menu on the table. That looked somewhat busy or not tidy on the case of Nokton.

  44. I prefer the top one and voted that Leica is the one at the bottom. I’m guessing with 1.4 opening it would be difficult to hold detail on the highlights which shows on the bottom pic (window).

  45. Is this how the images looked straight out of camera?
    These shots, with their very dark immediate drop offs would hide the flaws in any lens. And thus would also hide the advantages of any lens.
    I get this effect by using the ‘lighten/darken’ setting in Nik Effects.

    Good, even lighting is the best way to show the qualities of lenses. I performed a 50mm comparison doing just that here, and the differences are very noticeable. Funny thing is, I still liked all the results and it seems the best lens depends on the effect you are trying to achieve.


      • ok. do you think selecting such lighting is really an effective way of demonstrating lens differences?
        you picked a lighting and a subject that hides distortion and vignetting/ drop off.

        This ‘test’ is very entertaining but that’s about it. Which is cool. To have made it more fun it would have been great if you could have also used some really cheap Russian lenses. And also the Sonnar 1.5 which really is the direct competitor to the Nokton.

        • Its an awesome “test” because its not of a test chart. I’ve never seen a test chart shot in a gallery.

        • Im actually laughing right now. Did you not read the title? Did you not read the text? Lol. Same image, same lighting, same scene, same everything, just different lenses. I have used the 50 Lux ASPH and the Nokton 1.5 VM enough to know that the difference is about 5% and it has to do with Bokeh and slight distortion. FOr those that cant afford that extra 5% of $4000, the Nokton is a stellar option. It is a FANTASTIC lens no matter who makes it, period. Your images will be no better by using the Summilux. In fact, I have more faves from the Nokton than I do from the Lux. The Lux is a better lens but again, $3100 better? No. If you are loaded with cash, sure, go for the Leica. If you are not there are options that get you very very close.

          • hey i’m not disagreeing w u Steve. my point is under these conditions one cant tell.
            i have taken some of my fave pics w a 60 yr old $500 Summicron even though i also have a Lux 1.4
            if i had bought that $500 lens first i dont think i would ever have bought the lux. But i read ur Lux review which made me do it!!!

          • Look at the flower bouquet in the background. You’ll notice one is creamy smooth and the second has rounder more defined detailed bokeh, not by much but it’s there. By that observation I’d say Lux is first and second it Nokton. Ry

          • Same observation here! Concur!
            1st one has smoother bokeh and 2nd one has a little donut bokeh rendering.

        • The bottom shot shows barrel distortion and the bokeh is untidy. Look at the pattern on the wall to the right of the window and the tines of the fork to the right of the hat. The top one better be the Summilux!
          Great fun, Steve 🙂

    • do you really need the perfecct lighting conditions to make comparisons? In real-world day to day use, how often would you have even lighting? Would you not take photos if lighting wasn’t as you wanted it?

  46. I’m guessing the top is the Leica. The bow on the hat looks sharper to me, and the bokeh is slighter smoother (look at the sugar packets on the table). For $3000 extra, it better be sharper! 😉 Can’t wait to find out the answer!

    • The bow is what I noticed too. It is noticeably sharper on the top photo. So I guessed the top is the Leica.

  47. The top image is a lot better in terms of detail. If the top is the Nokton the save your cash and pass up the Leica. But if its the other way around then it proves money buys better glass.

  48. I like the top one better, but I can’t say why. The contrast seems a little cleaner, maybe. Having said that, I doubt I would buy either one. Even the cheap 50mm lenses these days are plenty good enough for me.

  49. Talk about splitting hairs…..the Voigtlander seems like a no brainer for me. The remaining $3000 difference would still buy the excellent Zeiss 25mm Biogon and leave an extra $1700 in your pocket.

    • @Clint – discounting the Lux50 ASPH from a snap comparison on the Internet? I’m hoping that’s not how you make bigger decisions in life.

      • Leicaman…I’ve owned enough lenses (including Leicas) to understand the law of diminishing returns. Not all of us are filthy rich…let’s face it, any way you slice it $4k for a 50mm lens is a LOT of money…never mind the noctilux at $11k.

        The fact is that some of the Voigtlander lenses are an excellent option, and on the Zeiss side some may even be preferable to their Leica counterpart depending on your wants.

        Anyway, I’m pretty sure I could get equally excellent images from the Voigtlander as I would with the Summilux.

        • @Clint – not saying you couldn’t get excellent images from other lenses, but you immediately concluded the Lux50 is overpriced, based on a web snap. Also not all people who use Leica are “filthy rich.”

          Value is subjective in certain respects … other aspects are more objective. But it is a bit disingenuous to write-off a lens as overpriced based on an Internet snap.

          • No…not all people who own Leica are filthy rich…myself included! I guarantee you that if this comparison was in a 12×18″ print the differences would be just as hard to spot as they are on my 27″ monitor.

            So for me….yeah, a $4000 Summilux is overpriced when a $1000 Voigtlander offers 95% of the image quality.

            Like I say…I own and have owned Leica equipment….it’s amazing gear in many ways but it is overpriced for what it is. That said…there’s nothing available today that compares to the feeling of holding/shooting with a Leica rangefinder. To me it’s like a nice watch…..maybe I paid $6,000 for my Panerai but you know what, a $20 Timex would have done the job…..so I guess it’s all about priorities. I get that there is an intangible value to build quality, craftsmanship etc….but for pure image quality the differences in this case are marginal.

          • Well said…and that said, to answer Steve’s question “Which one?” – It clearly does not matter. I’d go with the Nokton.

    • I don’t know. I am an enthusiast. I don’t take spectacular pictures. The OM-D with the 25 Nokton and I have taken some fun pictures, but the feeling from owning an M9P with the 50 lux is amazing. I don’t think it makes me a better photographer and I think the OM-D nokton at night still run rings around the leica, but I love me some Leica.

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