Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test!

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test

(Testing shallow DOF & bokeh with lenses at their widest aperture)

I did a similar test a long time ago when had my Lumix G1. It was an unplanned spur of the moment thing today.

The Bokeh Test

  • All lenses used at widest aperture and minimum focus distance.
  • All photos taken as B&W JPEG on Leica M9. All processed as I do all my images through LR3 with increased sharpness.

Qu. Which Leica M mount lenses were tested?

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2
  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5
  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4
  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

(I did not test the slower Zeiss ZM Planar 50m f2 and Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5)

Qu. Winner of the Leica M mount Bokeh test (and shallow DOF)?

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 is King of Bokeh from lenses I own in terms of giving a very shallow DOF.

Qu. Lens giving the deepest DOF and so to me the least useful for my portraits?

  • Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 – A great lens but the 0.9M minimum focal distance kills it.

Qu. Are Leica lenses visually better and performance wise better than Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses?

  • Not at all! The CV Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii easily matched the Leica lenses in the test giving excellent results – sharp wide open, shallow DOF even for a 35mm lens and with attractive bokeh.

Qu. Did the ‘One of the best lenses ever made’ stand out – The Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4?

  • No in this test is the Lux’ 50/1.4 was possibly the least impressive lens in terms of apparent sharpness, clarity and pop.

Qu. Apparent sharpest lens wide open (combination of resolution and contrast)?

  • The 1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4.  This lens is also by far the cheapest of those tested and is also very lightweight and slim with a 39mm filter thread.  I can’t wait to mount the Elmar 135/4 on my Lumix G3!

Qu. Why did I do this test?

  • Because to me I often see very little visual difference between lenses I use when shooting models to the extent that I find it very difficult to tag photos afterwards as there is no accurate EXIF data. I also wanted to see which lens would give me the most shallow DOF for use on my new Lumix G3. The CV 35mm f1.2 would be equivalent to 70mm f1.2 with the 2x crop on the m4/3 body making it a perfect portrait lens.

Leica M Mount Lens Bokeh Test Results:

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2


  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5


  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

Peg Bokeh Test! Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

*Please note this was not a scientific test and the conclusion are based merely on my taste and views of the results obtained.  I’m sure some people may disagree with my findings but that is also fine.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer


Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

7 thoughts on “Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test!”

  1. The all look very good, but the cron 90 and nokton 35 clearly outshine the others in this series. As a side note, I rarely see the “wow” in posted lux 50 images, but often really like cron 50 shots. Of course that extra light gathering of the 1.4 has it’s advantages. I’m nearly to the point of having to make decisions for my move to m-mount. I think I have it narrowed down to 35mm 1.2 nokton, 50mm cron ver. 4, and 90mm cron. A lot of my decision process has come from your blog/flickr…. so thanks for posting such frank and open information.


    1. Thanks Chris,

      Yes the 35/1.2 and 90/2 Cron were indeed the show stoppers. If I had to pick one it would be the CV 35/1.2 as a much more practical lens. With the RF lens the view fills the finder and you can get close to your subjects plus use in low light at f1.2 with a slow shutter speed. I need to use the Cron more really to get more examples up. I have the v5 Cron 50. To be fair to the Lux 50 it can be nice for portraits and is easy to use with reliable edge to edge sharpness in low light. It didn’t really come across in this mini test. See the Flickr lens sets for real life examples of the lens in use. Enjoy your purchase(s)!

  2. Hello!
    Very interesting comparison. I personally use the zeiss sonnar 1.5 with the A7s. I have to say that with the voigtlander close focus adapter, which reduces the focus distance by 1/2 (so .40 meter), the lens becomes most interesting. Probably the best bokeh you can get, except the Leica noctilux.

  3. Good review. I have all of these lenses but the summilux. There are literally dozens of other lenses one could compare as well. The contax g 90mm 2.8 lens is pretty nice eg.


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