Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 vs f1.0

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 vs f1.0
MatthewOsbornePhotography – Leica Photographer

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 vs f1.0

I recently treated myself to a 1981 Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2. After now having the Nocti f1 a few weeks I have used it to shoot an entire wedding (Alexa & Rich in Warwickshire) and for a recent model photography / fashion shoot. It quickly became my favourite lens and the enjoyment it gives is in proportion to the high price tag. I use it at it widest aperture for everything and use ND filters if conditions are too bright to do so. I love how the older Noctilux draws and the low contrast soft looking images it produces. They are soft but still more than usuable for female portraiture.

Here are a few recent example images using the Leica M9 + 50mm f1.0
(All are Leica M9 in camera basic black and white JPEGs)
Leica vs Mamiya RZ!
Leica M9 B&W JPEG
Leica High Key Portrait
Noctilux Portrait

Leica B&W JPEG
Leica Fashion Photography

Leica M9 DNG B&W Conversions (as comparison – added after)

Leica M9 + Noctilux

Leica M9 B&W

On my last London Portrait Photography Workshop I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a copy of the latest Noctilux 50mm f0.95. The lens is sharp at f0.95 and has a look similar to the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 that I own. Here are example using the Nocti 50mm f0.95 on my M9 (M9 DNG files converted to B&W)
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Test Shot
Leica Noctilux f0.95
Portrait Photography Workshop
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Portrait
Leica Noctilux f0.95

So. Which lens do you prefer? Most ‘normal’ photographers that are striving for the highest possible sharpness and resolution, call it ‘perfection’ will probably chose the new Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95. I am not the norm and without doubt chose the older Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 but for its ‘imperfection’.

Before I discovered photography (at the end of 2009) I used to channel my creativity into painting (watercolours on paper and acrylics on model figures). I think this partly is the reason why I enjoy arty less perfect photography such as soft focus images from the Nocti f1 and the imperfections captured when shooting film.

Here is some colourful bokeh from the Noctilux 50mm f1 at last weekends wedding. Wedding post to follow.

Leica Noctilux Bokeh

..it’s funny. I now own quite a few Leica mount lenses and I used to struggle to decide for each shoot what lens to use and if going out for a day which lenses to pack to take with me. Now I would be happy to go out for the day with one lens and never feel like I am missing out. I have the opposite problem of not wanting to take the Nocti 50mm f1 off the camera! 🙂

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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.

28 thoughts on “Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 vs f1.0”

  1. Pompous pointless bullshit. This lens is a paintbrush, this lens is a pencil. They are both just another fast 50mm for boring bokeh snaps.

    So you like the softer lens. Good news it means you could go down to a car boot sale and buy an old film and a 50mm kit lens and get the same look.

    Great! I just save you a couple of grand. Yeah, you might not be able to go around impressing your buddies with an exotic lens, but you’d have enough money to actually do something interesting instead of polish your lens collection.

    How about this, how about you just be honest with yourself. This article is just about you justifying to yourself your indulgent and ultimately pointless purchase of an overpriced lens.

    If you had that money to blow on photography, you should have spent it on something that would actually make your photography better, like a trip to somewhere interesting to photograph. Taking time off your job to assist a bette photographer. Maybe build a darkroom and go to work learning some real photography skills?

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for your thoughts. I use a mixture of car boot equivalent Russian film gear and other more expensive makes. You will find there is not much info online about these 2 50s so I thought I’d share some examples. The paintbrush thing might not be the best way to describe it but some lenses are soft and unusable and some I like the look of. Sorry this is just per my taste. Thanks Matt

      1. Props on a very cogent reply to a frankly rude and unnecessarily hostile comment Matthew.

        I’ve followed your photography for a considerable time now and have always admired your enthusiasm and willingness to share your findings.

        I know that you’ve shot great images with old Russian cameras, the relatively modest Bessas and all sorts of lenses from cheap to highly prized.

        Whilst I’ve never come close to spending this sort of money on a lens myself, I can appreciate that these are heart over head purchases and that there’s little sense in actually trying to justify the price (something that you’ve not tried to do here). I was really interested to see your findings and I appreciated you taking the time to share them here.

        Why anyone would waste time bashing is beyond me. Fair enough to share an opinion of course, but the reply also shows an ignorance to your body of work.

        I think far from being a boring bokeh series, I see careful consideration of staging, background, depth across the frame and a dreamy, unique look more akin to something shot on a fast 4×5 than full frame digital.

        The noctiluxes are unique lenses, there’s no doubt in my mind about that.

        Wonderful series, among the very best you’ve shared and I hope you keep doing so.

        – James

  2. Thanks, Matthew, for sharing this info and the beautiful photos. I, too, have the 1.0 and have been wondering whether I need to step up to the 0.95. You’ve helped me decide NOT to buy the 0.95.

    I had trouble focusing the 1.0 wide open with my M9, so I sold my M9 and bought a Sony A7r to use it on, and I am very pleased with the results. I have many other fine Zeiss and Nikkor lenses in different focal lengths which I use on my Nikon D800e, but the Sony/Nocti combo is my favorite. I now use the Sony/Nocti combo for over 90% of my shots. I’m so happy with the “Leica look” from the Noctilux that I’m now considering selling all of my other photo gear and stepping up to a Leica S2 and just one lens.

    As for Dave, I’m sure he has plenty of beautiful images that he has made with his gear, but I don’t think anyone is making him read your website. Perhaps he should spend his time doing “something that would actually make [his own] photography better” instead of leaving nasty comments on someone’s else’s personal website. Different strokes for different folks.

    1. Thanks Gene. I got myself a Leica f1.4x viewfinder magnifier which helps focusing the Nocti when a subject is further away and using the M9. Like you I have a D800 (none e) and I prefer the way Leica photos look to the extent my D800 has more or less retired.

      An S2 and 1 lens sounds a great next step for you though I will stay with Leica Ms for now.

      And Dave, I am guessing he has spent his money paying for trips somewhere interesting to photograph or maybe building a darkroom and now he wishes he’d done like me saved up to buy a Leica Noctilux instead.

      Each to their own. 😉

  3. To me, the Lux 1.0 gives the look and feel that so many photographers are trying to copy by buying Lightroom and Photoshop plugins. This lens gives you that without having to spend time in the digital darkroom. I also think the Leica B&W jpegs out of camera are filmic and rather pleasing.
    The converted DNG’s look like converted DNG’s, if you get my meaning, with the Lux 0.95 pics looking even more so. Most modern lenses and cameras produce images that are so perfect, they lack soul to my eye. The only photography I’ve ever been willing to spend my hard earned money on is a photograph taken in the 1040’s by Barry Goldwater (former US Senator for Arizona).

    As far as the value of a lens, or any photography equipment, I always include the pleasure I get from using that equipment into the equation. I love my Hasselblad 500C. I get joy out of using it, regardless of whether or not the image quality is better than another choice. That joy I get has value beyond the ability of the camera to produce an image I might also enjoy. By contrast, I have never felt that same amount of joy using a Contax 645; a camera that you produced wonderful work with. So I would not be willing to pay more for a Contax even though it would probably produce “better” pictures on a more consistent basis.

    I enjoy your work, am grateful for your willingness to put it out there, and hope I can catch a workshop or meet up if I’m ever in the UK.

    Chris

    1. Thanks Chris.

      Yes I am very pleased with the SOOC B&W JPEGs using the Noctilux on the M9 and I agree the DNG files have a slightly more CMOS look with the increased dynamic range and all. I also agree with you regarding the Contax 645. Yes it can produce beautiful shallow DOF images but the experience of making the images was far less enjoyable vs. older more manual film cameras such as the Kiev 88 (ARAX-CM) and newer Mamiya RZ67.

      You are welcome to join me for a workshop if you are ever visiting th UK!

      Thanks
      Matt

  4. Hi Matthew! Congratulations on your gorgeous images. I could not disagree more with the troll you so gracefully dealt with. I am am M/ Nocti .95 owner/user/lover and have suffered a lot from ranters – usually other photographers who’s judgement comes across as more pathetic than poignant. What’s the big deal? Chevy or Ford? Who cares? Why be so mean? If you truly love photography there is as much to appreciate in pinhole as perfected post-production, medium-format as well as iphonography. As Alfred Stieglitz once wrote “Just keep going…”

  5. I shoot weddings, portraits and events with a leica m9 and a sony a7r on a double strap, switching the following leica M lenses 50 noctilux f1, 50 cron f2, 35 cron f2 and wate 16,18,21. The noctilux is by far my favourit lens and I use it for about 75% of my images. It has its limitations for sure but I cannot get over the dreamy manner in which it renders images. It’s a little easier to focus with the a7r, focus peaking + pixel zoom, yet I prefer the rendering and color on the m9. I’ve never shot either camera in jpg with the noctilux

    1. I agree Vincent, my Nocti has been away in Germany for about 12 weeks but back now and it makes everything look beautiful whether on the analogue Leica M3 or the digital M9. Like you I enjoy using it for weddings and the majorrity of my model photography. Great lens. 🙂

  6. Thank you for your hardwork. And despite the risk of inviting abuse. The f1.0 Noctilux reminds me of the Canon 50 mm 0.95 ‘Dream Lens’.

  7. Nice writeup, Matthew, and wow at the reply to the first comment…you handled yourself like a real pro. I love your work and your taste in these exotic lenses, you know how to make them sing.

  8. Hi Matthew,

    nice photos and nice comparison between the Noctis.
    I used to work with the 0,95 and the 1,0 as well and finally I did the same as you – I kept and still keep the old 1,0 lady. Why? Because I like this lens so much; the character and the feeling you can catch with this lens are amazing. (Chris Froelich describe the same thinking here) The camera I am using most of the time is the Monochrom and here – I THINK – this is a perfect match. Yes, the old lady is not that sharp and clean as the new one but what means sharpness in photography? It is good to see and read that there are more people who still beleive inthe magic of photography.

    1. Hi thanks for taking the time to write and my apologies for my slow reply. Yes even today I still sometimes prefer the ‘imperfections’ of the old Noctilux f1.0 to some of my modern rendering lenses like the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH. Each have their place. I prefer the Lux and the 75 APO for their closer focusing as much as anything. I think the Nocti helps give digital more of a filmic look and a look that is unlike most digital photos. For me that can only be a good thing! I see why you use in on your Monochrom and I use it on my old M8 for a similar ‘vintage’ look but also on my M240 to make photos look less perfect. Happy shooting! Matt

  9. The problem with your comparison is, it is no comparison. The same subject and scenery would give a nice indicator of how both lenses render, but this is just a review about your feelings. I would love to see a real side by side comparison.

    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for confirming my worries with regards to many of my old blog posts. Most of these articles were basically me talking about what I felt about a camera / lens. I have woke up to this fact and if you click on any of the recent posts hopefully you will find them much more in depth and informative. I am in the process of reworking / deleting the 400+ existing posts so please give me some time. The blog is being worked on most days (by me), both writing new posts and refreshing older posts. It will improve I promise! Thanks for taking the time to write. Matt

      1. I have been a professional photographer for 20 years now. I owned a noctilux f1 for 8 years and used it on a Leica m9 and m240 + Sony a7r + Sony a7ii.
        I loved this lens with all my heart. No lens draws like this. It’s a dream. It’s in focus out of focus sweat spot is mesmerizing, but it is a bit of a one trick pony. And it’s not easy to hit the sweat spot. You will miss a lot. I used it to train my self in the art of manual focus – to zone into your image and connect. It is LOVE but it’s difficult to manage. Each year I would send it and my Leica to me serviced and paired.
        My favourit images from this lens are truly unique. But overall I am happy that I traded it in last year for a f1.4 sumilux.
        In fact 9 years ago I purchase a used 50 f1 summilux, a 35 sumicron and a 50 sumicron + a WATE 16 – 18 – 21 with a brand new m9. The m9 had it’s sensor replaced twice because it would erode with lots of use and humidity. Leica did this for free. And when the 240 came out gave me a sweat upgrade deal to a 240 professional that I still use today along side a Sony a7rii.
        Last year I traded in my used f1 noxtilux and 35 f2 sumicron + 50 f2 sumicron that I have used myself like a workhorse daily for 8 years !!! for an almost brand new 50 sumilux f1.4 and 35 sumilux!!.
        Now I love the look from both these lenses. They both have beautiful Leica feel bokeh but are also easier to use and sharper. No so many missed shots. But they still don’t have the exact unique look of true noxtilux f1 although the f1.4 50 sumilux is similar and has its own uniqueness also.

      2. Hi Vicent, great to hear your story. I too traded my M9 for the M240 which I still use but I also just bought a Leica CL which has really impressed me. I use my Noctilux for wedding photography to give the client a unique look. I don’t use it wide open all the time now for weddings though as it can be a little too soft. F1.2-F2 still gives character but also with a little more sharpness and depth. Saying all this my most used 50mm is the Summilux 50 ASPH, especially on Leica M film cameras as the Noxtilux is for me a little too soft at f1 for film. I use 3x Voigtländer 35mm Lenses so have not tried the Summilux 35mm but I am more of a 50mm guy normally. I will try to share some of my 2018 Noctilux weddings once I’ve caught up a bit. If you like the M240 try a CL. You may not need a Sony then 😉 I’ve shared some sample images with M lenses in recent posts for a wedding and a model shoot in Poland and I will share photos from my latest trip to Budapest tomorrow which includes the Summilux ASPH on the CL. 🙂 Matt

  10. Thanks Matt, I will check out the CL. The other issue with the noctilux f1 that people should know about because it became quite a big issue for me living here in the Caribbean was excessive purple fringing on backlit subjects in bright daylight even when using an ND filter. It was too heavy for color images, so BW was the only option. Best Vincent

    1. Thanks Vincent, yes I have seen the purple fringing also, not so bad to not use it but luckily I shoot mostly b&w so I see it less. It’s probably less of an issue with the light in the UK! I plan to use the Nocti on the CL on the next model trip next month so will report the results on the blog if you might be interested. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Matt

  11. You wrote, “I am not the norm and without doubt chose the older Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 but for its ‘imperfection’.” You are definitely not and the imperfections of the 50mm f1.0 are why IMHO it is superior to the “perfect” 0.95. The high micro contrast combined with the localized haze around the highlights make me love the first photo so much. It has a 3D pop that the 0.95 has, but that pop is so much more pronounced because of the highlight haze. Alas, until my zines start selling well, I’m going to content myself with the 90mm f2 Summicron (Canadian version, which also has that effect the 1.0 has minus the haze glowing from the inside). Wonderful work, and money well spent! Any of the Leica lenses with those imperfections (50mm f1, 35mm f1.4 pre-asph, 75mm f1.4, 90mmf2 pre-asph) are worth it!

    1. Thanks James, yes my Nocti f1 and 90 f2 both gives lovely results, agreed! I have the same Canadian 90mm f2 (it’s an old post that I need to refresh a bit but – https://mrleica.com/leica-summicron-90mm-f2/)

      I’ve thought about zines too but i’m not sure if people would be interested.. I like the idea though! Happy shooting. Matt

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