Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Review (The Ultimate Lens!)
Looking to buy a £6K lens!? Meet the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95!
Here I review the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 lens that I was lucky enough to borrow. 11 points discussing and comparing the Noctilux 0.95 to other great lenses + sample photos (Portraits)
1. Intro – Leica Noctilux f0.95
The legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 is perhaps at the pinnacle of camera lens engineering and was released in 2008 to replace the already legendary Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens. The f0.95 Nocti is the fastest brightest most expensive Leica lens in current production (that I am aware of) and is also surrounded by the most hype.
2. Cost – Noctilux 50mm 0.95
I own some nice lenses but I buy mostly second hand. My most expensive lens purchase to date was my Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. A new Noctilux f0.95 costs almost 4x more than what I spent on the 200f2 so it was safe to say I would not be buying one any time soon. That said I longed to try this Noctilux magic so I ordered myself the older cheaper Leica Noctilux 50f1.0
3. Lucky enough to borrow the Noctilux f0.95!
The Noctilux 50mm f1.0 had not yet arrived and I was teaching a photography and lighting workshop in London last weekend with model Katie. Phil who joined us for the day kindly offered me the use of his Leica Noct 50 f0.95 and I jumped at the chance! I lent him my Leica Summicron 90mm f2 and we were all set.
4. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Sample Photos
Here are some sample images that I took during the workshop with my Leica M9. Photos are with available light only using the 50mm f0.95 at f0.95. We fitted a 3 stop ND filter (ND0.9) as the conditions were bright yet I was only interested in using it at f0.95 (wide open).
Noctilux f0.95 Portraits
5. Summicron 90mm vs Noctilux f0.95: Photo
As a comparison photo here is headshot taken with the Leica Cron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH (1973) on the M9 – Katie
6. Noctilux f0.95 vs Summilux 50mm: Photo
And a comparison photo headshot taken with the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on the M9 (different day, French model Valentine)
7. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95-First impressions:
- Long focus throw – (takes a long time to focus from 1m to infinity)
- Sharp wide open at f0.95 – (edge to edge without pixel peeping)
- Little or no noticeable flare
- Clip highlights – (overexposed highlights) easily as what you get in the photo is often brighter than you visualise with your eyes
- 1m minimum focus distance – is not near enough (vs the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 at 0.7m) for my taste and is the biggest drawback for me
- Good for half body photos – but not as good as the 90mm f2 Cron for headshots
- Better results in low contrast light – (out of direct sun) (nicer images for my taste)
- Requires a 3 stop ND filter to use in bright conditions – if using wide open
- f0.95 DOF at 1m was not noticeable more shallow than then Lux ASPH 50 at 0.7m (by eye)
- f0.95 DOF at 1m appeared less shallow than the Cron 90 f2 at 1m (by eye)
- Easy enough to nail focus at f0.95 if the subject is static
8. Summilux vs Noctilux f0.95: Thoughts
Is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 better than the Leica Summilux ASPH 50 1.4?
I think for the additional expense of the Nocti I rather have a Lux ASPH 50mm f1.4 + a Summicron 90mm f2. In actual fact the Noctilux f0.95 has a very similar look (rendering) to the Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH with the modern clean look. The old Noctilux looks nothing like the modern lenses.
9. Noctilux f1.0 vs Noctilux f0.95: Thoughts
Is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 better than the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0?
When my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 arrive I realised quite quickly that it is a totally different lens to the Noctilux f0.95. The f0.95 reminds me of the 50mm Summilux ASPH but the older 50mm f1.0 lens has a completely different look of its own and produces far more interesting photos to my eyes.
10. Nikkor 200mm f2 vs Noctilux f0.95: Thoughts
Do I prefer the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 or the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s?
A strange question you might think as the lenses are for different camera systems and completely different beasts. The Nikkor 200mm is my go to lens to making amazingly soft backgrounds and shallow DOF for any camera system / format. I prefer the Leica Noctilux f0.95 mostly due to the size. I think the Nikkor 200mm f2 is slightly sharper wide open but both lens give near edge to edge sharpness at their widest aperture. The 200f2 gives greater subject background separation but then it is a much much larger/ longer lens!
11. Yes I would use the Noctilux f0.95 all day..
If money was no object would I chose to shoot with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 over any of my other Leica lenses?
Probably yes! ..unless travelling with weight restrictions. The shallow DOF at f0.95 can make any scene appear more beautiful that what would be seen with the naked eye. My eyes naturally see a 50mm view of the world so I find I use 50mm lenses more than any other focal length. The Noctilux f0.95 is a heavy lens but it makes everything look so cool it would be worth carrying it I think!
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to both test this amazing lens and also to now be able ot compare it to the older cheaper Noctilux f1. Coming soon!
Noctilux Related Posts
- Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 Review
- Noctilux 50mm f1.0 Prom Night
- First Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 Wedding
- Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH Review
- Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH Review