Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom

September 2016

 

Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount

The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try.  Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link).  All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.

..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).

Petzval 85 Art

Sophie
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass
Petzval Bokeh
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art

Charlotte
Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art Lens
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
New Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass

Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com

Link – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/323494-matt-osbourne-portraits-with-the-petzval-85

Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses

When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s

Nikon D800 Headshot
Alice with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS
Katie SOOC with 50/1.2 AIS @f1.2

I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

Innocence?
2012 REPOST: Nikon D800 + Samyang 85mm f1.4 Fashion
Harriett
Nikon FM

Petzval 85 vs. Leica M Fast Lenses

Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open.  The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

Leica M9 Skin Tones
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux
Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Street Portrait
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Retro Leica

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Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

 

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)

Intro

Firstly, sorry for the delay on this!  I know a few of you asked me about it weeks ago and I said then I’d share my thoughts soon.  At least waiting til after two trips overseas using the Mamiya 6 I can now give a fair writeup  versus my Hasselblad 501C.  As a quick recap I recently bought the Mamiya 6 to provide a smaller alternative to my 500 series Hasselblad for trips abroad (especially).  Both cameras are 6×6 medium format film cameras taking 120 film.  Both camera are roughly the same price with the Mamiya 6 probably costing slightly more here in the UK due to there being not many Mamiya 6 cameras on the market.  My Hasselblad 501C was my favourite camera before buying the Mamiya 6 so expectation was very high.  Both cameras seem to receive positive reviews from reading prior to my purchase so without further ado lets crack on.

Size Comparison – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

I love the modular 500 series Hasselblad cameras but I only use mine with a prism viewfinder which unfortunately adds both size and weight.  I wish I could focus accurately without the prism finder but I really cannot see properly with Acute Matte non-spot screen glass.  It is perhaps my biggest disappointment with the Hasselblad as I love the waist level viewfinder view / experience on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera.  The Hasselblad 80mm kit lens is the most compact followed by the 100mm from those I have owned.  My go to lenses are the 60mm Distagon (second shortest of my Zeiss lenses and gives a very usable field of view) and 120mm Makro-Planar for close up portraits and ultimate image quality (more on that to follow below).  The Hasselblad has the advantage of a removable film back so I can use two film backs and have colour film and black and white film running side by side without having to finish a roll.  My Mamiya 6 has the 75mm lens which is the smallest of the 50mm, 75mm and 150mm lens line up.  The Mamiya 6 design allows the lens to partially retract when not in use making the camera small enough to fit in my Leica M camera bag. The bag I use is a Billingham Hadley Digital and the Mamiya 6 will just fit with lens down into the bag.  The size benefit of the Mamiya 6 is not to be under estimated.

Ease of Use – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Being ‘Mr Leica’ is it perhaps no surprise that I love rangefinder style cameras.  The Mamiya 6 like the Leica M cameras is a rangefinder focus design and I love the fact that I have a definitive focus confirmation regardless of the F stop.  I am a little short sighted and wear prescription glasses for driving but not when using cameras.  As such I enjoy knowing that a subject is in focus with a rangefinder when the subject is further away.  That said my biggest complaint of rangefinder cameras is I cannot focus as close as I would like.  Leica M cameras are my bread and butter so it is just normal for me to not be able to focus at a distance closer than 0.7m.  If I then add a Hasselblad 501C to the mix you can imagine my joy when I can focus in really close, especially with the Zeiss 120mm Makro-Planar lens.  I love nothing more than viewing subject through the big bright Hasselblad viewfinder.  If I could see every day life with the same view the Hasselblad gives I think the world would be a more beautiful place!

The Mamiya 6 rangefinder design lets me work at slower shutter speeds / lower light levels at the same aperture as it has no mirror to flap inside causing vibration.  I have shot the Mamiya 6 at a shutter speed of 1/8-1/15 and got a decent photo handheld.  I tend to use the Hasselblad handheld too for ease and shoot normally at a shutter speed of 1/60-1/125 with the light levels I am in.  That said, if I am honest to myself I think I can get more and sharper photos if go back to using a monopod.  I plan to try using a monopod again to compare results. Sometimes I am not sure if I moved or the model moved when using a very shallow depth of field and the eyes are not as sharp as I want.  I find the Hasselblad tends to pull me in perhaps too close at times resulting in many close up portraits.  The Mamiya 6 on the other hand let me work easily at a distance giving images with a different style and lets me make better use of the location.

Image Sharpness – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

The main section of this post and to me what it all boils down to is image quality and more specifically for me image sharpness.  The Hasselblad had set the bench mark very high so the Mamiya 6 had a lot to live up to.  When I read ‘film vs digital’ reviews online the film camera used is often a Mamiya 7 as perhaps the best example camera film can offer in terms of sharpness, say (excluding large format).  To my knowledge the image quality of Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 lenses is not noticeably different.  As such I expected very good results from the Mamiya 6.  To explain further and to cover myself, the Mamiya 6 photos / experience / review is based on the 75mm lenses I own.  The Hasselblad has an advantage as I have the Zeiss 50mm Distagon CF, 60mm Distagon CF, 80mm Planar CF, 120mm Makro-Planar CF and 150mm Sonnar CF lenses.  I have also owned the Zeiss 100mm Planar CF lens.  If I have to place these lenses in order of sharpness I would say 120mm first, 50mm/60mm/100mm about equal (without thorough testing), 150mm and lastly  the 80mm.  I am rarely happy with the results from my 80mm lenses.  The 150mm Sonnar gives a completely different look to the other lenses, a less fine more buttery smooth image.  My conclusions of the Hasselblad 501C performance is based on the 60mm/120mm lenses that I use most often.

So how does the  image sharpness compare between the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6.  The Mamiya 6 does produce fine grained (if I can describe it like that, regardless of film stock) sharp images with lots of detail captured, with the lens shot wide open or stopped down.  It is perhaps comparable to a sharp digital image in that the image is flat but sharp.  I find it good for further away subjects especially like full body shots.  The Hasselblad 501C and it’s Zeiss lenses produces a different sharpness.  The next few sentences may make some readers cringe as they have read it a 100 times but I cannot describe it any more accurately.  The Zeiss optics on the Hasselblad camera make an image ‘pop’.  There is a lot written online about the mystically Zeiss 3D pop look but it is just fact in this instance.  The Mamiya 6 photos are very flat and to me lack the wow factor.  They are documentary style photos accurately capturing the detail in the scene but they lack the zing.  I don’t take photos to capture ordinary.  I try to create the extra-ordinary as cheesy as that sounds!

Fluff aside, how do the Hasselblad photos differ and perhaps why?  It seems the Zeiss optics have greater micro-contrast which helps give the apparent additional sharpness.  The Zeiss optics focus closer which gives a shallower depth of field at the same given aperture helping to give the 3D look.  Focusing closer can increase image distortion with wider lenses which can also give a kind of 3D look to an image.  Focusing closer to a face naturally lets me see every eye lash and skin pore using the Hasselblad that I can’t see as closely with the Mamiya 6 as I am too far away.  As such the Hasselblad photos look sharper to my eyes.

With all the excuses aside, I am 99.99% sure that my Hasselblad photos are a bit or a lot sharper than the Mamiya 6 photos.  Some Hasselblad negatives need no additional sharpening after scanning whereas I think I always boost sharpness with the Mamiya 6 film scans.  I tend to process all my film scans to bring out the sharpness in a image regardless of the camera I use.  All the example photos below have been processed but it is worth noting that each photos is probably as sharp as I can get it without introducing additional grain / over doing it (too much)(to my eyes / taste).

Conclusion – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Based on the cameras and lenses I use and the resulting photos I would say the Hasselblad 501C camera images appear sharper that the Mamiya 6. I will also say the Hasselblad Zeiss optics render images in a much more pleasing way, to my eyes and taste.  I prefer the Hasselblad camera for close up portraits and when working within up to say 1.5m distance.  The Mamiya 6 for me is still a keeper due to it’s compact size, rangefinder focus system and being sharp enough for me to use happily.  It is not always possible to carry the Hasselblad with me when working with models overseas so the Mamiya 6 is my next best option.  If carrying gear was no option I would take both cameras to a shoot and use the Hasselblad for <1m photos and the Mamiya 6 for those at a greater distance.  I would perhaps get the Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lenses for wide shots and have the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar on the Hasselblad.  This combination would also suit me well for film wedding photography for my style of working.

I am not interested by a Mamiya 7 as I prefer the 6×6 film format of the Mamiya 6 (versus 6×7) and the retractable lenses of the Mamiya 6.

Below are lots of example images using the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 with different models, different film, different light so you can make up your own mind on what camera produces the ‘nicer’ images to your taste.  I have also included a sneak peek of a few images to come from my Poland and Ukraine trips as I didn’t have enough examples photos from the Mamiya 6 in the UK.

Thanks

Hasselblad 501C Portraits

Hasselblad Portrait
Hasselblad Film Portrait
Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 !!
Hasselblad Fashion
Hasselblad 501C + Delta 100
Flashback
Hasselblad + Zeiss Sonnar 150
Hasselblad Double Exposure Fashion
Hasselblad 501C
Hasselblad 501C + Sonnar
120 Ilford Pan F 50
Hasselblad + Pan F 50
Haselblad 501C Portrait
Hasselblad + Fomapan 100
Hasselblad Studio Session
Pageant Girl
London Model Shoot
120 Ilford FP4+
Zeiss Planar 80mm

Mamiya 6 Portraits

Mamiya 6 + 75mm Lens
Mamiya 6 Sharpness
Mamiya 6 + 75 + Tri-X
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder
The view from my hotel, Ukraine

Related Posts

 

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR Lens

I have always had the old Leica Summicron 50f2 DR (“Dual Range”) lens on my ‘to try’ list despite owning a modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.

New lens :) #Vintage #Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR with goggles for close focus. Looks beautiful on the #leicam3 :) #leicacamera www.MrLeica.com

When considering new glass my first reference point is Flickr. I ask myself ‘do the images with this lens have something special about them, regardless of the subject matter or talent of the photographer?’ My modern Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 lens is my least used 50mm as I tend to favour the Leica Noctilux 50f1 or Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4. The vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 creates beautiful images but flares easily so not for all occasions. I sold the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 but I don’t think I fully appreciated the strengths of the Sonnar until after it was sold. With the 50f1 Noctilux normally living on digital Leica M9 body I wanted another 50mm lens to live on the Leica M3 film camera. I shortlisted either another Zeiss Sonnar 50f1.5 or a vintage Leica Summicron 50f2 DR. I did a quick reality check for the usefulness of the two 50mm lenses.

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5 vs Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5

  • Fully functional on all my Leica M camera bodies
  • Modern lens coating so less prone to flare
  • Zeiss ‘3D’ pop look wide open
  • Sharp wide open
  • 50f1.5 is almost 1 stop brighter than 50f2 DR so more useful in low light
    BUT
  • Close focus only 1m (the reason I sold my first ZM Sonnar lens)
  • Some copies of the lens are said to have focus shift issues

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

  • Can close focus at 0.5m (0.478) when using goggles attachment
  • Sharp images wide open
  • Images have a signature ‘DR’ look that I dont see with the modern v5 Summicron lens
    BUT
  • Lens only functions at a range of 1-4m on my Leica M9 and M8 (no close up or infinity focus ability)(*note lens is fully functional on my Leica M3 and M2)(and non-TTL M6)
  • Have to attach-detach goggles every time you want to go from close focus (0.478-0.88m) to 1m to infinity

I was keeping my mind open then on a recent trip to Munich Germany I visited the Leica Munich store to say hello and to see if they had a Leica Summicron 50f2 DR lens in stock to try. Sadly they didn’t have in but instead kindly recommended a shop that may have one. I found the shop and my luck was in! They had two 50mm DR lenses. One copy of the lens was cheaper so I tried that one first. It was not calibrated with my Leica M9 so I tried the second copy and asked the store if I could take it out the shop to try in the street. I left the Noctilux lens with them as a small deposit and they smiled and agreed. What struck me most was the sharpness wide open at f2 and the beautiful way it rendered out of focus areas. It took maybe five test photos and that was all I needed to see. Sold to the man that has enough lenses already but felt a need for one more!

#cameraporn #leicam3 #leicacamera #rangefinder #vintagecamera #leica #summicron 50f2 DR + Goggles - www.MrLeica.com

I will sell my near mint modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with box if anyone is looking buy one? I know many Leica shooters swear by them but I dont use it enough to keep.

Eager to try the Leica Summicron 50mm DR to its full potential I fitted it to my Leica M3 and shot half a roll of black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film which was already loaded in the camera. It was sunny and I felt I was missing out by not shooting colour during the golden hour. I had no 35mm colour film with me in Germany,  only 120 Portra for the Mamiya 645 Super. Luckily I discovered a small camera shop when out exploring and when I asked for colour film they opened a box of the old Kodak Portra 400 VC that they must have had in stock for years. I’ve only ever used the new Kodak Portra so was interested to try the older 400 VC Portra. The model had cancelled for the afternoon shoot so I took the opportunity to set myself a challenge.  Shoot a 36 exposure roll of film in one afternoon of anything and everything using the strengths of the Summicron 50 DR lens. To me this meant mostly shooting wide open at f2 with plenty of close ups and considering the out of focus areas for colour and bokeh. Results to follow!

#filmchallenge 1x roll of Kodak Portra 400 VC (36 exposures), 1x Leica M3 rangefinder film camera, 1x Leica Summicron 50f2 DR, 5 hours of walking the streets taking photos of anything that caught my eye and finished off with 1x KFC meal :) #kodakfilm #lei

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR vs Mamiya 645 / Mamiya RZ usage

My most used non Leica camera is currently the Mamiya 645 Super.  What I enjoy most about the Mamiya 645 and even more so the Mamiya RZ 67 (and Rolleiflex SL66E) which use bellows, is the ability to focus close to my subject.  To me that is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Leica M system, the 0.7m rangefinder closest focus distance. Now my Leica M3 will focus to 0.5m at f2 I am excited to try the Summicron 50 DR for my portrait work. Again, results to follow!

I feel the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR is the perfect lens for my Leica M3. The combination look beautiful together and function is on a par with form. If the combination looked pretty but wasnt capable of taking good images it would be worthless to me. I buy vintage cameras to use not to polish.

I hope to try the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR on both my Leica M9 and also Leica M3 this weekend so sample images coming soon.

Here is a test shot SOOC from outside the camera store.  Leica M9 JPEG

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR - SOOC

Ken Rockwell is a big fan of this lens. More tech detail here – http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f2-dr.htm

Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO

Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO – Lens Review

http://www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Summicron 75f2

The latest addition to my Leica camera bag is a Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens.

Why do a ‘need’ another Leica M mount lens for my Leica M cameras?
Without doubt my biggest frustration with the Leica M cameras is the rangefinder focus system only focusing as close as 0.7M. After coming from a Nikon D800 DSLR camera I was used to working very close to my subjects to either create a shallow depth of field and/ or to crop tight to improve my composition. I now have some nice Leica M lenses but I never seem to be able to get as close as I would like. I can get shallow DOF with lenses like the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 but both these lenses only focus as close as 1M. My closest focusing lenses are the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 and Leica Summicron 50mm f2 both of which focus as 0.7M but that is still not near enough for say detail shots at a wedding.

 

Why is the 75mm focal length (“FL”) so unpopular?

The 75mm FL is one of the least popular focal lengths as it is too close to both a 50mm and a 90mm. In theory it would make sense to own a 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm say. I think that is how the majority of the population think anyway and at first glance that makes perfect sense. It does until you approach the same question differently..

 

What can the Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens give me that none of my other lenses can?

Firstly it gives me a brand new string in my Leica bow. What do I mean by this? I mean I can now do super sharp detail photos at a higher magnification than with any of my other Leica M lenses. That alone that fills a void in my Leica camera bag capabilities.

Can it do anything else to add value?

Yes. It gives me apparent image sharpness and resolution that is comparable with my 36MP Nikon D800 (I think). This means if I am doing freelance wedding photography with high end DSLR cameras the images from the M9 + Cron 75f2 now look more similar to a CMOS sensor than say the dreamy looking images from the Noctilux or older Cron 90f2. I love the latter look for my own wedding photography but when shooting for other photographers most people appreciate lens sharpness and clean crisp images.

 

Is the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 too clinical?

The term ‘clinical’ seems to be everywhere when you read up on this lens on the internet. It is said in a negative tense describing images from this lens as characterless. Yes it is crazy sharp, edge to edge, and even more so stoppped down and yes it has little or no vignetting (which I miss!) but that doesn’t mean it creates a bad image. How long does it take to add vignetting in post processing if desired? Seconds. If I want to use the Cron 75mm f2 lens in the studio for clean crisp images perhaps for a magazine it is better to have a lens that can give me this option. I love my Noctilux lens but shot wide open but it has heavy vignetting and famous Leica glow do not suit every occasion. (Yes I could stop down the Noctilux but have tended to use the Lux ASPH 50 to date for sharp studio images).

 

Is there a cheaper Leica M mount 75mm alternative?
Yes two popular and cheaper alternative 75mm lenses are the Voigtlander 75mm f1.8 Heliar Classic and the Leica Summarit 75mm f2.5. The Voigtlander Classic 75f1.8 offers fantastic value for money at around 1/5 of the price of the Summicron 75f2 APO. I own some Voigtlander lenses and some of them are real gems. I have no bias towards the Leica branded lenses. A second cheaper option at around half the cost of the Cron f2 is the smaller lighter and very slightly slower Summarit 75mm f2.5.

So why did I pay more to get the Summicron?

Simple answer.  I only had interest in a 75mm as I wanted a longer lens to focus at 0.7M. Both the other 75mm lenses only focus as close as 0.9M. I would not buy a 75mm FL lens otherwise as have 50mm and 90mm lenses already.

 

First thoughts of the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO?
Pleasantly surprised I think. There is not a huge amount of positive information attached to this lens but for the sole reason it focuses at 0.7M I thought I would get one to try. Leica equipment tends to hold it’s value well so I thought worst case I could just sell it again.

Thoughts:

Lens build quality – very similar to the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 just slightly bigger
Lens Size – Around the same bulk and weight as my Noctilux and has a 49mm filter thread
Lens contrast – less contrasty that Zeiss ZM T* lenses such as the Sonnar and Planar
Apparent sharpness – Sharp wide open. Not as harsh as expected for female portraits
Bokeh – Pleasing round bokeh balls shot wide open
Resolution – I think it is now my sharpest lens. Zeiss lenses tend to appear sharp due to the higher micro contrast.  The Cron 75 is more like the Lux ASPH or newer Noctilux 50mm f0.95. (Yes I was not keen on the Nocti f0.95 for looking too modern but for close up detail shots I see the ‘clinical’ sharpness of the Summicron 75 f2 as a positive).

Potential uses for this lens for my style of photography?

> Studio portraiture needing maximum resolution
> Tighter crop portraits (head shots)
> Street photography at a comfortable distance
> Detail photos for Leica wedding photography
> Product photography
> Macro photography with my Raynox 250 macro lens attached

Example images using the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO:
(Photos have been edited so not a great use to see the SOOC look from this lens, sorry)

Leica Macro
Leica Bike!
Summicron 75mm f2 DOF
Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO Sharpness
Summicron 75f2 APO
Leica Summicron 75mm f2 Portrait
Leica Summicron 75mm

I will as always be sharing new images to my Flickr stream as I take them. I am interested to try the 75mm f2 Cron on my Leica M2 to see how it looks with film loaded! 🙂

Thanks
Matt

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! 🙂

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50mm 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 Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. 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.

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

The 50f1 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.

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).
Leica Noctilux f0.95
Portrait Photography Workshop

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Test Shot
London Photography & Lighting Workshop
Leica Noctilux f0.95
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Portrait

As a comparison photo here is headshot taken with the Leica Cron 90mm f2 (1973) on the M9
Leica Summicron 90mm Portrait

And a comparison photo headshot taken with the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on the M9 (different day, French model Valentine)

Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

First impressions of the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95, in no order,

  • Heavy!
  • Long focus through (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


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 50f1.4
+ a Cron 90mm f2.

Is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 better than the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0?

We will have to wait to see. As soon as my 50 f1 arrives I will be testing it straight away and I can then post some comparisons.

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.

Do I prefer the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 or the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s?

I prefer the Leica 50 f0.95 mostly due to the size. I think the 200f2 is slightly sharper wide open but both 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 lens!

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!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photographer

Related Post
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 (pre-arrival hype) – https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/leica-noctilux-50/

Leica Noctilux 50!

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 (1981-1982)
Leica Noctilux 50!

I just bought one!!! 🙂

As a Leica photographer and even before owning a Leica camera I always dreamed of owning a lens that was faster than f1.2. I love shallow depth of field (“DOF”) and my best lenses for this to date include Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 (medium format lens on the Contax 645 – equal to 50mm f1.1 approx on a 35mm camera), Nikon 200mm f2 AI-s, Nikon 50mm f1.2 AI-s, Carl Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42) and more recently on the Leica cameras; Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii, Leica Summicron 90mm f2, Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 (1954) and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (to mention a few).

Despite owning all those mentioned lenses the dream lives on. Today I decided to make that dream come true and reinvest some savings that had matured into Leica glass rather than a low interest deposit account. No price can be placed on the enjoyment I get from my photography and as Leica lenses retain their value well I see it more as an investment than an expense.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 – Price
The fastest Leica lens and in current production is the latest Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95ASPH that was released in 2008. (Canon actually made the first 50mm f0.95 lens years earlier) Here in the UK the retail price to buy a new Noctilux 50/0.95 is in excess of £7.2k. Used Noctilux lenses hold their value well but this is more than double the cost of a used Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Most of the Leica shooters that I know use a f0.95 not the older f1.0 but I was not in a position to spend that kind of money on one lens.

Was I tempted by the newer sharper faster Noctilux f0.95?
Initially of course yes. I do like my apparent lens sharpness combined with a shallow DOF however my taste seems to be changing as my photography matures. I own the famous ‘Lux ASPH 50mm f1.4 and it does indeed have edge to edge clinical sharpness at f1.4. That said, it is not my first or even second choice when selecting a 50mm lens to use for my portraiture photography. Until recently I favoured the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 for a combination of sharp, contrasty, punchy images with a nicely rendered OOF area/ bokeh. I then bought a 1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5. That has changed everything. It is soft, low contrast and prone to flare yet I absolutely love its quirks and the vintage imperfect look it applies to images.

Sample image using the Summarit 50/1.5 @f1.5 on my Leica M9

Classic Black & White Photography

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 – Images
If I compare photos taken with the older Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs the current Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 I would say it is like comparing the 1954 Summarit 50/1.5 vs the current Leica Lux ASPH 50/1.4. Many people say photos taken with the Noct. f0.95 are not dissimilar from those taken with the Lux 50 ASPH. Both these lenses give clinical sharpness. The older Noct f1.0 however has real character and ‘proper’ imperfections that you just cannot make or add to an image after in Photoshop. A particular favourite characteristic is the misshaped bokeh balls of the f1.0 that are more akin to bokeh of the Summarit 50 lens. I think the f1.0 images capture many of the best bits seen in the Summarit 50 photos yet 10 fold.

Painting with my camera not etching with micro precision
The vintage Summarit really is a fantastic lens if used correctly but I feel I will be able to get even more out of the Leica Noctilux 50 f1 lens. I like to ‘paint’ things of beauty with the majority of my photography regardless of the subject. Having a lens that appears to paint on the detail with a big fat brush rather than etch in the finer details with micro precision is exactly why I chose the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 over the 50mm f0.95.

I have not even received my lens yet but this is my conclusion to date drawn from the research I did prior to my purchase. Most of the reviews I had read for the Summarit 50 were terrible but it turns out the lens is a real gem. I hope to prove that the older Nocti f1.0 is more than a match for its newer sibling for some types of photography.

More about the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
I bought the v2 model that has an E60 thread and removable Leica hood. Many people praise the v4 as being the most sought after of all 5 models released. The v4 has built in slide out hood but the v2 is lighter and often cheaper than the v4. I like using flare in my photography so there is a very high chance that I will not fit the lens hood. I will just protect the end of the lens with a ND filter or UV filter. Lens hoods often make lenses much more imposing so I currently do not use any add on lens hoods on my LM mount lenses.

I bought my 1981-82s Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens from Italy via eBay so I must now wait patiently before I get to try the lens and share some sample images with you. The Noctilux lens is the now the most expensive item in my photography bag but I see it as a long term investment rather than a luxury expense. It may seem that I buy new camera gear almost every week and sometimes this is true but I buy almost all second hand and I spend little to nothing on anything other than photography! I get paid working as a Leica wedding photographer, fashion and beauty photographer and for running photography and lighting workshops from my Coventry studio and on location. Any money I receive from my photography is reinvested 100% back into my passion.

I am excited for the arrival of my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 and I will of course report back soon once it arrives.

Have a great weekend!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer