Leica King of Bokeh Lens Test! (Leica Lens Best Bokeh)
This Leica king of bokeh lens test was me testing the Leica lens best bokeh results from lenses I own. These include different Leica M mount lenses (Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander) that I use on my Leica M9 camera.
(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 Leica lens best bokeh test
All lenses used at widest aperture and minimum focus distance
Photos taken as B&W JPEG on Leica M9 digital camera
JPEGs processed through Lightroom with increased sharpness
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?
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 – A great lens but the 0.9M minimum focal distance kills it for the maximum bokeh crown.
Qu. Is Leica better than Zeiss or Voigtlander?
(In terms of image quality). Not at all! The Voigtlander 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 Summilux 50mm f1.4 was possibly the least impressive lens in terms of apparent sharpness, clarity and pop, which was a surprise.
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. Being an f4 lens and the longest focal length of the test it can capture both increased sharpness @f4 yet still give pleasing bokeh from the telephoto design.
Qu. Why did I do Leica lens best bokeh test?
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 camera. 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 lens bokeh test results:
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
*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 fine.
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 bokeh?
Update* – You may ask why I didn’t include the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens. An obvious choice you might think? The main reason was I didn’t own that lens at the time of writing this article. Another Leica best bokeh contender might be the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens as it focuses in closer than the Summicron 90mm. Again I didn’t have that lens at the time.
Tonight I was playing around with my M42 mount Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.8 on the Leica M9 via a Leica M – M42 adapter. I understood that you cannot focus M42 lenses on the rangefinder focus system as there is no coupling but I found that if I set my 50mm lens to 0.65M I could focus through the view finder. This is amazing for me as I like to use lenses close so can now use this nice lenses at 0.65M whereas other Leica M lenses tend to focus at 0.7M. (see below for Zeiss Planar Model Photography on D800!)
I then thought I would try my perhaps even nicer M42 mount Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 lens (via same adapter). Again I found I could focus it at 0.65M. This is great for me as I now have an 80mm lens I can focus at 0.65M. Perfect for my model shoots.. watch this space! Pleased. (see below for Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography on D800!)
My Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens acted as a bench mark for my little comparison test looking at both sharpness and minimum focal length.
Latest my new Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron arrived today. It looks super sharp at f2 so looking forward to the wedding this weekend. My first Leica Wedding! 😀
> I have one more lens on route so check back and I will add the results. It’s a surprise! 🙂
Note* All photos are resized DNG files using LR3. No sharpening. All lenses used wide open at minimal focal distance on Leica M9. The tones are not an accurate representation as the sun kept coming out (was for the 28mm shot).
I use the M42 Zeiss lenses on my Nikon D800 via adapter as love the super sharp Zeiss optics and tones over Nikkor glass. Here are a few examples:
Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography: Katie & Harriett