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plasticman

Is the CV Nokton 1,1 really THAT bad?

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With summer holidays approaching again, I've been wondering a while about getting one of these as another 'beach-Noctilux' - the sort of lens you don't worry too much if you get sand on it (occasionally).

 

Wanted to keep it very cheap - so I was pleased to see these turning-up used for around $800. But then there appears to have been quite a flood of them, and they seem to struggle selling, even at that price.

 

A couple of times I've gone as far as PM-ing the seller with questions about focus accuracy wide-open, but haven't had a reply so far.

 

I've searched on this forum and seen that opinion seems to be equally divided between those who love the lens, and those who hate it - and equally divided as to how well the lens focusses.

 

So are they simply too inconsistent to bother with? Or worth the 800 bucks?

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I purchased the CV Nokton 1.1 and found the focus too soft wide open, so I returned it. Others have gotten lenses with sharp focus wide open so it seems to be hit and miss with this lens. Unless you can test the lens you are buying, I would not buy one. If you find one that has sharp focus wide open, then you have an incredible deal on your hands.

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I'd say that sample variation is quite large in C/V lenses, and we should expect it to increase with increasing speed and complexity. Based on my own experience, I don't consider C/V lenses of any speed.

 

The old man from the Age of the Box Camera

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Thanks for the responses. The difficulty is the rarity of the lenses here in Stockholm - the previous main supplier has told me they'll only get lenses to order now, and what really attracts me anyway is the amazingly low price for the used lenses. Like I said, I want the Nokton for all those occasions when using the Noctilux would make me nervous, so it only makes sense if it's a bargain.

 

But I guess it's only a bargain if it works...

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I'd say that sample variation is quite large in C/V lenses, and we should expect it to increase with increasing speed and complexity. Based on my own experience, I don't consider C/V lenses of any speed.

 

The old man from the Age of the Box Camera

 

+1 and a big one at that.

 

I have compared by 35 Nokton with a friend's (who was complaining about focus shift) and found the lenses to be completely different. Fortunately mine was great, relatively sharp at 1.4 and no focus shift problems. His on the other hand was a complete disaster.

 

My suggestion with CV lenses is that if you can test them out and discover one that's worthy, they are a GREAT alternative (for B&W photos) but otherwise probably shouldn't gamble.

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When the f/1 Noct came out (about 79?) and there was not a dig M people had problems with focus wide open & Leitz said your body & rfdr needs to be set up to production tolerances...

 

Harsh blaming the CV when the same problem might exist with a Noct, unless you are sure it does not.

 

Noel

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Harsh blaming the CV when the same problem might exist with a Noct, unless you are sure it does not.

 

Quite. I sense a bit of snobbery here...

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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Quite. I sense a bit of snobbery here...

 

Regards,

 

Bill

 

Not by me, I would have been thrilled if I had gotten a f/1.1 Nokton that was sharp wide open. Now I'm in the market for a 50mm Summilux ASPH, and believe me I don't feel good about the price. When I get the Summilux lens I will test it before I walk out of the store. I'm not taking any chances there either - although I've never had any problems with either Leica or Zeiss glass.

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I've not used it but by most accounts it looks like a great lens.

 

I've had less problems with my two CV lenses than I have had with my relatively new Leica lenses. One CV lens was bought new without testing others and the second was bought used internationally.

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I would think one would factor in some form of adjustment at your local camera repairer for a lens of this type. I see it all the time with third-party lenses for Canikon etc and short of sending back samples until you get one which is just right, calibration should surely be the better way to go.

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Thanks for the (mixed!) opinions. Those b&w images look simply lovely - really velvety somehow.

I think at the used price it may be worth the risk of buying sight-unseen.

 

PS: I think local calibration is supposedly difficult due to the complexity of the floating element.

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Is the Nokton f 1.1 that bad? No I don't think so. I am very pleased with mine, which gets regular use on my M8.

A few points to bear in mind are:

  1. A viewfinder magnifier is pretty much essential to nail the focus at f1.1
  2. If you are used to shooting at smaller apertures, like f2, then you need to accept that your hit rate will be lower.
  3. Given that the lens is usuallly used hand-held, even a slight movement can result in an out of focus/soft image when you focus/recompose or turn the camera into the vertical.
  4. If the lens is being used in its 'natural' environment, i.e. in low light, then camera shake may well also be a factor.

So I do wonder whether some people's reports about its softness are simply due to focusing errors rather than a problem with the lens per se. Moreover, any errors are (IMHO) going to be exacerbated by the desire to 'pixel peep'. I think it's important to reflect on how the images are going to be used and whether its image quality is acceptable at the print sizes you normally use.

 

I always hankered after a Noctilux f1.0 and regretted not buying one when I could afford it. Now that I definitely can't afford either the f1.0 or f.95 noctiluxes, the Nokton is a very adequate substitute. My example is good enough for me at f1.1 and it's proved to be an extremely handy lens to have.

 

If you're interested, there's a brief review of the lens and some example shots on my blog, The Monomagician .

 

I think it would be worthwhile seeing if you could try an example and see how you fare with it.

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I've found Cosina lenses to be very good. I'm happy to consider any of them.

 

I'm unclear about the justification for the claims of poor production. CV are manufacturers for Zeiss and Fujinon lenses, both product lines that are deserving of their high reputation. They produced the Olympus Zuiko 50 1.8 -- a lens that still has people sighing fondly. I have a Voigtlander Bessa III (aka Fuji GF670) with CV glass which is excellent, and in fact has improved close-range performance over my Zeiss 80mm planar. And a 35 1.4 Nokton which is sharper than my 35 1.4 Summilux, in my opinion.

 

It's a fairly decent track record. They're not new at lenses.

 

I'm sure there must be the occasional lemon, but the same seems to be true with most products. I've got a 75mm Summicron that was back-focused right out of the box, and a 50 Summicron that doesn't focus correctly at infinity, and I've been through a few terminal failure M7's. So does that mean Leica products aren't worth buying too?

 

The thing to remember with CV M mount is they're built to a price point. You get 85-90% performance for 20-30% of the cost. Not at all bad.

 

The 1.1 Nokton has a peculiar bokeh wide open which doesn't always find favour. But that's one of those marmite things - you love it or hate it.

Edited by ndjambrose

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I agree with Mark and Neil, the last 2 respondants, that, in general and in my experience too, CV produces fine lenes and that, in particular, the 50mm Nokton f1.1, is among the best, if not the best. For the Nokton to focus accurately wide-open, your M FR must be accurately adjusted. Check that before you send the F1.1 back to the store. (The Nokton 50 is a perfect lens to test your RF accuracy against. I've tested 2 samples which were both perfect and lead to RF adjustments that improved the wide-open focsing of my fast Leica lenses.) Yes, the F1.1 does suffer focus shift -- just like the Noctilux f1.0. That's easily corrected -- the slightest focus ring turn to the right after RF focus, from f2 to f5.6. I've owned the Noctilix f1.0 -- this Nokton is better.

As for bokeh; that's a matter of taste. For me the Nokton's better than the Noctilux. I read about bokeh needing to be smooth. For me, that's not an adequate defintion of good bokeh. Smooth can look muddy. Bokeh should have 3-dimentional body, which appears to extend d-o-f, and highlights should sparkle. This is the quality of the Nokton bokeh.

For what it's worth, Tom

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Well it seems like the vote is swinging in favor of CV lenses, after all.

 

Lots of useful detail and impressions from everyone, and a very interesting review from Mark.

 

Just as an aside, I'm lucky to have two perfectly calibrated rangefinders (one of them was sent back to Solms for this), and a focussing eye with perfect vision (the other one is just ordinary). Not that anyone's interested, but the perfect eye was very badly injured (and almost lost) when I was six or seven year's old - I find this one of life's fortunate paradoxes.

 

Thanks for all the help. I think I'll try to chase down a mint copy.

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I note in Steve Huff's review that the Nokton has a shorter focus throw (amount the focus ring is turned to get from infinity to minimum focus).

 

A short focus throw is NOT a good thing in a lens with extremely narrow DoF. It makes the lens "touchier" in the same way that it is harder to bring a car to a halt at a precise point from 60 kph than from 30 kph.

 

Ideally, a lens with extreme narrow DoF should have a long, slow focus throw to allow fine "vernier" feel - and also a bit of extra stiffness or drag or damping to resist finger twitches.

 

Which may go some way to explaining the differing experiences with the Nokton.

 

It is one reason I've always preferred my 90 Tele-Elmarit (160 degrees of throw, infinity to 1 meter) to the last 90 Elmarit or the Summarit (90-100 degrees of throw) - the newer lenses are better lenses, but I nail focus more often with the slower, longer ring.

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It's a wealth of information, and now I remember seeing Steve Huff's review before. He's not the most scientific tester, but I like his comparisons, as they tend to strike me as 'real-world'.

 

In Steve's review I remember I found the shutter-blade highlights of the Nokton exceedingly ugly - which put me off buying the first time around.

 

Just as a reminder, I already have a Noctilux, a Canon 0,95 (still being converted) and 1,2, a Summilux and a Jupiter 3, so this is really an unnecessary extra 50. But I was nevertheless impressed by some of the shots I've seen out there (not least referenced from this thread), so I'm still tempted.

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Just to say thanks again for all the input. I ordered a new Nokton from HK, where the new price appears to be approx equivalent to the used price in the States, and less than half the price here in Sweden.

Look forward to trying it out - I'll report back.

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