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nameBrandon

M9 & 35mm - Biogon f/2 vs Nokton 1.2 II

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The price for both of these lenses is similar enough that I'm considering them both.. Actually, what I'm considering is more like this.

 

CZ 35mm Biogon f/2 + CV Nokon 40 1.4

 

or

 

Nokton 35mm 1.2 ASPH II

 

I need a lens for indoors, when visiting friends, etc.. and I need to to be relatively fast, ~ f/1.4 or so. I'm a big fan of Zeiss, the 50 1.4 on my 5D Mk III was my most used lens. I've read fantastic things about the Biogon f/2 and comparing the sharpness of the Biogon @ f/2 and the Nokton 1.2 @ f/2, they're pretty evenly matched (according to what I read via Sean Reid).

 

Obviously the Biogon isn't that fast, so I was thinking of pairing it with a Nokton 40 1.4 for those indoor uses, while the Biogon would be for mainly outdoor usage (I had also tested an 35mm Ultron 1.7 but it was a bit softer wide-open then I was hoping).

 

I'm picking up an M9 + CZ Planar 50mm f/2 shortly (that decision is finally made!), so unfortunately I do not have a ton of money left over for 35mm.. $1500-$1600 is probably it, so unfortunately any fast Leica's are out of reach.

 

Is there anyone out there who has used both the Nokton 35 1.2 II and the Biogon f/2 and decided to keep one or the other (or has any input on the two?)

 

I realize they have different applications, and I'm a bit worried the Nokton 1.2 might be just a large and unwieldy lens that works great in lower-light situations, but end up being not so useful for an every-day, general 35mm lens. I think the Biogon + Nokton 40 1.4 might be a better combo, but it's almost $400-$500 more.

 

Thoughts, comments, suggestions?

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I have both lenses. The Biogon is a fantastic sharp all around 35mm lens. The CV 1.2 is quite different- a lot larger- and a lot faster! Wide open the CV lens has a look not that dissimilar to the f1 Noctilux (which I also have) and also suffers a little from magenta edges on highlights wide open (as you would expect at such a wide aperture)...

 

Both lenses are well made (IMO)- but I would have to say I think the CV is superior in feel... the biogon focus feels a little too free moving and 'un-damped' (if that's a word)

 

The CV 35 1.2 is also a better than the 35 1.4 Nokton which I owned but sold. The Nokton 1.4 would be a really great lens for the price: except mine didn't focus perfectly. If you can get a good example I think it is a real winner size and speed wise- and is a great looking lens...

 

basically I can't answer your question- each lens has its own merits and drawbacks. Luckily both are so much more affordable than anything Leica has to offer that you could conceivably get both if you look at the 2nd hand market...

 

I think if I was forced at gunpoint to sell one it would be the Zeiss...

Edited by jaques

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I have both lenses. The Biogon is a fantastic sharp all around 35mm lens. The CV 1.2 is quite different- a lot larger- and a lot faster! Wide open the CV lens has a look not that dissimilar to the f1 Noctilux (which I also have) and also suffers a little from magenta edges on highlights wide open (as you would expect at such a wide aperture)...

 

Both lenses are well made (IMO)- but I would have to say I think the CV is superior in feel... the biogon focus feels a little too free moving and 'un-damped' (if that's a word)

 

The CV 35 1.2 is also a better than the 35 1.4 Nokton which I owned but sold. The Nokton 1.4 would be a really great lens for the price: except mine didn't focus perfectly. If you can get a good example I think it is a real winner size and speed wise- and is a great looking lens...

 

basically I can't answer your question- each lens has its own merits and drawbacks. Luckily both are so much more affordable than anything Leica has to offer that you could conceivably get both if you look at the 2nd hand market...

 

I think if I was forced at gunpoint to sell one it would be the Zeiss...

 

Wow, thank you.. that is quite a testimonial for the CV 35 1.2. I had strongly considered the Nokton 35 1.4 (MC) but after reading about the focus shift at various apertures I was put off by it. I can handle focus shift in general, but I think until I've had few months of experience focusing with a RF, I should probably keep it as simple as possible.

 

I may try and see what the going rates are in the classifieds, perhaps both would be feasible.

 

Thanks!

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I've used the Nokton 1.4 35 for indoor use with good results, primarily at 1.4 and 2.0 where the focus is spot-on. At 2.0 it seems better than my 35 Summicron v2 at 2.0. I've also had very sharp results with it outside stopped down to 8.0 or so. The focus shift is most noticed around 4.0.

I really like the small size and handling of it.

I also have the Zeiss 35 2.0, and after getting the focus calibrated it is very good at 2.0 - significantly better than my Nokton. But it is a bit larger lens than I like.

I added a Summarit 35, which is my favorite for combination of IQ and handling, but I miss the speed indoors.

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I realize they have different applications, and I'm a bit worried the Nokton 1.2 might be just a large and unwieldy lens that works great in lower-light situations, but end up being not so useful for an every-day, general 35mm lens. I think the Biogon + Nokton 40 1.4 might be a better combo, but it's almost $400-$500 more.

 

Thoughts, comments, suggestions?

 

Having the Nokton 35/1.2, I can say that it is only big compared to the usual (lesser) size of RF lenses, but when coming from the DSLR world it does not seem too big at all. On top of that it is really a lens with character (compared by many to the rendering of Noctilux f1), calling to be used at f/1.2-1.4 even in daylight.

 

But still, it is true that if you indeed want to have an absolutely unobtrusive and light everyday setup and you can live with the Nokton 40's more classical rendering wide open, then Biogon + Nokton 40 might work out better for you. You can't go wrong with the Biogon, that's for sure.

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Thanks all!

 

I found a good deal on a 'D'-rated used copy of the Nokton 1.2 II at Adorama, so I'm going to give that a try first and see how I get on with the size / weight.

 

From all I've read, it's a pretty solid choice for 35mm. If it gets to be too much of a pain, I'll then consider the Zeiss Biogon 35 f/2 (or maybe even f/2.8) + Nokton 40 combo.

 

I've got the Zeiss 50 f/2 planar coming in as well, which I think I'm going to bring back to my local Leica place and test side-by-side against the 50 Summicron Rigid. I'd love to be able to pair my first Leica with an actual Leica lens, but from everything I've read, the Planar f/2 pretty much trounces the old Summicron Rigid in every department except for size.

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That depends on what you mean precisely by "trounces."

The Dual Range/Rigid Summicrons are not as optically perfect as some of today's lenses, but take beautiful pictures in their own right. They are high resolution but lower contrast than more modern designs. The border between a very bright area tends to bleed slightly into adjacent darker area, which is a flaw technically, but makes the lens draw in (IMHO) a very beautiful way.

 

'Tis a far, far better thing to look at pictures than to look only at lens test results. Real prints are best, but failing that, looking at the images on the screen at 1:2 or 1:3 (33-50%) magnification will tell you what the picture will look like printed reasonably large. Pixel peeping at 1:1 (100%) is like putting your nose up to an Impressionist painting--yes, you can measure the brush strokes, but you also need to know what the painting looks like when you step back.

 

Think about the kind of pictures you like to take, the kind of light you tend to play in, and look for a lens that renders those kind of pictures the best.

 

FWIW, I love the 35/1.2 Nokton, I think it draws beautifully--when I can bring myself to carry it around.

 

--Peter

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That depends on what you mean precisely by "trounces." The Dual Range/Rigid Summicrons are not as optically perfect as some of today's lenses, but take beautiful pictures in their own right. They are high resolution but lower contrast than more modern designs. The border between a very bright area tends to bleed slightly into adjacent darker area, which is a flaw technically, but makes the lens draw in (IMHO) a very beautiful way.

 

'Tis a far, far better thing to look at pictures than to look only at lens test results. Real prints are best, but failing that, looking at the images on the screen at 1:2 or 1:3 (33-50%) magnification will tell you what the picture will look like printed reasonably large. Pixel peeping at 1:1 (100%) is like putting your nose up to an Impressionist painting--yes, you can measure the brush strokes, but you also need to know what the painting looks like when you step back.

 

Think about the kind of pictures you like to take, the kind of light you tend to play in, and look for a lens that renders those kind of pictures the best.

 

FWIW, I love the 35/1.2 Nokton, I think it draws beautifully--when I can bring myself to carry it around.

 

--Peter

 

Glad to hear to you like the Nokton, I'm a bit hesitant with the heft of it myself, but I'll have to see how it balances when I get it in.

 

I've shot 5-10 images with the 50 Rigid in the store and was able to bring them home and look at them. I wasn't floored with the sharpness, but it did have a nice overall look to it. Unfortunately for my measurements, that was also my first time using a rangefinder / Leica, so I acknowledge that what I see as lack of sharpness may very well have been my lack of focusing ability at f/2.

 

That's another reason I'm going back once I have the Zeiss 50 Planar in tow, so that I can shoot them both enough at the same time to hopefully have a good evaluation of the characteristics of each lens.

 

Do the older type 2 Summicron's really out-resolve the modern Planar? I know they were lacking contrast which I had expected, but I'll have to go back and some research on that point. I seem to remember a few tests where the Planar was really only outclassed in resolution by the type 4 and later Summicrons.

Edited by nameBrandon

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Do the older type 2 Summicron's really out-resolve the modern Planar? I know they were lacking contrast which I had expected, but I'll have to go back and some research on that point. I seem to remember a few tests where the Planar was really only outclassed in resolution by the type 4 and later Summicrons.

 

They probably don't, but that's not the point. Beyond a certain point, resolution matters only with tripod photography, you're not going to see it with handheld. I think if you look up Erwin Puts' charts, you'll find that the Rigid is quite below the Planar at full aperture and nearly so, and will come close resolution wise, but with lower contrast, at f/8.

 

Another difference is that the current Zeiss philosophy is to make the lenses as evenly good as they can across the the entire frame at the most common shooting apertures (all this more important to landscape shooters). The Leica philosophy is to make the lenses as sharp around the center as possible at full aperture, with the price that the edges lag a bit.

 

Newer lenses tend to be sharper and contrastier than older ones, but often at the price of "clinical" rendering and/or wiry/disturbing out-of focus areas. One of the reasons why I like the Nokton 35/1.2 so much is that it somehow avoids that stark trade-off. It gives the nicest balance between classical and modern rendering as I've ever seen.

 

To some degree we're guilding the lilly here. We're dealing with fine points and aesthetic preferences here, not whether one lens "trounces" the other.

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I have both the Nokton v1 and the ZM 35/2.

 

The Zeiss has a weird "bubble bokeh" wide open that can be annoying. As much as I love the Zeiss look in other lenses, I never managed to get in tune with the ZM. I only bring it with me when I want a light kit. The ZM also needs a lens shade, but you will have to buy it separately.

 

The Nokton is clearly better until f/2.8. The only downside being size and weight.

But most importantly, the Nokton packs character.

As mentioned by jaques, it has a Noctilux-f1-ish special painterly look wide open, but not as swirly. Sharpness is second only to the great SX 35 FLE.

My v1 renders a gentle, low contrast image, ideal for post-processing and movies. At first, one may mistake the low-contrast for lack of sharpness. No problem for me, as I always post-process every shot.

I have read (but not personally verified) that the v2 has more contrast and does not suffer from the onion-bokeh artifacts noticeable in scenes with extreme OOF speculars.

 

Enjoy your Nokton

Edited by CheshireCat

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I've tried three copies of the CV 35/1.2 v2. The first copy had very stiff focus and I was using it on a crop sensor, so I didn't like it much. The second copy rendered very harsh red and orange and purple tones, like chemical colors, and I didn't like it much either.

 

My current copy however is very nice ergonomically and also renders very smooth and subtle tonal gradations. I don't know if it's just me...

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