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Is a 50mm f/1.0 lens "wholly impractical??"

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The following review of the Canon 50mm f/1.0 lens brands it as "wholly impractical" which is a label I would expect the reviewer to also hang on any of the Leica Noctilux M lenses; but is this an accurate assessment of the 50mm f/1.0 lens as a whole - regardless of who makes it? 

 

I suppose that depends on how one defines the term "wholly impractical."  If that definition hinges on price, there are a lot of lenses and cameras out there that the reviewer would also brand as  "wholly impractical."
 

A 50/1.0 lens is capable of more than shooting at maximum aperture.  A lens that offers f/1.0 or f/0.95 is a specialized lens; it offers the image maker choices that are not available with slower 50 mm lenses. 

 

Yes, any 50/1.0 (or 0.95) lens is big, heavy and costly; that's a given.  But specialized is not tantamount to impractical IMHO.

 

 

The Glorious Bokeh of the Legendary Canon 50mm f/1.0L                                                                

 

http://petapixel.com/2016/10/07/glorious-bokeh-legendary-canon-50mm-f1-0l/

 


 


Thoughts?

Edited by Carlos Danger

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To be fair, they call it "wholly impractical yet highly desirable".

 

I think you may be worrying a little too much about words.

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Fast lenses appeal to me because they can be used indoors easily without flash. Although the current high ISO performance solves that mostly.

 

A 35mm F1.0 or 28mm.f1.0 would be more practical if they existed I suppose.

DOF would be more useable, and 50mm is a bit tight indoors anyway.

 

 

For me the Summilux 50mm F1.4 is the best compromise in DOF, weight , size and sharpness wide open.

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Auto-focus with super-fast lenses hardly works on a DSLR which discourages most DSLR users because of their expectations, especially if manual focus is not properly designed.

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The Noctilux (and Canon 50/0.95) has been praised and damned since being introduced. I owned two Noctis and the Canon, and I would lean toward the "impractical" side...the size,   weight, and viewfinder blockage for a 50mm lens, IMHO, made them impractical and a PITA to use. Yes, the results were very interesting at the time as low light shooters, but in today's world, with high ISO digital bodies, the utility of those lenses seems very dated,  and likewise IMHO the whole "bokeh" thing is highly overrated. Now if somebody offered me one for free, I'd take it & put it on my shelf as a special use lens curiosity - showing high craftsmanship, design and ingenuity for the time.

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Impractical yet very practical.

 

The way I use my noctilux is simple: for a 3 days trip to, let's say NYC, this lens is invaluable. I'll accept lugging a few more grams on my shoulder in order to be able to shoot in any given situation.

 

For everyday use, I'd say it's impractical.

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Part of the problem these days is designing for optical perfection:

 

The 50/0.95 Noctilux is an improvement ( focus shift and off center resolution/contrast ) over the 50/1 Noctilux.

Those improvements come at the cost of size, weight and price.

 

At the other extreme the 50/1.1 Sonnetar was designed to be as small as possible - with fewer optical corrections.

I'm using these less corrected lenses more and more as carry around kit ; picking the fast large lenses only for specific situations.

 

M-series RF lenses even the largest ones are a lot more practical to carry around than DSLR lenses like the Canon 50/1 , Zeiss Otus 55/1.4  , SL 50/1.4 etc.

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Roger Cicala of "Lens Rentals" in the US has the best perspective on the matter. He did a review of the 50 Summilux when contrasted to the Noctilux and concludes on the practicality of it all, that "...the Noctilux is the girl you dream about but the Summilux is the one you actually marry."

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I used an M9 and the 50mm f1.0 Noctilux, at f4, studio shooting for a high end motorcyle company (Confederate Motorcycles). The images looked great! In the past I have used large and medium format (film) for studio work. 

The 50mm f1.0 closed down is as good as it gets. Having said that, I traded up for the f.095 as soon as I could get one.

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I strongly believe that Canon just made that lens to show Nikon their very middle finger, because Nikon could not even auto focus at f/1.2.

 

All the photographs I have seen so far from that lens are soft, have awful bokeh and lack contrast. All that through the whole aperture range. I see the Canon 50mm f/1 as a simple show off lens, or as wholly impractical, indeed.

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Roger Cicala of "Lens Rentals" in the US has the best perspective on the matter. He did a review of the 50 Summilux when contrasted to the Noctilux and concludes on the practicality of it all, that "...the Noctilux is the girl you dream about but the Summilux is the one you actually marry."

One man's Noctilux is another man's wife... I mean Summilux. Is another man's Summilux.

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The impossible design challenge for a fast normal lens for full-frame is obviously to reduce bulk. I use two fast lenses. One is the 24mm F/.95 for a Panasonic mirrorless and it is brilliant, the other is my fourth conversion of Canon's F/.95 to M mount. Whew, what a trail of tears that was to make it happen in those old days. Today I am happy with it, but I'm not a tech freak.

 

Being a lost cause kinda guy, I have a 50/1.1 Sonnetar on my radar.

EDIT: I just bought one.

 

Sharpness is over-rated.

 

I just did a mental inventory and found I have so many 50mm lenses, all in remote storage, that they will stay there. Paring the lot every week is a good thing. I'm thinking maybe I should make a lot auction: "The stuff an olde pharte put away could be yours!"

Edited by pico

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I have shot and sold images taken on an f/1 Noctilux in the past (on film) wide open, so not 'wholly impractical' but not something I did very often, and I'm quite happy with f/1.4 as my fastest aperture these days. If you have a use for a fast lens which you will use wide open then its far from impractical; that said I'd guess very few of us rarely have such a use. Stopped down I'd suggest/expect that Leica's other 50mm lenses are as good as the faster lenses and probably rather less prone to flare. I have no complaints about my Summilux which is a fabulous lens.

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M-series RF lenses even the largest ones are a lot more practical to carry around than DSLR lenses like the Canon 50/1 , Zeiss Otus 55/1.4  , SL 50/1.4 etc.

 

This.

The bigest RF 50mm lens is still so much smaller than a moderately sized SLR 50mm lens that it doesn't matter - especially when taking into account the body too. And they're all far smaller than the 24-70/2.8 zooms many people are so happy to lug around all day. 

Impractical? Not really.

Less practical than the 1.4? Maybe maybe not. As usual, it all depends.

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It's the perfect lens for an evening out with friends and inside events, plus I use for portraits too

 

Lovely thing the F1.0, I nearly gave it up, so glad I didn't

 

It might be less practical in some ways but the ability to see in the dark with a beutiful fingerprint makes it very practical

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Beautiful lens. More practical than the .95 which I understand is heavier and a lot of people ditch and is way more expensive. Mine is one of the first produced, which may even be lighter than later versions of this lens. For me, this version of the Noctilux is sharp enough. Sharp is over rated and some lenses out there are actually so sharp and perfect, the images are boring IMHO. This is more an artist's lens. It is challenging. I don't use it often, but when I do I ask myself why I don't use it more.

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Yes, any 50/1.0 (or 0.95) lens is big, heavy and costly; that's a given.

 

Not really

 

Sonnetar and fast friends by unoh7, on Flickr

 

OK it's 1.1

 

Thinkin by unoh7, on Flickr

 

Swing by unoh7, on Flickr

 

I have two 21mm lenses. SEM21 and the CV 21/4. The SEM is alot better. I still use the Skopar alot though. Why?

 

Just nothing to carry

 

So the Sonnetar is a bit weird, but.....

Edited by uhoh7

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My Sonnetar is arriving in a few days. It will be very interesting to see how it performs. There are cases in which a fast lightweight lens is more important than a tack-sharp fast lens - depending, of course, on its overall rendering. I must be easy to please because I'm still pretty happy with my Canon f/0.95 (which is a monster).

Edited by pico

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There are the people who say a big lens is no problem.

 

and then there are the people who really take their cameras everywhere.

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Decades ago I had a Noctilux 1,0 :1 together with a Leica M 6. It was usable wide open, but difficult to focus. If focussed correctly results were very nice. Nevertheless I sold it after a couple of months, as it was bulky and a part of the picture was not viewable through the rangefinder. But the bokeh was wonderful.

 

As far as Canon is concerned - I had a 50/1,2 - the autofocus worked properly even with the lens wide open on the 5 D II, i had at this time. Of course it was necessary to select the right AF field. Bokeh was similiar to that of the Noctilux 1,0 :1.  Sharpness in near distance was not perfect, but it was possible to make photos which were not possible with the same result with any other Canon lens - maybe wth exception of the 0,95 : 1, which I never owned.

 

Both of these lenses were not easy to use lenses, but sometimes with results, which were not achievable with other lenses. Question is , how often they are used wide open - if only in few cases, they may be not the right buy.

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