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Noctilux f1 alternatives


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I agree with darylgo about the 50mm Summilux v1.  The lens diagram is very similar to that of the Noctilux, and it shows similar swirly bokeh wide open.

I have a very clean 50mm f/2.0 Summaron that I mostly use on the M246 for shooting people.  It could replace the Noctilux for this in my use.  I use it with the variable-length FIKUS hood, which could be extended to add some mechanical vignetting if desired.  

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2 hours ago, darylgo said:

Apologies, the lens I referred to as 58mm is 55mm, the Nikkor-S, a very old design from the 1960's and Nikons first f1.2 lens for the F mount.  I don't have any experience with the Noct-Nikkor but from what I read it is as you state. 

Great to get that straightened out! The Noct-Nikkor is quite a different beast.

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31 minutes ago, LarsHP said:

Great to get that straightened out! The Noct-Nikkor is quite a different beast.

Indeed it is. I included it in this mini comparison of four 50-ish focal lengths lenses for portraiture:

I can't imagine it would be enjoyable to use with an M camera, but adapted for L mount it is certainly one to consider as an alternative to the f1 Noctilux. 

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Posted (edited)

Hello all,

Thank you all for your replies and suggestions - they certainly helped me a lot more than just debating with myself in my head. Me wanting to sell the Noct f1 is more than just it's lack of use, as I use my 75lux even less. Last year a went about a lens cull and sold half my lenses because they sat unused. Some were limited edition stuff that I'd baby too much. Sometimes I'd use those "extra" lenses for the sake of it and I've also had a bit of bad luck with these "superfluous" lenses (those lenses which overlapped with my core group i.e. 35lux/50apo/28cron) in the past as I've had a couple of them develop wobbly lens barrels, oil on blades, nicks on the lens barrel and sometimes obvious dust finds their way into the lenses despite my fastidiousness in relation to my gear. As a result, I feel "less gear = potential less issues". While I regret selling some of them because they're difficult to find now and prices have climbed, I've never really been in it for the money/investment aspect but more for different looks and qualities. This is why I kept the Noct f1 in spite of it being a bit more of a rarity nowadays compared to my other lenses. It's signature is just so unique. I must say the cutting down of lenses has made me happier and in this fresh bout of wanting to cut down I've also considered selling my M10-D (leaving me with just an M10M). The idea of a trimmer lineup makes photography more enjoyable for me because it's easier to not be distracted by choice, though I suppose this isn't really the issue at hand because I'd be replacing the Noct f1 with another lens. That said, if it were a lower cost alternative i'd be less inclined to baby the lens and might bring it out more, particularly if its lighter and there is some appeal there.

The Noct f1 makes an easy target to sell because of the existence of the 75lux in my kit and my preference to its rendering despite the focal length. Also,  the whole love-hate relationship with the Noct f1, as I usually don't have that many gripes with a lens I intend to keep long term. On the flip side, I must say I'm more inclined to keep the lens now than before. It's a lens for mood days and I'm more of a Karbe guy (though in my heart it's the Mandler glass that I really have a soft spot for, e.g. 75lux and this Noct), so even if i had something smaller i don't think i'd use it that much more. I wouldn't be any happier with the money in the bank. This discussion on a Noct replacement made me remember why I kept it during my cull last year and why it's been my mainstay sole Mandler lens for the past 5 years (until I finally found a 75lux which was perfectly calibrated last year after quite a bit of searching). With the Noct f1, it is full on Mandler, the super charged Mandler lens and the ultimate tonic for my Mandler days. If I only had one Mandler lens, it'd be this lens.

As for alternatives suggested, I did try the 50lux BC before in view of replacing the 50lux (standard) I had but stuck with the standard version because I didn't like the added heft. I would consider using one more extensively to re-assess how I feel about it now that my standard 50lux has been sold and because that black chrome 50lux is such a beautiful lens. I don't think it'd be a replacement for the Noct f1 though as I find their signatures too different. IMO same could be said about the Konica Hexanons. I've always wanted to try the 50 1.2 and 60 1.2 (v2) but I've always seen them as add-ons to my lens lineup rather than substitutes. I did own a 35 f2 UC-Hexanon once and really liked the rendering (I presume it shares similar DNA to the fast 50/60mms and from photos I've seen on the web I see some similarities) but it was never a replacement for any of my past or current lenses. I think my best bets for as close a Noct f1 replacement would probably be a 50lux pre-asph, likely a v1 going by the comments and pics I've seen. I'd have to find one to shoot for a more extended period to see if I can sell the f1 for it. Or not touch any of those "alternative" lenses at all. Maybe a beater Summar can be found for some fun. I think this thread has also inadvertently kickstarted a bout of GAS. Once again lens lust and my idealistic minimalist approach to my kit are in conflict...

Edited by chasdfg
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  • 2 months later...

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As soon as you said it was 6 bit encoded, my heart fluttered a little. Personally, I would not sell it, but that is me and I am walking my own unique journey. If you decide to sell it, please let me know. I'm sure we can work something out.

 

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On 5/9/2021 at 9:49 AM, JMF said:

I also like the Canon 1.2 LTM, but it took me to try four of them to find a perfect sample. Hade to make chims and colimate them  to the M digital bodies to achieve correct RF accuracy.

I found one in my father in laws closet.  Very nice vintage lens.  

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The Noctilux F1 has such a unique look there is no alternative. Sadly I sold mine when I was still shooting film due to lack of use. It was hard for me to nail focus. I had a dedicated .85x M7 with 1.25x magnifier just for close distance people shots. Today it would be so much easier with digital because of focusing aids and also I can bracket by moving an inch back and forth. Also shooting with the SL series means no finder blockage. I see I am am talking myself into buying another one! I have been waiting for the 50/1.2 reissue but from what I have seen I prefer the F1 more.

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5 hours ago, rtai said:

The Noctilux F1 has such a unique look there is no alternative. Sadly I sold mine when I was still shooting film due to lack of use. It was hard for me to nail focus. I had a dedicated .85x M7 with 1.25x magnifier just for close distance people shots. Today it would be so much easier with digital because of focusing aids and also I can bracket by moving an inch back and forth. Also shooting with the SL series means no finder blockage. I see I am am talking myself into buying another one! I have been waiting for the 50/1.2 reissue but from what I have seen I prefer the F1 more.

You have preference for any version? 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, rtai said:

It was hard for me to nail focus. I had a dedicated .85x M7 with 1.25x magnifier just for close distance people shots. 

That's quite the combo to help improve focus. As I'm currently considering a 1.25x magnifier (on my 0.72x M7) similarly for close distance people shots, can i ask if you found the magnifier helped, or not make a great difference?

Edited by Jon Warwick
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Jon Warwick said:

That's quite the combo to help improve focus. As I'm currently considering a 1.25x magnifier (on my 0.72x M7) similarly for close distance people shots, can i ask if you found the magnifier helped, or not make a great difference?

I have poor eyesight from a hereditary condition and use rangefinders because I can’t focus an SLR. I was used to pressing my face against the camera with my eye right on the viewfinder to steady it, so with the magnifier installed the ergonomics became a bit awkward.  Also I didn’t always wanted to travel two camera with one just for the Noctilux. Without the magnifier I could see 35mm framelines with the .85x so for travel I left it off so I could carry two lenses. For unhurried portraits use the magnifier but for street and travel photography use without.

Edited by rtai
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Gobert said:

You have preference for any version? 

I don’t think I have a preference but can say the most recent with factory 6-bit appeared sharper, more modern contrast whereas earlier non-built hood versions are lower contrast. If you compare them side by side you can see the difference in the coating. I had a Monochrom and used it a few times with the Noctilux 6 bit version. Here’s a shot at f1 (sorry low res from my iPad photo library). You can see the well defined edges in the photo. Granted I have not shot earlier versions on digital but on film I could see more subtle softness. Not a scientific comparison.

Too bad I only used the Monochrom briefly before getting the sensor replaced and when it came back months later I decided to sell it in favour of film photography. 

Edited by rtai
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On 5/9/2021 at 2:28 PM, LarsHP said:

Off-topic, but can't resist to comment on your assessment of the Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.2. If the Noct-Nikkor wasn't as sharp as the regular Nikkor, then I am quite confident that you tested a bad sample. From all reports I have read and test shots too, the Noct-Nikkor is usably sharp wide open. There are good reasons why it is still sold for about $3000 on eBay. The regular f/1.2 Nikkor is not worth it in my opinion since it's not sharp wide open and shows old school bokeh. 

I had one back in the day, before they became expensive and sold it for a song because I couldn’t get sharp pictures with it on my F3 wide open, at closer ranges. One reason that I switched to Leica was that you could get usably sharp pictures wide open, which I struggled to do with the Nikon system (whether that was because of the quality of the lenses or calibration issues, I don’t know). 

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On 7/31/2021 at 10:29 PM, jrp said:

I had one back in the day, before they became expensive and sold it for a song because I couldn’t get sharp pictures with it on my F3 wide open, at closer ranges. One reason that I switched to Leica was that you could get usably sharp pictures wide open, which I struggled to do with the Nikon system (whether that was because of the quality of the lenses or calibration issues, I don’t know). 

I think it must have been calibration / focus being off. The images I have seen shot with modern cameras show that for its age, it is a very good performer. I had a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Ai lens which was pretty bad wide open though...

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