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Dan States

A new Noctilux is needed (deserved)

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Sure. Now that Nikon also comes with full frame digital SLRs Nikon must modernize their wide angle portofolio too. Guess there will be a lot of Nikon users with old and lovable glas that will get their share of disappoinment when they see how this old glas work on FF-DSLRs. Not a small business opportunity for Nikon, of cause. - As a new Noctilux will be for Leica.

 

Or you take E-3 and 7-14, even better quality and FF (although 4/3) :-)))

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Canon 1Ds II/50 mm 1,0L at 1,1 and 1/64 - 200 ASA a cropped jpg right out of the camera without any post adjustments. Taken yesterday at the same kitchen where I photographed her brother in July this year. Typically; small children looks scared on this huge and black camera...

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Canon 1Ds II/50 mm 1,0L at 1,1 and 1/64 - 200 ASA a cropped jpg right out of the camera without any post adjustments. Taken yesterday at the same kitchen where I photographed her brother in July this year. Typically; small children looks scared on this huge and black camera...

 

k, well, to be honest doesn't look like anything like a noctilux shot to me, though the separation in terms of DOF is there. But contrast characteristics are not. It's hard to tell if it's the lighting or the "Canon sunburn" from the 1ds2, but even on the web this is a bad image to judge the lens by, that's for sure (which doesn't have anything to do with its sweetness as a portrait of a child scared by a 1ds2

)

 

And honestly, why you'd compare the 50 1.2L EF Canon to a Nocti too is beyond me. There is no comparison in terms of flare, contrast, vignette and low-light gathering wide open (the vignette of the 50 1.2L wide open is astounding

 

Now having said that, I like the 50 1.2L. But it's just not the same at all. The 85 1.2L is much closer to the Nocti.

 

I'm also sorry your Nocti is off by 10cm, which is insane. Send it to someone who can actually fix that. I know Solms should make it right, but by all accounts you'll be better served by getting someone else to look at it instead.

 

As for the WATE, well, it's slow. But I hope it's better, full-frame, than the 16-35 V2 Canon which is so badly distorted on the wide side (and super soft wide open) that it's a bit embarrassing shooting people with that thing (I had to do it the other day and I was astounded after being so spoiled with CV and Leica wide glass just how bad the 16-35 really is. Ok, I know it's completely unfair to compare that, to, say, a 19mm Leica R prime but holy heck there's a wide gap on the Canon side of things. Crop or no crop, the 16-35 is one poorly corrected wide IMO; my old 20-35 2.8L Canon kicks the crap out of it on my 5d...)

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k, well, to be honest doesn't look like anything like a noctilux shot to me, though the separation in terms of DOF is there. But contrast characteristics are not. It's hard to tell if it's the lighting or the "Canon sunburn" from the 1ds2, but even on the web this is a bad image to judge the lens by, that's for sure (which doesn't have anything to do with its sweetness as a portrait of a child scared by a 1ds2 )

 

And honestly, why you'd compare the 50 1.2L EF Canon to a Nocti too is beyond me. There is no comparison in terms of flare, contrast, vignette and low-light gathering wide open (the vignette of the 50 1.2L wide open is astounding

 

Now having said that, I like the 50 1.2L. But it's just not the same at all. The 85 1.2L is much closer to the Nocti.

 

I'm also sorry your Nocti is off by 10cm, which is insane. Send it to someone who can actually fix that. I know Solms should make it right, but by all accounts you'll be better served by getting someone else to look at it instead.

 

As for the WATE, well, it's slow. But I hope it's better, full-frame, than the 16-35 V2 Canon which is so badly distorted on the wide side (and super soft wide open) that it's a bit embarrassing shooting people with that thing (I had to do it the other day and I was astounded after being so spoiled with CV and Leica wide glass just how bad the 16-35 really is. Ok, I know it's completely unfair to compare that, to, say, a 19mm Leica R prime but holy heck there's a wide gap on the Canon side of things. Crop or no crop, the 16-35 is one poorly corrected wide IMO; my old 20-35 2.8L Canon kicks the crap out of it on my 5d...)

 

I am comparing Canon's 50 mm 1,0L with Leica's 50 mm 1,0 Noctilux. I have both. I have no 50 mm 1,2L. Sorry; I do mean the 16-35 mm 2,8L II.

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I think that we would notice issues of focus shift and lens misadjustment far less if the M8 had an anti-aliasing filter. Just as we noticed them less or not at all with film. Both these factors make focusing and lens adjustment far more critical than with film or a typical DSLR. And the lower magnification viewfinder doesn't help, either.

 

The Noctilux was designed for f/1, and that meant focus shift. If you have a Noct and it isn't focusing correctly wide open, get Leica, or Sherry, or DAG (or someone in their league) to adjust it for you.

 

The more critical M8 universe calls for new Leica lenses designed to have minimal focus shift. This may mean slightly slower lenses (like the new Summarits). Or a lens that is not quite as scary sharp wide open but more even in performance (cf. Zeiss). Or it may mean floating elements--precision mechanical gizmos that shift a lens element just the right fraction of a gnat's eyebrow are well within Leica's expertise. I also suspect we will pay handsomely for lenses with such gizmos (witness the price of the 50/1.4 ASPH).

 

Leica MUST revamp its testing, adjustment, repair and QC to meet this more precise reality, so current and older lenses can be reliably used to their full potential. People who already love the Leica and rangefinder way of photographing may put up with some of the issues we've encountered with the M8. I suspect some first-time Leica owners might not. It is in Leica's interest to minimize these issues as soon as possible.

 

When I deliberately test for focus shift, I can detect a rearward shift on all of my lenses of f/2 and faster. Whether it is photographically significant is another matter. In many cases, it is not. Viewing a file at 1:1 makes things look worse than they really are on a print. 1:2 gives a more realistic assessment of an 8x10 or 11x14.

 

But even so, if people perceive there is a problem, then it can hurt sales. Even knowing what I know, I have a subjective feeling that focusing with the M8 is less reliable than with my film M bodies. I bought and am keeping the M8 anyway. But I'm a 37-year Leica veteran. My favorite working methods and lenses are at stake.

 

Most of the time I am OK if I follow a simple rule: At full aperture or one stop down, focus normally. At two stops down through f/5.6, focus on the closest thing I want in focus, or a tiny bit in front of it. At f/8 and smaller, don't worry about it. And if I want to capture something fast, I just shoot--it will probably be within acceptable limits anyway.

 

No, I shouldn't have to do this with a $5,000 camera. Camera and lens misadjustment are Leica's problem, and I hope they address them. But focus shift comes along with the lens when you buy it. A digital sensor with no anti-aliasing filter is going to show it more than film, or even your typical DSLR. Physics is physics.

 

--Peter

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dan, if you really think about it, cropped sensor is actually an advantage because, as we all know (or supposed to know), depth of field is inversely proportionate to the frame area at a given magnification.

speaking of performance... if you want sharp, buy 4/90 macro. noctilux has an unmistakable image rendering thanks to its unique plasticity, and it it comes at an expense of sharpness (which it does), screw the sharpness.

 

From the number of threads about focus issues with the Noctilux on the M8 it's clear to me that even at the current prices there are people buying this lens. Many are going through a load of hassles to make this old lens work acceptably on the demanding cropped sensor m8.

 

It tells me that Leica owes it's customers a modern Noctilux, corrected for focus shift and better performing at all apertures. If they can demand current prices for a 30 year old design I think a new lens that is at modern Leica performance levels would only sell all the better!

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Irakly's comment made me think. The great thing about discussions like this is that everybody's right. Sometimes the modern aspheric lenses are great for recording reality under adverse conditions. And sometimes they are too sharp, too good, too clinical. They make things look brighter and clearer than they really were. They also make your wife or girlfriend look 10 years older, which can be dangerous.

 

A lens like the Noctilux can be magical. It can get images where nothing else will. It can also evoke the comment: "You paid HOW much for that soft piece of crap?"

 

But I think most here are not so concerned about the absolute sharpness of the Noctilux. They'd just like whatever sharpness it has to be where the rangefinder tells us it is.

 

I don't have a Noct, but I do have, I think, a good, clean sample of the LTM Canon 50/1.2 in pretty good adjustment. Different "fingerprint" than the Noct, but similar issues. It can take evocative pictures of the "screw the sharpness" category (first picture below). And it can be sharp enough in really difficult conditions (2nd and 3rd pictures).

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I use only one lens on the M8 - the 28, 35 50 Tri Elmar. I use all of my other lenses with he M5s and MP. You know, I have never had a focusing problem with any of them on film bodies.

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I am comparing Canon's 50 mm 1,0L with Leica's 50 mm 1,0 Noctilux. I have both. I have no 50 mm 1,2L. Sorry; I do mean the 16-35 mm 2,8L II.

 

Ok, but if you don't have a 50 1.2L then you probably shouldn't say it's better than the Noctilux (which you did a few posts back) because it isn't really close: the Nocti is far superior in almost every way.

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k, well, to be honest doesn't look like anything like a noctilux shot to me, though the separation in terms of DOF is there. But contrast characteristics are not. It's hard to tell if it's the lighting or the "Canon sunburn" from the 1ds2, but even on the web this is a bad image to judge the lens by, that's for sure (which doesn't have anything to do with its sweetness as a portrait of a child scared by a 1ds2 )

 

And honestly, why you'd compare the 50 1.2L EF Canon to a Nocti too is beyond me. There is no comparison in terms of flare, contrast, vignette and low-light gathering wide open (the vignette of the 50 1.2L wide open is astounding

 

Now having said that, I like the 50 1.2L. But it's just not the same at all. The 85 1.2L is much closer to the Nocti.

 

I'm also sorry your Nocti is off by 10cm, which is insane. Send it to someone who can actually fix that. I know Solms should make it right, but by all accounts you'll be better served by getting someone else to look at it instead.

 

As for the WATE, well, it's slow. But I hope it's better, full-frame, than the 16-35 V2 Canon which is so badly distorted on the wide side (and super soft wide open) that it's a bit embarrassing shooting people with that thing (I had to do it the other day and I was astounded after being so spoiled with CV and Leica wide glass just how bad the 16-35 really is. Ok, I know it's completely unfair to compare that, to, say, a 19mm Leica R prime but holy heck there's a wide gap on the Canon side of things. Crop or no crop, the 16-35 is one poorly corrected wide IMO; my old 20-35 2.8L Canon kicks the crap out of it on my 5d...)

 

Jamie,

 

is the Canon 16-35 II really as bad? I would have thought it is significantly improved against the 1st version.

 

If it is as bad then maybe my decision to stay with Nikon is right. What I have seen from the 14-24 it is a real impressive lens.

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I have the old 50 mm 1,0L which Canon has discontinued. I use it regularly on my 1Ds II with no focusing issues whatsoever. Even with AF which I have to manually correct every now and then. But I have nothing like the off focus problems I have with my Noctilux/M8 combo. My M8/Noctilux combo backfocuses with about 10 cm. But my M8 is dead on with all other lenses, - like the sharp and high contrast Carl Zeiss Planar 50 mm 2,0.

 

Any advice on what I should do with a Noctilux? It has already been one trip to Solms to be coded - and to adress the off-focus problem. It does not seem they have done anything at all with the latter.

 

Having guests for dinner last night I just thought using these two fast 50 mm combos; 1Ds II+50 mm 1,0L and the M8+Noctilux. I have had these two lenses for a long time, but never 'tested' them paralell to eachother like this before. About time.

 

Usually, I use a three EX550 flash set-up with the Canon or a two very old Vivitar 283 (yes, I mount one of them directly on the camera without any problems whatsoever). But, since we were talking fast lenses, I used the two combos mentioned above. Having people for dinner I have to think of six thing at the same time; the clock, the food in the oven, entertaining arriving guests - and what have you. I later found out that I had not used the two cameras on the same ISO setting, - not even aparture setting. Which makes the files not representative as comparisons. I have to come back to this.

 

But I found out this: The Canon is slightly 'front-focusing', then the DOF 'glides' backwards with smaller aparture setting. You hit the nosetip when using AF, but it woun't include the eyes before you hit aparture 1,4 or 2,0. Which is OK, if you are aware of it and can make correctional moves. The 1Ds II is damned difficult to focus with the 50 mm 1,0L and my eyesight is failing me. Let that be said.

 

My M8 backfocuses 10 cm which i constantly have to correct for. When i decrease aparture it moves even further back. I constantly have to bare this in mind and 'nod' my head back 'about 10 cm'. Not really scientific, but it works - somehow - most of the time.

 

By the way; both cameras messed up when using 'auto' white balance, but it is much easier and faster to correct this on the M8...

 

None of the lenses are really 'performers' on the magic 1,0 aparture setting, but improves drastically when stopped down to 1,4 and 2,0. And yes, sure, the Noctilux is far better at 'general contrast' and produces a 'a more pleasing' (an excellent expression used by somebody here) result. The Noctilux-files 'looks more professional', I would say.

 

The Canon 50 mm 1,0L is no longer in production, but was an expensive lense in it's time; some 2,500 dollars - when the dollar had the value nearly twice of that today. Back then the Noctilux cost 3,500 dollars. The new Canon 50 mm 1,2L costs less than 2,000 dollars - but actually less than half the price of the old 1,0 version - since the dollar has fallen.

 

Apropos Leica prices. I see here and on RFF that many Americans complain about 'the fast increasing Leica prices' and blame the Leica managment for this. It's the wrong adress. In my local currency (Norwegian Kroners) Leica gear has become cheaper the last 12 months. It is the dramatic fall of the US dollar that is the cause of the absurd Leica prices lately - and results in that a car mechanic here in Oslo, or a Volvo worker at Torslanda Gothenburg makes 100,000 US$ a year. And makes a Big Mac cost $ 6,88 in Norway and $ 3,41 USA.

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This is Noctilux at f1.0, taken in a jazz bar with extremely dim lighting. The only light is reflected back from the stage, and from candles on the table. You can see how much ambient light the lens has captured - blown highlights on the people at the close table who are nearer the stage, for example - but perfect exposure on the subject, and very clear focus.

 

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Most problems with the Noctilux are down to human error. It's a very difficult lens to focus correctly, but that doesn't mean that it can't focus correctly. It just needs a lot of practice. And I've not experienced any significant focus shift at other apertures; certainly nothing that I'd blame on the lens rather than myself. I use the Noctilux for a lot of my personal and commercial work, and in my opinion it works perfectly.

 

It's true that there's a degree of focus shift if measured in strict test conditions (i.e. with a tripod and static subject) but in real terms the tolerance is well inside the capabilities of the eye and hand. You're more likely to suffer softening from misfocus or hand tremors than from the tolerance of the lens design.

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Jamie,

 

is the Canon 16-35 II really as bad? I would have thought it is significantly improved against the 1st version.

 

If it is as bad then maybe my decision to stay with Nikon is right. What I have seen from the 14-24 it is a real impressive lens.

 

Peter--in my opinion, yes, your decision is correct; the 16-35L v2 is really that bad--for people, anyway

And I've quite liked what I've seen from Nikon wide zooms too (but it's going to be interesting to look at them again on a full-frame sensor).

 

@OIsen--you must get your Nocti fixed; 10cm off at close focus is just, well, way off!

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I've quite liked what I've seen from Nikon wide zooms too (but it's going to be interesting to look at them again on a full-frame sensor.

 

I'm very pleased with the results I'm seeing from the 14-24, 17-35 and 24-70 on a D3.

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On every outing with the Noctilux, I always get a few that disappoint for one reason or another, but one that I sense only a Noctilux could produce. That's why I persevere and am in no hurry for Leica to expend their resources on a new version.

 

ISO 1250, f1 (naturally), PP in Lightroom.

 

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dan, if you really think about it, cropped sensor is actually an advantage because, as we all know (or supposed to know), depth of field is inversely proportionate to the frame area at a given magnification.

speaking of performance... if you want sharp, buy 4/90 macro. noctilux has an unmistakable image rendering thanks to its unique plasticity, and it it comes at an expense of sharpness (which it does), screw the sharpness.

 

The cropped sensor acts like a 33% extra enlargement when making prints of equal size. This magnifies the slight shift natural to the Noctilux. Add the instant ability to magnify on screen to enormous sizes and the Noctilux is giving many owners (and probably Leica) fits.

 

After 31 years I feel pretty confident that IF they wanted to they could give us a much better performing lens in all respects and price it the same or less than the current lens. That's called progress. The quite excellent performance of the 35mm 1.2 Voigtlander lens at a favorable price point is evidence that a lot can be done.

 

As for specific bokeh and contrast characteristics of any lens, I feel that processing, digital or analogue, has the most to do with end quality. I've made outstanding full range prints from my Summar by managing the contrast of the film/development to match the range of the lens. On the other hand, I've made rubbish prints from the best lenses in the world by muffing the job!

 

Just think what would have happened if Leica users had decided that the Summitar was so good it just didn't need to be improved and Leica listened. It's not like all the old Noctilux lenses in the world would disappear if they made a new one. You can always buy whatever lens suits your needs, but a new choice would be nice. I would at least feel a LITTLE less insulted by the price if I knew they were TRYING.

 

Best wishes

Dan

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I toyed around with a shot from above not to "fix" it, because it looks just fine, but to show that these days post processing has more to do with the final look than the optics. Canon makes some really great lenses too, though I'm not a user of that brand.

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Hmmm. my noctilux (new) is spot in for focusing and the vignetting (3 stops) is exactly what the specs say.

 

Why would they produce a new lens unless it was much cheaper and the same high quality?

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