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Giving up on my Noctilux

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{snipped}

When there is enough time for focussing it's ok but with a M on the street...mmmh difficult......

 

Bernd,

 

That's what I thought too, till I actually tried one (that was admittedly working well with my M8!) at night, at chest level, at f1, and only using the focus guide on the lens to guesstimate distance.

 

I was astounded--past 10 feet out--how easy it was to focus this way, and it absolutely sold me on the lens.

 

Now, stopped down a bit, there is the focus shift... no doubt about it. But as Brent has been saying, the Nocti has this fabulous, low contrast, soft / sharp, high flare-resistance look I just find astonishing.

 

The only other lens that has exactly the same character, IMO, is the R 80 Lux wide open.

 

Here is a Nocti night "from the hip (actually, from the table-top at about 4 AM in Paris in Vegas, IIRC)" shot I don't think I've posted before...

 

 

And a proof from a recent wedding where it was very dark and the AF cameras weren't AF-ing

... (this is f 1.2)...

 

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Nice examples, Jamie. At 4 a.m. I'd probably look like that guy, but my eyes wouldn't be that far open.

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I'm not sure how the Noctilux can be compared in the same vein as the Summilux ASPH. The former has an old school look without the weakness of the older lenses like flaring, veiling and low contrast. The Lux has the ultra-mordern look that is tack sharp and very high in contrast. The difference is not subtle at all. Still, there are lenses like the Hexanon 50/60mm f1.2 that sits between the two, and with silky smooth bokeh.

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I've owned two Nocts. I don't understand the one poster who says to shoot at f1.2 or f1.4. The camera focuses (with the minimal focus shift) at f1. Anything else just gets further off(until DOF kicks in, but then why not use a different lens at that point). And if it's f1.4 you're after then the pre-asph Lux is a dream. Noct is there for f1.

 

But I can say I also have had problems with focusing > 3m. It works best around 2m.

 

The shot at 3 meters below is best focused, but the "easier" longer short is a bit soft. But both work.

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Perhaps I should clarify my comment about replacing a 50 Noctilux with a 50 Summilux Asph. I'd have to agree with some about the quality, clarity and tone of the noctilux image improves at f:/1.2 - 1.4, I think it is worth stopping down that amount without affecting bokeh or DOF too much. So now we're in the realms of the Summilux 1.4 for low light photography and coupled with the M8 and the ability to adjust ISO I'd suggest the 50 Summilux is more practical in size.

 

In terms of fingerprint, the noctilux is not so unique in it's fingerprint, there are many other lenses in the Leica stable past and present that are as close that it makes little difference when one considers the 5K price, for example the last pre asph 90 summicron @ f:/2 has a rendering very close to that of the Noctilux wide open. There is also the 85 Summarex, the granddaddy of the Noctilux can even go beyond the murky uncorrected chroma induced fingerprint and bokeh. And then of corse there is the 50 Summicron for those who dare to move the aperture ring of their Noctilux past f:1, again close enough IMO in fingerprint for those moments where f:/1 is not the only aperture on the planet.

 

I read with interest the comments of others that you need a special skill set to be able to use a Noctilux, perhaps they are confusing a skill with a knowledge or understanding of the effect of wider apertures on depth of focus. Having to compensate by different amounts the degree of miss alignment of the focus patch to effectively focus the Noctilux is a compromise you are prepared to make, it's not a special skill. If you are prepared to suffer a lower keeper rate or have to keep checking the LCD to see did you compensate enough to nail it, well .... that's your choice for your "art".

 

I guess if your in the "I must have f:/1.0, lots of choma and under correction to get the shot, there is no hope for you, you'll be happy paying 5K for the heft of glass. I on the other hand have a few lenses in my lineup that I can call upon to produce a fingerprint so close to the Noctilux that I don't feel the need to continue to own one. As a low light 50mm lens, the Summilux is outstanding in it's performance, for "art" there are plenty of under corrected optics for the "glow" that's not so unique.

 

As ever YMMV

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It's worth persevering with the Noctilux. I sent mine back to Solms with my M8, to have the lens coded and the focussing optimised. It worked.

 

Here's one taken at f1 or 1.2, at about 20 feet (cropped):

 

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And a close-up, taken at f1 and ISO1250:

 

/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2275/2131821612_c792c3d8bc.jpg&key=97b0c081fa9c25997f7ba4e3947733b820a7e5bdd6de6482c900ee020563e1ca">

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{snipped}

In terms of fingerprint, the noctilux is not so unique in it's fingerprint, there are many other lenses in the Leica stable past and present that are as close that it makes little difference when one considers the 5K price, for example the last pre asph 90 summicron @ f:/2 has a rendering very close to that of the Noctilux wide open. There is also the 85 Summarex, the granddaddy of the Noctilux can even go beyond the murky uncorrected chroma induced fingerprint and bokeh. And then of corse there is the 50 Summicron for those who dare to move the aperture ring of their Noctilux past f:1, again close enough IMO in fingerprint for those moments where f:/1 is not the only aperture on the planet.{snipped]

 

Well, not having paid anything like $5k for my Nocti, and also owning the latest pre-ASPH 90 'cron, I'd have to disagree with you about fingerprint and the utility of shooting between f1 and 2 with the Noctilux.

 

Not to mention it's a full stop faster than the 50 Lux, which I also have (and is also a great lens, no doubt about it). When you're shooting handheld at ISO 1250 and need an extra stop, the Nocti comes in handy.

 

But the Nocti does look different. It's not just its flaws that are "appealing" (you're right--they are present in a million cheaper peices of glass) but it's main virtue: nearly absolute absence of flare in high contrast lighting, which still takes my breath away sometimes. Not the 90 cron nor any 50 Lux I've tried--M or R--can do this and maintain the contrast signature of the lux between f1 and f2.

 

Splitting hairs? Maybe. It's just a different brush, is all. It doesn't take, I don't think, particular skill in use or handling, but you do need to see the light possibilities and how you're shooting it (like any lens).

 

And yeah--YMMV--but if it's not focusing wide open, get it fixed first.

 

PS--there's one very cool thing I never see mentioned about the Nocti... at F1 under certain circumstances it will let you "see through" objects like gates or rails from farther back than you could with a lens that stops down more (I think I have that right--I'm sure it's an effect based on distance but I need more coffee). It's a neat effect; kind of akin to shooting zoo animals through a cage wiring wide open under normal circumstances--the f1.0 aperture just seems to let you do it more easily

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I've owned two Nocts. I don't understand the one poster who says to shoot at f1.2 or f1.4. The camera focuses (with the minimal focus shift) at f1. Anything else just gets further off(until DOF kicks in, but then why not use a different lens at that point). And if it's f1.4 you're after then the pre-asph Lux is a dream. Noct is there for f1.

 

 

As the one who wrote that, I'll try to clarify. Most people who use the Noctilux will acknowledge that image quality at f/1.0 is not great. It improves significantly at f/1.2 and 1.4. As I explained in an earlier post on this same thread, the fingerprint of the Noctilux at f/1.4 is still the same as at f/1.0, and remains quite different from the Summilux. To suggest that one lens at f/1.4 is the same as any other of the same focal length at f/1.4 demonstrates a lack of understanding about the unique characteristics of Leica lenses. Images shot with the Summilux ASPH at f/1.4 DO NOT look the same as images shot with the Noctilux at the same aperture. And neither have the same look as images shot with the pre-ASPH 50 Summilux at f/1.4.

 

But don't take my word for any of this. Email Don Goldberg, one of the most respected Leica repair technicians around and ask him about IQ at f/1.0 versus 1.2. I've had lengthy conversations with Don about the Noctilux and he was the one who adjusted (shimmed) my lens to be spot on at f/1.2.

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As the one who wrote that, I'll try to clarify. Most people who use the Noctilux will acknowledge that image quality at f/1.0 is not great. It improves significantly at f/1.2 and 1.4. As I explained in an earlier post on this same thread, the fingerprint of the Noctilux at f/1.4 is still the same as at f/1.0, and remains quite different from the Summilux. To suggest that one lens at f/1.4 is the same as any other of the same focal length at f/1.4 demonstrates a lack of understanding about the unique characteristics of Leica lenses. Images shot with the Summilux ASPH at f/1.4 DO NOT look the same as images shot with the Noctilux at the same aperture. And neither have the same look as images shot with the pre-ASPH 50 Summilux at f/1.4.

 

But don't take my word for any of this. Email Don Goldberg, one of the most respected Leica repair technicians around and ask him about IQ at f/1.0 versus 1.2. I've had lengthy conversations with Don about the Noctilux and he was the one who adjusted (shimmed) my lens to be spot on at f/1.2.

 

This may illustrate Jamie's point. I just happen to have two almost identical photographs, one taken with the Summilux 50/1.4ASPH (which I was trying in the store) and one with my Noctilux.

 

Here they are: I'll leave it to you to say which is which...

 

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/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2245/2220297445_20c187f733_b.jpg&key=802f5c7d025c2d208e7f32ce4bef4e4614d42cefe9f1a8290d4176ed32802347">

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first one with the noctilux, no? the crease marks of the man's shirt (at the rear side) are rendered softer in the 1st photo than in the 2nd one (which is crispier), thus leading me to conclude that the noctilux's shallower depth of field is at work in the 1st photo...

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Noctilux is No 1, I think. The orbs of light are not as corrected. Either way I can't see $3000 worth of difference (new price) between the photos and if you can.....well then I guess you can justify about anything you want in your own mind. LOL

 

Jamie, if your shooting at 1250 ISO and you need f:/1.0 just to be able to hand hold, that's understandable, there is no doubt that f:/1 gets you there. But so would underexposing by 1 stop at f:/1.4 and recover in post. We'll agree to disagree about the fingerprint in normal lighting of the Noctilux and 90 cron at 1.4 - 2, but I do have a problem accepting the noctilux when combined with a UV/IR filter and an M8 will be flare or ghosting free in back lit situations. This is absolutely not my experience.

 

As far a focusing wide open is concerned, for sure it should be spot on wide open, the problem about focus really only applies to apertures between f:/1.4 to f:/5.6

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While the Nocti has a unique character I still see many samples posted which are slightly out of focus. Some dont mind but I do and those 90% focus images are not satisfying for me.

I had the same with the Leica 180/2.0 on the DMR (not wrong calibration but jsut the lack of AF when shooting moving things) - and I am much more happy with the 200/2.0VR on Nikon now.

If I focus on the eye I want the eye to be sharp.

 

Now even sending my Nocti in twice to Leica Solms I still had problems. And then there is focus shift. So do you get it calibrated for f1.0 or for f1.4? If its calibrated for f1.0 and you want to shoot at f2.0 what do you do? Compensate? SO I have to learn how much to compensate at which f-stop and which distance and then hope it works out? Too complicated for me.

 

The other thing is that I dont find the 50asph as harsh as some people say. Yes, its sharp, but the OOF and bokeh is quit creamy (smoother than the 50 Summicron for example).

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{snipped}Jamie, if your shooting at 1250 ISO and you need f:/1.0 just to be able to hand hold, that's understandable, there is no doubt that f:/1 gets you there. But so would underexposing by 1 stop at f:/1.4 and recover in post. {snipped}

 

Eoin, leaving aside for the moment our differences of opinion, then, I have to say I also find it hard to recover a stop of shadow information at ISO 1250 with the M8. I'm sure that will change over time, but that's the way it is right now.

 

Again, this is where the Nocti has made a difference for me between having the shot and not getting the shot. It's true that if you can bury the black point, even ISO 2500 would work, but for me under wedding conditions it's often about working with what you've got.

 

Under normal lighting circumstances and conditions, you're right--there are better choices than the Nocti. But so far it can't be beat for what it does; even "hindered" by filters, for example (which I simply take off when shooting candlelight etc), it's so much better in regard to flare and light-gathering than, say, my 50 1.2 Canon wide open it's not funny (of course, on the 5d I *can* recover a stop of shadow detail at ISO 1250, so the Nocti just makes shooting relatively "the same" as using the Canon system in regard to exposure).

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I'll add one thing to my comments about the Noctilux. If I were trying to decide whether to buy one today, I'd probably consider the $6000 price tag too high to justify the differences. Most of us who now own the lens, however, purchased them at considerably lower prices. Mine was "inexpensive" enough that having it in addition to the 50 lux pre-ASPH was not big deal. Of course, then the 50 lux ASPH had to come along, but with the test results on that lens getting it was an easy decision.

 

About the above shots, #1 is the Noctilux.

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This may illustrate Jamie's point. I just happen to have two almost identical photographs, one taken with the Summilux 50/1.4ASPH (which I was trying in the store) and one with my Noctilux.

 

Here they are: I'll leave it to you to say which is which...

 

/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2146/2221093910_53ddfda7c6_b.jpg&key=366b85cff97dde0fdb508c9a5a7e78f132525389a7378697e9fca3d63a041997">

 

Wilkinsons Preston ?

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This may illustrate Jamie's point. I just happen to have two almost identical photographs, one taken with the Summilux 50/1.4ASPH (which I was trying in the store) and one with my Noctilux.

 

Here they are: I'll leave it to you to say which is which...

 

Hmm, there is only one...

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Look further up, Carsten. The previous poster made a mess of quoting a post!

 

For which many apologies. Too hasty on the send button,intended to preview.

I did leave the right one though

I think.

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Yes, that wasn't too difficult.

 

Noctilux first, Summilux ASPH second.

 

And yes, it's Wilkinsons of Preston, UK.

 

I went in expecting the Summilux at 1.4 to knock the Noctilux at f1 into a cocked hat. This short but real-life comparison didn't quite turn up the result I was expecting, so the Noctilux stays.

 

I have the Summicron for when I want something smaller/slower, and I think the two together cover more bases than the Summilux. There really is nothing quite like the Noctilux at f1.

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