Noctilux alternatives

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrea_lotti, Nov 2, 2007.

  1. Hi everybody. I've seen some pictures from a Leica Noctilux 50 f1 and loved
    them, but I don't have the money for it, can anyone suggest some alternatives
    (Leica or others).
    I don't mind for speed or focal length, but for the 'fingerprint' of the images
    i.e. color rendition, bokeh and contrast.

  2. Are you looking for a rangefinder lens ?
    If not the Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 for Minolta MF SLR maybe a good alternative.
  3. I have a Leica M5, but I can consider also SLR, thank for the advice.
  4. I like the old Takumar 50mm f/1.4 too I don't if they have look you're seeking but many are yellow and the oldest are really radioactive.

    Here is what I got from a yellow and radioactive one.
  5. Hi Andrea, don't be fooled into believing that Leica glass would have a "fingerprint" or "glow" that other lenses don't have. Technically speaking, this fingerptint or glow is nothing more than uncorrected spherical abberation, not unique for Leica- glass. It's true that it can look asthetically pleasing but other factors are more important imo. How large will you be printing? Look for a lens that will be sharp in the corners and one that is reasonably sharp when shooting wide open. Another point, which you brought up, speed, depends on what film speeds you are going to shoot. What I mean to say is, do you really need f/1? I once owned a f/2.8 50 mm Elmar and did just fine shooting 100 iso film under normal light. Depth of field was ok at least. When light levels drop, simply shoot a higher iso- film or boost up the iso of your digicam. Unless you really need to shoot at f/1, the Noctilux is simply a "prestige- lens" to me. In the 1950's, and 60's, great photographs were made with f/ 3.5 max. aperture lenses. The third point, focal length, depends all on personal taste and what you intend to shoot, so how can you say you don't care about focal length? Figure out for yourself what need artistically and technically and buy the best your money can buy. Good luck friend!
  6. SCL


    There's always the Canon 50mm f0.95, but it is hard to find in a Leica mount, and expensive to have somebody do the conversion. Also, it should be calibrated to your camera. Attached is a shot of the one I used to own. FWIW I like the Noctilux better, but it was a good alternative for several years.
  7. I have a noct, and a diana camera comes closest (I have one of those too). I recognize the irony of this statement.

    The nice thing about the leica/noct combo is it is reliable. The diana is not. It would be funny to chop off the diana lens and somehow stick it on a leica...or any 35mm camera.

    You might try a pinhole-to-35mm adaptor too.
  8. I've read again. "I don't mind for speed or focal length" and you have a Leica M5.
    Cosina-Voïgtlander Ultron 35 f/1.7.
  9. Another sample.
  10. A color sample.
  11. "I don't mind for speed or focal length, but for the 'fingerprint' of the images i.e. color rendition, bokeh and contrast."

    The only reason to specifically choose a Noctilux is to obtain the special characteristics of that lens (including the shallow DOF at f/1). However, your post is so general in its requirements that one could point to any number of (or all for that matter) alternatives of various focal lengths, brands, and stops. This is not to mention that many find the bokeh produced by the Noctilux as far from desirable.

    So what is it precisely you're looking for?
  12. i use a vc 35mm f1.2 in m mount on my r-d1s and i am pleased with the results. it is a VERY big hunk of glass so keep that in mind... most of the fast, and i mean real fast, are serious handfuls.
  13. Like Bill I still don't know what Andrea is really looking for.
  14. If you are looking t get the experience of using a standard lens which is faster than f/1.4 then you have a few not too expensive choices. For the Konica SLR cameras there was the 57/1.2 Hexanon. I have two of these. They don't get out much but the shallow depth of field is a nice effect. Greg Weber often has these in stock []. I have a Canon 55/1.2 FL lens which is also nice. These can be found frequently on eBay. The earlier 58/1.2 Canon FL is considered more collectible and usually sells for more. The 58/1.2 Minolta Rokkor lenses seem to sell for quite a lot today. The later 50/1.2 MD model is a cult lens and sells for much more than the older 58. It is supposed to have the same design as a Leica SLR lens of that period. Olympus sold both 55 and later 50mm f/1.2 lenses. The 55 sells for less. Coming back to Canon the real cult lens is the 55/1.2 Aspherical, followed closely by the newer 50/1.2L. Both are very expensive. If you don't absolutely need the slightly shallower depth of field provided by an f/1.2 lens there are many affordable f/1.4 lenses on the used market. Selective focus is an interesting and useful effect but you would soon get bored with it if that's all you did. Mr. Spock said something interesting in a 1960s Star Trek episode: " After a time you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical but it is often true."
  15. Jon, That is a swell shot!

    Andrea, I use a few fast lenses. The Canon TV 50/0.95 i have for the M-mount is one of my favorites.

    There is no getting bored of it as the OOF effect is never observed until the images captured are seen (a rangefinder thing).

    One reason why fe stick with fast lenses is that they are extremely tricky to use. Focus and exposure (two basic things in photography) take a different meaning while using ultra fast lenses. Once these are taken care of, generally, the images quality is unique.

    Jeff, I would love to see some sample images from the 57/1.2 Hexanon.
  16. Andrea. I know what you mean when you say you want the Noct look. The signature of a Noctilux is distinct, and can't be easily reproduced. I think the look is a combination of the following:

    1. Depth of field at F1.0 is so narrow that only the plane of focus is sharp in the picture.. To get the look, you need it. F1.4 or F1.7 just isn't the same.

    2. Light Falloff (Vignetting) is ridiculous. Extremely apparent in daylight, but also visible in low light situations too. The only way to get this effect is to buy a "vignetter" or use a lens shade for a longer focal length lens to purposefully cause the corners to go dark.

    3. Swirly Bokeh. The lens is not very well corrected and shooting at F1.0 causes all kinds of abberations to be visible.

    Putting it all together, the combination of effects above all work together to make a signature that's not easy to reproduce. There are some things to consider though. You can look at a Holga medium format camera. The lenses in these cameras give a similar appearance, and the bigger negative helps sharpness. Also, Leica made a "Summitar" lens, which is a 50mm with max aperture of f1.5. This lens has it's own signature, but very similar effects, and can be had for much less money (1/10th) the cost of an actual Noctilux.

    I'd say do a flickr search for these lens and some of those mentioned by other posters. You don't have to drop thousands of dollars to get a similar look, but you do need to buy one if you one the exact signature. If there was a way to get it for less I would spend the money myself!
  17. Correction.. make that "Summarit"... not the new ones! The original 50 1.5 Summarit
  18. You also can try the Minolta Hexanon (sp) 50F1.2 however it was only sold in sets to with Hexar RF.
  19. I'd look at Zeiss 50/2 planar.

  20. I've recently acquired a Konica M-Hexanon 50mm 1.2, and it does come close to the Noctilux in certain respects. I like the Konica thus far, but it was a limited edition, and is therefore hard to find and becoming increasingly expensive. Here's an example... [​IMG]
  21. Another vote for the Voigtlaender Nokton 35 mm f/1.2. See here for some examples. I sure does have a unique rendering of out-of-focus areas, though I can't compare it to the Noctiluxe's (for lack of experience). It's also perfectly useable at smaller apertures. Big as a Tri-Elmar, though.

    See ya!
  22. CV 40mm 1.4:

    <img src="">
  23. What about the Canon f/1.2 50mm rangefinder lens? It comes in LTM and can easily be adapted to any M mount camera. I did not shoot too much with mine, but I got it together with the camera body for less than a single Noctilux with just a tad of an f-stop more.
  24. Im going to get hammered for this, but get a 50mm f1.4 and really spend some time learning photoshop-- one of the reasons I got rid of my Noct was that I learned (after a LOT of experimentation) to be able to create a similar effect in selective post processing-- everything from reduced contrast to limited DOF. I even finally am able to come close to the coma created by the old 35mm Summilux.

    The only issue you cant really duplicate is the flare control of the noct.

    Granted, I was able to start out with the noct, and shoot it, so I had samples to work from, and experience with it...
  25. Use Ilford 3200 (shoot at 1600) with any 50 Summicron, or even a 3.5 50 Elmar mentioned above, & save your money and your wrist.
  26. How about the Canon FD 1.2L. It is not that expensive, performs very well and focuses much
    closer than the normal noctilux. You can also put it on an F1N or T90 which are great
    cameras. You can do the whole kit for under 1000 bucks if you are careful. Then you can add
    the 85mm f/1.2L as well if you feel like it.
    <P><img src=""><P><img src="http://"><P><img src="http://">
  27. As we still don't what Andrea is looking for it's difficult to give an advice. If the issue is sharp and fast glass with good bokeh for not much money a good kit will be :

    Minolta X-500/X-570, Rokkor 58mm f/1.2, Rokkor 85mm f/1.7 and Kiron 28mm f/2.0.

    I never felt the need of a 50mm or 58mm faster than f/1.4. Thus I've never used a 58mm f/1.2, but I use the two other lenses and I'm perfectly happy with them.
  28. canon 50/1.2 is very affordable -- comparable with noctilux -- the original noctilux was 1.2 --- if the difference between 1.0 and 1.2 is gonna kill you, spring for the noctilux --- the canon 50mm 1.2 can be picked up in the 200-400 range

    other alternatives:
    1.5 summarit
    1.4 summilux
    1.5 xenon

    lots of sub 2.0 lenses available -- the canon is pretty close -- just got mine will post pcis monday
  29. Andrea, if you want the Noctilux, because you want THE Noctilux, then there are no substitutes. On the other hand, if you want a lens with outstanding low light shooting capabilitier, and/or outstanding bokeh, then I could suggest a couple of lenses I love:
    CV Nokton 35/1.2 - this is the fastest 35mm lens made, and it is giving a much more usable dof wide open, plus it is sharper than Noctilux, and you can shoot it at 1/15th of a second with confidence, maybe 1/8th if you have a steady hand... some examples wide open:

    Carl Zeiss C Sonnar 50/1.5

    This is a lens created for bokeh - it has somewhat soft rendering wide open, and it has a problem with the focus shift - in order to mitigate the problem Zeiss optimized it for shooting at f2.8 - if you want to use it at the widest apertures, you should either send it back for an adjustment (under the warranty) which Zeiss will do for free, or better still, buy it directly from them, specifying you want the f1.5 optimized version.

    I don't shoot it all that often wide open, but here's an example or two:

    This lens at f2.8 is an incredible portrait lens, mixing superb detail without harshness, and a very abrupt passage out of focus, which dissolves literally the background, here's a couple of examples:

    Both these lenses together will cost you 1/3rd of the Nokton, so I suggest to throw in a brand new Zeiss Ikon camera for superb low light vision and rf focusing precision - enjoy!
  30. Summar isn't fast, but it sure offers swirly bokeh. Dizzying. Substantial light falloff wide open. But lots more DOF.
  31. How about the nice Nokton Voigtlander 50f1.5 ASPH?
  32. Here are a few samples of the use of some of the suggested lenses, from various photographers on flickr:
    Noctilux 50mm f/1.0
    M-Hexanon 50mm f/1.2
    Canon 50mm f/0.95
    Canon 50mm f/1.2
    Cosina Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2
    Cosina Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4
    Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Nokton
    Leica 50mm f/1.2 Noctilux
    Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5
    I will note that at least from evidence on flickr, users of the CV 50/1.5 Nokton seem to be thinking of it as a "cheap 50" rather than as a "fast 50"; that is, they don't seem to be trying to use it as they would a Noct, wide open in situations where bokeh is an intentional part of the image.
  33. I had a Cannon 0.95 for a while - picked it up for peanuts because someone had removed the iris blades and it was strictly a maximum aperture lens. It was fun and I only used it for low light situations, but its bulk and weight were a PITA! I gave it to my nephew who still uses it occasionally, but unless you have a pressing need for the extra speed it is really a tour-de-force! I would rather spend the equivalent cost on a good f=2!
  34. Assuming one wants to stay in rangefinder land, the Canon 50mm f0.95 is the natural comparator to the Noctilux. It compares favorably in virtually every respect except flare ... the Canon lens is very prone to flare when strong light sources are in the frame; the Noct is remarkable in its flare resistance. The Canon 50mm f1.2 is much more forgiving and has a very nice signature.

    If one can't easily convert the Canon 50mm f0.95 to Leica mount, buy it with a Canon Model 7 / 7s / 7sz and enjoy. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised ... the Canon 7 series are more than a rear lens cap for the f0.95. .8X finder, frames for 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm. The frames are labeled in the finder! Hinged back for loading, built-in selenium or cds meters, Leica screw mount. Before the Bessa R, the Canon 7 series had the best features of any Leica screw mount machine, and their build quality still beats the Bessa R. AND the Model 7 was built SPECIFICALLY to take the Canon 50mm f0.95.
  35. I'm happy with my canon 50/1.2:

    I think I paid couple of years ago about $300,- for the lens
  36. I'm happy with my canon 50/1.2 ltm:

    I think I paid couple of years ago about $300,- for the lens
  37. I use a Yashica FX-3, and the Zeiss T 50mm f/1.7 is a pretty decent lens.

    It doesn't have the sharpness or bokeh of a Leica M glass, but it is pretty decent. And quite
    cheap. Got it for less than 80$ American (with the camera).

    Its a very good lens, and I'm incredibly happy with it. Never tried it stopped down, since I
    always shoot indoors or in low light and I love the bokeh.

    You can find adaptors on eBay to convert them for Leica mounts.

    Some samples, shot wide open.
  38. I would second the CV 35 1.2 for M cameras. I have one and love it plus find it to perform exceptionally well. Also Nikon made two 50 1.2 lenses. The Noct which is on the pricy side and designed for night shooting and the old 50 1.2 that can be bought for around $300-400 in nice shape. Currently Canon makes some outstanding super fast glass. The 50 1.2L, 85 1.2L, 135 f2L and previoulsly the 200 1.8L. I have all but the 50 1.2 and fine the 85, 135 and 200 to be the finest in their class. The 85 is a little on the expensive side but the version one may be in your price range at just over $1K. The 135 is very reasonable well under $1k but the 200 is now in the $4-6k range. Here is an example of the 85 at 1.2.
  39. Another sample of the canon 85 1.2 @ 1.2
  40. One other example of the 85 @ 1.2. At 1.2 it's exceptionally sharp and contrasty but not harsh. IMO the 135 at f2 is even slightly sharper (slightly).
  41. OOPS, one final image with the 85 @ 1.2.
  42. I'd ditto for the Canon 50mm f/1.2. Get it adjusted to your camera body. Here it is on my M3-MOT.
  43. Hi,
    thank everybody for the suggestions, I'll try to explain what I'm looking for. What I love in the Noctilux is color saturation and out of focus light renditions (I know it is probably due to aberrations, but I like it). I found similar results in Lomo images, but with less quality.
    Let me know...
  44. Andrea, the links I included in my earlier response were intended to illustrate exactly those effects. Most of the lenses the other posters have advised you to look at will give you that effect if used carefully.

    Incidentally I really like this thread - a great combination of really helpful advice for the poster and good photos illustrating that advice.
  45. Do test the Zeiss 50 f1.5 ZM, it is said to be like the original 1930 lens , which I own and looks like what you want at a fraction of noct price!
    Besides, consider focussing at f1 wih a RF camera??? Difficult enough at 1.4!!
  46. Since you indicate that cost is a consideration, I would suggest trying a Canon 50mm f/1.4 in LTM mount, with a bayonet adapter. At f/1.4, it offers enough speed for available light shooting under most circumstances. It also has excellent optical quality, even at full aperture, handles well, is of reasonable size and weight, is well-made and durable, and represents an excellent balance of qualities overall. It's not rare or exotic, but it's a fine lens for available-light photography. If you can afford to spend a bit more, I would suggest one of the older versions of the Leitz 50mm f/1.4 Summilux in M mount. If your primary concern is image quality, rather than maximum lens speed or shallow depth of field at maximum aperture, you might also consider either the later version of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 in LTM with a bayonet adapter, which is of good quality but reasonably affordable; or one of the various versions of the Leitz 50mm f/2 Summicron, which has long had a high reputation for outstanding image quality. While the Canon 50mm f/1.2 is fast, and is clearly the choice of some photographers who like the pictorial qualities of its shallow depth of field at maximum aperture, it has the reputation of trading off a fair amount of contrast and sharpness in order to achieve that extra half-stop of speed compared with the f/1.4 lens. That's not a criticism, just an observation about the choices that the designers made when developing that particular lens. The Canon 50mm f/0.95, while offering great maximum speed, appears to be sufficiently large and heavy to affect its handling qualities adversely.
  47. I know this thread is getting old, but I'm also very interested in finding a Noctilux alternative. This far I haven't really found any.
    The three reasons (there are probably several more) for wanting a Noctilux is that it is fast, it can produce incredibly shallow depth of field, and the typical noctilux look with light fall off in the edges (vignetting)
    As said before, the difference between f1.2 and f1 isn't that big when it comes to what shutter you can achieve. It is however greater when it comes to depth of field. the problem with most lenses suggested here is that they won't be able to reproduce the dof of a noctilux because the closest focussing distance is 1m. If you had a f1.2 lens that could focus to aboud 0.8, it would reproduce the same dof. This issue points towards getting a SLR where close focussing is much nearer. Of course going nearer your subjects means that they'll get bigger on the picture. As for vignetting, I'd say get a hood that's to long for the focal length.

    "I will note that at least from evidence on flickr, users of the CV 50/1.5 Nokton seem to be thinking of it as a "cheap 50" rather than as a "fast 50"; that is, they don't seem to be trying to use it as they would a Noct, wide open in situations where bokeh is an intentional part of the image."
    I have this very lens, and close focussing is the only minus I can find. With a 50mm f1.5 lens that doesn't focus nearer than 0.9m it's hard to get the depth of field one wants, It also makes it quite useless for up close portraits. I have tried though (

    I'd be really interested if anyone had an alternative that isn't mentioned in this thread.
  48. What about the forgotten SLR users? Here's my Tomioka Chinon 55mm f1.2:
  49. I forgot to note that I also have a Canon 50mm f1.2 and Canon 7 rangefinder pairing, but I prefer the SLR for high aperture work...

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