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Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH Review
Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH Review, testo e foto by Juza
. Pubblicato il 26 Giugno 2013; 4 risposte, 16681 visite.
There are very, very few lenses that have a brightness higher than f/1.0; they are very rare, expensive and fascinating. The Leica 50mm f/0.95, that costs more than 10000$, is one of them: I have tried it on the Leica M to see how it performs. Even though it is not the fastest lens in the world - there are ultra-rare f/0.5 lenses, or f/0.7 as the Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7 used by Stanley Kubrick - the Leica f/0.95 is one of the fastest lenses that you can actually buy.
The Leica 50mm f/0.95 is hand built in Germany; the production of every copy takes more than one week. It is almost needless to say that it has the maximum built quality that you can expect. It is very eavy for a 50mm lens - about 0.7kg - because there is really a lot of glass into this lens: eight elements in five groups, with very little empty space between each element.
On the front of the lens there is a thin metal ring to set the aperture. I wish that Leica had something to lock this ring, because many times I have accidentally moved it, it is very easy to hit this ring by error while focusing. If it was mine, I think I'd put some tape on it to keep it looked at f/0.95. In my opinion the only purpose of this lens is shooting wide open, it does not make sense paying its huge price tag if you don't need it extreme, awesome f/0.95 aperture.
The second, larger ring is the focus ring. The minimum focusing distance is about one meter, a bit long for portraits. The focus is external so the lens extends by few millimeters during focusing, but the front element does not rotate, so you can mount every filter, even the polarizer. While I am not a big fan of filters, with this lens sometimes you may need a 4-5 stops ND filter if you want to shoot at f/0.95 in daylight.
This lens has a 11 blades aperture that guarantees a smooth, beautiful bokeh. If you look inside the lens, you can clearly see it, and it is impressive to see how it disappears when you select the f/0.95 aperture. The following photos shows some details of this beautiful lens.
The Leica 50mm f/0.95 in practice
Shooting with this lens is not easy. At f/0.95, the depth of field is minimal and even a small focus error gives an out of focus image. Selective focus is essential, because the subject will never be completely in focus: you must chose the correct focus point to create a pleasing result. Live View with focus peaking helps a lot with this lens.
Initially, I have tried this lens for a subject that is quite unusual for it: landscapes. Even though it is more suited for portrait, fashion, reportage, I have appreciated the particular look that it gives to landscape photos. The thin depth of field and the heavy vignetting creates a kind of dreamy, unreal look. The following two photos had been taken at sunset in the Italian countryside; I have used the lowest ISO sensitivity and I have taken the photos at f/0.95. Even at sunset, with this super bright aperture the shutter speed is so fast that the tripod is not necessary.
Leica M, Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH, 1/1000 f/0.95, ISO 100, hand held. Click here to download it at full resolution!
After the landscape experience, I decided to use it in a more conventional way: a portrait and a detail of a rural scene.
Leica M, Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH, 1/125 f/0.95, ISO 100, hand held. Click here to download it at full resolution!
When evaluating the image quality, keep in mind that it is an extreme lens: f/0.95 is two times brighter than most ultra-bright lenses. In comparison with the Canon 50mm f/1.0 L that I have tried in the past, the Leica 50 f/0.95 offers a little more sharpness in the center and slightly better contrast. Overall, the image quality is good in the center, while the corners are very soft; that said, keep in mind that in the majority of the photos taken with this lens the corners will be out of focus areas, while the subject will be near the center.
Vignetting is very strong, but I like it... it gives a special look to the photos taken with the Leica Noctilux. There is a bit of chromatic aberration; even though it is not huge, the chromatic aberration of the 50mm is almost impossible to remove and sometimes it is a bit annoying. Of course the image quality improves by stopping down, but in my opinion the only purpose of this lens is shooting at f/0.95! Conclusion
This is one of the most beautiful lenses that I have ever tried. Even though wide open image quality is not perfect (but all lenses with such extreme apertures suffers a bit at the widest aperture), the look of the photos taken with the 50 f/0.95 is unique! It allows to create amazing selective focus effects; it has a marvelous bokeh and overall the photos have a kind of painterly, unreal look. I love it! :-)
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