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35/1.4 shootout - Nokton MC vs SC vs Summilux FLE vs Canon LTM
Old 10-19-2013   #1
jonmanjiro
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35/1.4 shootout - Nokton MC vs SC vs Summilux FLE vs Canon LTM

************************************************** ************************************

Leica Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH FLE
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm F1.4 MC
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm F1.4 SC
Canon 35mm F1.5 LTM (not quite F/1.4 but close enough!)

All shots taken with a Zeiss Ikon in manual mode on a tripod with a cable release. The B&W film is Efke 50 and the colour film is Ektar 100. All film was scanned with a Coolscan 5000. Post processing on each image is identical except for bumping up the brightness of the wide open Canon 35/1.5 shots a bit to match the other wide open shots.

Pixel peepers can click on any photo to see a larger version. Sharpness differences are more obvious in the larger versions.



On my scales the Summilux weighed in at 319 grams, the Noktons at 199 grams, and the Canon with LTM-M adapter at 198 grams. These weights are sans front and rear lens caps, filters, and hoods.

************************************************** ************************************


Series one - flare resistance comparison

From memory the focus point is the rightmost lantern in the row of four lanterns. I forget the distance. Look at the street lights and other lights for differences.


Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/1.4


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/1.5


And now stopped down two stops to f/2.8.

Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/2.8


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/2.8


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/2.8


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/2.8


Here's some crops of the larger uploaded images (which are about 30% of the original scan size):

@ wide open


@ f/2.8


@ wide open


@ f/2.8
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Old 10-19-2013   #2
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Summilux shines
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Old 10-19-2013   #3
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Series two - coma/back light comparison

The focus point is the roll of Kodak Ektar 100 on the hook. The distance from the camera to the Kodak Ektar 100 roll is the Canon 35/1.5's minimum focus distance of about 1 meter. Look at the edge of the wooden "ema" board in the top left corner and the leaves etc. lit by back lighting for differences.


Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/1.4


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/1.5


And now stopped down two stops to f/2.8.

Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/2.8


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/2.8


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/2.8


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/2.8


Some crops of the ema board shots:

@ wide open


@ f/2.8


@ wide open


@ f/2.8
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Old 10-19-2013   #4
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Series three - bokeh and colour rendering comparison

The focus points are the center-most flower and the piece of paper on the scooter's brake light.
The distance from the camera to each focus point is the Canon 35/1.5's minimum focus distance of about 1 meter.

Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/1.4


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/1.5


Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 MC @ F/1.4


Nokton 35/1.4 SC @ F/1.4


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ F/1.5


Top left side crops of the flower shots:


Center crops of the flower shots (the focus target is the flower in the lower center part of the crop):


Top center crops of scooter shots:
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Old 10-19-2013   #5
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Wow
Unless you cropped to make same framing ( I doubt it).
It's amazing to me how close in actual field of view these lenses are based especially on the last image.
At first the Lux looks a bit longer when looking at the tail light and it's size in comparison to the other two. But... when I look at the edges it's nearly the same field.


The Summilux has the best performance in terms of acutance. Otherwise forget it! They all could make a superb image!

Cheers and Kudos for the comaparison
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Old 10-19-2013   #6
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The FLE handles the bright contrast in the street light a bit better (the "bars" on the glove are more distinct) - but otherwise the difference is not that great - particularly as you could easily buy both Nokton's and the Canon and have money left over for film etc for what the FLE costs!
I like my SC 35f1.4 Noktons - and I have not been swayed by the SummiluX FLE (tried it a couple of years ago when it came out).
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Old 10-19-2013   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
Unless you cropped to make same framing ( I doubt it).
It's amazing to me how close in actual field of view these lenses are based especially on the last image.
Nope, no cropping

When pixel peeking I found the Noktons to be ever so slightly longer than the Summilux and the Canon to be ever so slightly wider than the Summilux.

The biggest surprise for me was how close the MC and SC Noktons are. I expected to see more of a difference in terms of colour (colour film) and tone (B&W film). Its there, but its very subtle. The MC is also very slightly more flare resistant.
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Old 10-20-2013   #8
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Wow! Great stuff!

I was half expecting the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM to be significantly "Classical" but looks like it hold it's own well, even at f/1.5!

Time to reconsider keeping my lux to thin out the inventory a bit.

Cheers,
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Old 10-20-2013   #9
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Thanks for doing this Jon, great "in the field" comparison worth loads more than brick wall shots!

The street scene is indeed where the differences are most stark, but only at f1.4. At 2.8 they level out (however, on a digital body, I believe you'd still see the Nokton's sharpness fallout towards the outer circle. At least with my copy, this is evident well into 5.6.

The differences at f1.4 may be one of the justifiers for paying nearly 10x more for the FLE, that kind of clean cut performance is really un-matched by other offerings.

That being said, if you like the glow the Nokton offers wide open, it may just be the best buy out there for available light shooters. When buying, a more recent serial number will probably ensure you're steering clear from the early model complaints (focus shift, excessive flare, build quality).

I too am surprised at the differences between the MC and SC, I thought they would be greater, perhaps they will manifest themselves differently with different films.

Only one missing in the shootout is the Pre-asph Lux, but you can't have everything, can you

This is great!
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Old 10-20-2013   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennyng View Post
Wow! Great stuff!

I was half expecting the Canon 35mm f/1.5 LTM to be significantly "Classical" but looks like it hold it's own well, even at f/1.5!

Time to reconsider keeping my lux to thin out the inventory a bit.

Cheers,
Your Canon 35/1.5 is a keeper Benny! If it focused down to 0.70m it would be just about perfect
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Old 10-20-2013   #11
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This a very well executed series, many thanks for the effort. I rarely can emulate the accuracy of the note keeping Good scene choice as well.

I think the coating and edge performance is interesting.
Examining the first series @1.4 the writing which is almost centre frame LH edge, is clearly sharper and higher contrast in the Leica with the Canon "worst" the slight difference in the Noktons I think shows the coating affecting contrast.
Strangely in the Ema board top left hand corner the writing is much clearer in the Canon with the Leica coming in last! Just look at the board bottom LHS the Canon shines. The MC/SC subtle difference is also clear there.
In the colour series the "pop" is directly related, to my eye, with the coatings but I suspect a nudge on a slider would "fix" that. Best seen in the flower head lower left centre.
It would be interesting to post a shot of the lenses lined up, the size and ergonomic feel would probably sway the choice as much as these differences. Not to mention the cost.
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Old 10-20-2013   #12
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I wonder if the ability to compute and design to much higher tolerances makes the coating (single vs multi) a very subtle affair. It would be interesting to see an uncoated optic with recent technology (it will never happen, I guess) to see how much it would differ, compared to a coated optic.

In general, to my eyes, the differences are small between the lenses. But A3+ and digital might give another result.

The difference between the SC and MC Noktons, was less than I thought.
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Old 10-20-2013   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonatto View Post
Thanks for doing this Jon, great "in the field" comparison worth loads more than brick wall shots!

The street scene is indeed where the differences are most stark, but only at f1.4. At 2.8 they level out (however, on a digital body, I believe you'd still see the Nokton's sharpness fallout towards the outer circle. At least with my copy, this is evident well into 5.6.

The differences at f1.4 may be one of the justifiers for paying nearly 10x more for the FLE, that kind of clean cut performance is really un-matched by other offerings.

That being said, if you like the glow the Nokton offers wide open, it may just be the best buy out there for available light shooters. When buying, a more recent serial number will probably ensure you're steering clear from the early model complaints (focus shift, excessive flare, build quality).

I too am surprised at the differences between the MC and SC, I thought they would be greater, perhaps they will manifest themselves differently with different films.

Only one missing in the shootout is the Pre-asph Lux, but you can't have everything, can you

This is great!
Thanks Fred. I did actually think about including a pre ASPH Summilux, but instead just went with what was readily available. That, and juggling four lenses in a shootout is about the maximum I can handle!

Although probably not as obvious as with digital, the sharpness differences are there with film too (obviously more noticeable when looking at the bigger files). No surprises that the Summilux came out on top. Its sharp across the field even at F1.4. I noticed that the Noktons are sharp in the center and get softer further away from the center even when stopped down, but I think they are designed this way as part of the "Classic" designation. All lenses are certainly sharp enough for most purposes.
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Old 10-20-2013   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
This a very well executed series, many thanks for the effort. I rarely can emulate the accuracy of the note keeping Good scene choice as well.

I think the coating and edge performance is interesting.
Examining the first series @1.4 the writing which is almost centre frame LH edge, is clearly sharper and higher contrast in the Leica with the Canon "worst" the slight difference in the Noktons I think shows the coating affecting contrast.
Strangely in the Ema board top left hand corner the writing is much clearer in the Canon with the Leica coming in last! Just look at the board bottom LHS the Canon shines. The MC/SC subtle difference is also clear there.
In the colour series the "pop" is directly related, to my eye, with the coatings but I suspect a nudge on a slider would "fix" that. Best seen in the flower head lower left centre.
It would be interesting to post a shot of the lenses lined up, the size and ergonomic feel would probably sway the choice as much as these differences. Not to mention the cost.
I recorded the shooting details on my iPhone as I would surely forget otherwise

Regarding the ema board in the top left corner of the second series, with the more in focus characters rendered by the other lenses compared to the Summilux, I think we're seeing field curvature (and slight front focusing in the case of the Canon lens) at work. The Summilux's focus plane is quite flat out to the corners (better correction) compared to the other lenses, and the ema board appears more out of focus because its further in front of that focus plane than with the other lenses.

Good idea to post a size comparison of the lenses! I'll do that when I get a chance
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Old 10-20-2013   #15
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Doesn't the scanning process influence the results?
I mean "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link", so if scanning is the weakest link, the best lens may have a disadvantage.
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Old 10-20-2013   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlijn53 View Post
Doesn't the scanning process influence the results?
For sure. With my hybrid film/digital process, the best I can do is keep variables to a minimum. That's why I shot at fixed distances in manual mode with the camera on a tripod, took the photos in the same series consecutively on the same roll of film, and then scanned the entire roll in one go with my Coolscan 5000 scanner using the same settings. For film, a high resolution dedicated film scanner scanner such as the Coolscan 5000 is of course as good as it gets short of a drum scanner.
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Old 10-20-2013   #17
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This is probably the first time that I was able to single out a lens by only looking at the small pics. That Leica 35/1.4 FLE looks to be an awesome lens.

Others are not bad either. Surprised how good Canon 35/1.5 is. When I was looking for a 35 lens I discarded it based on a few samples on the net and bought a Canon 35/2. A mistake? Anyone know of or made a comparison between Canon 35/1.5 and 35/2?
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Old 10-20-2013   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brbo View Post
Surprised how good Canon 35/1.5 is. When I was looking for a 35 lens I discarded it based on a few samples on the net and bought a Canon 35/2. A mistake? Anyone know of or made a comparison between Canon 35/1.5 and 35/2?
With vintage glass it all comes down to getting a good, defect free, untampered copy I think. This particular Canon 35/1.5 was essentially cherry picked after being compared with several other Canon 35/1.5s, so its a known good copy with perfect optics. Too bad I have to return it to its owner soon
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Old 10-20-2013   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brbo View Post
Surprised how good Canon 35/1.5 is. When I was looking for a 35 lens I discarded it based on a few samples on the net and bought a Canon 35/2. A mistake? Anyone know of or made a comparison between Canon 35/1.5 and 35/2?
Actually, there are a lot of bad images on the net from some of these vintage offerings. Also, a lot of times, opinions are formed from have used just one or two copies, sometimes with less than perfect optics unbeknownst to the shooter.

Hopefully I have a bit of time next month and I might just take up the challenge of comparing the popular 35 1.5/1.8/2.0 offering from Canon. Hopefully Jon's available to partake in this little adventure as well as I don't quite have access to a proper scanner.

Cheers,
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Old 10-20-2013   #20
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Much obliged for your efforts, Jon. I've been looking for a fast 35 for awhile (for gig and club shooting). The night sequence and the "ema" board sequence are especially helpful. Excellent job and well-balanced commentary!
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Old 10-20-2013   #21
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This series of tests demonstrates why I've always been more concerned about the handling characteristics of a lens and body than the quality of the lens.
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Old 10-20-2013   #22
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I did an extensive 35-40mm lens comparison project with twenty five lenses or so with film a while ago. The Canon 35/1.5 came out as a surprisingly good performer. I also did not see differences between the 50mm SC and the MC versions of tne CV lens. Roland's website still has the results.


This lens comparison is useful to affirm or challenge the results for older comparisons.
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Old 10-20-2013   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I also did not see differences between the SC and the MC versions of tne CV lens.
As I stated above, I can see differences between the MC and SC Noktons but the differences are subtle and less than I expected.

Also, I don't think your test included the Summilux 35/1.4 FLE, Raid.
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Old 10-20-2013   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
I can see differences between the MC and SC Noktons but the differences are subtle and less than I expected.
The difference this test shows is probably the largest I have seen between the two versions (I only have the 35mm SC myself). I remember Raid's comparison indicating a very minor difference. It may have been the 40mm Nokton in that test, though.

All four lenses are good. As expected, the wide-open performance of the Summilux is at much higher level than the competition, and it is overall the best lens here.
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Old 10-20-2013   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
As I stated above, I can see differences between the MC and SC Noktons but the differences are subtle and less than I expected.

Also, I don't think your test included the Summilux 35/1.4 FLE, Raid.
No, it did not include the FLE. Having multiple tests completes the overall picture. The more, the better.
I had the 35/1,4 ASPH in my tests.

The Canon 35/1.5 flared like in your test. It is interesting for me to see the old Canon 35/1.5 have similar flare sensitivity as the modern but single coated CV lens. It will also depend on how clean of internal haze each lens is. Canon lenses can display haze over time. This example of the 35/1.5 may be very clean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lss View Post
The difference this test shows is probably the largest I have seen between the two versions (I only have the 35mm SC myself). I remember Raid's comparison indicating a very minor difference. It may have been the 40mm Nokton in that test, though.

All four lenses are good. As expected, the wide-open performance of the Summilux is at much higher level than the competition, and it is overall the best lens here.

Yes, I never used a 35 CV since it was either not out then, or it was barely out. Also, many of my photos were taken indoors, and we see here outdoor images for the 35mm CV lenses in Jon's lens comparisons.
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Old 10-20-2013   #26
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Quote:
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Canon lenses can display haze over time. This example of the 35/1.5 may be very clean.
This particular Canon 35/1.5 is indeed very clean.
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Old 10-20-2013   #27
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I'm glad you posted that first series of crops. The Asph is obviously sharper but either all of the other lenses distort the exact same way or the Asph has a bunch of distortion? At least to me, the lanterns look much more 'square' in the other frames and have less tilt to them?

I didn't expect the Canon to hold up so well over all. It looks like focus variation makes up much of the differences between the last VCs and Canon. The very first frame in the series is the only shot where the Asph really blows away the competition. Its obviously better throughout but not by as much as I expected.

Edit: I take back what I said about distortion. The other lenses at 2.8 look geometrically similar to the Asph at 1.4. The flare of the other lenses must have thrown me off.
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Old 10-20-2013   #28
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Quote:
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It would be interesting to post a shot of the lenses lined up, the size and ergonomic feel would probably sway the choice as much as these differences. Not to mention the cost.
Just added some pics of the lenses to my first post!
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Old 10-20-2013   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Just added some pics of the lenses to my first post!
And that difference is greater " in the hand" , in my opinion

" I think we're seeing field curvature (and slight front focusing in the case of the Canon lens) at work."

Indeed that is a possibility. Not easy to "standardise" the focus either in testing, not a criticism just fact. We mustn't minimise sample variation either as you say the Canon was cherry picked, and why not, given the chance.

Interesting so few comment on the colour? Is it because it can so easily be manipulated perhaps but flare is "fixed" ?
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Old 10-21-2013   #30
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coming back to view the colour/daylight images, i do like the Nokton MC.
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Old 10-21-2013   #31
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I am just wondering why the ようこそ is sharper in the Nokton SC and Canon compared to the Nokton MC given the selected focus point (most right lantern in the full frame). The cropped part of the frame is not in the outermost corner, focusing issue ?

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@ wide open

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Old 10-21-2013   #32
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Possibly, but while the Nokton MC is a bit softer on the right side of the frame (behind focus point) it does seem a bit sharper on the left side of the frame (in front of focus point). I noticed in other shots that when focused on the same target the Nokton MC's DOF was a bit closer than the Nokton SC's DOF (focus points both within the DOF but the spread of the DOF not quite the same). You can see it in the scooter shot for example. Caused by a slight difference in how the lenses are adjusted/collimated maybe?!
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Old 10-22-2013   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
************************************************** ************************************

Leica Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH FLE
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm F1.4 MC
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm F1.4 SC
Canon 35mm F1.5 LTM (not quite F/1.4 but close enough!)

All shots taken with a Zeiss Ikon in manual mode on a tripod with a cable release. The B&W film is Efke 50 and the colour film is Ektar 100. All film was scanned with a Coolscan 5000. Post processing on each image is identical except for bumping up the brightness of the wide open Canon 35/1.5 shots a bit to match the other wide open shots.

Pixel peepers can click on any photo to see a larger version. Sharpness differences are more obvious in the larger versions.



Very interesting comparative test, indeed. Especially cause you provided objective facts for each to judge the way they want. For instance, I'm not sure I prefer the Leica when it comes to flare resistance and behaviour under strong back light. And when I sum this to the very first picture you posted (size) and the price tag of the lenses, I know at least where I will NOT be putting money in the near future.
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Old 10-25-2013   #34
jonmanjiro
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Just one more set of shots to finish off the thread. I forget which particular branch I focused on, but did focus on the same spot for all photos.

I placed the late afternoon sun just outside the frame on the right with the intention of inducing flare in the shots, but the sun was a bit too weak to do much. Contrast and bokeh differences are visible though.

Summilux 35/1.4 FLE @ f/1.4


MC Nokton 35/1.4 @ f/1.4


SC Nokton 35/1.4 @ f/1.4


Canon 35/1.5 LTM @ f/1.5
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Old 10-25-2013   #35
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Very interesting test. Thanks, Jon.

I had a Canon 1.5 in great condition. I liked some of its aspects: very sharp, compact, very well built. Other characteristics were a pain: min focus distance, long throw. But what made me sell it in the end was its sheer ability to randomly add enormous half moon blobs to some of the pictures taken with the sun close to or in the frame. The small flare around the lights in this test is not too disturbing in my eyes, but what I'm talking about was really a deal breaker.

The Nokton? It sounds like a winner but it shows a hefty distortion, which I personally hate.
Also, I've seen so many strongly diverging opinions about it, that my understanding is that it has been plagued by QC problems.
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Old 10-25-2013   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrea Taurisano View Post
Very interesting comparative test, indeed. Especially cause you provided objective facts for each to judge the way they want. For instance, I'm not sure I prefer the Leica when it comes to flare resistance and behaviour under strong back light. And when I sum this to the very first picture you posted (size) and the price tag of the lenses, I know at least where I will NOT be putting money in the near future.
Sure. It all comes down to personal preference in the end, and its nice to have choices eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanmich View Post
Very interesting test. Thanks, Jon.

I had a Canon 1.5 in great condition. I liked some of its aspects: very sharp, compact, very well built. Other characteristics were a pain: min focus distance, long throw. But what made me sell it in the end was its sheer ability to randomly add enormous half moon blobs to some of the pictures taken with the sun close to or in the frame. The small flare around the lights in this test is not too disturbing in my eyes, but what I'm talking about was really a deal breaker.

The Nokton? It sounds like a winner but it shows a hefty distortion, which I personally hate.
Also, I've seen so many strongly diverging opinions about it, that my understanding is that it has been plagued by QC problems.
Thanks Michael. Its interesting to hear about the flare you experienced with your copy of the Canon 35/1.5. Did it have any internal haze at all?

The Nokton's barrel distortion seems to be one of those you can live with it (correct it in post processing etc.) or you can't situations. And of course its obvious in some photos but not others.

Regarding Cosina and QC, judging from the recent production lenses I've owned and handled it seems Cosina have tightened QC considerably over the last year or two as all those recent production lenses have been great (no wobble, smooth focus and aperture action, correct RF alignment at infinity, correctly collimated etc.). Something else I've noticed with the very latest lenses is that they now have "Cosina Co. Ltd." and the serial number engraved on the lens mount (example below).

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File Type: jpg lens rear.jpg (79.6 KB, 852 views)
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Old 10-25-2013   #37
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Jon, the lens had been cleaned by DAG and was as haze free as can be.
I remember another thread confirming the bad flare resistance.
I was using it with filter (which obviously didn't help) and original hood.
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Old 10-28-2013   #38
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The most noticeable difference to me is the bokeh on the Lux - much less shakey than the other 3. Apparent in the daylight color shots (moped, and flowers).

I've got the Canon 35/2 which for all intents and purposes has served me pretty well, although I've not used it extensively. Can't go wrong w/ the price though. I would like to see how it holds up.
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Old 04-12-2014   #39
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I love my Canon 1.5. Very very sharp wide open. The glow is typical on your images. Yet probably some front or back focus as per the first image as it is really tack sharp wide open.
Never experience any half moon blobs, even without any hood on.

Summilux though indeed stands out thanks to its bokeh. Just superb.
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Old 04-12-2014   #40
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The color on the scooter shots is drastically different.
Is the Leica super magenta, or are the other 3 lenses super green, or is it a bit of both?
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