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The Nokton 50/1.1 Revisited
Old 12-03-2015   #1
ferider
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The Nokton 50/1.1 Revisited

Lots of reports on this lens, some love it (available light performer) and some hate it (bokeh and focus shift).

After receiving the lens a month ago and using it a bit on the 240, I guess I am falling into the first camp. In a nutshell, except for its size, the lens is a reliable all-around performer, very usable wide open, sharp at f1.4 and above, and - compared to other fast 50s - has relatively low distortion.

First impressions:

The lens is big but not too heavy. On the heavy 240, it feels well balanced.



On my camera, out of the box, the lens is center focus calibrated somewhere between f1.4 and f2; it shifts noticeably backwards (f1.1, f1.4 and f2.0, click on the picture for larger size):



When you account for the cosine effect (focus and recompose a bit off center, see also http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=148485), the lens turns out to be dead on wide open, perfect for my use:



Vignetting is noticeable at infinity, but disappears mostly at f2. My favorite, close to infinity test target, our neighbor's antenna about 100 feet away:



The lens is quite sharp at infinity even wide open. At f1.1 and f1.4, resolution is mostly limited by CA. At f2.0 and up the lens is very good. I remember seeing a measurement where the Nokton was compared to the 0.95 Noctilux and ZM Planar, and the Nokton clearly outperformed the Noctilux and was similar to the Planar @ f2.0 (http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014...es-version-0-7); I can confirm this.

Same test target as above, center crop to show resolution for different apertures:



At, f1.1, the Nokton performance is about the same as a pre-asph Summilux at f1.4, IMO.

Also off-center / in the field, performance is decent:



To be continued ....
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In use ...
Old 12-03-2015   #2
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In use ...

... on a business trip to Beijing. All shots wide open.

Colleagues from work:







And out on the streets ....







(nice to have selective focus at a distance ....)



(sharpness is over-rated )



Cheers,

Roland.
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Old 12-03-2015   #3
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It's a good lens, and now you see them for good prices Just Big and Heavy, like nearly all the superspeed lenses except the Sonnetar.

Mine focuses pretty well on the M9 even at f/1.1 and after dark I often take it.

Here it is stopped down on the A7.mod:

DSC00859 by unoh7, on Flickr

and wide open:

Be Prepared by unoh7, on Flickr


Cooling off by unoh7, on Flickr
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Old 12-04-2015   #4
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I can confirm Rolands writings completely.

The lens is heavy, but much lighter than the Noctilux 50mm f/1.

I've never seen a lens this sharp @ f/2, see picture. At full aperture, this lens is absolutely great for portraits.

No distortion. Great lens for a silly price.

Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 12-04-2015   #5
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Helen, your photos need to be in a book! I'm pre-ordering one!
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Old 12-04-2015   #6
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Have thought about this lens a lot recently and thanks for putting up the photos of the test shots. Two things are holding me back: I really don't like having duplicate lenses of the same focal length and I do not know how much I would really use its low light capabilities.

I own the 35f1.2 and a 35f2.8 and have had the 35f1.2 mounted for the last month on the M9 but have not used it anywhere I could not have used the C-Biogon. I figure the same thing would apply to the 50f1.1 and my 50 Summicron.

It does appear to be a great lens for the money. Even though I have the money, I no longer can justify the price of Leica optics as jewelry so if I was really looking for a super fast 50, I would get this lens.
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Old 12-04-2015   #7
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Love this shot.
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Old 12-04-2015   #8
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A truly nice one Helen.
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Old 12-04-2015   #9
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I like the lens. I had a ZM Sonnar (and Planar) before, which is different in character. I may prefer the VL Nokton overall, it has spot-on focus at f/1.1 and is very sharp stopped down.
I have a feeling if that lens was a Leica and demanded three times the price, it would have a much better reputation and perceived performance....

Here at f/9.5 on an M8.2 (taken in Armenia).

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Old 12-04-2015   #10
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Originally Posted by Peter_S View Post
I have a feeling if that lens was a Leica and demanded three times the price, it would have a much better reputation and perceived performance...
I don't know about that, but I know I wouldn't have bought the lens at three times the price regardless of brand or reputation.
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Old 12-04-2015   #11
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For portraits this lens is a must.

Leica M2, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 12-05-2015   #12
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Great photos, Helen, Peter and Erik.

Some more from last night in Beijing.





The team shopping for hats ....



Roland.
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Old 12-05-2015   #13
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And two more in color:





Enjoy,

Roland.
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Old 12-31-2015   #14
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Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 12-31-2015   #16
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Is the current cost about $900 for a new lens?
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Old 12-31-2015   #17
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$899 at B&H Raid.
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Old 12-31-2015   #18
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I didn't much care for mine, just because of the ergonomics and the slippery focus ring Voigtlander puts on too many of their lenses, but this fixed everything for me, and I like it a lot better now: http://www.lenstab.com/
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Old 01-01-2016   #19
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Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 01-01-2016   #20
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this thread got me off my ass to process my roll of Tri-x I had sitting in front of me. Love the Nokton.
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Old 01-01-2016   #21
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I will look for a used one here or somewhere else.
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Old 01-01-2016   #22
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Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 01-01-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400. Erik.
Amazing Erik with the subtle lights in the faces.
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Old 01-01-2016   #24
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The low light is actually very good. Shot in Tri-X at 400. VERY dark alley, 1/15th F1.1
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Old 01-01-2016   #26
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this thread is delightful!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
I didn't much care for mine, just because of the ergonomics and the slippery focus ring Voigtlander puts on too many of their lenses, but this fixed everything for me, and I like it a lot better now: http://www.lenstab.com/
Which size did you buy for the f/1.1?
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Old 01-02-2016   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
Amazing Erik with the subtle lights in the faces.
There was some publicity shooting going on. I took advantage of their light shield.

Leica M5, Nokton 50mm f/1.1, Tmax400.

Erik.

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Old 01-02-2016   #28
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Did anyone switch to the 1.1 Nokton from the 1.5 Nokton? Or have both?

I've have the ltm mount 1.5 Nokton for a long time and it's a lovely lens. Just wondering what real world differences are between the two.
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Old 01-02-2016   #29
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An interesting "business trip" you had, ferider
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Old 01-02-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCTuomey View Post
this thread is delightful!
Which size did you buy for the f/1.1?
The largest size taab is a tight fit, but it works nicely, once you get it on. I had to put double-stick tape under it to keep it in place. It changes the whole lens much for the better.

I wish Voigtlander would put some teeth on their slippery focus rings, though. The 1.1, the 28/1.9, original 35/1.7, original 50/1.5----all bad. The nasty focus ring is the reason I got rid of the otherwise-excellent 35/1.7.
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Old 01-02-2016   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardPhoto View Post
Did anyone switch to the 1.1 Nokton from the 1.5 Nokton? Or have both?

I've have the ltm mount 1.5 Nokton for a long time and it's a lovely lens. Just wondering what real world differences are between the two.
I have them both (the M-version of the f/1.5, but I've used the LTM too) and they are totally different. The f/1.5 is more refined, has smoother backgrounds and has a tiny bit of barrel-distortion. The f/1.1 is less smooth in the background - the "lightballs" are sharper - but has practically no distortion and seems to have more contrast.

Erik.
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Old 01-02-2016   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
The nasty focus ring is the reason I got rid of the otherwise-excellent 35/1.7.
The focusing ring of the f/1.1 is dimpled and has knurling in the "tops", the "valleys" are smooth. This shoud be reversed I think.

The latest version of the Ultron 35mm f/1.7 LTM has an excellent focusing ring in my opinion, more curved than the earlier version.

Erik.
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Old 01-02-2016   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
The focusing ring of the f/1.1 is dimpled and has knurling in the "tops", the "valleys" are smooth. This shoud be reversed I think.

The latest version of the Ultron 35mm f/1.7 LTM has an excellent focusing ring in my opinion, more curved than the earlier version.

Erik.
I would have been happy if they'd just done it like Leica: the same thing, deeper. As it is, it's sort of a poor imitation by someone who wasn't paying attention to details.
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Old 01-02-2016   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
The largest size taab is a tight fit, but it works nicely, once you get it on. I had to put double-stick tape under it to keep it in place. It changes the whole lens much for the better.

I wish Voigtlander would put some teeth on their slippery focus rings, though. The 1.1, the 28/1.9, original 35/1.7, original 50/1.5----all bad. The nasty focus ring is the reason I got rid of the otherwise-excellent 35/1.7.
Thanks much
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Old 01-02-2016   #35
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I don't have much to complain about the Nokton 1.1
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Old 01-02-2016   #36
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Compared to the Leica .95 at widest aperture (CV first, Leica second) The number after the slash is astigmatism, center, mid and edge.

Center: 768/0, 840/0
Mid:672/96, 696/48
edge: 600/216, 504/120

stop down to f/2 and you get:
center: 1272/0, 1248/24
Mid: 1032/240, 912/48
edge, 624/120, 528/144

So, at F2 the CV is beating the .95 across the frame. At f/1.1 it gives a better edge than the leica can at f/.95. But to put these numbers in context, Mandlers v4 cron from the 80s at f/2 does 1200/0 1200/144 1200/240, center, mid and edge.

The large numbers are "the highest reading from either the Tangential or Sagittal lines, and the difference between the two lines is astigmatism"

Obviously there are other factors besides how lenses resolve, but it's always interesting to see, and these are from lensrentals:
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014...es-version-0-7
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Old 01-02-2016   #37
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Wonderful photo, Peter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
Obviously there are other factors besides how lenses resolve, but it's always interesting to see, and these are from lensrentals:
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014...es-version-0-7
I mentioned that comparison in the OP, uhoh7. What I find more interesting is the comparison with the Planar at f2.0:



(MTF50 results in line pairs/image height, Astig: difference between sagittal and tangential MTF)

Basically, the Nokton is roughly on par with the Planar at f2. Plus it has all the extra speed when needed Which makes it a wonderful general purpose lens. Plus I trust the lensrentals guys to be unbiased when it comes to brand.

Roland.
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Old 01-02-2016   #38
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This is a wonderful thread. I've thought the f/1.1 Nokton is an unbeatable lens for a long time.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardPhoto View Post
Did anyone switch to the 1.1 Nokton from the 1.5 Nokton? Or have both?

I've have the ltm mount 1.5 Nokton for a long time and it's a lovely lens. Just wondering what real world differences are between the two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I have them both (the M-version of the f/1.5, but I've used the LTM too) and they are totally different. The f/1.5 is more refined, has smoother backgrounds and has a tiny bit of barrel-distortion. The f/1.1 is less smooth in the background - the "lightballs" are sharper - but has practically no distortion and seems to have more contrast.

Erik.
Richard, I have had both as well. Erik's assessment is spot-on. I ended up selling the Nokton f/1.5 as there just wasn't enough difference to warrant keeping both. As a disclaimer, I do also have a Collapsible Heliar f/2 for those occasional times when I want a little less bulk.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
I wish Voigtlander would put some teeth on their slippery focus rings, though. The 1.1, the 28/1.9, original 35/1.7, original 50/1.5----all bad. The nasty focus ring is the reason I got rid of the otherwise-excellent 35/1.7.
Your comment is exactly the opposite of how I feel... I can't stand those damn focusing tabs on lenses, and the original Summicrons' focus rings upon which the Noktons' are apparently patterned is perfect and actually what brought me to buy the Nokton f/1.5 to begin with. I have both the Nokton 35mm f/1.2 v1 and the 50mm f/1.1 and I'm VERY pleased with the tactile function of the focusing rings. Diff'rent strokes and all that...
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Old 01-02-2016   #39
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I considered one for a while, but that bokeh was a real turnoff. I see some nice shots here which makes it seem the lens may be best suited to B&W film vs. color/digital; Helen's shots really stand out. I have the old LTM 1.5 and it is really good, but I prefer the Noctilux F1.0 over this 1.1 (ignoring price, of course!)
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Old 01-02-2016   #40
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Quote:
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I considered one for a while, but that bokeh was a real turnoff. I see some nice shots here which makes it seem the lens may be best suited to B&W film vs. color/digital; Helen's shots really stand out. I have the old LTM 1.5 and it is really good, but I prefer the Noctilux F1.0 over this 1.1 (ignoring price, of course!)
I agree about Helen's shots, of course. Then again, you can give her any lens, and she will return keepers.

This is what I want to come across with this thread:

There are two reasons IMO, to buy an ultra-fast lens:
1 - for the special image characteristics that an ultra-fast lens can give, like nice OOF highlights, etc. You might possible carry two 50mm lenses if you are in this camp.
2 - to be able to shoot in the dark and get the job done. And use the same lens for any other purpose.

Because we are coming from different perspectives, the 1.1 Nokton gets so mixed reviews. I think the lens was obviously designed for 2) and I have been very happy to carry only one 50mm when traveling. And - as the MTF numbers above show you - it does just fine on digital.




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