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Roger Hicks
04-26-2008, 01:53
Assuming it really is discontinued, here's a brief obituary-cum-review:

http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps%20king.html

Some may find it interesting.

Cheers,

R.

mfogiel
04-26-2008, 02:26
A nice article Roger, I am sure a hot debate will follow, especially among the Canon owners.... Considering that Noctilux had no aspheric surfaces, I wonder if Zeiss will pull out something similar - I would love to get an ultra fast 50mm from them, for the look, and more importantly, for the flare resistance of the T* coatings, as shooting with artificial lights in the frame is quite normal for the use you make of this type of glass.

Cron
04-26-2008, 02:33
nice article;
but why worry? As rumors tell, there will be a new one with beginning at f/0,85-0,9 but much higher priced :-(

Austerby
04-26-2008, 02:34
Thank you Roger - that's inspired me to use my Noctilux a bit more often. I am somewhat intimidated by it -and now it's value (fortunately though not what it cost) and don't like taking it out of my home. It's mainly therefore used at dinner parties or family celebrations for which it is ideal. Having accidentally dropped lenses in the past I'm treating this one with reverance!

Paulbe
04-26-2008, 04:21
Great article, Roger and Frances--thanks!
Paul

awilder
04-26-2008, 04:46
It's really a lens requiring more discipline than most in one's shooting technique given it's rather high degree of light falloff at f/1 and greater care in focusing. That and it's necessary massive size (for an RF lens) makes it less tempting to carry than a 50/1.4, thus reserving it for special low light shooting. One very interesing effect unique to this lens in daylight shooting is to isolate the subject giving a "telephoto lens" look impossible to achieve with any other lens. For this, a Hexar RF with a 1/4000 speed really helps out.

mr_phillip
04-26-2008, 04:48
but why worry? As rumors tell, there will be a new one with beginning at f/0,85-0,9 but much higher priced :-(

People are nervous because history has shown us that classic designs are often replaced with items perceived as lacking the 'magic' of the original. There's a reason that the 35mm V4 pre-aspherical 'crons are now changing hands for as much (or more) than used examples the ASPH version (beyond people just being nuts of course!)

Matthew Allen
04-26-2008, 06:24
Nice article Roger, refreshingly even-handed like a lot of your writing.

I don't know if there's any logic in this, but I can't help feeling that it's unwise for a company like Leica to discontinue something with the (now) iconic status of the Noctilux. Even though the vast majority of Leica users would never have bought one, it was always there as a distant possibility.

I think it's a recognized fact that companies like Canon lure people into buying 450D/XSi/whatevers with the thought of joining a system that includes the L glass and some very high end pro bodies, even though most of the people buying the low end DSLRs will never actually move up. Maybe this is just a bad analogy but if forum comments are anything to go by then the Noctilux falls into the category of things that people are glad exist even though they themselves will never use or own one. It's a bit like the Shipping Forecast or Radio 3 in this respect. You're glad they are there but you never actually listen to them.

Matthew

Roger Hicks
04-26-2008, 07:18
Thanks for all the replies and kind words. A few responses:

Yes, Canon owners sometimes do take slights easily, but the basic argument is that if the Noctilux weren't better in just about every way than the Canon, no-one would have bought Noctiluxes.

I would be amazed if there were not another, probably faster lens on the way; and if Leica's not making it but has has heard something (I honestly don't know who is planning what) then they'd do well to discontinue a 41-year-old lens that would only be second fastest. The new lens may well lack some of the magic of the old, but it may (with any luck) depress used Noctilux prices as the willy-wavers pile out of the old, 'slow' lens, into the new one. And of course the new lens may have magic of its own.

I can't justify a Noctilux either, but I keep the Canon mainly because it's not worth much; if I want a sharp, fast lens, I'll sacrifice the half stop and use one of my f/1.4 or f/1.5 lenses instead.

And I completely agree about the lure of 'glamour bottles' that most people will never handle, let alone buy, but act as bait for camera systems.

Cheers,

R.

Matthew Allen
04-26-2008, 07:46
I would be amazed if there were not another, probably faster lens on the way; and if Leica's not making it but has has heard something (I honestly don't know who is planning what) then they'd do well to discontinue a 41-year-old lens that would only be second fastest. The new lens may well lack some of the magic of the old, but it may (with any luck) depress used Noctilux prices as the willy-wavers pile out of the old, 'slow' lens, into the new one. And of course the new lens may have magic of its own.

I hope that happens but the alternative scenario is that the Leica clique deems the new lens in some way wanting (a bit like with the 35 Cron ASPH mentioned by mr_phillip) and consequently drive 50/1 prices even higher than they already are.

Matthew

EDIT: I've decided this post needs a disclaimer because I'm starting to sound a bit armchair expert-ish.

1. I've never owned a Noctilux
2. I've never seen a Noctilux in the flesh.
3. I've never take a photograph with an aperture greater than f1.2, and with the SLRs I've used to do that it was not easy to get good results.
4. I have no insider knowledge of Leica's plans and
5. I have no qualifications that would justify my pronouncements about the future of the lens market.

Harry Lime
04-28-2008, 14:25
I had a Noctilux or as I liked to call her "The Queen of the Night" for a little over a year. In the end we weren't meant for each other and parted ways, but I do have fond memories of her. Is is a very special lens.

Here are two links to Erwin's reviews.

http://www.imx.nl/photo/lenstest/noctilux-m_11050mm.html

http://www.imx.nl/photo/lenstest/leitz_noctilux_11250_the_un.html

Paulbe
04-28-2008, 15:02
Matthew--I read your disclaimers again. They make you a true expert! Opine away--
:-)
Paul

Ben Z
04-29-2008, 07:41
Three years ago the little corner camera store near us (owner since retired and closed the store) took in a Noctilux in trade. It was the version immediately prior to the latest, E60 filter size but with a separate hood. Really tip-top condition, too. They had it priced at $1600. I never wanted the lens, it's too heavy for my taste. I remembered all the snotty posts on forums about how Leica's should be bought to use, not as investments, and so I passed on it. Stupid is as stupid does :bang:

sockeyed
04-29-2008, 08:14
One of my flickr contacts, Anhtu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/), does quite special work with a Noctilux on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) using Velvia and an M6. Examples here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/2412017581/) and here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/2448511889/).

manfromh
04-30-2008, 05:15
I've never understood the Noctilux look.

Harry Lime
05-01-2008, 08:07
I've never understood the Noctilux look.

I find it interesting that so many people comment on the unique Noct bokeh, when at least to me it looks very much like what you get from a Sonnar.

But what is unique to the Noct is the nearly total lack of flare. There simply is none and as Erwin points out in his review, there is so little scatter as the photons travel through the elements, that pretty much only the light contained in the scene reaches the film. To me that is what gives Noctilux images their unique look. Unfortunately this was one of the main reasons why I sold my Noct. I felt that the images were flat and I prefer a little glow and blooming. The images from the Noct are so perfect, that they contain none of these traits.

Just to give an idea of how flare proof this lens is, here's an example. One night I was on a night shoot for a movie. To entertain myself between takes I shot directly in to a 20,000 watt movie light, that was suspended about 20 ft off the sidewalk, The Noct didn't even bat an eye. When I examined the frame I saw geometry (Octagons etc) from a lens flare, but no actual flare. Pretty amazing.

maddoc
05-01-2008, 08:30
Roger, an interesting review. One thing I like about the Noctilux is that it ia also quite usable at day-time (without ND filter) :)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3016/2456483616_b63bd9d5f0.jpg

1/1000 s f/2.0 (or 2.8) Fuji Astia 100F

Andrew Sowerby
05-01-2008, 08:35
One of my flickr contacts, Anhtu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/), does quite special work with a Noctilux on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) using Velvia and an M6. Examples here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/2412017581/) and here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhtu/2448511889/).

I've been admiring Anhtu's stuff on Flickr for a while. Noctilux + Velvia is a wonderful combination. Very dream-like.

furcafe
05-01-2008, 09:07
Completely agree re: both the Noct's Sonnar-like boke & its flare resistance. 1 of the reasons why I like the Noct is that it is (or was) like a modernized Sonnar on steroids, i.e., w/some nice field curvature/vignetting wide-open, only without the annoying propensity for flare from point light sources in or just out of the frame. Unfortunately, when using the Noct on an M8, I have to deal w/flare from the stupid UV/IR cut filter.

I find it interesting that so many people comment on the unique Noct bokeh, when at least to me it looks very much like what you get from a Sonnar.

But what is unique to the Noct is the nearly total lack of flare. There simply is none and as Erwin points out in his review, there is so little scatter as the photons travel through the elements, that pretty much only the light contained in the scene reaches the film. To me that is what gives Noctilux images their unique look. Unfortunately this was one of the main reasons why I sold my Noct. I felt that the images were flat and I prefer a little glow and blooming. The images from the Noct are so perfect, that they contain none of these traits.

Just to give an idea of how flare proof this lens is, here's an example. One night I was on a night shoot for a movie. To entertain myself between takes I shot directly in to a 20,000 watt movie light, that was suspended about 20 ft off the sidewalk, The Noct didn't even bat an eye. When I examined the frame I saw geometry (Octagons etc) from a lens flare, but no actual flare. Pretty amazing.

Harry Lime
05-01-2008, 09:41
Completely agree re: both the Noct's Sonnar-like boke & its flare resistance. 1 of the reasons why I like the Noct is that it is (or was) like a modernized Sonnar on steroids, i.e., w/some nice field curvature/vignetting wide-open, only without the annoying propensity for flare from point light sources in or just out of the frame. Unfortunately, when using the Noct on an M8, I have to deal w/flare from the stupid UV/IR cut filter.

Being nearly impervious to flare is also what makes the Noct the ultimate low light lens. There are other lenses out there that are as fast or almost as fast and even a few that are faster, but they all flare, which muddies the subtle tonality of what little light is available.

I remember being awestruck by this when I examined the first roll of Delta3200 (1600) I had shot with the Noct.

Leica accomplished this by making some elements from a fairly exotic glass, that is not only very expensive, but also quite heavy. I seem to remember that Leica only had so much of the glass on hand. Perhaps they ran out. It is not uncommon for glass types to be discontinued. Another possibility is that the glass had a high lead content and under new EU regulations could no longer be sold.

If I had money to burn I would own a Noct, just for those special occasions.

charjohncarter
05-01-2008, 10:24
Roger, thank you for the obit. I'm a sucker for French music, here is a good one by Lombric:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jNaocu6Iyw

kemal_mumcu
05-01-2008, 10:46
Don't forget that the Noctilux is Leica's poster product on the M Camera part of their website right now(that along with the M8). It features in their flash intro to their camera division of their company. I agree with mr_phillip that the Noctilux is a speacial draw to the whole system in general. Even if they discontinue this lens they will replace it just for the mystique it creates in the line. (Even if they only sell a few hundred every year.)

I have no plan or desire to ever own a Noctilux, but i would still be disappointed if Leica didn't come up with a replacement version.

sockeyed
05-01-2008, 12:56
I seem to remember that Leica only had so much of the glass on hand. Perhaps they ran out.

This is the case, as I understand it. Tom Abrahamsson mentioned over coffee this weekend that Leica had purchased a certain amount of this very special glass from Elcan and that they only have enough for a few more lenses. The contract has not been renewed. If I have the details wrong, maybe Tom can jump in and correct me.

RIVI1969
05-01-2008, 13:06
Totally agree with Matthew, it is a matter of branding. Just like Audi has its 135000usd R8, is not like will be plenty on the streets like A3s, is about the imagery they built around it. Is being able to offer what no one else can. But...

I wish I could have one for my RD1, at least i will go find the CV 35mm 1.2.

Ricardo

Roger Hicks
05-03-2008, 00:40
Roger, thank you for the obit. I'm a sucker for French music, here is a good one by Lombric:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jNaocu6Iyw

And thank you for the Lombric link. They really are nice people, as well as good musicians.

I've been using the Noctilux a bit more lately, in case the owner suddenly asks for it back (though as his wife had a baby last month he may be a bit distracted for the next, oh, 17 years or so) and it's growing on me. I hope I don't get too fond of it or I may have to offer to buy it off him.

But I still don't care for it much as an everyday 50mm. It's so big and heavy, and at middling apertures the quality is good but not outstanding.

Cheers,

R.

mfunnell
05-03-2008, 02:10
I'm sure I made the right decision (for me) buying a 75 Summilux rather than a Noctilux, back when both were way more affordable. But your article did induce some pangs of regret. Thanks, Roger, (um ... I think) for a very good article.

...Mike

F456
05-04-2008, 06:46
Thanks, Roger, for the Noctilux obituary. But I really wish you hadn't written it at all, because the quality (in the sense of the look as much as the standard) of a couple of your pictures is giving me a compulsive urge to buy a Noctilux. I've even tracked one down since you posted the article - mint, recent, second-hand.. and financial suicide. Only 36 hours to get a grip on myself till the shop opens on Tuesday and I hear myself say down the 'phone 'Ok, I'll get it!'

To me it's not the dreamy portrait of the girl; it's the group in yellow waiting to go on stage that wins me over to this lens, together with some of Ned's shots (especially the blue car in an orange twilight).

You can help me avert disaster by telling me that my Noct Nikkor is just as good; the trouble is that though it IS wonderful, it is noisier to use (SLR & mirror), less steady at slow speeds (SLR & mirror), and not quite as fast. I suspect that in line with a general Nikon/Leica comparison it doesn't quite achieve that 3-dimensional plastic (i.e. giving modelling) look either. It is very hard to focus exactly at f/1.2 on the Nikon digital bodies, but neither is it much fun on them anyway. It feels most at home on a high-eyepoint F3.

Is this the right place to ask (1) if you find your Noctilux focusing success rate much better with the Leica M film bodies than the M8 and (2) if you encounter any back-focus problems with the Noctilux on the M8 or even the film bodies? (2) is not too serious for me: I'd just stick to f/1 and f/1.4 (and anything between), assuming it's true that back-focus only occurs stopped down. My M7 is the x0.85 v/f version, so the rangefinder base length is on our side. For the narrower apertures I have another M-series 50mm that I like.

Elsewhere you mention cars: I almost wish they WERE my interest - they would almost certainly have saved me money over a period of years!

Best wishes and in hope of some timely wisdom,
Tom

Roger Hicks
05-04-2008, 08:03
Dear Tom,

The bad news is that I can't tell you that your Noct-Nikkor is just as good; the good news is that this is because I don't know, because I've never taken a picture with a Noct-Nikkor in my life, so I can't compare them.

Yes, I have found the Noctilux fractionally easier to focus with film, but mostly, what loses ultimate sharpness in both cases is camera shake in 'available darkness' photography.

No, I've not found any focus shift problems, but then, I tend to shoot either wide open or at f/5.6 to f/11, and I'm rarely if ever shooting at the closest focus distance. I'll see if I can do a quick test before Tuesday, when you start playing Russian Roulette with your credit card...

Thanks for the kind words about the pictures. I have no illusions about their sharpness, but as you say, the look is somewhat captivating.

Cheers,

Roger

F456
05-04-2008, 10:07
Dear Roger,
Thank you for your reply - and for trying out the lens again if you have time. Please don't worry if you haven't!

I had a look in two of your books since reading your post. When asking your views on the Noct Nikkor 58/1.2 I realize now I confused two lenses that you had used, merging them into the Noct Nikkor, which I do have. Yours were the old and briefly produced 58/1.4 Nikkor (never made in Ai versions?) and what you described as the 'cooking' f/1.2 - the 50/1.2.

Maybe it's worth asking how you found the cooking f/1.2 compared with the Noctilux. The Noct Nikkor and cooking Nikkor look internally and externally quite similar apart from the all important and expensive hand-ground aspherical lens surface. Maybe it's an unfair comparison as you may have used the 50/1.2 Nikkor and the 50/1 Noctilux for quite different sorts of picture.

Cheers,
Tom

Roger Hicks
05-05-2008, 04:09
OK:

Test conditions 1.2 m. from books at 45 degrees (OED), lens on M8. Sharpest focus across several tries was:

f/1 Approx 15-20mm behind focused point

f/1.4 Approx 20-30mm behind focused point

f/2 Approx 30-40mm behind focused point -- very marked because of d-o-f and increased sharpness/contrast at point of sharpest focus

f/2.8 Approx 75mm behind focused point

f/4 Approx 100mm behind focused point

f/5.6 Much the same as f/4 but d-o-f is now covering a fair amount -- though d-o-f behind is much more than d-o-f in front.

The basic disagreement of about 20mm is not unusual and indicates a need to have the body fitted to the lens. After that, the focus shift is about 5-10mm at f/1.4, 10-20mm at f/2, 60mm at f/2.8 and 80mm at f/4.

Results at 2m were surprisingly similar, though of course, d-o-f grew faster. As with the C-Sonnar 50/1.5, d-o-f grew much faster behind the subject than in front of it; Dr. Nasse's advice to 'treat all the d-o-f as being behind the point of focus' seems useful.

Discrepamcies are all small enough to correct by moving your head backwards a fraction (1-4 inches) after focusing.

Hope this helps. Please DON'T turn this into a Leica-bashing contest as I have merely done this to help Tom and give him an idea of the scale of the problem.

Cheers,

R.

F456
05-05-2008, 05:13
Roger,
Many thanks for taking time to run this test and tabulate the findings. I'll let you know which way I go tomorrow! Hope the info is useful to other readers as well.

By the way, is it fair to say that only bodies go out of adjustment: i.e. if you get a body matched to the Noctilux, will it necessarily make your other lenses better-focusing as well, or could they see a downturn? My other lenses are all current generation types.

Cheers,
Tom

Roger Hicks
05-05-2008, 06:01
. . . is it fair to say that only bodies go out of adjustment: i.e. if you get a body matched to the Noctilux, will it necessarily make your other lenses better-focusing as well. ..
Tom

Dear Tom,

Probably, but I've never tried it. It's only in the last few years that people have started expecting mechanical perfection. Formerly, people just got used to their cameras and lenses -- and the small differences that are shown up in testing seldom matter anyway.

I do however know that the cams on lenses that were slightly out (to Leitz specs) were sometimes 'kissed' with a very mild stone to bring them into line.

Cheers,

Roger

boilerdoc2
05-14-2008, 10:20
Roger, i was up until 12 AM reading 'the Rangefinder' last night. Wow! You and Frances did a great job.
The scuttlebutt on Leica User Forum is that prices on used Noctis are skyrocketing to as much as $10K. Scary. The much rumoured new 0.95 Nocti is fueling this no doubt. This makes it difficult to hang onto my beloved lens - even tho I use it a lot.
Steve W.

Roger Hicks
05-14-2008, 10:28
Dear Steve,

Think of it as Monopoly money.

You didn't pay that for it; you paid what it is worth to you.

You're using it, so it's still worth the same money to you.

Thanks for the kind words, and HANG ON TO YOUR NOCTILUX (Frances's advice in caps).

Cheers,

R.

kshapero
05-14-2008, 16:34
I take full credit for this. About six months ago I was trolling on APUG and I PM'ed Roger and told to get his butt over here where he belongs.
Thanks for the great article.

kevin m
05-14-2008, 16:41
I am somewhat intimidated by it -and now it's value ...and don't like taking it out of my home. It's mainly therefore used at dinner parties or family celebrations for which it is ideal. ...I'm treating this one with reverance!

An honest appraisal of the true worth of the Noctilux: A lens so valuable that it has become worthless. Any object for which you have "reverance" has lost all value as a working tool.

NB23
05-14-2008, 16:49
An honest appraisal of the true worth of the Noctilux: A lens so valuable that it has become worthless. Any object for which you have "reverance" has lost all value as a working tool.

Funny what the Noctilux does to people. Makes them become philosophers, anarchists and even economists.

gb hill
05-14-2008, 17:26
Funny what the Noctilux does to people. Makes them become philosophers, anarchists and even economists.

So which catigory does the Nocti place you in?:)

NB23
05-14-2008, 17:32
No CatIgory :)

Roger Hicks
05-14-2008, 22:42
An honest appraisal of the true worth of the Noctilux: A lens so valuable that it has become worthless. Any object for which you have "reverance" has lost all value as a working tool.
Eh?

I completely agree that if you can't afford to use it, you shouldn't.

I completely agree that it is not the lens for everyone.

But if you can afford it, and want to use it, what's the problem?

(This tends to affront a lot of people, who come over all hoity-toity and say, "I could afford if if I wanted it," but the simple truth is is unless you are comfortable using it, and are not too worried about the resale/replacement value, you can't really afford it. I know I can't).

Cheers,

R.

kevin m
05-15-2008, 03:12
But if you can afford it, and want to use it, what's the problem?

None at all. But the preponderance of at-home shots taken with this lens seems to indicate that most owners are scared to take the thing out in public. Hence, it's less-than-useful for its intended purpose.

...the simple truth is is unless you are comfortable using it, and are not too worried about the resale/replacement value, you can't really afford it. I know I can't

Me neither. Everyone has their comfort point, and this lens exceeds mine (in both cost and bulk.) Too many shelf-queens in the Leica catalog, so their "perfection" becomes a moot point.

Roger Hicks
05-15-2008, 03:23
None at all. But the preponderance of at-home shots taken with this lens seems to indicate that most owners are scared to take the thing out in public. Hence, it's less-than-useful for its intended purpose.

Me neither. Everyone has their comfort point, and this lens exceeds mine (in both cost and bulk.) Too many shelf-queens in the Leica catalog, so their "perfection" becomes a moot point.
Dear Kevin,

No argument on either point, except that there are always a few people who really do use them, at which point it is genuinely useful.

Cheers,

Roger

rxmd
05-15-2008, 04:17
You're new here, Kevin has been knocking nocti's since Adam was a young boy, this was just yesterday: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58930
So what? Some bash Noctiluxes, some bash Leica, some bash FSU gear, some bash expensive gear, some bash cheap gear, some bash luddites, some bash progress, some bash Bush, some bash zooms, some bash digital. It's the Internet for God's sake. Everybody bashes something, especially as long as we don't have to talk about pictures. You probably bash something, too.

Posters who like something that is frequently bashed sometimes develop a rather charming defiantist attitude towards it where they invite more bashing. Ned has this with the Noctilux which he now proudly advertises in his signature and location field. I think it's funny; it makes the forum a little bit more colourful anyway.

Philipp

kevin m
05-15-2008, 05:37
...there are always a few people who really do use them, at which point it is genuinely useful.

True. And our Ned is one of the rare shooters who not only actually uses the thing, but uses it to its strengths.

People are just silly, that's all. When this lens was affordable, it was no big deal; now that it's price has gone into orbit, it's become the holy grail of lenses. Most of us would be better served paying more attention to the craft of photography than obsessing about gear that won't make nearly as much difference in results as we imagine. :)

mfunnell
05-15-2008, 05:44
Funny what the Noctilux does to people. Makes them ... even economists.:eek: I'm glad I've avoided one, then. I mean, how low can one go...

...Mike

(and, please, spare me the lawyers and politicians - I'll concede those points before you get started)

pvdhaar
05-15-2008, 05:45
...but the simple truth is is unless you are comfortable using it, and are not too worried about the resale/replacement value, you can't really afford it...
Good advice Roger, though I even carry it somewhat further. My litmus test for deciding buying something:

I imagine holding a lens or camare at arms length above the pavement, then imagine dropping it. And if I can't do that without flinching an eye, I can't afford it..

Roger Hicks
05-15-2008, 08:28
Dear Peter,

I must flinch too easily -- I'd never buy ANYTHING with that test!

Good idea, though.

Cheers,

Roger

MikeL
05-15-2008, 08:37
I imagine holding a lens or camare at arms length above the pavement, then imagine dropping it. And if I can't do that without flinching an eye, I can't afford it..

My litmus test:

I imagine holding a lens or camare at arms length above the pavement, then imagine dropping it. My wife is standing next to me with the receipt for the item. And if I can't do that without losing an eye, I can't afford it..