DO I BUY IT?
I have a portrait project in natural low light condition and I was looking for the perfect match with my Leica M10 camera. This lens will be used in complement of my Summilux 28mm wonderful lens which has done perfectly its duty until now.
I have found online reviews regarding the Leica Noctilux 0.95 but I was still looking for a review in relation with my needs, less technical and more practical. I was looking for something more photographer centred where photography is art and love and not only numbers and technical characteristics.
I am still a photographer who thinks that balance between form and content is important. In fact why buying an expensive, bulky camera if you think that content is 100 % of a photograph. You do not need camera and you do not need to be photographer to do it, you can perfectly express your art or ideas with any kind of devices able to take images.
Erwin Puts, in the Leica Compendium, wrote about the Noctilux 0.95 ‘sense of depth and clarity not seen in a super fast lens before’. Wonderful, one of my quests as eccentric photographer is to be able to compose photograph in 3D.
The best way to decide between Noctilux or Summilux was to try. Amsterdam Leica Store has had the kindness to lend me a lens for few days and after a delighted chat and coffee I was on the street with a beautiful Noctilux 0.95 silver.
Sense of Depht
It cannot be flatter than a glass, but with the Leica Noctilux 0.95 you get a sense of depth and you are able to compose your photograph in 3D using the shallow depth of field of this super-fast lens and I like it. The reflexion in the glass is sharp and table and chairs give you this special feeling, but is it sufficient to decide?
You read a lot of comments regarding the viewfinder blockage of the Leica Noctilux. It is not a Summicron but for me the most important was to know if I will be able to use it. Thus the next challenge was at Centraal Station in Amsterdam and to find a composition with lines that should be aline on the visible right up corner of the viewfinder and a mobile subject, you can guess a bike…
It is not cheating but you need to use everything to help you to compose a photograph. Focus, simple you have white marks on the floor. Lines, you need to imagine in your (really bright) viewfinder where should be the intersection point on the right bottom side…. and wait. This was the second picture the first one was slightly out of focus. Mission done, yes the viewfinder blockage is important but not really upsetting.
I look for a lens for my portrait project and I have read many comments about the difficulty to focus the Noctilux 0.95 with the Leica M. My friend photographer Claude was in town with his Leica M9P and was an easy choice for this portrait challenge.
The signature of the Leica Noctilux is strong, more important that I was expected. This portrait is for me what I look for, a killer photograph, really sharp on one eye with a great sense of deepness. The subject seems popping out of the picture thank you to the minimal depth of field.
In addition the clarity is fantastic, I have the impression that each photon went through the lens to reach the sensor.
The Noctilux is the easiest fast lens that I have had to focus, surprise by this comment? I read a lot of confusions about Noctilux and focusing, it is not the lens, the camera or yourself. You have a minimal depth of field due to your wide open aperture which will be identical for any fast lens on the market around the same focal. The combination Leica M10 and Noctilux is perfect if you use the rangefinder, you get what you have, this is Leica.
In addition the superb manufacturing quality of the Noctilux is at the level of what you pay. The size and the weight, 700 grams, of the lens is for me an advantage, you gain in stablility and the distance ring is really smooth. I have increased the stability with handgrip and thumb support on my Leica M 10.
Conclusion: YES NOCTILUX
I gave back the Noctilux to Amsterdam Leica Store. After a lovely talk, which is not so frequent in the Netherlands, I went back home to print two pictures. I use to print large format photographs before to take a decision. I find this easy to decide, more light and the feeling to dive in the picture and not the opposite.
I liked very much Claude portrait. The signature of the lens was stronger that I was expected. I liked also the colours, may be less perfect than with the Summilux 28mm, but very similar. Photography is art and passion, you like or you do not like. Moreover the equipment needs to fit you well, you need to have pleasure and less constraints. Leica M and Noctilux 0.95 fit me well and I have had great satisfaction during these days.
The Leica Noctilux is the best financial investment that you can do in photography equipment. This lens will give you satisfaction for years and in addition will keep its value. For professional photographers it is also a way to produce something different and show to their clients an iconic brand. Differentiation is an add value for any business and easy to access with Leica.
Please if you look for a great customer experience when you travel to Amsterdam pass by the Amsterdam Leica Store. You will find nice people ready to share with you their passion for Leica.
If you want more informations about Leica and Noctilux: www.overgaard.dk
I am the proud and happy owner of a Leica Noctilux 0.95 and this morning I did this photograph.
Paul was outside preparing a school course, he is learning english. Paul lives in the poorest part of the poorest country of the world in a camp. I had offered to Paul a tiny radio and he was the first time for the last six years that he was able to listen at the news.