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Archive 2013 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images
  
 
Makten
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p.1 #1 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


I got the opportunity to loan and use this lens for a while, so I thought I'd share some images and impressions. As you all probably know, it's crazy expensive and sought after. But is it really THAT good? Let's see.

These were all shot at f/1.2 with a Nikon D700. Since they have no artistic value to me, I used photobucket instead of flickr, and thus there is some compression going on. But you should get an idea of the performance anyway since I chose 1500 pixels width.








The first thing I noticed is that focus must be perfect. With lenses that give more spherical aberration it doesn't matter that much, but here it really does. The performance in the middle is spectacular. Almost no haze or purple fringing. On the other hand, the outer 1/3 of the image circle is quite bad.








Bokeh is nice, but not up to the hype. At least not for these non-closeups. Though it beats the pants off the Nikkor 50/1.2, while still giving a bit of LCA. Corners are also smooth and with less of the drop shaped OOF blur discs that you see with most fast 50 mm lenses.

If you nail focus and don't need sharpness in the outer part of the image, there is some pop as well.








Colors are the "usual" from many Nikkors; a greenish cast that is hard to get rid of. Still pretty good for 1977 standards.








I found the odd focal length really nice actually. When I shoot this type of scenes with 85 mm I always have to step back. With a 50 mm lens I wish for 40, but 58 works like a very short tele for me.








As usual, the claims of fantastic bokeh falls apart as soon as you don't do portraits or other semi-close work. Which seems to be the case with 99% of all users of fast lenses. I really don't understand that.

Feel free to add your own images, if you happen to own this unusual lens.



Feb 24, 2013 at 08:19 PM
LightShow
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p.1 #2 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Looks ok to me, Could you shoot some night shots too please.



Feb 25, 2013 at 03:14 AM
j.liam
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p.1 #3 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


If the NOCT is a niche lens even within the niche realm of ultra high-speed primes, shooting in flat, diffused daylight with background at some distance doesn't really showcase its unique capabilities under the conditions it was designed for.

Even so the level of resolution, contrast and acutance WO along with an absence of haze I normally expect from my 50/1.2 is striking.



Feb 25, 2013 at 05:24 AM
Makten
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p.1 #4 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


LightShow wrote:
Looks ok to me, Could you shoot some night shots too please.


I really hate night shots, but we'll see.


j.liam wrote:
If the NOCT is a niche lens even within the niche realm of ultra high-speed primes, shooting in flat, diffused daylight with background at some distance doesn't really showcase its unique capabilities under the conditions it was designed for.

Even so the level of resolution, contrast and acutance WO along with an absence of haze I normally expect from my 50/1.2 is striking.


The question is if anyone buying such a lens will use it for what it's meant for. Probably not. If you want to get rid of coma you are of course better off with a tripod and stopping down. If f/1.2 was enough for night shots in the film era, you could easily use f/2-2.8 with todays sensors. So, in my opinion the only reason to buy a Noct is to get a blurry background.



Feb 25, 2013 at 05:43 AM
zhangyue
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p.1 #5 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Looks like you are not enthusiastic about it I have to say a lot of lens just doesn't live for their hyper. Notoriously, a bunch of leica lens.

But this is a artistic tool, (so is 50/1.2 nikkor)so I am not surprised with your finding. The problem is As a collector piece, you need pay a lot more than its optical suggested to get it.

It is a decent lens, and good for many things. but might be easily out done by latest cheaper lens.

I heard it is not as sharp as nikkor 50/1.2 once stop down. That will be sad if it is true.



Feb 25, 2013 at 06:17 AM
master381
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p.1 #6 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


It's a great lens and the jewel of my collection. Because it does require perfect focus it is a challenge to use. I'll try to dig up some film scans I have with it.

Agree people tend to expect too much out its bokeh. As most ultra-fast lenses tend to be. I do happen to like how it renders backgrounds when used as a portrait lens though. It has the cats-eye highlight circle thing. I don't have a pic of that right now, but enjoy this one of a nice Samoyed!

FM3a, Portra 400, Noct:



Feb 25, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Makten
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p.1 #7 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


zhangyue wrote:
I heard it is not as sharp as nikkor 50/1.2 once stop down. That will be sad if it is true.


Sharpness seems to peak at f/2.8 in the middle, and then degrades while the corners catch up just a bit (from terrible) upon stopping down. Definitely not a good lens for uniform sharpness and stopped down use.

I am enthusiastic, but I won't contribute to the hype.



Feb 25, 2013 at 06:23 AM
phuang3
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p.1 #8 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Tried this lens before. It's very expensive, but not better than FD 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical, especially at closeup.


Feb 25, 2013 at 08:12 AM
ISO1600
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p.1 #9 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


I've used the Noct before, it is a fantastic lens, if you need it.
Astrophotography or shooting in just abysmal light would be ideal use-case scenarios.

One of, if not my biggest, issues with the D700 is the lack of available (at least OEM) high precision focusing screen like the EG-S for the 5D/6D cameras. This, IMO, really hurts the use of lenses like the Noct.



Feb 25, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Makten
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p.1 #10 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


ISO1600 wrote:
One of, if not my biggest, issues with the D700 is the lack of available (at least OEM) high precision focusing screen like the EG-S for the 5D/6D cameras.


I have a modified Canon screen in my D700. Don't know who's making them but I know I've seen a site that offers many types of screens for the D700 and other Nikon bodies. Personally I'd want one with micro prisms, because in low light theres just no way that I can see where focus ends up with this screen (even if it's much better than Katzeye).



Feb 25, 2013 at 02:43 PM
 

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j.liam
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p.1 #11 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Makten wrote:
The question is if anyone buying such a lens will use it for what it's meant for. Probably not..... So, in my opinion the only reason to buy a Noct is to get a blurry background.


You're undoubtedly right about the former. As for the latter, I too had a brief encounter with the NOCT and don't remember the bokeh to be that busy but my shots were in lower light and closer to the MFD.

zhangyue wrote:
I heard it is not as sharp as nikkor 50/1.2 once stop down. That will be sad if it is true.


Not really sad at all; just like the Leica Noctilux, once stopped down to /4 or so, it's slower cousins are far better. Its merit in its day was that it could go into the darkness and deliver sharpness in a localized area of the frame where the others couldn't at all, and in the age of Kodachrome 64, that was a bigger deal than being razor sharp across the frame (which the NOCT seems to be centrally only, on account of significant field curvature). The NOCT is a niche lens within a niche category. Any modern plastic fifty will beat it by /5.6 and maybe at /4 too. The 50/1.2, on the other hand, provides an old-fashioned 'atmospheric' with its heavy spherical aberration that dramatically clear by /2 and that's why you'd bother with that venerable design at all, not because it sharpens up nicely by /2.8. Yet another very specialized optic of a different sort.

ISO1600 wrote:
One of, if not my biggest, issues with the D700 is the lack of available (at least OEM) high precision focusing screen like the EG-S for the 5D/6D cameras. This, IMO, really hurts the use of lenses like the Noct.


Try a Katz Eye focusing screen for the D700. Really made all the difference when I owned the D700 modified in that way. Can't comment on the modified Canon screens.



Feb 25, 2013 at 02:46 PM
ISO1600
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p.1 #12 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


I don't have the D700 anymore. Aren't those modified screens quite pricey vs a OEM canon?


Feb 25, 2013 at 03:22 PM
ryankarr
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p.1 #13 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


j.liam wrote:
If the NOCT is a niche lens even within the niche realm of ultra high-speed primes, shooting in flat, diffused daylight with background at some distance doesn't really showcase its unique capabilities under the conditions it was designed for.

Even so the level of resolution, contrast and acutance WO along with an absence of haze I normally expect from my 50/1.2 is striking.


I would agree with this sentiment.

You don't buy lenses like the Noct or Noctilux to stop down past f4, and it's not really fair to judge a lens like this based on "trying it out" for a very short period of time. I used a Noct for about 2 years before going to leica and picking up a Noctilux. I owned a Nikon 50mm 1.2 before buying my NOCT and the difference to me was I didn't feel shooting wide open was compromising image qualtiy. That little bit of extra contrast and sharpness made a huge difference to my eyes. In the end, it's very expensive to go from 1.4 to 1.2 (or 1 or 0.95), and the technical gains are relatively minimal.

But let me stress, I've never been a technical reviewer of lenses. I just use them as they were intended and see if I like the results.

Everything wide open, because I never wanted to stop the lens down:


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


The Pigs honor guard by ryankarr, on Flickr


Mandy and Grayson by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr


Grayson's First Steps by ryankarr, on Flickr


M3 by ryankarr, on Flickr


Proud by ryankarr, on Flickr


Porsche by ryankarr, on Flickr


Untitled by ryankarr, on Flickr






Feb 25, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #14 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


ISO1600 wrote:
I don't have the D700 anymore. Aren't those modified screens quite pricey vs a OEM canon?


105,- USD, but Katz Eye is as good as it can get today (probably cause competition is thinner each year). I would recommand getting microprism center tho (instead of split prism).

I have one in my Fuji S5 and its pretty useful, but just as I said - split prism isnt much useful (might be more if it was 45 .. which is what Focusing Screens have), microprism much more.

Its near perfect for DOF evaluation, especially at close distance (I guess it would be really handy for macro work).

Tho best today MF camera is Sony A99. Focus peaking and 10x magnification are hard to beat. And SSS if you have chipped adapter.

My main problem is small/low magnification OVF. Without focusing screen it would be just lost, now its at least usable. I guess that D700 with this focusing screen and DK-17M could be really easy to use.

Maybe I will try it in not so far future, unless I choose to get Canon.



Feb 25, 2013 at 03:51 PM
master381
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p.1 #15 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


For what it's worth, using any 1.4 or faster glass on an older SLR with ground glass that shows actual DOF at apertures faster than 2.8 is a huge help. Images just pop into focus! I often use fast glass on an FM3a and F6 with split-prisms and getting accurate focus is not too bad. An older camera like the FE is even better as the FM3a/F6 screens only show DOF up to f/2; the older cameras give you full f/1.2 view.

Also, when I had a D700 to play with, the accuracy using the focus confirm dot was spot on for me. I was super grateful for that.

Currently I have a borrowed D600 and I need to use AF adjust to get good accuracy with the focus confirmation dot. I do wish Nikon would put out a split-prism/microprism screen for their DSLRs. The F6 is the only recent 135 format body with a first-party MF screen (and no microprisms, just the split-prism).



Feb 25, 2013 at 04:55 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #16 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


I wonder about the usefulness of microprisms and split-prism. I have used both myself but prefer a matte screen. As much as we learn about the Golden Rule and such, the prism would be only useful for a center-only composition. I guess focus and recompose (just like the center point AF) would be in order, but I find the prism is quite distracting.


Feb 25, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Makten
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p.1 #17 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


j.liam wrote:
You're undoubtedly right about the former. As for the latter, I too had a brief encounter with the NOCT and don't remember the bokeh to be that busy but my shots were in lower light and closer to the MFD.


That's why I never trust lens test on the net. People just don't seem to use lenses like I do. When I want narrow DOF, it's almost always at large distances. Close up, I even like it better if it's busy.

Not really sad at all; just like the Leica Noctilux, once stopped down to /4 or so, it's slower cousins are far better. Its merit in its day was that it could go into the darkness and deliver sharpness in a localized area of the frame where the others couldn't at all, and in the age of Kodachrome 64, that was a bigger deal than being razor sharp across the frame (which the NOCT seems to be centrally only, on account of significant field curvature). The NOCT is a niche lens within a niche category. Any modern plastic fifty will beat...Show more

Exactly, and any pixel peeper getting their hands on the Noct will trow up when examining the borders! It's not only field curvature, even if it plays a roll.
I really like the 55/1.2 because of the "old school" look with a nice glow wide open and super sharpness at f/2. The 50/1.2 is even more extreme when it comes to clearing up at f/2 where it beats anything that I've seen. Still my all time favourite is the ZF 50/1.4.

hiepphotog wrote:
I wonder about the usefulness of microprisms and split-prism. I have used both myself but prefer a matte screen. As much as we learn about the Golden Rule and such, the prism would be only useful for a center-only composition. I guess focus and recompose (just like the center point AF) would be in order, but I find the prism is quite distracting.


It can be distracting of course, but in my opinion a micro prism screen is much easier to focus than a split prism. It works without straight lines and if recomposing is out of the question you can always use the rest of the screen as usual. Most of the time you'll end up with more accurate focus when recomposing anyway.

-----------------------------

Now, per request I managed to get off the tram on my way home and shoot some low light with the Noct just a couple of hours ago. All are at f/1.2 and this time none are cropped. I've also been quite gentle with PP to show what the lens does.





























Here I must express my appreciation for the D700 sensor, which is very good still today. This was shot at ISO 4000 and pushed 2.5 stops to ISO 22600 (!) in PP:
















As you can see, sharpness degrades very steeply just outside the center of the image. But the center is truly amazing with almost no fringing and no SA.



Feb 25, 2013 at 07:05 PM
j.liam
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p.1 #18 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Surprising amount of off-center coma in #5.


Feb 25, 2013 at 07:49 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #19 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


Though I see visible fringing (in-focus LoCA to be exact) even at this size, I have to agree that it's quite minimal, especially for a 50ish 1.2. I guess people wanted to see the amount of coma at WO. I have not tested my Jahre for this yet.


Feb 25, 2013 at 08:04 PM
hiepphotog
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p.1 #20 · Noct-NIKKOR 58/1.2 images


j.liam wrote:
Surprising amount of off-center coma in #5.


I think we should only concern with in-focus off-axis coma performance.



Feb 25, 2013 at 08:06 PM
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