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Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #1 · p.9 #1 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


NJPhotographer wrote:
Those examples are pretty convincing in favor of the 50/1.0 Nokton. The Noctilux-M 1:0.95/50 has a small victory in somehow achieving the most background blur in the middle of Scene 13.


The images were taken at exactly same distance for each scene and therefore both Leica lenses should produce more blur in the middle since they have narrower angle of view.
I guesstimated ~48mm FL (voigt) vs ~52mm (Leicas)



Feb 08, 2022 at 02:53 PM
KLaban
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p.9 #2 · p.9 #2 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Looking at these comparisons I have to wonder why anyone would pay almost six times as much for the Leica Noctilux-M 1:0.95/50.


Feb 08, 2022 at 03:00 PM
rscheffler
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p.9 #3 · p.9 #3 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Because until now there was no other competent competitor.

NJPhotographer wrote:
Those examples are pretty convincing in favor of the 50/1.0 Nokton. The Noctilux-M 1:0.95/50 has a small victory in somehow achieving the most background blur in the middle of Scene 13.


It's not just scene 13. The NX 0.95 has consistently slightly larger and smoother OOF background blur circles than the VM probably because of the slight speed and focal length difference. The 0.95's central blur quality reminds me of the 50 Lux ASPH's, but more of it. That said, the 0.95's blur quality doesn't hold across the frame and the change is more noticeable than the VM.

The VM is clearly technically better in most examples. But there were a few instances where I preferred the crops of either the NX 0.95 or NX 1.0. I guess it's a matter of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each lens. I suspect the VM allows a broader operating envelope compared to the other two.

The flare examples made me laugh out loud. It's pretty much what I expected from the Leica lenses. IMO flare resistance is a Leica M lens weakness, though sometimes it can be used to creative effect.

Not sure that Leica 'hates' Cosina for one-upping them so often recently. It's probably more like the incumbent waiting for the field to catch up before they release their next generation to leapfrog into the lead again. Though we'll see if that happens with the Nocti. IMO the 35 Cron APO M is a pretty convincing argument that Leica can make small, very sharp, very pleasantly rending lenses. Cosina's recent 35 APO is very sharp, but not small, nor all that pleasant rendering. It is a lot less expensive! Also keep in mind the 0.95 is a 2008 release. A whopping 14 years until it was unseated. And for a certain subset of Leica M buyers, it's irrelevant if there is a technically better competitor; it's not a Leica!

There's got to be a Roger Cicala law of forum behavior to define what we've experienced with the Nokton: pre-release curiosity and hype/anticipation, early results causing disappointment and the general consensus turning negative, to the current realization that the Nokton isn't worse than its direct competitors and is considerably better in a number of aspects...

Most importantly: THANK YOU FRED!!



Feb 08, 2022 at 03:17 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.9 #4 · p.9 #4 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


rscheffler wrote:
Because until now there was no other competent competitor.

It's not just scene 13. The NX 0.95 has consistently slightly larger and smoother OOF background blur circles than the VM probably because of the slight speed and focal length difference. The 0.95's central blur quality reminds me of the 50 Lux ASPH's, but more of it. That said, the 0.95's blur quality doesn't hold across the frame and the change is more noticeable than the VM.

The VM is clearly technically better in most examples. But there were a few instances where I preferred the crops of either the NX 0.95
...Show more

The 50/.95 is from 2008. Older design now which we are seeing. Will be interested to watch Leica respond. Some of the iconic m-mount lenses will be refreshes soon I’d guess. The 50 Noct, 35 and 50 Lux specifically come to mind.

And I agree—I don’t think Leica can’t produce top notch glass—the L-mount APO’s show that. And the M 35 APO and the 90 Lux.



Feb 08, 2022 at 03:43 PM
zhangyue
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p.9 #5 · p.9 #5 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Thank you for the comparison, Fred.

After this comparison, my conclusion is none of them for me. f1 lux show extreme vignette WOW me. I am not sure VC f1 did better on reverse FC based on these results though. It seems at least worse than 0.95. It show least optical problem for sure.

TBF, we never exam any Noctlux here in this forum. So, not really a surprise personally as I never expect them to be superb.



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:02 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #6 · p.9 #6 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Before comparing them, I noticed double edged structures in the Voigt's rendering but the effect is even more pronounced with the 0.95:

Here is a sample:







Feb 08, 2022 at 04:04 PM
CheshireCat
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p.9 #7 · p.9 #7 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


rscheffler wrote:
[...]
There's got to be a Roger Cicala law of forum behavior to define what we've experienced with the Nokton: pre-release curiosity and hype/anticipation, early results causing disappointment and the general consensus turning negative, to the current realization that the Nokton isn't worse than its direct competitors and is considerably better in a number of aspects...


True. Still, I cannot unsee some of the shots we saw previously. I am still convinced some early copies of the CV might suffer from tilting issues resulting in abnormal FC, hence extreme border sharpness.
We know Fred's copy isn't perfectly symmetrical, but not that much, as he cannot reproduce the issue. Nor can we deny we saw weird FC in a few examples posted on other forums.
For a moment I also wondered whether that NX 50/0.95 needs calibration, but the "new" NX is a relatively old 2008 design made for old sensors and film.
Examples I have seen from the NX 75 suggest lens tech advanced enormously in the last decade.

Thanks Fred for your comparison. It was really informative!

Edited on Feb 08, 2022 at 04:11 PM · View previous versions



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:10 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #8 · p.9 #8 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Although worse, I think the Noctilux 50/1 rendering unevenness is not as distracting compared to the other two. Perhaps it's because it's never really smooth even at center. There is more pronounced outlining which makes the focus transition zone busier compared to the 0.95.

Having said that, if I had to choose between Leica F0.95 and F1, I would go with the latter for its unique character. Technically it's not a good lens but it does produces pleasant images to my eyes. It's also quite compact although not as small as the Voigtlander.

The F0.95 is quite front heavy compared to the other two.



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:11 PM
DavidBM
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p.9 #9 · p.9 #9 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


rscheffler wrote:
Because until now there was no other competent competitor.

It's not just scene 13. The NX 0.95 has consistently slightly larger and smoother OOF background blur circles than the VM probably because of the slight speed and focal length difference. The 0.95's central blur quality reminds me of the 50 Lux ASPH's, but more of it. That said, the 0.95's blur quality doesn't hold across the frame and the change is more noticeable than the VM.

The VM is clearly technically better in most examples. But there were a few instances where I preferred the crops of either the NX 0.95
...Show more

I hesitate to weigh in on gear I don’t own, but in some ways I think the negative consensus was right. The fact that pricier competitors are not quite as good isn’t the point. The point is that very compact very fast lenses are of doubtful use, except for very niche uses. If you really really need the speed, be prepared to suck up considerably larger designs. Or else be satisfied with outstanding, all purpose f1.4 or f2 designs. Sure there are a few special conditions in which a Noctilux or Nokton f1 might be useful (where you are shooting 4x5, where the edges are in darkness, a few other things) and if you do any of that often while also wanting more blur than f1.2 even can give you, sure. Also if you have tons of money and want to play, I get that too! But I’d hate to see someone saving up or making sacrifices thinking that one of these compact fast lenses was in any sense “overall better”.



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:12 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #10 · p.9 #10 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


rscheffler wrote:
Because until now there was no other competent competitor.

It's not just scene 13. The NX 0.95 has consistently slightly larger and smoother OOF background blur circles than the VM probably because of the slight speed and focal length difference. The 0.95's central blur quality reminds me of the 50 Lux ASPH's, but more of it. That said, the 0.95's blur quality doesn't hold across the frame and the change is more noticeable than the VM.

The VM is clearly technically better in most examples. But there were a few instances where I preferred the crops of either the NX 0.95
...Show more

You're welcome!

The Leica 50/0.95's maximum aperture seems slightly larger than the Voigtlander 50/1.0's, so perhaps this was not purely marketing.



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:35 PM
 


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RexGig0
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p.9 #11 · p.9 #11 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Thanks, Fred, for the hard work, and for posting the images. I am also thankful for the others’ posts that are helping me to better understand what I am seeing. My eyes are telling me that I really like the Nokton f/1.0 VM images, to the degree that I would not be settling for less, by acquiring the Nokton, rather than either Noctilux.

I did become distracted, by an opportunity to acquire a pre-owned APO Summicron 75mm ASPH, so, acquiring a Nokton f/1.0 is going to have to simmer, on the back burner, for a while.



Feb 08, 2022 at 04:52 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #12 · p.9 #12 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Before I said goodbye to both Noct lenses, I tested them for centering on my M10-R and they passed with flying colors. That gives me confidence that the results from these tests are from optimal copies.

I think it's time to wrap up this review!



Feb 08, 2022 at 05:11 PM
nehemiahphoto
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p.9 #13 · p.9 #13 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
Before I said goodbye to both Noct lenses, I tested them for centering on my M10-R and they passed with flying colors. That gives me confidence that the results from these tests are from optimal copies.

I think it's time to wrap up this review!


You didn’t have them long! You might have enjoyed the softer draw of the Noct 50/1 for some applications, especially portraits had you gotten a chance to use it. Thanks much for doing this comp—really hard to find stuff like this for m-glass.




Feb 08, 2022 at 05:23 PM
rscheffler
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p.9 #14 · p.9 #14 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
Before I said goodbye to both Noct lenses, I tested them for centering on my M10-R and they passed with flying colors. That gives me confidence that the results from these tests are from optimal copies.

I think it's time to wrap up this review!

nehemiahphoto wrote:
You didn’t have them long! You might have enjoyed the softer draw of the Noct 50/1 for some applications, especially portraits had you gotten a chance to use it. Thanks much for doing this comp—really hard to find stuff like this for m-glass.


I suspect these were on loan from a friendly 'bartender' if you get my drift.



Feb 08, 2022 at 05:31 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #15 · p.9 #15 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review




Back to Quick Links

Samples 5

Pretty much straight off the camera.
Not corrected for CA or Vignetting. (Lightroom M10-R and Adobe Standard color profiles)
All at F1.




  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/2.8    1/90s    125 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/4.0    1/1500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.4    1/750s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/4.0    1/3000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.2    1/1000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.0    1/1000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.0    1/750s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.0    1/500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/4.0    1/1500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/1.2    1/500s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  






  LEICA M10-R    Voigtlander Nokton-M 1:1/50 lens    50mm    f/4.0    1/4000s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  




Feb 08, 2022 at 05:43 PM
genji
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p.9 #16 · p.9 #16 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


RexGig0 wrote:
Thanks, Fred, for the hard work, and for posting the images. I am also thankful for the others’ posts that are helping me to better understand what I am seeing. My eyes are telling me that I really like the Nokton f/1.0 VM images, to the degree that I would not be settling for less, by acquiring the Nokton, rather than either Noctilux.

I did become distracted, by an opportunity to acquire a pre-owned APO Summicron 75mm ASPH, so, acquiring a Nokton f/1.0 is going to have to simmer, on the back burner, for a while.


You’re unlikely to regret the APO-Summicron 75mm purchase.



Feb 08, 2022 at 05:59 PM
LarsHP
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p.9 #17 · p.9 #17 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Awesome to have the two Noctilux'es for side by side comparisons.

I understand from your tests that there is (at least for practical purposes) no field curvature at infinity, but there definitely is at 3 and 4 meters. Have you done enough testing with the Nokton f/1 to say whether the field curvature gets more pronounced the shorter it is focused? Or is the degree of (reverse) field curvature the same from - say - 10 meter to 0.9 meter?

Fred Miranda wrote:
Before I said goodbye to both Noct lenses, I tested them for centering on my M10-R and they passed with flying colors. That gives me confidence that the results from these tests are from optimal copies.

I think it's time to wrap up this review!




Feb 09, 2022 at 03:49 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #18 · p.9 #18 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


LarsHP wrote:
Awesome to have the two Noctilux'es for side by side comparisons.

I understand from your tests that there is (at least for practical purposes) no field curvature at infinity, but there definitely is at 3 and 4 meters. Have you done enough testing with the Nokton f/1 to say whether the field curvature gets more pronounced the shorter it is focused? Or is the degree of (reverse) field curvature the same from - say - 10 meter to 0.9 meter?



Hi Lars,
I will do a more comprehensive FC test at several distances to make sure but yes, I believe it's way more pronounced at 2-4 meter than infinity where I don't detect much curvature.



Feb 09, 2022 at 09:22 AM
highdesertmesa
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p.9 #19 · p.9 #19 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review


Fred Miranda wrote:
Great summary. I'm still analyzing the images but agree that the Voigtlander 50/1 Nokton has higher contrast and resolution compared to the "modern" Leica 50/0.95. At close distance (~1m) which is the MFD for the Leica, the Voigtlander did better at center and way better off-axis (Scene 10). That was surprising to me as this Leica lens is known for great performance up close due to FLE. Well, it looks like it found its match now.

Overall, the Voigtlander outperforms both Leica lenses in terms of flare resistance (both veiling and ghosting), contrast and resolution at any distance. I
...Show more

Glad to see the CV pull out something of a win at the end here.

I wonder if Voigtlander has been using the Zeiss T* coating or even an improved version of it.



Feb 09, 2022 at 09:42 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.9 #20 · p.9 #20 · Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Review




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Final Thoughts:

After shooting with the Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton for about a week, I came to the conclusion that it’s one of the sharpest 50mm F/1 lenses ever produced. I put this lens through some demanding technical tests, and it's clear to me that Cosina prioritized resolution, contrast and size for this optical design.

Let's start with resolution: Many have been asking for an affordable and fast 50mm lens with a floating mechanism, capable of achieving high close up performance and the Voigtlander 50/1 Nokton delivered. As demonstrated in the side by side comparisons, it clearly outperforms the mighty Leica 50/0.95 Noctilux at close and long distance by a good margin, especially when positioning the subject away from the center area.

In regards to compactness: It's small and light for a 50mm F/1 lens measuring only 55mm in length and weighing 482 grams. Most importantly, it's not front heavy and balances well on the Leica M body, although it still blocks about 20% of the rangefinder's frameline.

But, every optical design has compromises and the Voigtlander 50/1 Nokton is no exception. It has pronounced outwards field curvature and high optical vignetting which is a combination that could cause unevenness in the background rendering depending on subject distance . Although all F/1 lenses tested here have similar character, it's something to keep in mind when composing your scenes with this lens.

The Voigtlander 50/1 Nokton is well corrected for distortion showing only minor pincushion. It also demonstrated great flare resistance when compared to other f/1 lenses, although, there is still noticeable ring flare whenever not blocking side lighting with the hood or your hand.

Ironically, although not a f/1 lens, the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton compared favorably against the Voigtlander 50mm f/1, sharing many of the same qualities while being smaller/lighter and producing a more pleasant and even rendering. This is due to less pronounced field curvature and lower optical vignetting. However, it is ~1/2 stop slower and not equipped with a floating mechanism which means lower performance at minimal focus distance. I consider it a great alternative for those who prioritize rendering and don't mind spherical aberration when shooting wide open at close distance.


Pros:
  1. High resolution and contrast from wide open. It performed better than I expected for a F/1 lens.
  2. Clean specular highlights inner structure thanks to the grinding aspherical process.
  3. Better than average close up performance: The floating design delivers great resolution from MFD to infinity.
  4. Compact (short) and light for a 50mm f/1 lens (482g, measured).
  5. Great build quality with tight tolerance construction.
  6. Well corrected for distortion (negligible pincushion).
  7. Aperture mechanism with 12 straight blades provide defined 12-pointed sunstars.
  8. Great lateral CA correction.

Cons:
  1. High optical vignetting renders 'cats eye' bokeh balls towards the corners.
  2. Pronounced outwards field curvature may cause unevenness in the rendering when shooting wide open.
  3. Noticeable purple fringing and axial CA in areas of high contrast when shooting wide open.
  4. One of the most expensive Cosina lenses at $1,800 (Although way less than the 13K Leica).

_____________


Pre-order the Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton lens:

CameraQuest | B&H Photo ($1,799)



Feb 09, 2022 at 09:43 AM
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