Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

Started Nov 1, 2009 | Discussions
Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

So, I was fortunate to find a new Noctilux in stock, and I jumped on it. Today I did a comparison of the two in my front yard. It's not a scientific test, but it is a controlled test. I was a little over a meter from the brick pillar in the shots. Note that the right side of the images is OOF at a distance; this was intentional to demonstrate differences in bokeh.

Here is a comparison image made of crops from both lenses. The best thing to do is select "All sizes" from above the image, then choose "Original" and look at the huge file in detail.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman/4062557320/

This is the set that has all of the original images in it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman/sets/72157622580527317/

Rather than put any conclusions in this post, I will let you draw your own and then comment with my own thoughts.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

Knorp
Knorp Veteran Member • Posts: 3,004
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

Hi Jeff,

to my eye in the "lower left" the Nokt does better, butter in "center" the Noct has the edge. In the "upper right" the Noct is smoother than the Nokt.

Is it me or is the Nokt more prone to vignetting ?

All the best.

........................................................................................................feel.free.to.shoot...
Bart

 Knorp's gear list:Knorp's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Leica Nocticron 42.5mm
Marky boy
Marky boy Senior Member • Posts: 1,216
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

Hi Jeff

Firstly thank you for taking the time to post this. I know how much work must have been involved, so I appreciate it.

It is a very interesting comparison, especially when you consider the cost of each.

There is no doubt that the bokeh on the Leica is much more pleasing and wide open it also shows more contrast and is sharper, however with some PP sharpening, the Voigtlander is actually very impressive (price considered) and does better in this test than I expected.

I have been thinking about buying one of these (Voigtlander), but have been holding back to see a comparison like this, so many thanks again.

Any other observations in handling (outwith image quality)?

Kind regards and best wishes.

Mark
--
http://www.markcargill.co.uk

 Marky boy's gear list:Marky boy's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN E-P5 +3 more
plevyadophy Veteran Member • Posts: 4,258
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

Jeff_WI wrote:

So, I was fortunate to find a new Noctilux in stock, and I jumped on it. Today I did a comparison of the two in my front yard. It's not a scientific test, but it is a controlled test. I was a little over a meter from the brick pillar in the shots. Note that the right side of the images is OOF at a distance; this was intentional to demonstrate differences in bokeh.

Here is a comparison image made of crops from both lenses. The best thing to do is select "All sizes" from above the image, then choose "Original" and look at the huge file in detail.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman/4062557320/

This is the set that has all of the original images in it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman/sets/72157622580527317/

Rather than put any conclusions in this post, I will let you draw your own and then comment with my own thoughts.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

Thank You, Thank You, a million times Thank You.

These two lenses have been on my radar for some time and I have been finding it very hard to get hold of any decent images from these two lenses and I haven't found one direct comparison. So Thanks.

Having looked at Leica guru, Edwin Puts' site, I was quite amazed at the quality of the Noctilux f0.95's bokeh. However, what I saw there was very limited and I have wanted to see more.

As for the Voigtlander, when I first saw images from it I really hated the lens. The reason was that the lens does really horrible things with bright highlights in out-of-focus regions (OOF). I then began to see other images and noticed that it does produce a beautiful painterly look to OOF that l just love.

So I came to the conclusion (based on limited samples from the Leica lens) that the Voigtlander would be best suited to producing more art type images (due to its painterly effect in OOF) whilst the Leica would do better at portraiture and give a more "photographic" look.

In your samples I see a hint of that difference in OOF.

What I would be extremely grateful for is if you could provide a few more comparative samples in a wider variety of situations and lighting conditions. I think that way we will have a better idea as to how these two lenses draw an image.

Thanks in advance.

Warm regards

plevyadophy

P.S.

I am amazed that the Voigtlander does so well given its comparative cost. It does appear to me, however, that the Leica, gets sharper a lot quicker on stopping down. Would you agree with that observation?

I also think the Leica lens looks to have more contrast, giving a more punchy image. What is your view on that?

Artichoke
Artichoke Forum Pro • Posts: 12,446
not surprised at all

with the CV's performance
the new Leica speed king betters it, but not by a great deal

from what I have seen here & from samples posted on the net, it looks like a superb lens
the bokeh is better in the wide open samples and quite noticeably so up to f4
even beyond f4 the Leica does better with edge CA
the difference isn't great, but it is at least 5 % and I think more
that last 5 % costs mega-bucks & always has
a fine test ...getting specular highlights to line up is no simple trick
thanks for your efforts
--
--
pbase & dpreview supporter
DPR forum member since 5/2001
http://www.pbase.com/artichoke

 Artichoke's gear list:Artichoke's gear list
Agfa ePhoto 1680 Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro Leica M8 Leica M9 Nikon D3X +13 more
wblynch Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

Thank you for posting these results.

On the M8 there appears to be the very slightest of difference between the two lenses.

I wonder if the difference would be greater on a full frame camera (M7 / M9) ?

digislr Veteran Member • Posts: 6,088
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

I am getting the Nokton 1.1 next week to test on the M9. Ill let you guys know how it does.

bdnc Senior Member • Posts: 1,738
Re: not surprised at all

I agree not surprising, they are very close.

It would be interesting to see the new Noctilux compared with a very sharp fast lens (like the Hexanon 50 limited). The Hex seems significantly sharper than the Nokton, and has been reported as probably as fast. The Hex is sharper than the Noctilux 1.0 , and has much less falloff; it would be interesting to see it go head to head with the 0.95.

OP Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Contrast and Sharpness

The Leica is sharper right out of the gate, and stays that way until about f/4, where the Voigtlander becomes pretty much identical. The difference is very subtle, however, and it would take serious pixel peeping to tell which is better above f/2.

As for contrast, the Leica is definitely the higher contrast lens. The Voigtlander lenses are all lower contrast lenses. I actually don't mind that as its pretty easy to punch up the contrast during post processing. In fact, in harsher light the Voigtlanders have an advantage as they don't block up the shadows, so it gives a nicer looking image.

I'm not sure how much more comparative testing I will be able to do. I have decided to sell the Voigtlander--I need to offset the cost of the Noctilux--and the new owner wants his lens!

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

OP Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

I can't see any big reason that it should be much different on an M9. It's designed as a FF lens.

I don't know when I will get my M9, but I won't have the Nokton any more, I know that. I'd love to keep it, but it just wouldn't get used when I have a faster 50.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

bdnc Senior Member • Posts: 1,738
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

The difference would be that the corner performance will be revealed, along with the full falloff of 2+stops (though M9 software may reduce that significantly).

But other than the corners, I think it will be similar.

jeff hladun
jeff hladun Veteran Member • Posts: 3,160
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

I tried the Voigtlander last month for all of 5 minutes. It was quite impressive and I was surprised at how much warmer the colours were from it, when compared to the 50mm Summilux pre-asph:

In the image above, I forced myself to minimum focus. I am used to the paper thin depth of focus of the 85mm f1.2 Canon lens on full-frame, but was really surprised at just how long the DOF was of the Voigtlander at 50. Seeing Jeff's initial posts with the Noctilux also surprised me, in that I was really expecting a much thinner depth of field.

I'll repeat the link I posted before; there are some film images here of the f1.1 wide open, which shows just how long the in focus plane is:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/1221236@N24/pool/
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12191517@N05/

Kim Yee Regular Member • Posts: 405
Re: Comparison: Leica Noctilux f/0.95 and Voigtlander f/1.1 Nokton

I think 85mm tends to have shallower DoF than 50mm, right?
--
Kim

 Kim Yee's gear list:Kim Yee's gear list
Sigma dp0 Quattro Sigma dp2 Quattro Sigma dp3 Quattro Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Sony a7R III +4 more
OP Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Understanding DOF

OK, let's be clear. You can't compare the DOF of a 50mm lens with that of an 85mm lens. On top of that, you have to make sure that the sensor format is the same if you want similar to use similar distances and get similar framing.

So, let's compare an M9 and a Canon 5D Mark II. On the M9, we can use a Noctilux, and on the 5DII, we can use a 50L. Here's the DOF for both at one meter:

M9, Noctilux @ f/0.95: 22mm
5DII, 50L @ f/1.2: 27mm

Not a big difference. Note the DOF for the 85L @ f/1.2 on the 5DII would be 9mm. This shows the importance of using the right lens for the job. If you really want a tightly framed portrait with shallow DOF, use a longer lens. For example, the 135L @ f/2 and one meter gives even less DOF at less than 6mm, but its generally too tight at that distance. Back up to 1.5 meters, and now the DOF increases to 13mm.

For my M8.2, the 75/2 makes a great replacement for the 85/1.2 I use on my 5DII. The 75/1.4 would be even better, but its a bit softer and I prefer a sharper look, and don't mind 4mm more of DOF; at f/1.2 the DOF on the 85 is often too shallow for me anyway.

The really nice use for the Noctilux is low-light shooting. I took it to the museum today and was very pleased with it there.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

bdnc Senior Member • Posts: 1,738
Re: Understanding DOF

Yes, if you are really after narrow DOF use a fast telephoto at minimum focusing distance. That will save you a lot of money. If you need to shoot real life in low light use a very fast 50.

Here is a film shot with a 50mm at 0.95...

plevyadophy Veteran Member • Posts: 4,258
Re: Contrast and Sharpness

Jeff_WI wrote:

The Leica is sharper right out of the gate, and stays that way until about f/4, where the Voigtlander becomes pretty much identical. The difference is very subtle, however, and it would take serious pixel peeping to tell which is better above f/2.

As for contrast, the Leica is definitely the higher contrast lens. The Voigtlander lenses are all lower contrast lenses. I actually don't mind that as its pretty easy to punch up the contrast during post processing. In fact, in harsher light the Voigtlanders have an advantage as they don't block up the shadows, so it gives a nicer looking image.

I'm not sure how much more comparative testing I will be able to do. I have decided to sell the Voigtlander--I need to offset the cost of the Noctilux--and the new owner wants his lens!

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

Hi,

Thank you VERY much for your prompt and informative response.

One thing you didn't touch on, and on which I would be grateful for your view, is as to the quality of the bokeh between the two lenses. You may recall that I got the impression that the Voigtlander had a more painterly look, which I thought would lend itself rather well to more artistic type work; whilst I thought the Leica Noctilux gave a more smooth photographic rendition to its bokeh which I thought may be better suited to portrait work.

I also find (from the few images that I have seen) that with strong specular background highlights the Voigtlander gives, to my eyes anyway, a rather horrid messy squiggly/circle pattern effect. This to my mind means that with the Voigtlander one would have to be a little more careful in selecting backgrounds for ones images.

What is your take on the points I have raised.

Regards,

P.S.

As for the Voigtlander lens's contrast, would you regard it as low contrast or simply lower contrast when compared to the Leica? (I must admit that I prefer the look of the Leica's higher contrast, however your wise words regarding the benefit of a lower contrast lens in harsh lighting is a very good point)

OP Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Bokeh
plevyadophy Veteran Member • Posts: 4,258
Eh? Did you mean to say something? Re: Bokeh

Jeff_WI wrote:

Hi,

I take it something went wrong (?), as there is no text.

Look forward to your reading your intended reply.

Warm regards,

plevyadophy

OP Jeff_WI Senior Member • Posts: 1,297
Darn it

I wrote up a good little bit on my thoughts on contrast and bokeh and it seems that a technical glitch wiped them out. Here we go again.

On contrast: I think the best way to describe the Voigtlander is to say that it is a lower-contrast lens, not a low-contrast lens. I find that in my personal use, I add just a little bit of contrast to the images I get from all of my Voigtlander lenses. On the other hand, I am often reducing the contrast on my Leica lenses, escpecially in images taken in strong light. Hence my comment that I like to use the Voigtlander lenses as "sunny day" lenses, as I feel they perform better in strong light that even the Leica lenses. If a shadow is too blocked up to black, it can be harder to open it up a bit. The Voigtlander lenses ease this.

As for bokeh, I find that the Nokton has bokeh that is very similar to that on all of the Voigtlander lenses. They tend to have a more defined bokeh, especially with regards to point light sources. In particular, there is typically a partial ring of brighter definition on point sources of light, with the bright edge pointing towards the center of the image. I think this is either a conscious design decision with regards to bokeh, or an artifact of some other broader design decision, because I see it in nearly all of my Voigtlander lenses when shot wide open. Some people like it, and some people find it too "busy" for their tastes. These latter people tend to prefer a really creamy smooth bokeh, which many newer Leica lenses have. The bokeh of the Voigtlander lenses is a lot more like many of the older, pre-ASPH Leica lenses.

In my case, there are times I like it, and times I don't. Personally I don't like the rendering of the OOF specular highlights with many of the Voigtlander lenses, so I try to avoid them when shooting with a Voigtlander lens, or shoot a Leica lens in those situations. Your preferences may be different.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

plevyadophy Veteran Member • Posts: 4,258
Re: Darn it

Jeff_WI wrote:

I wrote up a good little bit on my thoughts on contrast and bokeh and it seems that a technical glitch wiped them out. Here we go again.

On contrast: I think the best way to describe the Voigtlander is to say that it is a lower-contrast lens, not a low-contrast lens. I find that in my personal use, I add just a little bit of contrast to the images I get from all of my Voigtlander lenses. On the other hand, I am often reducing the contrast on my Leica lenses, escpecially in images taken in strong light. Hence my comment that I like to use the Voigtlander lenses as "sunny day" lenses, as I feel they perform better in strong light that even the Leica lenses. If a shadow is too blocked up to black, it can be harder to open it up a bit. The Voigtlander lenses ease this.

As for bokeh, I find that the Nokton has bokeh that is very similar to that on all of the Voigtlander lenses. They tend to have a more defined bokeh, especially with regards to point light sources. In particular, there is typically a partial ring of brighter definition on point sources of light, with the bright edge pointing towards the center of the image. I think this is either a conscious design decision with regards to bokeh, or an artifact of some other broader design decision, because I see it in nearly all of my Voigtlander lenses when shot wide open. Some people like it, and some people find it too "busy" for their tastes. These latter people tend to prefer a really creamy smooth bokeh, which many newer Leica lenses have. The bokeh of the Voigtlander lenses is a lot more like many of the older, pre-ASPH Leica lenses.

In my case, there are times I like it, and times I don't. Personally I don't like the rendering of the OOF specular highlights with many of the Voigtlander lenses, so I try to avoid them when shooting with a Voigtlander lens, or shoot a Leica lens in those situations. Your preferences may be different.

Jeff
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhapeman

Thanks VERY much your comments were EXTREMELY helpful.

Warm regards,

plevyadophy

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads