Leica Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH Review
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At a price point of $12,795 / £10,250, it seems reasonably unlikely that the Leica Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH Lens will be a big seller for a mass market. Instead, it is more likely to appeal to Leica enthusiasts (with a lot of spare cash), or perhaps collectors. Alternatively, it could make for a good rental lens, should you be able to find any company stocking it - using it for a specific portrait shoot before handing it back.
Using a rangefinder is not to everybody’s tastes, and a lens like this is even more tricky than most other M lenses. It’s extremely difficult to get an image even approaching proper sharpness (or at least at the point you wanted it to be), so there’s a lot of trial and error involved. It’s important not to confuse the high price with the anticipation that your images will magically look fantastic just because of it.
I’ve been very pleased with the images I’ve been able to take with the lens - but only if I restrict myself to looking at them at normal printing and web sizes (say A4 or below). As soon as I examine closely at 100%, I find that 9/10 times I’ve missed the focus ever so slightly. The other 1/10 times I attribute to luck, rather than skill. Perhaps it’s true that in time I’d learn to better use this lens with time, but, given the extremely narrow depth of focus, it very much seems to be the case that sometimes you’ll get lucky, and sometimes you won’t.
Still - when you do (get lucky), that sharpness is fantastic, and in fairness, the overall impression of sharpness is also very good.
The gorgeous bokeh the lens is capable of rendering does make it ideal for portraits. When you look at images at normal printing and viewing sizes, your initial thoughts are “wow” - examining a little more closely usually reveals that, for example, the eye isn’t as sharp as you’d like it - how often you’re likely to examine in such detail is questionable, but then again if you’re the type to spend in excess of £10,000 on a lens, you may well be inclined to examine closely too.
When I’ve told people that I’m using a £10,000 lens, the first question that usually comes to most people’s minds is whether or not they lens is “worth the money”. In short - the answer is “not really”. While the images are undeniably beautiful, they’re probably not £10,000 beautiful, and you’re likely to get similarly beautiful results from other lenses for other systems which don’t cost anywhere near this much. At any rate, they are unlikely to be five or ten times less beautiful than what you can achieve elsewhere.
Still - if you’re a Leica collector for whom money is no object and you simply want the best of the best, it may very well be worth the cash to you - just be prepared to put in some hard work to get the best results from it.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||2.5|