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Noctilux as a starter



Hi. i'm a prospective m7 buyer,nearly ready to take the plunge.does anyone think that the 50mm Noctilux is a better alternative to the Summilux as a starter lens? what i want is flexibility along with the speed. Thanks for any feedback!
Dear Joseph,

Definitley not. The Noctilux is big, expensive, vignettes badly when wide open. The 1:1.4/50 Summilux is a superb lens, however it is rumoured that it will be replaced with a newer design in September at Photokina.

Frankly as a starter lens I would choose the 35mm focal length anyway, learn to use it and then consider something in the 75-90mm range.

All the best with an exciting Leica future.

I'm just piping in to reinforce Justin's post above.

However, I would recommend going with a 50mm lens as a starter over the 35 FL option. The choice between these preferred FLs is a matter of hot debate with in the Leica community so expect further posts with competing views.

Best regards Craig
And I will just chime in with suggestions for both lenses. The current 35mm/f2 Summicron ASPH and the 35mm/f1.4 Summilux ASPH are both cracking lenses, and if you want inexpensive there is the new about-to-be-released 35mm/f2.5 Color Skopar from Voigtlander (use faster film).

For the 50mm, both the Summicron f2 and the Elmar-M f2.8 are superb. What choices! But don't get the Noctilux...
The Nocti has two "problems": Focussing is technically slower (and there the 1m-distance for close ups) and the color recording is a little warmer than all the other Leica-glass. Try to have a test before buying (and You the a part of the lens in the finder...).
The smallest "modern" Leica lenses are the 2,0/40mm CL SUMMICRON (only used) and the recent 2,8/50 ELMAR with near distance 0,7m which records very good.
The Nocti is really fine in low light and if You want less depth in daylight, use grey filters to shoot open, even in the sun, it is great.
So, have fun.
Dear Joseph,

I started up Leica shooting in 1993 using M6 classic and Noctilux and I was very happy with this combination. I had the feeling at that time that this lens can be used for many purposes. It was most enjoyable for me to shoot with this lens in the streets and the pubs of my town without being forced to use a tripod. I like the warmer tone. Of course I regret the vignetting and the heavy weight. But after some time you can get used to those limitations.

Gradually I built up my Leica equipment (it was a competition between desire and money). Today I have got two bodies (M6, M7) and 10 lenses.

I still have got my first lens, Noctilux-M 1/50mm. I must confess that I do not use it so often nowadays, since I have been starting to use a tripod when it is getting dark. But still I will keep this very fine lens, since it is something that I could call "my first love".

Yes indeed, Joseph, I can recommand to you to start up with Noctilux.

Best wishes
Just to add my point of view, I'd suggest as starter lens a Summicron (50 or 35 following your preferences).
Personally I have a 50 Dual Range from the 60s and I'm totally enjoying the quality of this lens and its versatility.
I would avoid the elmar because it's just too dark to be used easily when it's cloudy with slow films and the weight of the camera+lens combo it's not much less than using the Summicron.
I have a 3.5 elmar for my IIIf and the optical quality is not comparable to the DR summicron, not to mention that the actual elmar seems a little bit plasticky (please don't flame me as it's just an opinion) compared to the actual (and past) summicrons.
If you plan to shell out that kind of money for a brand new M7 please go for the last generation Summicron and you will not be disappointed.
I've never tried the S'Lux 50 but it gets mixed opinions on the net: anyway I think it's a little bit overpriced, even among Leitz lens.
Regarding the Noctilux I think it's essentially a specialised lens: to be used between f1 and f2 in the night: with a top speed of 1/1000 on your M7 you simply have to stop it down too much in daylight and you'll eventually loose all of its qualities.
Hope it helps


Hope this helps
Paolo I was interested to read your comments on the 5cm/f3.5 Elmar. I have one too (made in 1949) and I tested it against the current f2.8 Elmar-M. Surprisingly close in sharpness, especially at the center, but nowhere near the contrast. So I use it with a light yellow filter.
Well Peter,
Let's say that for lenses of that age it is very likely that s&les variation account a lot.
My comparison between elmar 3,5 (1937, uncoated in good shape) and summicron DR (1961, good shape): well, to be frank there's simply no match in terms of sharpness, the elmar sharpness and contrast at f4 is well below summicron at f2 (BTW not a lens known for its contrast).
I'm not saying that the elmar is not a good lens: it's a great lens for its age but I largely prefer the summicron with my M3 while I enjoy the real tiny dimension of my combo IIIf and elmar.
Dear Joseph, dear Paolo,

let´s go back to Noctilux.

It is really not true that you should use Noctilux only between f1 and f2. Noctilux improves on stopping down and around 5.6 surpasses even Summilux and is quite close to the performance of the current Summicron. Thus you can use Noctilux like any other lens, even if the sun is shining.

I must confess that I use the current Elmar-M, when I do not want to carry such a heavy weight.

Regards Jochen