5 Minute Review: The Beautiful Leica 50mm F1.2 Noctilux

The Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctilux is an incredibly stunning lens according to Reviews Editor Hillary Grigonis.

Why would you pay over $7,000 for a lens? Well, that’s what The Phoblographer Reviews Editor Hillary Grigonis was trying to figure out. She’s spent a while with the Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctliux lens shooting street photography, portraits, and documenting her life. It’s also her first Leica. Hillary is a seasoned Nikon shooter, and doing things with the Leica M system is much different. It’s a manual focus camera system. So what did she think?

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5 Minute Review: Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctliux Video

Leica 50mm f1.2 Specs

  • 6 elements in 4 groups
  • 2 aspherical elements
  • 1-meter close focusing
  • 16 aperture blades
  • Leica M mount
  • 49mm filter thread
  • Vignettes wide open and mostly disappears by f2.8: true to classic lenses.
  • Rare silver edition limited to 100 units
  • $7,695

Thoughts

When the Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctilux launched, we lusted over it. We wrote:

“Yes, the Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctilux has 16 aperture blades. Comparatively speaking, the Sony G Master lens lineup has 11 aperture blades, and the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1 has 13 aperture blades. But this Leica lens will have the smoothest bokeh and by far the most character. For the passionate photographer with over $7,000 to burn, you’ll enjoy great portraits. In fact, I’d argue that this could be Leica’s best portrait lens. Leica also has the 75mm f1.25 Noctilux, but that’s not as versatile as a 50mm lens.”

And indeed, it sure is doing something different. Is it innovative? Not necessarily. But it’s doing something far different from the rest of modern lenses right now. Not many lenses have as many aperture blades, and most wouldn’t dare even try to get vignetting wide open. Most manufacturers have fought against that. Lots of professional photographers want that clinical look, but there are those who also want a signature look that we can’t get out of camera elsewhere. And that’s part of what makes this lens so special.

Of course, it’s also $7,000. But ,Hillary said it’s got a ton of character. She’s in love with the bokeh. And the build quality is top-notch. Even without the lens hood, she notes that the flare is well controlled. That’s an interesting one! Lots of folks love their lens flare, but it’s kept in check here.

Lenses like this will probably become less unusual as time goes on. Creatives are begging for unique looks. They like character and many of them go for that vintage look. But currently there isn’t much on the market that caters to this genre. As cameras and lenses become more expensive, we can expect this to come back into the norm.

Hillary is still working on her full review, and she’s been having a lot of fun with the lens so far. What do you think? Would you get it? Did you know that the original lens this is a reissue of is over $40,000? What would you shoot with this lens? Do you believe that lenses like this really have a future? We’d love to hear from you. 

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We’ll leave you with some image samples. A few of the portraits are shot wide open at f1.2. Hillary is using the Leica M10R with its 40MP full-frame sensor. She edited her photos in Adobe Lightroom.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.