Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/07/06

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Subject: [Leica] Noctilux fever
From: apbc <>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 99 15:04:27 +0800

Siimon said,

>Do I just need a blast of the bright southern light of common sense to
>banish this Noctilux fever? Or should I pick up the phone and tell the
>dealer to send me that northern gloom-buster? :-)

I too went through a similar period of temptation a couple of months back 
when in Ken Hansen's Palace of Leica in NYC. I glanced at the used M 
lenses just for a second and was walking away when I was asked if I could 
be helped: answer "No, but how much is the Noctilux?". Minutes later I 
had agreed to buy it, rationalising that at least here I had a chance to 
try it out for a few days and see if it was really what I needed/wanted. 
It was.

It is a great lens and very versatile. The size and weight are quite 
manageable relative to what I am used to with SLRs but then I have 
smaller 50s too and the images: wonderful. The effect at 1.0 and 1.4 is 
quite special and regardless of low light capabilities it is worth 
getting for this look, quite gorgeous for portraits. The filter size - if 
it is 60mm like most of them - can be a pain if you need to buy colour 
correction filters since they are special order and very expensive. 
Earlier ones were 58mm which is handy filter-wise. The hoods are 
notorious for breaking on all versions except the latest built-in type 
which is notorious for blocking even more of the viewfinder whilst being 
smaller and less effective for shielding from stray light and physical 
damage. Replacement hoods for the older versions, if available, will 
range from 40GBP-100GBP secondhand or new.

I used to have a 50/1.2 Noctilux which even after being overhauled to 
max. performance by Leica was still disappointing: the Summilux is a 
greatly superior performer in my experience. The 50/1.0 is in another 
league and I strongly recommend it. Wide-open and stopped down it is top 
class. You do need to watch for curvature of field, as with most Leica 
lenses of pre-90s vintage IME. Both Noctiluxes have slightly warmer than 
usual (Leica standard) colour rendition - similar to the 90/2 nonAPO if 
you are familiar with that.

Having said all the above I use my Summicron about 20 times as often as 
the Noctilux for convenience and speed of use. Image quality is not an 
issue for me with either at any setting.

You will probably need to get your RF(s) tuned to match the Noctilux: if 
this is impractical then you may find the Noctilux to be a huge 

Echoing others I would say that if you only have one 50 you should get 
the Summilux. Only two then Summicron and Noctilux and only three - well 
by that stage you should be able to make your own decision!

One other point: the world's most beautiful camera IMHO is a black paint 
M3 with Rapidwinder/Leicavit and a Noctilux (last version with removable 
hood). At least that is what it looks like to me, the proud owner of such 
a setup.

If the Noctilux is in good clean condition and at a good price you should 
have no difficulty selling it for something close to what you bought it 
for. If it is worn then 90%+ of people who buy Leicas won't touch it.



Adrian Bradshaw
Editorial and Corporate Photography
Shanghai, China