Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/07/08

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Subject: RE: [Leica] Noctilux Gloom-Buster VS 75mm f/1.4 ...
From: "Simon Pulman-Jones" <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 13:29:25 +0100

What has surprised me, looking at the raw numbers for depth of field wide
open, is that there really is not that much difference between 50/1, 75/1.4,
90/2 or even 90/2.8 - it's always somewhere around one inch, maybe two, when
you are shooting at a distance of four feet. Even with 35/1.4 you only have
four inches at four feet. As far as getting focus with your M rangefinder
goes all of these are just about as difficult or easy - apart from the 35,
of course.

So I think the real issue is the content that tends to go with each lens
when used at close quarters. In terms of my own use it all starts to make
more sense to me. Very limited DOF is demanding, but not too difficult, when
you are shooting a head shot on a 90 or above, because (at least when you
are working close quarters) you tend to be concentrating on the leading eye
of someone who is not moving too much in front of you.

As your view gets wider so the amount of movement of your subject tends to
be greater - I'm sure this is why the Noctilux is so demanding at F1 even
though theoretically there is a little more DOF than with the longer
lenses - it's just that what people want to shoot with the Noctilux in low
light will often tend to be people in a social setting who are (relatively)
unaware of the photographer and not co-operating by staying still.

Having gone over and over this I am now coming to the opinion that the four
or so inches of DOF that I get with the 35 Summilux (certainly a 1960
Summilux stretches the limits of definition of DOF when wide open, but
that's another matter) suits my purposes better than the Noctilux would.
With it I tend to get just enough focus to catch two, maybe three, people,
and then wonderful out of focus effects.

So maybe the 35 Summilux Asph. is a better bet for me than the Noctilux. But
does it have as pleasing out of focus areas as the non Asph. version?

I hope this indecision is not driving others as mad as it as driving