Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/06/10

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Subject: Re: [Leica] 35/1.2 Nokton re: 35/1.4 Summilux
From: Frank Farmer <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 10:34:49 -0500 (CDT)


Thanks for the comparison.  Your suggestion is precisely what I was thinking and I'm glad to have someone second it.  The Nokton and the Summicron seem like they would be a great combo!  


- -------Original Message-------
From: Henning Wulff <>
Sent: 06/10/03 01:36 AM
Subject: [Leica] 35/1.2 Nokton re: 35/1.4 Summilux

> I recently had a chance to use Tom Abrahamsson's Nokton 35 for a 
week, and did some comparisons with my 35/1.4 Summilux ASPH, and, to 
a lesser degree, my fourth generation Summicron 35.

The Nokton is huge; closer to the Noctilux in size than the Summilux. 
The Nokton isn't quite as dense as the Summilux, so it only weighs 
490gms (compared to the Summilux at 310gms). The Nokton's front glass 
sits further away from the camera than the Noctilux's, but isn't 
recessed as far, so you have to use the Nokton's hood. The lens seems 
to intrude more into the viewfinder than my v.2 Noctilux; mostly due 
to the wider angle of view, but also due to the greater extension 
from the camera of the lens plus hood.

The build quality is very good; definitely the best of any C-V 
product to date. It focusses to 0.7m in a reasonably short throw, and 
the movement is as smooth as you could want. The buld quality still 
seems a little shy of that of the Summilux, but not as much as the 
price difference.

I shot a number of B&W Delta 100 films and a number of Kodak 100 
Elite; also one of Fuji Velvia, which I respect for it's high 
resolution but generally dislike for its lack of shadow detail and 
harsh tones.

The one thing that amazed me about the Nokton's performance is that 
the lens is exactly the same at f/1.2 as at f/8. Same resolution, 
same contrast. Only the light falloff is less at f/8. And the light 
falloff at f/1.2 isn't bad. At f/1.4 the light falloff seems 
identical to that of the Summilux.

At f/1.2 the resolution and contrast of the Nokton seemed identical 
to that of the Summilux at f/1.4. I truly could not tell the images 
apart. The only thing is that in certain conditions the level of 
flare produced by the Nokton seemed to be very slightly less.

For wide open shooting, in the very worst lighting conditions, the 
Nokton excels, and seems to be at least as good as the Summilux.

When the lenses were stopped down, the story differs. When the Nokton 
is stopped down, the images look identical to those at f/1.2, except 
the last vestiges of light falloff disappear. Resolution and contrast 
remain the same, and are only slightly different identical center to 
edge. The Summilux images, however, improve so that at f/2.8 and 
above they are significantly crisper due to both resolution and 
contrast improvements. I alway thought that the Summilux was one of 
those lenses that improved hardly at all, and that you could shoot 
them at any aperture with essentially equal results. Now I have used 
a lens that seems to be truly equal at all apertures. Another facet 
of performance is that at f/1.2 the Nokton seems to have even less 
astigmatism than the Summilux, even though it it virtually 
unnoticeable in the latter.

Bokeh seems to be virtually identical; probably due to the high 
correction of both of the lenses. Lack of spherical aberration 
produces a bit of harshness in both lenses, with the Nokton possibly 
suffering a bit more of this than the Summilux.

What this means is that the Nokton is not a universal lens; even less 
than the Noctilux. When there is sufficient light, you do want a lens 
that will image a superbly resolved, high contrast picture, that is 
better than what the Nokton can achieve at f/1.2. The solution, it 
seems to me, is to get the Nokton for f/1.2 to f/2, and get the 
Summicron (4th gen) for all those times that f/2.8 and above and a 
miniscule lens are just the ticket.

I'm not getting a Nokton (at least right now) because the extra 1/2 
stop (works out to 1/3 in practice) isn't enough reason to carry such 
a huge lens and spend such a lot of money. However, if you don't have 
a Summilux right now, it (and an old Summicron) might be just the 

- -- 
    *            Henning J. Wulff
   /|\      Wulff Photography & Design
  |[ ]|
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