Lens Test: Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH

The fastest and most expensive lens we've ever tested.

Lens-Test-Leica-Noctilux-M-50mm-f-0.95-ASPH

Lens-Test-Leica-Noctilux-M-50mm-f-0.95-ASPH

Not only is this $10,000 gem the priciest lens we've ever tested, it's the fastest one made-and the first manualfocus we've had on our bench in years. A full-framer, it scales up to 67mm on the Leica M8 and M8.2. Its two huge aspheric elements are made of ground and polished (not hybrid or molded) glass.

Clad in anodized matte-black aluminum, it weighs more than the M8-enough to tip the whole rig forward-and the barrel blocks a fraction of the viewfinder. A telescoping lens shade is built in.

Typical of a Leica, it produced Excellent-range SQF numbers and at f/8 was among the sharpest we've ever tested. (The comparable Canon 50mm f/1.0 delivered Good sharpness and contrast, two grades down.)

In our DxO Analyzer 3.0.2 tests, barrel distortion edged close to Imperceptible, outdoing the Canon by a big margin. We found no evidence of vignetting on the M8, but Leica says that on full-frame M-series bodies, such as the M7, it shows 3.2 stops of light fall off in the corners at f/0.95. Forget about closeups- it focuses only to 38 inches.

An extraordinary optic, this lens does things others can't. Adding a neutraldensity filter in broad daylight lets you place a sharply focused subject against a radically defocused background-even when they're only a few feet apart.

Certified Test Results:

-Distortion: 0.12% (Slight) barrel.

-Light falloff: None (on the Leica M8).

-Close-focusing distance: 38 inches.

-Maximum magnification ratio: 1:16.28.

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