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Beautiful Optics. Bokeh For Days. Leica 75mm F1.25 Noctilux Review


Leica is synonymous with pristine image optics and a price tag to match. Most of their lenses are on the wish lists of photographers worldwide. Their Summicron lenses are at a price point that most have to save up for. The 75mm Summicron was a hit, so naturally, the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens has to be notorious, right? With a price tag of $14,295.00 we would sure hope so! Keep reading to see if the low light performance and incredible bokeh justify the cost.

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Too Long Didn’t Read

The Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens is a gorgeous lens that produces incredible portraits. Bokeh is serene, and the sharpness is extraordinary. At $14,295.00, it provides some of the best optics that many photographers cannot afford to buy.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful Bokeh
  • Very sharp
  • Gorgeous rendition with lovely contrast
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • It is pricey
  • The lens is hefty 
  • It is not very comfortable to hold for long shoots

Gear Used

We tested the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens with a Leica M10-R body and a Broncolor Siros L monolight.

Tech Specs

All tech specs are provided by the LensRental listing.

  • Autofocus: Manual Focus Only
  • Brand: Leica
  • Diameter: 3.0”
  • Focal Length: 75.0-75.0
  • Hood Included: Yes
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Lens Type: Normal Range
  • Max Aperture: 1.0
  • Minimum Aperture: 16.0
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 2.8 feet
  • Mount: Leica M

Innovations

The design of the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens isn’t revolutionary. It takes inspiration from the previous generation and attempts to create perfection. Two aspherical elements remove most aberrations and imperfections. However, it is one of the only lenses of its kind.

Ergonomics

The Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens is the largest 75mm lens in the M-mount lineup. It encompasses the palm of your hand and weighs almost 2.5 times more than the Summicron version. Its weight and size would probably be better paired with an SL2 series.

Its design follows the tried and true formula that Leica m-mount shooters love. At the base of the lens, you will find the smooth depth of field ring. Next is a textured metal focusing ring. Then comes the click-style aperture ring located just before the built-in lens hood. Twist it to either extend or retract the lens hood. The 75mm Noctilux houses a 67mm filter thread.

There is no finger rest on this lens. There is a metal plate on the bottom to easily attach to a tripod plate. It’s also nice to balance on a flat surface when the shot allows for it.

The pairing of smooth and textured metal yields simple adjustments without your eyes ever having to leave the viewfinder.

Build Quality

This lens feels as exorbitant as its premium price tag suggests. The 75mm Noctilux is very heavy, thanks to the design’s substantial use of glass and metal. It is not officially weather sealed. However, Leica has assured us time and time again that their lenses are designed with weather-sealing in mind.

The Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux handles fine in the winter months. Light snowfall and single-digit temperatures did not impact its performance.

Focusing

The 75mm Noctilux is a manual focus lens. You can opt to watch images slide into focus in the center of your viewfinder. Alternatively, you can utilize the live view mode on your camera. Regardless of your preference, achieving focus is easy.

Ease of Use

The biggest hurdles of Leica’s 75mm Noctilux lens are its size and weight. It is not comfortable to hold for long shoots, and my hands often needed a break. Additionally, the ergonomics of the lens make capturing slower shutter speeds a bit challenging without the use of a tripod.

Other than that, it’s straightforward to use and develop a rhythm with. The guidelines in the viewfinder make it easy to capture images as intended.

Image Quality

Leica’s 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens creates utterly sharp images with buttery bokeh that melts into the background. It produces gorgeous colors with pristine contrast. Although, it doesn’t have as much character as the beloved 50mm Noctilux, most of the photos require very little, if any, post-processing.

Bokeh

This lens creates some of the best bokeh available on a 75mm lens. It’s painterly aesthetic is perfect for making your subjects pop. The bokeh is also beautiful when stopping down slightly.

Sharpness

Subjects are very sharp when shooting at f1.25. When shooting wide open, the center of the frame is quite sharp, and focus melts away at the corners. Stopping down extends sharpness throughout the edges of the frame.

Lens Character

The Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux lens creates nearly distortion-free images. There is a minimal amount of vignetting and highlight fringing that are easily corrected in Capture One. It is possible to capture the sun’s glow without magenta or green. Capturing the star effect of the sun is a bit more challenging.

Color Rendering

The color palette created by the Noctilux 75mm lens is extraordinary. The blues are especially pleasing with the varying Aegean shades. Skin tones are precise and golden. The soft glow of the winter sun pairs well with the shades of blue in the shadows. It elevates otherwise mundane scenes and creates something worthwhile.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions of the Leica 75mm f1.25 Noctilux Lens

Likes

  • Some of the best bokeh that money can buy
  • Great focal length for natural-looking portraits
  • Colors are stunning
  • Plenty of contrast
  • Image quality is lovely straight out of camera

Dislikes

  • It is cumbersome
  • The lens is large and not comfortable to shoot with for long periods
  • Very expensive

Leica’s 75mm Noctilux f1.25 is a beast of a lens. The optics are stunning without the use of editing. Aberrations and distortions are very minimal. It produces incredible bokeh, lovely tones, and has plenty of sharpness.

On the other hand, the lens is very weighty and clunky to shoot with. It’s also $14,295.00, making it a niche lens for a very select clientele. It’s almost a shame to think about what art isn’t being created with this glass simply because the user base is so limited. The good news is that you can rent it and experience it for yourself.

We are giving Leica’s 75mm Nocitlux five out of five stars. Want to take it for a spin? Rent it over at LensRentals. Or grab one on Amazon.







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