The Leica Noctilux range of super-fast optics gets a new member today—the retro 50mm Noctilux-M with two aspherical elements and a wide aperture of f/1.2. It is a modern rendering of the classic Noctilux which was introduced 55 years ago in 1966.
In that year Leica astounded the photographic world with a lens featuring a then-revolutionary maximum aperture of f/1.2. It was the first serially produced lens to feature two aspherical elements, and it was the fastest lens in photography.
According to Red Dot Photo Books’ Leica Pocket Book, the original Noctilux became famous because of the high price, ascribed image properties, the very elaborate produce technique of the two aspherical surfaces and its scarcity, even during production time. It was discontinued in 1975 in favour of the f/1.1 version, which then gave way to the current f/0.95 design in 2008.
The new f/1.2 is an adaptation of the 1966 original, combining modern optical technology with the original’s retro appearance. The lens becomes the third Noctilux currently on sale, in addition to the 50mm and 75mm f/1.25, although the production run will be limited to just 1,800 units. With an attractive recommended price of £6,500 (at least by Leica standards), there is likely to be strong demand from collectors.
According to Leica, the lens has a similar optical design to the original and will retain the same vintage characteristics, although it remains a very usable lens for everyday shooting.
Leica claims that the reincarnated Noctilux f/1.2 offers a “soft, almost dreamlike quality” and an unmistakable took and exquisite bokeh. It will retain the vintage characteristics of the original.
The packaging is inspired by the original 1960s box and is complemented by the same “goldfish bowl” plastic container that was included with the first f/1.2.
Weighing 408g, the lens is nearly 300g lighter than the current f/0.95 Nocti and 62g less than the original f/1.2.
With production limited to 1,800 for the world market, individual dealers will be restricted to very few examples, so you will need to move swiftly if you are interested.