I had the good fortune to get my hands on the last E60 version of the f/1.0 Noctilux AND a new Noctilux 0.95 ASPH. ... in my studio, together at the same time, thanks to my dealer Sam @ The Classic Connection.
Now this is some pretty stratospheric glass in terms of cost as well as low light performance. Not for the faint of heart, nor the thin of wallet.
(Please note that this was for me and my needs, and may not fit anyone else's idea of a scientific test. It was just to make the decision on which of these two lenses to keep).
Since my whole business model has shifted in the past year, and Leica finally cracked the FF rangefinder barrier, I've refocused my gear closet more toward the M like it was for me some years ago. MFD equipment sales have funded the trek back to seriously expensive Leica M photography.
So, I wanted to REALLY know if the 0.95 was better or not ... which will be partly science, and partly subjective to be sure.
I set up a still life and hunkered the little M9 down on a monster Gitzo G500 ... shot a manual white balance frame, then proceeded to shoot at nearly the closest focusing distance (which is 1 meter on both lenses) all at max aperture. I did three shots per lens without changing anything except the lenses, and always refocusing each time for all three shots per lens. Then selected the best of the three from each lens.
I did the test, and then repeated it to be sure.
Attached are 2 of the shots @ ISO 320 and detail crops from each. Processed in C1 to 16 bit tiffs @ 360 ppi ... then methodically prepared for web with no sharpening ... I only hit the auto contrast in PS on each file.
At first I thought that the 1.0 was back focusing ... but on closer inspection found that nothing in front or in back of the focus point (the Leica Key fob) was really as crisp as the 0.95.
A couple of other observations ...
Without anything moved at all, the 0.95 image was slightly larger than the 1.0, which suggests that either one or neither of them is exactly 50mm.
Without changing the manual WB setting, the 0.95 was consistently warmer in cast than the 1.0. Now this may be because the 1.0 isn't 6 bit coded and the 0.95 is ... and C1 did something to the color cast (?????)
The 0.95 is a bigger lens and weighs in at approx. 4.5 oz. more than the 1.0
I was surprised to note that the 0.95 focus fall off was slightly greater (0.95 verses 1.0?), yet more gradual than the 1.0 ... in general, the subject matter pops off the background a bit more. There was slightly less halation on OOF edges with the 0.95 as well as less squiggly Bokeh ... in fact very little if any.
In short, IMHO I think the folks at Leica have done a remarkable job with this new Noctilux.
Actually, I was hoping there wouldn't be much difference ... but to my eye there was. Worth it? For me and what I do ... yes! Every tiny edge is worth it in the long run.
Hell, for the sake of my art, I don't mind skipping a meal now and then ... for the rest of my life