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Thread: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

  1. #1
    Haya
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    35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Well I was so excited about getting the 35mm/1.2 and after 2 days of using it I must say I am thoroughly dissapointed!

    Wide-open the lens is very soft.... at lower resolutions the focus looks fine but as soon as you zoom in to 100% it seems so soft that it's out of focus.


    one of the first shots I took:


    click here for Full size ( warning 3mb+)

    Am i just spoiled by Leica glass and is this what I'm suppose to get?

    or is there something wrong with my lens

    any feedback would be appreciated...

    I can also post a portrait shot tommorow once I get the chance to download the latest images from my camera.... when shooting people it's even more noticeable!
    Last edited by Haya; 13th April 2008 at 13:17.

  2. #2
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    forget tommorow lol I decided to forego some sleep and upload the people shots

    35mm Nokton @ 1.2


    100% crop:


    28mm Elmarit @ 2.8:



    100% Crop:



    so what do you think ? I'm really not sure if there's something wrong with the lens or I'm just expecting too much from the lens wide open.

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    well on the first one you can see focus an inch back from the eye glasses and on the second one you pretty much nailed it imo.

    It bears repeating, at f1.2 on this effective magnification (47mm) you prolly have less than an inch of dof at this distance.

    so if you exhale and your subject exhales or inhales, you are out of focus...

    I base this on having used the canon 85mm 1.2 a lot and it is very difficult to get 100%.

    also these ultrafast lenses like the noct and the canon have a lot of aberrations which contribute to the soft look, if not in focus in contrast. I actually appreciate the softness for portrait work.

    practice helps. my first outing with the 85 I hit only 50% of the time. 5000 captures later and I am up to 85%. you'll get there.

  4. #4
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Thanks Rob I guess you maybe right I'll just need to keep shooting with the lens and see if I can improve on the focus, the lighting was a bit dark and I was hand holding...

    but I took like 20 shots of my husband ( poor him) and I didnt nail a single one lol maybe I should have gone for the Black lens instead of the heavier chrome I can be so vain sometimes

    In 2 days I haven't got a single shot wide open that looked in focus to me.... tommorow I'll try it with a tripod and the 2 second timer release, I'll feel really silly if I get them all in focus!

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    It may be worthwhile to take a photo of a ruler or tape measure at wide open, close in to make sure the lens and M8 are focusing at the correct point.

    Jan

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Haya, I'm not going to be able to add anything on the technical end that hasn't already been said but ... I did want to add that you captured some wonderful expressions by your husband.

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Frankly, I think it looks pretty darn good for f1.2 -- on the first shot, it appears you might have focused more to the ears than the eyes. On the second, it looks pretty good on the frames of the glasses.
    Jack
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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Shots 1,3, & 4 are BRILLIANT of 'The Man' series
    Those shots are Crisp / He reminds me of the great actor Peter Sellars /
    Strong Character
    Cheers !....... helen

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    (sorry, didn't finish writing my thought)
    Strong character with a great sense of humor.
    helen

  10. #10
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Jan: That's a great Idea I'll check for backfocus on a ruler today!

    eekimel: Thanks! he's my most captured subject I'm glad he's a patient man!

    Jack: you're probably right about the first image being focused on the ears I don't know if that was user error or I have a little front focusing issue.... The 2nd image is from my 28mm elmarit I didn't explain in the post that I was trying to compare results from 2 diffrent lenses I just labeled the images... and I know f2.8 is not f1.2 but I'm just amazed at the diffrence!

    Helen: Thanks ! I hope he never gets bored of posing for me I love his expressions !


    Thank you all for your feedback I will try everything suggested to pin point the problem!

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Haya,
    Sorry for not jumping in a bit earlier on your new CV 35/1.2 Nokton shots and questions. I think several folks have covered it. Shooting wide open at f1.2 is not anything like even f1.4 and up, I have found. The DOF is so skinny, and the roll-off of focus seems to go quite soft faster than from smaller apertures. That is pretty much the nature of the game. Once you know where you are hitting things, as you are already finding, they get very nice and very attractive. It is a learning curve. The Leica 50/1.0 Noctilux is much the same. Folks tend to get frustrated at first, mainly because many have pre-conceptions about what to expect and what they will see. If you look at lots and lots of f1.0-f1.2 images from folks, many have a signature "glow" that is a softness, but they also have a plane that is razor sharp. The CV 35/1.2 has this too, but even breathing, as someone mentioned, can move it off your mark. For the record, if you are shooting the CV 35/1.2 wide open at a distance of 1m (3ft or so), the DOF is about 1.6" (0.04m), or about the distance from the tip of a nose to the eyes of a person looking straight at you. Not a lot of wiggle room. One of the keys to shooting portrait type shots wide open with these lenses is to think about that plane of focus, and get your angle to it so that you get what you want. Many times the more striking shots are from a 3/4ths side view, where the nose is on a plane with the near eye, and maybe the ear. Then you get the entire side of the face pretty much in focus, while everything else rolls of nicely for that dreamy bokeh look. As you are well aware, the thickness of the DOF does increase with distance, but even something 4m away (13 ft.) only has a DOF of 0.71m (2.25ft), which is not so much. And, within any DOF zone, about 1/3rd of the focus is in front of the plane, and 2/3rds is behind the plane. That is another way of saying to ever so slightly "front focus" on things at your widest apertures so that you get what you want.

    Just some technical things to think about on the DOF. I have found the CV 35/1.2 Nokton to be quite good, and it gets really sharp stopping down to f1.4-2.0 and smaller. Not unlike the Noctilux in that regard. By f5.6, it is looking like other Leica 35mm glass, I think. Maybe without quite as much micro-contrast, but that actually helps hold open the shadows a bit. Like all lenses, and as Sean Ried characterizes things, it has its own way of "drawing" the image.

    LJ

  12. #12
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Thanks for your input LJ I did a lot of testing with the lens today and you are all spot on it's ME! not the lens lol

    There is a bit of a learning curve when focusing at f1.2 and I think I've got a long way to go before I'll be able to get 80% of the shots in focus, I've spent most of today just shooting random things with the lens wide open and I'm just starting to get the hang of it.

    You're absolutely right that shooting portrait shots requires a bit of planning but hopefully I can get used to it and it will become 2nd nature!

    I'll be sure to post some more pictures once I think I got it down!

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    How do you like the 35mm FOV compared with the 40mm? I remember you posted elsewhere that the 40mm was your favorite and probably most used but you did not have a 35mm.

  14. #14
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    It's still early but I think I like it more than the 40 since the framelines actually work and also wide open the extra field of view really helps framing a subject ... Very rarely but it does happen with the 40mm I feel like I don't have enough space to work with!

  15. #15
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Looks you're all sorted out now but, yes, a properly adjusted 1.2 Nokton is quite sharp wide open. And, yes, the Noctilux is much harder to nail focus with because the DOF is so much narrower.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    As a reference comparison with the Noctilux.....the DOF at f1.0 for the 1m minimum focus is about 18mm....6mm forward, 12mm back. That is about the average thickness of a person's finger. The other thing that makes it really difficult is keeping the sensor plane parallel to the target plane of focus. This messes folks up more times than anything, by shooting an upward or downward angle when hand holding. That may have been some of the problems you were experiencing at first also.

    LJ

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    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Haya: First of all, hello and welcome!

    Here is a technique you might try when shooting at wide apertures like f/1.2. Instead of using the lens' focus ring to fine-tune your focus, use your body. Some people call this the "Leica shuffle" or the "Leica sway."

    You pre-focus, but then you sway your body slightly forward or back to get the rangefinder image exactly right. And gently squeeze the shutter release at the instant the RF image coincides.

    The idea is that since you are naturally going to breathe and move your body anyway, you might as well be aware of it, and use it to find the focus. So it works for yo rather than against you. Also, many fast lenses have a long "throw" (the amount of "twist" it takes to focus). So it takes too much time to constantly adjust the lens as you or your subject move. It's easier to move your body.

    Another thing you might try is a soft release (sometimes called a "softie"). This is a little disk that screws into your shutter release button and sticks up a few mm. You place the first knuckle joint of your finger on the "softie," rather than your fingertip. It helps you to gently squeeze the shutter release rather than jab it. Sometimes "softness" at wide apertures is due to slight motion blur. The best soft release I know is made by Tom Abrahamsson in Vancouver, Canada (www.rapidwinder.com). Some Leica and Voigtlander dealers also sell them.

    Taking portraits at the closest possible distance is very tricky at f/1.2. Back off a couple of feet, and you might be happier. A fast lens is really nice in a dimly-lit cafe when you want to take a picture of the next table.

    Available light photography with fast lenses takes practice. It's kind of like playing a musical instrument.

    I have an old Canon 50/1.2 lens from the 1950s. It is a low-contrast lens wide open, probably not as sharp as your Nokton. But when I get the focus correct, it's beautiful in its own way. Here are a couple of examples, on of my mother-in-law, then two of my wife:
    http://gallery.leica-users.org/v/pkl...325-w.jpg.html
    http://gallery.leica-users.org/v/pkl...1_2-w.jpg.html
    http://gallery.leica-users.org/v/pkl...1_2-w.jpg.html

    and here a couple of shots of a 92-year old pianist playing Bach at a concert:
    http://users.2alpha.com/~pklein/musi...ansonChord.htm
    http://users.2alpha.com/~pklein/musi...okansonBow.htm

    Finally, remember that nobody but photographers look at digital pictures at 100%. At 50%, you will see on the screen about the level of detail you'll see in a medium sized print, somewhere between 8x10 and 11x14 8 inches.

    I hope this is helpful. Keep posting pictures!
    --Peter

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Here is a technique you might try when shooting at wide apertures like f/1.2. Instead of using the lens' focus ring to fine-tune your focus, use your body. Some people call this the "Leica shuffle" or the "Leica sway."

    You pre-focus, but then you sway your body slightly forward or back to get the rangefinder image exactly right. And gently squeeze the shutter release at the instant the RF image coincides.
    I've been doing that with my 35/1.4 Nokton, leaning back a bit, and it seems to work most of the time for me. However, in my case, I'm focusing on a thing and then moving back to compensate for backfocus.

  19. #19
    matmcdermott
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Klein View Post
    Finally, remember that nobody but photographers look at digital pictures at 100%. At 50%, you will see on the screen about the level of detail you'll see in a medium sized print, somewhere between 8x10 and 11x14 inches.
    I completely second that. And if you print larger 13x19, 17x22 if it looks good at 33% or even 25% on the screen it will be acceptable on paper. Obviously if it looks great at 100%, even better, but I've been surprised at how an image that's a bit soft due to motion blur, slightly missed focus, camera shake, whatever works just fine as a print. Some of the most iconic images of the last century aren't sharp by the 100% standard by a long shot.

  20. #20
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by matmcdermott View Post
    Some of the most iconic images of the last century aren't sharp by the 100% standard by a long shot.
    True, in fact many of them are not even sharp in book reproduction or print.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Went to AIPAD this week in ny and looking at a ton of prints the feeling I got was what separated the digital prints from the conventional prints was the sense of sharpness of the print, and in many cases this was not favourable to the digital prints. They needed to be "softer" ever so slightly, some just had too much detail if you know what I mean. And this was independent of medium, ie; digital C's looked about as bad as digital inkjets when the sharpening was too high. conventional C's and chemical bw's all seemed "right" or downright blurry in some cases.

    And these were very good prints in all cases. It was just that you could tell the digital ones, they just popped a little too much. I kept wanting a little more subtlety. that's the thing tho, you can get that kind of sharpness, that kind of detail out of digital, the question is, do you want it for every subject?

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by robertwright View Post
    And these were very good prints in all cases. It was just that you could tell the digital ones, they just popped a little too much. I kept wanting a little more subtlety. that's the thing tho, you can get that kind of sharpness, that kind of detail out of digital, the question is, do you want it for every subject?
    One cannot put sharpness (acutance) in where it does not already exist, but one can always blur something that is "too sharp". I would rather have the ability to control that final output (print) by softening things how I think they should look, rather than overcooking it in an attempt to pull up some sharpness that is not there. Motion blur can be a problem, or one can use it creatively. Something out of focus is just that....out of focus.

    A lot of the older prints just did not have access to the technologies (lenses, fine grain, slow chemicals, etc.) early on, so the softness was acceptable, just to have an image. Not sure much of Weston's stuff was blurry or out of focus that I recall. The art was twofold....composition as well as how it was rendered. It still is. I know a fine art photog that takes shots that are very crisp and he converts them into softened blurs....but he is creating that.

    So, take sharp images as best you can, and render the final print to your personal and artist tastes. Just my thoughts on this.

    LJ

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    well mostly I was speaking about the very large prints. we have the ability now to render several feet by several feet of either inkjet or digital c prints. You could not get this kind of edge to edge sharpness in an optical enlargement, no way. but the caveat is that we have this great technology and now it is about using it well, I agree.

    After plowing through many "yards" of big prints it was a relief to see smaller scale work by weston, Adams (robert not Ansel) sommer, etc. You know the 8x10 contact print is pretty hard to beat! and not something I would really want to see at huge proportions.

    I just got the 3800 and have had a hard time adjusting to making even 17x22 prints....gulp.

    anyway, not to hijack the thread. I have had my eye on the nokton for a while, might just dive in...

  24. #24
    Haya
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Sean: Is it your experience that the lens may need any after factory adjustment?

    LJ: If i ever get my grubby hands on a Noctilux this lens would have been my training wheels... and you are so right about the angle thing, I do that a lot sometimes especially when my subject is sitting and I'm standing, and when we are both sitting I sometimes tilt the camera upwards ever so slightly.

    Peter: Hi! a lot of great tips I really appreciate it!! I will definitely try the swaying technique and I think with this lens I'm going to try shooting in C mode which I have never used until I get the hang of this. Also backing up has helped a lot like you said it's very difficult to focus up close.

    I love your photos! The first photo of your wife is so timeless!

    I just can't help zooming into a 100% as soon as I import to lightroom which is a horrible habit I know! I like to be blown away by the Photos I get from this system.

    Matt: To be honest I haven't printed over 8x10 so far.
    Digital photography has really spoiled us with the ability to view images at 100% with out having to print a single photo!

    Rob: I don't do my own printing but I can see what you mean about some images being to sharp for print, definitely a lot of scenes and captures look much nicer with a bit of blur!

    Congrats on the new printer after reading Guy's post on his impression of the printer I might go for one too this summer. I just need to attend one of Guy & jacks workshop to figure out how to get the best prints though !
    Last edited by Haya; 14th April 2008 at 23:45.

  25. #25
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Haya View Post
    Sean: Is it your experience that the lens may need any after factory adjustment?
    Hi Haya,

    That's possible with any lens but I'd rule out other explanations first.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    one thing that most people who start shooting with super-fast lenses forget is that now instead of motion blur they have a new enemy. what happens is that after you have focused the lens, your upper body starts hovering back and forth, which WILL get you outside of the DOF area. this body movement is subconscious and absolutely normal. you have to train yourself not to hover.

  27. #27
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    you have to train yourself not to hover.
    But I now get at least two feet off the ground and there's no turning back.

    <G>

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Looks you're all sorted out now but, yes, a properly adjusted 1.2 Nokton is quite sharp wide open. And, yes, the Noctilux is much harder to nail focus with because the DOF is so much narrower.

    Cheers,

    Sean
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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    That's lovely, Carlos!

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    Re: 35mm Nokton f1.2 ... I'm a bit dissapointed :(

    The first few images are sharp, but lower in contrast to many lenses. I do not own this lens, but have owned the Noctilux f1.0 and Summilux 75/1.4, and when properly aligned they and this lens should focus accurately wide open and at close distance even with their narrow DOF accurately, provided your camera has a long RF baselength and magnification (e.g. M body, .72 mag. or RD1, M8). CL's, and some Bessas might be slightly challenged here.

    I'd try lining up some cans or bottles at ~1m from the lens, .5cm or 1cm apart from each other from the lens, focusing on the middle one, and checking the focus results.
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