February is springtime in northern California.This time of year is so fresh and invigorating: hail and pounding rain today, with skies clearing and a freshness that makes me wish I was 10 years old again (I’d settle for 30). It’s a fantastic time for photography, but I’m usually locked up working for the benefit of the readers of this site! If I had no bills to pay, I’d plunk my butt down in Death Valley for a few weeks and get a nice tan— it’s wonderful right about now.
I had a brief chance to play with the Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH at dusk tonight, after the rains had ceased, though the local trickle remained swollen enough to drown in.
Now f/0.95 is good for bragging rights, but it’s only 1.1 stops faster than f/1.4, so don’t rush out to buy a Noctilux 50/0.95 for one stinkin’ stop. All that means is that you can make an out of focus motion-blurred picture at 1/15 second instead of 1/8 second, since it’s darn hard to focus a rangefinder to begin with, let alone focus accurately enough for f/0.95 in the dim late of late dusk. I discuss that issue in detail in my review of the Leica M9 in DAP. There is no depth of field at f/0.95.
Talk about a “personality lens”. I could pick it to shreds on technical grounds at f/0.95, but you know what? I really enjoy the look wide open, which is what photography is about. I have a review of the 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH in DAP, and I might add some more samples, if anyone cares. You can get the Noctilux-M 50/0.95 at B&H Photo, when they show up in stock (rarely). If you do get one there, please use my links from this blog, that’s never happened before! Use this list.
Leica can only hand-craft 12 or so of the Noctilux-M 50/0.95 ASPH a day, and they aren’t made most days. But it’s one of the few good reasons to own the Leica M9: buy a lens that you really like, then get the camera you need for it, and that applies to any lens of any brand. Lenses are a long-term deal, cameras come and go.
While I’m on the topic, the Leica M9 kit that makes sense to me is the Leica 28/2 Summicron-M ASPH, the Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon, the Noctilux-M 50/0.95 and the Leica 75/2 APO-Summicron-M. Wider than 28mm is a pain— separate viewfinder required, but the Zeiss ZM 25/2.8 Biogon is approachable on a cost basis. See my handy-dandy wish list. Just tell your kids that community college will have to do.