Leica Bokeh Comparison - Leica 50mm Summilux M ASPH and Voigtlander 50mm Nokton M ASPH

Frank Starling

Veteran
Jul 22, 2010
43
Informal comparison (handheld, no focus bracketing) between M (240) with Summilux 50 ASPH and M9 with new Nokton 50 M ASPH. Subject is my brother's daughter. Processed from RAW in Lightroom with goal of getting similar brightness/contrast.

First set is Leica at f/1.4 followed by Voigtlander at f/1.5 (both wide open):






Second set is Leica at f/2.8 followed by Voigtlander at f/2.8:



 
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BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
I'd like to see a picture of the Summilux aperture stopped down to F2.8: it looks like they went for a star-like aperture like the Zeiss Opton and C-Sonnar 50 F1.5's. It can be distracting, but "my opinion" is done to minimize focus shift.

The Nokton looks really good.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
(Dang this old thread existed. I was about to start a new one, rather epicly titled "Battle of The Bokeh: Summilux v Nokton — The Dawn Of Justice"). :D

Anyways, today I felt uninspired to do real shooting so I decided to take these lenses with me out for a quick stroll. Overcast day, nothing exciting content-wise.

I selected 5 scenes which I shot at their widest open (f/1.4 or f/1.5) and then at f/2.8.

Needless to say, objectively and by majority consensus I think, the Summilux is the king of creamy bokeh and Nokton has to compete with its attractive price point. But not entirely. My very first immediate reaction to seeing Summilux bokeh was that it's sort of this perfect Gaussian blur -- way too perfect. And if you get too close to your subject while still while open, it totally explodes into creamy goo. Not the case with the Nokton, which has bokeh looking like a painter used a brush to paint it on the canvas. This effect can make busy backgrounds most delightful.

Scene 1

Now the light or captured action don't flatter either lens overly.

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Nokton didn't get a chance to practice that painterly brush bokeh so it's clearly off to a bad start! :) The bokeh balls at this size have definite onion ring ugliness.

Then again, the bokeh gets this feathery cotton candy feel so it still has a fighting chance against the boring Summilux rendition!

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Both focused at the traffic light, the tree leaves aren't particularly attractive on either one. Summilux has a clear win on the highlights/bokeh balls but the cotton candy bokeh is slightly less.

This is how Nokton can play the scene on a good day (captured earlier):

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The tests done at f/2.8 are flawed as there's a bus blocking the view to the tram platform across the street.

But let's look at the leaves behind the focus point.

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Pretty even if you ask me.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Scene 2

This I shot wide open, f/2.8 and f/4.5 just to see if I can tickle out some differences.

Wide open

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Man, the Nokton renders really attractively but A/B'ing like this the Summilux doesn't really come far. I didn't expect the loss of contrast on either lens, the scene didn't look like it. Nokton rocks it very well!

But we should be focused on the bokeh quality here. Summilux is smoother, creamier but in this scene definitely I myself prefer the rougher treatment by Nokton.

f/2.8

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This is very even...

Finally, at f/4.5.

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mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Scene 3

Our scene is as follows. Let's just get into magnifications here.

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at f/2.8 both are remarkably similar in these center crops

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Wide open, things remain comparable, but Nokton doing its brush strokes and Summilux going for that Gaussian boring blur.

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Yes, this is something concrete that confirms I haven't been hallucinating -- Nokton does render things with an attitude, and it suits me fine.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Scene 4. Full, uncropped frame. Both participants behave nicely -- too nicely with this bush.

Wide open.

2019-09-30-16-44-MP007333.jpg
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Nokton's contrasty bokeh helps to recreate ethereal qualities, which I appreciate. But the difference is not large between the renditions. Both lenses have a similar problem with field curvature but in this shot, Nokton renders more things in focus because of that. Both are wonderfully 3D.

f/2.8

2019-09-30-16-43-MP007332.jpg
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2019-09-30-16-45-MP007336.jpg
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Not much difference narrowed down.
 

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