Nocticron - My Take

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by heedpantsnow, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    Well, I've had my Nocticron for a week now, and put it through its paces a bit, and so I thought I would add to the many stellar reviews of this stellar lens.

    And I won't repeat those reviews here. Suffice it to say that I thoroughly agree with Steve Huff when he says it has "the best Bokeh I have seen next to the real deal (Leica Noctilux)". And no one could say it better than Jordan Steele at AdmiringLight:

    "Having shot with multiple systems and hundreds of lenses, the Nocticron is right there at the top among the best lenses I’ve ever shot with. It is extremely sharp right from f/1.2, has gorgeous bokeh, low distortion, incredibly high image contrast for a fast lens, super fast autofocus, optical stabilization and a pro-grade build. If you are a Micro 4/3 shooter and want speed, background blur and optical quality, you can’t do much better than the 42.5mm Nocticron."

    Please Note: I don't have especially interesting subject material, I'm afraid. It's just my family and a visit to Saint Augustine. But I hope you enjoy it.

    What Makes the Nocticron Special?
    Obviously, there is a lot about build quality, fast aperture, OIS, etc. that sets this lens from the pack. But is it much different optically? I think the answer is a definite YES!

    There are a lot of sharp lenses out there. But the microcontrast of this lens is one thing that really sets it apart. When I was first looking at the pictures from this lens in Lightroom, I had to check my sharpening settings because everything just seemed to have amazing detail that really pops out (all pictures here used minimal sharpening in conversion).

    The other thing that really sets it apart is how the lens often seems to desaturate the background and renders it with much less contrast than the foreground. In the pic below, when you compare the color of the mortar in the foreground with the colors of the cannon in the background, there is a distinct difference in saturation and contrast. The blacks aren't as black, the aqua-green is not as deep. It almost looks like two images were combined after being taken with slightly different metering.

    Here's another example. The foreground wall and my daughter are metered perfectly, while the same wall in the background seems to have less dynamic range and be less vibrant. I don't know how this lens achieves this, and it isn't in every single shot. But when it's there, it really emphasizes the subject and gives the image a 3D look that most other lenses lack:

    In this last photo (otherwise pretty mediocre), the detail in the soldier is amazing. You can see the freckles and hair on his hand, and my reflection in the third down button on his coat. Amazing.

    What About Other Usage beyond portraits?
    I want to mention the versatility of this lens. Some say being so big and bright that it has a very narrow usage. But in addition to portraits, I think that it is great for B&W work as the microcontrast brings such detail to the textures. See the tooling marks below the top crest of the mortar:

    The combination of f 1.2 aperture and OIS (or IBIS on Olympus bodies) makes this lens devour low-light.

    [I know this image isn't the best compositionally, just bear with me] This image of my youngest was shot in a pretty dark pizza restaurant on a stormy day (not much light coming in the windows). Everyone else, including one Canon L f2.8 shooter, were using direct or bounced flash. I simply shot away at f1.2 without annoying all the other patrons with my huge camera and huge flash.:rolleyes: This lens excels with indoor shots. Also, the DOF at 1.2 for indoor portraits is just about perfect. Not too narrow, not too deep. My son's face is in focus and everything else is not. The bokeh is nice and smooth as well. If this were a larger format camera at f1.2, the DOF would be too narrow.

    Here's another example, handheld at 1/15s and f1.2 (not super sharp). DOF is just about perfect, or maybe a tiny bit too shallow.

    Here's one last indoor pic.

    Ferris Bueller once famously said in regards to a classic Ferrari GT California, "…I must be honest here…I love driving it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." Was he talking about the car, or this lens? Maybe both.

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  2. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Thanks. It really seems like a special lens. All I can say is I hope the price drops. I want it, but I might be too frugal to pay $1600... but it looks like you get some thing truly special for your investment.
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Yes, it looks an amazing lens. I initially thought "no way I'm buying the Nocticron when my O45 is so good", but I'm beginning to think differently. I'm thinking I might replace my O45 with the Nocticron and drop my O75. The latter is a fantastic lens, but I must admit, the FL is a little long for many things. OTOH, I'll then need something that covers that longer range and I've long pondered the 35-100. Forking out for both the 35-100 and the Nocticron is a bit beyond my credibility horizon at the moment!
  4. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    I should say that I only paid $1300 for mine. For that price, it is worth it for sure. I think it would be worth $1600 as well, but that was outside my spending ability.
  5. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    I can't afford the 75mm, I definitely can't afford this lens even though it an obviously incredible piece of workmanship. I'll just drool quietly over in the corner. :crying:
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  6. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Real Name:
    I am seriously debating the nocticron, however with the OM speedbooster announcement I am wavering.
  7. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    Hi, RevBob, I too am in full time ministry and don't make a ton of money. Basically I decided that this lens would get more use than most of the gear that I've collected over the years (rangefinder film cameras, legacy lenses, etc.), and so I sold it all. That gave me enough to save a bit, buy a new bag, and buy this lens at a discounted price. But I definitely don't have that kind of money laying around!
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  8. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Post the crop or it didn't happen!
  9. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    LOL okay

    That's me in the dark, and my little girl is the light blue blob.
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  10. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the review and Ferris Bueller knows all! Where did you find it for $1300? That Unique Photo deal?
  11. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    Yes, it was the Unique Photo deal. People don't like their (lack of any) return policy, but I have purchase protection with my credit card and was waiting for the price to drop so I pulled the trigger. Glad I did. The box was supposed to be damaged but arrived in mint condition without a mark on it! :cool:
  12. Boneyard

    Boneyard Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 5, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Mine also arrived in pristine condition. Loving it so far. Makes me wish the 25 was built this well. :2thumbs:
  13. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    Mine as well, fantastic lens :)
  14. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    As someone, who has the 45 & 75 already, not sure I *need* this lens and its way too big for street shooting. It does look fantastic though and congratulations to you and everyone else whose just purchased it.
  15. chonbhoy

    chonbhoy Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 23, 2013
    Scottish Highlands
    i think the last pic shows the best appeal out of them such detail and smooth character that i like but out of my price range unfortunately.:eek:
  16. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    In hand its about the size of the 12-40(when its not extended). Its large for M43 but not anything like an 85L that would really stick out for street shooting. Also its a fairly understated lens being all matte black.
  17. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    At my kid's soccer games I am around other parents with Canikon DSLRs and most of them have kit lenses as big around as the Nocticron and many of them are longer. However the Nocticron does look a little bigger because of its relative size versus my smaller m4/3 body.

    MCMLXXIII AD Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 18, 2014
    Real Name:
    I actually returned it after using for a few days, didn't think it mattered much for general photography over 45/1.8 that I have.
    It does produce sharper pictures though if you want to pixel peep :)
  19. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    There is no such thing as "micro contrast". What you see is contrast and sharpness working together but being two separate things. The saturation and contrast on foreground and background are results of circle of confusion blending colors and light so they are mixed, variating with polarized light giving a illusion of something magical "micro contrast".

    I take gladly a lens what has less contrast than overdoing it because I lose otherwise benefits of exposure range and contrast capabilities what sensor offers and if wanted I can always add more contrast in post with wider possibilities than doing it in camera.

    It is like comparing JPEG (high contrast) to RAW (low or neutral contrast) as former usually looks better of the camera but lateral offers better results after post process.

    Reason? You don't know for what medium you use photo and having less contrast gives better change to adapt photo to different paper, ink, screen or software.
  20. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I don't want to get too semantic, so I'll just say its a term with common usage that describes specific qualities of a lens:

    This is a property of a lens that has to do with its ability to resolve the very finest detail structures – i.e. of low contrast and high spatial frequency – a lens with ‘good’ microcontrast is able to do this for structures that are close together/ fine and similar in luminance. Although you can increase the apparent gross contrast of a lens by sharpening, it’s almost impossible to ‘fix’ microcontrast because you cannot generate information that simply wasn’t recorded by the sensor to begin with.
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