Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 Review Part 1 - First Impressions and Comparisons to 45/75m

Amin Sabet

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flash

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Accepted by some, not others. I'm with Napier in accepting that bokeh = boke = OOF blur.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2009/01/what-is-bokeh.html


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I've read the article you cited several times over the years and nowhere does it use the term bokeh to describe the amount of blur. In the same article it describes several times bokeh as a description of the blur in qualitative terms not quantitative.

The problem is several fold but here are a few issues. Firstly, blur either exists or it doesn't. Something is either in focus or it isn't. The only point that's truly sharp is the plane of focus, which except when using the Scheimpflug principal, is perpendicular to the imager plane. DOF is apparent, not actual. It's an illusion where we see something as acceptably sharp or in focus. But in reality something is either in focus or it has blur. These are absolutes. DOF is just blur we can't distinguish under certain circumstances. But if those circumstances change we may be able to see the blur. The easiest example is to make a very small print and then a huge on, of the same shot. By enlarging the image we enlarge the blur, making it more obvious.

That leads to the second issue. Just because we enlarge the blur, using compression and perspective, does that actually mean there is more blur? It really doesn't. The blur is the same. It's just bigger, relative to the subject giving an illusion of more blur. It's more like DOF. Apparent and subjective. Not imperially measurable. Simply by changing the print size I can fool you into thinking that there is either more or less blur within the same image.

Bokeh=Boke=OOF blur? Fine. But it's not really accurate to describe more or less blur because it's all relative to the viewing conditions.

Gordon
 

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I've read the article you cited several times over the years and nowhere does it use the term bokeh to describe the amount of blur. In the same article it describes several times bokeh as a description of the blur in qualitative terms not quantitative.

I think you're equivocating. Or perhaps better, everyone is equivocating.

If, as the first sentence of the second paragraph puts it, bokeh, "simply means bur," then one is really free to talk about both quality and quantity. And even more, if you can pretend that they're not related in some manner or another (i.e. quantity isn't a definition of quality, but it certainly can be a contributing factor), then more power to you. I'd say its a little nit-picky though.
 

Amin Sabet

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Hi Gordon, the key line in that article is this one:

"Bokeh" simply means blur, specifically out-of-focus blur (as opposed to the kinds caused by subject or camera movement).

That's all there is to it as far as I am concerned.

There is no difference between boke and bokeh. They added the "h" to help with pronunciation. In the Japanese use amongst photographers, "boke" refers to OOF blur, and "boke-aji" is a term for OOF blur quality. If "boke" meant quality of OOF blur, then "boke-aji" would mean quality of OOF blur quality, which would be silly, no?

From what I can tell, Merklinger's article - one of the ones Mike Johnston refers to - confused the English speaking world with one simple statement:

The Japanese apparently refer to the quality of the out-of-focus image as "boke".

I think we'd all be better off if he had written this instead:

When discussing the quality of the out-of-focus portion of the image, the Japanese apparently refer to this out-of-focus portion of the image as "boke".
 

napilopez

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On the discussion of bokeh, I've seen the term applied to both the quantity and quality of the background blur, and that difference is normally delineated by whatever adject precises it. In particular, I said "more bokeh" which I think only makes sense if we're talking about the blur quantitatively. Otherwise I would'be said "nicer" bokeh or "smoother" bokeh. But in any case it is a bit of a semantic differences issue and I'll update the wording to clarify in all contexts.

Seeing the head to head comparisons I came away with two conclusions at first glance:

1) Just goes to show the 45mm f/1.8 quality compares very favorably, and the DoF difference is actually pretty small in practice. This is probably a case of more than 80% of the performance at 25% of the price :smile:

Having said that:

2) Wow, does that ever show off the rendering and contrast of the 42.5mm f/1.2 lens! The edges and contrast and details even at f1.2 are gorgeous, focus fall off is fantastic, and the OOF areas look really nice and smooth. :clapping:

I said it before in another thread, but I'm even more convinced after this quick look - I think purchases of this lens are going to be as much or more about rendering differences than they are the extra step of aperture the 42.5mm offers.

My thoughts precisely! Its similar to the argument of the Panasonic 25mm and the Olympus one, except the differences here are substantially more pronounced... including the price.
 

T N Args

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it's relatively heavy. The Nocticron is, in my opinion, the best built AF Micro Four Thirds Lens available. You pick it up and it just feels incredibly solid. It's short of matching something like the Voigtlander F0.95 primes,

If you want to comment on build quality, you need to do something more than heft it in your hand. That's an official tip. :rolleyes:
 

T N Args

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If I write bokeh that means I'm a coolh dudeh. If I'm just a photographer I'll write OOF. Sample: "The OOF is pretty but the photo is awful. But because the OOF is so important these days, I'll give you 9/10." Sample 2: "This lens renders OOF beautifully. Poor photographers rely on this to make up for their inadequacies, so will pay any amount for this lens."
 

spatulaboy

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I came here to read about the Nocticron, but somehow got redirected to some bokeh/boke/DoF/OoF/blur/blurh discussion.
 

robbie36

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"When it comes to bokeh, I feel people tend to overestimate the value of aperture and underestimate the impact of focal length. Upfront, you're generally going to get more bokeh from the 75mm f1.8 than you will on the Nocticron. This was already true when comparing the 75mm to the even faster Voigtlander, so it doesn't come as a surprise."

Focal length has nothing 'directly' to do with depth of field. Depth of field is a function of lens aperture and distance to subject, not lens focal length. In fact, if the subject image size remains the same, then at any given aperture all lenses will give the same depth of field. (numerous explanations online can demonstrate how DOF is affected by aperture and distance, in attempts to dispel the myth that longer lenses "create" bokeh better than wider lenses.) Are you referring to the quality of the bokeh, which is somewhat subjective, I assume? Or are you noting the difference in working distance between different focal lengths to get the same perspective, which, due to different distances, will generate different depth of field and thus different "fields of confusion" in a given background?
To me both Napilopez and Macaltergo's explanation are rather misleading.

'Focal length' clearly clearly has an impact on DOF, not just 'aperture' and 'distance to subject'. See...

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

A 75 1.8 will have a much smaller DOF than a 45 f1.8 if both are shot from 10ft at 1.8.

The second statement that Macaltergo makes - In fact, if the subject image size remains the same, then at any given aperture all lenses will give the same depth of field - is true. But in order to get the image size the same with a 75 compared to a 45 you have to move back. So a 75 1.8 shot at 16.7 ft will give the same size subject and the same DOF as a 45 1.8 at 10ft

It follows from that, the statement 'the 75 1.8 is generally going to give more bokeh than the Noctricon 42.5 f1.2' is not really correct or is somewhat misleading. Clearly if you use them from the same distance the 75 would have a smaller DOF than the Noctricron. However if you were to use them to generate the same image size - say 'head and shoulders' or 'full body length' - the Nocticron (with its wider aperture) - will have the shallower DOF. That is because with the 75, in order to get the same 'head and shoulders' shot you would have to be 70% further back from the subject than with the Nocticron.

Simply put - if you took a 'head and shoulders' shot with both the 75 1.8 and the Nocticron f1.2 which would have the shallower DOF? Answer. The Nocticron.
 

Amin Sabet

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However if you were to use them to generate the same image size - say 'head and shoulders' or 'full body length' - the Nocticron (with its wider aperture) - will have the shallower DOF. That is because with the 75, in order to get the same 'head and shoulders' shot you would have to be 70% further back from the subject than with the Nocticron.

I think we're seeing the difference between DOF and background blur as described here: http://toothwalker.org/optics/dof.html

When you shoot the 42.5/1.2 at f/1.2 and the 75/1.8 at f/1.8, varying the subject distance to keep subject framing fixed, the former gives you a more shallow DOF (as you've calculated) but the latter gives you more background blur (as Napier demonstrated).
 

Jay86

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Thread has been officially....

train.jpg
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Thanks for the comparison and write up Napilopez.
 

EarthQuake

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I think we're seeing the difference between DOF and background blur as described here: http://toothwalker.org/optics/dof.html

When you shoot the 42.5/1.2 at f/1.2 and the 75/1.8 at f/1.8, varying the subject distance to keep subject framing fixed, the former gives you a more shallow DOF (as you've calculated) but the latter gives you more background blur (as Napier demonstrated).

Yes I think its very important to separate "DOF" and "background blur".

Using a longer focal length lens and standing further back compresses the perspective, which means the background is enlarged. So even if the longer lens at a further distance has wider DOF it also possible to have the same/or even more background blur, or larger apparent circles of confusion due to the enlargement of the background.

I think this is what the OP was saying, and its clearly visible in his images as well. In the 75mm DOF example, the image shows less of the background as the perspective is compressed, which provides a blurrier background and narrower apparent DOF, even if the DOF is actually wider.

I really like this site for calculating background blur as apposed to DOF: http://howmuchblur.com/#compare-2x-...-f1.8-and-2x-75mm-f1.8-on-a-0.9m-wide-subject - the chart here also matches the OP's findings, that at shorter distances the faster lens will have more background blur, but longer distances the longer lens does.

DOF calculators really only tell you the amount of image that is in focus, and not you much about how blurry the background is. Both are useful for different purposes.

Great to see this review btw, thanks for the effort! I can't wait to see some more formal portraits.
 

napilopez

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Hahah, it's a little funny how I tried to keep the language non-technical for simplicity, but instead I seem to have been too ambiguous and complicated things! I don't want to sidetrack the thread much more, so I will clarify in my original post, but it's essentially what Amin and Earthquake said above. My two most used portrait lenses for paid work are the 75mm F1.8 and the Voigtlander 42.5mm F0.95, and in my practical experience, the magnification of backgrounds with the 75mm means that backgrounds will often be appear more blurred with the 75mm than with the Nokton, as is the case in my comparison here against the Nocticron. This depends on the separation between the subject and the background, but for most outdoor shooting, this has been my experience. But actual DoF is of course shallower on the faster lenses at equal subject framing, and there are scenarios where these lenses do win out. That's all!
 

HappyFish

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I don't read reviews like this as I would lenstip or slrgear reviews
More Steve huff style
In some ways. I prefer opinions more I can get tech elsewhere
like the two sites I said hard to compete on tech with those so almost prefer more pure opinion :)

More I get to feel a persons perspective I get a better idea
Analogy Pizza
The sauce was a 8
Cheese a 9
Crust a definite 10 !
Ok was this deep dish or thin lots of sauce or a little etc,,
Now if a reviewer said how they love spicy etc.. And you ended up having a few things they do and know how it compares you would do better
Saying nice thin crust that folded easy loving a thick sauce spread thinly with less cheese made the perfect pizza is better than specs or numbers


Also I can read I between the lines and ignore what I want :)

I can see some not caring about 1.2 to 1.8 cause it sounds small but man one stop of light is enough again like others compared canons 1.2 to the 1.8 huge jump in price and size weight etc.. But a stop of light when you need it 1.2 is fast !
In comparison f/2 to f/2.8 is not so wow :)

So much focus on dof for me it's I can shoot this at 1600 not 3200 and get a way cleaner file over the Oly is more how I look at it

Would almost rather see/read descriptions like this was a great shot pushing my omd at 3200 ISO 1.2 this shot still holds detail 6400 ISO if. I had the Oly would not have delivered what I want and this is why the 1.2 is such a great lens and it's sharp ! The autofocus in this case was nice over the manual focus of the CV ! As I would not have had time to focus in

Something like that as example is more worthy IMHO :)

Like reading how dials or things feel in hand etc..
 

napilopez

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I don't read reviews like this as I would lenstip or slrgear reviews
More Steve huff style
In some ways. I prefer opinions more I can get tech elsewhere
like the two sites I said hard to compete on tech with those so almost prefer more pure opinion :)

More I get to feel a persons perspective I get a better idea
Analogy Pizza
The sauce was a 8
Cheese a 9
Crust a definite 10 !
Ok was this deep dish or thin lots of sauce or a little etc,,
Now if a reviewer said how they love spicy etc.. And you ended up having a few things they do and know how it compares you would do better
Saying nice thin crust that folded easy loving a thick sauce spread thinly with less cheese made the perfect pizza is better than specs or numbers


Also I can read I between the lines and ignore what I want :)

I can see some not caring about 1.2 to 1.8 cause it sounds small but man one stop of light is enough again like others compared canons 1.2 to the 1.8 huge jump in price and size weight etc.. But a stop of light when you need it 1.2 is fast !
In comparison f/2 to f/2.8 is not so wow :)

So much focus on dof for me it's I can shoot this at 1600 not 3200 and get a way cleaner file over the Oly is more how I look at it

Would almost rather see/read descriptions like this was a great shot pushing my omd at 3200 ISO 1.2 this shot still holds detail 6400 ISO if. I had the Oly would not have delivered what I want and this is why the 1.2 is such a great lens and it's sharp ! The autofocus in this case was nice over the manual focus of the CV ! As I would not have had time to focus in

Something like that as example is more worthy IMHO :)

Like reading how dials or things feel in hand etc..

There will definitely be more of that in Part 2 =] Can't get a full impression of a lens with only a couple of days, of course, which is why I try to get out the more boring(to me) technical things and early impressions first, so I can completely focus on the shooting experience for the rest of my time with the lens!
 

FastCorner

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[Skipping all the off-topic DOF comments]

Napi: Thanks for this write-up! The images speak for themselves: the Nocticron is a heck of a lens and seems to render OOF areas quite well. I'm waiting for it to show up at the local lens rental to give it a whirl.
 

orfeo

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talking about DOF and bokeh ability with close subject and distant background is useless as shown numerous times to prove things that were wrong. The same is true with macro shots. It is useless when we want to know how much bokeh you could get instead of a slow lens.
Even a F5.6 will produce bokeh in those setting

The black and white example is more able to show what a fast lens can do.
 

sushi

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Thanks napilopez for the review. The pictures look amazing as usual :smile:

I've read your review on the Voigtlander 42.5 f/0/95, found that very informative that as well. From your posts in the Voigtlander 42.5mm Image Thread, you seem to love that lens, and the picture shows it :thumbup:

I'm still on the fence on whether to get the Voigtlander 42.5mm or Panasonic 42.5mm. I'm not too fussed that the Voigtlander doesn't have autofocus or OIS. I'm more interested in the low light capability of the lenses. Do you see any real world difference when using them in low light conditions?

Also, in the Panasonic's Image Thread you mentioned "As noted by everyone else, the lens is very sharp wide open. I was very happy with the Voigtlander 42.5 wide open, but this lens is in a whole another league in terms of sharpness." Could you elaborate on that more? and if I may ask one last question, how does it compare to the Voigtlander in terms of contrast?

Thanks :) Hope I'm not asking too much. Looking forward to Part 2 of the review :2thumbs:
 
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