Leica Versus Nikon: Which f/0.95 Lens Is the Best?

If you are in the market for a new standard f/0.95 prime, which should you choose? In this useful test, one photographer pits the Nikon NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct against the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH to help you figure out which one is best.

These are not lenses you’ll find in many photographers’ bags, perhaps mostly because the Nikon Noct will set you back a tasty $8,000, while the Leica Noctilux will cost you a little more at $12,795. There’s also the small matter that the Nikon is very hard to track down right now, with most vendors lacking any stock. If you recall, Nikon announced last year that demand for its doorstop of a lens was so high that it was struggling to keep up production. As you can imagine, coronavirus probably isn’t helping with that right now.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the Leica lens is more than a decade old and weighs significantly less than the Nikon, and you’d expect to see a difference, despite being the more expensive of the two. Certainly to my eye, the Noct seems to produce markedly better images when shot wide open.

Which will you buy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Log in or register to post comments

16 Comments

Tom Fuldner's picture

Apologies for being a grammar wipe, but when comparing two of anything, it’s “which is better,” not “which is best.”

Andy Day's picture

Duly noted. Thank you!

While Tom is formally correct, language is fluid, particularly English. The only critera for grammar worth considering IMO is whether* it leaves the reader in unintentional ambiguity as to the writers meaning.

Frank A's picture

I was about to make a similar comment to Tom's. I clicked on this link thinking that there are more than two lenses being compared.

While I will never purchase either of these lenses; I did enjoy the comparison and think that you did a great job--clear and concise--with your presentation.

nogalas whisky's picture

other than the commercial advertising links, i don't see any value to an Fstopper headline designed to simply 'beg opinions'. perhaps the author might consider putting a little energy and effort into this page instead of wasting reader's time?

If I had the money, I'd choose the Noctilux all day every day. The Nikkor lens is far too big & heavy. But no money for either, so will forget they exist.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

No AF no buy, especially at these prices. To put it in perspective, for the Leica money, one could buy a 400 f2.8 or 600 f4. :O

With that said, given this specific test, I preferred the Nikon:

-- Seems sharper wide open. Granted, it is manual focus so user error is a possibility.

-- Background bokeh was smoother.

-- Background bokeh balls were smoother and rounded with less onioning.

Agree I own a Nikon 400mm f2.8 VR FL and it's infinitely more useful and arguably a better portrait lens than the Noct. Not only is the 400mm f2.8 an incredible portrait lens, either for head shots or full body, it's also infinitely more useful than a manual focus Noct. That's not to say the Noct isn't amazing in it's own way and for those who need or can afford one, my hats off to them and I'd love to have one if it was cheaper. However I need autofocus as I'm a photojournalist, who mainly shoots sports and breaking news. I use 400mm on pretty much every assignment or breaking news story, so it's a great investment. I've had the 300mm, 500mm, 600mm from both Nikon and Canon over the years, but the 400mm is the best of the bunch. It's the sharpest and having that extra stop over the 500mm and 600mm is so useful to someone like me. Plus it takes the 1.4x and 1.7x TC's really well, which brings you even more versatility. However if I was I portrait photographer I'd definitely rather trade for the 200mm f2 or 300mm f2.8 VRII lenses, as working with a 400mm is chore lol.

If I were to go 0.95, I'd go big with the Noct, superior performance at a substantially lower price. Leica lenses are far too overpriced for what they are tbh.

In the first comparisons at f.095 the Nikon is clearly and by quite a bit sharper than the Leica, so I'm not sure if you have bad eyesight or just are not seeing what I am. The point of focus is noticeably sharper, which is obviously what I was expecting as its a much bigger, yet more importantly more modern design with some obvious advantages. Those would be modern design, flange distance being shorter and throat diameter being larger, etc. The Nikon is the clear winner to me not just because it's sharper wide open, but because it's cheaper and a better value therefore and when you consider the price of a Z 6 or Z 7, the price gets even wider. So cheaper and a little better, is a clear win. Also push come to shove the Nikon is better made and has better weather sealing than the Leica, although the Leica is made well and is a gorgeous lens, the Nikon's technically better well made.

Oh, I agree with you. While I do prefer the portibility and size of the Noctilux, and find its starbursts more pleasing, the Noct wins on every other criteria. They're both astonishingly lovely lenses, but the Noct does make the price of the Noctilux a little hard to swallow, even for the well heeled.

Why is he constantly answering the questionable "i think" when the Nikon lens literally destroyed the Leica lens.

Agree, it’s almost as if he’s blind or looking at different results than we are. I found the Nikon to be much sharper, better bokeh and overall better.

adam carter's picture

Having looked at the side by side video I’d be dissatisfied with the Leica. At 0.95 it’s soft, with more aberrations than the Nikon. For example the white text on the P1 camera pops out on the noct, which implies it out resolved the z7 sensor, the Leica is for want of a better word ’mushy’ wide open. To make matters worse, at 1.4 the Noct has nice smooth bokeh, the Leica has hexagonal balls. That would be enough to put me off that lens, even if it cost £100. It reminds me of comparing my 85 1.4g lens against the Z 85 1.8, wide open, the z lens has a much cleaner look.