Leica is iconic for that red logo and the background bokeh and the company’s latest lens is promising an “unmistakable Leica look.” On Wednesday, November 29, Leica unveiled the Leica Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH lens. The Noctilux 75mm is a modern redesign of a 1966 lens with a “hair-thin” depth of field, manual focus — and a $12,795 price tag.
The Noctilux lens family launched in 1966 with a 50mm f/1.2, eventually leading to the still-available 2008 50mm version with an f/.95 aperture. The series, Leica says, is designed to push the envelope in both image quality and aperture, with exceptionally wide apertures to really separate the subject from the background.
“All Noctilux-M lenses to this day are special for their rendering and aesthetic when shot wide-open, yielding a three-dimensional “pop” that separates its subjects from the background like no other lenses,” Leica said in a statement. “The out-of-focus areas behind the subject is smooth and pleasing to the eye, giving a lovely soft background even in the darkest of lighting scenarios.”
So what does the new 75mm bring to the table? The longer focal length helps create an even shallower depth of field than the 50mm because of the longer focal length, while the minimum focus distance of about 2.7 feet allows the photographer to fill the frame with many subjects.
The lens uses 11 aperture blades to create soft bokeh in that background. The lens is constructed with nine elements in six groups. The glass, Leica says, is designed from a material with high anomalous partial dispersion and low chromatic dispersion. The company says that combination reduces aberrations to a “hardly detectable” level.
With that f/1.25 depth of field, Leica uses a floating lens element to ensure that sharpness at close-up levels is identical to the performance at infinity. That means the lens is sharp throughout the focus range. The floating element means that the rear lens element doesn’t move at the same speed as the other pieces, allowing the lens to adjust for optimal sharpness at different focal points.
Focusing an f/1.25 lens will be tricky. Leica said the Noctilux-M 75mm is designed for “all ambitious Leica photographers with the expertise to utilize this creative potential for their visual expression.” The lens is designed for the Leica M system and in particular, cameras with a focus peaking system to get that sharp focus manually.
The Noctilux-M 75mm will go on sale at the start of 2018 at Leica stores, boutiques, and dealers.