I was contacted by Noktor if I was interested in reviewing this lens for the micro 4/3 system. Naturally I jumped at the chance. Although being away from home I don’t have all my gear. My GH1 is at home but I have my GF1 with me. Not ideal as not as good at video at all, but still usable.

Ever since the lens arrived it has lived on my GF1 and the GF1 has lived in my man bag! It’s such a fun lens to shoot with.

Of course being 50mm on a micro four thirds give it an equivalent field of view of what you would get with a 100mm on a 5dmkII, so it’s not a very wide lens. Much more of a portrait lens which is not a bad thing at all.

First off for a lens this fast….it’s cheap. It is retailing for $750. For a lens this fast you would normally have to pay a lot more.

Wide open obviously it isn’t super sharp, it’s what I would call soft focus dreamy, stop down to F1.4 and it’s surprisingly sharp.

It has a minimal focus distance of 0.6m, a filter size of 62mm and 8 aperture blades. I noticed that when stopped down a little the bokeh was hexagonal in shape but wide open was circular. Apart from from the edges which where more half moon. I actually was actually quite partial to this look…Check out these stills I took with camera below. Some are wide open, some are stopped down…

Sara

Emrys Roberts

Shooting video with it on the GF1 was a challenge. With no manual controls in video mode I set the camera to shutter priority and 1/50th of a second which is optimum shutter speed for 25p. I set the ISO to lowest possible, set the iris it the F stop I wanted and using the Fader ND 72mm (with a 62mm step up ring) I got exposure and hit the exposure lock button so nothing could change. It’s a sort of way around the auto issues on the GF1. I also used a Zacuto Z-Finder, essential for me to get even close to focus with this lens!

The Fader ND  is essential if you want to shoot video on this camera or even stills and shoot wide open during daylight. It’s my HD-DSLR number one accessory.

The image was definitely sharper closed down but wide open I was very please with the image. I did a few tests shots under and on Santa Monica Pier. I really want to try and use this lens on the GH1 as soon as I can to see what it really is capable of in video mode.

It’s got lovely smooth iris and smooth focus, no vignetting and it’s not too heavy it has the right balance of weight for me and build quality is excellent.

All in all a very nice lens for the price, lovely to be able to shoot is really low light. I would love to see them make one for the Canons now! You can order one here, or at least be put in line for one!

For comparison below is a shot taken on the Leica F .95 50mm.

Thanks to Sara Collaton for the BTS photos.

The Pier: Test shots done with Noktor F0.95 50mm with Panasonic GF1 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Shot on and under Santa Monica Pier in California using a Noktor F0.95 50mm lens with a Panasonic GF1 shooting AVCHD lite in 25p.

Music is by Bernard Herrmann from “Vertigo”

Comments

  1. For such a cheap lens it sure has a nice bokeh!

  2. aradilon says:

    Nice video that lens is amazing.
    Oh and btw what tripod is that on the last few pictures it is so tiny.

    1. pbloom says:

      it’s a teeny Manfrotto, I wanted something v v v light.

      1. Andi says:

        Don’t think I’ve seen this in manfrotto site. Which model is the tripod? and also which head did you use?

        Nice video and love the music too :).

        1. pbloom says:

          it’s like the cheapest smallest one they do, got it free in a cereal packet

        2. Andrew Reid EOSHD.com says:

          I think I had that tripod. It was made like it came from a cereal packet as well!!

          Manfrotto 785b

        3. Caleb says:

          I did some searching and I think the model Philip is using is the Manfrotto 7322YB. It’s only $89 at Amazon, and I’m minutes away from buying my own! :P

          1. pbloom says:

            its a really fun little tripod that weighs nothing

      2. Bernard Lau says:

        The Modo tripod.
        I got that! :-D
        Too flimsy for the 7D, but great for point and shoots. And yes, it’s v v v light!

        Thanks Philip for using it, now I don’t feel so alone.

      3. Bruce McKay says:

        Can you tell me the type of view finder cover you were using in the B&W photo (3rd one down) in the “For comparison below is a shot taken on the Leica F .95 50mm.” section? Is it a Z-Finder?
        Also which Leica f0.95 and what camera, film or M9?
        Are the buttons accessible with the viewer in place and do you consider this a good alternative to the hot-show viewfinder Panasonic sells? Interested in stills not video.

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          that is a z finder v2.

          that photo was taken on a Noctilux on an M9

          yes buttons are accessible.

    2. Avi says:

      its a manfrotto modosteady tripod.
      its super small super light .. not super steady but does the job
      works well with the GF1
      the joystick head is well…crappy would be the word.
      u gotta compromise somewhere i guess
      for a $90 ultra compact tripod

  3. very nice.. i’d definitely purchase this lens if i ever bought a micro 4/3 camera. Im quite surprised at the low cost considering the 0.95 fstop. Whats the build quality like?

    Sunny

  4. Kert Gartner says:

    Interesting! I’d love to pick up this lens when it becomes available. Are other lenses that have a .95 aperture as soft when shot wide open, or is this just particular to this lens?

    Thanks!

    1. Roman France says:

      Heh you should see the Leica 50mm .95… innnnncreedddible.

  5. Brock says:

    WOW , That was amazing

  6. Michael Ferrara says:

    Nice! I really like the crazy effects that lens puts out on the night shots. It seems the surf on the Pacific packs quite a bit more punch than Dungeness. lol

  7. Roman France says:

    Jeeze Louise look at those circles of confusion.

    Another good example of the LENS>BODY debate.

  8. Rob Imbs says:

    The fact that you can get an image of that quality out of something that inexpensive is amazing Phil. I love all of the out of focus stuff, great work.

  9. Avery says:

    I am starting to believe that skill is more important than equipment. : )

    The lens is beautiful of course but it doesn’t seem to matter what you shoot on it always turns out great.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you sir, are in fact the man.

  10. Ron Coker says:

    Very, Very Cool

  11. Andrew Howe says:

    I had a look at their site and they have a poll to vote for other mounts you would like them to make.

  12. Austin Reza says:

    How where you able to shoot in 25p when the cam is 60fps? Also, how did you convert the footage. Everytime I use iMovie it speeds everything up?! Great work! I plan on taking the GF1 on my trip to Costa Rica. I will share my images once I return. Cheers, A

    1. pbloom says:

      my gf1 shoots 25p, its an EU one

    2. Jose M. Gonzalez says:

      Hey Austin I´m a HD-DSLR user from Costa Rica, If your coming over after march 25th we could get in touch and do some shooting! BTW bring over a Fader ND or your not gonna be able to do much, at midday the light is so strong youd have to stop down to f11 to get anything usable without NDs.

      1. Austin Reza says:

        @ Jose,

        Sounds like a plan. Last time I came I shot w/ my 7D and a Fader ND. Here’s a link to the shoot:

        http://vimeo.com/9613986

        Where at in CR are you? I will be flying in on the 18th to San Jose.

        @ Phillip,

        Thought that was the case ;) BTW enjoy my hometown of Austin, TX. Make sure to grab some BBQ at Stubbs. Wish I was @ SWSW this year!

        1. pbloom says:

          had some Stubbs last year. v nice it was too!

    3. oliver says:

      gf1 shoots at 30fps. when viewing/editing at a faster frame rate than filmed at, it speeds things up. i’m not familiar with imovie therefore i don’t know if you set the frame rate on the timeline yourself, but that is very likely your problem

      1. pbloom says:

        my gf1 shoots at 25p as it’s EU

  13. Andrew Reid EOSHD.com says:

    The look of most c-mount lenses on the GF1 / GH1 is really nice, this lens is incredible but just the tip of the iceberg. On the GH1 this will be brilliant because at ISO 1600 the GH1 is really clean, hardly any noise and it’s brighter than the 5DMkII at the same ISO, shutter and aperture. So it will be an absolute wonder in terms of low light at 0.95

    Any plans for a GH1 video soon?

  14. Chuck B says:

    Lance says “It’s not about the bike.” And you have proven, It’s not about the camera. It is about the cameraman. I think your work is brilliant. Keep it coming.

  15. Jeff says:

    Man, straight up, you just blow my mind. I don’t know how you do it Phil. Nice work!

  16. Bob says:

    Sorry, I don’t like this technical lens (re-made for m4/3) at all. Low contrast wide-opened, no good bokeh (or even rather bad). Too expensive for non-AF lens. It’s just a toy for fans of 4/3 and fast lenses. But I don’t see that this lens is outstanding. Rather dull and mediocre. To say honest, it’s some kind of marketing trick – to make tehnical lenses for EVIL system. To attract fans with lens’s fast aperture and make money. If you want better IQ, buy old M42 50/1.4…It could be more interesting and MUCH cheaper. :)

    1. Kjele says:

      Hmm. I do not really understand what the fuss is all about.
      At f0.95 the depth of the focus field is so limited and the contrast seems to be super low which makes the lens next to unusable. Sure, I like dreamy portraits as much as the next guy, but I want at least the eyes to be sharp. As I see it this is not the case.

      At f1.4 a 30 dollar Canon FD 50mm f1.4 from around 1980 will produce better results than the ones above. An adapter for MFT will set you back another 40 bucks. That is less then a tenth of the price of this “cheap” lens.

  17. James says:

    Nice review as always, Philip. As a hobbyist photographer, I’m excited that this lens can do so much within my ‘so little’ price range. :D

  18. Very nice work Philip.

  19. Luke says:

    Leave it to Philip Bloom to make a kick-ass video with a GF1. This is what I’ve been waiting to see.

    1. Greg Wallis says:

      The equipment matters, but it’s the talent and ability behind it that makes it happen. PB will undoubtedly make the very most of what’s available, and this Noktor lens is great for video but doesn’t appear to cut the mustard for photography. There’s also a big technical limit with the GF and GH1 in regard to the very limited bandwidth on offer, and you can see this in some of the shots. Beautifully put together film, though.

  20. Serge Taveras says:

    Sweet!
    I just dont get why people keep saying for such a cheap lens it sure is blah blah blah! hello!?!?! its a F0.95
    How many of these have you ever seen?!?!

    I take anything that can shoot that low even if its made out of paper!

    Phil can’t you just use a C mount adapter and shoot with it on lets say the 7D? with something like this?:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/AF-Confirm-C-mount-Lens-To-Canon-EOS-EF-adapter-7D-450D_W0QQitemZ280468090097QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item414d336cf1

    I have purchased a couple of lenses for my collection from old Russian Nikkors and M42 Mounts between F1.4 and F1.2 with an adapter for my 5DM2 and they work like magic.

    Waiting on this firmware to do some real cool stuff.
    Old glass with no fongus is easily available online, give that manual is the only way to go with these cameras then why not pick them up?

  21. Beautiful footage Phil!

    Recently, we saw you acquired the Tascam dr100… have you had a chance to compare it with the zoom h4n? If so, which would you prefer to use with a DSLR? And, what would be best for journalists?

    (:(:Thanks for all your help:):)

    1. pbloom says:

      i prefer the Tascam. separate audio levels and headphone and mic out

  22. kww says:

    Well you certainly showed the lens strengths, night time bokeh/video, the bokeh isn’t as bad as some have stated. It does seem a bit soft in sharpness though.

  23. rsquires says:

    That is absolutely stella. Words fail me. I love it. It reminds me of Saul Bass and the music is of course perfect. I hope to get one of these babies after words with the minister of finance. You are an inspiration Mr B!

    1. pbloom says:

      thanks Richard

  24. Greg Wallis says:

    Amazing bokeh, so dreamy and yet with a gorgeous geometrical quality to it. Good music choice, too. Nice.

  25. Tim A. says:

    Thanks for the review. With this one combined with the one that Steve Huff did over on his site I think I’m no longer as nervous as I was before when I pre-ordered and then started to see the bokeh and the low contrast “issues”. I’m now willing to accept those as part of the package of an otherwise fun super fast lens for my GF1. Oh, and I had no idea just how nice the video is on this camera! Thanks for that too! I’ll have to give it a shot one of these times.

  26. Great how you played with that lens.

    1. pbloom says:

      it’s a fun lens. going to buy one off of them

  27. Michael Bakowski says:

    In the last picture it looks like Somebody Gonna Get ah Hurt Real Bad.

  28. Edgar Jardim says:

    I must have one of this great, DoF, and in low light situations This just made my GH1 a lot more interesting, Thanks Noktor and Philip great video and superb music

  29. Petr Matas says:

    to be honest, I’m disappointed with the bokeh, it is way too sharp and the strange sharpness (not desirable for me in bokeh) have also strange shape – just because the curtain of aperture have really exotic mechanism, I never saw something like this – the aperture with this shape

  30. STR says:

    Very very nice – seems to really love the night – that bokeh is out of control!!

    Loved the shot of you playing with the telescope hah ! – was expecting an ECU on the word FOCUS with DoF shifting it in focus :D

    Great stuff Phil – any adapters or equivalent lenses for a 5D ??

    also what did you use to crop the aspect?

    1. pbloom says:

      they will bring out a Canon version but mostly likely a year out due to flange issues..i love that word flange!

  31. Stuart Hooper says:

    Hey Bob, for those out there that can’t drop 6-12k on a Leica I think this is an amazing deal. Yes, there are lots of F1.4′s out there for cheap, but the F.95-F1.0 range is significantly faster and has a look to it that you just can’t replicate with something else.

    Yes the ‘soft and dreamy’ can be a bit overboard, but if I didn’t have a Noctilux already, this would be on the top of my wish-list…

  32. Sesa says:

    I think therefore noktor is a lens for CCTV rebranded, will be released only for the micro 4 / 3 because it is the only sensor which can function, has the advantage of having already built a bayonet to the micro 4 / 3.
    The price is fair for this type lenses cost from $ 600 to $ 700 up to over $ 1000 for the lenses of Schneider, probably looking on ebay between different retailers in China is possible to find something similar at a lower price.

    1. Sesa says:

      Great video philp !

  33. rashbre says:

    excellent video – quite inspiring. I’ve been tinkering with the GF1 with a few old Olympus Zuiko lenses, but haven’t tried any video yet.

  34. Rumbus says:

    Great Review Philip.

    One thing left me wondering wondering though. I have the GF1, and indeed am left with my hands behind my back when it comes to video manual controls. I read above that you set the camera to shutter priority and then to 1/50. Can you tell me please how you did this?
    I mean, of course I can set the dial on shutter priority, but this is only relevant for still shooting. Once you hit the video button (not the P video mode on the dial) the video defaults to auto, and as I figured it ignores the shutter settings that is set for stills.
    Same with the ISO – you can set it to a low iso, but once you hit the video button it is switching to Auto ISO mode.

    Can you please elaborate a bit on your workaround?

    (In my case my GF1 is US (29.9fps) which means 1/60 is the ideal shutter speed for me)

    1. Rumbus says:

      Ok, read through your description again and got it. I kinda read too quickly through the exposure lock part. Now I understand. thanks for this workaround. I just learned a new thing about my GF1 :)

      I was disappointed to see so little video controls on the GF1, but it’s still difficult to be cross with at a sweet creature like the GF1.

    2. pbloom says:

      hit exposure lock first and it won’t happen

      1. Loki says:

        Hello Rumbus a hello Philip. Sorry to ask you again but I have been wondering how to make AE lock work when shooting video with GF1. Still I am unable to fully lock the exposure. I mean – I can definitely lock “something” but this is not the right thing:

        I have 20mm pancake lens and when I set camera to A mode and set desired aperture (e.g., to 5.6) then push AE lock and then start shooting video I can clearly see that I have my aperture full opened (like 1.7).

        Similar thing happen when I set camera to S mode and set desired shutter speed (e.g., to 1/125 sec.) then push AE lock and start shooting video I can not see the difference (after looking at the result) between this and standard usecase without using AE lock as it looks like 1/30 to me.

        ISO setting is the same (in P-A-S modes).

        But if I point my camera directly to light source it will automatically step down aperture (seems to be independent to any of my desired exposure settings) and when I push AE lock I can have this “auto” aperture
        locked during my video. Nice to have it but there is no way I can control this preselected “auto” aperture. Hmmm – maybe I am doing something wrong or the camera is just saying “NO”:)

        Thanks in advance for any of your comments regarding this little problem.

        Anyway, I should perform some more measurements but I still do not believe GF1 is capable of locking either shutter speed or aperture (not to mention ISO) when shooting video.

        1. pbloom says:

          It may only work with a manual iris lens like this one

        2. Rumbus says:

          I have the 20mm pancake and can lock shutter/aperture.
          go into the Menu > custom Menu > AE/AF Lock Hold > set to ON.
          Then set dial to S/A find your exposure, press AE/AF Lock, and then press the video button.

          1. pbloom says:

            cool thanks

  35. krishna says:

    Phillip! Where is the film vs DSLR experiment, its the 15th and have been craving to see the results. Please Post!

    1. pbloom says:

      sorry, it’s been delayed a week or so

  36. doublejnyc says:

    Did you color correct this video in post?

    1. pbloom says:

      yep, magic bullet looks

  37. Mike Chalmers says:

    Nice review, and really good, helpful site!

    Are you confusing circle of confusion with bokeh, though?

    1. pbloom says:

      yes i am! i had a circle of confusion!

      1. Haha okay, sorry for the lame ‘I like your site BUT’ comments, I have learned a lot from your site and am very glad I found it (via DV information netword forums). Keep up the good work!

  38. Xavier says:

    This is a beautiful video !
    The frames are mazing
    I love it !
    I should think about getting one but i need the camera that goes with it along with hi iso !

  39. Frank says:

    I’m praying they make one for canon … Now that would make me spend 750 …….. Now

  40. Lorand Toth says:

    Well, if you give Phill a phone, he will probably make a short that people would react : “wow, we didn’t thought a phone can do that…” but the truth is that the artist behind the instrument is really important.
    Personally I would be much go with the Voigtlaender 50mm Nokton 1.1 anytime, with a bit higher cost : 1000 euros.
    By the way, Is there an M mount adapter 4 micro four thirds ?

    1. pbloom says:

      there is lorand, check ebay

  41. Scotty says:

    a bit off topic but…is the 701hdv head adequate for use with the 7d/5d?

    1. pbloom says:

      v off topic…but yes, adequate

  42. flimackgod says:

    hey, which zacuto view finder are you using for this camera, and is this camera out yet?

  43. flimackgod says:

    so is this camera out yet?

    1. pbloom says:

      the gf1 has been out for ages