I always loved the "Leica" feel in black & white images made with a Leica M camera. I am aware of that it is likely - at least partially - a matter of psychology, which flows into the post processing of the images made from Leica M portraits.

I've always loved it - that special feeling. So I work towards it, you know. I also notice that this ain't working with colors - there is simply nothing "Leica" about any of the color images made with Leica M images, other than a bit funky "red's" look a bit pink-ish. But certainly no classic "Leica" feeling about it - AT ALL.

 

In black & white however

I seem to be able to cram out that particular feeling, i often don't get out from other camera and lens systems. The older classic Noctilux is a crucial part of that - like in the image above - it has this weird mix between sharp and glowy at the same time.

That is for me a kind of "Leica" magic. Also how the lens seems to deal with high key areas (highlights, light skin), in which the separation seem to be a bit special. The Noctilux love strong light contrast, coming from lights illuminating a face. Other lenses don't handle that very well - perhaps because they are sharper, more contrasty, too contrasty.

 

There is something about the way it compresses strong highlights...

The old Noctilux-M 50/1 (not the 50/1.2 nor the 50/0.95), seem to compress the highlights in such a way, that it almost gives portraits a classy old style Hollywood look. "Starlight" look.

It's really beautiful - a unique kind of subtle flair, added to images i get form a Noctilux-M 50/1 lens used wide open. I connect to that resonance, and therefore it is relatively easy for me to bring it to the fore in my images.

This image of Daniel under a strong spot light is another example of that sharp vs soft glow, giving a kind of magic to a Noctilux portrait.

However, I also should add, that the special magic isn't working on all images - far from it ! I found a few, where I feel it is a pronounced, special magic in the images (light, softness, sharpness, glow). The examples below are all made with wide open aperture ƒ 1.0

 

 

 

 

Anything but an easy lens

The Leica Noctilux is anything but an easy lens. I would classify it to be one of the most challenging lenses there are - because you can get a large amount of crappy images (and you most likely will). People think now that they finally got enough money to buy a Leica Noctilux lens, that it automatically bears a special label in the images... and they cannot get over the feeling, that it is in many ways an "inferior" lens. But in reality, it is a lens with a very special nature, not easily giving way it's magic for free. If you can't connect to the "spirit of the lens", other than just connecting to it by ego - you will become disappointed in the results. The lens also has a highly changeable nature, because the characteristics when using it wide open at aperture ƒ1.0 vs aperture ƒ4.0 are totally different !

If you take images of flat motives at ƒ 1.0 - you will see outermost crappy images most of the time. So, using this lens requires mind and spirit. The magic will not come by itself, be sure of that.

 

When the ego is in the way... and you may not realize it

I have seen many crappy Noctilux images, because people think the Noctilux automatically creates magic at wide open aperture ƒ 1.0.

Well it will not.

That's combined with an extreme price tag.. well, you will be hugely challenged to get over your ego (because it has invested into that extreme much money...) but are you honest enough to realize, that the images (together with you and your eyes) need a lot more effort to work out that magic ?


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