I think...

the Laowa Argus 28 mm f 1.2 lens is phenomenal when used wide open at its extreme bright aperture ƒ1.2 - and still pulling off such wonderful optical performance. I do of course use ever so slightly sharpening when i feel i want to pull out some details even further (but not always). I simply love what the Laowa Argus 28mm f 1.2 can do. I love the way it renders the background - which we surely are not used to from 28 mm wide angle lenses.

Yeah, I know... I could just talk /write all day about this lens...


I've got a tooth for optical lens designs

The way certain lenses render. I never thought I would ever lay my hands on a lens, which has a Leica-M lens character from the 70s / early 80s.


The Laowa Argus 28 keeps its special character in color

The thing I have noticed is, that the Laowa Argus 28 is really good in color images as well - not just in black & white photos. It keeps its special character all the way (when used wide open, no matter if color or black & white).

Which I cannot say with the classic Noctilux-M 50/1, i only use as a black & white lens, where it shines when you use it "the right way".


About the Leica Noctilux-M 50/1 (classic)

Here a few examples of portraits made with the Leica Noctilux-M 50/1. One thing the Noctilux is good at in black & white, is when there are strong spot lights. It seem to compress the highlights in a perfect way (as the lens itself is soft wide open at aperture ƒ 1). You can clearly see that in the second photo of Daniel, how wonderful the Noctilux renders this image, despite the high contrast in the photo !!

But it is a very difficult lens to make really good images with. It is more of a niche lens... And it can often make the most weird, ugly photos imaginable if you don't understand its inherent "spirit" (together with how the light renders/falls/shines) The name "Leica Noctilux" itself does not give you magic at all. ON the contrary, most images are just weird.

It took me... gosh... 20+ years starting to get the hang of that lens. (I never liked it with film, probably because i felt id didn't perform so well with ISO 400 film. But with ISO 100 on a tripod, i start to realize that it was sharper than i understood). But... using it with tripod at aperture ƒ1.0 felt a bit... counterproductive.

But with the Leica M8 I started to fall in love with it... gradually. As well with the Leica M9, too. However, it isn't a lens i use very often. The Summilux-M 50/1.4 ASPH is a much more versatile lens in direct comparison.

Today's digital tools allow me better to correct images in many ways, for example the much higher noise level of the Leica M9 is not a problem anymore. Or refined sharpness. So, color images get generally better with the Noctilux today, and I'll add a few of those, too. But in general: I love how the Noctilux renders portraits in BW.


Leica Noctilux-M 50/1 examples

28 May 2011 • Goshia & Daniel . . . . . (made with Leica M9 + Noctilux-M 50/1)


4 Oct 2011 • Daniel, Estonia. . . . . (Leica M9)


4 Oct 2011 • Daniel, Estonia / Baltic Sea . . . . . (Leica M9)


4 Oct 2011 • Daniel at the Disco, Baltic Sea . . . . . (Leica M9)


4 Oct 2011 • Disco Dance floor, Baltic Sea . . . . . (Leica M9)

1 Jan 2020 • Sal in the kitchen . . . . . (Canon EOS R + Noctilux-M 50/1)


15 April 2016 • Sal in Catania / we're eating ice cream at night. . . . . (Leica M9 + Noctilux-M 50/1)


Now, I almost got carried way

about the Leica Noctilux-M 50/1... hahaha. No wonder, because it is a lens to which "mythical" characteristics have been added to. You would say, that the Classic (non-ASPH) Noctilux-M 50/1 is the lens dreams are made of. A legend.

But once you actually work with, it is a very different lens, and as i mentioned earlier, it can produce 90% really crappy images.

A very tricky lens.

Plus that the color balance of the CCD sensored Leica M8 and M9 are in themselves a "problem" for example when you take photos in artificial/tungsten light. (Lips for example, need selective color correction, in order not to look pinkish, as you adjust/correct the tungsten lighting... lips and skin towards a reddish tint, can easily look weird by pulling towards magenta).


Back to the Laowa Argus 28/1.2

the corners are generally darker with this lens when you use it wide open. I usually correct that in Photoshop. And when it comes to distortion - well there isn't much to correct really. Only occasionally I make a very slight correction - most of then not. And purple fringing / chromatic aberration most often often not evident.

A lens for 700 € this good... I absolutely love it.

While the little pancake Canon RF 28mm f 2.8 STM pancake is fun, because it is light and so easy in many ways... yeah that is the right word: it is an EASY lens. Sharp and plain.

The Laowa Argus on the other hand, has plenty of character, which is worth to explore. And that is exactly what i love to do.



With a Leica Noctilux-M 50/1 and the wider Laowa Argus 28 mm f 1.2 - they make a perfect couple for evening photography; portrait of people. Both are of course manual, they both have a very special rendering, and a delicious bokeh as well good sharpness when used wide open, at ƒ 1 and ƒ 1.2

I have no clue how a Laowa Argus 35 mm f 0.95 renders.

I never looked at it, because my main concern was that I had no good really useful 28mm lens in my Canon lens set up. I also felt that a 35 mm lens is too close to 50 mm - and I already have a Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH (but works only best on a Leica M camera) as well the Canon RF 50/1.2 L. The latter however is a tricky one too - because it is clinical sharp at ƒ1.2. A stellar lens in terms of optical performance, a superlative !

But... it has no character in portraits. (The Canon EF 50/1.2 L has more character, but isn't really the sharpest tool in the drawer...)

The older, classic Noctilux-M 50/1 however is a wonderful mix between soft, blurry and sharp. It can be well adapted on a Canon EOS R type of camera for portraits - because critical border sharpness is so not an issue.


Bright Trio of lenses ?

And if i absolutely need an additional "super" wide angle... I can also add the TTArtisan 21mm f 1.5 ASPH which is another, very bright lens; albeit when used wide open at ƒ1.5 - it produces strong haloing - which hasa touch of an older, analog feeling. Aka an image which reminds of being used with older lenses from the 70s. It works for gentle reportage, when needed. But I normally don't deploy an 21 mm wide angle for "portraits".

All three lenses are an art of manual focus photography. You approach your subjects differently... and i assume that the mindset also should be a bit different, too; a sort of "more analog" thinking.

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