Fifty-five years ago, Leica introduced a groundbreaking high-speed normal lens for Leica M-series cameras. It was called the Noctilux 50mm f/1.2, and it remains the gold standard among photographers who shoot in low light, to this very day.
In a nod to its fabled heritage, Leica is introducing an updated 2021 edition of this lens—the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH. Leica has been reaching into its archives of classic glass and updating them with modern imaging technologies.
This isn't the first time Leica has harked back to the "good old days." Included among these revived classics are the Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 portrait lens and the Leica Summaron-M 28mm f/5.6, which is a compact wide-angle lens that renders beautiful imagery while giving the camera a narrow form factor.
Close in design to the original Noctilux, Leica's newest M-mount lens is designed to render images with the same signature look that made the original Noctilux an instant classic when it was released in 1966. The new Noctilux will be available in black and silver. (The original 50mm Noctilux was the first Leica lens offered with a black finish. Very few silver versions were produced, and they are extremely rare!)
Leica's new Noctilux-M, which measures approximately 2" long and 2.5" wide without the shade, features six elements in four groups, including two aspheric surfaces and a 16-blade aperture diaphragm. It has 49mm filter threads, and a minimum focusing distance of about 39" (1m).
Along with front and rear caps and a slotted metal shade, the black version of the Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH comes with a clear plastic storage container, similar to the container included with the original Noctilux lens.
Leica is also releasing this lens in a silver edition, which will be limited to 100 copies worldwide. In addition to matching caps, a silver shade, and replica storage container, the silver edition also features a brass lens barrel with "LEITZ WETZLAR" engravings, special edition serial numbers (001/100 to 100/100), and packaging that closely resembles that of the original Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 all those years ago.
Have you ever shot with a lens that opens up to f/1.2 or wider? If so, tell us about it in the Comments section, below.