Thoughts about the new 75mm Noctilux f/1.25 - without ever touching one
So they said that the new 75mm Noctilux f/1.25 started shipping in March. We indeed start to see real-world, uncensored reviews or user reports coming out, starting with our good friend Thorsten Overgaard, who was in his usual poetic and philosophical tone. Another review by Street Silhouettes had the harsh title including wording "A Question of Justification".
Not a gear maniac, I've never seen or touched a 75mm Noctilux f/1.25. After I sold gradually all my other lenses except Noctilux 50mm over the year, I've never thought about getting another lens, not even a new Noctilux.
I could understand the fuss about it though: despite a smaller f-stop, the ground-breaking 75mm Noctilux will have the shallowest DoF thanks to its longer focal length and shorter focus distance than 50mm Noctilux. The idea of throwing everything other than the subject into the dreamy blurry wonderland of Leica cannot escape most fans, whatever the price tag.
After checking out all the sample or review photos available out there, however, it seems very clear to me: this is not a street photography lens. It's a portrait lens.
I used to own a 75mm Summicron f/2.0. Despite it's incredible sharpness, the light weight and beautiful bokeh, I seldom used it. 75mm is just not a good focal length for street photography. Often times the subjects in the street scene look too isolated, disconnected from its environ. It's very difficult to tell a story of people with the streets, which is the whole point of street photography, with the perspective offered by 75mm. I sold the lens subsequently.
The though of f/1.25 Noctilux sort of excited some imagination: maybe shallower DoF would work wonder?
But the photos on the internet say otherwise, at least to me. The 75mm perspective is nowhere to escape. It's just to objective and dejected.
It will be, however, a much better portrait lens than the popular 90mm Summicron f/2.0 though. It allows the photographer to get closer to the subject and communicate better both with voice and gestures - it might be close enough that eye communication works as well. I could imagine portrait truly enjoying this lens, especially against the light now that every reviewer confirmed its magnificent lack of purple fringing, which is very notorious for 50mm Noctilux f/0.95.
I, on the other hand, am content with my 50mm Noctilux f/0.95. The purple fringing is not an enemy to me as it bring some characteristics to colored photos. Plus I do mostly B&W anyway so it seldom affects me. Rumor has it that a new 50mm Noctilux will come out soon though, using all the new tricks that 75mm Noctilux f/1.25 employed though.