The Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 vs. Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 shot wide open.

This post is meant to serve as a little bit of an interlude from the Sunrise at Oxtongue Lake series…

DISCLAIMER:  This is not intended to be an analysis of these two lenses. Not even close!  I shot these for my own curiosity and am simply posting the results for your viewing pleasure and/or interest.  You may choose to draw you own conclusions, and that’s fine (in fact, I’m interested in reading your comments).  But please, please, don’t write that “this is not a valid comparison, because…“.   I know it’s not a valid comparison.

Below, the Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 and Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 (E60) were shot wide open on the M9 (the reason one buys these exotic lenses is to shoot them wide open, so that’s the comparison that interested me).

The M9 was set to manual mode.  Focus bracketing was used and the sharpest images from each lens were taken for the comparison (NOTE: despite doing this to ensure that the images were in focus, sharpness was not the only thing I was interested in).

Finally, the original DNG files were converted to JPG in Aperture.  No post-processing whatsoever was used, other than the conversion.

So, here is the overall scene…  focus was on the word “TATiRi” on the guitar head (the differences in the field of view are attributable to the 50mm and 60mm focal lengths).

(please click on the images below to view)

↑Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 @ f/1.2.

↑Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 @ f/1.0.

That famous peripheral “swirly” pattern of the Noctilux f/1.0 is certainly evident above (as an aside, the Nikkor Noct 58/1.2 is also famous for this).

And now I’m including several 100% crops from the above scenes.  The first pair of crops are meant to demonstrate central sharpness.

(please click on the images to view)

↑Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 @ f/1.2 (centre 100% crop)

↑Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 @ f/1.0 (centre 100% crop)

The next several pairs of crops are meant to demonstrate the character of the bokeh, as seen in two different regions from the main scene.

↑Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 @ f/1.2 (bottom left 100% crop)

↑Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 @ f/1.0 (bottom left 100% crop)

↑Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 @ f/1.2 (top centre 100% crop)

↑Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 @ f/1.0 (top centre 100% crop)

As I wrote above, I’d be interested in reading any commentary generated from this.


10 thoughts on “The Konica Hexanon 60/1.2 vs. Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 shot wide open.

  1. Guy Platt says:

    When comparing both sets of images I mostly want to say Oooh and Oooh.

    Can you describe your technique for focus bracketing please?

    In my experience I find it significantly easier to focus with my Noctilux since it is absolutely spot on with my M9 while my Hex has about a 2 cm back focus at a distance of 2m.

    Your shots seem to dispel a myth I was creating in my head, namely that I was starting to feel that the Hex produces softer colours than the Noctilux. However I have not shot the same scene with both lenses yet.

    Nice to see these sets of images together. I was waiting (hoping) for you to do something like this.

    • Prosophos says:

      Guy re: focus-bracketing. I focus (using a tripod) to where I *believe* the focus to be correct, and then take a shot. Then, I take a sequence of shots just in front of, and then behind, the initial focus plane. This takes into account any front- or back-focusing a lens *may* have and, in this way, at least one of the shots will be in focus. Obviously I don’t normally shoot this way… I only do this when making comparisons. Fortunately, I’m not a lens tester… the tediousness of this would be agonizing… and besides, not everything can be gleaned from taking a static photo of a child’s guitar!… you have to go out and shoot the way you intend to use the lens. There are so many other factors to consider in the rendering of each lens that static single shots like the ones I posted are not that informative.

  2. Guy Platt says:

    Just an after thought, but what do you identify the Hex as on your M9 ?

    • Prosophos says:

      Nothing. I never identify any of my uncoded lenses. In other words, my M9 is permanently set to auto-detect, no matter what lens I’m using (coded or uncoded).

  3. cam says:

    Overall, the in-focus area of the Noctilux shows an almost 3-D rendering and the transition area is gentler and more pleasing. The Hexanon seems sharper, though, but also a little plasticky… And dare I say that the Noctilux has more glow even though they both exhibit this?

    The bokeh comparison surprised me the most. Can’t decide on the bottom crops, but the top centre ones show completely different patterns. The Hexanon is lush, like a Monet waterlily painting. The Noctilux shows far more tonalities, even if it’s definitely more jarring.

    I’m not saying the above images are thrilling, but they are still 100% better than the typical test photo so I thank you! As I own one lens and am lusting after the other, it showed me quite a bit, both strengths and weaknesses.

    Oddly, I have not seen the swirly so much on my Noctilux (a very early E58 f/1 that is rumoured to be slightly different than yours) — or maybe I just haven’t seen it because there are other things that concern me mre in my photos… The Hexanon’s lushness, though, impressed me even though I’ve seen it before in several of Yanidel’s images — I guess because, here, you compared it to a lens I own. (Stop with this immediately before I find a Hex of my own!)

    I would love it even more if you could get a patient human subject in low light and make it make it black and white. Totally selfish of me to ask, I know, but… 😉

    • Prosophos says:

      lol… the test image is *far* from thrilling… it was just a convenient set-up for the purposes of the post, but I appreciate the compliment.

      Cam, it’s unlikely I’ll re-do a shoot like this using a person… I would never want to put anybody through that and there will always be another “what if?” question with the set-up… always more ways to re-do it. As I mention to Guy above, the best “testing” is the kind where you use the lens as you intend to… we all have different needs, so we place value on different lens traits.

      By the way, your comments about how each lens renders are very interesting. It’s this sort of commentary I was hoping to elicit. The two lenses in the comparison have different “personalities”, for lack of a better term.

      • cam says:

        Completely different personalities, but I am not fussed that all my lenses much match (one caveat: Mandler makes me weak at the knees).

        I’d be interested to know your thoughts as well as to the different “looks”….

        Interestingly, Yanidel was never that thrilled with either my 75 Lux or Noctilux (the latter possibly monetary at the time — we both got exceptional deals for our respective lenses), whereas I always got a kick out of playing with his Hexanon. (We were like Mutt and Jeff shooting, even sitting down, as he’s at least a foot taller than me.)

        Your shots reinforced what I love about the f/1 Noctilux but, as I said, left me still lusting for the lighter Hex as a carry-around lens (it’s dark here!). The slight plasticky look was my only pause — but I only tried it on the M8 (which has a much harsher demarcation line than the M9).

        Apologies for putting you on the spot with my selfish request. Most of my images are b/w and often in low light. People as well, as very few inanimate objects catch my eye or interest… So forget comparisons, I guess. I would like to know how the Hexanon handles such situations.

        Again, many thanks!

        (And I do hope you understand I wasn’t being snarky — my non test shot test shots are typically of my boyfriend’s toes 😉 )

        • Prosophos says:


          The Hex has what I would call a more “modern” rendering. It’s sharper wide open than the 50 Noctilux f/1.0. It’s an interesting lens that stands alone in the M-mount line: 60mm, f/1.2, small size. The last point being very important to me, even though I don’t mention it above.

          In many ways the 60 Hex reminds me more of the 75 ‘lux than the 50 f/1.0. It’s almost a “little brother” to that lens, even though the 75 ‘lux is considered a “classic” lens… and I’ve just finished writing that the 60 Hex is modern – so go figure.

          The Noctilux f/1.0, as you know, can also exhibit less-than-tame bokeh, but in a different way (that you partially describe in your previous post). I think it’s probably over-kill to own both, but then again one is smaller, sharper and focuses closer, and the other is wider, faster and more dream-like in its rendering….

          By the way, the Mandler lenses are favourites of mine too, with the 75 ‘lux representing the crowning achievement. But it’s big, long, and heavy… once again, we see that there are trade-offs with everything! However, when I make a point of carrying the 75 ‘lux I know I’ll end up with something special from an image standpoint.

          • cam says:

            Absolutely brilliant!

            The Hex being the little brother to the 75 Lux and yet modern, but, yes, I get it despite the seeming paradox… It all makes sense.

            The 75 Lux is most definitely sharper in its area of focus as compared to the Noctilux, with the OOF areas so lush and dense you can drown in them… Whilst I don’t feel the 60 Hex can reach that perfection, I definitely see where you are coming from.

            And I never would have thought of it myself — even though the images above show it clearly. So, once again, thank you! It’s wonderful to discuss glass for its characteristics and personality, rather than chromic aberrations and all that nonsense I don’t care about.

            The 75 Lux *is* a beast, I agree, but so so worth it. (I had a bruise on my thigh from carrying it around in the pocket of my leather jacket for a day.) Whilst I don’t always get photos to astound with it — that is operator error, not the lens. The lens itself rarely fails to take my breath away.

            So now you’ve upped the ante. With its smaller profile and closer focusing, the 60 Hex is now a “must” rather than just a “want.” (I do, however, see moments of tears in my future as I love to shoot close and am not as keen on the M9 framelines in that regard… Then, again, I am looking at this focal length because I am often forced to step back further than I would like.)

  4. […] If anybody out there can articulate the differences, I’d be happy to read your thoughts.  To view a small (and not-so-rigorous) comparison between these two lenses, please see here. […]

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