Leica has announced the reissue of what it calls a “landmark” lens: the Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH. The lens will be released in two variants: standard black, which is available through all dealers, and silver, limited to 100 units and only available at Leica stores.
Also referred to by Leica as a “beloved classic,” the Noctilux was produced from 1966 until 1975 and was the world’s first lens to feature aspherical elements. The company says that the light-gathering capability of the f/1.2 aperture, which was considerable at the time and still impressive even by today’s standards, supposedly further contributed to the popularity and status of the lens.
The visual aesthetic is what Leica says is indicative of its “visual signature” in lenses, and the company says that it helped shape the landscape of Leica’s iconic reputation.
In its reissue, Leica says that these “unmatched visual characteristics” have been carefully retained. The company claims that the calculation and construction of this new version adhere so closely to the original that the imaging results are nearly identical.
“While the original was created over fifty years ago, the purpose of this lens is by no means limited to nostalgia or trips down memory lane,” the company writes.
While imperfect wide open (which is perhaps one of the reasons many may seek the lens: it’s “character”), once stopped down to f/2.8 or further, the Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 supposedly delivers super-sharp images that live up to the quality expectations of modern-day digital photography. The classic lens also sets itself apart from its contemporary successors as the most compact and lightweight Noctilux in Leica’s portfolio.
The two color options are typical of Leica, but in this case are particularly notable as they pay homage to Leica’s optical history. The original Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 marked the start of Leica’s transition from silver to black-anodized lenses.
“Prior to releasing the legendary lens, Leica produced around five prototypes in a silver finish,” the company explains. “Those prototypes are currently among the most coveted and highly-priced M lenses in existence. The original serial production run of black-finish Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 lenses, 1,757 units in total, continues to reign as a highly sought-after collector’s item in today’s lens market.”
As a callback to this heritage, the new Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 will be available in two variants: a black anodized serial production model and an exclusive special edition silver chrome model that will only see 100 total units produced.
The black edition of the lens is available now for $7,695, while the limited special edition silver chrome variant, exclusive to Leica Stores, is available for $16,395. This special edition model features a brass lens barrel, a front-ring engraving that reads LEITZ WETZLAR (distinguished from the contemporary LEICA engraving), and along with the clear lens container is packaged in a vintage-inspired box that even further recreates the 1966 original.
The Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH is the third lens to be added to the Leica Classics Range, following the previous reissues of the Summaron-M 28 f/5.6 of 1955, and the Thambar-M 90 f/2.2 of 1935.