Tyson Robichaud reviews the Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Micro Four Thirds lens →

May 26, 2015 |

Over the weekend, Tyson Robichaud reviewed the Leica Nocticron, one of the best-rated lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system:

What is there to say, really. This is the best lens that I have shot for the micro 4/3 system. Any lens this fast is going to have a challenging depth of field to work within. While it exhibits an 85mm equivalent field of view, it still has the same DOF as any other 42.5mm f/1.2 lens would have. Instead of trying to put it into terms of a portrait focal length, look at it as a standard f/1.2 lens. This lens, while cropping to a narrower field of view, has roughly the same shallow DOF capabilities as say the Canon 50mm f/1.2 L lens does, nearly.

That’s interesting. I never thought about its DOF in terms of comparing it with that of a 50mm f/1.2 lens, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Tyson’s review is excellent, as always.

However, and let’s be honest for a moment here, this is a very expensive piece of gear. $1,500 is clearly pushing the limits of what can be considered reasonable for the Micro Four Thirds system. It’s actually entirely in Full-Frame ballpark, with some of the best Canon L lenses coming in at well under that price point. The Full-Frame Canon 6D and Nikon D610 cameras are both under that price point as well. Simply put, for the Nocticron to be worth $1,500 despite being coupled with a smaller sensor, it’s not enough for it be good. Heck, it’s not enough for it to be great, either. There’s plenty of great Micro Four Thirds glass already, nearly all of which is considerably more affordable than this lens. No, for the Nocticron to make sense, it needs to be simply outstanding. It needs to be breathtaking.

Luckily, that appears to be exactly the case.

As outstanding as the Nocticron is though, it’s also clearly a specialty lens aimed at professionals. I’d love to own such a lens but don’t think I would ever actually buy it for myself, if only because it’s not even close to being a good fit for the rest of my Micro Four Thirds setup.

Before I would even entertain the idea of spending that kind of money on a Micro Four Thirds lens, I would need to upgrade my camera body to something more substantial, like the E-M1. And since I already own a remarkably good lens in this focal length — the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 — I would need to get rid of that one, too. Not to mention the many, many ways I can think of to spend $1,500 that would result in ultimately better pictures than those the Nocticron would allow me to take.

For that kind of money I could pretty much buy an entire indoor studio from scratch. I could get really nice lights, flashes and reflectors that would enable me to work a scene just the way I want to, and create some truly remarkable images as a result that I just wouldn’t be able to get from the Nocticron alone.

Now, I’m of course not saying this will apply to you in the same way it applies to me. Not even close. If you really want this lens or all that’s left to complete your setup is an outstanding 85mm equivalent portrait lens, by all means go for it. It is a truly remarkable piece of glass.

Having super nice gear is always great, and the Nocticron in particular is about as nice as gear comes this days. It’s also the kind of purchase you never really regret making, because you do get what you pay for. If I’m being honest with myself though, it’s just really not the best use for my money, at least at this particular point in time.