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The giant M43 lens battle: Nokton 25mm versus Leica 25mm!


Image courtesy: Jean-Baptiste Lefournier via

Which is better, the Nokton or the Leica. That is the question! While other mirrorless system still struggle to offer some decent lenses we are sitting on the conftable position where we can choose between an ultra-fast manual standard lens and a Leica af lens. The french website Hybridcams (Click here) compared the image quality of the two lenses. Look at the photos and than come back and let us know which lens you like more.

The Lecia 25mm is in Stock via asian resellers on eBay (Click here), at Amazon UK (Click here) and Amazon Japan (Click here). US readers can preorder the lens at Adorama (Click here).
The Nokton 25mm is in Stock at Amazon US (Click here), on eBay (Click here) and the cheapest price in Europe can be found at Amazon France (Click here).

  • jak0b

    The link doesn’t work…

    Error 500 – Internal server error

    Un problème inattendu est survenu.
    Veuillez réessayer ultérieurement.

  • it works but you need to retry

  • nobody

    Works for me. For 3 seconds. Then it’s gone.

  • yes same here, but if you press escape or cancel the loading at the right works…bit of rubbish i have to admit

  • hariz

    load it then press stop, cause it disappear after few seconds then you have to reload it.

  • At F1.4 and this particular subject, I prefer the Leica colours. But I don’t think image quality is the main deciding factor between these 2 lenses. At more than twice the weight of the Pana-Leica 25/1.4, I found the Voigtländer too heavy for Micro Four Thirds. With a 50mm equivalent focal length it’s intended as a general purpose lens, so lens weight is much more important than with something like a telephoto that I use only every once in a while. The Nokton lets in more light, of course, but it can be difficult to nail focus at such a large aperture. I had a significant number of out-of-focus shots with this lens. The screen and/or EVF on my GH2 don’t quite have enough resolution the determine focus at F0.95 without taking the time to zoom in on the subject. Sony’s focus peaking function would help here.

    • I would hardly call a 0.95 25mm a general purpose lens, and its obvious you can’t nail the focus at 0.95 when using your evf without zooming in. I agree that peak or similar type of mf assist (like Ricoh’s gxr) should be part of m43 too.

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t say the Nokton 25/.95 is intended as a general purpose lens. It’s one of the few f.95 lenses in the world available for serious photography, it’s manual focus/manual aperture only, and it has close focus capability – all hallmarks of specialization. I have one and use it for precisely those characteristics (and love it for them). If I want a general purpose lens, the Panasonic 20/1.7 fits the bill – or perhaps the new Leica.

      • Mr. Reeee

        I have the f0.95 and absolutely consider it a general purpose lens. When I ordered it (and waited 5 months!) I didn’t think it would be, but have discovered that it can do so much, so well. Because of it’s excellent low light and close focus capabilities, it’s incredibly and surprisingly versatile. I just love the image quality. It’s a good compliment to the 20mm.

        The focus on the 0.95 is very quick and sure, unlike my other manual lenses where I need to spend more time hunting for sharp focus. Besides, it’s just so beautifully made, feels so good in the hand while using it… and is just SO goddamn sexy. Yes, it IS a bit heavy, but that’s a minor trade-off.

        @Ulli You’re right about needing focus assist, but ANY manual lens demands using it, since the GH2’s EVF simply doesn’t have the necessary resolution to accurately focus without assist, even though it’s currently the best and highest res EVF on M4/3. I agree that peaking would be a fantastic addition to M4/3!

        I must admit that the mere thought of the Sony NEX-7’s 2.4 megapixel EVF instills lustful thoughts! ;-)

        • Mr. Ree yes that EVF from the nex-7 made me “lustfull” too, hahaha.
          But since that camera is not available for now, i will try the a12 m module with ricoh’s peaking solution (which works much like sony’s and even has special mode for very bright light conditions)

        • David Bateman

          Well you could still pick up the NEX-7. There is a manual M43rds adapter to NEX. But it will set you back around $90.

          Actually just saw on Ebay that Rainbow Imaging has one guanteeed to infinity for just under $30. Their in the USA.

          • Mr. Reeee

            That sounds interesting. Do you have a link? I just checked the Rainbow site, but found nothing.

            I wonder how native m4/3 lenses would work on a NEX, given the differences in sensor size? I assume some dramatic vignetting.

        • Bob B.

          Mr. Reeeee…in reeeeeeding (LOL) previous posts of yours… I am aware that you use a number of manual lenses on your cameras and I believe once you mentioned that the “zoom” focus feature on Panasonic MFT cameras works on all manual lenses. (I could be wrong…my memory sucks)…
          I recently used a MFT mount 12mm lens from SLR Magic on my GF1. It has a native MFT mount and is totally manual. I could not get the lens to work unless I activated the menu item “use without lens”…as mentioned in the instructions with the lens. The camera gives an error message that there is no lens on the camera otherwise. I do not know if that has anything to do with the problem I encountered in that the zoom focus feature did not work for me on my GF1. The feature was turned on in the menu system..but when I rotated the focus ring on the lens the camera does not zoom like it does when I use this feature to manually zoom my Panasonic autofocus lenses when they are used to manual focus. Any thoughts or am I doing something obviously wrong??? Thanks.

          • Bean5y

            You should download the latest firmware for the gf-1 from the Panasonic website. When you have the MF lens attached and set it on “shoot w/o lens”, the function of the click wheel changes so that when you press it, it zooms in. When you turn it, it changes the size of the zoom. Press it again and it reverts back to the total frame. It works well. It is not possible for the camera to tell if you are turning the focus ring since there is no signal coming from the lens. Hope that helps! I shoot my gf-1 with Olympus OM lenses and Olympus MF-2 mount. The gf-1 is perfect for this.

            • Bob B.

              Bean….Thank you…Thank you…Thank you for explaining that to me!!!!!!! I just checked it out and I have the latest version of the firmware on my GF1…it is hard to keep on top of everything… I have two camera systems to keep up on…you just help me to learn more..
              I love that. Thanks again!

    • Bob B.

      What exactly is Sony’s “peaking” function? I am familiar with the Panasonic “zoom” function….but not peaking?

      • When you turn the focus ring, it will zoom in ONLY if it has electrical contacts. If it doesn’t then you have to find it the menu some place. I have an E-P2, and I must do it manually with the Nokton, and CCTV lenses- because there’s no electrical contacts. I imagine Panasonic’s have a way to turn it on as well manually.

        • Bob B.

          Yes..the SLR Magic lens is a CCTV lens…but I see no way to turn the Focus assist on..other than going into the menu and turning it on…so what you are telling me is that it works with lenses with contacts…but I guess I am out of luck with this as the focus assist does not function on my GF1 with this CCTV lens.

  • Duarte Bruno

    Please consider this suggestion: when linking to sites or articles written in anything other than English keep a direct link to the original language on the direct link to the site and a translated link on the translation text, in this case it would be something like this:
    Hybridcams (would link to original in French)
    (Click here ot read the google translation) (would link to the translation)
    As it is it’s a big pain in the but for me because I could read perfectly in Spanish, French or Italian and I have to revert Google’s translation to English which although is getting better by the day, is still far from perfect.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • The Other Chris

    What’s the purpose of a lens hood when you put a filter in front of it?

    • Guest

      They probably didn’t have an appropriate 52mm filter and so they used the hood’s thread to mount a filter on.

      Normally you wouldn’t want to do that sort of thing.

      • Mr. Reeee

        In the Voigtländer’s instruction sheet it warns against mounting a filter to the front of the lens hood. They suggest using only a 52mm and screwing the hood to that.

    • twoomy

      @The Other Chris: To answer your question in a general way, filters can add unwanted light bounce when pointed at or close to a light source, which may cause ghosting or unwanted “bluish haze” from light bouncing around between the front element and filter. I have dealt with this numerous times shooting with a polarizer in the direction of the sun (even if the sun is out of frame). A lens hood can help with that, but I just use my hand because it’s much more versatile. :)

  • admin

    DOn’t know why there is a problem with google translation tool. I now changed the link to the original french version!

    • Duarte Bruno

      There is no problem with the translation (apart from the fact that I don’t need it and that it takes some screen real estate), what I was asking was to keep both links.

  • I didn’t see significant difference between us… Is strange, in DOF test at same aperture is noticeable a little less DOF on Nokton lens over Lumix ¿How can it be?

    • especially at close distances you won’t see much difference at 0.95, 1.4 or 2.0 because the dof is already shallow, even slower lenses can get results close to this. the difference comes more obvious when the subject gets further away from the lens, like a half body or full figure portrait.

  • Nick Clark

    Interesting… I own the Nokton and for some reason I expected that the Leica would be sharper at f1.4…

    Surprising amount of distortion in the f5.6 shot for the Leica…

  • bilgy_no1

    It’s good to be able to compare the two lenses at the same apertures, although it’s hard to say anything about edge to edge sharpness based on these samples.

    However, the real differentiator is the max aperture. People buy the Nokton for ultra-low light and/or shallow DOF. It would have been good to have at least some shots to show the difference in DOF between f/0.95 and f/1.4 in some practical scenarios such as portrait.

  • andy

    have both…both as good as each other…both superb lenses.
    I have a f0.95 nokton on amazon right now. Im willing to sell for 600 quid via paypal

  • Looking at the first image at f/1.4, the Voigtlaender seems to be sharper. Look at that glass right off center of the frame at 100%. It’s clearly visible.

    Based on what I see, the Leica seems to drop off in sharpness drastically at f/1.4 towards the edges. The Voigtlaender is much better at f/1.4.

    Other than that I still think the Leica is a great lens. I will probably buy it next year, already owning the Voigtlaender.

    • Andy, i literally bookmarked your post on amazon yesterday in interest of that lens. So you are the andrew marca on Amazon?
      If your interested to discuss, I’ll take your offer of 600 anytime
      Email me at

  • The Master

    I can’t see much difference, other than the Nokton seems to under expose, by a third or half a stop. Maybe it’s only an F 1.0 lens after all. :)

  • Kadri

    Andy, i literally bookmarked your post on amazon yesterday in interest of that lens. So you are the andrew marca on Amazon?
    If your interested to discuss, I’ll take your offer of 600 anytime
    Email me at

  • WT21

    The Nokton is slightly better in clarity and contrast at f/1.4.

    Stopped down, they look fairly similar in contrast and clarity

    But look at these two, and note the shelf:

    The CV is exhibiting much less barrel distortion.

    But for 2X the price, and the difference in f/stop and MF vs. AF, it really is an apples to oranges comparison (as some others have noted). I am sure to some extent, these lenses are both likely to hit the limits of the 43 sensor, thereby generally equaling out the IQ battle.

    • frank

      hmmmm, looking at this barrel distrotion, I’ll take the in cam corrected 20/1.7 anytime…

      I think the biggest decider between the two 25mm lenses is the autofocus of the panaleica. I use my Canon FD 50/1.2L lens on my GF1 sometimes, but focussing is much more work than on an old FF DSLR with suitable prism, preventing taking all the nice dynamic shots. So I’d take the panaleica.

      • Frederick Hew

        The PL25 is corrected in cam as well, check out the lenstip review.

  • Guy

    Something is fishy with the f/1.4 shots of the plants because they do not appear to have the same DOF, the DOF with the Nokton shot looks shallower. ( they should be identical )

    I own the 25mm Nokton and I LOVE this lens, and the weight does not bother me at all. For what I shoot I want SPEED, so big and fast lenses are my favorite. ( I also own a Zeiss ZF 50mm f/1.4 and a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 lens )

    • It could be that the plants are close to the camera, and the nokton’s front element is further out (bigger lens) than the panleica, so it’s just physically closer.

      • hmrmph

        Yeah I noticed this too. Don’t think the lens size has anything to do with it. The focus distance is always measured from the subject to the sensor. (panny still has a focus point marker for those that want to measure) I think the tester just picked a focus point closer to the camera with the CV.

    • Mr. Reeee

      I think they’re focussed on different things.
      The 0.95 seems to be focussed on the green bottle, while the Leica is focussed on the aloe-like plant to the left.

      This also demonstrates the wonders and hit-or-miss quality of AF vs. MF in shooting complex scenes. ;-)

      Guy, I’m with you 100% as far as the Voigtländer goes. The size and weight are fine and much smaller diameter due to mechanical construction vs. electronic with AF. There’s just something about all-metal and glass that feels right.

      While the AF of the Leica must be nice in some situations, I prefer the control of real MF and loathe focus-by-wire. I was shooting some mediaeval artifacts at the Metropolitan museum in NYC over the weekend, using the 20mm and it missed focus quite a few times. Interestingly, the times when I used touch-focus, it was fine. Hmmmm….

      • Frederick Hew

        maybe the camera focused on the glass cabinets and not the exhibits? that would the classic reason.

        it’s a good thing (most) museum exhibits do not run around, as it makes manual focus so much easier.

  • Since these lenses are so costly and I have a Nikon adapter (apertureless), would it make sense to buy some new Nikon prime glass? It’s cheap! 50 mm 1.8 costs 140 euros! And it has an aperture ring.

    • pdc

      If you can find a good fast 24mm to 35mm FF lens you would do well against these two lenses except for the lowest light situations (and there the Nokton has no equal). A Nikkor 28mm f2.0 would be very nice but they command a lot of money. I had a Kiron 28/2.0 in my hand for $5, but then I noticed some internal dust, so put it down. I shot a Leica Summilux 50/1.4 before I got the Nokton, but the 2x magnification and the 2 meter minimum focus were quite limiting, although I do have a few images that nail that special Summilux feeling when rendered in B&W. I agree with Mr. Reeee that the Nokton can be a general purpose lens. Stopped down it is quite sharp. Wide open, the images are sharp enough but take on a dreamy feel and are quite endearing, especially if there is bokeh present. The close focusing (17cm) of the Nokton allows it to be used as a macro, but in this it is not as good as a true macro with longer focal length. So, what’s the advantage of the Leica 25/1.4? AF, period. Unless you are flush, go for the Nokton first. That filter on the Nokton hood is ridiculous – 52mm filters are as common as grass – however, the 67mm filter threads at the front can serve well for ring lighting.

      • Mr. Reeee

        Check out the Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f1.4 and Ultron 28mm f2.0. The 35 isn’t as nice as the 25mm (but half the price), but is very well built, sharp, fast, extremely compact and well suited to M4/3 bodies.

        I’ve not used the 28mm, but ran into a guy on the subway last week with one mounted on a Bessa and he was very enthusiastic about it. We spotted each others’ lenses. ;-)

      • Jedd

        Get a C-mount lens and an adapter. There are some generic Chinese c-mount lenses (similar to SLR Magic), Pentax and you can even find fancier Taylor Hobson for ~ $100
        The results with the later on GF2:

      • Frederick Hew

        There are plenty of 50mm lenses that work well with mft, and the announced OLY 45 seems sweet as well and *relatively* cheap.

        For normal and wide perspective, because of the 2x crop factor, there is no good substitute for native mft lenses.

        I would stay away from m mount wide angle lenses, as although they might be brilliant on film, most of them perform poorly on mft -35mm is about the widest you want to go.

        I have spent a lot of money on c mount lenses at the time… most if not all 25mm and wider lenses do not cover the entire sensor.

      • D

        A couple of C-mount lenses that are pretty good performers:

        Computar 25mm f/1.3
        Pentax Cosmicar 25mm f/1.4

        They vignette though so you might want to crop a little. But for the price, you can’t go wrong.

    • Guy

      I would go with used manual focus Nikon AI-S lenses, which can be bought fairly cheaply from many different sources. The AI-S lenses are very sharp, have great multi-layer anti-reflection coating, and very smooth focusing.

      The Kiron 24mm f/2.0 and 28mm f/2.0 are also great low cost lenses if you can find them. ( usually sell used in the $75 – $150 range )

  • Nokton wins!

  • Maczon

    Well Nikon 50mm has different FOV than those 25mm lenses. :)
    Ofc 50mm lens is nice to have, I am using some old minolta and pentax 50mm lens with my G1.

  • mochapaulo

    Excuse me, I just found the images not telling the big different for both lenses but the image quality of GH2 is not looking good even it is test under ISO160. It seems too grainy. It is really strange that the image quality of GH2 seen from other site looking better. What is the reason?

    • WT21

      I think these pics are underexposed in general.

      • Anonymous

        Seems the nokton is a bit better especially at 5.6 can’t say why in technical terms just looks more appealing to the eye colors are bolder / stronger although I still need a lens with a/f so as there is little or no difference between the 2 only if nit picking I’d go for the leica

  • It is difficult to judge as focusing plane is different in some examples as well as exposure: Nokton images are underexposed – or has Nokton higher contrast? I have the Panaca for theese reasons: AF (very good focus control with the G3). Panaca is smaller and lighter than Nokton, but compared to the Oly 12mm, it looks clumsy and unmodern. The Oly actually looks more “Leicish”.

  • All you who claims your cameras and lenses are sexy: Please tell us a little more i detail how your sexual relation to them developes!?:-)

  • Gman

    Honestly, I could not see much difference in the results. Not enough to notice after a purchase of one or the other anyways. So I think it comes down to a decision between the size, price, autofocus, and aperture differences. With a super-wide aperture like these two have, I think AF is the biggest benefit in this case.

    • Frederick Hew

      for stills they are very close, so it boils to bigger max aperture vs af and smaller size.

      for video the Nokton annihilates the PL – better ergonomics and most important no focus breathing.

  • The samples in that article are quite useless in order to compare them. Neither sharpness (center/border) nor bokeh can be judged as expected. The Leica looks less sharp but the focus point does not seem to be the same in the f1.4 example. In fact the Leica has a better resolution.

    I had both and both are exceptional but for my preferences I decided to sell the Nokton…

  • I want the Voigtlander! It’s what a call an MMFM (Metal Manual Focus Masterpiece)! I just need to save up the money to make it my next big purchase!

  • Jim

    If only the nokton had AF…. It is deffinatly a bit sharper than the panasonic… But AF is a big + and its not like the pana is shabby!

    • Why would I want the Nokton to have AF. By Gally, I’ve had enough AF motors go out on cheap plastic lenses, and I love manual focus heavy duty lenses. They withstand the test of time. I’m investing in this lens for it’s ability to hold it’s value plus I love manual focusing. People need to realize why lenses like the Nokton are made. They are made for people like me who are real photographers and sell prints. I take the time to make a photo. Jim this is no way an attack on your comment. I’m just making a point so people know! :)

  • I still wonder how well the manual focus of the Nokton works. I have an E-P1 and money for either another body (that accepts an EVF) or the Nokton, but not for both. Somehow, an LCD just does not seem compatible with narrow DOF :) (although I don’t mind the LCD otherwise). And even with an EVF, I just can’t imagine focusing being as easy as with a good all-manual film reflex. I mean, the Nokton has the equivalent DOF of a 50/f1.9 and people act as if it’s ultra narrow DOF. With a simple 50/f1.4 on a film SLR, nobody ever complained about focusing. Film SLRs have all these nice tools like split screens and microprisms that help you nail focus in a split second.

    Maybe I’m too worried and I should just try the Nokton ? What is your experience ?

    • Frederick Hew

      At night, with AF assist, it might work but probably not under direct sunlight. The E-P1 lcd is only 230K dots…

      It would depend on how many good lenses you already have, and how helpful would a fast normal lens turn out to be for you.

    • pdc

      This Nokton is a quality lens and the focus is smooth and holds perfectly. EVF focusing is OK, LCD better, and separate HD monitor the way to go for serious macro, portraiture and video work. If AF is a must get the Leica, but you’ll miss out on the great f/0.95 experience.

  • sam

    i’d get the pannaleica but I have a 20mm f1.7 – it’s clearly better than both of the alternatives.

  • jm

    Sam: maybe for you…

  • I have the Voitlander, I use an EPL-1, and an electronic viewfinder. I focus wide open and then shut down for the shot to the desired aperture. Easy. I don’t need to zoom in as I can clearly see where the focus is.

  • JonNYC

    I own both the Nokton and the Panny 20mm Pancake along with GH@ and GF1 bodies The Nokton is my favorite lens by far and has become my favorite general purpose lens. I grab the 20mm when I use the GF1 and want something more compact and less obtrusive. However on the GH2 I stick with the Nokton. Even with my other autofocus lenses, if I am taking the time to compose a very deliberate image, I use manual focus to get the exact zone I want to be tack sharp the center of focus. This is especially true with portraits where I will specifically use the focus assist to zoom in on the catchlights of someone’s eyes. the Nokton also allows for incredibly close focus so I use it as a high quality macro lens for close ups of flowers and other small objects as well.

    On the other hand if I am at an event or other situation where everything is happening very fast and autofocus trumps control of depth of field so I can run and gun. When the Leica 25 was announced I thought deep as to whether I wanted to spend that money on a 3rd prime in that same focal range. What it came down to is autofocus vs precise artistic control rather than differences in quaility so tiny no one would notice unless you were setting up scientific tests to analyze each.

    The Panny 20mm is a very fast tack sharp fast focusing lens. Everyone had dubbed it the best must have lens for M4/3. I have my high quality autofocus lens which is also very compact when that is another consideration. I have my favorite art lens with macro capabilities is the Nokton. At this time I think the Leica 25 looks amazing and if I was just building a M4/3 kit I might get it. However right now it would be redundant in my camera bag and the only second thoughts I had spending $1100 on the Nokton was on the way home from the camera store until the moment I put it on my GH2. From that moment forward it has been my most satisfying lens purchase.

  • JonNYC

    Let me add my advice. the difference in image quality is close enough that I wouldn’t use that as the deciding factor but rather the subjects you normally shoot with a 25mm and how you shoot.

    If you shoot flowers, architecture, posed portraits, night photography and video and you really like to fiddle around to get the precise depth of field you envision get the Nokton. It is sexy and elegant and brings out the full potential if M4/3.

    If you shoot events, action shots, sports or stealth paparazzi type street photography, you need autofocus and should get the Leica 25mm.

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