50 mm f/0.75 - The fastest photographic lens in the world. For Leica M.
We’ve got the biggest! A 50 mm full frame portrait lens with the otherworldly fast aperture of f/0.75! And it fits Leica M!
-- Huge news! So, we've moved a mountain or two and managed to secure some more 50 mm lenses!! The small downside is that we didn't get quite as good a deal as on the first batch, so they're slightly more expensive. But we still believe they're worth it! Get yours while they're still available. --
Why do we need fast lenses today, in a time when digital cameras give you ten million ISO and can see better in darkness than a whole heard of cats?
For creative reasons! To wallow in creamy, soft, millimetre-thin Bokeh. To creatively isolate an image detail. To make backgrounds and foregrounds vanish into dreamy hazes of colour.
Or because we just want to have the biggest (lens, that is).
Whatever your motivation, here it is: the fastest photographic lens in the world – ever! With its f/0.75 aperture, it gives you almost a whole stop more light than the f/0.95 lenses available to date.
But even better: it fits (and covers) your full frame camera! Yes, it does! The lens comes with a Leica M bayonet mount for easy handling. It can thus be mounted on any Leica camera and, even greater, any mirrorless sytem camera out there: Sony Alpha Nex, Fuji X, Canon EF-M, Leica T and Leica SL, Samsung NX or Micro Four Thirds. And it covers full frame without any vignetting! In fact, our research indicates it probably covers quite a bit more.
Who’s behind the lens?
The most challenging endeavour when making a new lens is, well, the lens, its optical construction. Experts on supercomputers can spend years calculating the perfect formulae, and the faster the lens gets, the more difficult the task. Luckily we don’t have to do that.
The lenses we use are finished, built and have been well-proven. They come from one of the most traditional, prestigious names in lens manufacturing: The Oude Delft, a highly acclaimed optics company from the Netherlands.
The amount of lenses available is limited. You therefore not only get the world’s fastest lens, it will also remain one of the world’s rarest. We have been able to secure a very small batch of these very rare lenses – in pristine condition.
We are an expert company able to fit them with an M mount bayonet. The work we do is thus purely mechanical (including, of course, checking and cleaning the original lenses inside and out). We do however modify the lenses with some very special magic so they give you razor sharp images. (We're aware that there are some weird pictures out there on the internet, taken with some weird f/0.75 lenses. There's indeed a handful of - completely unrelated - f/0.75 lenses, some of which we too came across through the years, designed mostly for x-raying. Thus, their photographic performance is very poor and they can indeed be bought for 100 Euros or so second hand (of course, there are Italian vases selling for much more whilst giving even lesser photographic performance if strapped to a camera...).
So, how good is the lens?
Well, see for yourself!
Whilst we don't claim to do witchcraft, we're quite confident that the image quality we achieve with these carefully selected pearls is not easily copied. Have a look at the following 100 % crops out of 36 megapixel shots.
These are out of the camera jpg crops, without any corrections applied! The pixel peepers amongst you can find some full resolution original out of the camera jpg files, shot with full frame, APS-C and MFT cameras, up to 36 megapixel, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/45721529@N06/
Like most ‘vintage’ lenses, the image straight out of the camera is less contrasty than what you get from modern optical designs. It is, however, just as sharp! If you want more contrast, you can always change your in-camera settings or add it in postproduction (if you shoot RAW, most RAW converters can do so automatically).
More importantly, though, the lens has a very characteristic signature, an image ‘look’ of its very own. No digital mainstream bleakness here. These characteristics can be further emphasised by making deliberate use of the exposure: a moderate overexposure will give a slight glare effect with softly gleaming out of focus areas. A slight underexposure will give you razor sharp in-focus details and perfectly round out of focus highlights.
The large coverage of the lens means that out of focus highlights will be rendered perfectly round - even at the very edge of the frame. Most fast lenses just barely cover the format they are intended for. As a result, they show strong vignetting (dark image corners), and highlights towards the image corners are rendered in the shape of lentils rather than round. Not this one, though. See the photo below, taken on a full frame Sony Alpha A7r.
The lens also shows very, very little vignetting (darker corners). This is a vignette test, shot on real 35mm film and scanned as-is. As you can see, there is hardly any light falloff towards the corners - no comparison to other ultra fast lenses:
Chris, our resident photographer at ExperimentalOptics, has used one of our prototypes during the last months and had several pictures taken with it published in print magazines.
What if I don’t need full frame?
If you want the biggest for your Micro Four Thirds camera, we have a very sexy 42 mm f/0.75 alternative. It has all the characteristics of the 50 mm, but only covers MFT.
In exchange, it is a lot smaller and lighter, and the focal length is slightly shorter to make for a perfect portraiture lens on MFT. This lens comes with a fixed Micro Four Thirds bayonet mount.
How big is the lens?
Despite the enormous aperture, the lens is smaller than even some f/0.95 lenses: it measures 61 mm from the bayonet and 85 mm in diametre.
More important than numbers, though: it is very well balanced, making for pleasant and ergonomical handling both on an M Mount camera and on mirrorless digital cameras.
The 42 mm f/0.75 lens is even smaller: 72 mm maximum diametre and 53 mm length from bayonet.
Can I use the lens for filming?
Certainly. The ultra thin depth of field is great for narrative image compositions. Moving images emphasise the characteristic look even more.
What are the technical specs?
Originally, the lenses were built for one reason: maximum speed. We keep to this principle, making the lens unique in two ways:
There is no diaphragm. The lens is always fully open. After all, why would you buy this pearl and then use it at such mundane apertures as f/0.95 or even f/1? But if you feel you absolutely need to stop down from time to time, we offer you a kit of original aperture blades, including the original holder, that will give you f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8 and f/2.4.
And there is no focus mechanism. Much like, for example, Voigtlander‘s new 40 mm Heliar, focusing can be achieved by using a mount adaptor with inbuilt helicoid. Depending on the camera system you use the lens with, you can focus between roughly 1 and 2 metres – the ideal range for portraiture.
Should you ever want to get closer, we have an original close up lens kit for the 50 mm, factory-designed for this very lens. It can be mounted at the rear of the lens and will reduce the lens' close focus ability to approximately 30 cm (that’s a foot in America; and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg).
While the lens is indicated as a 50 mm by the manufacturer, the actual angle of view, according to our research, is a bit narrower, making the lens a perfect portrait lens.
On Leica M cameras, the 50 mm viewfinder frame lines are displayed. Although the lens features a Leica M mount bayonet, it is not rangefinder coupled. There simply isn’t enough space to fit the complex mechanics. It’s thus the perfect lens for live view cameras.
What do we have on offer?
Although the image quality of our pearl is on par with many big names out there in fast lenses past and present, and although we've still got the fastest of them all, we are able to offer you our pearl at a much lower price.
- Because we are not selling a name, but only a product.
- Because we were able to secure a very good deal on the raw lenses.
- And because we strive to get very good deals on items and services yet to obtain as well.
So, what can you get?
- A 50 mm f/0.75 full frame lens in Leica M mount
- A 42 mm f/0.75 lens in Micro Four Thirds mount
- An original close-up kit for the 50 mm f/0.75
- An aperture blade kit and holder for the 50 mm f/0.75
- An “I’ve got the biggest – 50 mm f/0.75” T-Shirt (please specify your size)
All items can be shipped worldwide. Please add 9 € for insured shipping within Germany, 22 € for insured shipping within the European Union and 74 € for insured international shipping. Customs fees, if applicable, are at your expense.
What do we spend your money for?
- Purchasing the actual lenses
- Renting equipment to modify and test the lenses
- Renting machines to carry out the actual modifications. The lenses will be professionally cleaned inside and out, and adjusted if necessary
- Purchasing the modification parts and materials
- Purchasing high quality T-Shirts
- Renting equipment to create high quality prints on them
Please note that all brand names are mentioned purely for identification purposes. We do not claim any association with any of the brands mentioned and certainly do not intend any trademark or copyright infringements!
Risks and challenges
What are our challenges and what do we do to master them?
The ‘raw’ lenses are available and have been inspected to be in pristine condition. We’re save on this most important issue.
We work closely with our suppliers to ensure the materials needed to mill the lens mount etc. are provided on time.
For our T-shirt print reward, we’re currently still in search for partners offering high quality raw material. We’re very confident to have found the right people well before the end of our campaign.
Shipping will be from Berlin, Germany. There are plenty of internationally renowned shipping companies to chose from, so we’re sure your lens will arrive safely and on time, wherever you are in the world.
There’s one factor, however, we can’t control: future supply. Once this batch of lenses offered here is sold out, it is possible we will not be able to find further lenses, at least not in pristine condition. Thus be fast, pledge now! :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)