P.Lynn Miller revists the Nokton 1.1 50mm Lens 1 year later…

And discovers it takes time to form a long term relationship… This is a story about a man, a lens, and photography that we can all learn something from.

P.Lynn Miller writes:

The announcement of the Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f1.1 was one the most exciting moments in my photographic memory. I had been actively pursuing a Noctilux for almost 2 years, and while I had finally saved up the funds for a Noctilux, I was more than happy to put the extra few thousand dollars toward film and my retirement when the Nokton was announced at a price of 1/4 of a used Noctilux.

I pre-ordered my Nokton 50/1.1 the same day from Mainline Photographics and was one of the first to receive the Nokton in Australia. And I was sure the Nokton 50/1.1 was going to be a lens that I would never put down, a body cap for the M5.

Well… I have never been so disappointed in a lens… ever. The Nokton 50/1.1 simply left me cold and emotionless. I felt like I had a big lump of coal attached to the front of the M5, it was the biggest let-down in my photographic career. It came as such a shock since I connected instantly with the Nokton 35/1.2 and the Nokton 50/1.5 is a gem of a lens. The Nokton 50/1.1 lens was sharp, very flare resistant with plenty of contrast… so it was a technical marvel… but seemingly without a soul. Maybe I had over-hyped the Nokton 50/1.1, maybe I was expecting miracles, maybe the lens was just a dud, maybe all the rumours and gossip about the Noctilux was true… there really is no inspiration beyond f1.2. I put the Nokton 50/1.1 on the shelf.

And it sat on the shelf unused for almost 12 months. I even gave my M5 to a friend on long-term loan for nearly 6 months. I returned to using my trusty Nikon F’s and Nikkors. I had given up on Noktons and M5.

I decided about a month ago that I was selling all my M-mount gear including the Nokton 50/1.1. I collected all my M-mount gear from friends and boxes to sell.

But something kept bugging me… the Nokton 50/1.1. I had to give it another chance. So I decided that I would treat the Nokton as I would any other 50mm lens. Forget about the magical f1.1, and simply shoot it… at any f-stop that I wanted, f1.4, f2.0, maybe even f8.0, just like I would use any of my fast Nikkor’s. Just use it… and let the lens speak for itself.

So I shot it in the dark,

Then straight into the scorching Aussie sun,

Took candids with it,

Even shot the girls one more time,

Yep… it is a rangefinder lens… a very capable, predictable lens. The Nokton 50/1.1 has delivered sparkling negatives no matter what I have thrown at it. Flare is very well controlled, resolution is high across the field at all apertures. Contrast is maybe a touch higher than I normally prefer, but not overwhelming. Shadow detail is exceptional with this lens even when pushing the contrast up deliberately with film and developer choice.

The Nokton 50/1.1 is a quiet performer. It does not impose itself on every photo, like the Noctilux or 35/1.2. Thus it is not a ‘magical’ lens, but this dull and sterile attribute, allows for far more creativity than I first imagined since the lens does not limit the ‘look’. By not trying to force the lens into some preconceived look, rendition or signature, just concentrating on the images, not the lens or f1.1, I was able to actually learn how to use the lens as another fine tool in my photographic toolbox.

So in the end, the Nokton 50mm f1.1 is exactly what I needed(wanted), an all-purpose, dependable 50mm lens with extra speed. Sort of a like a family station wagon with a big V8, not flash or trendy, but reliable and dependable for daily use.

And my Nokton 50mm f1.1 is not for sale!

P.Lynn Miller

Photographer Sydney Australia

www.plynnmiller.com

Movie Review ” The Cove”

This weekend we watched the ” The Cove”, I honestly rented it thinking it was a thriller of some type… but it turned out to be a documentary about the secret cove in Japan where each year 23000 dolphins are killed and sold as whale meat to the unsuspecting public! This is hands down not only the saddest film we have seen but the best produced documentary ever. Quite simply you have to get your hands on a copy and watch it… then tell all your friends and family.

Click on the image above to go the movie website.

This is one of those doco’s that will make your blood boil! While watching you will vow to never buy anything Japanese again but… then you find out that this up until now was going on without the public’s knowledge.

Personally this really hit a cord with me as when I was studying my degree in Zoology I worked as a research assistant for a PHD project on Tiger snakes. I ended up with 17 tanks of reptiles and a couple of ex research snakes in my house. I became obsessed with keeping reptiles. Then one day I had an Epiphany after watching a program on conservation in Peru. These animals had more value in the wild so I released all my snakes and lizards back into the wild where they truly belonged. I have never looked back… best thing I have ever done.

Film Review. Altiplano by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth.

Breathtaking, expansive and emotional. Altiplano is a film set in the Peruvian Andes that really portrays the region as it is. This is not a Peru that the tourist sees. It is a film that covers in a way too many topics about Peru that many will be lost on the viewer and most reviewers it seems, but it redeems itself in other ways. With faith, belief and redemption as it’s main theme it delves deeply into Andean culture like no other film or documentary that I have seen has. From the opening scene when the statue of the Virgin Mary crashes to the ground and the locals take it as a bad omen, to the Virgins rebirth at the end the mood is set.  Altiplano is a film that will have you captivated and enthralled,  loosely based on the Mercury contamination by a mining company in a small Peruvian village which had tragic consequences. This is not a documentary or a travel film far from it. Having lived among these people and experienced first hand many of the rituals in the film, I found it both enlightening and disturbing at the same time you become part of a different culture for it’s duration and that is what a  good film should do.

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“Saturnina”  Magaly Solier  is wonderful as the lead actress.

First rate cinematography and it’s  setting make you feel as you are there among  the locals living their reality in a barren and harsh land that god seems to have forgotten about. The acting is first rate, dialog is kept to a minimum and each of the main characters are seen to be both emotionally hard and soft. I realise that Brosens has tried to show us the Andes as he has seen it but in many ways the film fails to do this… you can not understand it unless you have seen it first hand. There is far too much symbolism, ritual and realism that the average westerner will go yeah right… sure thing they don’t do that! (Warning spoiler!) Well folks they do and I can guarantee you that everything in this film is 100% accurate right down to when the lead actress commits revenge suicide and then at her funeral they throw the dice to see if she goes to heaven or hell. I came away from this film with one thought pessimism. Co director Brosens talked after the film and I understood his point of view that all this is an everyday occurrence there… life goes on there can only be faith and hope. Yet for me it is more about who cares and who… if anybody is doing anything about these things happening in the poor parts of the world. That is the unanswered question here.  Highly recommended, if you get the chance to see it then do! The trailer can be seen here Altiplano