The Leitz 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 lens was the first 35 mm taking lens in the world containing an aspheric element. Leitz Wetzlar optical designers Helmut Frenk and Dr. Paul Sindel were responsible for the optical computation. The lens was introduced in 1966 and was received by the market as a sensation. It is almost entirely free of spherical aberration and coma while producing an exceptionally high degree of contrast. 45 years ago, however, even for Leitz it was quite a challenge to produce such a lens, a fact reflected in its price as well: the lens was almost twice as expensive as the body of the Leica M4. It was replaced by the 50 mm Noctilux f/1 in 1976, which – using optical glasses new at the time – could be calculated without aspherical elements and was even cheaper than its predecessor. In ten years of its production, only about 2,500 units of the 50 mm Noctilux f/1.2 were produced in total, which represents a proportion of one unit per business day. The Noctilux f/1.2 lens can truly be called a legend within the technical development of the Leica lenses. It is not only sought-after by collectors, but still also a favorite of some photographers.
Literature: James L. Lager (ed.), Leica Illustrated History, Vol. II, 1994, p. 174.