The first Noctilux, which was also the world's first aspherical lens, was a sensational invention – though financially it proved an absolute failure. Nevertheless, Leica had no inclination to discontinue this prestigious lens.
At this point in time, the construction of aspherical lenses was simply too complex and cost-intensive to be commercially viable. So when Walter Mandler developed the lens' successor, he returned to a purely spherical construction. The result was the even more light sensitive Noctilux 50 mm f/1. This remarkable lens made the aesthetic effects of a razor-thin depth of field and the use of blur as a creative tool truly popular.
The Noctilux 50 mm f/1 remained in the Leica programme for over thirty years, from 1975 to 2008. In this time, four versions of the lens were released. The last version (introduced in 1994) featured the most significant changes, such as an integrated lens hood, increased weight and minor optical corrections.
The final 100 models to be produced were sold as an exclusive special edition. They were the first lenses to be supplied in a fine lacquered wooden box with a dehumidifying function, as a protection against excessive humidity.