Feb 282010
 

The Leica S2 Camera Review – I have finally decided to sit down and start working on this Leica S2 review! About 2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a call from Leica. They asked me if I wanted to review their incredible S2 camera and I told them “nope, not interested”. YEA RIGHT! What I really said was “YES!!!!! Please send it right away!”. Then it hit me…I do not own a massive studio….I am not a famous landscape shooter…hell, I test cameras by shooting silly stuff like barns, cats and simple portraits! Uh oh…maybe I was in over my head?

Truth be told, I was excited to not only review the Leica S2, but to get to even hold it and have it in my possession for a few days, well that was VERY exciting and crazy cool. The S2 is a true Leica masterpiece, but a costly one. If you want to own one of these be prepared to pay with your wallet, your heart, and your soul. Their top of the line digital “Pro Format” camera goes for a cool $23,000 and this is for the BODY ONLY! Throw a lens in your shopping cart and you are looking at a grand total of about $28-29,000. This is for the standard S2. They also have a “platinum” package with sapphire glass and a pro warranty for $27,995 (body only).

Leica calls the S2  “Pro Format” but it really is medium format, and all of that power comes packed in a package smaller than a Nikon D3s or Canon 1ds while having even better build quality than those top end mega cameras. The sensor in the S2 is a huge 30X45 mm monster and I have to say that when I received the pelican case loaded with the S2, I was very impressed when I held it in my hands for the first time. Before I go on and on about it, let me show you guys the specs of the Leica S2:

Here she is with her big mouth exposed! The S2 is not just a DSLR, it’s a medium format camera with DSLR like features.

The Specs of the Leica S2

The specs of this camera are impressive. Before I even start talking about my experience with this camera, let me list out what this thing is made of.

  • Larger-Than-Full-Frame Image Sensor

The Leica S2 has a huge 37.5 megapizel 30X45 mm sensor which is 55% larger than even a full frame sensor (like the M9). Leica managed to achieve this while keeping the size of the S2 down to that of other pro DSLR’s. Pretty amazing feat but this camera has been in development for 3-4 years so they took their time (just like Leica) and made the camera THEY wanted to make.

  • Uses new Leica S series Lenses

Leicas new line of lenses are big, bad, and full of the special magic that makes a lens a Leica. These lenses will not vignette, will not have distortion, and will not give you any focus shift. They are also weather sealed so feel free to shoot in the elements. Do they have any of that magic Leica pixie dust? Yep, it’s there!

  • The S2 AF System

Yes, this is one of the first “real” Leicas with Auto Focus. The AF of the S2 is fast but do not expect pro DSLR speeds. It is accurate though! You can also switch to Manual Focus for when you want total control and that also is a breeze with the super huge, super cool, super sweet, super bright viewfinder.

  • Dual Shutter System

With the 2 you can use the focal plane shutter with speeds of up to 1/4000s, or you can buy the CS lenses with a leaf shutter inside for even more versatility.

  • The magical MAESTRO Image Processor

This is the processor we have all heard so much about and is what does all of the work. Some say this will creep into the next M camera, whenever that may be. All hail Maestro!

  • High Resolution 3.0″ LCD Display

This 3″ LCD on the back has 460,000 pixels and is nice and bright with great color. No complaints here, good viewing angles. What do you expect in a $23,000 camera?

  • The Humongous Bright & Clear Porthole Viewfinder

Wow. NOW THIS IS A VIEWFINDER! HUGE, bright and beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. Makes the D3 series look tiny.

  • Organic LED Info Display

The full color Organic LED up on top of the camera tells you all of the info you need to know like aperture, ISO, battery life, shots remaining, etc. Only problem is that in bright light it tends to vanish…

  • Killer Design

The Leica S2 is a powerhouse medium format camera packed into a body smaller than a Nikon D3 or Canon 1ds while having better ergonomics, controls, and build than any of them. The design is superb and the body seems to melt in your hands like it was forged into your grip. Amazing feel and as much as I am not a “big camera” guy, the S2 felt good in my hand and around my neck.

  • Easy-to-Use Camera Functions

The menus are simple and quick. With 4 control buttons and a wheel/dial that pushes in for extra control (on the back) you can learn the camera within 10 minutes, without a manual! But for those who want to check out the manual, you can download it from me here in PDF :)

  • Dust- & Water-Proof

Finally!  A Leica that is weather sealed! Bravo to this. What other MF cameras are weatherproof?

  • Dual Memory Card Slots

You can shoot with a CF card or an SD card. One at a time, or both at the same time. This is great for backup!

The Leica S2 Arrives

When UPS dropped off the HUGE box the driver asked me what I am always buying. I usually get 4-5 packages every week and it appears curiosity has gotten the best of him. I just told him I am designing a time machine in my basement and these are all of the parts. :0

Anyway, I opened the box and pulled the S2 from its comfy spongy home inside the hard shell case. Leica did not send the packaging this time, so sadly no uber cool un-boxing video. They also did not send me a manual but as I was about to find out, I did not need it. Yes, the Leica S2 is a VERY simple camera to pick up, turn on, and start shooting. After all, it IS the Leica way. Just like the M9 and X1, the S2 keeps it simple. I did make a video showing the camera, the menus system, and the features that some of you may have seen already but here it is again for all of you who did not. BTW, some of you asked me what I shot the video with. It was with a Pentax K7 DSLR with kit zoom which I am testing right now as well.

I highly recommend watching the video as I explain the menu system which I am not writing about (in detail) in this review.

My Leica S2 “First Look” Video!

So if you watched the video above you will see how simple the S2 menu system is. You also saw how massive that mirror and sensor is inside the S2 body! Pretty sexy camera huh? The S2 build is absolutely INCREDIBLE. While holding it I felt like I was holding a solid block of steel. No creaks, no hollow feel, nothing. The S2 is as solid as any camera can possibly be. It almost seemed like it could fall down three flights of stairs and not suffer any damage. If I owned an S2 I would not worry about the build. It is the best I have EVER seen in any camera. Build would get 5 out of 5 stars. Easy.

The rear of the Leica S2 – Very simple. Four menu buttons, a scroll wheel, a function button and the on/off switch. Turn the camera to FPS when using a normal lens and CS when using one of the CS lenses with a leaf shutter in the lens.The function button can be used for AF which is how I preferred to shoot the S2. Just set the AF mode to manual and the button will control AF!

My 1st Day Impressions of the Leica S2

So my first day impressions of the S2? I was in awe. I have never shot with anything like it. I have always been a 35mm guy so I NEVER shot with any digital medium format cameras. I have shot with a couple of Hasselblad film cameras but nothing quite like the S2. I have seen the word “Hybrid” thrown around and I would say that is a good description. The S2 is like a pro DSLR in size and shape but a medium format camera in quality. The only thing that I had to keep telling myself was to NOT fall in love too much with it because at the price of $22,000+ there was no way I could ever buy or justify one, though I was already LUSTING for one. Uh oh…I smell trouble.

So after the fondling and messing around in the house it was time to go and shoot this thing! I mean, here I was with a $30,000 setup and I was sitting in the house!! So away I went with the S2 AND my M9. Just like an American Express card, I never leave home with it.

The First Shots

One thing to remember with the S2 is its large sensor. Much like a Micro 4/3 sensor has a 2X crop compared to a full frame 35mm sensor, the Leica S2 sensor has the opposite effect. The 70 Summarit F2.5 lens Leica sent me with the camera ended up being more like a 50mm focal length in full frame 35mm. Basically, I was getting just about the same focal length from my M9 and 50 Summicron that I was with the S2 and 70 Summarit. Pretty cool! I am not saying the 70 becomes a 50 because it does not. I am only saying what most of you know and that is when looking through the S2 with a 70 it will be similar magnification as shooting the M9 and 50. So, let’s get to some images shall we?

My first shots were taken outside with my son and some bubbles…

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit at 2.5 – ISO 160 – 1/4000

I took a few of these and you can see some of them HERE in my “first look” S2 post. The image above is direct from camera. No PP, nothing. It was shot wide open at F2.5 with the 70 summarit at ISO 160.

Here is another but this time with a “cross processing” filter from Nik Color Efex pro. I LOVE this filter with the S2 files!

I also took a few more just trying to get used to the camera. One thing I noticed right away is that there was no way I could handhold the S2 with shutter speeds even close to the ones I can get on my M9. For  example, with the S2 and 70 I needed at least 1/160s for really sharp results. I found out the hard way when a bunch of my images were blurry. So if you shoot this camera, keep the shutter speeds up there! For comparison, I can handhold my M9 with a 50mm lens as low as 1/20s and get sharp results!

The S2 & High ISO

Ahhh, high ISO performance. Lots of worry about this with the S2 by many photographers. I have heard awful things with some people saying that anything above ISO 320 was not usable. Well, I disagree with that. Here is a shot at ISO 640, straight from camera with ZERO processing. Straight RAW conversion in Apple Aperture 3 at ISO 640. Sure there is some noise here but it is usable as far as I am concerned. But WOW, look at the way the camera and lens rendered this normal scene which practically had NO light. This was in my living room which is never bright or light. The S2 created a very rich file in conditions that were not ideal. I think this would print nicely.

Leica S2 – ISO 640 – 70 Summarit at F2.5 – Natural Light – Click Image for 1800 Pixel Wide version or Click HERE for full size JPEG.

Remember, this is a Medium Format camera and high ISO has always been an issue with all MF cameras. It comes with the territory. I do not see the S2 as a late night street camera but more of a Studio/Landscape camera that you will want to use in GOOD light. After all, when the S2 has good light you will be rewarded with amazing color and beautiful images.

Leica S2 and 70 Summarit at F4 – ISO 320 – Click image for larger version – Click HERE for full size

So out in the real world ISO 320 and 640 seem decent enough. Especially when you have some light. But I had requests to test the high ISO on my now famous “wall clock”, so here ya go!

Here is the scene followed by 100% crops at all ISO’s

These are all straight from camera and it appears there is some NR going on in camera after ISO 320. For comparison, here is the M9 at ISO 1250

So for what it is, which is a medium format digital SLR, the S2 is not bad at all IMO. Again, this will not be a camera one casually buys (It IS $22k after all) to go out and shoot night scenes. It excels and provides sweetly rich files when you have some nice light, which is actually the #1 thing that can make a photograph magical. It’s all about light as that is what the sensor is recording.

Taking a road trip with the S2 – A photo adventure

When I found out I was getting the chance to try out the S2 I immediately planned a road trip. You can read about that trip HERE. I really wanted some fresh scenery for testing this camera so I hit the road to visit the small town in Kentucky where my father was born, and my Mother ded. Along the way we spotted quite few sights though the weather was horrible for most of the trip. The rain was pouring down, the sky was grey, the wind was wild. Actually, it was the perfect chance to test the S2’s weather sealing!

Below are some images from that trip because what better way to test a camera than to get out there and get some real images? That is ALWAYS what I look for when I am researching a new camera buy, so this review will be heavy on the “real world” images. There are close to 40 S2 images in this review!

A few of the following photos have had some corrections and tweaks in photoshop but nothing has been added or taken away from the photos. Just some color, contrast and dodge/burn. I will note when an image has had some PP. I also have PLENTY of straight from camera files here and even some full size downloads so hopefully you have some high speed internet!

As we drove down a curvy stretch of two lane highway I spotted this really creepy looking house. Mountains behind it and trees all around it and I thought for sure it was abandoned. I mean, look at it! I got out and grabbed the shot. As I was taking a few more I heard a dog barking from INSIDE the house! I decided to get back in the car before the owner came out wondering why I was taking a photo. I could see it now “Get off my land! – POWWWW!”

In The Hills Of Kentucky – Leica S2 – 70 Summarit at F2.5 – ISO 320 – 1/90s – PP in CS4 – Click image for larger view

We got back on the road and went through quite a few towns. I spotted this orange van and had to get a shot.

“Porter Paints” – Leica S2 and 70 Summarit at f2.5 and ISO 160 – Click image for larger

The sky was getting darker and the temperature a little cooler but we plugged along and had about two hours to go until we hit our destination. Here are a few more images caught along the way with the S2:

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit at f4 – ISO 160 – 1/125s – slight PP here. Click image for larger

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit – F2.5 – ISO 160 – (contrast adjust)

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit – f2.5 – ISO 160 – The depth of the images are pretty amazing. – Slight PP (color/contrast)

One of the many coal mines we found along the way – Leica S2 – 70 Summarit – f2.5 – ISO 160 – No PP.

and after 8 hours…we made it! My mom jumps for joy on an old (what used to be) train track..S2 – 70 Summarit – F2.5 – ISO 320 – 1/90 – No PP.

So there you go. For 36 hours during that road trip I had the S2 with me and the main thing I learned was that during cloudy gloomy days you may need more than a fast 2.5 lens. You need to bump up the ISO more because when low light hits this camera gets harder to use. The image of my mom was 1/90s at ISO 320. I really should have had 1/500s but even ISO 1250 would not have gotten me there. After the shot above I pulled out the M9 :)

The S2 AF performance

Not much to say here but while using the S2’s AF I found it to be pretty damn good for a medium format digital. Just do not expect to shoot blazing sports and do not expect pro DSLR type AF speed. Again, this is not a DSLR! This camera is aimed at Pros’s who want the best IQ in a DSLR sized package. It is also aimed at rich enthusiasts who want the best image quality in a nice form factor. It will not replace a DSLR like a Nikon D3 or Canon 1Ds for fast AF. The AF is really good, just not super fast. For it’s intended purpose of portraits, landscape, etc the AF is plenty fast.

The S2 and 70 Summarit BOKEH

Ah yes! Bokeh. The wonderful blur that so many of us drive ourself nuts over. The S2 with its massive sensor has no problem pumping out creamy backgrounds but how is the quality? I will post a couple of samples here and let YOU decide. After all, everyone has different opinions on what constitutes good quality bokeh. All three of these were shot at f2.5 and ISO 160 and are straight from camera files, meaning NO PP at all.

A CRAZY Comparison!

Ok, I had a few e-mails asking me to compare the Leica S2 with the Olympus E-P2. As crazy as it sounds, I was curious so I decided to do one small comparison with the Leica S2, Leica M9, Olympus E-P2 and even the Pentax K7 I have on hand. Here are the results…

Each camera was tripod mounted, lenses set to f5.6 and the base ISO of each camera was used. Here is the scene, followed by crops from each camera. These are all straight from camera with no sharpening applied and it was another grey, dreary day. (converted from RAW)

100% crop from the E-P2 with kit zoom set to 25mm (50mm equiv) – F5.6 – ISO 200 (base ISO)

Click here for the full image!

Now the Pentax K7 with its Kit Zoom set for 50mm equivilant – f5.6 – ISO 100

Click here for the full image!

Leica M9, 50 Summicron – F5.6 – ISO 160 (base ISO)

Click here for the full image!

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit – F5.6 – ISO 160 (base ISO)

Click here for the full image!

Out of all of these images the only one to get the color “right on the money” was the S2. The E-P2 came 2nd in color. AWB was used on all three cameras because I wanted to see how each camera would read the light and also wanted to check the AWB of the S2. That is one thing I really like about the S2. I find its AWB to be VERY VERY good and beats my M9 in this department. For some reason my M9 did not fare so well with the AWB here. I find the M9 is AWESOME as long as you have some sunlight but when its overcast it often gets the WB wrong.

If you downloaded the originals you will see that the S2 has less depth of field at f5.6 than the M9 due to the huge sensor. You will also see that the M9 may be the best of the bunch “overall”.

After this test I still was not happy. I wanted to compare the S2 and M9 when I had some light because I wanted to see if my little M9 could at least come somewhat close to the S2 in IQ, with less MP of course.

Leica S2 vs M9 Comparison

The day I had to ship the S2 back I noticed the Sun was shining so I grabbed both cameras along with my tripod to do one more comparison.  Again, these are straight RAW conversions from Aperture 3. No sharpening, no color fixes, no tweaks. So if they appear soft it is due to there being NO sharpening applied.

Both cameras were at F4, ISO 160, tripod mounted, self timer shutter

and just for fun, one more for color and bokeh, both at f2.5…

The S2…

and the M9…

When I was shooting these cameras side by side I did in fact notice the richness of the files of the S2. The S2 has more Dynamic Range and also more resolution of course but I would still rather have an M9 over an S2 for WHAT I SHOOT. If I were a serious big time portrait/fashion or landscape pro who wanted the best image quality, then I would buy an S2. Its a beautiful machine! I would still want my M9 though and these side by sides show just how good the M9 is. With that said, who wouldn’t want BOTH of these in their kit??

The image below can give you an idea of the size of the S2. Look at it next to my M9…

I would do almost anything to have BOTH of these cameras in my bag. Maybe one day…

SIX FULL SIZE S2 SAMPLES!

Before I wrap this up and get to my pros and cons, here are a couple more images from the S2, and you can download the full versions (note: the 1st one is cropped)

Leica S2 – F5.6 – ISO 160 – Handheld at 1/125s – Click HERE for FULL SIZE Jpeg – This one is a pretty severe crop! No PP, straight from camera. Saved as “10” in Photoshop.

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit at F2.5 – ISO 320 - Click here for full size - Saved as a “10” in Photoshop  – So rich, even in the evening at ISO 320!

Leica S2 – f2.5 – 1/1000 – ISO 160 – No PP - Click here for full size - Saved as “10” in Photoshop. – NO PP. The detail in the cats face is amazing!

Leica S2 – f4 – ISO 160 - CLICK HERE FOR FULL SIZE JPEG – saved as a “10” in Photoshop – NO PP.

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit f2.5 – ISO 160 – 1/350s - CLICK HERE FOR FULL SIZE JPEG - Saved as a “10” in Photoshop. NO PP, just added some sharpening to this one.

Leica S2 – 70 Summarit at f2.5 – ISO 320 – Click here for full size JPEG – Saved as a “10” in photoshop. No PP.

When you have light, and a fast enough shutter speed the images are crazy sharp and detailed. They also have that smooth medium format quality and color. During my time with the camera the light pretty much sucked so while I may not have gotten the absolute best out of the camera I did shoot enough to know that the S2 is the best camera I have ever held in my hands.

My Bottom Line Conclusion

Where to begin…well, first I want to thank Leica for sending me this camera to try out. They didn’t have to and so I appreciate it. With that said, I am happy they sent it because it just confirmed what I already knew. That A: The S2 is the finest camera in regards to image quality that I have ever held in my hands and B: I will NEVER be able to buy one :) The photographer that will buy the S2 is one who wants the build, the quality, and the simplicity that Leica offers. Having a medium format camera in a ergonomically designed DSLR body is a dream in itself, but add to that the ability to attach beautiful Leica lenses that were created just for this camera and you have a combo that can create jaw dropping images.

My time with the S2 was short and the weather was horrible but I tried to make the best with what I had. I found that many of my shots were blurred due to me trying to shoot with low shutter speeds (did not include those in this review obviously), and on the S2 that is not a reality. I also had to keep it wide open 98% of the time due to the grey skies. The S2 begs for a tripod, good light, and a photographer who will take their time getting everything right. When you do, the results are magic. I have been reviewing many S2 shots from a friend of mine and I can state that in good light, there is indeed that Leica magic infused deep within the S2’s shell.

Would I buy one if I had the money? Sure, if I had a million or so in the bank I would add this to my collection but the M9 would still be my daily shooter. The S2 would also make for a superb landscape camera, again, using a tripod and with good light.

The S2 is a “dream” camera. A statement piece by Leica saying “THIS IS THE BEST OF THE BEST”. The only flaws with the camera are the same flaws with most medium format gear. High ISO is average, the price is high and the file sizes are HUGE! But in the grand scheme of things the cost of the S2 is not really that far off from something like a Phase One P40+ and it really offers more with its wether sealing, DSLR body, gorgeous LCD and the viewfinder…wow. Hasselblad released their own H4D-40 at $20,000 WITH a lens but it’s pretty large and does not have the weather sealed DSLR form factor.

One thing to remember if you buy a Leica S2 is that you will need a very powerful computer to handle the files. My Imac quad core handles them but once I start getting into opening a couple of S2 files things start to slow down. I would recommend something like an 8 Core Mac Pro (I am a 100% Mac guy) with loads of ram. The files from the S2 are 72MB each! For comparison,  M9 files are just over 17MB each so you can imagine how much computing power you will need.

At the end of the day the S2 is just what I thought it was and if you have the cash and want one of the best cameras on the market right now then go get yourself an S2! I can not imagine ANYONE not being absolutely thrilled with it. After shooting with the S2 it is VERY hard to look at images from a normal DSLR. Yes, I am now gaining a small interest in medium format due to the “organic” qualities. If only we were all rich :)

PROS & CONS of the Leica S2

PROS:

  • Amazingly beautiful build quality. Best built camera I have ever held in my hands.
  • The LCD is nice and can be seen in daylight without any issues.
  • Simple controls, easy to understand. Can learn within 5-10 minutes.
  • The file quality when in good light is flat out gorgeous. Best IQ I have ever seen (though I have not shot with other MF gear)
  • Medium Format in a PRO DSLR size body.
  • Battery life is good for this type of camera. (about 600 shots per charge, maybe more)
  • Made in Germany!
  • Dual card slots for backup – SD and CF capability.
  • The viewfinder sets the standard. It’s more like a porthole than a VF.
  • Color, AWB and Depth of the images is awesome.

CONS:

  • The price of $22,000+ for the body only leaves out the poor photographers :)
  • ISO 1250 is pretty noisy, ISO 640 and under is good.
  • The file sizes are HUGE and will bring most computers to their knees (even my quad core IMac slowed down with the S2 files)

Buy An S2!

I hope you have enjoyed my real world review of the Leica S2. If you have the cash and want to buy one of these, B&H Photo has been getting them in stock on both the STANDARD and the PLATINUM edition. Amazon also carries the S2. Also, you can download the S2 manual direct from Leica by clicking HERE.

More images from the Leica S2

I will leave you with a few more images from this lovely camera. These have all had some minor PP to them to match my style but the last one of the waterfall at ISO 640 is right from the camera. The S2 files are INCREDIBLY hardy! Thanks for looking!

Waterfall was shot at ISO 640 in horrible lighting conditions

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  76 Responses to “The Leica S2 Digital Camera Review”

  1. Nice review, Im surprised that you need so fast shutter speeds. Seems like a learning curve because of the large format. It doesn’t seem like you reached the full potential of the camera, because of the weather and light. It could’ve been fun to see what you could do in a studio with that camera.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Compliments for the great review. I was planning my day around your posting and red it with lots of interest en pleasure. :-) Great images posted to get a first impression. I’m wondering how much S2 will be made or shall they produce by order? Anyhow not for me, I don’t belong to there target group.
    I stick with the M8/M9 and try to be competitive with the given S2 examples. ;-)

    All the best,
    Bastiaan

  3. Excellent review. No doubt S2 is a top class performer. Don’t know if this is my monitor, but the colors seem to be rather on cool side. I wonder how much this would be a problem photographing people.

    Cheers,
    Wieslaw

  4. hello,
    was waiting for this review. Amazing images here from the S2. I understand that the S2 is more suited for a studio setup and still did capture good images in your real world test. I wonder what you can achieve if you used it in the studio… yes the price will keep this camera away from many but the ones who can buy it are in for a treat. Anyways this camera is not for me but it is still a leica and a real good one like all leicas are. Also i feel that certain aspects of this camera should be carried forward in future M s, that would be interesting :)

  5. Steve!
    Magnificent review! You really got all things right in my POW.
    Of course You need high shutter speeds! Go for the simple rule of same speed as focal length. 70 mm means that You must have a shutter speed higher than 1/60. Pref. 1/125! But due to the fact that it´s a DSLR You have to take mirror momentum into account. With my Sony D900 and “Super Steady Shot” I could never get a pic without blur at shutter speeds slower than 1/20 with f 50 mm. With my M9, Thumbs Up and Tom Abrahamssons “Softie” classic, camera on “Discreet” (only shutterrelease) I can manage as slow as 1/10!
    Discussion re: noise. Using 100% crop is the same as if I would use a 40x magnifier checking out my silver halide negs! Take that as food for thought.
    Keep up the good work Steve!

  6. [...] the original here: The Leica S2 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS rentacoder @ 6:00 am No [...]

  7. Great review. This camera reminds me a lot of the Pentax 67. Its basically a 35 mm SLR on steroids, but for all the similarities, it is still a medium format camera that forces you to change you style of photography when compared to a 35 mm rangefinder.

    You could use the S2 or MF cameras for street/handheld photography, but it is most capable in more controlled environments such as studio work with flash or landscapes with a tripod. That is exactly how I feel from shooting the pentax 67, the quality is great, but I never could reach its full potential without going out of my way to control every element.

    I love working with my old 500C hasselblad; the negatives are huge and the quality is obviously better than 35 mm right out of the development tank, but you have to do everything in your power to stabilize the camera. That is why it is so tough to shoot the magical emulsions such as Velvia 50 or Tmax 100 in a medium format, and it is the same in digital speak with the native of ISO 160 in the Leica S2.

    Great camera, but not for me as medium format has never really suited my style of photography.

  8. Steve, you lucky son of a gun! Nice review. Looks like you had fun.

    Looking at the pix I must disagree with you, though. For a let’s-go-out-and-have-some-fun shooting you are right, the S2 is nice. Expensive but nice.
    For Pro use I’d say it is not a wise choice. Looking at the pix everything above 320 is useless for Pro use. Sorry, too much noise. (Just compare it to any full size ad photo in any magazine.)
    Even your cat picture has way too much noise as soon things get blurry. Remember, bokey is loved by amateurs but rarely wanted by pros and their clients. F8 / f11 and so on is where it starts for them. Which would require higher ISOs (noise) or additional lights with the S2 outside.

    Looking at your crazy comparison shots, I think the M9 does actually best. Yes, the colours might be a bit off but that can be easily fixed in post or by using the Colorchecker Passport.
    What can’t be fixed, though, are those soupy looking trees/branches in the background of the S2 shot. With the M9 those look way better.
    I believe the S2 fares a lot better in a studio setting when ISO 160 is all one needs. But then again, why does one need a weather sealed studio camera?

  9. Great shots. Seems to me that the S2 will allow larger print sizes than the M9 without much image degradation, but for standard prints upto 17×22, the M9 should do just fine. Great post, Steve.

    I continue to be amazed by some the details I can pull from an M9 file…so much fun! The S2 looks fun, and I’ll be curious if they downstream the tech someday for an R body….

  10. Great review !

  11. Thanks guys for all of the comments!

    Harald: Great points!

    Ashwin: Leica would be nuts NOT to use this tech in a smaller R system. Actually, I think they should have done that first. Keep it with the same build but a normal full frame sensor and you would have a smaller system than the S line with IQ equal to the M9 but with the capabilities of a DSLR. This is what Leica needs to make. Oh, and keep it priced the same or under that of the M9.

  12. Wow, Steve, I hoped you would post it today. Thanks for a lovely Sunday evening read. I am sorry to hear you had weather problems, and I think you fared very well with the S2 given the context. I hope Leica will send you the S3 as well, maybe with a trip to a sunny location thrown in.

    This is an excellent review and very honest. You mentioned some problems you encountered, and that’s what I love about your site: you are open about it. I thought there might be a few problems with the S2, and you touched them. This helped me to formulate the quibbles the S2 has. It will sell, but it will face tough “Gegenwind”, as the Germans say.

    The reason why Leica refers to the S2 as “pro format” and not “medium format” is because it isn’t really medium-format. MF today no longer refers to film format size, but to a specific digital workflow. Leica is quite sensible in their naming, just as they refer to the S2 in press releases as “Made in Solms” because it’s actually made there, while Made in Germany for the M9 and X1 means Made in Portugal, 20% Assembly in Germany, the minimum requirement to use the esteemed trade reference (Also: note how they always put quotation marks around “Made in Germany” for the X1, to make legally sure that it is not meant bindingly, because the X1 is all Portugal and Asia).

    The Leica S2 was planned as a “bridge” between the dSLR form factor and dMF-like output at a low price (in that segment). It was a great idea when Maike Harberts pitched it, but true dMF like Hasselblads are made for controlled shooting that is often wirelined straight into post-prod. This is the only way you can have the resources for processing power and file size mgmt. It’s like Digital Cinema Acquisition. Even when shooting high-profile events on location, even in “uncivilised lands”, you have a complete fieldgear system with you. This is – as you noticed – where the S2 hits problems with the promised package and way of shooting (independently, like you would with RF or dSLR). It’s way above head for dSLR, but it can’t integrate into dMF either.

    And now Hasselblad expanded down-market with clear intention to offer an “S2 Killer”, and it might be that Hasselblad will expand even further downmarket. The H4D-40 you mentioned might be bigger, but size doesn’t matter given the context of shootings. And the Hasselblad ergonomics are very good. Try one out, it’s surprising! You are right when saying that the H4D-40 is significantly cheaper at $20k with higher resolution, and a kit lens. But what makes it really attractive is that it is an open, future-proof and expandable system. You can upgrade easily to a 60MP via rental house gear, or own investment, and offer new services to clients. You can effectively keep your other system components up to date (I am talking electronics, not only the lenses).

    The S2 is a closed package. Once you bought it, it stays and will digitally age. You can keep the lenses, but eventually, you’ll have to shell out another $20k for the S3 if you want to remain competitive with the industry. And as good as Leica M lenses are compared to less expensive offerings in the FF market, the big difference between high-end Schott glass used for Schneider, Rodenstock, Hasselblad, Panavision or the Leica S just isn’t there anymore. This is a different territory of the supplier glass market.

    As a “halo product”, the S2 is great. And it’s a much-needed third pillar. I just hope it sells well in light of Leica loosing it’s third supervisory board chairman, Franz Jung, in 1.5 years…

    Will you still make your CRAZY TEST you mentioned a week ago between S2, M9 and E-P2? That would be soo cool!
    Pleazzze? ;-)

    • @Michael Lehnert, your ignorance is rather revealing. The leica S series lenses have been ratified as the best photographic lenses ever made, Schneider, Rodenstock etc you name it.

  13. BTW, the weather-sealings are not made by Leica, but by Knirps. Incidentally, Knirps umbrellas are known in Germany as “those with the red dot”, referring to the red dot logo. ;-)

  14. Steve & Ashwin: There’s a good reason Leica phased out the R system. They cater to niche markets and an R system will go head to head against Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. I’m certain Leica could make a new R that holds its ground against the big guys, but will enough people want to buy into it? At least with the M you get something unique: FF in a very small package, excellent glass, with functionality that is different from huge DSLRs. The S offers DSLR functionality with MF output. Niche markets. A future R will offer nothing unique compared to a top end Canikony. And it will force Leica to throw resources into a fast paced 18-24 month upgrade cycle where they’ll constantly be playing catch up. Pretty tough to do for a small company. My 2¢.

  15. Ron,

    You called it 100% correctly. Leica would be fighting a losing battle in that segment of the market. They are better off, if they want to survive, expanding the audience (and more importantly catching up with production and delivery) for the M9 and their great lenses.

  16. Steve, thanks so much for your passionate reviews! There is no Qn that S2 and the new lenses are a great product, however it will be accepted by the market of pros and serious hobbyists only if priced somewhere between the price of the high end DSLR package (1ds mark III or d3x) and low end of the price of MF systems.
    If that was the case it would have made economic sense for the pros to migrate from their modular systems and the glass they already own towards S2. Also it would have allowed non-pros, who are ready to move to the next level from their high end DSLR towards MF. From that standpoint what Hasselblad is doing with H4D-40 makes perfect sense to me. If Leica chose to get people in for under $20K (body+lens kit), I think it would have seriously expanded the circle of potential S2 customers. All of the above assumes they would like to sell more cameras :) Cheers, Nik

  17. Steve, many thanks for review, looks like you had a great time with the camera in spite of the weather. Right, where’s my wallet … oh dear … where did I put my lottery ticket!

  18. Thanks Steve.
    Great compliment to you. Honestly, your review is one of the best I’ve read so far and there are lots of them out there. Congratulation!!!

    I would like to add a few things to my prior comment.
    Way back when Dr. Kaufmann made the big S2 announcement at 2008’s Photokina he stressed two points in particular. The S2 will have usable ISO 1600 and will be cost about $15,000.
    Let’s face it, the S2 that Leica finally presented two years later has not much in common with the S2 that got originally promised.
    Even for the high priced MF market the S2 is way too expensive for what it is. Plus, with its 37.5MP it’s already old news before it hit the market.
    I am not saying that any other company’s product is a S2 killer. That would be completely nonsense.
    If there is anybody “hurting” the S2 than it is Leica themselves. Considering they had two years since the original announcement one should expect more then a body and only two lenses (third one to be released soon but that still doesn’t cut the mustard).

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not a S2 hater. Far from it. I would love to love the S2. But it’s just not there yet and for the amount of money Leica is asking for it, I am simply not willing to “volunteer” as a Beta tester.

    PS: One little tidbit to put my comments into a different perspective. Besides being a photographer I am also by trade an art director (creative director) with 20 years experience working internationally in ad agencies. I worked with many top photographers and speaking now as “a client”, the quality of the S2 files (except when taken at ISO 160) is not up to snuff. I would not accept it and make the photographer do a re-shoot to fix it. On his/her own dime and with still the same deadline – if possible, that is.

    (Yes, a lot can be done in post to safe things but it comes with a cost. Even more detail and sharpness will be lost. Which means it’s not always an option.)

    I know, harsh words but that’s the reality pros deal with every day.
    Again, I would love to love the S2. Hope, Leica will over time get things under control.
    Last but not least, I hope Leica will get off their high horse and sell the S2 at a more reasonable price (even for the MF market). What would be really sad would be to see the S2 end up only as a new status symbol for rich amateurs.

  19. There is almost no discussion about the S2 without price coming up. In my opinion the S2 is more expensive than it should be, but that is nothing new for Leica products. Many people say the same for the M9 and M lenses. However, the thing Leica does is offer products no one else offers. Just think about it. Leica currently offer three very unique cameras X1, M9, and S2 which are like no others in that the have the largest possible sensors in the smallest possible bodies. The X1 is the smallest APS-C sized sensor camera. The M9 is the smallest full frame 35mm sensor camera. The S2 is the smallest medium format sized sensor. This uniqueness comes at a premium price. Either you are willing to pay the premium for the product or you aren’t. It really is that simple. I for one knowingly paid the premium for both a X1 (hope to receive soon) and S2. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like paying the premium and it has been a very big strain on finances as I am far from well to do. I know everyone thinks that anybody who buys an S2 must be rich, but I can tell you first hand that is absolutely false. All you need to buy and S2 is want the absolute best image quality, be willing to work hard to earn extra cash, and sell off other things you want less that an S2. I first handled a prototype S2 at PhotoPlus in 2008. That is when started getting myself in position to buy an S2 or other digital MF system if the S2 didn’t live up to expectations.

  20. I just really like your pictures ALOT. And you got me real curious about the Nik Color Efex Pro…

  21. I was looking at the M9 S2 comparrison shots and get the feeling that the resolution in the M9 shots is limited by the sensor, not the lens.
    I wonder what the megapixel potential is of the latest M glass.

  22. Hey Oliver, the 50 cron is the sharpest lens I have ever used on my M9, no question. If you look at my 50 cron review you can see images there with crops. Also, the M9 can put out just as sharp images as the S2 but does not quite match it for color, depth, resolution and DR. It beats the S2 it in high ISO and of course, portability :) Anyway, I have tested the every lux, all 35’s, most summarits, and the 50 cron is indeed the sharpest lens I have shot with to date. Also remember that the crops in this review are with ZERO sharpening. No in camera sharpening, no RAW sharpening. I have some M9 full size files here that are so sharp, well, they can not get any sharper :)

    Thanks!

    Steve

  23. Steve please note that using a vertical format for comparison is simply impossible to see in a web browser. I strongly suggest you run comparisons on a horizontal format. I cant compare anything and dont want to have to download all the files and then open them up to view.

  24. Hey George, its also difficult to really compare with such small snippets horizontally which is why I put up the full size downloads. I only have 680 pixels of space in my content area so it is not enough to fit 4 side by sides next to each other in a large enough size to really see a difference. The best way is to see the full files.

    In any case, all it says is that the M9 and S2 are close and the other two are not :)

    Thanks
    Steve

  25. [...] ein S2 Test The Leica S2 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS Mit interessanten Kommentaren wie folgendem… "You called it 100% correctly. Leica would be [...]

  26. Steve, don’t be too concerned about the “Noch ein S2 Test – Leica User Forum” comment (and link to the German side of the LUF).
    Although the German Forum is smaller than the International (English) part of the LUF, it is occupied/used by even bigger, more arrogant and self-righteous morons than one can find on the international site (or anywhere else for that matter).

    The LUF used to be a very informative forum … Now it’s just a big waste of time.

  27. Hey Harald, thanks. I never let ANYTHING bother me in regards to comments about this site or my reviews. I just write my feelings the best I can and if someone has in issue with it then so be it! I have the thickest skin of anyone I know. There will always be those who have a different point of view :)

    Thanks!

    Steve

  28. More sample photos (studio and outdoors) can be found here

    http://fotopolis.pl/index.php?n=10532

  29. “This 3″ LCD on the back has 460,000 pixels and is nice and bright with great color. No complaints here, good viewing angles. What do you expect in a $23,000 camera?”

    I would expect 920K LCD

  30. Yes but a 920K LCD is not really a necessity. A 460K is plenty to check your image, check focus, etc. I remember seeing a Hassy MF digital a while back and the LCD was horrendous. The LCD on the S2 is nice and does its job well.

  31. BTW: How does Mamiya DM40 compare to Leica ? is it comparable ?

  32. [...] Innovative digital technology and the heart of a classic. The larger-than-fullframe DLSR is unmistakably a Leica. Steve Huff has been lucky enough to borrow a Leica S2 to try it out and has posted a nice review. Read it here! [...]

  33. a great read Steve,did you ever wish the M9 was as hardy as the S2?Maybe the R10 will be like a mini S2 and possibly more affordable.I just wish theyd given the M9 this level of ruggedness.

  34. R10 – In the first place i had been disappointed that they don’t go ahead with a R10 but I think it is a better way to follow the S2 design of a bigger Sensor. What Leica need beside to drop the price to an affordable level might be to bring out a second sensor and lenses for the sport/press photographer, something like the NIKON D3 and D3x this will lead that the production of lenses might be higher and cheaper. Since there is no film anymore I believe the size of the sensor is only limited to the diameter of the lens connection. In that way Leica decide to go ahead with a total new system and is free of the limit of there old lenses. I hope that they use it for more and different product, the base they have.
    I am also surprised that a lot of people talk the Leica S2 in the ground. The real issue of the camera is the price in my opinion the camera itself is great.

  35. Steve, great review. Enjoyed reading it. It made me wonder how good an S2 though is against medium format + slide film. US$ 22K buys an awful lot of slide film, a Hasselblad body and lens to shoot with. Then on the otherhand, if I were shooting landscapes my camera of choice would be a Linhof 617 which is still over US$10K cheaper. If you are a working pro and your financial life depended on meeting the deadline, with the quality that will shock and awe the publisher,then I can justify the cost.

    Absent that, it’s an extravagent toy. I love digitals for their convenience, speed and low cost of experimenting. I like digitals even better when they can get close to film quality and better it in some case. I just haven’t seen a digital match slide file or really good print film in medium format. For me that it is the real test. The S2 looks like it’s pretty close.

    Of course a $22K camera should blow away a $10K camera or even a $1K camera.

    Until someone shoots with both film and digital mediums back to back, I am not convinced the S2 has advanced image quality beyond where we all started with film. I am not talking sharpness or detail but does the image look better with one medium or the other as an image to view? The point of technology is to make it better than before. Digital has made it convenient and perhaps reduced the cost. Are the images better with the S2 when compared to the humble Fuji Provia, Velvia, Kodak Portra or Ektachrome?

  36. [...] ein S2 Test The Leica S2 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS Aus der Zusammenfassung: "Would I buy one if I had the money? Sure, if I had a million or so [...]

  37. Been reading your comments for sometime and loved them . decided to buy a S2 from BH through your website and hope you get the credit soon ! keep u with your good work !

  38. Hey Steve
    Great review great pics and yet……..
    Dont know, i liked your M9 pics much more. I dont like the shades here ‘ i dont like the iso performance and i dont like the focus. Most pics seem out of focus, am i wrong?
    I will stick to my M9
    have a great week end
    Danny

  39. Thanks guys for the comments.

    Boon, wow thank you so much!!!! Enjoy it!

    Dan, as I stated in this review. My few days with the camera were filled with gloomy skies, bad weather and the way I shot it is not in a studio or tripod situation. The camera is capable of so much more but due to limited time with it and the weather my results were not what they could have been/should have been. The S2 is phenomenal and capable of stunning results. The one shot with blur is not OOF but hand shake blur. Thanks!

    Steve

  40. After reading your review + a few others, I actually went to a dealer nearby in Hong Kong and bought myself a S2 for what I consider a good deal, I paid 18,655 euros for the standard machine + lens. By the way, what is missing from the package seems to be the software package, i guess i need to download it after registering for the camera. I am a very early stage amateur, and I have accumulated a Leica M6, M7 and M8.2, a few M lenses and a canon 5D a few years back. I am hoping that the S2 can stay with me for a good five years before it is taken over by technology, what do you think, Steve?

  41. JP, congrats on the S2. It’s one serious and beautiful camera. Looks like you have some sweet cameras in your collection. The S2 should last you more than 5 years as its capabilities will be the same as they are now and it is capable of taking some breathtaking images. Have fun!

  42. Magnificent review! I Love your Homepage! You’re doing a great Job!

    Best wishes for Germany

    Michael

    Picture was taken with the M8 & Summicron 50; Location: Lake Starnberg near Munick

    [img]http://view.stern.de/de/picture/Schwarzweissfoto-Bayern-Starnberger-See-Starnberg-Schwarz-Natur-1469042.html?u=209454&userid=209454[/img]

  43. here’s the missing picture
    http://bit.ly/9zgQlJ

  44. [...] von stevem7 Just some hands on experience for 5 days or so… The Leica S2 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS Great review. Your cat needs some help though, there's a flea right by its [...]

  45. For years I carried around a lot of heavy and expensive equipment. It was a bummer. I could not let it out of my sight even for a minute. At day’s end my shoulder was tired. Never again. Today I take either my Canon PowerShot S-60 or Panasonic LX3 point and shoot digital cameras. They take great pictures, more than good enough for 4″x6″ prints or viewing on my high resolution monitor where I can not see the difference between their pictures and those of the Leica S2.

  46. The S2 seems like a rich mans hobby camera. Working as a pro, in fashion, in nyc, it seems almost useless for this environment. Even in studio. The H2, 503 or the RZ with a P30+ or even P25+ seems to be industry standard. It gives more than enough resolution, speed (tethered) and file management (Capture One pro). The canon 1ds mk3, Nikon D3x or even the 5d mk2 or more than bridging the gap with amazing high iso and great autofocus etc. To me the S2 is a waste. unless you have the cash. then i am sure its a fun toy. The m9 is a better toy!

  47. Steve-

    I am an recent owner of an S2. There is a significant moire problem.
    I wish you would have plugged the S2 into a strobe pack. The problem is so irksome with this camera that I am questioning it’s future sucess as a potrait or studio camera.

  48. The last photograph in the article, the waterfall, is the my favorite. The depth just seems to go on forever. Reminds of the woods near where I grew up. A beautiful photograph.

    Randy

  49. Erica,

    I just tried a loaner s2 with a couple power packs and strobes. Raw silk, denim and cotton came out okay at f11. Did not see any moire. Were you shooting wide open?

  50. Good review man. And nice pics. Most reviewers have crap pics. But yours are good. I always wonder whether I’ll end up with better images, not just IQ, from a camera like the d700 or M9, instead of a big honker like the S2. But I guess it has it’s place. Hopefully leica integrates autofocus from the S2 into a future gens of the m-series. That would make for a killer combo.

  51. [...] wraz ze zdjęciami można oglądać na stronie internetowej stevehuffphoto.com. Tagi: Leica S2, stevehuffphoto.com Podobne wpisy Recenzja lustrzanki Leica S2 oraz szkła [...]

  52. nice & simple review.
    strange you’ve mentioned S2 mirror only once. how’s the mirror slap vibration on S2 compared to bigger dslrs?

  53. No, I haven’t read all the comments but I did quick search through browser and find only 2 results when I typed “mirror” in the search bar…
    And yes, I’m still curious about the mirror slap and how well it is dampened. ;-)

    cheers

  54. Hi Steve,

    Nice review and i really liked it.

    But to be honest, i cannot see anything makes this camera better than Nikon D3s or Canon Mark except the pixels . .

    You said, it’s weather proof, this is introduced long time ago in high end DSLR in Nikon and Canon.

    The built quality?! i, and most sane photographers will be so happy to buy Nikon D3s or Canon EOS-1D Mark IV with 1/5 of Leica’s price.

    ISO performance!! it’s really really bad compared to 1/5 of it’s price DSLRs.

    I always say, anything involves Leica, passion plays big role in the decision or the discussions. So the only logical reason to buy this camera is only the deep passion and love of the red dot. Or you’re rich enough.

    My opinion doesn’t make the Leica S2 a bad camera, it’s price compared to its output is very low . . Everything evolves around the best value, and this S2 is not the best value.

    S2 is not up to the competition . . not even close.

    Note:
    I’m a Leica fan, i love their M system and lenses and soon i’m gonna buy M9 with Summilux 50mm.

    Ciao.

  55. Nice review but, I am not sure I can see the value in the camera. I’d still pick my Leica CL with the Leica lenses, my Bronica or a Hassey and a 4×5 field camera over it and have significant change left over. I am an old fart and still think that the best of digital still is not quite up to where a good film system is.

    I do think the S2 is finally geting the technology into the stream where in a few generations digital may be as good as a decent film system but then the prices need to come down t within reason.

  56. I was near buying an S2, but I keep seeing moire in sample photos. The original photo of the cat is a good example where I really wouldn’t have expected it. More detail is great, but not if there are artificial colors and patterns introduced. I also wonder how good this camera will seem when the D700/D3x/A900 successors come in at 30+ MP, better color and expanded ISO range.

  57. What do you mean this isn’t a DSLR? It’s a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera regardless of sensor size.

  58. [...] Steve Huff also reviewed an S2, just not for shooting weddings. The Leica S2 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS A relevant quote from the above linked page, as it pertains to the OP: [...]

  59. Thanks for the interesting review, can’t say i’d buy the S2 if I had the money as I’d lean towards the Hasselblad…nice camera though.
    The more I see the M9 the more I want it.

  60. Great review, very thorough. I’ve always heard about the legendary Leica camera system and decided to read up on it. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get the point. Spending $23,000 + on a camera that can’t go higher than ISO 640 is pointless. I’d rather buy a D3X and some fantastic lenses if I wanted big, crisp images.

    However, you’ve done Leica fans a great job and provided a nice in-depth review. Well done!

  61. The M9 mechanics and the photo results, over all feels (to me) – like it’s totally organic; as if this camera was ‘grown with love’ and not artificially built by man/machine. I’m always at awe with the results.

  62. Steve, this is an excellent review and having read it yesterday I also went through all the comments with an increasing sense of despair.

    The recurring theme is that an S2 is too expensive, doesn’t do high ISO isn’t a H/blad. Oh dear !

    Too expensive? No, not if you’re a pro and offsetting capital equipment purchases against tax.

    High ISO – In my Hasselblad 500CMs, I used Kodak Vericolor (160ASA), Ilford FP4 (125ASA) or Pan F (50ASA). My point is you don’t put fast film in MF cameras. Anything above 35 mm or it’s digital equivalent is about quality not speed.
    I shot every wedding on Vericolor in all weathers, usually on a tripod.

    I’ve used an H4D and didn’t like it. Not because the quality isn’t good it is, very good, my complaint with this latest version of the de facto MF digital is the ergonomics. The true focus button is difficult to access, the LCD is awful and the sub menus confusing. What really concerns me is that for top quality studio shots you need a 50 or 60Mb multi-shot back. I don’t care for the finish either, looks cheap compared to a chrome 500CM.

    Upgrading a Hasselblad is not an option – you can’t just detach a back and pop a higher spec version on. Doesn’t work like that. An average pro shooting maybe 100,000 images a year will be looking to replace after 3 years or $7000 pa if you want. The majority will buy on a lease and upgrade at the end of the term. This is what we do.

    The S2 sits well in your hands, feels solid and well built. The viewfinder is astonishing especially if you wear glasses. For all those who think it’s just a rich boys toy go and try one. I bet some of you guys think nothing of spending $30,000 on a car. This is a tool for a working pro.

    I’ve uploaded a file to Flickr here – http://bit.ly/fKxMNq

  63. what a dream camera. wonderful build and quality.
    i think it gives rich SLR fanatics an option.

    personally, i hate RF for it’s limitations. it doesn’t give us enough control to our images.

  64. Nice article, Steve.
    I am a wedding shooter who has used and owned Canon and Nikon gears. I adventured myself into fashion and own a H4D40 system which I like a lot, a lot until Leica released the S2.
    I just got y hands on an M9 (my dad is a longtime Leica shooter and his images convinced me to adopt Leica quality). i am more and more considering getting an S2 and thinking about …. selling the cat to get one.

    PS: I read your M reviews with interests. Thanks for taking the time to live your assion, fully.

    Thierry.

  65. Just got round to reading this.

    Here’s a side step to $28K + $$$$ 8/10core Mac.

    Holga 120N :)
    Mamiya M7 with 65mmf4

  66. Luminous Landscape did do that Canon G10 vs Medium format
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

    Large DOF from small sensors is rather useful for landscapes.
    Beyond about f5.6 diffraction sets in so lets say shooting a G10 at f5.6
    M9 would require approx f22 to get the same deep dof with diffraction setting in beyond say f16.
    S2 would require approx f31.

    Course G10 wont have anywhere near the same resolving detail.
    BUT BUT “IF” BIG IF Fuji can sort out their Organic sensor for small sensors,
    we could be seeing 30MP-40MP small sensor cameras with super resolving details.

  67. I think it would be much more appealing this sensor in a big M digital body, something like the Mamiya 7II… When I see the S2 I cannot stop thinking in a huge V-Lux, lacks the Leica character. excellent review as always!!

  68. Shouldn’t you be using some kind of lens shade? Rectangular preferably. Your self portrait indicated otherwise. Stray light can play havoc.

  69. Can I be honest? I think all the pieces you wrote ended up being a marketing piece for the manufacturers. I have enjoyed you writing and pictures but I have always being alert about your position towards selling side. Perhaps this is the reason you got so many free gears send by the makers to review.

    • Never do I get “free gears” – I buy any camera I own. ALL popular photo review sites get review samples for 1-2 weeks and in rare cases a bit longer but no one gives cameras away, at least to me. I can buy whatever camera I want, and do. What I own and have bought is listed on this site. I mainly use one camera, one that I paid for, so your comment is so off base it is not even funny. The reason my site has gained popularity is due to enthusiasm because I am generally excited and happy when I review certain cameras. Others, I am not. I have tried MANY cameras from Leica, Sony, Olympus, that I have NOT liked at all. BUt when I do like something it is enthusiasm that shines through yet the Jealous bitter and negative people always cry things like you just did. Pretty sad.

  70. Have you considered updating this review in light of the M240?
    Perhaps other S lenses as well?

  71. As an amateur just beginning this was a lovely insight into the extreme.

    However Steve, you mention the power of your MAC as a sticking point when working with the images. As I’m sure you’ll know by now, its really an SSD you want, there’s plenty of processing power there. The bottleneck when working with huge files is simply a mechanical hard drive. Give it a shot if you haven’t its a night and day difference all round.

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