Crazy Comparison! The Leica M9 with 35 Summicron vs the Fuji X100
By Steve Huff
I have been getting emails for a few weeks now asking me to post some full size images from the Leica M9/35 Summicron vs the Fuji X100…side by side shots, same settings, etc. What some of you want to see is just how the little X100 stacks up against the Leica $10,000 combo in the image quality department. This comparison will ONLY be on image quality as the usability of each camera is WAY different.
The M9 is a manual rangefinder camera and the Fuji is pretty much a point & shoot, though a very nice point & shoot. I have been shooting both while here in Tallinn, Estonia and I have to say that the little X100 has been a joy to use. Quick, easy, and reliable. I can’t help but imagine what would happen if Fuji released this in all black WITH the capability of interchangeable lenses. Something like an X200 with a 24, 35, 50 and 90 f2 set of lenses. Wow.
On the other hand, the Leica M9 still shoots and feels like a “real” camera. I have that “bond” with it that is hard to beat. When you have this bond, and the took becomes a part of your eyes and brain, then it is tough to beat in actual use. BUT, if the Fuji can come close to the M9 and 35 cron, it would be cheaper to buy an X100 instead of a 35 and take the savings for another lens! Then again, if you own and love your M9 and have no need for a 2nd camera, then the 35 cron would be the best bet as it is a superb lens as is every Leica 35mm.
Also, let me note that my M9 and lenses just came back from Leica last week where they calibrated the camera and lenses, so the focus is dead on.
Lets see how it goes…
Before I get to the pictures I have to say that Tallinn has been AMAZING! Such an awesome place to just walk and roam. I walked 8 miles yesterday, and a few hours today and enjoyed every second of it. From the cobblestone streets of Old Town to the even more scenic things we saw off the beaten path. Tallinn Estonia is full of life, great people and GREAT light!
The images below were converted from RAW using Adobe Camera Raw. You can see the full size file by clicking on the images (for those that have a full size file).
Ok, first up..FULL SIZE FILE COMPARISONS with CROPS
Leica M9 – f/2 – click image for full size RAW conversion
Fuji X100 – f/2 – click image for full size RAW conversion
Leica M9 – f/4 – click for full size image
Fuji X100 – f/4 - click for full size
Leica M9 – Click for FULL size image! I have to admit, I prefer the X100 version!
Fuji X100 – f2.8 – click image for full size
and the crops if you cant download the full file..
Leica M9 – f/2 – click image for full size
Fuji X100 – f/2 – Click image for full size (see the slight distortion)?
Lets stop it down….Leica M9 – f8 – click image for full size!
Fuji X100 – f/8
and some crops. You can see the M9 gets the prize for detail but at $1200 for the X100 and $10k for the M9, in the IQ department, the Fuji does quite well.
So what are your thoughts?
My thoughts are that the X100 is quite the little camera if shooting 35mm is your thing! Sure, the M9 is better but is it $8800 better in regards to Image Quality alone? NO it is not. Add to this that the high ISO is better on the X100 and this makes the X100 the buy of the freaking year in digital camera land.
My M9 is not going anywhere though :)
A Fun Test – Can you tell which image came from which camera?
The EXIF info is intact so you can cheat, and I am not doing this as any sort of contest but look over the following images and see if you can tell which came from which camera. When sized down (you can click them for a larger 1400 pixel wide version) it gets tougher to see the differences.
My quick thoughts on the IMAGE QUALITY ONLY of the M9/35 and X100..
- M9 files are bigger, more megapixels at 18 vs 12
- M9 files will be somewhat smoother and noise free at full 100% view
- Metering seems spot on with the X100 due to its three metering modes
- White Balance is better on the X100, no question
- M9 files can be sharper if focus is nailed
- X100 has some distortion, 35 cron doesn’t really have any!
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