Nov 252014
 

Crazy Comparison! Leica 50 APO, Sony Zeiss 55, Voigtlander 40 2.8

Hey to all! Happy Tuesday! Just a couple of days until the big Thanksgiving feast and I am lounging around my home relaxing an injured knee (which is improving and on its way to a full recovery). I have had quite a few emails in the past week asking me to compare the Leica 50 APO miracle lens to the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8. I have done this before but this time it is more controlled and using indoor natural light, which believe it or not was quite dim in reality. I had my blinds slightly cracked open to allow some light to come in and I snapped a basic image to test for out of camera color, sharpness, micro contrast, etc.

 THIS IS A “JUST FOR FUN” CRAZY COMPARISON!

Below is a quick size compare. All are smaller lenses that are fairly light and trouble free. The Sony is the largest but light. The 50 APO is compact but solid and the Voigtlander is small and light with the Jupiter being featherweight. NONE are large or cumbersome in any way.

lenses

Yep, a $8300 lens vs a $999 lens and then I also threw in the $400 Voigtlander 40 2.8, which is actually a GREAT buy for a very nice lens. I also included the very cheap Jupiter 8 50mm f/2 just for fun. (and it is not bad at all I must say)!

I have been doing Crazy Comparisons since the first week my website went up, and they are always popular but sometimes controversial, which is understandable. ANY comparison that is done will always be controversial as those who own Lens B want to know why Lens A appears better. Those who have lens C will say I did the test wrong and I must have misfocused or those who own Lens A will argue about something. Just take it for what it is, a snap shot at the same aperture for the 50 APO and the 55 1.8 (f/2), Jupiter 8 and one at f/ 2.8 for the Voigtlander, which is wide open for that lens. ALL lenses were manually focused (The Sony was as well for critical correct focusing and to rule out mis focus).

To me, when I click on the images below I see a richer color in the 50 APO as well as MUCH more detail and micro contrast. The Sony/Zeiss flared a bit (no hood on the Sony and the APO did not have the hood pulled out, so no hood on either), was softer and had a less vibrant color. The Voigtlander shows its weakness here against these two lenses and is softer still with less contrast and color depth.

The 50 APO and the Sony A7s is pretty amazing. I mentioned it last week HERE but every time I use this combo I am thrilled with the results, and the cool part is that it is easier to obtain perfect focus on the A7s than it is on the Leica M itself.

Click the images below to see the larger versions with full 100% crops embedded. As it is, the Leica is the better lens. Better made, smaller, jewel like, better optics, better color and flare resistance..but it is 8X the cost of the Sony/Zeiss! EEK! $8300 vs $999. The Leica BETTER BE BETTER! I think the Leica, in the real world, is worth about $4500 but Leica being Leica..well..that will never happen. All I know is for me, Leica makes the best optics in the world. The 50 Lux, the 50 APO, the Noctilux..all special, unique and amazing 50mm lenses. Buying them all would set someone back about $24,000. I know of some towns in the USA where you can buy a house for $24,000 :)

When the Zeiss Loxia lenses come in I will pit the 50 f/2 against the APO, and I expect that one to be pretty close.  See my 50 APO review HERE, see my Voigtlander 40 2.8 review HERE and see many shots with the Sony 55 1.8 HERE.

CLICK THESE IMAGES FOR LARGER and 100% CROP! THEY ARE DIRECT FROM RAW!

The 50 APO at f/2

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Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 at f/2 – Manually focused 

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A Jupiter 8 50mm f/2

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Voigtlander 40 2.8 Heliar at 2.8

voigt

Oct 202014
 

Which is Which? Leica Monochrome vs Sony A6000

UPDATE: #1 is the A6000 and #2 is the Monochrome! You guys got it right, (most of you)!

Have not done one of these in a while and I always get asked to do these crazy comparisons so here we go. Which is which?

ONE image was taken with a Sony A6000 and one with a Leica Monochrome. Not going to say what lenses were used with each but let’s do a fun poll to see who can guess it right.

So seeing that the Leica is an $8000 camera vs the Sony at $648 pick which one you feel is from the Leica. EXIF has been stripped. 

IMAGE 1

xowsbwwichbw

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IMAGE 2

cowsbwwhich

If you are unsure which is from which camera, then just take your best guess. :)

UPDATE: Sony is #1 and Leica is #2!

Feb 242014
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quick Comparison: Olympus 25 1.8 vs Panasonic 25 1.4

So here is the much asked for comparison of the $399 Olympus 25 1.8 vs the $129 more expensive 25 1.4 for Micro 4/3. Besides the slight speed increase of 1.4 vs 1.8, what does the Panasonic offer you for the extra $129..or should I say what DOESNT it offer?

I have shot with them side by side for a few days and found that they are VERY close in regards to image quality/sharpness. So close in fact that if I were buying new today I would buy the Olympus if I was using an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera. It seems to be just as good, it focuses fast, is smaller, and has no issues on the Olympus bodies. Below are a few quick comparison shots so you can judge for yourself.

The test images below.. you can right-click and open them in a new tab or window to see the full size file.

1st, Olympus 25 1.8 with the E-M1 at 1.8, wide open

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Now the Panasonic 25 1.4 at 1.8 on the E-M1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and the crops..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Panasonic is slightly sharper here but not by much at all. To me, the benefits of the Olympus ($129 less, smaller, faster AF, silent focus, more neutral color) beat out that small miniscule sharpness difference.

and speaking of sharpness, here is a full size shot from the E-M1 and 25 1.8 – right-click and open in a new window to see the full size image (from RAW). This was shot at f/2.5.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oct 042013
 

SAMSUNG CSC

Crazy Comparison Part 2: Fuji X-M1, Leica M 240, Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic GX7

Woooooooo! It never fails, ever! Every time I have done a crazy comparison (and I have done many over the years) people get all kinds of bent out of shape. Anyone who knows me or this site will know I do these comparisons FOR FUN. They are real results, posted for all to see but these are cameras that are not even meant to be compared! The X-M1 is the budget Fuji. The GX7 is the top end Panasonic and the Leica..well, we all know what that is.

But it is fun sometimes to put underdogs in a race to see if they can get close to winning. It’s a classic game really. Does anyone not remember the tortoise racing the rabbit in old Saturday Morning cartoons? So to all of you getting all bent out of shape and the Fuji owners feeling like they need to attack and defend, relax. All I am doing is showing real results from all cameras. I was motivated to do this because so many trash Micro 4.3 as a system when they have zero clue about what it is, what it does or the results that can indeed come from it. It’s just as capable as APS-C as i have always said but in many ways MORE SO. Why? Because you will never miss a shot due to dodgy AF. You will have a solid well made machine that inspires you. You will have a selection of some of the best fast primes available. But a camera is a personal choice. We all have different likes, different passions and different opinions.

So as I showed in the 1st test, Micro 4/3 can hang with the big guys, and it appears I ruffled some Fuji feathers with my own opinions on the Fuji build and AF. I have been saying it since the X-Pro 1 launch and it still remains. The Fujis need work to be exceptional. I strongly feel Fuji is working on this and in 2014 we may see something special from them. Then when everyone upgrades and says “Wow, it is so much faster to focus and I never miss a shot“…well, then my honest comments on the current X bodies will prove to be true :) It will happen. Watch and see.

When you own a camera system and are dedicated to it there is something that happens along the way. You forgive it for its shortcomings..you bond with it and you have no idea what other cameras can do because you shoot your camera. I do that with the Leica! I like shooting it so much that I forgive it for its off-color in some lighting, I forgive it for being $7000 and I forgive it for having a slow clunky EVF :) Many feel the way I do about their Fuji or Olympus or Sony or Panasonic as I do about my Leica. But whatever we do, we should never lose track of WHY we use what we use. Because we love it, enjoy it and it makes us want to go out and photograph. Whatever that camera is for you it is the right one :)

In fact, we should not even worry about new cameras or new tech as long as we are happy with our current camera. But we live in a “Disposable Society” where we buy, sell, buy sell and buy and sell. Sites like mine do not help this either! Believe me, I am well aware.

At the same time, many of us love technology. We enjoy using new cameras, testing them, trying out new lenses. It brings us joy as it is apart of our passion. So in many ways it is perfectly fine because we only live once, might as well enjoy it while we can.

What I am getting at is that these comparisons are called “Crazy Comparisons’ for a reason. Have fun with it and take it for what it is, a comparison of mismatched cameras. :)

I will always stand by my word though as I do not lie or make up nonsense for  the sake of it. I report my true feelings so if I say the Fuji bodies feel cheap to me, that is what I mean. If I say the Pansonic GX7 has a cheap feeling dial it is because I feel it does. If I say the Leica is overpriced it means I feel it is. None of this means camera A, B or C is crap. They are all fantastic in their own way.

In any case, enjoy the next set of comparisons which will include a high ISO test and another image shot at f/2 with each camera.

BTW, to those who say I hate Fuji, I do not. The fuji X100 and X100s are some of the best cameras you can get and the X100s focuses as a Fuji should. It is one that Fuji improved and they did a great job. They need to do this in a new X-Pro 2 and X-E2 and then we will be getting somewhere.

HIGH ISO TEST

For this test I am testing ISO as I ALWAYS have for the past 5 years, so those who want to complain about it I suggest you do not even look at the results. 

I test cameras in a real world way, always have, always will. I take a camera and use it as 99% of buyers would. I turn it on and use it. I do not set the metering to match another brand of camera, I use the cameras metering as is. ALL cameras have different ISO discrepancies. ALL of them. What is ISO 1600 on one camera is not really 1600 on another. Just how it is. But when I use say a GX7 I am not trying to set it to meter like a Sony RX1. No, I use it as it is. So this test will be done with each camera metering how  they meter at any given ISO so you see WHAT YOU WILL GET from said camera. Real world. 

So each camera was set to ISO 3200 for this test as that is as high as most of us ever will go and many will not even touch that high of an ISO these days. But for the sake of testing, ISO 3200 sounds good.

With all of that out-of-the-way, let us take a look at three cameras with three different sensor sizes and what to expect from ISO 3200 with each one in a normally lit home environment. Testing high ISO with studio lights is ridiculous. Who shoots high ISO in a studio light environment? No one. Again, real world because with less light we see the true ISO performance when we will really be using high ISO. 

YOU MUST CLICK THEM FOR FULL SIZE and The Olympus E-M1 was delivered just as I was setting up this test so I included it in this ISO test!

Leica M 240 ISO 3200 – f/8

leica

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Fuji X-M1 ISO 3200 – f/8

fuji

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Panasonic GX7 ISO 3200 – f/8

panasonic

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and the Olympus E-M1 which was delivered just as I was setting up this test! – ISO 3200 – f/8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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100% crops to make it easier

100crops

The CLEAR winner at ISO 3200 is the Leica – richness, color, noise..all beats the other three. The Fuji is next in line with a sharp image (all were shot at f/8 on a tripod) and some noise where the Micro 4/3 are still looking good IMO and up there with many APS-C cameras. In print or web size, you would not even see the noise and this is at 3200! Even so, the Leica is VERY far ahead here IMO, as it should be for that kind of premium :)

One more image from RAW test (Olympus E-M1 was not in my hands for this one)

Leica M 240 – 50 Summilux at f/2 – MUST click it to see larger/full size

leicadebbyf21

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Fuji X-M1 – Zeiss Touit 32 1.8 at f/2 – MUST click it to see larger size

fujidebbyf2

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GX7 – Nokton 25 at f/2 – from RAW – resized – MUST click it to see it correctly

gx7debbyf2

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So there you go. You can take a look at the samples and see for yourself. They are all good at producing lovely looking files. :) Me, I prefer the GX7 and M 240 as I find the Fuji to be off color and not as good looking of a file. If this were taken in Studio light, the Fuji would have shined. But in natural light, the other two, to me, do a better job.

Steve

I will leave you with one from the GX7 and 25 0.95 wide open and up at the closest focus distance. Some funky color PP here as well :) 

close

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Oct 032013
 

SAMSUNG CSC

Crazy Comparison! Leica M 240, Fuji X-M1 and Panasonic GX7

Part 1 – static subject

 

Part 2 IS HERE

(Part 2 will be up tomorrow. High ISO and Blind Test)

Goes to show..any camera these days will do the trick :) Below are a few sets of images from three cameras and three equivalent lenses.

1. The Leica M 240 and Leica 50 Summilux ASPH 1.4 Lens – Total Value: $11,000 US dollars. – 50mm true FOV

2. The Fuji X-M1 and Zeiss 32 1.8 Touit Lens – Total Value: $1,600 US Dollars – 50mm equivalent

3. The Panasonic GX7 and Voigtlander 25 0.95 Lens – Total Value – $1,900 US Dollars – 50mm equivalent 

I wanted to see if the less expensive options could even get close to the Leica in overall image quality. I believe that most cameras today can give you superb quality with the right lenses. The three cameras listed here all have a different size sensor, which means the depth of field will be different with each result. From the 1st test below I am listing which image was shot with what camera and lens. You can click on any of the images to see the full size file from RAW. I matched the white balance on all to the same settings during the RAW conversion and I let the cameras meter the scene using their base ISO. My favorite rendering  came from the Leica M and 50 Lux at f/2. On image quality alone though, you will not see a $9,000 US difference here.

That difference in price comes from the fact that it is A: A Leica and Leica cameras are always VERY expensive. 2: It is a rangefinder, and the only digital RF available, and 3: Usability is a WHOLE other thing with the Leica. It’s a fantastic thing. 

My least favorite of the 1st shots came from the Fuji even though there is no lack of sharpness. Something about them just seem off to me and they seem to fall flat a little. I would choose a GX7 or E-M1 with a Voigtlander prime any day of the week over the Fuji and Zeiss 32 Touit. That’s just me, your tastes will vary but shooting the GX7 and Voigtlander was much more enjoyable in all ways to the Fuji set.

All of these were shot on a tripod at base ISO of each camera. You can click each image to download the full size file. These were shot as RAW with white balance adjusted to match (3000). Details are on each image and EXIF has been embedded. I let each camera choose its own exposure metering because that is what you will expect to get from the camera when in real world use. You would not use  the Leica meter in a Fuji camera and vice versa, so what you see is what you get.

1st up, the Leica shots…f/1.4 and then f/2

leicaechoat1.4

leicaechoatf2

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Now the Fuji shots..1.8 and then f/2 – Typo on the images, I know the lens is a 32 not a 35.

fujiechoat1.8

fujiechoatf2

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and the Panasonic GX7 and Voigtlander set starting at 0.95, then 1.4 and then f/2

gx7echoat095

gx7echoatf1.4

gx7echoatf2

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And a 100% crop from all three at f/2 – GX7 is sharpest, then Fuji, then Leica. Color? Leica, then GX7 then Fuji. To me, the IQ champ is Leica and GX7 hands down even though Leica is the least sharp. When looking at the entire image and rendering  this is how I judge things. 

compcropM

Many say that Fuji is the new Leica but this is actually far from fact. In fact, Micro 4/3 is more like the new Leica. How so?

When Leica started they were all about SMALL size, SMALL fast prime lenses and fantastic usability. The Fuji X-M1 may be small, but the lenses are not and there is no viewfinder. The Fuji is also the worst of these three when it comes to usability (had 4 mis-focused shots during this test due to the camera not locking on to the right spot, and I told it where to AF). Micro 4/3, specifically the new E-M1 and GX7 are superb with usability, AF, speed, build and feel and they specialize in small size WELL MADE bodies and small size well made fast primes. With the right lenses, these cameras are superb in quality and when shooting with one of those Voigtlander 0.95 lenses you feel like you are shooting an old Leica or similar.

So to me, Micro 4/3 is closer to being the new modern day Leica than Fuji. I see the Fuji X IC Bodies as an immature imitation in looks alone. Maybe in 2-3 more years but today? No. (X100s is a different story). The X-M1 is an odd camera. BAD ergonomics with big lenses on a think tiny body with dodgy AF, no EVF, cheap feel, and other odd ball things going on with it. A departure from the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 for sure, and not sure why. Next to the GX7 set, the X-M1 FEELS like a toy made for a child while the GX7 FEELS like a tool made for a photographer. Sounds harsh but I am telling you my honest opinions after shooting and handling all three of these. Of course the Leica is in another league  when it comes to build and feel as it should be. The Fuji also had the worst color as the pedal in the photo is closest to the Leica and Panasonic. The Fuji is quite a bit off so I am hoping Fuji ups their game in 2014 with something that takes it all 3 steps up.

So what about Leica? They are still around so why even talk about “A new Leica”? Well, unfortunately Leica has priced many out of their cameras and lenses as to where only the hardcore Leica fans and hardcore enthusiasts are buying them. $11,000 is a lot of cash to spend on one camera body and one lens, especially when other full frame cameras can meet or exceed its capabilities. We are all waiting for some sort of Sony announcement of course (as per the rumor sites) and if Sony does release the rumored Full Frame IC camera with Olympus’s 5-Axis IS built in and a killer EVF with the ability to mount and shoot Leica M glass for half price or less of a Leica M..well, what do you think is going to happen?

Well, then maybe we can say “Sony is the new Leica”, and for once, that statement may turn out to be 100% true. We need to wait and see what pans out of these rumors.

I think it is all about vision, creativity and pushing the envelope. Sony is doing this. Olympus is doing this. Leica is not really doing this in 2013. The M is a huge improvement to the M9 of course and I love mine to death but facts are facts, and in 2014 we may be seeing some very huge leaps once again in camera tech and what we get for our money. Of course, it is all about the person behind that camera and in all of this reality, none of these silly tests mean a thing. All of these cameras will create works of art if the person looking through them has the vision to create.

Still, these are always fun to do  and most of you seem to enjoy it :)

So a quick breakdown of comparison #1:

My opinions…

Leica M wins this one for me in IQ and camera build, feel, usability.

GX7 comes in 2nd with great usability, decent build and nice IQ with that Voigtlander lens. Plenty of “Bokeh” for my tastes. I highly recommend the 25 0.95

Fuji X-M1 comes in last for build (feels cheap) and IQ and usability due to no EVF, slow and sometimes inaccurate AF. 

Look for part 2 tomorrow – HIGH ISO and three shots that will be unmarked for you to tell ME which camera took which image. Should be fun :) I expect the Fuji to win high ISO though I will be testing with zero NR.

Part 2 is HERE

My GX7 review should be up next week as well, and then I will be starting to shoot the Olympus E-M1 for 2 weeks before that full review. Stay tuned!

 

Jul 302013
 

A just for fun CRAZY comparison! Leica M vs Nikon V1 vs RX1R crop mode! 

As many of you know the Nikon 1 system has been more popular now than ever thanks to two things that have happened recently. 1st, the price of the Nikon V1 plummeted to crazy deal levels allowing so many more to give this system a try. 2nd, Nikon released a trio of fantastic lenses that are superb in quality and a couple with fast aperture speeds to combat the fact that shallow depth of field was hard to get with the kit zooms. So now that we have some killer lenses to go along with the super V1 or V2 or J bodies, the system is much more appealing. I have said it from the 1st launch of the V1 and J1…the Nikon 1 system is unique in the fact that they have very well made bodies and a very unique image quality which is best described as “hard” but with superb out of camera color, super fast AF, great spot on metering and very nice video as well. We lose out on shallow deoth of field when compared to a full frame sensor, but so does APS-C and Micro 4/3 when compared to full frame.

To me and for me, the best full frame digital experience there is comes from a Leica M or M9. It has been said that the Nikon 32 1.2 lens will give you the equivalent depth of field of an 85 f/3.6 on full frame. That is due to the fact that the Nikon is a 32mm lens, not an 85. You are only getting the magnification of an 85 because of the small sensor size and 2.7 crop. You still get the depth of field of a 32mm lens, which is always going  to give you MORE DOF than any 85mm lens.

Since the Nikon 32 1.2 is marketed as a fast portrait prime due to this fact that it gives us 85mm equivalent, I decided to test it against a Leica M with a Nikkor 85 at f/4 to see if the DOF is the same. Turns out the M with 85 at f/4 still gives us more shallow DOF than the Nikon 1 and 32 1.2 at 1.2 but with the Nikon we gain nice OOC color, sharp results all the way around and much less cost involved :)

For the 1st two images below I used right from camera RAW images without any modification. I was only testing for color, and DOF here. So images were resized to 1800 pixels wide. The V1 shot was sharper, just as I expected but if you look at her thumb ring you will see the M is still giving us some shallow DOF at f/4 and the Nikon is pretty sharp in this area.

 

leicamdebby

debbyv1

Next up you can see the DOF differences more easily. Just look at the tree in the background. In the M shot, which was again taken at 85mm and f/4, there is a more shallow DOF. The Nikon was shot with the 32mm at 1.2. Is one more pleasing than the other? All depends on your preferences.

treem

nikonv1tree

BONUS comparison!

How about using the Sony RX1R with its 35mm lens in 70mm crop mode at f/2 vs the Nikon 32 1.2 at 1.2? Using JPEGS only as the Sony can not shoot in 70mm crop in RAW. This way both cameras are using 35 mm lenses (close enough) and the Sony is being cropped to 70mm. What will the results be?

JPEG only on these tests due to the JPEG limitation of the Sony crop mode. The cameras did their own metering as well so this is basically a comparison of DOF and OOC color in Standard modes. Click for larger. You can see the Nikon has a more shallow DOF because I am at 1.2 vs the f/2 setting of the Sony. At f/2 they would have been the same in regards to DOF regardless of sensor size because they are both similar focal lengths.

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One more.. you can clearly see here what should be. The Nikon giving a more shallow DOF because here we are comparing two lenses that are VERY close in focal length, 32/35mm. The Nikon at 1.2 will give a more shallow DOF than the Sony at f/2 even though the Sony is using a full frame sensor. At f/2 they would be the same in regards to DOF. SO as you can see using the same focal length lens on full frame or a 1″ sensor will give you the same DOF. 

sonycru

nikoncr

NOTE: One thing to know is that the M and RX1R will easily beat the Nikon V1 for low light and high ISO, it is just how it is. Once the V1 hits ISO 1200+ it gets noisy though it is not as bad as many think or make it out to be. Below is an ISO 1600 shot with the V1 and 32 1.2, indoors last night. The Nikon V1 color, WB and metering was amazing in this low light. This is ISO 1600 with the 32 wide open at 1.2. So while the V1/V2 can not beat the big full frame guns at low light it can indeed beat them for large DOF and out of camera color and metering, and most importantly, cost. I love them ALL.

Leica M is $7000 without lens – My review is HERE

RX1R is $2800 with Zeiss 35 f.2 – My review is HERE

and Nikon V1 can be found for $249 body only. The 32 1.2 is $896 :) – My review is HERE

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May 302013
 

M6 vs M9 VSCO

Leica M6 vs. M9 VSCO film emulation comparison

by Ben Miller

(from Steve: I did my own M6 vs M9 comparison a long while back and you can see my results HERE. Thanks to Ben we have another fun comparison to look at. At the end of the day we can always see a difference between film and digital)

Steve,

Like many who frequent your site, I have Leica lust. I started out shooting a 110 camera as a kid and progressed to 35mm point and shoots, pocket digital cameras, and my iPhone. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered real photography for the first time. After exhausting research I ended up purchasing a Panasonic GF1 and have not looked back since. I was intrigued by Leica but had never seen one. That is until I attended your street photography workshop in Chicago. Leicas were everywhere and all I could think was “I Leica”. Months later I sold the DSLR and purchased an M6 with a 50mm Summicron. I kept the GF1 though as I felt a special connection with that camera. (I couldn’t sell it….. I gave it to my brother and now he is addicted.)

With the release of the new M type 240 I’ve been watching the used prices of M9. The time was right. I pulled the trigger….. I promised my love that I would sell the M6 to help fund the purchase of the M9. I put it off. She has asked me several times since. I ended up putting it on the “Bay”. Two days before the auction closed I realized that I had a roll left in the body. Twenty frames were left of a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400. I loved this film. The price is right and I can buy it in four packs locally.

I mainly process photos in black and white. I always had trouble being happy with the color I could produce post-processing in Light Room until I found VSCO film emulation software.

I was visiting my folks when I decided to do a “Crazy Comparison”. I wonder where I got that idea. (Thank you Steve!)

I’m sending you some photos for comparison. The film was developed and scanned at a local pharmacy. (Yeah…. It’s one of the big ones with commercials.) I did not try to emulate the look from the scans exactly. You can see that there are some color differences between the M9 files and the M6 scans. I’m hoping that you will share them with your readers to see if they can tell the difference. I have struggled with the film vs. digital moral dilemma for some time.

Cheers,

Ben

So which is the M9 and which is the M6 Scan?

Set #1

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M9 VSCO-5

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Set #2

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M9 VSCO-4

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Set #3

51450008

M9 VSCO-3

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Set #4

M9 VSCO-2

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Set #5

51450018

M9 VSCO-1

 

Nov 292012
 

USER REPORT: CV 25/0.95 on NEX VS Nikon 35/1.4G on FF

By Kolen Cheung

I forgot how long I have been reading your site, probably started by googling reviews on some Leica/Voigtlander lens. And the review I love most is the one on the Voigtlander 35/1.2 II. While other people might focus on the technical aspects, saying it is not sharp wide open or what, from time to time I’ve gone back to your review on this lens and read through it again. Again and again, I forgot how many times I did read through it. You showed me the passion you have and how much you enjoy from the lens. With the examples, you show great photos can be achieved with this lens. So some day I decided this is the lens I want. But just I don’t have a FF M mount camera (M9). I need the DSLR system for work, so while I have been tempted to sell all my gears and buy an M9 and some lenses, I just can’t do it. And then I love the 35mm focal length; I don’t want to put it on a crop sensor making it becomes somewhat normal…

So far when I just want to have a 35mm focal length, I would bring my D800E and 35/1.4G with me. It is already quite light in the DSLR terms and at such depth of field. But it is still quite heavy so more and more often I would just left it at home if I don’t plan to shot something. But sometimes opportunities cannot be planned…

Long story short, one day I suddenly think that why don’t I try to put the Voigtlander 25/0.95 for micro four third on the NEX camera to see what happened? I did see samples from one guy on the Internet. Strong vignetting and no infinity focus would be the deal breaker for many. However after much thought I decided to give it a try to see how well it can go.

So I bought it, the Voigtlander 25/0.95 with NEX C3!

First, I want to see how it compares to the usual kit I bring, the D800E with 35/1.4G. I know the latter must be better (just like you know the Leica 35/1.4 FE would be better than the Voigtlander 35/1.2II), but I want to see how well they compare and if it can satisfy me. This is the origin of this “crazy comparison”.

A quick calculation will show why I am interested in this combo. The NEX C3 has a crop factor of 1.54. So a 25mm F0.95 lens would be equivalent to a 38.5mm F1.46 lens on full frame. Hence close to 35/1.4 on FF. And this a little bit longer reach account partly for the differences you see on the photos below (and partly because I’m lazy not using a tripod).

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

 

Nikon 35/1.4G on D800E, at F1.4

I shot RAW only. I imported them into Lightroom 4. I use Adobe Standard as the color profile, and leave all settings to its default settings except adjusting exposure and white balance. Which one do you like?

There’s some technical flaw on the Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX. The extreme corners are totally dark, even worst than strong vignetting. The corners have some smearing (look at the bokeh at the lower corners). More glowing. Etc, etc. But that doesn’t stop one to use that. Just remember to do some cropping. At worst it would be like shooting from a micro four third camera.

But what’s more fatal is this: with the only micro four third to NEX adapter available in the world, infinity focus is not possible.

(All photos starts below have been applied some post processing)

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

Here I am shooting at “infinity” but the actual focus distance is about 14 Ft or 4m. These will stop most people from using this combo. But I actually know all these before I bought this combo.

 

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

Just get closer and one can shot wide open and in focus! And crop slightly to kill the dark corners. The crop factor for this is 1.74 making the lens equivalent to 43.5mm F1.65.

 

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F2.8

Want to go beyond 4m? Stop down a little bit. (Here I didn’t optimize it well. By looking at the EXIF data I can slow down the shutter two more stops and tune the ISO two more stops. And at post processing I boost two stops so it means I still have two stops to play around. If I were more careful I would shot it at 1/50s and ISO800 at F5.6.)

People may say why bother to shot this F0.95 lens at F2.8~5.6. And I’d say this is the compromise I have to make with this combo. After all short distance and thin depth of field are correlated so this is not as bad as one may think. Depth-of-field-wise, all I lost is to throw something at around 4m out of focus but in focus at a farther distance.

I cropped in the above two examples. But in some cases it is not necessary.

Voigtlander 25/0.95 on NEX C3, at F0.95

And an even better example would be some scenarios (e.g. at night) that the corner position are actually dark.

Hope that you enjoy the photos! And actually I like this combo. For a nice walk around I can bring this combo and use this solely. And of course I won’t forget the Voigtlander 35/1.2II I mentioned in the beginning. Rumors say that 2013 will have a full frame NEX and if it’ll be true I would replace this combo by that FF NEX plus 35/1.2II. That would be so much better but this is as good as I can get right now.

The last two things I want to add which may interests some of the others are: I calculated the biggest possible crop factor without absolute dark corner is 1.57, making the lens about 39mm F1.5 at FF equivalent. And the infinity focus issue is, as far as I know, not inherent. It is the maker of the currently only micro four third to NEX adapter who made a mistake. Maybe they didn’t use a real lens to test it? Or may be the lens they use has a too narrow aperture so that it looks sharp. Actually the seller claims that infinity focus can be achieved. Obviously they made a mistake and hope that they would know it by now and correct it!

My Portfolio is here.

 

Nov 162012
 

The Crazy Comparison Returns! The $999 Olympus OM-D vs the $7995 Leica Monochrom!

TONALITY TESTS – This is not a comparison of sharpness, detail, or anything else but B&W tones. 

So as I was going through all of my recent e-mails I found more than 10 asking me for a comparison between the Olympus OM-D and Leica Monochrom. Some even asked me to shoot the OM-D in Monochrom mode with the Orange filter applied and to shoot my Monochrom with a real Orange filter applied. So I did just that.

Before anyone freaks out let me say that this is called “Crazy Comparison” for a reason. I am pitting an $8000 camera body against a $1000 camera body and using the KIT ZOOM on the $999 camera and a $5000 35 Lux FLE on the $8000 body. So in reality, this is a $1100 combo vs a $13,000 combo.

Also, almost all of these are just snaps in my horribly barren backyard. NOTHING scientific goes on in my Crazy Comparisons. I just shoot both images using the same ISO and aperture and equivalent focal length and compare. Anyone who has seen one of these before knows they are done mainly for fun, but sometimes they can be eye-opening.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE LOOKING AT THE IMAGES BELOW

These have all been shot as JPEG to compare out of camera JPEG B&W files. The Olympus has a feature where you can set it to “Monochrome” and apply colored filters in the menu. I chose to use “Orange” because this is my fave filter on the Leica Monochrom. You can not shoot RAW with the Olympus and have these settings applied so these are straight out of camera JPEGS only! There is absolutely NO DOUBT that the Leica would trounce the Olympus here for detail and ability to print huge, but what I wanted to see was if the Olympus, using its own Monochrome mode and filter could match the Leica in tonality and character. Even using a dinky kit zoom!

So before the complaints start keep in mind this is a just for fun comparison as I have ALWAYS done for years now just to see out of camera JPEG results in Monochrome from each camera. One specially made boutique hot rod and one jack of all trades that the masses in the digital photo community can more realistically afford.

Take a look at the images below and click on them for larger views. Can you tell which camera took what image? One of them will be especially easy (set#2).  I can see the differences but it could be only because I know what image came from what camera. Can you? The answers will be at the very bottom of this page as to what image took what.

If you guys MUST see full size images because you are interested in sharpness and detail then be patient. In 2-3 days I will update this page with a couple of full size files from each. I am taking a little photo trip this weekend so I can get some real images :)

 

SET#1 – One of these is from the Leica, one from the Olympus. Click to look closer and see what you think. Images have been resized to 1500 pixels wide. ALL are OOC JPEGS with no tweaks at all. BOTH are using Orange Filters. The Leica with an actual filter and the Olympus with in camera processing. 

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SET#2 – This one is easy so I will give it away. The Leica can not focus as close as the Olympus. Same 35mm focal length equivalent with the Oly but I was closer in.

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SET#3 – Which is Which?

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SET #4 – The tones look similar to me in this one. Can you spot the Leica?

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SET#5

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SET #6 – These were shot at ISO 1250 and 50mm (50 equiv. on OM-D) and f/4

ANSWERS:

SET#1 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

SET#2 – Top OM-D  – Bottom Leica MM

SET#3 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

SET#4 – Top OM-D – Bottom Leica MM

SET#5 – Top OM-D – Bottom Leica MM

SET#6 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

UPDATED by request:  Shadow Recovery Quick Test – Click each of the recovered images for FULL SIZE files. BOTH were from RAW this time.

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NOW both files with the shadow area recovered. BOTH were 35mm Equivalent, BOTH were at f/4, BOTH were at ISO 320 – Shutter speed of Leica was 3000, OM-D 3200

CLICK THESE FOR FULL SIZE FILES – THESE ARE FROM RAW

1st one is the Leica – 35 Lux, f/4, ISO 320, 1/3000s

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Now the OM-D with Kit Zoom – 35mm equiv, f/4. ISO 320, 1/3200s – This is where you see the weakness of the kit lens with softer edges

Jun 222012
 

Crazy Comparison! Leica X2 vs Nikon J1

OK! Many of you have asked for a Nikon J1/V1 vs Leica X2 comparison to be done as a “Crazy Comparison” so here it is! There are a ton of Nikon 1 series fans who read this site and some of them thought this would make a cool post. So what do I do about it? Well, yesterday I headed down to Sedona AZ and I brought both the Leica X2 and  the Nikon J1 along with the Olympus E-M5 to see how each one would do shooting the same scenes, same aperture. I used the E-M5 for one shot only because this is mainly between the X2 and J1.

Keep in mind that the Leica X2 is $2000 and the J1 is $499 with a kit zoom, bag and SD card. So this is NOT a fair fight which is why it is called a “CRAZY” comparison. Just for fun guys so enjoy it!

The 1st one is from the Leica X2 from RAW – f/5.6 – click it for FULL size file

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and now one from the little Nikon J1 – The sensor is much smaller and the J1 is only 10MP but the file looks pretty good! This one used the 10-30 Kit Zoom at f/5.6 and is from RAW. Click it for full size file.

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and I couldn’t leave out the OM-D E-M5! This one is with the kit zoom at f/5.6

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So here are a few more X2 and J1 comparisons…

The X2 at f/5.6 – from RAW – click it for full size file

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and the J1 file

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One more from the X2 – click it for full size

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and the J1 – same deal, click it for the full size

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So there you go! For those asking this should be cool – a few full size files from each camera. The J1 can put out a sharper (but noisier) file no question, but the X2 has the capabilities to print larger of course. The X2 also has the capability to shoot at f/2.8 and with the larger sensor would help speed, noise and depth of field (for those who want more shallow DOF). I can not tell a lie…in use, the J1 destroyed the X2. It was much faster, focused as fast as lightning, never missed and it was a piece of cake to use and shoot. The X2 was slower, missed a few times and had more motion blur doing indoor shots at the same shutter speeds (due to the IS with the Nikon V1 lenses).

These are two totally different cameras though with the J1 being a glorified point and shoot (but an excellent one at that) and the X2 being a more advanced enthusiast point and shoot :) Below are a couple of shots I snapped inside of a restaurant with each camera. These were not ever meant to even be comparisons and I did not use same settings but it is cool to see that either camera can give good results inside.

The X2

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The J1

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and more from the little $499 J1 – click them for larger versions – I went a little bold on the colors here…

One thing I learned from this test is I still stand by my opinion of the Nikon 1 series and that the J1 is a kick ass little camera for $499 that IMO beats something like a Canon S90 any day of the week. The Leica X2 is also a beautiful camera but is for those with bigger wallets of course, and for those who want the Leica experience, which many of us do it seems!

I am a huge fan of the Nikon V1 and if you are someone who mainly posts to the web and prints 8X10’s or smaller than there really is no need for more camera than this. One thing to also note is that the video on the 1 series cameras is also SUPERB..all Nikon needs to do is release some faster glass for these little guys and then we will really be talking. As for the OM-D, I still have yet to find any issues or problems with it. Flat out great camera, period.

UPDATE: Just for giggles, why not?

Just to test things I snapped this AC unit at f/4 with the X2 and Nikon V1 (yes the V1 not J1) – I used the 10-30 Kit lens for the V1 and both were at ISO 100.

I then took the 10 megapixel file from the V1 and blew it up to 16 Megapixels to match the X2, just to see how bad it would be

Those are 100% crops but you must click the image to see the full size crop!

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and below is the Nikon V1 10 Megapixel native resolution crop – again, to see the full 100% crop click the image

You can see the warm color signature of the X2 (a little bit overly warm IMO) but the V1 is sharper without question. The X2 is “richer” and “warmer” and has less noise of course due to the larger sensor. The V1 has a built in EVF, is much faster, a bit sturdier, has great video capability and is $1850 cheaper (when adding EVF into the costs). I was going to sell my V1 but decided to keep it as it is amazingly fun to shoot and it makes me want to grab it when I go out the door, moreso than the other cameras around here.

I do not get the creamy files of an X100 or the color of the X2 or the lenses of the OM-D but I do get no muss, no fuss, sharp images and huge DOF, which sometimes is a good thing.

May 312012
 

Crazy Comparison! The Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Nikon D800 vs Leica X2 for High ISO

I know, I know..I have been having way too much fun lately with all of these comparisons, new cameras, new lenses and reviews. So much here to do but I still like to do these “just for fun” side by sides. Stuck at home all morning I thought..”wouldn’t it be amazing if the OM-D E-M5 could even come close to the full frame D800 or APS-C Leica X2 for higher ISO performance”? I have been shooting the OM-D when I can and have been marveling at how far Micro 4/3 have come in regards to higher ISO performance. The PEN models are OK up to 1600 but even then it can get a bit mottled and mushy at times.

The Nikon D800 is a full frame marvel with all of the latest tech and of course, gorgeous IQ. I have not had the time to concentrate fully on the D800 but what I have shot so far with it and the Zeiss 35 1.4 has been some of the nicest and richest files I have had through my computer to date. I will have a short write-up and “my thoughts” of the D800 soon and even though I am not a DSLR shooter anymore, I find the D800 to put out beautiful quality. It’s basically like a medium format camera IMO.

But I will save that for another day. Right now I just wanted to post some high ISO samples from the D800, Leica X2 and OM-D E-M5, with the D800 and Olympus using a 50mm lens (or equiv). The little Olympus does not do better than the D800 of course nor does it even do as well BUT it is not too far off! The X2 is of course using its built in 24 2.8 which is a 35 equiv, but this is not a sharpness, detail or bokeh test – it is a noise test. So let us take a look..

First, the simple image of my vacuum cleaner in my living room

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and the crops are below, each one has the text embedded to tell you what it is but first set up is at ISO 3200

The D800 is smoother and cleaner but the OM-D is not doing so bad here at all for being a much smaller sensor. Lens used on the D800 is the Nikon 50 1.4 and the OM-D has the Panasonic 25 1.4 – all shot at f/2

Here is what gets me scratching my head. In my review of the X2 I have found that anytime you shoot at ISO 3200, even if you convert the RAW and use ZERO Noise Reduction you still get details smearing. This does not happen at ISO 6400 or 12,500, only 3200. You can see the X2 crop below is smeared and blurred from in camera NR that is even applied to the RAW file when you do not want it there.

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now let’s take a look at ISO 6400

These are crops from direct RAW files. No editing, no NR, no enhancements. Just opened the RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw and cropped.

and here is the X2 at 6400 and as you can see, no smearing of details. You can also see the way the Leica renders the yellow differently than the others. The Leica will also have more DOF here so just look at the noise, which is what this test is about.

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How about 12,800?

The OM-D starts to get noisier here but this is 12,800. The D800 is also much noisier here but they aren’t as far off as I would have thought.

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OK, dare I even try ISO 25,600 on the OM-D?

First of all I have to say that this was done as a “just for fun” Crazy Comparison, and it is indeed crazy as the D800 is known as a full frame masterpiece with great low light capabilities (though I believe the 5DIII is better in this area). Still, a full frame technological super force against a little micro 4/3 camera, who in the past had a rep for awful low light performance..well..that is pretty crazy. While the OM-D did not meet or beat the D800 here it came damn close, and to me that is impressive. I have to say that the more I shoot the OM-D E-M5 the more I love it. It really is the BEST Micro 4/3 to come along to date. I have not really heard from anyone who has bought one and disliked it.

As for the X2, it also has a larger sensor than the OM-D but it appears it performed about the same noise wise though you can clearly see the Leica color signature coming through. Again, all were RAW files with ZERO NR added. Not sure what is happening with that X2 ISO 3200 noise but it is smearing at that ISO even though I took away any and all NR. I can state that I really am enjoying the Leica X2 AND the OM-D. The D800 is not for me but if you are a DSLR guy, it is the real deal.

BTW, as I stated in my OM-D review..if you buy one I highly recommend the grip and a decent lens (12mm, 14mm, 20, 25, 45) as the glass makes all the difference in the world.

May 212012
 

Crazy Comparison! Nikon D800 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Olympus E-M5

JUST FOR FUN guys, so please  – no getting bent out of shape! I have done those crazy comparisons for 2 1/2 years and I do them for fun and “just because”. Why? Because I can! Basically I take each camera and shoot the same scene, at the same time, using the same aperture (and preferably the same focal length or equivalent) and I convert the RAW files to check for things like sharpness, color, dynamic range, etc. I used to do this many years ago for my own personal curiosities so I started doing them here as well, and many of you enjoy them. Some of you hate them. But the good thing is, if you dislike these sort of things you don’t have to read it :)

Since I have the Nikon D800 here (which is a BEAST of a camera) along with a Zeiss 35 1.4 I decided to put it up against the Sony NEX-7 with the Zeiss 24 1.8, which gives the NEX a 35mm equivalent field of view. Basically a big brute of a full frame DSLR vs a small mirror less APS-C camera. Now obviously the resolution of each camera is different with the Nikon coming in at a whopping 36 megapixels and the Sony coming in at a not too shabby 24 megapixels. Note that I am not doing this to say “Camera A is better than Camera B”. I am showing this to give you guys and idea of what each camera can put out using these lenses and this scene. :) There are many NEX shooters who come to this site and there are also many curious about the new Nikon.

It is my opinion after shooting the D800 for a few days that for me..well, the size and weight of this camera is a bit much. Sure, it can take a serious quality photograph but so can a NEX-7, or Olympus E-M5 or Fuji X100. But then again, If you are a DSLR guy then this is one of those “Holy Grail” cameras so if you do not mind the weight and size and bulk and cost, then this camera is highly capable of some crazy delicious output.

I did find it easier to manually focus my NEX-7 and OM-D than the D800 as even with its big and bright OVF I found 20% of my shots were missed in the AF dept (even when using the confirmation dot). I never miss focus with the NEX or OM-D when using manual glass. I’ll go over all of this when I write about the D800.

I also am starting to think that 36 megapixels is way overkill for just about anyone. I don’t care if you are shooting for huge billboards, 36 MP is overkill. Period. These RAW files are 76MB and they make my iMac a bit sad. :) But again, with that said, for anyone wanting crazy resolution and full frame benefits, the D800 is indeed a pretty wonderful camera. But given a choice I would take a smaller camera anyway over the D800 because if I owned this beast I would never shoot it unless I was shooting something like a live performance for $$ or in a studio environment (and even then I would choose my M9, as I have in the past). Id never ever take this out for daily shooting anywhere when I have other smaller cameras that are really just as capable. You do not need this kind of camera for street, for snapshots, for your kids, for daily personal use or if you are just resizing for web sharing or making small to large prints. Period. But again, I will write much more in my D800 review coming soon :)

Also, coming SOON (this week) . A NOT SO crazy comparison. The Leica M9 with a converted to B&W image vs Leica Monochrom vs Nikon D800 converted to B&W! Stay tuned!

On to the images! Both were shot RAW and converted using the latest version of ACR. What you see here is what you get! No corrections were made to color but I was finding that the D800 was overexposing in almost every shot I took so I did adjust the exposure in RAW for that file.  All images were shot at f/5.6. The D800 had the $1800 Zeiss 35 1.4 mounted and the Sony had the Zeiss 24 1.8 mounted. Both giving a 35mm field of view.  The last image was shot with the Olympus OM-D but all I had with me was my little 12mm f/2 so that one is also included at the bottom. 

Click on each image to open the larger version with full 100% crop embedded. 

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What do you think? I also shot one with the little Olympus but only had the 12 f/2 with me so wasn’t the same focal length at all.

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and someone requested that I try to pull out the shadow detail here on the Olympus file. Not a problem at all :)

Apr 272012
 

More Fun Comparisons – Fuji X-Pro 1 vs Olympus OM-D vs Sony NEX-7 – JPEG

NOTE - For those who decide to NOT read the text in this article and then send me messages about how I know nothing or I know nothing about different focal lengths and effects on the output…then I suggest you read this article instead of just looking at the images. This was NOT a test to show each camera with a same lens, as that would be impossible as you can not shoot the same lenses on each camera. This was not and is not a scientific test AT ALL. In fact, I was showing the differences in focal lengths and sensor sizes and the effects they have on the images, and this was just to show what you would get with each of these combos in the same situations. Those who are new here do not realize that this is how I have been doing things for 3 years, so I forgive you :) – But please read before making nonsense comments and personal attacks as those will be moderated. Thank you!

I know you guys LOVE these crazy comparisons..and some of you get all up in a roar over them but that doesn’t mean I am not going to post more! Today I was out and about with the OM-D, X-Pro 1 and NEX-7. Now, I could not use the same lenses on all of these so I used what I had on hand.

These comparisons are not really meant to show anything but how each camera renders JPEGS as well as the differences between the sensor sizes (Micro 4/3 and APS-C). With the OM-D you get the most Depth Of Field due to the sensor size being the smallest of the three. This can be a blessing to some, and a curse to those who love the creamy dreamy look that a fast lens and big sensor gives to you. It can be a blessing because cameras with smaller sensors focus faster and seem to be more accurate with the AF as well. You also usually get sharper images as everything is in focus (well, when using wide lenses especially).

I have been shooting all of these cameras quite a bit lately trying to see which one I really truly like the best. They all have their pros and cons of course, but all are capable of producing lovely images. Olympus has their own unique color rendering as does Fuji and Sony. Which do you prefer?

The images below were all shot as JPEG..I did NOT shoot RAW because there is still no Adobe RAW support for the Fuji or Olympus, so keep in mind what you see below is JPEG output. Untouched, unedited. Just resized. Each camera was set to Aperture Priority and as always, for these fun JPEG comparisons I let the camera choose exposure. ISO was set to the base ISO on each camera. This is NOT an ISO test or a scientific test. It’s to show how each camera, with said lens, will output a JPEG. It shows DOF differences, color differences and also shows how sharp these lenses are.

I plan on doing RAW comparisons soon as well, so there will be a part 2. I will also have comparisons in my OM-D review, which will be up fairly soon I hope.

Enjoy this fun JPEG comparison!

1st the OM-D E-M5 and the 12mm f.2 at f/5.6 – click image for larger- This came closest to the real color during the “Golden Hour”

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Now the Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35 at f/5.6 – the color signature is much different from the Olympus and has less DOF due  to sensor size and focal length being much longer

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Now the Sony with the Zeiss 24 at f/5.6 – Focal Equivalent of this one is 35mm

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Now the OM-D at f/2.8 – pretty sharp JPEG output. Nice rich colors as well

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Now the Fuji with the 25 at 2.8

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and the Sony with the Zeiss at 2.8

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OM-D at f/4 with the 12mm

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and the Fuji at f/4 with the 35

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Another one with the Fuji and OM-D. The Sony shot was corrupted on my SD card for this one so could not include it.

The OM-D with the 12 at f/2.8 – straight from camera JPEG – This is a 24mm equivalent so you will get much deeper DOF than the Fuji with the 35mm

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and the Fuji at 2.8 with the 35mm – straight form camera JPEG

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I saw this scene in the harsh sun and figured it may make a good shot for Dynamic Range. Again, my Sony shot was corrupted (due to an OLD worn out SD card that I need to replace) 

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So take this as nothing more than JPEGS shot with each camera and their respective lenses. Out of the three, the most joyful and fun to shoot was the Olympus. I also enjoyed the Fuji as the AF was fine in this bright light so I had no problems with it. The Sony was also fast and easy to shoot. Any of these mirrorless cameras can give you great results, and when you learn the camera you can do just about anything with them. I am looking forward to taking them on vacation with me next week. I will also bring one of them with me to Berlin for the Leica event on May 10th (in addition to my Leica). Not sure which one yet :)

As always, thanks for reading. If anyone would like to see a specific test or comparison with these three cameras just let me know! I will do my best to oblige.

Steve

Apr 202012
 

Crazy Comparison HIGH ISO! OM-D E-M5 vs Fuji X-Pro 1 vs Sony NEX-7 – JPEG

I always get those who complain about  these crazy comparisons but hey, I find them fun and useful for my own curiosities so I am sure some of you guys do as well! Since I have all three of the latest and greatest mirrorless cameras here with me right now, the OM-D, the X-Pro 1 and the NEX-7 I decided…why not do a JPEG only test to show OUT OF CAMERA files at high ISO in low indoor light at night, and even outdoor at night (using a tripod).

I was just certain the X-Pro 1 would wipe the floor with the other two but by how much? The results are interesting…and I have to say that out of all three, the one that focused just about instantaneously was the OM-D E-M5. I mean, it was just press and fire. The Sony hunted a but and the Fuji hunted the most.

I shot each camera at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400. JPEG only. I turned OFF in camera NR on the Olympus to LOW on the Fuji and  Sony  (they can not be disabled). I also included a sample from the Olympus with NR on low, just to be fair. I chose JPEG as there is still not support from Adobe for the Olympus and Fuji.

When I do these comparisons I always show you what the camera puts out. If someone owns one of these, takes it outside, sets it on a tripod and lets the camera choose exposure..this is what you will get. So this is not only a test of each cameras night-time high ISO performance but a test of how well each one will expose the scene.

I DID resize the Sony file to 16MP to be ultra fair as the Sony crowd would yell at me if I did not. Keep in mind, I now OWN the Sony NEX-7 and Olympus. I do not own the Fuji. So which one killed it? Look at the images below and decide. All are straight from camera, how each camera exposed the scene. I also used Auto White Balance. Since different lenses were used they can not be exact, and this is NOT a test of sharpness but each lens was shot at f/2.

For the Olympus I used the 12mm f/2 at f/2. The Fuji has the 18mm at f/2 and the Sony the Zeiss 24 at f/2..are you ready? Let’s get it on!

1st I shot this indoor scene handheld. 9pm at night, just my living room light is on here. ISO 3200 for each camera. 

Click on each image to see a larger version and true 100% crop.

1st the Olympus E-M5 NOT E-P3 (it was late and I mistyped on the image..will fix later today)

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now the Fuji – NR was set to low not OFF as it does not let you set it to off

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and the Sony – NR low

as I stated in my NEX-7 review, the Sony has the tendency to underexpose. But this is not only an ISO test, it is also a test of how each camera will expose the scene on its own.

Now for some outdoor NIGHT TIME shots using a tripod

Keep in mind again that all Sony shots were resized to 16MP before getting the crop. Also, I let each camera choose their white balance and exposure as this is how most will shoot them. Finally, the Fuji told me it locked focus each time but every shot was out of focus somewhat and/or soft. Also, the Fuji tends to overexpose as you can see in the below examples. Again, this is a test showing ISO and exposure of each camera. I just set the lenses to f/2 on each and fired the shot after focus was locked. The Olympus locked it in an instant.

The Olympus at 3200 (IS was turned off as all shots were on a tripod)

click images for larger view and true 100% crop – NR set to OFF

and the Olympus at ISO 6400 – NR set to OFF

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Now the Fuji at ISO 3200, tripod mounted and the camera said focus was locked – NR low not OFF

and the Fuji and 18mm at ISO 6400 – NR is set to LOW not off as it does not let you turn it off.

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and finally the Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 at f/2 at ISO 3200 – NR set to low

and the Sony at 6400

So there you go. The one thing I found by doing this is that Micro 4/3 has come a loooong way since the days of the GF1 and E-P1 in regards to high ISO :) The OM-D is now really good at higher ISO, even at night and these are with all NR turned off! Why did I turn NR off? Well, mainly because the Oly is the only one that lets you disable it totally and also was curious how it would hold up without any at all.

So the OM-D was set to OFF. The Fuji to LOW (-2) and the Sony to LOW. The Fuji and Sony do NOT let you turn it OFF. So.. I knew I would get some of you asking me why I did not take a shot with the Olympus set to LOW. Makes sense right? So below you can see the shots with the Olympus set to LOW. Enjoy and have a GREAT weekend!

The Olympus was the fastest to focus, no contest. The Fuji hunted and never really locked on correctly even though it said it did and the Sony hunted a bit as well, but on the 3rd try I got it to focus. There you go!

UPDATE: With all of the comments from Fuji users who claimed I did not know how to use the AF of the X-Pro 1..really? Of course I know how to use the AF of the X-Pro 1. The question is, does the X-Pro 1 know how to use the AF? I used single point, same spot as with the other two cameras, which had no difficulties locking focus. The Sony was slower than the Olympus but the Fuji wad down SEVERAL times with the same result. I could have went to manual focus but why? This was to show what each camera puts out as is. With AF on all cameras. If the Fuji requires going in to MF mode to shoot in the dark with just street lights when the other two nailed it then that tells me the Fuji AF lags behind. One thing to note is that the Fuji told me it locked focus, so I was surprised at the result.

One more thing. As I stated in this post, I let the cameras choose exposure so I shot in A mode. I was curious to see how each camera would expose the same scene. The X-Pro always overexposes for me and the Sony usually underexposes. The Olympus was the one that exposed just right though the Sony AWB was the best of the lot.

Mar 222012
 

A really quick comparison of the Canon G1x and Leica M9 – What?!?! by George Sutton

(From Steve – This was sent in by George last week and figured I would post, as crazy as it is,  for anyone interested in some thoughts on the new Canon G1X compact.)

Steve,

Here is my initial impression of the Canon G1 X including a comparison with the Leica M9. The G1 X has a lot of positives but essentially it is an advanced point and shoot with excellent IQ and modest versatility. It is perhaps best described as a small self-contained DSLR. Its principal competition is probably Fuji X100 and Leica X1 (what is with all the Xs in camera names these days??). In comparison the Canon is less expensive and more versatile.

Its main advantages are the following:

— excellent IQ — DSLR quality

— very sharp lens

— 4x zoom lens compared to fixed lens on many comparable cameras

— articulating back

— good ISO performance all the way to 12500

— HDR

— face detection autofocus

— IS

— good movies

 

Drawbacks:

 

— autofocus is not lightening fast — limited ability to keep focus on fast moving kids

— viewfinder is not very useful

— instruction book not included — requires 240+ page download

— menues are somewhat complicated

 

I think the controversy over this camera has been figuring out its niche. It is a high-end point and shoot, a great camera for traveling and landscapes when you don’t want to carry a bigger camera. It also has very good high ISO performance. I picked it over a Sony NEX because the Sony is significantly larger with a comparable zoom attached. Carrying a Sony is like carrying a Leica M9 and I have no plans to replace my Leica. The G1 X is too large to fit in a pants pocket but it will fit a jacket pocket. And it is self-contained. Lack of lens choices is both an advantage and a limitation.

The photos below show the G1 X at its widest and longest. The photos only demonstrate the camera’s IQ, nothing more. The enlargements are approximately 100% crops.

Canon G1X at its widest  – f/5.6 and 1/180 – click image for full size

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Canon at its longest – f/5.6 1/160 – click image for full size

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Leica M9 – Click for full size

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100% crop from the Leica

The comparison shots with the Leica are interesting in two respects. The Canon lens is very sharp, close to the Leica. The bigger difference is the greater depth and richness in the Leica shots. Maybe that is just subjective, a desire to see some benefit in paying more than ten times the price for the Leica. But that said, the Canon produces a very good photo. For me the camera is a keeper for that reason together with the added versatility compared to an X100 or X1.

The other interesting thing is the moire in the Leica enlargement. If you ever wondered why many digital cameras have low pass filters this shows the reason. Canons have low pass filters (also known as anti aliasing filters), Leica does not. A low pass filter blurs the image slightly to avoid moire. The Leica occasionally shows moire but the rest of the time produces a slightly crisper image. This can be seen in the vents in the building that show through the ad. Look above the model’s hands then follow the line of vents across the whole frame. Moire happens when small parallel lines produce false shapes and colors. This shot not only produced some wild false colors but also produced obvious false lines and shapes.

In the Canon shot the same vents are remarkably sharp and the colors and shapes are accurate. (That isn’t a criticism of Leica. Eliminating a low pass filter is a trade-off — some images will end up with moire in order to make all shots clearer). Hope you found this interesting.

George Sutton

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