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

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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

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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!

 

Feb 182013
 

My 1st 8 Months with the Olympus OM-D by Michel Mayerle

Dear Steve

I have been following your blog for one year now. One of your first reviews I read back then was the one about the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Until then I was a Nikon shooter. I am not a professional photographer, but photography means a lot to me, it is a great passion. For several years I was using my Nikon D700 and I even bought a Nikon D4 last year. I bought all the fast Nikkor lenses that were available and I spent a fortune on my gear!

But then our little daughter Elena entered our lives and everything started to change. Her birth also affected my photography (not only because I shot at least one picture of her every day in the last 12 months). My DSLR gear started to be annoying, heavy, obtrusive and bulky. If you have to carry around several bags, a baby buggy, diapers and such things there is not much room left four your heavy DSLR bag. I also fount it more and more challenging to pack my camera bag. The lenses were so heavy and big that I could only carry 2 or three lenses along with the big Nikon D4

So I decided to buy the new Olympus OM-D. Your review on this camera encouraged me to invest in some lighter, mirrorless gear. In another review you recommended the superb Zuiko 45mm f1.8 and the Zuiko 12mm f2.0. So I bought these two fine lenses as a starting point. I only wanted to use fast and fine primes, so zoom lenses were no options for me. Later I bought the amazing Zuiko 75mm f1.8 lens, which I am using mainly for portraiture. And just three days ago my new Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 has arrived. So these are my 4 lenses I am using on my OM-D now.

And holy cow was I surprised when I first saw the pictures the OM-D was able to deliver. I experienced sharpness I have never seen before an my Nikon shots. YES, the fine Zuiko lenses are sharper than anything I have ever used on a Nikon FF body (with the best prime and zoom lenses available). What completely caught my attention was the color rendition of the OM-D in combination with these lenses.

After 8 months with the OM-D I have sold most of my Nikon lenses. The OM-D is my primary camera now. I use it on a daily basis. Photography became even more fun. Now I can put all my lenses in one tiny bag. I still use my Nikon SB-910 flashes in SU-4 mode. This way I can trigger them with my OM-D which is great for portrait photography. I use my Nikon D4 only for concerts in very low light. High ISO until 1600 works great on the OM-D. But the D4 works perfectly with ISO 12800 and it focusses in almost total darkness. But for the rest I choose the OM-D without any hesitation. I believe there is the right camera for every job. And the OM-D is such a capable camera that I am using it almost all the time.

Thank you so much for your great work, your reviews and all the effort you put into your website. And mostly thanks a lot for your passion for photography and mirrorless systems. I will keep on visiting your website every day! If you like you can post thiswith a couple of my images. I hope it is a small statement that show how good the OM-D really is.

Best regards from Switzerland

Michel Mayerle

Voigtlander 25 0.95

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Olympus 12mm f/2

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fog

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Olympus 45 1.8

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Olympus 75 1.8

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lucerne mountains

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Feb 122013
 

Voigtlander 25 f/0.95 for Micro 4/3 – How it’s made

The 25 0.95 Lens for Micro 4/3..in my opinion, this is one of the coolest lenses for Micro 4/3 along with the 17 0.95 and the only negative I have found with it is the size, but believe me when I say that these are gorgeous lenses. Below is a video on how the 25 f/0.95 is made for anyone interested in seeing what goes into this lens. To see samples from it, there are plenty in my Olympus OM-D review. Enjoy!

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.

 

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