Crazy Comparison – The Olympus E-P3 with 12mm vs the Leica M9 with 24 Summilux!

CRAZY COMPARISON! The Olympus E-P3 with 12mm vs the Leica M9 and 24 Summilux ASPH!

It’s Wednesday morning at 6am and what better to kick off the hump day than with a Crazy Comparison?!?! I have not done of these in a loooong time so I figured it was about time for a new match up. This time I am pitting the Olympus E-P3 micro 4/3 camera with the new 12mm f/2 lens against the bag, bad Leica M9 and $24 Summilux ASPH. The E-P3 set comes in at about a $1700 price tag while the Leica M9-P and 24 Lux comes in at about $14, 500. Now, the Leica has the full frame sensor so I was never expecting it to lose out to the much smaller 4/3 sensor but that is why this is called a CRAZY COMPARISON!

It is just for fun, so please…no need to get all bent out of shape (as many of you did with previous Crazy Comparisons).

The files are ALL Out Of Camera JPEGS because the E-P3 RAW files are not yet supported by Lightroom or Photoshop. All settings were the same. Same ISO, SAME aperture, SAME (equivalent) focal length. The Oly 12mm comes out to a 24mm equivalent on the E-P3. We get the 24mm Field of view with 12mm Bokeh. The M9 uses the 24 Summilux which gives us a true 24mm field of view and 24mm bokeh.

This is a comparison of JPEGS only, as they come out of the camera, in each cameras native resolution.

So…let’s get on to the photos!


Each file was saved as a level 10 JPEG after opening the file in Photoshop. No PP!

1st up, the Olympus E-P3 – 12MP – 12mm (24) – F/2 – ISO 200 – AWB


and now the Leica M9-P with 24 Summilux, same settings – F/2 – ISO 200 – 24 Summilux – AWB


In the 1st comparison the Oly picked the better White Balance. Both were set to AUTO WHITE BALANCE to test each cameras AWB rendition. I was curious and it appears the Oly wins in that dept. This makes the Oly the more accurate representation color wise. Of course I could take the M9 RAW file and fix it up easily but again, this is just a simple OOC JPEG CRAZY comparison! If you click each image you can view the full size file. Both were shot at F/2 which was wide open for the Olympus 12mm, and the Summilux was stopped down to f/2 from 1.4. It appears the Lux vignettes even at f/2, which is one thing full frame sensors seem to do with wide angle lenses. It also appears the little Oly’s Dynamic Range is decent. The sun was hitting the bins directly.

Ok, let’s do another one. This time I will start with the M9 file.

Leica M9 – 24 Lux at f/2 – ISO 200 – Click image for full size OOC JPEG file

Olympus E-P3 – 12mm (24 equiv) – f/2 – ISO 200

It is clearly evident that you will get a more shallow depth of field (background blur) when shooting on a full frame camera with a full frame lens, meaning, when you shoot with a 24mm lens you get a 24mm field of view. When shooting the Oly the lens is a 12mm but do to the half frame sensor we are getting a 24mm equivalent view, but still the depth of field of a 12mm lens. Still, I LOVE this little Oly lens, it is incredible if you are invested in the Micro 4/3 format.

Ok one more! Why not? This time I resized both down to 1800 pixels wide so when you click on these you will NOT get the full size OOC JPEG but rather the downsized versions. It’s easy to see the more shallow depth of field in the Leica shot (2nd shot), and this the “Leica Look” with the Summilux rendering.

1st shot, Olympus E-P3

2nd shot, Leica M9-P

So that’s it! I posted this for fun, not for any kind of scientific reasons. If you look down below at the related posts you will probably see older crazy comparisons and they are always fun to check out 🙂 It seems like both the M9-P AND Olympus E-P3 are pretty hot right now as they seem to be out of stock everywhere.

Site sponsors B&H Photo sell the Leica M9-P as does Dale Photo and Ken Hansen (email: KHPNY19@AOL.COM). rents the entire Leica lens line if anyone out there wanted to give the 24 Lux a try. Me, I’m happy with the M9 and a 50 these days. Gotta love the M9 and the 50 Lux ASPH. Magic!!!

As for the E-P3…I have been using it non stop and Olympus has a winner, no doubt. It’s the best PEN yet!

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  1. When you hold a Leica M9 in your hands, you’ll know it’s a serious tool. The weight, feel and ergonomics are superb. Unfortunately, the sensor is not. And that means the image quality isn’t optimal either. For a tool that expensive, I think it should be. Well, it shows us once more that the perfect camera doesn’t exist. No matter how much you spend, there’s always something left to be desired. There’s a camera system for everybody I guess. Leica is not my cup of tea. Perhaps if one day the sensor and the display of the M9 are replaced by something decent and the modern wonder called autofocus is implemented, the camera might interest me. For now, the Olympus EM-5 makes me much happier for much less money. It’s a little gem this camera!

  2. I think a Leica is an untouchable godess, period.
    However, another cameras can be equal in performance, even cheaper, who cares.
    The Leica lovers like their cameras and we like the competetors.
    Don’t start a war between brands, it is pure gut feeling.
    Try to explain to your wife, why you bought this camera….
    Because you like it……

  3. Steve:

    You got to love it! Your CC’s should be called “Brave Comparisons” , especially when you are comparing a $7,000 camera against one of the domestic offerings. I love reading the outrage from some of the Leica owners. I’d be upset to if a $700.00 set up outperformed my $10,000 set up.
    Let’s face it, it cost a lot of money to create and build great optics but there isn’t that much costs difference to mill brass over aluminum or to mold a plastic body. IMHO It is the lens and the photographer and maybe the sensor that makes the shot and not always the camera body if all else is equal. A Leica M9 is a thing of beauty and a must have only if you can afford it.

  4. Entertaining. I don’t have a Leica M), but I do have a one week old E-P3 which has cured me of my decades old love affair with Olympus.

    Did the Leica freeze its controls if you touched the display while using the viewfinder? The Oly with its iphone wannabe touch screen does when you use the VF-2. Great fun trying to figure out the problem until you do a Google search.

    I guess Leica doesn’t do autofocus. Does the Oly? Here is something enjoyable to do. Put the Oly on constant AF tracking and watch as you place the focus on a person and the Oly instantly jumps the focus to the sky or even a shaded part of a building in the background. Watch as it does it repeatedly no matter how many times you pull it off and try to put it on the subject again. Well, I guess it does track. Fastest focus of (oh, what is the wiggle-word decription Oly uses?) any interchangeable lens type camera on Mars when used in blazing sunlight on an immobile, extreme hi-contrast subject if you use the new lenses and stand on your head and rotate conter-clockwise while whistling Dixie by the light of the slivery moon? Oh right. If it even focuses faster than my wife’s Nikon D40, I can’t tell it. The D300. Sorry. And in less than bright light. It turns bloodhound and hunts. But unlike a bloodhound, it has trouble ever finding anything.

    Now I admit, I have no lens for mine, just that plastic thing with the variable apt beginning at 3.5. I love the purple fringing that I can only sometimes just barely reduce enough in LR that it isn’t immediately obvious at 30 feet. Even cooler is how the Oly ISO is a bit exaggerated in camera, actually measuring 132 at the stated 200 (DxOMark This, along with the fine 14-42mm which actually shows T-stop measurements (see DxO again for that lens) quite a bit off the Oly-rated f-stops making the lens even darker. That explains why I have to use unusually slow shutter speeds and jack up ISO in light where I should not need to at a given aperture.

    Oh, and speaking of jacking up ISO and noise. Yee-haw! A true retro cam that manges to have tons of COLOR noise at base ISO and and gets even more colorful as it is raised. Yes. The Oly is a real challenge to low end dSLRs. Right image quality is comparable. Giggle giggle. I nearly cry when looking at Oly RAWs. Maybe it’s the lens. Maybe it’s the little noisy sensor. And yea, the Olympus E-P3 and micro4/3 is darned near as good as a Leica FF. Or maybe, it’s just hard to critically evaluate jpgs on the net. Might be similar at 5×7 too. Provided the Oly doesn’t lock up and cause you to miss the photo to begin with.

    • Sounds like you got a defective E-P3. Mine does none of what you say and in fact, it has been very reliable, super fast in good light and low, no issues with anything. No freezing, no touch problems, no purple fringing. Id return it if I were you, good luck.

  5. For the untrained eye you can’t barely see the difference. But there’s some, I can see less depth of field perception on the olympus photos, also less dynamic range and less brightness.
    Steve is right, it’s a hell of comparison we got here. The Leica Digital M is much better on DNG files.
    If you try to pick a Leica DNG file and convert on Photoshop a JPG (100%quality) you will notice the difference easily between the the DNG and the JPG.
    I will like to see this comparison in extreme situations, both shoot on raw.
    The more you love photography , the more you know that focus isn’t important.

  6. Leica lenses on my EP2 produce clear and easily identified better pictures than the 20mm which is considered a great lens. On the M8 they(the lenses) really aren’t all that much better but maybe if you pixel peep. But the big reason for using the M is the rangefinder and viewfinder and vs M43 shallow DOF. Plenty of folks cover up their red dot with tape and now buy M9P to get rid of the Leica logo. So it’s not all about prestige. It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship that I admit is a part of the pleasure of owning it. If you want subject isolation a larger sensor is the way to go. The 20mm F1.7 is an F3.4 as far as DOF is concerned. There is no way around this and M43 can never get the 3D results that the M9 is capable of. If you want large DOF daytime landscape photos then sure a m43 can certainly produce similar results with the right lens. So then … time for a crazy comparison with 3D being the objective. How about a 50mm Summilux ASPH vs. Pan Leica 25mm F1.4. and RAW… as it’s known M9 files need to be worked in RAW. If you want to do a fair comparison you need to use each tool as it is normally worked with by the photographers that use it. By using M9 JPEGs it simply is hindering the M9. Yes I know for the money Leica should have better JPEGs but that simply isn’t the way M9 shooters use this tool. Olympus is known for it’s JPEGs so pit each tool with it’s best vs. best.

  7. I would love to get the 12mm f/2 but it is too expensive. Instead, I have the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and 14mm f/2.5 for $200 US less.

  8. I suppose it’s me, but for the life of me I can’t see the huge difference in IQ in “the leaves of the tree” tat the Leica fanboys see.

    That would be the deplorable quality of my calibrated Thinkpad W510 screen.

    • No that would be smoothed JPEG from M9, which quality is so-so. Unlike Olympus which JPEG quality is pretty much best of everything (except things like old S5 and so).

      • Look at the comments of some of the posters here. I’m envious of their eyesight ‘cos they see things I don’t.

        I agree on the OOC Jpeg quality of the E-P’s though; really good.

  9. I like the crazy comparison’s as well. The 12mm Olympus is no doubt the best build quality out there in m4/3. However I cannot help but think I might prefer a 17mm. In the same all metal msc with the pull back manual focus plus one of the viewfinders and we would have the ultimate m4/3 street machine in my book. Now if Olympus would include an Alex Webb Color Art Filter and a Josef Koudelka Black and White Filter ? 🙂

  10. I don’t know why everybody is so bent out of shape that the EP3 takes pictures that are “90%” as good as the M9, but a fraction of the cost. This is consistent across the luxury goods market! Does a $10,000 IWC watch tell time any better than a $50 Casio? No! The Casio is actually more accurate! The Leica is bought as a luxury item, and not only as just a camera that takes pictures.

    • It’s only a tool. Money can not buy great images. Be it a disposable camera or an expensive status symbol in capable hands one can produce amazing images. Plastic lenses rock! LOL. The leicas of today are no better than the primitive gear of our photographic forefathers and mothers when it comes to image quality or to use a more accurate term “aesthetics”. Thinking of Julia Margaret Cameron. And every one knows aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder.

      Fun review as it was meant to be.
      However as far as which camera is better it proves nothing.

      You can not prove this camera is better than that camera except in true technical terms. Shutter speed accuracy ect.. Beyond that it is all aesthetics. Unless of course you are not an artist. Than it all boils down to name and how much you paid for that gear. If it costs more it has to be better right? I wonder how many make prints and if so is it on gloss or matte paper. Weeeeeee I could go on and on.

      Hey let’s do a comparison of an 8×10 and make palladium prints from the negatives with a Leica and make some faux black and white prints you can even faux tone them in photosop to achieve the palladium look if you like and compare them. No comparrison two different aesthetics. Oh and shallow depth of field is technically superior with that 8×10. Old field camera and Leica can’t touch it.

      Ok done with my wake up and smell the coffee rant. Next case.

      Thanks Steve! Enjoyed the the comparison of the two different aesthetics from the two different camera obscuras. Peace. 😉

  11. The EP3 shots have nice color, but look live over sharpened with large radius to me. But the M9 JPEGs leave something to be desired too, but indeed look smoother and less “digital” when zoomed in.

  12. Rohith T,
    Its the fact that they are talented that after time makes it easy or perhaps natural for the experienced
    photographer to acheive a high level of quality.Great photography isnt something one can learn.It
    must always start with the ability to SEE, I have known photographers with the best equipment money could buy,who have been shooting for years with less than desirable results.Every great
    photographer who ever lived all had one thing in common,a gift,a gift of seeing,without it we just
    “take pictures”.

  13. I’m with you on the M9 50 lux combo, its virtually welded to my M9 these days too.

    That’s a nice lens that 12mm, I had a play with one recently, I think you could now have yourself a fast AF prime kit with an effective 24mm f2, 50mm f1.4(pana-leica m43) and the Oly 90mm 1.8, not to mention the ability to slap on the Leica lenses for longer work with quality glass! There are certainly plenty times where AF comes in handy and with the above setup you’re not making too much of a compromise on the image quality!

    I just wish Olympus would beef up the sensor a bit!

    • Technical IQ versus picture quality. You are referring to the latter, which does not require expensive gear, but talent and skills. Fully agree.

    • I think it goes quite a bit further than that. I’ve seen iPhone photos that pros have taken that are far and away better than a lot of what I’ve been able to do, and the iPhone is may 30-40% of what the E-P1 can achieve ‘technically.’

      A great photographer can also do more with that ‘10%’ or so than a lesser photographer could. Diminishing returns tend to diminish less with ability, it seems.

      As for “easily compensated,” I don’t think anyone with real talent came by it easily (which makes their photos all the more impressive). 🙂

  14. I’m glad you did the comparison!

    The EP3 gave the M9 a run for it’s money.

    The EP3 is like the Camaro SS, while the M9 is like a Mercedes AMG. Both will get you there, one is more luxurious than the other, but both have substantial power.

  15. Great comparison. 24mm summilux wins hands down! I shot with the 24mm this last weekend at Leica Akademie Chicago workshop. Nice but it is kind of a beast.

  16. The container photo on the P 3 is ok, would be my only keeper.

    The fallen tree is soso, the backyard is a catastrophy. Before I recognized the “bukeh” I thought the foto was……. because the wall and all the background is blurred. Bukeh is ok if it fits, here it does not make any sense: the sharp leafes in front don’t come out as the viewer (assuming he/she is not a Leica guy/girl) would be only irritated by the blurred background.

    My “weakest/smallest” camera is a Lumix FZ 28:would get the colors better, the whole structure would be recognizable, the house and the wall would NOT look like they collapse any moment and for the change (the FZ cost me 400 $) I would get a car and a real camera. As I got a less than 2 years old car and 3 cameras I would book a nice trip around the world and shoot street in Rome, London, Berlin, San F., NY, Hongkong and hang out in Bali for a week afterwards.

  17. Thanks for the comparison, Steve. Well, a $10k camera IS a 10K camera. I very much prefer the colour from the leica.

  18. Maybe it’s how the screen renders the images, or perhaps the jpg format is not the best for the M9, but in every examples posted by Steve I think the EP3s images are *much* better than the M9’s. That said, I own an EP2 (my very first digital camera) and an Epson R-D1 (and I shoot only in raw), and now I almost always use the rangefinder – it’s just another different way of shooting for me, thought the little Oly, in some particular situations, is useful. But with the Epson it’s just another level of shooting experience and photographic quality.

    • I don’t see the same at all. Resolution, details are much better with the M9. Look at the leaves with lots of details, whereas the EP3 some mushy greenery, especially in the second shot.

      • People see what they want to see, that’s why I think that all these crazy comparisons should be without captions that say which photo is from which camera, results would be the same as with blind comparison with leica x1 and fuji x100 whre more than half people claimed obvious “leica look” “3d pop/separation” and what not for x100.

  19. I like these crazy comparisons. This one shows that the M9 with the Summilux is the superior tool as far as IQ is concerned, but also confirms the laws of diminishing returns. In that sense, no earthshaking news and I can still enjoy my M9:). And again, the less expensive X100 seems to be the bargain of the year as its IQ clearly beats the EP3 (quite visible noise in the EP3 low iso shots). So the exra USDs spent on an EP3 versus a X100 do not return better IQ. I can’t wait to see the NEX 7 performance. Just bought a 35mm MS Perar Super Triplet and using it on a NEX with EVF and focus peaking could be real fun.

  20. Great crazy comparison. I love it! It is actually convincing me to decide buying an EP3! Steve, do you have chance to try the 24 Summilux with your M9P. There is an adaptor for that. It would be very interesting to see how the EP3+24 Summilux perform against M9P+50 Summilux comb!

    • Seconded; that would be a great Crazy Comparison to see! Can the E-P3 make good enough use of the 24mm to make it worth while?

  21. Nice comparison, Steve. Really a very good oly for E-P3, but I’m still waiting around to see how’s the performance of the NEX 7 before I want sell my NEX 5…

  22. I think only a few conclusions can be drawn from this article. One, Steve enjoys riling up his readers. 😉 Two, the 12mm seems to be making the most of the traditionally excellent Olympus OOC color rendering (as an E-P1 owner, I’ve benefited greatly from it). Three, Leica could do a better job with its OOC jpg processing. Four, both the E-P3 + 12mm f2 and the M9 and 24 Summilux are great combinations. And five, it’s clear that the Olympus is the less expensive camera of the two.

    The third set of photos exemplifies this last point best for me. The clarity and details in the leaves is stunning, and the ethereal background is crazy. I’d actually say that the subject of the two photos is different: with the Olympus, the subject is the tree, but with the M9, I’d say the subject is just the leaves.

    Still, if you wanted a landscape lens, one that kept everything in focus, the Olympus 12 + a PEN or G series Panasonic is a great combo.

  23. I’d love to hear Steve’s thoughts on the comparison a bit more. How do you think the 12mm held up against the Lux?

  24. Hey guys. This is like comparing tennis rackets. You can buy the best racket, but you still can’t play like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer 🙂

  25. I was just kidding with the wasting 10K comments. I know these are crazy comparison :). I love my leica, and its not the IQ that i love it for, its the other 1 million reasons 🙂

  26. Wuhuu…thx for that “crazy” comparision Steve!

    Yeah – Oly does get the WB by far better – but all that “noise” already @iso200 – visible in the sky, in the dark areas, in the wall in the last picture…puh and that although the M9 is NOT known for handling iso that good.


    I am happy with my M9, still waiting to get it back from Solms from calibrating together with the Noctilux.

  27. 1/10th the price, but 90+% of the performance.

    Glad I sold my M9 kit when I did. Fuji, Olympus and other manufacturers are making great progress with solid camera in small formats. Wait for one of them to release a small FF body with capable lenses at a reasonable price point and Leica’s going to have a really hard time selling their premium gadgets in the long run.

    For me personally, the Leica enthusiasm has suffered greatly in the past year, glad I sold majority of my collection when I did.

    • Well, you are right at that first statement, but there are ocassions were you just need the 100%, and that’s what you are paying for with a Leica.

    • Very true. Like Steve, I absolutely love my Olympus 12mm, but there are times when I really want shallow DOF in wide angles (like in Steve’s tree sample photo), and m4/3’s struggles with that if your shooting below 28mm equiv (I’ve found that m4/3’s provides all the DOF control I need when shooting over 50mm equiv). There just seems to be a huge hole in the market between a $15,000 M9 kit and $2,500 m4/3’s kit. Perhaps the upcoming Sony NEX-7 will feel that void, but Sony’s lens line up has a lot to be desired. The upcoming Leica mirrorless system will most likely be cheaper than an M9, but if it has a red dot it still won’t be an every mans camera; which is a shame, I’d love to see what could be done with Leica’s if starving artists could afford them. I think our only real hope for something that is 98% of an M9 at1/5th the cost will be an interchangeable lens Fuji X100. Hopefully they’ll have one out for us soon.

    • People have been saying Leica will be in trouble once so and so releases whatever for 60 years… Leica is a niche, luxury company. What olympus or panasonic does means nothing to them…except that they get to sell more lenses.

      • Leica will be fine, you are right, they are a Niche company and will always have those who want a ‘Leica”. In fact they have more of those people NOW than they ever have. Things are good and they have some new stuff coming that will bring them even more success. There are plenty out there with the cash and desire for Leica and the fact remains, their products are superb. There is nothing like a great Leica lens IMO.

  28. Hmzzzzz,

    To me the Leica wins hands down. Not in scheer scharpness of the .jpg. But the look of the overscharpening in the Oly (look at topmost branches in the second picture and the clear white edges visible) I think that the Oly could go a little easy on the sharpening. Having said that and compairing Oly and Pana lenses (a comparison of an 9-18 and 14-45) I see that my Oly lens is a little bit softer as as Pana lens (also as a 7-14). Having said that to get the most out of the sensor of my little GF1 when I use a 50mm 1.4 Nikon (build 1976) at f/8-f/16 and that gives me a clear extra notch of scharpness. I wonder were the Lux lost a bit of it’s usual crispness……might be in the down sampling of the files or a slight misalignment in the viewfinder or even in the eye of Steve since that can also play a role when focusing manually (at least in my case and I have two pairs of glasses with similar presciption Zeiss glass and yet the older glasses give better focus then the newer).

    Having said that, if you don’t need the Leica + Summilux anymore I know a good home for it Steve :-). I have decided that in digital the M series is the way forward for me, no doubt about it (held on in my sweaty greedy claws the other day and yes indeed signed, sealed, delivered) if Leica hops along with the M10 (29 Mp anyone or so “die Spatzen von den Dächern pfeifen”). In analog I will be embarking on Adox/GX680 cruise……….. and maybe I see an old Cambo Wide lurking in the bleachers.

    Greetings, Ed

    • I’ve used Leica lenses for decades, but in the first set, the Olly is substantially sharper just outside the center area. Quite shocking, really.

  29. Thank you for posting
    I’m looking forward to looking at these files on a real monitor in Photoshop.
    But (From what I can see) the M9 WB is kinda green ?!
    Either way Love these crazy reviews 🙂

  30. Cool. I always appreciate the reviews and comparisons, they are fascinating to me. Hey by the way, would you ever compare the E-P series cameras with the E-PLs? I know the EPs are generally a lot more expensive than the EPLs but I can’t exactly figure out why. When I bought my E-PL2 it was a lot cheaper than the EP2, but seemed to have a lot more features….

  31. Steve, I have an E-P3, and I am on the fence about getting the 12mm (quite expensive). Is this a lens that will allow me to achieve a nice bokeh? I read in some forums almost everything is in focus, all the time.

    BTW, I love your site. I just discovered and I am already a fan of your posts. Thanks for doing this.

    • I have the 12mm with E-P2, most definitely not everything is in focus, which to me is a small annoyance because I didn’t buy wide angle to get shallow depth of feild. You don’t get as much pop as with a longer focal length but for landscapes I want as much in focus as possible. Taking photos of friends at night in front of things is frustrating when they’re infocus but the attraction is not haha!

      Great great lens, best out on m43 so far, get it!

    • No it says that you should shoot RAW with M9. And perhaps notice thing that 12mm f2 is equiv of 24mm f4 (not f2). Ofc it would make things bit harder as f4 is less light..

      DOF is x2 too (light isnt, so simply put, you got more depth with more light from Oly or any 4/3).

      M9 is pretty much RAW only camera.. but then its exceptional.

        • The Oly E-P3 has a smaller, half size sensor so a 12mm lens will give you a 24mm field of view (X2). It will give you the light gathering of an f/2 lens but the depth of field of a 12mm f/2 lens, not a 24mm f/2 lens.

          • I’ve been trying to reconcile that for awhile. I thought I was misunderstanding MFT 35mm equivalents and basic DoF calculations. Seems I was just plain misinformed by “experts”.

            So, If I may ask an additional question, are the optical distortions the same as well? i.e. Will my nose look more bulbous on a 25mm MFT lens than a full frame 50?

            Would an equivalently cropped image from a full frame sensor yield the same image as a smaller sensor?

            Sorry to jam all these questions in a arguably inappropriate place.

  32. Very nice comparison. Thanks for sharing out , Steve ! What if the comparison between X100 and EP-3, I guess it will be interesting.

  33. It is great to see that there are more cameras in the market that address shooters who like to have smaller cameras with great sensors. In the past there was a huge gap between a DSLR and the better compact, like the Canon Gs. Now this gap gets filled with great cameras and there are almost no excuses for bad images anymore.

  34. Steve, you really can’t do that comparison based on JPGs. Olympus always had pretty good JPGs – reliable white balance although with pretty tough sharpening. The M9 produces poor JPGs, when details count there is no way to get around RAW and processing. Regards, Michael

    • “The M9 produces poor JPGs, when details count there is no way to get around RAW and processing”

      I can kind of understand why my $400 XZ-1 produces poor JPEGs, and can work around it, but why do people put up with a $10K camera producing crappy ANYTHING?

      • because it’s Leica and a fashion item more than anything else. I am sure that picture quality is very very good, at least from full resolution photos posted here and some other sites but nothing that you can get from 5-6 times cheaper cameras. People can claim magical feel, quality and what else not but ultimatelly that’s just a rationalization for spending so much money and they can’t see it unless it says “Leica M9” in the photo caption.

      • Not to sound condescending but I’m sure the vast majority of the people who buy M9 rarely shoot JPEG. I can say I personally shoot uncompressed DNG pretty much exclusively and compressed every now and again. Those who say it’s just about fashion are ignorant and biased in their own way and that’s fine. Most people buy M9 simply because they prefer to spend their money on a photographic tool that enhances their personal subjective experience. It’s a argument some people have over FF versus cropped sensors. A good photographer can take a good picture with a Polaroid. Comparing what one can do with a cheaper camera is moot. That same picture would look that much better with a 35mm, MF, or LF camera. I’ve taken good pictures with P&S and with camera phones… It would be foolish of me to suggest those good pictures wouldn’t look better with good glass and a higher grade camera.

        For some an overengineered JPEG algorithm just isn’t high on the list of features. For others, in particular Olympus camera buyers, it’s a selling point. To be clear I have nothing against Micro 4/3 – I still own my Panasonic G1 (and a NEX-5 too) and I owned a GF-1 until about a year ago when I bought an M9. Comparing the systems, light years apart at maximum performance though. That’s not to say I’ve seen better pictures out of a Micro 4/3 camera in the hands of capable photographers versus someone taking photos of potted plants on the deck of their homes. I have… Again it’s about the person holding the camera. The better photographer will almost always take a much better photo with a M9 versus a Micro 4/3 camera.

    • It’s 2011. The camera body-only costs $7000. There is no excuse …no excuse,,,,, for the jpeg performance of the M9. It is an amazing camera…but that is just embarrassing…. There is no defending it, please.

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