Crazy Comparison – Leica M, Sony RX1 and Fuji X100s
You all asked for this so here you go. I have three sets of images here, all full size direct from RAW from each camera without any PP, just right from camera results. You can click any image for the full size file.
Here is how these were done. Same aperture on each camera, same focal length or equivalent in the case of the X100s. Processed from raw using Lightroom 4.4 and exported as a JPEG without any PP.
The Leica M was shot with the Leica 35 Summicron ASPH, a $10,000 combo.
The Sony RX1 was tested as it comes out of the box at $2799
The Fuji X100s is a $1299 camera.
Let us take a look a couple of files..
The Leica M – 35 Cron at f/4 – No PP at all – flat light mid day image – click for full size. I tried to match WB as close as I could.
The Sony RX1 at f/4 – No PP at all – take seconds after the M image above – click for full size
The Fuji X100s – f/4 – no PP – taken right after the RX1 image above – For $1299 this is the bang for the buck champion without question!
Let’s take a look at one more but this time with each lens at f/2, wide open.. I let the cameras color character come through here. Base ISO on each camera, no PP
The Leica M with the 35 cron at f/2 – click it for full size – base ISO of 200, f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
Sony RX1 at f/2 – click it for full size – Base ISO of 100, f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
Fuji X100s at f/2 – click it for full size – Base ISO – f/2, AWB, in camera metering – from RAW
and three more:
When wide open you can see the softness of the X100s lens and when viewing on a decent moniter you can see it is a bit more “flat” than the other two (this is what I am talking about when I say the X-Pro/X-E can look flat at times even though this was taken in flat lighting, it is flatter than the other two). When you take into consideration of the costs of these cameras the X100s is a winner but in the house shot above the X100s does have some funkiness going on in the details when viewed at 100% (leaves) but this is due to LR 4.4 not fully supporting the X100s yet. But remember the costs! $10,000 vs $2799 vs $1299! ALL cameras these days are highly capable.
But for the shoe shot, for me, the Leica wins easily as that 35 cron character shines through with some nice Bokeh and depth. The Leica look is real 🙂 You who have been reading my site for a while know that I much prefer “character” to “perfection” which can be sterile at times. Looking a these shots side by side the warmth, 3 dimensional feel and smoothness comes through in the Leica shot. I showed these three to my son side by side without telling him what was what. His fave was from the M by a mile. My mom picked the Leica M as well and my niece picked the Sony. All thought the Fuji was dull compared to the other two.
The RX1 is a resolution monster as well and seems to beat the Leica M here for sharpness/detail but again, on a nice display it appears flatter than the Leica and lacking in any kind of character. It is colder and more sterile. Still, it appears the Zeiss lens beats the cron for sharpness, which may come as a surprise to some.
In the house shot I see the RX1 is the sharpest across the frame to the corners.
These have had no PP at all and appear a little dull out of the camera but that is how the files come out without any adjustments. When it comes to PP, the M and RX1 files hold up extremely well, better than the X100s files.
One thing that is not shown in these images is the fact that the M can take other lenses. A 24, 28, 50, 75, 90, etc. The other two are fixed 35mm cameras so they are less versatile than the M. If you are mainly a 35mm shooter, you have choices 🙂
To see shots with some adjustments and a few with PP, you an see my ever growing Leica M gallery here, my RX1 gallery here and I will have an X100s gallery soon.
As for the X100s it seems the wait lists are growing every day. You can pre-order the X100s at B&H Photo or Amazon. My review will be up within a few days. Probably Monday morning 🙂
What are your thoughts?
Just for fun, the shoe shots converted to B&W in Lightroom using LR B&W Look #4 preset – Leica M, RX1 and X100s in that order. You can click for larger 1800 pixel wide resized versions.
Hi, Marcus –
I would have to point out that often, each of the last few %s of performance often costs another 100% of price. So the Leica would not necessary be 500% better than a camera costing ⅕ as much.
I say this as an avid, rabid, Fuji X100S user 🙂 I freakin’ love this camera, for more than the image quality alone – the usability – fingertip-switchable optical/electronic viewfinder, single-button film-mode switch (assignable to another function if you want), the ability to go fully manual to fully automatic in exposure and focus and anywhere in between – with it, I get shots that I would probably otherwise miss.
Nevertheless, those last three black-and-white shots of the boots pretty much clinch it for the Leica. In the Leica shot, the boots just kind of pop in a way that the Sony almost gets, and Fuji just doesn’t.
I still love my X100S, and for the usability of it I might even like it over the Leica, but alas the Leica’s a bit out of my budget 🙁 But I have to admit that Leica shot looks at least a few percent better. Frankly, I’d love the chance to take that Leica M/35 Summicron out for an extended comparison myself 😀 But for now I’m pretty happy with the Fuji.
I’ve been downloading x100s images from all over the web. For the most part, they all look great when I open them in LR 4.4. Only the examples posted here have a slight problem. Clearly mis-focused or the lens calibration is off.
I, too, would have liked to see a comparison of shots with the lenses stopped down a bit…I’m betting that the Fuji would get closer to leveling the playing field. I don’t see the point is always shooting wide open, especially street shooting and travel shooting. Give me some DOF!
I was thinking the same thing. Examples from several other sites across the internet show much better results for the x100s. I am wondering too… could the vast difference shown in this example could be because LR has yet to get RAW conversion perfected? Or maybe just something wrong with Steve’s particular camera, or focus point on these images (especially the shoes).
I am debating between a used RX1 and an x100s at the moment. I made the mistake of selling my x100 thinking I was set on the RX1 and now I’ve read some reviews that make me think about waiting for the next iteration. If the x100 –> x100s was the leap that it was in term of perfecting quirks and autofocus, I am expecting the RX1 –> RX2 will be similar. Also, when I tested the RX1 in person, I was disappointed with the AF speed. Seemed too similar to my original x100. I have a trip scheduled for Sept so I need to get something. Also, its almost been a year and still nothing as far as firmware upgrades for the Sony. Fuji seemed to realize how important the x100 was/is and updated the firmware several times.
Some great debate here. For what it’s worth (not a lot I suspect), here’s my personal take on the three cameras…
Leica – A thing of beauty, interchangeable lens when only need (or likely to carry) one. I’ll feel like a fraud.
Sony – Slightly disproportionate. Function over form, but full frame. I’ll Feel like a geek.
Fuji – Looks like my old Olympus RC35, Small, light. I feel like a street photographer.
In all honesty, I’m not good enough to judge which image is best in your test, and I’m sure that with a little expert PP all three could look as attractive as one another. I guess the same can be said for most high end cameras.
And the one I bought, and love to bits, irrespective of price? The X100s. Funny, the emotions that drive the decision to purchase…
Well, couldn’t agree more, thebadgerrogers! I have recently bought X100s, too…
I would love to see the jpegs out of the cameras on this 3 camera comparison. Apparently the Fuji X100s doesn’t require RAW to get the most from it.
Thanks for sharing.The lens of X100S might be off centered. Left side looks sharper then the right side.Reguards John Peter
Price of Cameras in Pakistan
Wow – so many responses that I could hardly read them all & hope I didn’t miss something – I loved the crazy test but I would be curious to see the same direct comparisons done a little stopped down like at 5.6 or even f8.
I am in the market and find this very interesting helpful. But since only the Fuji is financially in reach, I am desperately wanting to see it do better against the RX1 (Leica is way out in the $tratosphere). Perhaps at 5.6 or 8 it’s performance would make me feel better 🙂
A crazy question… If you sat a X-E1 with the 18/2 there… how would that combo fare in comparison?
Same color signature and tone as the X100s but a wider angle view.
Resoulution / contrast?
Have you done this comparison more in detail? I would have guessed that maybe the x100s could have been a more e optimized product as it is pre-intergrated.
I do not own a Fuji but I’m ready to purchase a camera and as I possess other stuff to do my main photography I seek a small “bring-a-long” camera. I can/plan to live with one single focal length and both 18 and 2 is OK for me.
It will not be used for action/street kind of shooting.
Thanks for the answer!
How can you explain the exposure difference in the boots:
Fuji 1/200 sec, Sony 1/2000 sec?
Easy, limited shutter speeds with the X100s at f/2 so had to use built in ND.
Så the ND introduces some more glass. A less light situation might have been an advantage to the X?
I cannot say that I agree with Steve’s assessment of these sample images. At 100%, the Leica M shows a surprising amount of color noise on the face of the house, and the RX1 sample is not sharply focused. Shame on you, Steve. On the shoes photos, the Leica shows more depth and pop, because it is more contrasty and saturated. This is purely a function of Lightroom’s default settings and has nothing to do with the cameras themselves. After taking that into consideration, the RX1 sample is significantly sharper and has a much more pleasing bokeh. Just look at the ugly ring shadows that the Leica lens produces. The X100s acquits itself rather nicely for a 16MP APS-C camera, but it is not in the same league as the other cameras. I agree that it wins the “bang for the buck” competition, but it definitely delivers less bang.
As an aside, I have been processing my RX1 raw files with Photo Ninja v1.1 beta, which supports the RX1 and is a revelation in itself. I have noted that many of the images need a contrast boost, and I wonder if that is not a function of the huge dynamic range of the sensor. In any event, it is easily accomplished, and the results are phenomenal.
Raw files are support to be flat files suitable for editing. Essentially a RAW file should not be overly saturated with color, contrast, or sharpening. A balanced RAW like I described could then easily be manipulated to look the way an editor wants.
The RX1 does a great job at this as well as the Leica M.
I think the Leica and Sony look nice in these compares. Was secretly rooting for the Fuji to be up there – but it can’t play in this league at all. Fun compare though.
those are some interesting output comparisons. The X100s tends to look flat all around and the bokeh feels a bit odd. For the absolute bang for the buck, the Rx1 seems to fall nicely in between the Leica and the X100s.
Great post Steve! So you did a three camera shoot-out which got me thinking…how did you carry the three cameras? I’m guessing by using three different straps, which gets pretty entangled right? Should I send you the MoneyMaker in three cam setup just for these shoot outs? Let me know, I’d be happy too since I’ve been glued to your site since you’ve received the M240 and also the RX1.
Well, considering that many of us are “splitting hairs” between the RX1 and the M, it’s amazing to see that we’re finally coming to see the best of what the 35mm format can offer. Although my main studio cameras are the Hasselblad H4D-40 & H4D-31 (and soon the H5D-40), I chose the RX1 for my everyday street/travel camera and am ecstatic! Although I like Leica’s, I feel that manual focussing is really not my idea of what a camera should offer in our day and age considering the advances we have with autofocus… oh well. In the end, just pick one that suits your purpose & budget and make the best of it. Most cameras today are even better than what most pros used just a few number of years ago! And remember, the old phrase: A professional worries about money, an amateur worries about sharpness, and a true photographer only worries about light! Considering that almost 90% of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photos were out of focus, I would say that the old saying is true!
I’ve thought, independently, that the X100s’s files are flat too, it’s bothered me and especially because people seem oblivious to it and are always commending the,Fuji on it’s amazing colours and output that “you don’t even need RAW” … from what i’ve seen it looks like a camera that will very nearly always require post work… very conflicting considering the hype for it’s output everywhere.
I downloaded the three show shots, printed them 16×24, pinned them side by side to a wall lit with equal daylight, stood back as one would normally, and wow they all look great!
With a known problem in LR why not use jpeg as you do in 80% of your reviews? I own both the Leica and the 100s. There is something WRONG with your shots! Take these off the web as they are very misleading. I recommended the x100s to a friend this morning and he sent .me your link, people make purchases based on “expert” opinions which is fine but if you’re going to show comparisons, apples with apples, leave out the rotation fruit.
Leica wins from my side but the Fuji is SHARP.
Actually I use RAW in 85% of my reviews 🙂
The lens of X100S might be off centered. Left side looks sharper then the right side. You may want to return this camera…
Nice job, but the best “bang for the buck” among the 3 cameras should be the RX1 based on your IQ test…and we all know that it is if fact all about IQ…now look at the price tween the Mcron and RX1. You soar Steve!
It’s obvious that it’s the Sony that comes out of this one smelling of roses. There’s a clear gap between M10/RX1 duo & the Fuji and it is amazing what the RX1 is offering for the money; I honestly can’t understand the point of view that it’s over-priced.
However, ultimately, yes, the Leica just has that extra little bit of magic dust and it is indeed the best.
But I wouldn’t feel I was missing out if I owned the RX1!
I have no intentions of getting any of these cameras so looking at the images becomes a comparison for no purpose than interest.
On the shots displayed the Leica has a better dimension to the images, the RX1 is the sharpest, colour wise happy with both. I would like to see a very large print from both to see any differences there. The item to buy I see as depending on $ and the limitations of a fixed lens. Any good RAW developer and processing software would customise these camera raw images to almost anyone’s requirements and hopefully, expectations.
The Fuji is another story. Looking at the comments there may well be an issue of Adobe not managing the files, but that does not explain the weird focusing of the boot image. Focus seems to be on the log to the left between the shoe laces and the branches some where. Everything to the right of centre is out of focus (varying from a little to quite a lot), the white shoe (100%crop) and the log end among other things. It seems that focus is behind the left centre of the image and the DOF goes from a plane starting at the back of the shoes to a point way behind them. But is does not look consistent.
There are boots on the same focus plane that have very different displayed focus. An adobe problem would not resolve that issue.
Was the log and therefore the boots/shoes moving at the time? It would account for uneven focus.
If these images were the sole criteria, which I know they are not, I would not even think of this fuji.
No, this is consistent with the adobe issue I mention above. Nothing odd going on.
Seems to me that the Fuji lens is out of whack… perhaps needs re-calibration … recently had a Elmarit 21 mm Leica lens that was originally perfect, then dropped it and gave me a similar focus problem (as I see in the Fuji shoes shot sample). I sent it to Solms for calibration and now the lens is perfect again – some elements had got misaligned upon the impact.
It will not be the first or last time that a new lens is not properly calibrated or has elements misaligned when new from the factory… ask some Leica owners who have had a new lens not perform to spec. Fuji lenses will not be exempt to these quality control oversights . A thorough testing (yes, those dreaded “not real world” wall charts, I’m afraid ) is something I always do with any new or second hand lens to see exactly what is going on with each lens I purchase… new or old, not many new lenses perform exactly to spec … Leica or no Leica… not that every lens has to be “perfect” in my opinion, but it’s always good to know what we are shooting with and how tolerable the imperfections are for each lens we use.
From the Fuji samples it looks like the lens is just not performing to spec… have the old x100 and that Fuji lens wide open is not super sharp, as say my many different Leica 35mm lenses are, but it should be nowhere near as flawed as what these tests are showing, so I suspect its a lens fault from the factory or the camera has had a bump that has misaligned the elements. I am sure that Fuji lenses are not as rugged as Leicas that can take a daily beating and still perform splendidly.
Thank you for the entertaining and informative updates on these three new cameras Steve. A tremendous effort that is much appreciated.
Warm Regards from Barcelona
PP is the problem and the lens might be defective (will tell if jpegs are good) . From other images I’ve seen, Fuji is up there even if it’s not a FF.
No PP here at all – these are all OOC. Lack of PP may be the problem.
My bad… I meant to say Raw conversion 🙂
wow, amazing comparison,
as a Fuji X-Pro1 user, it makes me start of thinking to get a Sony RX1
I am not a pro but an amateur who likes to take the best possible pics of his family and once in a while an “artistic” picture of my surroundings (and diving pictures 100 ft down with a Nex-7 and a housing, but that is another story) – I own an RX-1 and an M-E and am on the waiting list for the M Typ 240, my plan was to sell the M-E when I get my “M” (fed up with writing “Typ 240!).
But now, based on your pictures, it seems like the RX-1 is the better “M”!
Or, at the very least, the IQ and the picture character are so similar that it does not seem like it makes a lot of sense owning the RX-1 and the “M”, but it might be a better idea to change my M-E for an M Monochrom which does have a very special character and then shoot with the RX-1 and the MM.
Your thoughts to this?
Thank you for your work!
I will get The fuji !!! Im sure if You take 3 pictures with The same camera we will get The same discusión !! At The ene of The day Steve is a red dot lover !! And The 3 comerás are very close.
Correction: I am a lover of fine cameras and lenses, not a dot. If Sony, Nikon, Canon or Olympus made the M my review and thought would have been 100% the same, as long as they made M lenses like Leica, because that is mainly what it is all about.
The Fuji is clearly focused incorrectly. (Whether that is due to the operator or the camera is unknown and somewhat immaterial.) For the folks in the world where money matters, the X100s smokes all.
I love these tests. What I’d like to see is the pulse on/of Leicadom as more and more quantitative info/data/comparisons emerge. Those who speak about “pop” and “3D” and that “thing”… they’re happy and that’s fantastic.
The Sony would be seriously compelling if its cost was $700 less.
The sony would be compelling if it it had a OVF…But it doesn’t….Wait 7-months for new model to appear and then there will be a new king of the hill.
To me, relatively speaking the RX1 appears sharper and a little more blue which is recessive, the Leica a little more saturated, leaning towards orange with better bokeh, presumably better micro-contrast which make it leap out. I like the Leica image better. Would of like to have seen the OM-D and M9 in this shootout. 100s holds it own, given it’s price point.
Out of the three I’d like to tinker with the RX1 the most, to see what I could get out of it.
The fact that Steve used Lightroom’s default settings reveals more about Lightroom than it does about the lenses’ rendering characteristics. The Leica samples have more contrast and saturation, something that could be equalized in 15 seconds by moving a few sliders. A more meaningful comparison would have involved optimizing the images, rather than accepting LR’s arbitrary defaults.
What we can say about the lenses from this “crazy comparison” is that the RX1’s Zeiss is sharper and shows more detail, or least it does when paired with the nearly perfectly matched Sony sensor. Also, the Leica’s bokeh is rather unpleasant, especially in the photo of the shoes. Look carefully at the enlarged version, and you will see ring shadows in the background. No doubt it gets better when stopped down a bit, but at f2, it is what it is. It’s also worth remembering that DxO recently pronounced the Zeiss 35/2 to be the new standard for 35mm lenses. I’m presuming that they were including Leica lenses in that statement, but perhaps not. Also, DxO found the M 240’s sensor to be better than the M9’s but still not up to Sony’s FF 24MP and 36MP sensors, which means that all those stellar Leica lenses are crippled on the M 240 relative to cameras with better sensors (e.g. RX1, D800/E and others yet to come). For the most part, no one will be able to tell the difference, but since this is an exercise in hair-splitting, it deserves to be mentioned. Rest assured that I am not a Leica hater. I just call them as I see them.
Man that Leica lens rendering is just mind blowingly good. It’s the very reason I would chose the Leica over the Sony any day.
Thanks for the Comparison Steve.
The depth of the Leica is unmatched by the others. Also prefer the look of the Leica lens rendering. There is a little more micro-contrast in the Leica but a fraction more linear sharpness in the Sony.
The Fuji is harsh in it’s rendering and it’s colour is flat. I don’t like it at all.
I did not realized before that FF vs APS would turn to such a big difference in DOF. The inability of the 100s to blur the background makes it the worst by miles for the picture of shoes, and just put me off saving to buy it. Has anyone insights about which is the digital camera with the best trade-off between price and DOF (at a 35mm equivalent)?
Well remember also the Fuji has a 23mm lens for a 35mm equivalent. So a 23mm lens will give you more DOF as well. When compared to a FF sensor with a true 35mm lens, the Fuji 23mm will always have more DOF.
Positively entertaining Steve…. seriously, have a great weekend!!!
Thanks Steve and Cory for the tip. I’ve never used the Silky Pix. Do u notice a considerable difference between its raw processing and LR? Have you done a comparison? Maybe, this is something you can do or better yet Steve can do and pin it against the Leica and Sony again. This would finally put the X100s question to rest. I’ve owned the X100 and sold it due to slow Auto focus. Bought the X-Pro 1 which I still have an then the XE1. I concur with Steve that the XE1 is the best of that bunch and X Pro frustratingly slow. After FW update, i tried the XE1 with 18mm, side by side with X100s at the store and the focus speed seemed pretty close. Slight advantage possibly going to X100s. Not sure about accuracy. Any thoughts Steve?
Hi Steve. I read your reviews all of the time and have been checking back daily waiting to see the x100s and RX1 in particular. I rarely if ever make comments but read the comment section with as much interest as the article to get other points of view. However, I find you analysis most accurate in your all your reviews and this one in particular. You are spot on. The Sony wins on the house and the Leica on the boots. I so wanted the x100s to be up there, but it disappoints with the shoe shot. I love the design, feel and controls of the Fuji. Aperture ring on the lens and the shutter speed Nob on top. It really is a photographers camera. Steve, I have one question. Would you think that the results of the X100s has something to do with LR processing? LR has had issues to process good files which adobe are working on. any comment or thoughts? Do you think the image will improve significantly of the x100s once they correct this?
I will have a JPEG vs RAW (with LR 4.4) comparison in the full review. The JPEG’s are pretty nice out of the camera.
The jpegs on the fujis are SO good that raw processing, unless the shot has huge dynamic range is honestly unnecessary. If I have to shoot raw, I do the basic adjustments in Silky Pix and then shoot it over to Lightroom as a Tiff file, and it works well. Silky Pix is a less than well designed program but will give you nice raw files.
Silky Pics…..I used it one my GF1 shots all the time….it’s user interface is well build by engineers, but so are it’s sharpening routines and it’s lens fault correction routines. My OM-D came with P-Viewer 2….no comparison….so I bought (will buy) either LR 4.x or DxO and I’m verry happy with DxO…through DxO for sharpening, contrast and colour then straight to Gimp (my Epson printer has an 8 bit colourspace, like all I know, anyway so who cares)…for some retouch…..and presto…RTP….ready to print.
Cory. Have you ever done a comparison between LR and Silky Pix? It would be interesting to see how the two compare when processing. This might give us a better comparison and a truer finished image of X100s. I think it might show a better resolving image from it and give us better idea of the difference between these cameras. My bet is that the RX1 and Leica will still win, but if it narrow the gap, more people might be willing to accept the smaller difference and buy the X100s. Any thoughts?
What I really like about the Leica files is that they do not look ‘digital’ (you get what I mean). RX1 looks great too – lens seems sharp corner to corner. X100s is indeed great but the files do have strange look at times (OOF highlights in background at the shoe-shot) – there still seem to be issues with the RAW conversions.
Well Steve….Crazy Comparsion gives you Crazy comments…
10 years ago Leica was the only one at the top with their lenses.
It’s clear that, FF or not, other like Sony/Zeiss, Fuji, Voigtlander are catching up.
Don’t forget that Zeiss and others dominate the Motion Picture world and Leica doesn’t play a role there.
Differences are imho minimal and all are more than capable to support the making of a picture.
The Leica is of course NEVER OOF, because it’s YOU who did that, all the others with AF will miss for different reasons the focus sometimes …..so what
And that a raw-File is different for all of these camera’s is no miracle, it would be a miracle if they are the same. Imaging that they are all the same !!!!
And Fuji will be sure coming with a FF rangefinder…
So in a few years it’s like Audi, BMW and Mercedes, all are fantastic but different…so we can adapt with our personal identity…
So what is next? Will you test these 3 camera’s and a X2 and some more and shoor a PINK ELEPHANT…
I an’t wait for all the comments……. some will see green, some fringles of red etc…
Reminds me of a meeting I had with a Texan some years ago..He said if you (european or northern) people see a snake, you are going to discuss that, what he is eating, which climate, how many in a sqr miles ted…
We in Texas he said: We just shoot the damn snake….
So just shoot the damn picture and go on….
I wouldn’t regard this as that crazy. A vertical comparison gives you a good idea of how much you need to spend to get a ‘good enough’ solution. A worthwhile exercise.
Incidentally, I prefer the Sony’s pictures. The Leica are a touch warm for me (I say this as a Leica film camera owner).
The M easily for me All fixed lens cameras have limited use and get upgraded quickly as they are to be honest boring The fact is if you purchase a M it will last if you want for the next 10 years with lots of ability to take the boring out by using lots of lenses and what magnificent lenses the Leica brand offers. Do yourself a favour if you want a fixed camera use your Mobil phone, save and get yourself 10 years use out of a wonderful Leica.
Henri Carier Bresson used pretty much one lens on his Leica M and captured some of the most memorable images in history. Lesser photographers seem to think that more cameras and more lenses will make them better photographers.
No ones talking about lots of cameras just one the Leica, and yes with a few gorgeous Leica lenses you will become a better photographer especially if you learn how to use them.
Would be nice to see a Leica X2 in the comparison.
Blind tests are the only fair barometer of comparisons like these. I think everyone would be startled at how wrong we would be in judging these images. I put them in my photo files and then had my son mix up the order and I could not tell the difference even at 100%.
Well they are all good but overall considering the prices the Leica seems a poor choice as so much more expensive for little if any advantage over the others especially the Sony. Mind the DP1/2 Merrill would shame all three of them 🙂
i like your “cracy-comparisons” and i tend to prefer the leica pics slightly more, but the rx1 looks so different, that both cameras complement each other very well. I am curious how the Om-d would have compared to the others. With the panaleica 25 1,4 it shouldn´t perform much worse, i guess.
I heared that next year Sony (and maybe Samsung too) will release a FF Nex camera. So, we are living in interesting times 😉
Thanks 🙂 BTW, the sony will not be a NEX FF IMO because NEX lenses are not FF and would be awful on a FF sensor camera. If they do a FF model it will be an all new mount (as per Sony to me when they brought me the NEX-7 to review) which means it will not be a part of the NEX system, which is APS-C bodies and lenses. But, whatever they come out with, if you can mount Leica glass on it and have it be problem free with the glass AND if they remove the AA filter it will be an incredible camera tough to beat.
A test of OOC JPEGS would eliminate the issue of how Lightroom handles the X-trans Fuji files, and I, for one, usually only shoot In Jpeg, so would be very interested in seeing this comparison. I realize that most of your viewers probably shoot exclusively in RAW, but some of us are quite happy with the Fuji Jpegs. If you happened to have shot your comparison above in Jpeg + Raw, you may already have the necessary Jpeg files to show such a comparison, if not, shots with flesh tones would be much appreciated. Thanks for your consideration and for your great site!
This was a great test and image-wise the leica wins by producing the most beautiful images,…sharpest,clearest,value for money?,couldn’t care less.Try to feel the effect that the image has on you,the leica wins hands down.
Should also try to remember the probable cost of a rangefinder mechanism,I’d say at least 3000€,that evens up the prices a bit.
For the price tag I would buy the x100s and the merrill dp2. The combo is still below the single sony but one could use the first for street photography when the sharpness is not an issue and the second for mission critical work where MF quality is wished. Small as they are it would be not a problem to carry both and have to cameras is better then one….35 and 45 mm…
Very interesting comparison. Unlike many here, I don’t think there’s a clear winner (between M and RX1).
I found the shoes image most helpful, not the crops but the entire image. The X100s lags a bit in all respects understandably, but not a lot.
The M seems to render a bit “punchier” than the RX1 (that would be the “flat” comment), and has a very very slight advantage in 3D rendering. That would be the lens, which then appears to be a little less sharp than the Zeiss. Not a big problem I think.
So the RX1, if one wouldn’t mind the fixed lens and the lack of a viewfinder, is amazing, though idiotically expensive. The RX2, sure to follow before the end of the year, will be very interesting. Sony is catching up fast.
Michiel says, “So the RX1, …is amazing, though idiotically expensive”
If the Sony is ‘…idiotically expensive’ how do you describe the cost of the Leica?
Great post thanks for this review, being on a budget I chose the X100s and purchased it yesterday, cant wait to use it.
Any chance of a similar test comparing OOC JPGS? Thanks
At full aperture the sony is the clear winner in terms of sharpness and detail. At f/4, the house shot, the leica is cleray sharper in the center and surprisingly in the right part of the image, but in the left part the sony is sharper. This is somewhat strange and indicates that the at full aperture the sony/zeiss lens is superior, while the leica sensor has a small advantage in sharpness, not so surpring since the AA is missing.
Thanks Steve you’ve saved me from dropping coin on the x100s. Xtrans raw conversion is obviously not ready for prime time. Too bad because I love everything about the Fuji otherwise. The boots look like paint by numbers. Not even good paint by numbers.
I did read somewhere that Lightroom 4.4rc works better for Xe1 and Xpro1 though I have no way of comparing those. Can anyone confirm the watercolor issue is confined to just the brand new x100s?
Thanks Steve for another very informative M article. I like what the Cron is doing here, the draw, colour and character is impressive. Is it me or is the M handling noise better. Considering the other two cameras are optimised around their single system lens I feel that leica is doing very well here. Sony and Fuji have also done extremely well with their offerings, photographers will be happy with which ever system they plump for. I’ll be hanging onto my X100 till it breaks the quality of the files still surprises and delights me.
regarding the crops of the white shoe:
the leica shot shows severe colour fringing-green and purple-both other not. In addition one can see the circles of the open lens only in the leica shot. Whatever the reason may be- I think the Leica bokeh looks terrible due to colour fringing. This is a matter of the sensor.
Steve, man, aren’t you tired of all this? It can’t be good for your health.
Tired of what? This is what I do every day..it is my job and I love it. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Being spoilt with Leica (and CV and ZM) lenses, I am a tiny bit disappointed by the X100s lens at full aperture. The extended depth of field of APS-C is also very apparent (more than I thought would be the case).
I wonder how an X2 would have fared against the X100s.
Sorry – should have mentioned that I set the white balance of the M and RX1 shoe shot using the dropper on the white(ish) shoe on the top right to get a bit of consistency.
Very interesting- thanks Steve. I just downloaded the house shot and shoes shot and played with them in Lightroom using the cool side-by-side comparison function.
In the shoes shot, the most obvious difference I see is the bokeh in the M shot v the RX1. The RX1 is very smooth whilst where the sky shows through the branches the M has lots of little balls or globules of light. In the bottom right corner the M bokeh looks quite jittery versus the smoothness of the RX1.
The RX1 is obviously sharper too in the shoes shot, but the M probably just edges it in the house shot in the centre but not at the corners.
However, at normal size viewing, the M has more contrast, a bit more colour, and a slight vignette which makes the M pic look more pleasing to my eye. I’ve used the side-by-side to create a Lightroom preset for my RX1 which tweaks contrast, saturation & vignette to as near as dammit match the Leica. That’s made the comparison really useful so thanks!
So, the RX1 wins it for me until I want a 50mm or 75mm at which point the M is clearly more flexible. Now if Sony released 50mm and 75mm RX1s then I’d be overjoyed with a 2 or 3 body setup which would still be cheaper than the M and 35.
I think in a blind test with say 1000 people voting the results would be all over the place in the first photos of the house. The close ups would be easier to pick as the bokeh would be evidence of the cropped sensor. The Fuji is easily the equal of the other two in the shots of the house.
Interesting to read how everyone – myself included – sees what he wants to see. Steve, how about publishing a blind test, i.e. resizing all images to the same format, erasing all EXIF data and let people vote which one they like best? Could be fun and a real eye opener.
I may be able to do this with a portrait today..if so will post!
I think if anyone looks at this test first they will easily be able to tell which camera is which by bokeh and sharpness. A blind test of the first shot would be really interesting since they all look so similar in that instance.
Can’t the white balance of the RX1 be set just a touch warmer to give almost identical results? It’s possible that the preconfigured AWB from Sony prefers a cooler look. Also, the bokeh on the M and RX1 crush the Fuji, and give the images a whole different feel. Great comparison!
Yes, RX1 white balance can be adjusted and I’ve made a slight adjustment in my RX1 white balance to good effect. It is currently my favorite camera and is always in my coat pocket.
my vote (if it has something) definitely goes to sony rx1.
especially for what you see in detail sneaker …
Sony is expected to adopt the same philosophy of sigma compact, rx1 a 35mm, a 50mm rx2, RX3 85mm, 24mm rx4, of course all zeiss.
ah steve, since you’re in relationship with sony, ask them to make a 85mm for nex …
(sorry for my english …. but is the fault of google …)
Lol, no camera company would listen to me 🙂
If they did, then they won’t be able to sell the cameras to the mass. No more “next big thing” for a very long time.
Did you also shoot jpegs for this side-by-side comparison? It may be an interesting comparison, in addition to what you’ve already done. Since there is still a potential issue with LR not being able to process X100s RAW files properly, it would remove LR raw processing from the equation. Maybe the X100s would score a little higher.
I am also interested to see that kind of a comparison.
Hmm, I can’t help but think that the focus point in the boot picture is off in the Fuji pic. The brown leather boot is soft, but the boot behind is tack sharp, whereas in the others it is not. So obviously that is a bit of an issue, even though it’s a crazy comparison. Clearly the Leica gives the most punch to the pictures though.
The Fuji was focused on the same exact point unless the camera did not listen. I use center point only and choose my focus point. Same exact one was chosen.
was there any wind blowing? I’ll say again I see some motion blur, perhaps some of the shoes were moving?
I see no motion blur…I see the soft edges of the Fuji lens when wide open, same as it was with the X100. You can see this by looking at the log, which would not be blown by wind.
the focus in the X100s shoe shot is definitely not on the same spot than in the other pictures. Look at the wood at the right end and compare it to the other pictures, it´s completely out of focus. If the X100s would be that bad, I would bring it back to my dealer immediately 😉 It´s not the softness of the lens, it´s just out of focus!
Well, I can tell you that the focus box (I use center point only) was on the same exact spot. The sharpest part of that photo is where I focused. The wood is out of focus due to the lens softness at f/2 near the edges but it is not due to focus. I was using a 35mm APS-C from a distance with plenty of DOF anyway.
I agree that it doesn’t look like motion blur BUT I can understand why people really believe something else is going on with the Fuji image ( I don’t own one ). The degradation in quality seems out of reasonable extrapolation. Could it be a corrupted file? Also, with my calibrated monitor (ColorMunki) all the images look darker and flatter than I’d expect. As you know this has been a bugaboo of mine when reading IQ complaints on forums…
The X-Trans sensor does indeed render images in a duller flatter way out of camera, I have been saying this since the X-Pro 1 but I get bashed for it. I see it as I try EVERYTHING and when you put them side by side you can see it. My X100s review is coming Monday.
My thought exactly….I also saw some motion blur in the Fuji shot. If that was lens softness it would have affected the shoes left of center as well or the lens is decentered (but then that would show up in the house picture as well). Now using Occams razor……and not knowing the relative shutter times it could have been two things…
1) Lousy focussing….and since Steve didn’t do manual focus and Fuji has build up a nice track record in lousy focussing, it could have been a case of compromise focus…therefor the focuspoint could lie in background, thus rendering the New Balance sneakers out of focus that are in the foreground.
2) Wind influence even at 1/60 of second a sudden gust of wind can throw things out of focus….(had the same experience on a shot I took of a roadsign and some bushes)….used IBIS but the damned bushes didn’t so a little gust of wind and bam focus or better sharpness gone and shot of course ruïned.
P.S. I use Nikon AIs glass for critical DOF focus situations on my OM-D….not because of the quality but because they have a DOF chart and a 40 meter measuring tape is actually part of my photographic kit for those shots (maybe I’ll replace it by a laser distance finder sometimes).
The Leica M is definitely the best in my opinion. The Sony is second. My wallet says the Fuji.
Thanks, Steve, for your continued efforts. As a RX1 and RX100 (backup) owner, I love the RX1 images. I would like to see the same comparison, but with a similar quality lens on the M as on the RX1.
That is exactly what was done. The 35mm f/2 Summicron is a $3200 lens that is legendary in the Leica world. On the M9 it was clinically sharp but on the M it is not as sharp but still has the lens character that it always had. But this is about as fair as you can get.
RX1 to my eye looks like it beats the M now if it only had interchangeable lenses.
Personally I think the M9 would do a better job.
Man, the fuji rendering is terrible, it’s like oil painting.. The other two cameras are just in totaly different league
The thing that makes it tough for me to compare is the exposure. The Leica always seem to expose about a half stop darker (not just with these test shots, but others I’ve seen too).
Best I can tell, they all look good, with the Leica and RX1 winning in different areas (sharpness, shadow detail, bokeh and character) and coming out even in the end.
As usual, opinions are like….well, you know! Me, I personally like the almost film look to the M that I saw in the house photo and I am nowhere near a Leica fan. After reviewing Elliott Erwitt’s website this morning, I am almost ready to cancel my pre-order for the Fuji X100S (my first new OR used camera in 10 years!) and go back to film, probably with rangefinders. After playing with my dad’s Yashica Electro35 GS for the last few years and, as I have gotten to the age no one will hire me for anything, it might be time to do what I heard Erwitt say in an interview I saw today – “Do it for fun.” Maybe an M3 or 4, Nikon S3, don’t know but it might be fun to figure out!!!
so, I’d sum it up like this:
best FF mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses – Leica M 240
best walkaround camera with fixed lens if money isn’t a problem – RX1
best walkaround camera where money is problem – X100S
I would like to see what will happen next year with all these rumours of FF mirrorless cameras coming from Sony, Samsung (hmm) and possibly Fuji (highly doubt that).
Leica is closer to what ‘look’ I like and RX1 seems a bit lifeless – personal preferences though and only Steve knows which rendering is closest to reality.
Based on the comments regarding RAW support of X100S files and LR4.4 it’s hard to tell what the sensor can really do and as far as I know, for some reason C1 doesn’t recognize X100S files, so we have the same situation again – we don’t know 🙂
I think the reason the leica seem to have more bokeh and dept in the second pic, is because the bokeh in the RX1 is just butter smooth and the lense is crazy sharp edge too edge even at f2.
RX1 has the sharpest lens and by far the best bokeh without any disturbing rings or things like that. also sharpness is better. Color looks a bit more saturated on the M, but those differences can easily be fixed in PP. For the price the RX1 is the clear winner if you want to stay with 35mm.
To be fair, the lens in the RX1 is a cutting edge, recent design. The Leica 35/2 ASPH is an old design, originally introduced 7 or 8 years ago.
Your argument is moot, because the Leica lens is still more expensive than the RX1.
Personally I don’t like bokeh…..at all, therefore the X100s wins handsdown….but maybe I’m a bit conservative or to modern I don’t know, but I don’t like bokeh. But having said that neither did Adams (F64 remember), neither does Gursky, neither does Struth, neither does Höfer and neither did Becher (the both of them) and all of them use 8×10’s (except Gursky who uses a 5×7), so they have ample oppertunity…..
I’d really like to see how an in-camera raw conversion from the Fuji compares to the Leica and RX1 – I’ve never been able to get as good results in either Aperture or Lightroom from my X100 raw files as I can get from using the camera’s built-in raw processor. I dunno what it does, but somehow it generates images with much more… “richness”? Hard to describe really (in fact if I knew what it was doing I might be able to better replicate it in LR/Aperture).
To my eye the Leica wins. It has an appeal to it, that the other two don’t have. Maybe in the shoe shot the Sony is sharper, but the Leica just pops out.
On the otherhand the Fuji is the winner from a price standpoint (by a long mile). If only the RAW conversion can be fixed. The “water color” effect is is very evident in both images, such a pity.
Thanks for your efforts Steve. This was to me the least craziest of your “crazy comparisons”. It made sense to test these three, adding the M9/ME would have been nice too.
At f/2 is where the class starts. The Summicron 35mm ASPH is a masterpiece and the best Leica thing I own, when I first saw your images with Lux and Summarit I was not sure but now with Cron I am a convert to the M, it is in my opinion the M easily wins for pure class. Thanks for doing the comparison.
I have owned many 35/2ASPH lenses and they are all poor performers wide open across the frame. The corners are very soft and field curvature is a major problem. This is well known. Bokeh is also jittery and distracting. The 35mm lens on the RX1 is the best f2 lens made for a full frame camera. It easily surpasses the Leica by every measure.
You have to be joking Seriously do you work for Zeiss
As a Summicorn 35 asph owner for many years, and a Summilux 35 asph and RX1 owner I can only confirm Ozkar`s observation. Although I never used the ZM 35 f2.0 which some say beats the 35 asph handily.
Did you take into his account with your observation that he owned many 35mmCron ASPH Ok so he purchased one and decided that is was poor So he then purchased a second and decided that it was poor so he purchased more and decided that they were poor all ASPH, Please. The Leica M is a class act as is the 35mm Cron.
So if you have a M or M9 with a 28-50-90 combo and you want also a 35….
Put a X100 on the side, a bargain , light and a backup for camera fail and 50% of the cron
on the first shot , the M winner from far
Do you think we will see an RX-1 with an EVF finder this year. Given that the RX-1 certainly had a price premium, can you imagine an RX-1 with finder for $1995? Talk about a camera that would walk off the shelves….
Maybe flying off the shelf with that price, with no lens. Ha ha ha.
I wonder how the Olympus OM-D with the 17mm 1.8 would fare in this august company? I’d love to see that comparison since that combo only costs a few hundred dollars more than the X100s and is far more versatile!
Even more DOF and less Bokeh due to the lens being 17mm but I am sure it would still put out a pleasing image.
On the second shot I prefer the Bokeh of the RX1
Wow! These are such great shots for this kind of comparison. The Fuji looks OK, but I hope they finally get its RAW conversion issues figured out. Otherwise the X-trans sensor is a cool idea that doesn’t work in practice. Still, that doesn’t account for the flat dullness of the colors in the shoe picture.
The Leica is lovely and appealing, especially on the shoes, but it seems a somewhat manufactured charm, just warmed up colors and a bit of vignetting et voila, a lovely picture! As long as you don’t look too hard at the horrid bokeh in the background. Luckily that is distracting only if you blow it way up, but then it is truly ugly.
The Sony has less charm, but is so consistently perfect. I can always warm up the colors and add some vignetting myself if that’s what I want, but I can’t add in sharpness out to the corners. Such beautiful weeds they are. I can’t wait to see what Sony comes up with next.
Wow! Three great cameras.
I do not own any of these cameras and I do not plan on buying any of them.
If I had to pick one based on these images I would choose the RX-1. The bokeh is more pleasing to me and it is a little sharper. That is nitpicking though. However, I don’t think I would ever buy a fixed focal length camera.
Well… to my eyes, RX-1 detail/grain looks like a photo when I over used Clarity and Sharpness in LR… Don’t get me wrong I like both Leica M and RX-1 but I can only choose one….and It’s going to be Leica M.
I can`believe that some still want to see the Leica as the winner in this interesting “crazy comparison”. C`mon guys let`s face the reality. The RX1 output directly from the camera beats the M240 Cron combo. I am far from being a Leica basher as a M9, MP, X1 and Leica glass user, but it`s an undeniable fact that competition caught up big big time and surpassed Leica in a number of areas. Leica`s excessive price premium is for product positioning and branding strategy and no longer for technical superiority. Leica has become a desired lusted after emontional consumer product, getting away with doubling prices of uglitized Japanese makes of EVF or point and shoots. Kudos to Solms` marketing skills.
If you like sharpness, the RX1 wins. It is clearly sharper with it’s Zeiss than the 35 Cron. Let us not forget the M is an IC camera though and can use many types of lenses. All this showed was the RX1 Zeiss lens is sharper than the 35 Cron lens, which I expected as the RX1 lens is superb. If you look at the shoe side by side (not 100% but sized down) even if you resize them to 800 pixels wide you can see the Leica character, which looks so much nicer than the RX1 or X100s image, much more pleasing to the eye. If you printed the house image as shown (which I would never do) at even 20X30 a difference in sharpness would not be seen between the two. This says alot for the Sony though because it is much less than the Leica, and why I stated in my review it was well worth the money 🙂
Even so, in this test the Fuji loses overall for me (but it does not lose as a superb camera) and IMO the RX1 wins the house and Leica the shoes as it exhibits the 3 dimensional feel and color over the other two which appear dull in comparison. Like I said, look at them resized for web side by side as it is much easier to see this way. Looking on the site is tough as the quality drops on them when looking at the page (like the do on facebook).
But everyone will have their faves. Some prefer the X100s. Leica pricing is insane but to date it is the only digital RF, the only FF camera you can use their lenses on and the only FF digital IC mirror less available. That doesn’t warrant the cost but the user experience, build, name and lenses add to the satisfaction of it all.
This does show that the RX1 means business though 🙂
An astonishing result when you consider the RX1 sells for 10% less than the cost of a 35 Summicron ASPH lens on it’s own!
Don’t forget that being a fixed lens camera, the RX1’s sensor has been optimized for its Zeiss lens. This is a combination almost impossible to beat. Sony really went all-out for image quality with the RX1, Zeiss engineers optimizing the lens and coupling it with one of the best sensor available at this time. Of course – NO INTERCHANGEABLE lenses. Leica could not optimize the sensor/lens combo specifically for the 35mm Cron because of the M’s multi-lens nature. All in all, the Leica is quite impressive. I bought the RX1 and am extremely happy but admit that I DO miss a 50mmm sometimes. SIGH!
In my opinion, the RX1 photos look the best. The very few instances where the M240 performed better is nowhere near worth the difference and premium you pay for the brand name. I am not viewing on the newest and best monitor (I have a 27″ Apple display), but too me, I would really find it difficult to justify the price. I have owned film Leica cameras before and dreamed of a M9, but it sure is difficult to justify the price when you have the RX1. The real fun will start when Sony comes out with lens interchangeable RX2.
Distortion: The RX1’s lens shows noticeable barrel distortion – at 1.9%, it’s a bit more pronounced than you’d get from a highly-corrected SLR lens. The pattern is complex, meaning you’ll ideally need to use software that’s profiled for the RX1 to fix it completely. a negative point (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-cybershot-dsc-rx1/11)
Steve you are talking about detail fuji x100s but you have to take in consideration this :The Fujifilm FinePix X100S produces images of outstanding quality. It recorded noise-free JPEG images at ISO 100 all the way up to 3200, with a little noise at ISO 6400 and more visible noise and slight colour desaturation at the fastest settings of ISO 12800 and 25600, an amazing performance for a camera with an APS-C SENSORAA. The RAW files were also excellent, with usable images throughout the entire range of ISO 200-6400.(http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/fujifilm_x100s_review/image_quality/)
But talking about sharpening right :
The out-of-the camera images are a little soft and ideally benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level.
The Fujifilm Finepix X100S has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option.
The normal quality is great but just change to the FINE quality and the results are amazing.:)
What you see here are direct from RAW images – no PP, nothing. This is what you get from RAW. As for the RX1, the distortion is corrected in camera if shooting JPEG and in LR you have to use the profile for the camera to fix the distortion. It is there but you would never know it as long as you have it on in camera. The X100s..I have been shooting it daily in addition to my M and RX1. The X100s takes fine images but they are not up there with the other two cameras and I do not expect it to be. But it can get close at times and that is a pretty incredible thing. The lens on the X100s is no match for the one on the RX1 when it comes to sharpness, bokeh, etc. The X100s focuses fast in good light and is still slow in low and misses often (indoor setting, outside at night, etc). The Fuji has improved dramatically in most areas over the 100 and is well worth the $1299. There is noise at 1250, 1600, 3200 and 6400 but I never ever use NR as it messes with details. The X100s is a class leader in the mirrorless fixed lens APS-C market. It can create gorgeous results and does but when you side by side it with the big guns it can fall a little flat in comparison. Still, well worth the cost.
thanks for the great comparison, but I have to disagree on one point. I had similar experience with X100 before LR provided decent RAW support. After LR upgrade my X100 RAW files looked amazingly better. I suspect that X100s images will result way better when RAW will be fully and properly supported. Please try to update this post in the future, because I suspect that result will be a closer match.
Anyway, keep up the good work mate 🙂
It is there but you would never know it as long as you have it on in camera? come on Steve the guy gave you an opinion and I agree with him the photos with the fine sharpening are amazing Lr for the raw files of x100s? mmmmmmm MAYBE THE LR 4.5 🙂
It is there but you would never know it as long as you have it on in camera ? what does it mean ? that i don´t know how to use a camera?
I found a photog who used the X100s to shoot a wedding. Check it out. Now if they fix the X-Pro 1 in the same manner, I might just switch my gear from Canon to Fuji.
Wow. Nice wedding photography. Better yet, different too!
I love the color from the M on the shoes picture. It can produce such a loving and vivid color in preset AWB but other than that I love the RX1 results.
Great comparison Steve, thanks for that! But you make us “real life photography website visitors” pixel peepers again; well a little bit at least. Keep in mind that we all have enjoyed pictures from much less capable cameras for so many years. And how much better then this do we get it? Can I challenge you to put a few more real life pictures from those 3 camera’s without the crops? I have an x100 and it still beats me now and then with out of focus (mostly it focus on the background) pictures, where the om-d is more spot on. The x100s is in stock in several shops here in Bangkok and I had it in my hands yesterday. Haven’t seen the Sony here yet and maybe I should make the step to the m system. Life is not easy ;).
Photography just like painting can be subjective all boils down to personal preference between the M and RX1. Personally I like the Bokeh of the RX1 in the shoe shot, creamy, the x100 is crazy busy and even tho the M has nice circles it’s still kinda busy, harsh looking. The shoes hanging are the M’s best shot, but it’s not a surprise as the earthy tones and greens come alive, but thats always been Leicas signature look, great for landscapes. With that said It also makes the work boot a little overkilled with the greens too strong. The RX1 looks better in all the other shots minus the hanging boots. Just my two cents 😉
At this point pretty much any mid priced digital camera can produce prints that are more than sufficient for professional applications. The difference now is in the handling and user interface. The best cameras encourage the photographer to do more and better work. The rest are just appliances.
Love the comparisons…love the site…just wish a comparison would also include a couple of shots in med and low light since you wont always encounter good light. I truly believe above $500 almost all cameras today take great photo’s in the hands of a skilled photographer. I think the separation with cameras is what sensors can achieve in low light. Thanks Steve for a running a great site….
Yes, those low light shots would really be interesting.
The Rx1 kind of wins this running away. The Leica 35 is soft in the corners with very distracting bokeh. Maybe with the newer 35/1.4 it would be different. But right now no way the Leica competes with the Rx1 in this comparison.
I’m a Leica nut just as much as the next guy but I can’t just lie to myself looking at this comparison.
Thanks for the crazy comparisons Steve. They’re always fun to read.
I have a skeptic’s suggestion to anyone considering buying one of these cameras. Buy the X100s and use the saved $1500 or $8500 to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to see but couldn’t afford. Bring back some gorgeous images.
The comments being posted here are, in my skeptical view, just concerns about things that will not ever matter in the final print. I believe this because I just completed a project photographing garden landscapes with the Fuji X-Pro1 and a $40 Hexanon AR 28mm lens. The 13 x 19-inch prints are GORGEOUS! I think the X100s files will be at least as good as mine and I can’t see how there could be much more detail, sharpness, or color fidelity worth paying for. 🙂
Now where did you ever find a $40 28mm hexanon? The advent of m43 and NEX has made any quality lens of 28mm and lower worth more than its original price and about the same a new one (or its modern equivalent if no longer available).
Leica a big winner, hard to explain in words but i would say it has the “x-factor”. However, 35mm’s bokeh is quite busy compare to RX1.
I got the new x100s. F2 is not soft when you’re not shooting very up close. However, lowlight AF is not impressive. Even worse with silent mode without AF assist light.
Nice comparison Steve. But ooh, how I would like to see the sigma dp2 merrill in this test… 🙂
It would be the sharpest for sure but…the most frustrating to use of all of them for normal every day photography 🙂
In good to decent light, the Sigma`s AF is as fast and accurate as the Sony`s and except the file write time, it`s far from being frustrating. I have the DP2M, DP3M and the RX1. Of course, the Sony is the best allrounder of the three, but if I could have only one camera, it would be the Sigma DP2M. It provides MF output from a tiny unassuming black box, simply amazing. All three cameras mentioned above smoke my M9 in sheer IQ.
With all due respect, Steve. That is simply wrong. You base your experience on the first firmware and a defect unit. The firmware has improved and I know for sure that the camera works well and I can easily take photos of my small kids.
At any rate the Sigma DP’s AF beats Leica’s AF 😉 😛
I’m getting a bit sick of the argument that a camera needs to be good at high ISO to be a good camera. What about all the poor normal ISO images these cameras make? I would expect more from a Leica enthusiast as Leica has neither the best sensor nor the best high ISO sensor, but RF + lenses makes up for that. Assuming one won the lottery to afford the thing in the first place….
Which MF camera excels at high ISO?
I canMF a Leica far faster than I can AF a Sigma DP Merrill. I tried 🙂 The Sigma is very very limited. Gorgeous output but slow as molasses AF, no EVF option so you must use the LCD and no ISO above 400 if you want good output. It can put out a sharp image, but colors are also much different and on the cool side. It is a fantastic camera if you want still life or landscape, no question. Beats the big guys if detail is your thing. But it can not in any way compete with a camera that is easy and fun to use. I have tried them all, if it were usable for me I would have kept one. It was not. It is not a bad camera, it is just designed to be used in a certain way and it is not that fun to use FOR ME. For you, sounds like it. We are all different and what I like you may not and what you like I may not. I just write about my experiences as I use them all. Thanks!
Steve, you reviewed the camera before any firmware updates right? It is on the 4th firmware version at this point and it is no longer slow as mollases in the AF dept. It is however, about as fast (slow) as a regular X100. Not the best, but certainly not the worst.
Well maybe I will give it another try. I did love the IQ but it was limited for my uses. Still, I can see where it could come in handy a few times a year for things I shoot.
Put a manual focus Zeiss lens (take the 135 APO, vide Lloyd Chambers) on a D800E, you’ll find out.
1st Leica – better detail
1st Sony – how a AA filter is sharper, I don’t know, but it clearly is.
The raw color out of camera for the Leica has issues as Sean Reid already found.
This was even noticeable on the Camera Store review, where the image had an orange glow.
So Leica wins with one 1st and one 2nd.
We need more comparisons!!!!!
How is the Leica better in the house shot? Are you saying soft corners is better than sharp corners?
I’m just going to vote for my personal preference,
1st image – RX1
2nd image – Leica
3rd image – RX1
And yes I know there are really only 2 images, but I’m just going on what is displayed, and also not on how much they cost.
and Steve just added another 3 images to make my comment look crazy, how do you edit here, hmmm I don’t think you can.
I just added crops from the shoes not a new image. 🙂 I know what you mean.
The shoe shot shows the superiority of the summicron. The RX1 is obviously a fantastic camera and the Fuji is a no brainer for the price. Lenses aside, both full frame cameras show just a slightly different flavor. the real trick is how supple the files are under processing. I think the M will win this….More to come. thanks Steve!
Excellent job of comparing the value for Fuji ‘price is unbeatable for what my eyes see even grain and noise level X 100 s seems to me better than Leica … downloading images of shoes exif data tell me that Leica had the aperture set to f. 2.8 and Fuji and ‘really f. 2. and perhaps’ my Mac inspector does not work well;).
Greetings to all and good light!
Thanks and the Leica was at f/2 – the Leica does not record EXIF to the camera as there is no way to do that. What you see in that data is an “estimate” – but it was 100% at f/2. All were.
Thanks Steve I did not know this information that Leica does not record the actual data, then visiting your wonderful site as well as see some great photos I have the chance ‘to discover something new and instructive.
Steve & others,
I’ve put a zoom crop over on Flickr of the three on the boot shot. The x100s you can read the trainerctextcauite clearly, nowhere near as much bokeh but for close resolution it looks very impressive.
Link here http://flic.kr/p/e4ZUBT
I would suggest you remove that because you chose a crop of an area that is not even in focus with the Leica or RX1. You can clearly see where the focus point is on them (brown boot in the middle of the shoes) – so your crops mislead. You also added some sort of artifacts to the crops in the M and RX1 shots. Again, they are misleading.
I’m confused, did you deliberately misrepresent the M/RX1 in your “zoom crop” by pixelating the resolution? Or perhaps it was simply an honest mistake?
As excellent a camera as the X100s is, your image has already had 92 views and unfortunately it’s misleading people who may be none the wiser.
Yes, he seems to have done so and should remove it. I already asked him to and it appears he is not. I can contact Flickr to have them removed as they are my images.
I will remove. I am in uk so was asleep. Sorry if I misled. Not intended to disrupt things.
Nothing like the images I get in either LR 4.4 or C1 7.1. The RX1 is sharpest followed closely by the M and then after some additional PP in C1 the X100s.
Thoughts… A Sigma DP1 Merrill should have been included.
Otherwise, not much difference between the three.
Would be utterly unfair, as everything looks inferior when compared to the USD 800`s black box output 😉
I know 🙂
I know it’s too late, but I’d really be curious if you tossed an M9 in the mix, though I am suspcious that your M9 is long sold….At some point, I’d love to see an M9/M/RX1 head to head to head 😉
I only had the ME for 3 days or so and did the one comparison of the hydrant in the review. But even more than ever, I do not miss my M9 🙂
First image of the x100s looks very digitally artificial with artificial edges and water color look.
rx1 and leica looks much more natural.
Leica. Woah bg blur is way bigger than the rx1. The bokeh looks very nervous though. Very nervous.
I see what you mean by the Leica shoe shot looks “real” as compared to the Fuji – this is especially apparent right above the laces when you look at the background. The Leica seems to blur naturally while the Fuji is more pixelish (if that’s a word). However, I’m confused a bit when you said this: “When it comes to PP, the M and RX1 files hold up extremely well, better than the X100s files.” Could you clarify what you mean in regards to the X100s? Thanks!
I’m one that has the X100s on order with Adorama. I was sold on the X100 and can’t wait to try the upgrade! This review only makes me salivate even more. 🙂
Noticed that on raw files Fuji was pretty soft when zoomed in to the brown shoe on the image compared to others, guess the AF was on some other point. I do like the bokeh on the M though when zoomed in.
It is a kind of crazy comparison in that you are comparing basically fixed lens point and shoot cameras to a system of interchangeable lenses. A true comparison would be to the Leica X2 as that is in the same market.
AF was on the same point for all cameras, the brown shoe.
How do you explain the softness then?
It’s the watercolour effect referred to above. You can only see it at 100%. It looks like a slightly soft shot, but you can see it isn’t when you zoom out.
Looks like missed focus to me too – easy to do when a camera is new and you’re not so used to any foibles.
Well thats odd as I have shot maybe 800 images with the X100s, had two OOF due to the OVF and shooting to close. It is not rocket scienceto point the center focus point on the subject and focus, wait for confirm and fire the shot. No foibles just some haters who see this as a slight to the X100s when in reality it is showing an APS-C X-Trans (that has a “flat” character) to two of the best FF sensors around (not THE best but up there). The X100s held its own but it does not in any way, nor can it or will it beat the sensors and lenses on the M and RX1.
There is actually an issue with the LR 4.4 support for the X100S RAW files – its a bug, I think because of the shift to 14 bit RAWs, that doesn’t affect X-Pro1 and X-E1 files, at 100% the X100S files look blurred
Yes, I have read the same through multiple sources. Lightroom is apparently rendering the images with a watercolor effect when viewed at 100%. I have also read that the in-camera NR needs to be turned down to a -1 or -2 due to the same watercolor effect.
I hope you both are right. If it’s a bug with 14bit raws, then it seems it would affect all images. Why did the house image hold up so much better than the shoe image for the X100S images? Seems it would have affected both images equally if it was a bug in LR 14bit raw processing.
Clarification/Correction: I hope you both are right. If it’s a bug with LR 4.4 being able to read X100S 14 bit RAW files, then it seems it would affect all X100S raw images. Why did the house image hold up so much better than the shoe image for the X100S images? Seems it would have affected both images equally if it was a bug in LR.
In my opinion the house image is as bad (watercolor-wise) as the rest. Look at the leaves and the brush compared to the RX1 and M. The first image I peeped was the x100s house image and immediately noticed the smeary details.
Reason is that it will affect higher contrast scenes more. They always have less latitude to process for some reason.
Please note, this only affects the X100S RAWs, not the RAW files from the X-Pro1 and X-E1 (it seems to have been caused by the move to 14 bit RAWs). To be fair, LR 4.4 is a release candidate, so I can’t get too upset…
It isn’t true at all that there is any issue with X100S jpegs. The watercolour in LR raw isn’t related to noise reduction at all, its all about detail sharpening. The jpegs are really great and very sharp.
Should also clarify, you can remove most of the blur by reducing the “detail” slider to zero. So if Steve’s presets include some detail enhancement, that will exaggerate the effect.
No reason to worry about the camera, but some will seize on it as they always do…
Huge thank you Steve for running this.
The last review (bicycle shot 100% crops) had me Q the RX1 resolution. This sets my mind at ease. I love my RX1 and fully appreciate that saving for an M and a few of those lenses is still on the cards. For now it is contented RX1 shots and a raft of x100s recommendations to anyone that baulks AG the RX1 price 😉
Again huge thanks!
Thanks for the comparison Steve.
I’m so amazed by the RX1 and the details you can see in the pictures… I wish Sony didn’t sell it this ridiculously overpriced here in France.
Oui, et c’est vraiment dommage. Nous devons attendre que les prix baissent…
Post another three images, but this time DO NOT include the details of which camera produced which image. Let us see who can pick out the 10G camera vs. “the other” camera’s.
I think this is a good idea!
great test steve. goes to show you do not need to spend a fortune for great I Q
No question to me: I prefer the Leica shoe shot. Colour, contrast, rendering, bokeh. But that could be the qualities of the lens as much as the sensor. Perhaps the Sony is a tiny bit overexposed (1/3 stop) compared to the Leica and that accounts for the slightly washed out look, particularly in the sky compared to the other two? The Sony wins marginally on sharpness in the shoe shot, but seems less sharp in the centre on the house shot. Really, they’re both fine cameras.
I’m sure the X100s is a very fine camera, but it suffers a little in comparison to the two full-frame monsters.
btw, how fortunate you are to have a perfect 18% grey house in your neighbourhood for testing!
I agree robdel: the RX1 shoe shot is overexposed otherwise it would have shown some bokeh balls in the background.
Agree completely! And Steve, thanks for doing this, it was very illustrative, in more ways than one.
Even though you only provide a few comparisions I think this is a good example that the quality of cameras today are so close that it’s difficult to differentiate a $1000 camera versus a $10K camera. It really comes down to the photographers composition and post-processing skills, not necessarily the equipment. I enjoy shooting Leica M cameras but that doesn’t mean someone can’t shoot with something a lot less and still create beautiful pictures (a matter fact there are many people that shoot much better than me and use a lot less expensive cameras).
Yes, true. One thing that is not shown is the fact that the M can slap on a 50 1.4 or Nocti or 90 and get amazingly beautiful portraits where the other two do not have this ability.
As mentioned from other posters it’s hard to find a “big” difference.
All Pixs shown here are JPG optimised for screen viewing and I guess when it comes to big prints the outcome would be much clearer.
IMHO the LEICA M is ahead.
Keep on going. Great Job!
I love new x-trans sensor grain structure. It looks like painting, when rx1 looks like a mess (branches in the background)
When you look at the branches in the second pic, the Fuji looks closer to the Leica than the RX1.
rx1 doesn’t have any bokeh for some reason. the background just… not in focus. weird.
Leica M has this 3D look specially in the pic …. Amazing !!!
The 2nd pic
still can’t beat the bokeh of the Cron at f/2…but since it’s FF, it would be cool to see it at the same “relative” f/stop to the Sony and the Fuji. For the money tho…wow on the Fuji!
The cron was at f/2, Zeiss on the RX1 was at f/2 – the same. Both are full frame so same exact f/stop on both.
whoops, sorry, I forgot that the RX1 was FF as well…the cron bokeh is just freaking beautiful… 🙂
You have a very different definition of beautiful bokeh compared to the populous. The cron boken is caffeinated and jittery. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
You don’t have to guess about that.
Really? because if you didn’t tell me that it was a Leica I would be tempted to criticize it for having rather “nervous” bokeh compared to the RX1 to be honest.
Personally I have to admit I quite like the effect of the Leica’s bokeh, and the overall rendering is warmer and very nice though I feel like the extra depth and “3d-ness” of the image comes from lens vignetting.
That said, the RX1 is sharper wide open, has smoother bokeh (something that a lot of people rather) and colors and vignetting can be adjusted in post.
The RX1 is the clear winner here for me, personally I really wanted to like the Fuji as I really want to buy the x100s and save my money over the RX1, but I really am a bit disappointed in the x100s’ output.
Wide open the lens is softer, by a fair margin, and the deeper DOF just doesn’t render the same quality to the image. As for the shot at f4, the resolution seemed pretty good, but something weird is defiantly going on in the details of the leaves.
Just makes my decision harder. Do you think you could share one of these comparison sets in raw files so that we can get a better idea of how they handle in processing?
Thanks again steve for running such an awesome website! 😀
I agree. I was thinking I’d go ahead an order the x100s as well but after seeing this comparison, I’d rather get the RX1.
The weird thing going on in the leaves is an incompatibility of the x-trans sensor and the raw converter.
The thing for me I find frustrating is when people compare cameras according to their color output which is all well and good if you shoot only jpg but shooting raw, color can be adjusted to taste as simply as setting up a custom profile.
As for the difference between the RX1 and the Leica M, I do feel that the Leica shot is more contrasty, warmer and has more depth with the straight conversion, but that it is nothing that one couldn’t achieve with a automatic profile in raw adjusting the color contrast and vignetting slightly.
Here is a very very quick jpg edit of the RX1 shot to look more like the M, I feel it brings it a lot closer, albeit still with more resolution and smoother bokeh, and it is nothing that you couldn’t do with a simply raw profile.
Let me know what you think
What software did you use for the pic? It looks beautiful!
Which image? The last 25 0.95 one? Just a simple Alien Skin filter 🙂
Here’s an idea: give us three similar photos, 1 cam each, but not telling us which is which.
I’d loooove to see that.
Thanx for your crazy comparisons, it puts things in perspective.
I think this is a brilliant suggestion.
Don’t forget to remove the EXIF data 😉
I know you cannot show us on the web but I would love to see a comparison of these images as 20 x 30 inch prints.
My bet is that irrespective of price, looking at IQ, DR, resolution, the camera which performed best here is the RX1.
disagree….M beats RX1 for DR, IQ and resolution…. but you are splitting hairs 🙂
Thanks Steve. It appears Sony could really challenge Leica if they so choose, though it is doubtful they will. The Sony brand doesn’t quite have the cache Leica does.
To be fair if Sony came out with a FF body that I could use all my Leica glass on with an adaptor then I’d jump at the chance. Sony are developing as a camera brand very quickly. Leica seem to have plateaued a little. Don’t get me wrong, I love my M9 and all but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Sony in the near future.
Same here. I love my M9/35luxII for daylight shooting, RX1 for night/indoor, OM-D/Panny 100-300mm for sports/nature. And wait for Sony FF body for all of my Leica/Zeiss/VC lens collection. Just make the RX1 sensor in a somewhat bigger housing with the new 3.8megapixel EVF(rumored Nex-7N EVF) would be enough for the FF body.
I can totally relate to this, the M9P is great during the day and we lite areas, but in a dark restaurant its pretty much unusable. Coming from a 5D2, I have pretty much stopped bringing the Leica to dim light areas at night. In saying that, for scenarios where light isn’t an issue the M9P files outclass my 5D2 files in terms of colour and DR.
Great work Steve! The M & RX1 are so close…wow! In the final analysis, this contest would come down to Photoshop skills…
Close? How? The corners with the M/35asph are soft. The RX1is sharp across the frame. The RX1 will be just as sharp across the frame when shot at f2.8. The M will be even softer. The RX1 lens performance is on par with the newer 35/1.4ASPH. But that’s a $12k combo.
I should also add that bokeh is ugly with the 35/2 ASPH. The RX1, on the other hand, is as good as it gets for a 35mm full frame lens.
agree that rendering better in bokeh though this could come down to specific lens.
However dynamic range and contrast better in M than RX1 imo. As for softness at corners depends on lens.
Dynamic range on the M is pretty crappy. Actually the only thing the M gives you is that holy rangefinder feeling that old geezers love to bits. I tried an M9, but having a D4 and D800 for my work its not nowhere near as good.
Value for money is like minus 1.
You would be incorrect…the DR of the M is very high, up there with the RX1, D800, etc. Not sure why you are telling lies 🙂 But I am sure you are a Leica hater as it is very evident. We all have different tastes. I wouldn’t trade my M for a D800 and D4 together. For me those cameras would be a minus 1 on the value scale as I would never use them due to size and weight. IQ wise, they are all about equal with differences in color but with the M you get to use the best lenses in the world.
Hi Steve, I probably have to admit that I indeed am a leica hater if you would call it that, perhaps a dissapointed leica fan would be better ;). I just expected more for that amount of money, a HUGE difference in image quality. As for a DR comparison perhaps you could do a comparison with the D800? Perhaps not a very interesting comparison for you but it might lead to haters like myself to eat our own shoes if we are wrong :). I own a regular D800 (not the E) and to my eye there is a reasonable amount of difference in favor for the D800 (using a 35mm 1.4 G which is not the best lens around), however I probably am too opinionated to do such a comparison and am perhaps seeing what I want to see…..
However you are totaly right that every individual has different tastes (thank god for that otherwise this would be a boring world). I worked in coal mines for close to 10 years which has shaped my hands in such a way that I prefer those bulky heavy camera’s over the smaller ones :). Also have an old (and cheap) pentax K1000 so I am not an exclusive nikon fanboy :).
Hey Steve! I love your crazy comparisons, but I wonder with so many cool cameras to play with, how will you decide which one you take with you? If I remember correctly, you have two new Leicas, the RX1, the X100s and the OMD. Will you use the OMD at all, with the other cams being more capable IQ-wise? Are you planning to get rid of one?
Ive explained this a few times 🙂 I have ONE main camera that I use at all times. It used to be the M9. When it was sold I used the OM-D and RX1 mainly. Now it will be the M and will have the RX1 on the side. The OM-D is fantastic but it will never get use. When that sells the funds go to buying something new to review. I am a reviewer so cameras come and go but I always keep 1-2 cameras for my personal use. Thanks!
What about the Monochrom?
I wish OM-D would have been included in this test.
Thoughts?? Either the Leica is overpriced or the X100s is simply amazing. Somewhere in between lies the truth….. You decide. 🙂
my thought exactly!
and yes…the RX1 is amazing also…
Since the Leica is an inter-changable lens (and Leica ones at that) camera and has optical rangefinder and real manual focussing I don’t think it’s over priced. Well no more than Leica gear urguably is. But the fact it’s a totally new camera for essentially the same price as the the M9-P it’s pretty impressive.
The Fuji rendering is really harsh in comparison. I find it’s tonality and colour is grim. Personally I would never chose it over the M.
The RX1 though is really good. It really puts a wake up call in to Leica. All for the cost of a leica lens alone. Incredible.
“real manual focussing” lol since when is manual focus commanding a higher price than autofocus?
make no mistake, i prefer the feel of manual lenses, but I expect them to be a lot cheaper than AF ones. 50-100$ gets you a nice 50/1.4 pentax…
Read other reviewers and they say the opposite: the Fuji has the best color.
Steve, how is this a real test when LR 4,4 doesn’t even support the Fuji??! Alarm bells should be going off in readers’ heads…this is not a proper test!
and read more reviewers and read how the Sony literally wipes the floor with the Fuji in all areas. I have said this before…but…if someone shoots the higher end cameras including Leica M or even the Leica X Vario or Sony RX1 and then goes to a Fuji body, they will be disappointed. Go to a Fuji from an Olympus, an APS-C Sony or other APS-C and you will be thrilled. I have shot all of these extensively – thousands of frames with all of them. The Sony RX1 is amazing and beats the Fuji X100s in all areas as does the Leica M. The Fuji is nice, well worth the $1200. The RX1 is nice and well worth the $2800 and the Leica M is beautiful, not really worth $7000 but to me it is as it is the camera I have with me 90% of the time.
It is what it is and it seems that if you buy a Fuji camera you must shell out extra for software as Adobe doesnt jive well with the files, which should be a red flag in itself. If the larger photo editing software company can not get the Fuji files to look good then I do not know what to say. 75% who buy the X100s use Lightroom or Photoshop. This is what they will get. It’s as real of a test as it gets though many Fuji users will not like it.