Choices in 2013. Leica M, Olympus E-M1, Sony A7 and Nikon Df
By Steve Huff
Over the past few weeks and months there have been three camera models released that were brought in with a little bit of hype (E-M1), a bunch of hype (Sony A7 and Leica M 240) and a massive amount of hype (Nikon Df). But which ones will live up to the hype? Will the most hyped and long-awaited camera be the best bet or will it fall flat (Nikon Df). Will the underdog come out on top at the end of the day due to the fact that it is a near perfect camera (E-M1) or will the overall super rich quality in a small compact form win over the enthusiasts with the ability to shoot Leica M glass and new Zeiss glass (Sony A7 series)? Will the Leica M survive with this new set of cameras that are flat-out incredible in their own right?
No one knows just yet, even though many like to claim that they do.
I just wanted to give a brief overview of these four models as well as mention one that has been lost in the shuffle. Even though it in not in the Full Frame club, the little Sony RX10 is rocking the Huff house and is one heck of a camera for everyday use. But I will have more on the RX10 soon…so stay tuned. For now, I want to run down my list of pros and cons of each of these models and hopefully help some of you decide if any are right for you.
The Leica M 240
1. The Leica M 240 – The beautiful one. Full review is HERE
Make no mistake about it, the Leica M 240 is a GORGEOUS looking, feeling and shooting camera. It feels right, looks right and performs better than any previous M digital camera. The latest firmware update improved the White Balance and it is now what it should have been out of the gate. But this camera is $6995 for the body only and is a rangefinder camera that has the ability to use an EVF (but it is slowwww in this mode).
The M 240 offers a new CMOS sensor and replaced the CCD sensor of the M9. Many say the sensor is softer, and it is. Many say it has lost the look of the M9..and it has. But I have always said, it has improved upon them in every way. More DR, better high ISO, richer color, etc. But with this comes a problem that Leica never had. The M 240 now performs like any other full frame camera. IQ is identical to a Canon 5D, Nikon D800, or any other full frame model, just with different color signatures. Where they always had the edge was with the lenses. You just can not shoot a Leica 50 Summilux on a Nikon or Canon or any other full frame camera (until now with the Sony A7 series).
Now that the A7 and A7r will be shipping soon, many Leica lens users are gearing up to test their lenses on the new Sony, and I have been there and done that and have to say..it does mighty fine with most M mount glass. IN fact, using a Zeiss 50 Planar f2 ZM I preferred the output of the Sony $1700 A7 over the $7000 Leica M! Sharper, more 3D, crisper, and the Zeiss Look I remember from the M9 days when using this lens.
So while the Leica M is a work of art, today at the end of 2013, you can get the same or better IQ for less money AND still get to use the superb M lenses that are out there. Vintage, modern, Voigtlander or Zeiss..whatever you desire. The key is that these lenses are small, sharp and amazing 🙂
Leica M 240 image samples
The Leica M still has its place of course as many LOVE the rangefinder experience, including me. There is nothing like shooting an M and unless someone else releases a digital RF, nothing ever will come close to that experience. If you want that shooting experience it will cost you, but many LOVE their M’s..it is indeed the beautiful one 😉
The M can be purchased from Ken Hansen (email@example.com), The Pro Shop, PopFlash or B&H Photo.
2. The Olympus E-M1 – The 1st professional Micro 4/3 model – Review is HERE
Anyone who has hung around this blog for a while will know that I am a huge fan of the Olympus E-M1. Ever since my first tests with it in New York and then Ireland, I have fallen in love with this little mini tank due to the fact that it has never done me any wrong. It has blazing AF with Olympus lenses. It is built SO SO well. It feels SO SO good and it really is a nice looking camera. The dials and controls are all there, spaced out nicely and the grip is very comfortable. Just how it should be. In fact, it almost feels that Olympus took a mold of my own hand when designing it!
The camera has a gorgeously huge EVF that makes it easy to focus manually if you desire. There are fast f 0.95 lenses available that give you stealer results with blurred out shallow DOF. I have been shooting with the E-M1 for a while now and I seriously can not find anything wrong with it besides the fact that it is not really a camera one would go to for pro level video. Speaking of video..I actually do use it often and like it for what I do, but I just post to youtube. The 5-Axis IS stabilizes the video VERY VERY well. Slap on a 12mm f/2 and shoot some video..and be amazed at how smooth the footage is. 5-Axis is the bestir image stabilization on the market, and it is in the body/sensor so every lens is stabilized.
As for the images, they are sharp, colorful, and this is as good as it gets in Micro 4/3. Period.
So why would anyone even need to look at another camera if this one is so good? Well, the problem is many people do not realize just how good this camera is and many feel the sensor size is too small, so they dismiss it without testing it or taking it seriously. Micro 4/3 has come a LONG way and I feel it has reached a peak with this camera. Sure you get a little more noise than a full frame sensor, but me, I would take this camera over ANY, and I mean ANY APS-C camera made today. It will beat it in build, speed, responsiveness, EVF, Af, MF, and even IQ and color. That is a bold statement but try out an E-M1 for a week with a set of nice Olympus primes. Then go back to an APS-C. Joy of use goes a long way and the E-M1 is one of the most joyful cameras that exists for real world photography use.
There have been talk of the demise of Micro 4/3 by many bloggers but I disagree. We are just now getting to where Micro 4/3 is meeting (and for me exceeding) APS-C camera bodies in all areas (again, more to a camera than the output). I am seeing amazing things coming from Olympus and Panasonic and they are dedicated. There is a huge fan and user base and once the E-M1 gets out in the hands of more and more photographers, there will be no going back to slow, clunky, larger APS-C cameras for many. Throw in the upcoming Panasonic “Nocticron 42.5 1.2” lens and we will once again have another killer lens for this system.
It really is that good, but do not take my word for it..read other reviews online. The E-M1 is a kick ass amazing camera that delivers all that I really could ever need. But does it deliver all that I WANT? Hmmm. That is the question.
The cons? Video not up there with the best, you will see some noise even at base ISO. That is is. Is this camera capable of Pro results for paid jobs and large prints? Absolutely.
Due to lenses available, the quality of the camera, the build, the EVF, the 5-Axis IS, the responsiveness and the color and IQ, this is my #1 recommended camera as of November 2013. I feel the price is cheap for what you get. $1399 for the body and your results will be outstanding.
You can order the Olympus E-M1 at B&H Photo, Amazon or PopFlash.com
3. The Sony A7 and A7r – The World’s Smallest Interchangeable lens Full Frame camera! 1st Look is HERE, full review SOON.
Wow, after that glowing endorsement of the Olympus E-M1..what can I say about the new Sony A7 and A7r?
Well, one word..RICHNESS.
The A7 and A7r are full frame cameras, the word’s smallest full frame IC camera in fact. Next to the $7000 Leica M 240, this guy delivers the same or better IQ at a fraction of the cost (with most M mount lenses, not all) and also has the ability to use native mount FE lenses, Canon AF lenses and Nikon lenses. It’s an artists tool and the brushes you can paint with are limitless. THIS is what makes the A7 and A7r special.
They are slower to use, feel slightly clunky, have loud shutters and when shooting you really feel like you are working with Medium Format..or something in between 35mm and Medium Format. The cameras will AF slower than the E-M1, the body is not as thought out as the E-M1 and the overall feel is less responsive than the E-M1.
With that said, the IQ is amazing and there are no complaints in that department. You will get they full frame rich depth that you do not get in Micro 4/3, so if you want massive Shallow DOF and “Bokeh” this will deliver and the camera is a breeze to use. The EVF, which I prefer to an optical VF these days, is beautiful, large and 2nd best next to the Olympus E-M1/EVF-4.
I found it to be easy to manually focus Leica M lenses on the A7 and A7r and using the Zeiss 35 and 55 were also nice (though the 55 hunted in low light). I had 5 days with these cameras and enjoyed every minute of it, even pre-ordered one for myself (A7r) because facts are facts and reality is reality. With the A7 and A7r I can use thousands of lenses, have amazing image quality and a nice user experience for 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of a Leica M. The Sony will be more versatile, will never have focus issues due to getting knocked around and while not hand assembled in Germany, I have never had one issue with any Sony I have owned. Sony has been pushing hard and is the #1 company to innovate and create something new and special.
They have no fear, and grew some big balls a couple of years ago when they released the NEX-7. The new A7 series is way above the NEX-7 and they even priced these just right. My full review will be coming soon (review samples arrive next week)
The cons? Slower in every area than the E-M1, not as responsive as the E-M1, Af can hunt in low light. Not quite as enjoyable to use as the E-M1 but when you see your images on your screen, you will not even care 🙂 Has a little learning curve to get the most out of it. Also, battery life could be better. I was shooting morning till night and had 50% left. Others were running out mid day (but I pick and choose my shots and shoot when I know I have something cool to shoot). But I think you will get around 300-400 shots per charge.
Not perfect but beautiful results. I will have one in about a week for a full real world official review, so stay tuned!
PS – Zeiss ZM glass is AMAZING on this camera. Voigtlander glass is GREAT. Leica glass is stellar!
My 1st samples from the A7 and A7r
You can see all things Sony A7 HERE. More coming SOON.
You can also pre-order all of the new Sony cameras at these E-Z links to my recommended shops that YOU can trust 100%!
Nikon Df – retro full frame DSLR
3. The Nikon Df – Full frame 70’s inspired body. But still a DSLR. Review Soon.
This camera was hyped beyond belief. When I posted blurbs about it before it was announced my traffic blew up and hundreds of comments were left. There was a ton of excitement, anxiety as well as negativity surrounding it but mainly POSITIVITY. After the announcement 75% of the comments went from excitement to negativity due to the cluttered design, the price and the thickness of the body.
Before it was even leaked I predicted a FAT body. I was told I would be wrong. I also predicted the price to be $2800. I was told it would not be that high. I also said it would be a DSLR in a square shape..sort of like a D700 in a new retro shell. Guess what? ALL of that came true.
Even with that, I am excited about this one and it is the 1st DSLR I am excited about in many many years. The last time I owned a full frame DSLR was the D700 when it was launched. I LOVED the IQ and low light capabilities. It was a magical thing back then. I owned a few Zeiss Zf lenses and was in heaven until I realized I hated shooting it due to the size and weight. It was left at home 90% of the time because it was much to large to be a daily shooter. The quality was well worth it but I just did not enjoy lugging it around. I sold it and went back to Leica back then with an M7 and then eventually and M8, M9 and M240.
When Nikon decided to release a smaller DSLR that looked like and old F I was in..until I realized that it will still be a camera that mounts those large DSLR lenses! Uggg. Even so, there are some old classics that will work very well with this camera.
So even though I am not a fan of large DSLR’s or the large lenses that go with them I still am happy to review the Df as I may just end up liking it. The IQ will be fantastic with the lower MP full frame sensor and the style, while bulky, is still reminiscent of those old F bodies from the 70’s. I like the controls on top and t he fact that it does NOT have video. It’s a photographers camera and who cares if it is a D610 in a new shell? The new shell is what will make me want to go out and shoot with it. I would never buy a D610 for myself. I find them ugly and just not motivating to shoot. The Df is a D4 in a retro body and some dumbed down features. The D4 is how much? Exactly, this is half the price for the same IQ.
I could care less if it has 100 focus points or 2 as I only use ONE with any camera I shoot. If it inspires, and it is not too heavy, that is 90% of it right there.
I will be testing it with the 50 1.8 as well as a few older AIS lenses. If it is REALLy good, and I do not mind the bulk and weight AND if it feels really nice and is a joy to use..I will keep it. Otherwise, it will be sold after the review.
I do not have images from the Nikon Df yet as I have yet to see one in the flesh but I am in line for a review sample now at the end of the month when it is released. I also preordered on in black because if it turns out to be what it should be, there may be a wait to get one just as there was with the D4, D800, D700, etc.
So I will be reviewing the Df and that will appear in December sometime.
You can Pre-Ordet the Nikon Df at Amazon or B&H using the links below:
Pre-Order the Nikon Df at B&H Photo
So which camera, if any, is right for you? What do you shoot? What do you hope to shoot? Do you like shallow DOF? Do you shoot in low light often? Do you prefer speed and usability over slow and insane resolution? Only YOU can decide what camera you will like. Take a look at them and see which one speaks to you. One thing to keep in mind..
You can buy a Sony A7 with Kit Lens, an Olympus E-M1 with 20 1.7II and a Nikon Df with 50 1.8 for $6745. About $250 less than a Leica M body only setup. Now, I am a HUGE Leica guy but have to give it to Sony, Olympus and maybe even Nikon for releasing cameras that are all making us G.A.S. badly 🙂 Props to Sony for pushing the envelope and high five to Olympus for creating that E-M1..what a jewel it is.
Em1…first pro m4/3 camera…have you heard of the GH3?…basically same IQ…better video…dust water sealed, better menus, different and yet same necessary features. Come on…how much does olympus pay you to say that crap?
I recently purchased an OMD EM1. It is a nice camera robust camera with very good IQ. However, I did also added a Leica 21mm f3.4. This made a huge impact on the image sharpness, richness of colour, it is a nothc better. It has been worth the investment. I would recommend the OMD EM1 to anyone is a great camera and when comes to expansion, usability, friendliness, build quality is second to none.
I did buy the Om-1 and guess what? Disappointment. Waste of time and money. Now I have to sell it on ebay. The reason- Extremely bed quality wih any long times. I mean This camera can’t cope with 30 seconds, so I see no reason they actually made it to shoot up to 60 seconds. The quality was so bad that it was impossible to remove. In the shadow areas of night photos I could see more of the blue dots than I would see the picture behind them. There was around 40-60 percent of pixels in a bad condition. Maybe if you shoot stars it would be helpful as you would get millions of artificial star (only joking here).
Truly they should make long exposure tests. I did some by my self and I didn’t even want to waste my time on importing them to computer as already on the camera screen it was obvious that they are bad.
Also this small plug behind the flash socket- The small plastic that cover it would dissapear after few uses and that would be the end of the camera weather proof.
Nice camera but I wouldn’t recommend it for a professional use, and for this price there is actually no one I would recommend this one exept retired people with spare money in their pocket. For me personally the adventures with Olympus are finished and I don’t think I will be ever getting back on this path.
Very strange – MANY users did long exposure tests, you can find many photos on the net. Perhaps a lemon from the factory?
No mention for the Pentax K-3?
Dpreview says and that true: The α7′s JPEG noise suppression looks quite overprocessed, giving even out-of-focus areas a brush-stroke appearance, and its phase-detect autofocus isn’t as fast, nor as accurate (we’ll be testing further to confirm and characterize this).
A7R files looks much better but not usable with manual w/a lenses. So looks like Sony made cameras for enthusiasts only.
Has anyone made large prints, around 11″ X 19″, with the Olympus E-M1? I am wondering if the senosr would be too small.
On his blog,Robin Wong posted the results of the friendly shoot-out between an E-M1 and various DSLR employed there in a fashion sudio booth, during the Kuala Lumpur presentation of the latest OM-D. The photographs were printed at that size, and hanged in pairs side-to-side asking to the public to guess what were the Olympus and the Canon/Nikon shoots. Practically no one was able to guess right what was wich…
The ONLY way you will ever be able to tell a difference in prints between full frame or micro 4/3 is if you shoot with something exotic on full frame – Canon 85L, Leica Noctilux, etc..AND shoot them wide open. Other than that, you will never be able to see a difference between a Micro 4/3 file, a Leica M240 file or a Fuji X file besides slight color differences which 99% of people viewing the print would have no clue of.
I’ve decided to make the switch to micro 4/3 and I’m ordering the Olympus e-m1 with the 12-40 pro lense. I would also like to get two more lenses covering wider on one end and more tele on the other (maybe something in the 7 to 10 mm range on one end and 75-100 range on the other. Could be either fixed or zoom if the image quality is good). Any ideas on what would work for me?
Thanks for your help and thanks for the interesting and informative web site!
For the first time I will vigorously disagree with Steve
1. Fuji is a contender for anyone who wants great workflow with tremendous picture quality. The “flat” comment is simply untrue. I am running a RX1R, M9 and have used extensively D800E and X100S and X-E1 and X-pro1 and OM-D. The x-trans sensor produces wonderful colour and all the 3D pop you need, and I use lightroom BTW. The comment that the M4/3s sony sensor is bettern then all APS-C sensors is simply not true. The dynamic range, colour depth and ISO performance of the x-trans and Nex sensors is clearly and demonstaratably better then all the M4/3s sensors (just look at the “old” Nex-7 sensor against the “New” E-M% sensor on DXOMARK). I am not saying that the OM-D is not a great camera, but fanboy hubris does not help here. In terms of the “hollow” feeling. I also found this on the x-pro1 and was disappointed in the oversize body (which was apparently done for the US market). However the X-E1 is close to perfect in terms of handling. I don’t beleive Steve has ever used this camera in anger. The X-E2 is supposed to improve on the already not bad focusing
2. On the Nikon DF. Come on. Its as heavy and bulky as the D610 with cut down functionality. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think its pug ugly. The cynism is Nikon having the gaal to charge the premium they are for it, not to mention the 16 sensor. Buy a M8 if you want to go back to basics!
“The dynamic range, colour depth and ISO performance of the x-trans and Nex sensors is clearly and demonstaratably better then all the M4/3s sensors (just look at the “old” Nex-7 sensor against the “New” E-M% sensor on DXOMARK). ”
You play with dxomark numbers, Steve (as me and countless others) prefers to shoot photos.
Steve: A7 or A7r for legacy Nikkor and Leica glass? Do I need the offset microlenses of the R if I don’t shoot wider than 28?
How are you liking the Zeiss FE 35/2.8? Does it compare to something like the Zeiss Biogon-C or 35 Summarit?
Then 7 does better with wide angles than the 7r, as I showed and reported last week 🙂 I will not have my review copy of the cameras and lenses until next week sometime.
Thanks, Steve, I went back and re-watched the video and I now see where you mentioned that.
I think the synopsis is: The A7 will be generally better for wide angle. Leica wide angle designs under 28mm will not perform well on either camera. Zeiss (or other) may perform OK, you’re not sure yet. For 28mm and up the A7 should be safe.
I think I saw the 21/2.8 Biogon on far frame left of your video. Nice lens, I owned and shot it for awhile on my M3. I’d be curious to hear how it performs on the A7 once you have a chance to try it. I’m looking forward to your report, thanks for sharing.
Why not get the samyang or panasonic fisheye and de-fish it? That seems to be a good option having read the two threads on the subject on DPR and somewhere else.
That was in response to post #46
If you don’t get the shot, all the resolution in the world doesn’t matter. What do you shoot? Good light or bad? Static or moving subjects? Need to be quiet and discrete? I often need fast autofocus and fast glass and the E-M1 and 5D3 meet those needs in two very different sized packages.That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like one of the new Sony FF cameras too!
You mean Olympus and Panasonic have already produced great m4/3 lenses from from 12mm/17mm all the way up to a 100-300mm zoom (200-600 equiv.) that you can still carry on a camera around your neck? And they make a camera for them as well? If they would just improve a bit on the long zoom . . . but hey, the way things are going maybe they will.
a bunch of nice cameras….and it would be good that I can use my current and legacy Nikon glass (and some brand new Voigtlander F mount) on a retroized digital cam. However, probably not for another 3K outlay. At least for a while, if I want to let myself indulge in the charm of retro, I will put some film in the FM3a or FA in the closet.
I’m a bit surprised; 1600 ISO from my old Leica X1 seems to be sharper and more “true” (less “plastic like”) than ISO 1600 from the OM D E-M1 (with the Oly 12mm f2). This is from both jpeg and RAW. On the Oly I see a bit of the same look as in the PEN series. From all the positive talk about the E-M1 I was convinced the small sensor would be every bit as good as a APS-C sensors; is that not the case? I agree; the E-M5 seems to be very fast and have a a lot of really useful buttons; it’s a much more versatile camera. But I had hoped IQ would be a lot better than from the old X1… It’s very late in Europe and no light, so I only did a few shots indoors at ISO 1600. But then again; you need ISO 1600 quite often… I want a really great camera to travel with. Maybe I will end up with Sony Rx1r. Steve; am I going blind; could X1 really give higher IQ than E-M1???
The X1 is so dog slow in use it is not even usable in todays world. It is ok for static subjects if you have a few seconds to shoot it but it is SLOW as molasses. GREAT quality when you get the light right but if you are judging by snapping JPEGS in your living room, do not 🙂 Go out and take real photos.
Turn OFF Noise Reduction, set Auto ISO to max 1600 or 3200.
I have ISO 1600 shots taken in my living room that look astonishing. Shoot RAW and tweak the settings if needed.
The E-M1, as you can see from the samples in my review, have a different look than the Leica X1 files but its much better in every area – speed, build, feel, versatility, high ISO, etc.
The X1 is as usable in today`s world as it was in 2009, the year of release. Eventually it`s still the same world. For stills and landscapes mft is not up there in a direct comparison. For reportage, travel, family snaps it`s fine. When putting the GX7 into the bag, there is always a really high IQ body in there as well as mft is no IQ match for the likes of the RX1 or Sigma Merrill, not even close.
Well, I did indeed turn off the noise reduction, but got a very “digital” look; like the camera is just trying to hard to deliver a smooth picture. Just like the several PEN models I have tried before. This judging from the screen, not from prints. But that’s the way most pictures are viewed anyway. I think almost all cameras do OK in bright light, so a camera should really be judged by how it performs in low light as far as IQ is concerned. Handling is another issue. But I will try it outdoors for sure. I did not expect FF IQ or Foveon magic, but I was sure it would be better than an old X1… Just confused, as both you and Ming and LL are so happy with the output from the E-M1…
Fully agree, I have the OMD and the X1 and the mft files look more digital. The OMD is up for sale.
This is NOT science; but I took a few pictures outdoors (grey weather). At A and auto ISO Leica X1 had f 4, ISO 1600 and 1/1250, E-M1 f 4, ISO 200 and 1/160. This is 36mm (X1) and 24mm (Olympus 12mm f2) so it’s NOT a good way to test; but the Leica did best. Sharper, less “digital look”. No question about it. I’m a bit surprised, but as we have all seen from Steve’s pictures; it can perfor really well in skilled hands 🙂 But not mine, it seems…
More digital, ok, but whit WHAT lenses? I.E., everybody agree that usualli Voigtlander lenses seems more “clinical” than equivalent Leica ones. I usually use beautiful vintage Olympus, Pentacon and even russian lenses when they give me that “glow” or analog look…
What lens? As I wrote: Olympus 12mm f 2.
My reply was intended as “if you are unhappy with the rendering of the lens you are using, be aware that there are many more that can give you a less clinic and more organic look”.
One of the main guys on nikongear (Bjorn) briefly used the Df with manual focus Ai lenses. And reported that it was very easy to focus correctly and easily the best VF put in a digital Nikon Slr for manual focussing.
This makes the Df very appealing for me. I was writing it off as previous rumours mentioned it had lousy mf abilities.
That screen will only focus accurately for >f2.8. I doubt those with legacy glass want to be left out in the wind with their 1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, and 2.5’s…
The reviewer mentioned perfect focus using a manual 50 1.2. And also very easy focus.
Thanks for mentioning–I read the thread on nikongear. I’m a little unclear on the actual result; certainly Bjorn seems happy that it is the “best digital nikon for MF” but IMO that’s not saying much. He does say the image snaps in and out of focus, which is good, but nothing about accurately being able to place the plane of focus. I suppose we shall wait and see–but once the hubris passes, I doubt this will be known as a camera to accurately shoot a Noct. It will be brighter, but no easier to accurately MF than a D800.
oh man oh man, I REALLY want that Sony A7r.
I will FINALLY be able to use my 40mm F/1.4 Nokton and be able to frame it properly AND get to use it as a true 40mm lens. That alone to me is going to be worth the price tag.
2014 will see FF Nex style body no evf.
Lets say $899.
GX7 has been the camera for me this year.
FF nex style may well be next years for me.
Steve thank you! Ordered the A7 through your link. Looking at one lens for now. Your thoughts on IQ alone on Zeiss ZM 50 or 35 f2 Planar (with adapter) vs. Sony Zeiss 35 or 55 FE? Manual focus not a problem. Strictly IQ for landscape use, I’ll handle difference between standard and wide angle by getting the other focal length lens later when budget allows. Very many thanks.
Here’s my take on the size thing.
1. I prefer smaller and lighter, but something like an em1 and the new 12-40 will need a bag. If size is your absolute #1 priority then something like a GR or CP-A might be the way to go. I yearn for something like that because I almost always have my Canon S95 with me. Would I always take an em1 with me when I have to do something that is primarily not about photography? Probably not. It’s small for what it is, but it is still pretty big compared to a real pocket cam with a retractable lens.
2. Sometimes bigger is better because many people judge a book by the cover. Sometimes I go out shooting with an old Nikon DSLR and a big lens from the 90s while wearing a photo vest. Twice I have been offered gigs from nice folks that I have just met and have never seen any of my photos! . . . I don’t even shoot weddings.
3. Sometimes smaller/cute is better. The K-01 and pancake look so toy-like that they can go places where the big old Nikon DSLR would be barred. But the Pentax IQ is top shelf for a16mp crop frame.
Love the GR as a pocket camera. Love the E-M1 as a small system camera. Great images from both.
It’s a strange world. 1st Sony introduced the qx10&100 lens without. Camera and now the 7&7r cameras without lens.
I better keep. My omd 5
I have on loan the E-M1 and a brand new Pana 25mm 1.4. There’s a really loud clicking noise from the lens (from the aperture blades?) as it automatically adjust itself (sorry for bad English – not my native language). Is this with all Pana lenses on Olympus? I can never keep this lens; how can they make a lens with this defect? I don’t understand; this was supposed to be a very fine lens?
Ah! I am not the only one… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnVuYfVYUsU
I will return this lens; this is totally bad. Shame on both Olympus and Panasonic for not issuing some solution to this as it seems to affect so many.
It is not the responsibility of Olympus to fix a Panasonic lens. Not at all…it is a Panasonic lens and their issue, and to many, it is not even an issue. It does not affect the images in any way.
The chattering with that lens is well known. Just google it. That has been my favorite lens on my E-M5 but will replace it with the 17mm once I get the E-M1. Had the 17mm but returned it because I did not like it at all on the E-M5.
The latest firmware update improved the White Balance and it is now what it should have been out of the gate ???????????? what ? Leica m240
Sorry but everybody knows that Leica m240 has the same colour problems with the latest update .
I think I prefer a sony or a fujifilm
I love your reviews and the passion you show in your writing. Currently I am looking to make my first big leap into the higher end models. I’ve always liked Sony’s products but I wanted to ask if you think the Sony A7 would be good as a primary camera for weddings?
I have also read a lot of reviews on the EM1 and the speed and responsiveness does sound appealing.
Thanks. I am not sure as I have not used it in such situations, but I would. I would use manual glass though as that is just my style. The quality is there 100%.
1. Leica M240 – An object of desire! Lucky those who can afford one and the current lenses and don’t mind manual focusing. Enough said.
2. Olympus E-M1 – If I started with photography today Micro 4/3 would have a good chance be my first choice. And E-M1 simply is the best M4/3 camera for photography. It is however like Panasonic GX7 quite exepensive. Therefore I’m looking forward to next year to see if Panasonic upgrade their G6 to G7 with the IS sensor from GX7 and sell it for a more affordable price.
3. Sony A7 (A7R is for pixel peepers!) – Finally the owners of old legacy lenses got the digital camera they have been waiting for! A7 not only is the smallest digital full frame camera but also one of the cheapest. For use with adapted manual lenses this is a bargain buy. For use as an AF-camera it’s another story as all the good Zeiss lenses are very expensive and few. Personally I would rater buy into M4/3 if I wanted a small camera with great AF.
As the camera is light I propably would add the vertical grip to make it more stable. While the A7 is quite usable as is I personally think Sony is too minimalistic and make things just a tiny bit too small. What people have been asking for is a digital Nikon FM. But A7 is even smaller than a Nikon EM! Half an inch wider would give more space on the grip side and a row of external buttons on the left side of the LCD as well as some other controls on the side of the prism that is now empty. Maybe A9 will be the camera I dream about?
Oh, and what if Sony made a 16MP version? Not only would it be a high ISO monster but propably work better with symmetrical WA rangefinder lenses as well!
4. Nikon Df – Didn’t we all get a bit exited looking at all those strange teaser videos? Finally Nikon made a digital camera with familiar dials for us who started photography with analog film cameras. But… While I have no problem with the design of the camera in general as I understand the limitations of building a DSLR there are other problems. Like why make a retro camera that can use old manual lenses without also improving the focusing aids over D610 and D800?
And then we come to the introduction price. Considering this is a D600/610 with a few more external controls and more aesthetic look I could accept it will be a bit more expensive than the D610. But in no way should it be more expensive than the pro built D800.
In some regions it is even worse as Df only is sold in kit with the restyled AF-S 50 most users do not need. Here that means the Df is the equivalent of 1000 USD more expensive including tax than the D800!! That is a real rip-off. And I’m saying that as a Nikon user with a collection of older manual lenses. As it looks now Sony A7 seem be a much better and affordable camera to use them on.
5. The joker, Sony RX10 – Finally a bridge camera that can replace a DSLR equipment! In my younger years my standard travel kit was a quite heavy bag with two analog cameras equipped with motor drives and four lenses, 24/2.8, 35/1.4, 50/1.8 and a tele zoom + a small flash and several rolls of film. How much lighter it would be with only the RX10, a spare battery and extra SD-card! And with OIS and AF many photos would have been much sharper as well.
So many cameras… So many cameras… And at the end of the day, they don’t matter much really… If someone comes to me and asks what camera they should buy these days I respond with this:
1. Get a Leica M6 and a 50mm cron. It’s a large upfront financial commitment that doesn’t depreciate and is capable of creating gorgeous images. On top of that, this combination will absolutely make you grow as a photographer – more so than any of these cameras that you have listed. You just have to have the patience for film.
2. Go look and touch all of the “hot” cameras out right now. Ignore the technical specifications as well as all the blog review nonsense and just concentrate on what feels BEST in your hand… what inspires you to go out and make pictures… Because just about all of these cameras are capable of creating images. You just have to be able to make them with your mind and creativity. As such, the only really important characteristic of a camera is how it makes you feel from a tactile standpoint.
On top of that, once you get the camera that feels right to you – ignore the camera industry… ignore the huge hammers that are trying to bang you over the head with the latest and greatest because marketing does not make pictures or capture memories.
It’s not the camera that is important. As gear heads, we lose sight of that every now and then… The person behind the camera is way more important than any technical specification.
Cliche, I know…
I hope Sony will work on A7/R (low light) AF enhancement via future firmware updates!
Both A7 and A7r focus the same in low light. They are faster than the NEX-7 for sure, just not as fast as an EM1.
I have already voted, with my wallet, in this “contest” of new cameras. I ordered the A7r on the first day it became available. All of the first looks, reviews and examples that I have seen since then have only served to reinforce that decision. All of these cameras, with one exception, are great choices depending on what kind of photographer a person is or wants to be. That exception, in my opinion, is the Nikon. Its many deficiencies have already been pointed out by others but, basically, it is a plain old DSLR in different clothing. Nikon (and Canon) need to quit worrying about cannibalizing their DSLR sales with a pro level mirror-less camera. I believe Steve Jobs put it best when he said if you are not willing to canniabalize the sales of your own products someone else will do it for you! In this case that someone would be Sony.
Hi Steve, big fan of your site but my first post here. First of all a big thank you for putting so much work into your notes and this one in particular. I’m in the market for a new camera and been wondering how the new choices compared to each other. I shoot mainly street and travel (mostly urban) photography so fast AF and size are important for me. Reading your comparison I feel inclined to the Olympus, but re-reading it got me curious about the RX10, as I have to say I like a zoom too, which allows you to be less intrusive. Can’t wait for your full thoughts on this one, but (even if they are different animals) could you share a first impression of its AF capacity in comparison to the Oly?
It’s clear why I like this site that much, Steve: we absolutely share the same opinion. You gave the exact reasons why I ordered the A7r. And if I could buy four camera’s this year, those would be it! LOL
But seriously, what I also like about the A7 is that one can use it as a big(ger) superpro camera, with handgrip and slr glass as well as a compact stealth camera, of the same exceptional quality.
Small difference in opinion though: I’d choose the silver Df. 🙂
Whatever we do, let’s keep Fuji off this list. If it isn’t that horrible selection of mediocre glass it’s the sloppy sensors, nevermind that the company *never* listens to the public to improve their products. Excitement? Forget it.
ANY modern day camera Micro 4/3 and up CAN take pictures just as you show there..but which one will get you the results with the least hassle? THAT is what I am trying to say. Yes, the Fuji bodies do not compare to the A7, M, E-M1, even E-P5 in build or feel. The Lenses are sharp but many of the Fuji lenses have dodgy AF when you compare them to other manufacturers. They also feel hollow. I never said a Fuji can’t take a good pic, but looking at those samples I see the same thing I see in all Fuji X images and ANY camera can match it and many will exceed it.
But I always say, shoot with whatever gets your blood pumping..what will motivate YOU. For many, that is Fuji and that is awesome. I am not on some anti Fuji attack, I just respond to comments that praise Fuji as the be all end all, as it is so far from that. They need quite a bit of work and I was hoping the X-E2 would be perfected. Guess I will now have high hopes for the Pro-1 replacement.
But whatever, the camera is just the tool..the device to capture those scenes and memories. Any of them today will do the trick, it is up to the one using it to capture the moment, not the camera but a camera has to be responsive, accurate and inspire confidence to do just that. If Fuji does that for you, never change, ever. No need to.
I entirely agree with your observation : I also see in these images what I see in all my Fuji X images. While I often love the colors (whites, beige, skin) I recognize in most the Fuji blue and green shades which become a bit too much with the time, as well as the color JPEG gimmicks that make the pictures often appealing. I own most primes and while some are optically very good – outstanding (the 14mm), most of them feel indeed hollow, noisy, and offer sub-par protection against dust. And yes, I take good pictures with the Fuji, and the lenses are the most interesting part in that.
But : for all of the images shown on the http://photosfujiscanttake.tumblr.com/ site, I easily imagine how many pictures where missed trying to get one right, as I know from experience that they would more be the exception than the rule. I have owned Nikon and Olympus film cameras, Olympus and Panasonic digital cameras, and I have never experienced the amount of frustration Fuji X cameras give me, and I would say that I know how to use a camera. So my “excitement” level has dropped seriously, and I agree that Fuji needs to “finish” their next release before releasing it, and cannot constantly present itself as the “small” enthusiast niche company that tries to improve itself and has to fight against hostile reactions and big companies.
As an M9 user, I’m very tempted to move to a Monochrom/A7 combo. The Monochrom for my street photography, and the A7 for those times I need autofocus. And they can share many of the same lenses!
Great comparison. Looks like a Leica ME + a SONY A7r is a great combo. Best of both worlds. Leica’s classic CCD look and the Leica’s new CMOS look (almost).
Or an used M9 + A7r, saves you even more. 😉
Steve please do a crazy comparison of the Sony A7 with 35mm f/2.8 to a PEN or OMD with 20mm f/1.7 !!! 🙂
Do not own the 20 1.7 as the 17 1.8 is better in every way on the E-M1. I can do 17 1.8, and will 🙂
Yes the 17 f1.8 is a winner on the E-M1 (not so much on the E-M5).
I am a Sony Alpha and Fuji x100 user and I find the Sony A7(r) very interesting but i will give it some time to see if the system will grow
A couple of “normal” Sony (not Zeiss branded) lenses would be welcome.
A Sony 50mm f1,4 is (only) €349 euro for the Alpha system. The FE 55mm f 1,8 Zeiss version for FE mount is €999. I own the Alpha 50mm version and it is a very nice and small lens but Alpha lenses need a SLT adapter for AF when used on FE mount., If lenses in this pricerange are offered for the new FE mount I will buy one for sure.
Great roundup Steve, thanks.
Have you tested the 35 Summicron or Summilux with the A7r and A7?
Some wide open shots of those would be invaluable 🙂
You’ve made me want the 50 Lux already.
The 35 Summarit should look fantastic as well.
I must admit, I am a little bit jealous of all you guys who can afford these full frame babies right after they have been launched. HCB bought a Leica because of its compact size AND because it was affordable (cheaper than a Zeiss Icon).
As I bought my (used) Leica M4-P, it was a bit expensive, but still affordable for regular people like me. As I bought my (new) Nikon FM2, it was a solid, compact (for a SLR) AND affordable camera to go out and shoot with. Thats the major difference between cameras from the film days and these new digital 35mm cameras.
I am looking for a digital 35mm camera for ages, in order to use my beloved Nikkor and M-Mount lenses. But I realize more and more, that the days of affordable 35mm cameras are over. I am sure HCB is spinning in his grave, seeing all that expensive luxury toys. And I’m sure he would never ever choose a Leica M, if he were a young street photographer today.
Sorry for the negativity, but all these announcements make me a little sad.
So I will continue to go out and shoot with my affordable APS-C camera.
I don’t think HCB would care, frankly. AFAIK he didn’t comment much on cost, just flow and size.
In any case, don’t lose heart: have you checked out the metabones speed booster line? A really great addition for legacy glass lovers that shoot aps-c.
If you really want to go there, take the price of any of the cameras being discussed here an put them into any web inflation calculator to see what it would have cost in say 1960. My 1969 Pentax Spotmatic SLR (couldn’t afford the Nikon) cost almost the same then as the new Nikon D800 does today without a lens. But look at the difference in technology between the two, and no film costs today. For those too young to remember, the Pentax Spotmatic had (please sit down) through the lens light metering! The ultimate breakthrough. Cost today is simply not an issue: great cameras from $ 300 on up in 2013 prices.
I was feeling like a high flying balloon while watching the Nikon Df lead up… but, like many others, the execution didn’t meet the hype. IMO Nikon really missed the mark on this one; D4 sensor was a nice choice, and although I don’t buy into the “magic”some people do, certainly the high iso capability and resolution are excellent for legacy glass. The styling is ok, not the digital FM many wanted, but Nikon’s flagships have always been a bit cluttered since leaving the mechanical era. I’d preferred to have seen a simpler layout,a la leica or fuji, but this is Nikon… in any case, the real disappointment lies inside for me. D610 AF module is weak in low light and I don’t like the DX focus points all jammed in the middle, as I prefer to place a focus point where I want to when I use AF. And Nikon went through the trouble of adding the retractable coupling pin for non ai compatibility, but there’s no split prism or ground glass that works with fast lenses? No ability to change focus screens, even? What were they thinking? I was so hyped about this camera I started re-buying nikkor glass I loved years ago, no long sold after moving to leica m… now I won’t be shooting it on a digital Nikon, that’s for sure. Now I’m looking at the Sony A7 and A7r.
I use a fuji xpro for most digital work, love the lenses, and although it’s been a rocky relationship at times I like the camera a lot now on firmware 3. I’m going to keep the fuji as I love the rendering, and predict a good continuing future for x mount. Fuji is certainly putting out lenses I desire, the mount already has a fabulous collection just a few years in.
I’ve determined I’m not going to be able to hack a digital leica body, and having less free time nowadays I’m not shooting my m3 as much due to development and scanning time. Sometimes,I just want to make pictures, and unfortunately my leica glass doesn’t feel the same on the xpro. The cup factor bugs me, and I’d like to go full frame.
Steve, I only own pre asph leica stuff (asking with a while pile of excellent Minolta MC and MD glass), and I’m in nikkor pre-ai collecting mode again. I love the rendering of older, non aspherical, single coated or early multicolored glass. I’m leaving towards the A7, as I figure 36 megapixels of the R will be wasted, I like the quiet shutter, and if I ever buy AF glass for it the PDAF seems useful. I never carry a tripod, and I know d800 users suggest you really need one or at least IS to see the benefits of the sensor, so I’m thinking the a7r will be the same. The lower cost is nice, also, the difference is a nice piece of zeiss zm glass.
However, I’m concerned about a few things: 1, the lack of offset microlenses on the a7 makes me think the a7r might be better, especially for M glass… but I am not an ultrawide shooter, generally shooting in the 28 to 135 range, will I care? 2, the a7 shots I’ve seen posted online so far aren’t as good at a pixel level as the a7r shots. They appear more “processed” looking to my eyes. I think this could be due to many a7 shooters so far using the new kit lens, which probably doesn’t have the resolution of the zeiss primes used on most of the a7r shots… what is your take, having used both with some m mount glass?
As an aside:a few days ago you posted in a comment on the Df that (to paraphrase) legacy Nikon glass isn’t up to the same sharpness standards as legacy leica or zeiss. Having used nearly every pre-ai lens at one time or another (on film), I beg to differ;I will agree that leica in general tenders a bit differently, and often sharper wide open. This is a real generality, though, and some nikkors are sharp as a rapier even wide open. There are some fabulous paintbrushes in the nikkor stable, you really should take a look. Some render even more characterfully than their similar-era leica counterparts, in my opinion!
One last aside, before I end my long winded post… a poster above mentioned, essentially, he was burned by Sony’s lack of lenses for the original NEX. I feel his pain. I also bought the original NEX5, and after a few years of absolutely frustrating lack of progress in good primes, sold it. I, too, won’t be burned by Sony again. I’m looking at the a7 as a manual focus legacy glass camera only. If they come up with something AF I must have (the 55 does look nice so far, the 35 less so but it’s too early to tell), I will buy it. But I’m keeping my fuji for all around use. The FE mount won’t have the stellar lineup of primes that fuji has four at least 5 years, if ever…
There are 3 excellent camera’s in this review and one that I’m not the target for. I think Leica deserves its prestige title and its an amazing performer. The EM1 is what every mirrorless camera strives to be like if only it had a FF sensor. The A7 and A7R are very good value and when the manual zeiss lens are announced it may one day rival the M system. Thanks for posting.
Leaving technical specs aside (that I’m sure will be more than good enough for the price asked), I took a look at the Nikon Df and said “I quite like it”. Then I saw the photo next to the real Nikon F (I shoot with the Olympus OM-1 that is similar in size) and now I find it VERY big and ugly, akin to one of that plastic russian Zenith…
I reckon the Nikon DF will be an excellent camera apart from it’s looks, size and weight.
Still think it will sell as many will love the manual controls and the D4 sensor.
Now what about those of us with a raft of Canon lenses?
One thing we are just not seeing in all these digital camera releases is a true super wide prime of exceptional quality.
No 15mm, no 18mm and no 21mm with zero distortion and edge to edge perfection.
Will Voigtlander come out with a digital version of their super amazing 15mm Heliar?
Fuji is the only company with a superior 21mm (equivalent) prime, their 14mm, but then you are stuck with a Fuji camera and that sensor is kinda weird and smeary when you pixel peep.
It looks like rangefinder wides cannot be used on the A7 cameras so we are back to square one for us wide-angle shooters.
If someone could come out with a killer wide for M4/3 then I would be in heaven. But the offerings from Oly (the 12mm) and the SLR Magic 12mm Hyperprime are not wide enough (24mm Equivalent) and they are not that spectacular really.
The Oly 12mm is far too cold and dull for my taste. The Hyperprime has too much distortion and a green push and is kinda soft.
“..If someone could come out with a killer wide for M4/3 then I would be in heaven..” ..have you tried the Panasonic 7-14mm (equivalent to 14mm-28mm on “full-frame”) for m4/3? ..It’s not a prime, but it’s excellent, and really is the equivalent of two primes; both a 14mm and a 28mm (and everything – 19mm, 21mm, etc – in between).
It has a constant f4 (but can be stopped down to f22) and is reasonably sharp right out into the corners, with the same sharpness from f4 right down to as small an aperture as you want.
It works on every m4/3 camera, but on the Olympus models you can use their built-in stabilisation, of course, to hand-hold it at astonishingly slow shutter speeds.
I’ll go for the A7R. That’s the real innovation and changes. It’s not perfect but all cameras can be improved. I think that Sony make the one with less needs of improvement. To be honest I’m a Canon fan and I strongly believe they can do great things. They are one of the few or let’s one of the two that is building everything from the sensor to the lenses. Question is, what are you doing Canon? Is there still someone there??? I’m really astonished they are not bringing any innovation in to the market since years. Coming back to A7R, Steve, would you be so kind to do some test also with some great Nikon AI lenses? I would be really curious to understand how its perform on Sony, something in the range of 20-24mm and something around 135mm. Which in your opinion will be the most interesting 85mm lenses? Actually i think the canon 85mm 1.2 in term of bokeh an DOF is the winner. Thanks and regards. Congratulation for you website, really interesting, real world, real passion and most of these real human feelings.
I sold not dustproof Leica MM and pre-ordered A7R ..
A Sony 7R with that new 55 1.4 from Zeiss, it’s going to be hard to beat that package for a while 🙂 I’m hoping Zeiss will also release a 24 or 28 in that vein. But in truth these are all such capable platforms and whilst not cheap they offer better value than we have seen in the past world of digital platforms. Well with the exception of Leica but then that’s a rich mans toy 🙂
I actually like the E-M1 sample shots the best in this article.
But I will wait till you have your own Sony A7r to see what it can really do.
Also really wonder about the DF and the 16mp full frame sensor, will it have that big pixel magic???
I was shooting Leica M9, Olympus OM-D and Fuji X-Pro/XE-1 with Leica, Voigtländer and Zeiss lenses. One lens family for all of them. I have now sold the XE-1 and my A7 is on the way. I have seen your results on the Voigt Ultron 21, seams not so bad. I hope it will work properly even if it is a WA. Thanks’ for all this feedback Steve.
The A7 is the camera for me because I’m already invented in the Alpha system with a dozen or so lenses and a couple of bodies? I preordered the A7 with the kit which I know you don’t recommend but it may end up being the only FF lens available when the camera ships. Plus it will be a nice lens for family shots and video. All of the other cameras you listed look amazing and I would love to own any one of them. But I don’t a new camera very often and when I do it something that I use the hell out of. I carry my A77 with me everyday so I can shoot the streets of San Francisco and the weight of that body and a Zeiss 50mm is starting to takes it toll on me.
The sony A7R and A7 are the clear winners quality price!!!!! And oh my Leica glass will work and I don’t have to save for 3 years to get a leica M when I can get something better and I think it’s the beginning of the death toll for Leica cameras if they don’t pick it up real fast and the Olympus is really nice quality The nikon is grotesque I have a D800 I think the new nikon will be a flop Nikon better get in the game also enuf said
You are wrong to think that Leica is going away or that the Sony cameras will equal the M. Ditto Nikon which also is not going away and makes cameras that real pros use. The new Df can do everything important that a sports or news pro cares about and not give him a back ache.
I think it IS fair to say that, with the native Zeiss offerings, and when paired with excellent third party glass, the A7r will absolutely match the M in output. I have no doubt of it, actually.
The Df is a very nice tool with excellent high ISO capability but people expecting it to shoot sports with the grace of a D4, or even a D300s are going to be sorely disappointed. Concert camera, though? Absolutely. Theatre extraordinaire. Ditto people claiming the Df to be the second coming of the FM2 or FM3a are going to be sad to see that the camera is about twice as large as either of the two classics, and about 30% heavier. It’s just not a film camera, no matter how many dials you put on it.
I will still bet on the Leica. I assume the “excellent third party glass” you refer to is Leica glass. I have yet to see Zeiss glass equal the best from Leica. And their generally is not up to Leica across the board. I have a 60 year old 90mm Elmarit that blows away any Zeiss competitor. And nothing I have ever seen from them comes very close to the 50 Lux.
You exhibit the worst aspects of the hate Leica syndrome. Just shoot whatever you want and let us Leica users do the same.
I have seen a lot more great shots from Leica and Canon than I ever will from Sony. There is a great deal more to a great camera than internet babble about “IQ”.
Is there a zeiss glass?
I mean beside the zeiss-cosinA or the soneiss?
I just purchased a new Leica m9 after selling mine because I had pre ordered the Leica M240 which I find has not much of a Leica look and if I can accomplish this with my Leica glass with a sony camera for 2199 I will buy that camera I did say Leica cameras are not going to do well they could always produce lenses but there cameras of late have been lacking real modern world resullts .The one thing I do love about leica cameras is the simplicity of there menu system I wish more companies would follow suit on that
Plenty of well informed people would strongly disagree with your statement that Leica cameras “lack real modern world results” . In fact, I have no idea what that means, and my own eyes tell me that all Leicas continue being capable of taking great pictures Why did you buy an M9 if you feel this way?
All Leicas are great tools for photographic expression. So are other cameras. Good cameras are not rendered incapable of creating great images because the XYZ camera company has come out with something new.
I love my m9 I just feel the m240 was a letdown and they Leica are getting left behind incoperating faster processors and sensors that keep up do you own an m 240 ? I also shoot film and have an m6 I’m just saying leica better speed up there new model process that’s all ?the sony looks better to me than the 240 that’s it it will be a 2000 dollar mistake as opposed to 7000 and yes new tech does help take better pics the new cameras are just scanners for our lenses and very technical
I have an M9. The M 240 is better in every way. I have not seen any Sony results that top my M240 images. Internet talk is just that. Many uninformed people talking back and forth with other uninformed people.
Not really internet talk from the uniformed..quite the opposite..it is talk from the VERY informed. A 50 Lux on the A7r will give better files and IQ than the 50 Lux on the M 240. I have used both. With that said, the M 240 user experience is much better..a notch above as it is an M 🙂
Leica M isn’t going to go away because it has a superlative optical viewfinder, which is the ONLY viewing system that never blacks out and lets you see the subject plus its surroundings in context. DSLRs and EVFs both show you only what’s within the lens’ field of view, and both are blacked out at the critical moment at which you’re actually taking the picture.We learn to live with this, but it’s still sub-optimal when dealing with visually complicated, fast-changing situations.
I started out using RF camera, but had to give them up when I got priced out of the market; I adjusted to DSLRs and later to mirrorless and usually do okay with them — but whenever I’m in a situation in which close and continuous observation of the subject is crucial, I know I’d see better if I were looking through an RF.
Everyone seems to forget that Leica is not a mass production camera company like the others being discussed here. They will always have a small market niche for hand made cameras and lenses and larger profit margins. As long as they are selling them faster than they can make them and expanding production as well, I don’t see why anyone would worry. It’s only for those for whom cost is not an issue. The higher cost just makes it possible for lower levels of supply. But look out. All these new cameras have just made it possible to sell more lenses if they can make enough of them and perhaps even introduce lower cost models. But wait. They’ve been doing that for some time already with Panasonic, and for the m4/3 cameras. So, I don’t think anyone needs to worry about Leica. And yes, I sold every piece of camera equipment I had to justify buying the M Monochrom, an “old” used one with 112 shutter actuations. It’s as good as everyone says it is. And my better half is impressed with the images, and absolute must for this price.
Sorry, but EVFs don’t black out while shooting. Nor they flicker anymore – not the latest generations, at least, but if you want to comment, please state up-to-date facts. And, the viewing of surrounding context is useless to many of us: on the contrary, NOT viewing the real white balance, EV stops modification, and general exposition result is something that many finds unacceptable.So, new camera without EVF? Close, but no cigar…
Why are you not including the Pentax k-3? I have seen results that trump the D600. It also has one of this year’s best innovations vis a vis the anti-aliasing effect that can be turned on/off. This is real innovation and also a real photographers camera …surprised that it has not excited you more than the Nikon
Steve, I love your website, and look at it everyday. Love the enthusiasm and the coverage… I’ve owned many of the cameras you review, either before you review, or as a result of your review :-). I agree with you about Leica. I love the build quality, and the glass. But they can’t keep up with the electronic advances, and they are too expensive. I shot Nikon for 38 years, but I find them completely lost. Why would anyone want a weighty boxy tank like the Df? And, I own an em-5 and the new em-1 along with most lenses. The em-1 is fantastic, and so much better than the em-5 (viewfinder, speed, iso, iq, build quality) that I will be selling my em-5. That said, the noticeably absent camera system from your post is fuji. Yes, it is a bit slower focus than the Oly. But it is way faster than Leica! It has the manual controls where they should be (aperture ring, shutter dial, exposure dial) without cluttering the body with tons of buttons in a heavy package like the df. And…the glass, and build quality of the lenses is hands down better than the Nikon, Oly, pany lenses. Oly and pany make some fab glass (12, 25, 75), but the build quality is not in the same league as the fuji. And.. I find the sensor of my xpro-1 produces better out of camera iq than any camera I’ve ever owned (D4, M9, Oly, etc) except perhaps the rx1…. I know u like the fuji, but I just thought I’d toss out my 2 cents – I prefer shooting the fuji over anything I’ve ever owned (unless I need 10fps), and is the only camera I will allow in my on the toad suitcase…
Eeek..I would say the build of Fuji lenses is not up to the build of Olympus primes such as the 12mm f/2, the 75 1.8, the 17 1.8 among others. Every Fuji lens I have tried has felt hollow, focused slow and just has not been enjoyable for me at all. The Fuji may be faster than the Leica but in no way competes and I TRIED to like it because why wouldn’t I want to? In any case, the ONLY Fuji I like is the X100. I am also NOT a fan of the Xtran sensor as the images are flat to my eye, no matter who takes them. It is easy to be fooled by flashy color but the files are indeed a bit flat from the Xtrans. X100 is amazingly good though IMO..much more “organic” than the X Trans. I have tried ALL Fujis. They are hollow in build, feel cheap, dials are cheap feeling, and to me, the lenses, while sharp…lack in build and feel. Id take an E-M1 and one prime over an X-Pro 1 and every fuji lens in a nano second. The Fuji AF needs work, the bodies need work and the whole system needs some tweaking. Of all the cameras made for enthusiasts in the micro 4/3, APS-C, 1″ and Full Frame, the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 are my least favorite cameras. This has been no secret, and I stick to my guns, even after trying them several times over the past two years.
But, this is just my opinion after using ALL cameras made..for me. What I like. Some love the Fuji’s, I feel they lack in many areas so I would never own an X Body. X100? Yes. X-Pro? No, not for me.
Ha! Well, I love the banter :-). Thanks for taking the time to respond. I respect your opinion and the fact that you have indeed tried more cameras than I have owned! But just agree to disagree re the lenses (and sensor). Feel the focus ring on the Oly 75, then on the 12, then on the 17. All have differing fractions. Now, go try the fuji 14 and 23. Absolutely perfect, and consistent. And much tighter/better manual focus pull. The 12 and 17 olys are great, but can pop from auto to manual so easily I’ve missed shots before realizing they are in manual….
Steve, that was gutsy. Thank you! I’m sure the Fuji fans will take offense — but as someone considering a move to Fuji, I really appreciate such a forthright opinion from someone who has tried them and their competitors.
Be a judge for yourself. Try a camera out and see if you like it, not whether someone else likes it. And, by the way, he uses Lightroom for the conversions, which sucks for the X-Trans – so take it with a grain of salt.
I have used the OMD and the X-Pro 1, and I don’t like the OMD. Who cares, as it is just my opinion. A friend of mine left Fuji for the OMD, probably influenced by this site, but sold the OMD within a month and went back to the X-Pro 1, as he prefers the files, design and handling of the X-Pro 1, despite it’s slower AF.
So, be the judge for yourself, as nobody can tell u what is best for you. You need to try a camera out and use the files to see what u like. People are far too influenced by other people’s opinions, and possibly waste a lot of money because of it. While some perhaps never know, because they never make decisions for themselves.
Good points, but I don’t have the ability to do extensive trials of all the cameras the way Steve can. We have a good local camera store where I can get demos of them, but that’s not the same as using them extensively. I’m still going to check out the XE2 for myself, and will make my own decision, but it’s helpful to hear from someone who has tried a lot of cameras and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.
PS — I’m standardized on Lightroom as well; it’s just not realistic for me in terms of time to dink around with an assortment of raw converters to overcome the peculiarities of specific cameras. This is one of those cases in which different people’s work practices shape their opinions, so nobody is actually wrong, but it’s helpful to hear from someone who works the same way you do…
^^^ Steve, Sometimes I feel your comments and reviews are awfully polite. You are always honest but you are always careful not to step on anyone’s toes. Then I stumbled upon this comment of yours. Wow! I just love, love, the candidness of it. You made declarations and put your foot down. No beating around the bush on this one. With that said, I owned the X100 and I currently own the X100S. I see no difference in “print” quality between the two. I use the Epson R3000 printer and I find both cameras make excellent 11″ X 19″ prints. The difference is that the X100S is far more useable. I am curious as to why you don’t prefer the X-Pro1 compared to the other Fuji offerings.
Although I’m a fuji user, I agree with your general assessment, Steve. I’ve owned an xpro since launch, although I got so frustrated around the time firmware 2 was released (which still sucked,imo) that I sold it. I find I missed the fuji lens drawing so much, though,I bought it ask back, known warts and all.
Now I find me love for the camera with firmware 3. I can honestly say I actually like the xpro now. Would firmware 3 change your mind, Steve? No,I don’t think so.
But if someone likes the fuji lenses,I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it now. While I agree the build quality isn’t leica (or even Japanese zeiss), I haven’t had any real durability issues. I do think the fuji lenses draw differently, much finer than micro 4/3 to my eye. And some have fabulous pop: the much maligned 18/2 is freaking fabulous in 3d glory, one of my favorite 28’s EVER. Reminds me of the old zeiss 28/2 Hollywood distagon…
Anyway, Steve’s points are all dead on, even for me as a lover of the fuji lenses. The xpro and xf lenses feel hollow, and there’s a bit of an unfinished quality about the system. If you love the drawing off the lenses, it won’t matter, and you’ll love the system. If you don’t, as Steve, then off write it off for now.
I agree with Steve’s comment about the Fuji. I’ve shot with the X Pro 1 since it came out, for professional wedding work, with the 35, 18, and 60 lens. I used it alongside the Olympus OMD Em5 and Fuji X100s. This past weekend I used my new OMD-EM1 for a wedding and I love it so much I will be selling my entire Fuji X Pro 1 kit. The OMD-EM5 will also be sold. I can’t go back to using the EM-5 or the XPro-1 after using the OMD-EM1. The OMD-EM1 is amazing, and the one feature that no one is really talking about is the new color control selector. That feature is such an amazing tool. It is essentially auto white balance on steroids. You set the color look you want, and then it takes over and adjust the white balance no matter what where you point the camera so that the colors have the same look as what you had set with the color controller. Simply amazing. I don’t have to keep fiddling with the white balance. It’s the first camera I know that can do this and it will take off days of my wedding post processing! That feature alone is enough to change over for me. So bye bye Fuji. I’ve given you two years. It’s been a great two years and you’ve delivered, but the OMD-EM1 has you beaten in every possible way for what I shoot.
The Fuji X100s will remain. I have a special love for that camera and it will shoot along side my two OMD-EM1. Silent shutter, leave shutter with high sync speed, built in ND filter and great focus peaking that allows me to focus manually in almost total darkness. It’s been my main camera when the light goes really low, as in when the dancing starts. Gorgeous. I wish it had a 50mm lens instead of a 35, but I love it still.
I have no interest in the Nikon DF. It’s just another big DSLR with a makeover that will probably hinder rather then improve my ability to capture moments. Seems like a me-too retro looking camera for the sake of being retro. Nikon and Canon have the heads in the sand by ignoring how great it is to use a really good EVF. I do like the Sony A7r as a lightweight, ultra high resolution camera for formal family portraits with large 30-40 prints in mind but will wait and see.
This is quite funny. I’ve been using my new E-M1 for about 3 weeks now and have yet to discover the color controller you’re so impressed with. It takes a while to set up the E-M1 the way you want to use it, then it just stays that way until you feel like changing something. After the E-M5, this was easy enough. Now I’ve go to go back and discover the color controller. Thanks for the tip. I guess I should just look for a YouTube video for it.
It’s actually called the Color Creator, and it’s one of the 4 options presented when you press on the multi function button (which was by default Fn2) but you can assign any other button to it. I leave it at Fn2 because it seems the perfect place for it. Click on the button and then use the controller wheel to scroll to the 2nd option, the Color Creator. Once you’ve done it that camera changes your picture mode to Color Creator and it takes over your white balance. You spin one wheel to your desired color scheme and the other wheel determines the saturation. It’s very intuitive and since it overlays your image you see exactly what it does to the colors. Once set, the camera will automatically adjust the white balance to give you the look you want. You can walk into a fluorescent room and then back to an incandescent room and your colors will stay constant automatically! No more having to constantly fiddle with white balance. It’s simply amazing and no other camera I know has it.
Glad you caveated your remarks about Fuji – “But, this is just my opinion after using ALL cameras made..for me. What I like. Some love the Fuji’s, I feel they lack in many areas so I would never own an X Body. X100? Yes. X-Pro? No, not for me.” – as I have really taken a liking to the handling of the Fuji X-System. But, as you said, they are not for you. Coming from film (Olympus and Nikon) and digital (all Nikon – used D2H bodies for a decade), the Fujis are taking me in a new direction as I enter retirement. As far as prints, I can easily print a 12″X18″ on my Epson R2400 (with Jon Cone’s Piezography inks) and have a print that rivals what I used to do in a wet darkroom on silver halide matte paper.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder….
Some of the top professional photographers out there are using Fuji cameras with great success, so, they must be doing something right with that flat xtrans output.
Anyway, one thing Fuji has done right is they offer some of the best glass available to mirrorless. It may “feel hollow” to some people, but proof is in the images. The glass is also fast with 14 2.8, 23 1.4, 35 1.4, 56 1.2(coming soon).
Exactly…take it with a grain of salt. This is just his opinion, and that is it…If you had a similar site, you would voice your opinion, which would differ from the next persons…
hollow… I don’t get it, full metal construction and glass, no plastics – beauty of new technology allowing us to produce alloys lighter yet sturdier materials. Does Fuji feel different than my M6? yes it does, it’s also several decades newer.
Whose half case is on the M240 in the picture?
The one I reviewed here in September 🙂
thanks for the great reviews !! I’ve become a big fan of your blog !
You came to the wrong site, dude. For what you’re looking for, you’ll be better served by DXO or DPR…
Probably will pick up an A7 or A7r. I have Voight 35mm Color Skopar and Zeiss Sonnar C glass currently sitting. Do not feel I need/want 35mp but I like the mostly metal construction of the “r” version, and the lack of an AA filter. Odd that the A7 is reported as being heavier given it has much less metal (not just the dials but much of the body according to a DPreview forum post).
Any identical pics comparing the A7 versus A7r output yet?
Please hurry up with RX10 review Steve. Was planning on selling my E-m5 for an E-m1 but perhaps the RX10 would be best. Need to capture a moving 21mo old. I’m sure the E-M1 and RX10 beat out the E-M5 for that.
Hi Steve – this is another great article. Thanks as always for your insight and enthusiasm. I converted from Canon EOS 5D to Four-Thirds a few years back and had great results with an Olympus E620 and the wonderful 12-60mm zoom. I travel a lot and portability is very important. Seeing the writing on the wall I moved to mirrorless with an EM-5. I love the camera. This is certainly an exciting time in photography with companies like Olympus, Sony, Panasonic and Fuji really pushing the envelope with innovative products. Do you think there’s a possibility that Olympus will re-engineer their FT lenses to work on the MFT cameras without an adaptor? I’m guessing that most future purchasers of these great lenses will be buying them for use on mirrorless bodies – and it can’t be that much of an engineering problem to (effectively) incorporate the FT to MFT adaptor into the base lens. With fast constant aperture lenses being introduced, it would also be good to see a 1.4x MFT converter.
One other thought: do you think Sony ever considered making the A7 sensor size 24x32mm? After all, the 24×36 image size is in itself a paradigm – thanks to Oscar Barnack’s use of the doubled-up cine film frame. When I used 35mm film I kept a stock of 24x32mm GePe slide mounts and it was amazing how many times I cropped my images longitudinally with these mounts – to the more pleasing 3:4 aspect ratio. The move to 24×32 would have enabled lenses to be about 10% smaller than for the 24×36 frame, and would have given an aspect ratio the same as that used in 6×4.5 cameras that most professionals find ideal – when they’re not shooting square format. Of course all the full-frame aficionados would say the camera wasn’t true “full-frame” so that may have kept Sony from going down this path! By the way, I remember a camera way back, the Wrayflex, that flirted with this frame size, and I seem to recall some of the early Nikon rangefinder cameras were also 24×32.
I love my fuji x100s and I just can’t see any reason to change, it really does fit my style. If i were to purchase another camera, it would definitely be a rangefinder.
Loved my Leica M3 back in my film days. I think I’m pretty much done with Nikon, I’m having a hard time figuring out who they are marketing camera for these days… Photographers? Not so sure.
Another awesome blog post Steve. Thanks
Thanks for run down Steve. I just bought the em1. Gotta learn it and set it up. I,m also a fuji shooter. I love them but miss a lot of shots where my em5 wouldn’t. I’ll most likely be considering the sony as I just sold all my canon bodies. 7D, 5D2, and 1Ds3. Now gotta sell the lenses and make room for some new toys. I’ll be sticking to fuji for the ease of use, great menu system, portability, IQ and great looks. But I want that great IQ of the full frame sometimes. So unless fuji ups the game soon, sony will most likely find a place on my shelf.
I think you can’t leave Fuji out of the discussion. While the XE-2 isn’t revolutionary, Fuji’s glass offerings are about the best of any system right now, IMO. The 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4 and soon to be released 56mm f1.2 are basically my ideal 3 lenses kit, and each of them is well built, optically excellent (assuming on the 56mm) and reasonably priced.
The Sony’s look great spec wise, but….. its a question if if/when native class will show up. I was an original NEX buyer and waited years for decent native glass. It is what makes or breaks a system really.
I don’t want to buy a $2400 A7r and end up waiting until Spring 20015 to get a native wide prime for it, know what I mean ?
Fuji’s got you covered with zooms, 10-24, 16-50/18-55 and the 55-200, all of which should be great, and also quite a range of fast primes in classically popular focal lengths .
If the XE-2 can improve the AF a bit, I think it should be a pretty competitive camera system when it comes to actual shooting, but maybe not ultimate image quality.
Fuji seems to “get” photographers, while Sony seems to build some cool technology, but doesn’t always roll out glass options photographers want. Its a company of engineers doing cool stuff like a FF mirrorless, but if they aren’t really photographers they don’t realize how its a bit silly to have a 35mm f2.8 and a 55mm f1.8 as the only two primes at introduction.
Why not really hit the ground running with a 24mm f2.0 and a 90mm f2.0 as well ? I bet the people who preorder a $2400 camera would also probably order those lenses too. This isn’t gear for people on a budget after all.
I prefer 35mm over 55mm myself (though the 55 looks great optically) but it might end up really be no different for me than had I just stuck with my RX1 if they can’t roll out other native glass.
Its like I got an interchangeable lens camera system, but the only lens I can buy (that I want) is 35mm….
Time will tell I guess…
I have to agree with you. I followed a similar path: a early NEX buyer, driven off by the lack of good glass to Fuji, and I hadn’t looked back until the A7 announcement. I won’t be fooled by Sony a second time though, at least not until they have released a lens range going from wide to portrait which has proven to be of high quality.
I feel we are just in the early days of a Full frame revolution, where mainstream consumers will be able to afford such cameras. It was not long ago that a $1500 FF camera was unthinkable, yet today I see a used D600 for even less. I am not going to rush on it just yet: both Pentax and Fuji are rumored to have FF in their plans, and it would not surprise me if Panasonic join in on the fun.
Totally agree. The Fuji had the right lenses from the get-go.
Totally agree with your fuji glass comments. I own the 14 and 23 and find them better than any glass I’ve owned (other than the 35 and 50 sumis
I’m hoping Pentax/Ricoh surprise us with a true retro stripped back FF camera. Not that I will buy as I am totally sunk into M43. The DF2 has too freakier a look (not so bad in black) and way too many auto functions to claim a “pure” photographic experience. Would love a 0.95 and E-M1 combo but will “make do” with my E-M5 or G6 and PanaLeica 25mm 1.4 or Oly 45mm 1.8 🙂
Nice write-up. If I could choose any of them I’d pick the Df. Mainly because I use the V2 which would remain my daily carry and the Df would be my “serious” camera. With the FT-1 I could use FX lenses for extreme telephoto. Anyway, it’s just a fantasy so I’m just going to happily stick with the V2 as my only camera.
And the Pentax K3 doesn’t count?
Great post and photos. An exciting time for photographers with so many cool options to choose from! Only thing I ponder here is the Olympus being the first “professional” micro 4/3 camera. I think the Panasonic GH3 has a fair claim to that title, with its weather sealing, robust feature set and customizability, excellent lens selection and pro-grabbing video spec. Understand that the iq on the Oly is a step up though. Also looking forward to the Panasonic GM1 for the extreme portability. A GX1 with14mm prime goes with me most often and I love it to death :). Gotta love these manufacturers for the innovation taking place.
You said it. The GH3 is a powerhouse… but really built heavily for the video crowd. Its still photo implementation is lacking… the NEX-6 and E-P5 were both superior photographic tools.
I saw the Nikon DF size video but didn’t notice the camera at all. 😉
That’s the trouble with autofocus, sometimes it just locks on to the wrong thing……. 😉
they really should have used bigger models to hold the cameras…..
Yeh, a couple of American football players would have made the cameras seem a lot smaller and maybe even smaller than the Sony’s. Bad marketing by Nikon.
I`d place it on the hood of a Hummer H1 to make it look compact ;).
Great review Steve. For me I love the x100s for people and landscapes as the colour rendition, iso and IQ from ooc jpegs is amazing, and I rarely shoot raw. I used to process raw images all the time until I spent more time in front of the PC than shooting. The resolution from x100s is all I need and the prints I get are rarely larger than a 16×20 (yes some people still like to print pictures, it’s so much fun). I also like the Ricoh GR for ooc B&W street photography with snap focus and the built in intervelometer. The Sony for me is very tempting, as I can’t afford a Leica kit and I don’t own any Nikon lenses, and the DF looks big. Film is still a lovely format to use, and for the cost of a DF you could buy a great film equivalent and afford to have about +6000 digital scans processed. The Olympus em1 seems tempting too, but for multi lens shooting I still get great results from a Canon 60d with some excellent Sigma glass, so I’m not upgrading yet. So much choice, it’s hard to go wrong. What a very lucky era we live in for enjoying photography. Thanks for sharing the latest updates and your views on different cameras.
Hey Steve, what are the lenses in m43 that have autofocus while also NOT have fly-by-wire focus rings?
While I’m not Steve, here are the ones I know of:
– Oly 12mm/f2, 17mm/f1.8 and the latest addition, the 12-40/f2.8. If you pull the focus ring back, you get manual focusing with fixed end points. If you keep the focus ring in the forward position, you still have fly-by-wire though.
Good summary, so may options. I have forsaken big, so the EM1 is getting picked up today and my beloved and well used EM5 is staying in the family with my son. That’s good enough for anything, if the 50-200 Oly proves good enough for sport (kids, nothing professional) and the odd bit of wildlife, which I am sure it will. It’ll be a great go anywhere camera, with AF most of the time and a voigtlander or two when I want to take my time.
…….Which makes it hard to justify the A7r that should turn up in a couple of weeks. So I have decided not to bother….with the justification that is. That’ll be for when I have time to myself, and mostly manual focus lenses (one Zeiss one Voigtlander…..oh and a second hand slightly battered 90 Elamarit I got for $600). As someone pointed out I can also use the Full frame lenses on the EM1 to double my options.
then even I might behave myself for a year or two and just get on with taking pictures …..with the odd lens slip up no doubt
Xe2?? Come on Steve!
I handled the Xe2 at Photo Plus. Was not impressed in the slightest. Same build, feel and camera as the XE1 pretty much. Fuji needs to do better to match the cameras in this post.
Just sold both my x100s and my xpro-1 (with lenses). I did enjoy the FUJIs (or the Johnsons as my better half called them) for the sheer experience of shooting, but there were simply not delivering the file output needed. I was hoping Fuji would step up their FF / resolution game – but they did not – they decided to milk the APS-C segment instead. So a A7r it is, together with a 35 and a 50 M mount. Still not decided yet on the lenses (I want stellar performers – suggestions?), but looking forward to enjoy a manual focus experience on top of a monster sensor all wrapped nicely into a lightweight package (also looking forward to what new names by better half comes up with for the new members of our family). But most importantly… Enjoy shooting whatever tools you choose!
We X-trans users regret that this is and will always be the anti-Fujifilm forum. In an almost offensive way.
The X-E2 is an excellent product, delivering an IQ that stands on par with the camera’s in the title, and at least, the Fujifilm pricing remains interesting. Still it doesn’t even get a chance.
This reaction contradicts so much with the increasing crowd of very experience professional and advanced photographers that have chosen the X-trans system as their primary tool. They understand why.
To be honest, I didn’t see so many shooting events with the brands mentioned, except for Nikon of course which is pretty much a standard and only very, very occasionally Olympus, but I do know quite some very experience people that are exited by using the Fuji X-system & according results.
Any of the cameras proposed in this blog has of course good features and qualities – it would be a shame at this price level – but evidently each of them has also a number of shortcomings. Some or even quite important ones. No camera is perfect and the Fujifim is absolutely not below par as suggested, We could also state that Leica needs to do better by implementing AF, Sony should hire a team of designers to give the A7 a decent look, the Nikon Df has to go on diet to become a serious candidate and Olympus is not really thinking of people with big hands.
The comment on the X-E2 is just based on some very simple and early impressions and most of all, a complete dislike of anything that Fujifilm releases. The X-E2 was likely not even with the new AF-system fully operational using the firmware that was only released today.
Steve: you really need to change to a more objective approach, provide more balanced views on Fujifilm X or a lot of people will start questioning your overall credibility and independance of the other brands’ commercial money and directives, because to be honest, surely Leica doesn’t like Fujifilm’s competition too much, don’t say it is not true because I know they really do, as I found out myself.
I really liked your forum, but since the release of the X-Pro1, it has become a very monotone Leica, Olympus and Sony story only. I suppose we X-trans users can better leave your forum if this is the red line in everything you write.
Then, seriously you must leave. And, think that for the last few weeks I got the impression that this blog was transformed in a totally pro-rangefinder Leica and Fuji stronghold. Go figure.
What one would you get for a backup camera for my M240? Want one with AF, sold off my DSLR equip. Thinking an EP-5 or something not too expensive. Keeping the M240 of course.
Steve; how about the RX1r; do you think IQ will be even better with the A7 and/or the A7r and the new Sony 35mm?
No, not really. Maybe the same..but that RX1 is AMAZING!!! The lens on that camera is one of the best ever tested. The A7r and 35 2.8 will have more DOF and will be sharp as the RX1 but I do not feel it will surpass the RX1. Hard to do that.
No love for the RX10 I guess.
Guess you did not read the text 🙂
Yes you’re right! Sorry
Steve, when you finish your write up on the RX10 (hopefully this week) can you please give us some hint of how/where it stacks up against your “big 4” from this post? For example, how is the sensor (1 inch) compared to the Oly with m43 or the FF Alpha…it will help us to understand how you see this camera and what we can expect. Almost like one of your “crazy comparisons” (but maybe this one won’t be so crazy?). Thanks!
Well, the 1″ sensor in the RX10 in no way can compete with the full frame cameras here..not even close in depth and richness, DOF, noise, etc. It does not match my E-M1 either, simply due to the fact of the 1″ sensor. BUT 1″ sensor cams have their own uniqueness about them. They simply work..fast AF, sharp results, versatile in the case of RX10, great video… So much much different than an A7, Df or E-M1 or Leica M or Pentax K3… I see this as a PJ camera, a family vacation camera and an every day camera for many.
Perfect, Steve. Just what I was looking for. Since I have an M 240 already and am giving up my Nikons, I will splurge and opt for the A7 as my second camera. Your points on DOF, richness, noise, etc. put this in great perspective. I thought I might be able to get away with the versatility of the RX10, but clearly that would be sacrificing on the factors that count (for me). Thanks so much.
Nice summation. these are all nice cameras.
I see no reason to dispose of my Leicas, however. I just got my M240 back from Leica after they replaced the lugs, updated the firmware etc, and it is more incredible than ever. While it was away, I shot my M9, no slouch in any way, although the M240 is clearly superior all around and does have the legendary Leica “pop”, by the way. The low light capability of the new M alone distinguishes it from the M9 as well.
When not shooting the new M I fall back on the Monochrom, not mentioned in this summation, but a camera which blows away any of these cameras for pure image making, and is an ergonomic joy to shoot. It pairs with the newest Leica lenses stunningly and makes older lenses sing.
Finally, when I get bored with digital, I run some film through my MP or M6 and usually use older Summicron lenses. I am still not sure that any digital can top the best analog prints, but the Monochrom may accomplish that.
Of all these non- Leica cameras, I might be tempted by the Sonys, but I am pretty sure that in the final analysis I would not create better framable prints than I get now, and by the idea of a light -weight D4 for action photography. So I will look at the Df. Action is not my chief interest, however.
By the way, I am sorry that I sold my M8. With the crop factor and the M 135mm lens I got great animal shots in Africa. And M8 images converts beautifully to black and white.
Contrary to what I read from time to time on the internet, Leica is not going away. They will continue to create exceptional instruments for creating photographic art..
I agree. The M 240, if you own one, is a keeper, especially if you enjoy it. But for those who can not swing the $7k, there are no options outside of Leica that will get you the same or even better IQ for less. 🙂
Steve, whose half case is on your M240 in the picture?
Steve, you wrote in the article….
“while the Leica M is a work of art, today at the end of 2013, you can get the same or better IQ for less money AND still get to use the superb M lenses that are out there”
then you just wrote..
“The M 240, if you own one, is a keeper, especially if you enjoy it. But for those who can not swing the $7k, there are no options outside of Leica that will get you the same or even better IQ for less”
now I’m confused ;-))
Guess theres a W missing.
What?!? No M7? I pity you.
My, but you have a rapier – like wit. What, pray tell, do you shoot , besides shooting off your mouth?
Well, I had orders in for an A7 and A7r (pending more test results), but the Df made me cancel them for now. Better to wait and see how things shake out. I’ve shot SLR film cameras along with Leica RF for over 50 years, but have never liked dSLRs. If I opt for a Df it will be for all old Nikon glass. Kudos to Nikon for making it compatible with all their old SLR lenses. I still have a few from my Nikon F (which I still use), so I’d like a dSLR that lets me work exactly the same – like my M9 works with my film Ms. I don’t have to change mental gears to use either.
Funny how quickly the amazing break-through products are pushed aside. Was just looking at my Lightroom catalog and I had some AMAZING captures with the Sony A77 and a pair of lenses (Sony 16-50 f/2.8 and an ancient Minolta 85 f/1.4) two-years-ago.
Should have never sold them.
As much as I think I need a FF camera in reality the Olympus E-M1 is all I need and my next camera purchase.
I wanna OM-D E-M1 with an A7R Full Frame sensor. That would be an unbeatable camera! 🙂
Except it wouldn’t work right without full frame lenses.
I want to have some info about Fuji XE-2 and Pentax K3. As great as can be new Sony , Olympus etc I’m quite tired for so much noise 20 days now for Sony – Olympus – Sony – Olympus ! I will never buy them for many reasons and I’m coming to this site for some time now, to learn about new releases … not the same 2 cameras and brands . At least this was the trend in the past in this site …
I made comments about the X-E2 after I handled one at Photo Plus. To me the X-E2 is not much of an improvement on the X-E1, at all. So Fuji is just playing the game right now. The Pentax is GREAT. I was able to shoot with one last week and I LOVE Pentax and the K3 seems like yet another winner. But the Fuji…not for this post. The Sony is revolutionary, the Nikon was SUPER HYPED, the Olympus is the best mirror less you can buy IMO and the Leica, well…it’s a Leica. If I review the X-E2 (if i like it, I will) then you can read about it here soon. The Pentax will also be reviewed. For 5 years I have covered every camera that I would like and could recommend. If you do not see it here, then it did not excite me nor would I own it.
That’s a shame, Steve. For me, I am very interested in the X-E2 (coming from the X100S and X-E1) as the few improvements seem to be a little more substantial than seems initially at first sight. But, as you noted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was initially excited about the Df but, after taking a look at the Nikon site yesterday, I can tell the Df is not for me. I was hoping for something more like my Olympus OM-4T for a FF body that I could slap some legacy Nikon glass on.
Anyway, enjoy your site and will continue to stop by….
This is my problem with the Fuji crowd: their inexplicable desire to seem as different as possible, as if it gives credence to their artistry or their individuality… like a modern hipster just discovering Brian Eno LPs in the $1 bin at their local music store. Just because it’s marketed to the indie shop doesn’t give it street cred. The fact that their near fanatical user base says it does just blows my mind. Retro stylings don’t make a camera more functional, not in this day and age where we no longer need to simply consider Aperture, Shutter, Meter, ISO. No today there are many, many more parameters to discuss and having more direct access to those parameters will make you more successful in any given shoot. Sony’s A7r is an excellent example: 9 customizable buttons, each able to be set with one of 45 unique functions, plus the actual Fn button giving you access to at least another 6 at all times! You can sincerely make that camera YOUR camera. Sony would ask you what on earth you’ve done to their baby and you’d smirk and go, “I made this lady MINE.” Retro simply takes that ability away, and lowers the number of the photographer’s weapons in the field where accessibility and organic shooting come in.
I simply do not understand why people haven’t gotten it: Sony is a damn good electronics manufacturer, it’s true BUT they have also, I think, more than earned the right to call themselves a damned good CAMERA manufacturer. Olympus has their credibility dating back to the 1930s and it owe to no one… but Sony has the deepest digital imaging history of ANY AND ALL camera manufacturers today, and very few people (Steve obviously excepted) seem to wish to give them credit, kudos, or even the time of day.
The A7r is a breakthrough in raw capability and size. I’m sorry it wasn’t Canon, I’m sorry it wasn’t Nikon and I’m sorry it wasn’t your beloved Fuji that came out with it first. You know why they didn’t? Because only Sony has the architectural ability to make this stuff at home, that’s why. Fuji will forever play the retro card and people will continue to attempt to say that the X100s is the photographic equal of monsters like the RX1r (it’s not even close but that’s another argument).
If nothing else, that should be the one reason people need to take notice: For Sony, it’s all in house, it’s not licensed, it’s not borrowed. No one else, not even Panasonic can say that. And it’s time people just grew up and dealt with the matter.
If Olympus could just get Sony to make them a really good sensor for their great camera . . . Oh, they did that already. Then Sony bought the company. But it’s still nice to treat them as two separate companies. What we all want from both companies is a happy successful future developing even better cameras for all of us. Whatever camera we’re happy with, we’d like to see it supported well into the future and if possible improved. We may just get that now.
Sony did not buy Olympus..I think it was 11% that they bought, which could mean some cool things but in all honesty, the E-M1 rocks as is 🙂
The size comparison of those three cameras isnt accurate. Look how much bigger the Nikon Hotshoe is to the other 2. Make all 3 hotshoes the same size and the size differences won’t look as drastic.
(A closer look shoes the Leica M Hotshoe is actually smaller than the Sony or DF).
Just an observation.
It is accurate. Do what someone else has done to test it..there were many comments on it in yesterdays post. The Df is HUGE…
The reason it looks bigger is because the DF is taller, so the hotshoe is closer to the camera.
Of course this isn’t the three cameras actually lined up, it’s separate images scaled to the approximate sizes based on the dimensions in the specs. Still, it should be about how the three would really look side-by-side.
You can look at it on camerasize.com
is an accurate comparison with Sony NEX7, Sony A7R and Nikon Df, D600, all with the normal 1.8 lens choice, except for NEX7, but the macro is same size as 35/1.8.
Notice how the Zeiss lens make the A7R as long as the Nikon cameras.
So same thing..slightly smaller than a D600
En Passant is in fact attempting a pro Nikon chess move 🙂 The fact remains: the Df is massive when compared to its mirrorless peers, and that is to be expected. Whether or not it’s a liability is solely up to the user and their needs. For me, it will be. I’m done with massive full-frame product (thank you, Sony) and I’m done waiting. Nikon and Canon have been hesitant, damn near frozen in place. Meanwhile Olympus and Sony have forged ever ahead, not coincidentally, I’m sure, at a time when their electronic and financial partnership has hit its peak. Red and Yellow need to deeply consider whether or not the future lies outside the F and EF mount systems and understand that yes, yes it does.
Argh. GAS indeed. My main complaint with the em-5 was that the continuous tracking feature doesn’t work (when photographing children). Seems like the em-1 has improved significantly on that and I think it would help me get more pictures in focus. That combined with a better grip and bigger buttons and I think I might “need to” upgrade.
The full frame sony looks interesting as well but I can resist it for now. For what I shoot (family pictures 90% shared/viewed online) the EM-1 is more then capable enough.
I recommend E-M1 to every Leica M owner, it’s cheaper than any M lens and with an adapter it doubles the focal length with a different character. It’s like having twice as many Leica M lenses. I tried a few different M lenses, you’ll see what I mean..
Unless you are a wide-angle shooter.
Olympus and Panasonic deliver the wide angle primes and zoom lenses for E-M1. The 50mm Leica becomes a nice portrait, short tele lens.
Some of the a7r-files are eating me up, i am with that thing and will learn to work it as soon as it arrives. 2 weeks until a “clunky shutter” walks through my hometown. 🙂
Yep. Until then, Put a Canonet or Voightlander rangefinder loaded with TriX in the bag with the nikon one, and leave the stuff that costs heaps at home.
What a great write up Steve!
I ran into a gentleman the other day that was shooting with an M3, I asked him when did he get the camera??? He said, ” When it first came out”! Its amazing how a camera can speak to you and become much more than a tool. I am a tech geek like the rest us but at the end of the day I am learning its more about what you shoot than what you are shooting it with. I think the EM1 is a great example of that. I am a Leica guy but have always liked the fact that companies are pushing themselves day in and day out to get a spot in our bag, to get in front of our eye and be apart of our photographic experience. All of these cameras are great (even the Nikon DF) and will surly be a hit!
Oh wow. I know I’m supposed to be paying attention to the words and all but… what a great collection of shots from all the cameras!
if canon volleys with a retro full frame like nikon, i’ll keep my canon schwagg. that thing’s awesome.
I’m new here, but…
Please, come up with ranking system. (a la DxO?)
This one rocks, that one is velvety smooth,
some of us don’t want to buy based on similar superlatives;
or how about shooting same composition, same camera settings,
& posting native results side-by-side…?
Never had a ranking system (5 years going) and never will. Sorry!
well I’d rank you 10/10 for that response. I would rather read and consider your words and pictures on each camera than get a pseudo scientific score and still wonder if I’d like the thing.
agreed. There are plenty of other sites with scores and stars and such. Not why I come here…
I think what this site does best is convey the emotion of shooting – I’m glad there is no ranking system. Honestly, it looks like all of these cameras are excellent cameras – it all depends on the type of photography you do. Keep going Steve!
Agreed. In fact I can’t stand the ranking systems because it allows manufacturers to twist the facts by making some cameras sound better or worse than they really are. I prefer the passion of someone who knows what they’re talking about and, more importantly, knows exactly what they are looking FOR. Also, let’s face it, several world famous sites have absolute crap for test photos. Steve at least can compose an image, for pete’s sake.
Sorry, these responses, IMO, don’t make sense.
The cameras are ALREADY being rated verbally,
assigning each camera a relative number: 10,9,8,7
can only add CLARITY to verbal ranking.
Or here’s another authoritative result:
shooting exact same subject with different
cameras & analyzing results:
Nothing foggy about it & little added clarity required!
Hey, just one person’s opinion, but…
I do comparisons all of the time..try reading some of my larger reviews..M 240, E-M1, many others. I do posts just with comparisons – but I will never give a number ranking, just not what I do. There are PLENTY of sites who do so you should never have a problem finding one 🙂
who wants a ranking system? just post full sized shots, down them and see what you see, that’s it. I do not buy a camera for the reason that DXO ranked it this or that. When I want to see what a camera can do, I down Steve’s shots in full size, and I look close at those in reduced posted here, i do same style as him anyway, center spot focusing and dro off all time. I focus manually to where i want my sharpness, and with Sny’s focus peaking, this is child’s play.
I think every photographer needs a kind of personal ranking system for himself. If you know what kind of photography you want to go for, you will find out which camera is best for your needs. Leica, Nikon, Canon… they all make fantastic cameras. Steve’s reviews are great because he is not a fanboy of a single brand, he picks out the best tools for his work and gives us his unfiltered opinion. I like this forum for the great comments and the fact that you don’t get directly killed by brand fanboys who think tech specs are the most important part of photography. Good photography opens a gate to the soul, at least that is what I am looking for when I press the shutter.
I am saving for the A7r. I already have the SLR Magic 50 CINE, an A-Mount Zeiss 85/1,4. And my beloved RX1.
I also have the SLR magic 50 CINE… been holding onto it in anticipation for the A7R which has been ordered 🙂 Nice cam to go alongside my RX1R
I look fwd to seeing your ‘crazy comparison’ pictures – the same image and (other constant setings/factors) with all of the above 🙂