Crazy Comparison: Sony A7s, 551.8 vs Leica M 240, 50 APO

Crazy Comparison: Sony A7s, 551.8 vs Leica M 240, 50 APO and more!

Many have asked for this, so here you go. Both files are from RAW and both were shot within 45 seconds of each other at f/2. The 1st image is from the A7s and 55 1.8 at f/2. This combo comes in at $3600 or so, not cheap by any means but I feel that the A7s, even after having it for only a day so far, is the best Sony camera made to date. For me it offers the best of all worlds. Lush low ISO quality with a nice rich, sharp, manageable and very pleasing file quality. It also offers the best in class high ISO performance and superb video capabilities.

Many have asked me to pit the Leica M with 50 APO (a lens that I feel is the best you can get on the M and for the M) against the Sony A7s with 55 1.8. The result is below. You must click on the images for larger version and to see the 100% crop. The Sony surprised me here! The Leica combo comes in at almost $15,000 so, $11,500 more than the Sony.

What do YOU think?




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  1. I agree with Kai. It’s not apple-to-apple.

    Btw – could somebody do a comparison between Sony A7r + Leica R 60 Macro and Leica S + S 70/2.5 ASPH? Both are 36+ MP and similar frames. Hope S2 combo wins.


  2. I was wondering since A7S has such low resolution of just 12MP, do we still need a sharp lens such as the 55mm F1.8? Or a less sharp 24-70 F4 would give same result? As for color rendering, I think both Zeiss should perform similarly? Just that for sharpness, the prime is a clear winner on high resolution cameras such as A7R? Any expert please advice me. Thank you!

  3. Why don’t you try them both at night Steve, as you know the a7s is a regular night owl……..i’ve seen the specs and it is short of amazing. I think Nikon and Sony are doing some great stuff here with camera’s for every professional photographers need from fast high res camera to ultra fast low res (like the D4s which stubornly refuses to upscale to 24 Mp). I only whished they would share a bajonet, that would be even cooler.

    Greets, Ed.

  4. Leica looks a lot better to me. better bokeh (not the same as more blur), more natural color and better contrast.

    Of course the Sony and the lens together are less than half the price of just the Leica lens on its own, or slightly more than half the price of the Leica body only. Bang for buck Sony wins, but for just bang, Leica’s got it.

  5. Some additional comments.

    First, the comparisons where the venerable D700 is dragged into the equation is really laughable, and conveniently bypasses all improvements of sensor technology of the past 7 years, which is a long time in digital technology.

    I went from the D700 to the D800 last year after three years of D700. The improvement was stupendous. So much more resolution, same high ISO performance, if not better.
    I use my D800 often at ISO’s from 2500 to 3200; very useable. The D700 did not do better.

    But the A7s does do better. At the expense of resolution, but that’s only to be expected. If a 3200 ISO ceiling would suffice for you (and who could say it doesn’t, but let’s not get into the details), get a D800. Smooth sharpness. What more could you want? 😉

    • Where’s “second”? Here it is. RAW, shot in Vivid? What is the world coming to?

  6. I read severyl times that the colors of teh Leica are better, or of the Zeiss.
    Keep in mind that this is a digital workflow. We are not in the film area anymore where you couldn’t change so much.
    Do you want a warmer color, great, just one click in the software or eve inside the camera, less green saturation, same. So don’t invest 11.000 Dollar cause of the colors!

  7. Not disagreeing with you Steve. Just that the APO is a better lens if you put price out of the equation. Rendering wise I do prefer the Zeiss more, hence I said “technically” 😛

  8. I have the 55, love it. Now I should call to cancel the pre order of the 50 apo.

  9. Thank Steve for the Crazy Comparison. It is however unfortunate that it will lead a lot of people to draw the wrong conclusions since these two pics aren’t enlarged to poster sizes. So it remains… a crazy comparison.

    Even with these tiny little jpegs, the Leica wins hands down technically.

    • Why would I enlarge them to poster size? 98% of shooters today share images electronically, and do not even print. The 2% that do, rarely, of ever, shoot poster size. The Leica will technically win if you pixel peep or print a 60X40 print but for 98% of uses, we go by what has the most pleasing output. To some, that will be the Sony, to others the Leica. BUT, any way you slice it..there is not $11,000 worth of difference there in the Leica image.

  10. Steve,
    I’m sorry, but I really feel that you’ve over-sharpened & over-saturated the Sony’s photo.
    Sony’s photo looks too un-natural, which really goes against it. Please try to be a little more conservative next time.

    • That is direct from the Sony RAW software, no enhancing. Sorry. The camera was most likely in Vivid mode and when you concert using Sony software it uses, by default, the color setting you had in camera. That is why it is so punchy.

  11. If you like the experience of focusing with a rangefinder and if you like using frame lines, the Leica is the only full frame mirrorless choice. But if you are ok with using an EVF then you have the full frame option of the three Sony A7 bodies in addition to the M-240. All these cameras are capable of taking great photos. To my eye the above test shots does not reveal any huge advantage to either camera or lens. So I think a person would do ok, if they picked any of these cameras and lenses and mainly concentrated on the art and technique of Photography.

    • +1 But it may be wise to reiterate that purchasing one will leave a big dent, or hole, on one’s bank balance! : D)

  12. I like the Leica shot more do to the composition with the wider 50mm. Clearly Sony wins in pure IQ do to the sensor.

    Tech has advanced so far that all of these cameras are IQ beasts and it comes down to which system you like to shoot with.

  13. I was talking just recently to a highly regarded pro photographer(Fine Art and commercial ) regarding his opinion of the Leica M cameras M9 M240 and the Sony A7’s. He thinks they are both cameras for photo enthusiasts and will never make inroads in the serious world or pro photography. Both are excellent cameras but do not have the large comprehensive systems back up and the multitask flexibility needed for pro usage.

    I felt he was being a bit dismissive of both cameras but he was adamant that he has never seen either camera in use on the pro scene and never expects to either. He was in particular dismissive of the micro 4/3 format.
    I know he is very competent as I went to classes he ran and I know he enjoys an international reputation but I must say I was surprised to hear those views.
    He said he might consider a Leica Monochrom for some shoots or maybe the Sony for his holiday photos !!!

    I know that we frequently soul search about which Leica lens we would love to have -for me it’s the 28mm Elmarit 2.8 (a fairly modest dream lens I hope you agree) and I would love a Monochrom and I’m sure Sony A7 users have their dream lenses as well. It’s curious to hear a pro photographer dismiss both with such ease.
    Not that it changes my opinion but it’s interesting to note ?

    Best Wishes

    • “…….. but it’s interesting to note ?”

      Not really. It is the opinion of one photographer for whom these two camera “systems”, despite their imaging capabilities, do not have comprehensive system backup to cover a much wider range of photography and which many professionals demand, or which indeed would equally apply to the needs of expert amateur photographers. (Here, I am distinguishing amateur and pro, in the only valid comparison, one earns his living from photography, and the other doesn’t, by definition.)

      Going back to the film era why, for example, would pro wedding photographers invariably opt for a TLR/SLR roll film camera, despite the far more comprehensive 35mm system cameras that were around?

      There seems to be an inference here, and one which I suspect is a wide-held belief, that the tag “pro” means someone who is better placed to comment. All I read into the comments is that neither Sony nor Leica meets his, or the other pros he knows, kit requirements for the nature of the work he/they do.

      The fact that the Leica M is severely hampered in comparison with, say, Canon or Nikon, for sports photography for example, can be countered by the fact that it is a better suited as a reportage instrument, where it needs to be unobtrusive and not shout “Here I am, look how big I am.

      As Steve said, the amateur/enthusiast market is much bigger than the pro market and where different user criteria apply.

    • With all respect, that “Pro” speaks with assumption, not fact. There are countless high end professionals using a Leica M as their tool of trade.

  14. M240 is a digital rangefinder camera. Besides the lens there are electronic part in side camera body. Like sensor, processor, buffer memory, etc. Even the range finder has some electronic parts.

  15. Steve why didn’t you do the test with the summicron on both cameras? I don’t get it the sony zeiss lens can’t compare

  16. The thing you have to realise about “the best” is price, and other means to achieve it, is irrelevant. Like the difference that separates an Olympic gold medal from silver can be 1/10th of a second, the small difference means an ultimate difference and the winning solution. There is a great pride in a silver medal, but it aint the Gold. How that relates to your photography is another thing entirely, but too a company like Leica it means EVERYTHING. It’s the obsession and the effort and the pride of what the being best means and money has no place in that other than a means to facilitate it.

    I like that ethos and it’s how I live by. It’s not just about doing something, it’s about the obsession and the acquired skill that it has taken to try to be the best. Out of that comes so much more.

    I would be happy with the Sony, but I would every time take the Leica where financially possible. Because I want my work to be about gold medals, not silver. I want perfection and I don’t care what it costs because life is too short.

    Another thing to think about is that buy buying the best you are further facilitating the next best thing. Every best is a stepping stone to better.

  17. I wish that you had posted the pics without labeling. I would have been interesting to note the comments without knowing the camera / lens. I made the mistake of reading the title and assuming the outcome. Wow Sony…I typically shoot film only, on an MP and M7, but I picked up an a7r and have been shooting w/ 1950’s M glass. I don’t think that I’ll be dropping 7K on an M anytime soon.

  18. Can’t wait for the full review. And please compare the Nikon Df with 7s, not just a couple pics, but more in depth (and leave out discussion of video as Df hasn’t got it (to its credit)). Thanks!

    • I do not have a Df on hand..The A7s beats it for low light and from what I have seen, pop and punch as well. Body wise, one is a DSLR and one is a mirrorless camera with EVF. The A7s has an uncanny ability to focus in almost no light, even without AF assist. Df is thicker and larger, hams ore lenses available. Df is slightly more expensive and you get the nice manual controls. Different cameras really.

  19. Having scrutinously waded through all comments, two things strike me.

    First, what an amusing fanboy battle. They’re out in strength.

    Second, am I the only one to think that precise (as in “precise”) focus might have something to do with the differences we see? Distance appears to be less than 5 metres, 50/55mm focal length, f2.0, it can make a lot of difference.

    Anyway, I’m sitting in FOAM Cafe, Amsterdam, right now, recovering from Larry Clark’s Tulsa and Teenage lust. B&W (of course), and impressive on so many levels. He used (judging by some pics) Leica as well as Nikon S (Contax?).

    Sharp? Resolution? Irrelevant.

    • And I have my Nikon F2AS, 2.0/35 AiS (a very mediocre lens, but very useful), Tri-X rated @800 loaded, sitting in front of me, staring at me, hungrily… 😉

      That’s not “just a piece of electronics”!

      • agreed ! not just a piece of electronics . . . . in the right hands it makes for an excellent doorstop . . . . as regards it “staring” at you “hungrily” you might want to give some thought to seeing a couneior or trying medication . . ..

        • Ha ha, lol! We all have our weak spots…, and treatment might be even more expensive that the illness itself. But I must admit my small collection of compact F’s and the F2AS reaches farther into my heart than my D800, however well made and excellent it is.

  20. Huge difference in the out of focus areas. The Sony combo is actually quite pleasant and the Leica and APO looks very mechanical (to me and unpleasant).

  21. I think an interesting test would be for Steve to put up 2 pics like this, but not tell us which is which. Get people to say which they prefer and then reveal the camera/ lens combo afterwards!! It is very easy to bring your own preferences into the equation when you already know which is Leica and which is Sony.

  22. Can I suggest something crazy to think of next time?

    Use both cameras to take two pictures, matching exposure, WB etc as much as possible, process them in RAW to roughly even out JPEG rendering differences, strip EXIF, and then post as Camera A and Camera B.

    Then reveal the true results one week later and watch the world burn.

  23. Really guys? Read the word, “Copyright”. The Leica’s rendering is totally clear and sharp. The Sony? Not so much. Believe me, I love underdogs and I wish Sony would’ve won this war but they did not. Is Leica more than $11,000 better? I think not.

    • But then I understand the real reason for Sony releasing the A7s is for available light performance, and video work. Now the interesting bit will be to stack ANY other current digital camera against it in a shoot out in low level lighting and see which one wins.

  24. Hi steve,
    I choose AWB out of M240.
    At detail, A7s has more sharper file, however you see the white fringe around the edge of 50c label, that I believe is an effect of auto sharpen filter applied, if you didn’t do it.

  25. Cost should not be a factor at all. Unless your planning to actually buy one. If you have to ask the price of the Leica, then it’s not for you anyway. It’s a matter of discretionary income and, well, perhaps one’s spouse. So, the question should be: If Steve was going to give us all which ever camera and lens combination we wanted, then which one would you choose? I think some people above were choosing as if that were the case. When I asked my kids to choose which printed photos on the table they liked the most, they unanimously picked the one taken the the Leica M6 and Summicron over the Nikon with it’s best 50mm prime lens. “More 3-D like, they said.” They were correct, and it’s what some are saying here about the Leica M and APO above. From that point on, I knew that the price difference was getting me somewhere between a 10% or maybe 20% improvement. Worth the money to me at that time. Okay, perhaps only 10%. But given the cost of going somewhere to take a photograph that I wouldn’t likely have a chance to take ever again, worth the extra cost as well. The two photos above. Leica is still “better” based on what those choosing the Leica said. But, alas, nowhere close to the 10% difference. So, what? 5%, 3% better? Sounds silly, no? So, back to how much money is in your bank account, and, well, as usual, the empathy (pity?) of one’s spouse. Frankly, I like the Leica M Monochrome with the $600 rigid summicron the best. I only dwell on the cost of the latter.

    • OK, I finally got a chance to look at the above images on my large home computer monitor. Cost is not a factor to me (I’m a recovering audiophile who’s spent as much on power cords as the Leica combo) and I admit that I’m a pixel peeper yet I prefer the Sony’s bokeh and find the overall rendering more appealing. As for resolution, the Leica resolves the “copyright” better but the Sony resolves the left-most part of the black bar better. Wow. Given the Sony’s superior high ISO performance, silent electronic curtain, AUTOFOCUS down to -4eV, I’m now really really excited about the A7s as I frequently shoot indoor performing arts. Thanks Steve. I was worried for a moment that I had run out of gear that I really wanted.

    • If money is not object, I`d ask Steve to give me both;) I think they`d make for a great travel combo.

  26. Leica wins in resolution if we’re pixel peeping but the resolution on the Sony doesn’t suck by any stretch.

    I’m with those that prefer the rendering of the Zeiss lens…bokeh is much creamier. That nervous bokeh on the APO doesn’t warrant the price from my perspective, but each to their own.

    Thanks for the comparison, Steve…

  27. Tells me that in photography a truth that I learned during 30+ years of birdwatching is again verified -Germans design and make the best optics in the world. I am a Leica user but think those Zeiss lenses on the Sony are super.
    Why do people want to use other optics on their Sony ? If I had one I would use the new Zeiss lenses if only for optical and ergonomic reasons.
    Just a quick question. Is comparing manual focus lenses and auto focus lenses in comparisons going to present problems ? -say like comparing Zeiss and Sigma. It may be that Leica in the future will incorporate some kind of sophisticated focus assist or confirmation in their future M cameras ?
    When I look at some of my own photos I occasionally notice some focus errors mostly I get focus bang on but there is more to a lens than sharpness as we all know.

    Best Wishes

  28. I think you have a bad 50APO I’ve had three bad 50APOs.. Don’t feel so bad.

    On a side note, I shot extensively with the A7+55FE and M240+50APO (about 5 fashion/lifestyle shoots), and I have to say that there are times when I like the images from the A7 so much, I think they’re 50APO shots and have to check the EXIF..

    Bottom line, they’re close, but render differently in different situations (would I pay more for the 50APO, yes, but I think I get more out of it).

  29. Steve, what am I missing? I expected to see a more substantial difference in resolution between a 24MP vs 12MP camera. Are you seeing what I’m seeing and that is the Sony looks pretty darn sharp? Is this further evidence for the supremacy of the lens vs sensor? Although it’s not like the Leica is anything other than a reference grade lens.

  30. ijust thingking of spending $11.500 for travel or maybe some nice wide glass 35 f2, sure somebody tell leica wins ? yeah it’s wins for the PRICE !!
    and leica owner hard to accept, there is a contender that can make fine image with LESS MONEY !!

    • What’s interesting is that a few years ago, you could not in good faith make that statement. Leica, with the M9 truly was the king of the hill for IQ in the most compact package. Now, the jury is out and when you account for price, the A7 series may be the new leader.

      Leica will still carry the luxury banner and have great appeal for its craftsmanship but if your budget or spouse does not allow, then we have incredible options today.

  31. Wow. It’s incredible how different people interpret which is the “better” image. To my eye, the Leica combo simply blows the pants off the Sony/Zeiss – just look at the words above the “50 cents” to see the difference. That’s just the beginning of the differences, but enough to declare a winner immediately. Now is it worth the extra money? That depends on your budget and means.

    • It just comes down to how much resolution you need. I wouldn’t call a 100MP image better than a 24MP image just because it could resolve more nose hairs. Calling “game over” because the Leica has more detail at 100% means resolution is king in your book. That’s fine but I’m not seeing all these other differences that you think the Leica excels at. I prefer the Sony’s more neutral color, there also seems to be better handling of highlights – look at the blue sky behind the crop, compared to the white sky in the Leica file – and I think the Zeiss bokeh is less nervous.

      Stick the A7r behind the Zeiss if you want resolution.

    • If you want detail and micro contrast, mate the 55 with the A7r and the M240 will look dated. With the USD 11.5k available, buy a A7s as companion and backup to the A7r and the M240`s high iso will look embarrassing. And with the USD 9k left, go travel and shoot. To reply to your : “blows the pants”. Except for the unique and great user experience, if one is into RF and all manual controls, nothing speaks for the Leica anymore imo, unless price premiums were much lower.

    • I don’t think you clicked on the images to see them full size. Please do that and tell us what you think.

  32. Hi Leica Fans INT-Can anyone explain if there can be an adaptor to use sony lens on leica Ms I’m also curious about MF primes I.e.-MF primes sony via 3rd party adaptors coupled and Non-coupled any tinkers out there with optical laithe mounts…any secrets shared would be helpfull.
    Toots and Hippy shooting folks.

    • Biznouveau,

      This will not be possible. The Sony FE mount lenses, although they are full frame, also use the very short back focal distance from flange to sensor as in the Nex series of cameras. On a Leica M, this back focal distance is much greater, so even if one could machine an adapter to fit, you would not get infinity focus and the lens would behave more like a macro, ie only work at very short shooting distances.

      It is this very short back projection distance of the Sony Alpha and older Nex cameras, and M4/3 bodies, that makes them very suitable to use lenses designed for 35mm rangefinder and slr cameras to be easily used via very simple adapters. The basic adapters are purely manual, so the lens has to be capable of being stopped down when off the camera, something that is not possible with Canon EOS lenses, for example. But in this case there are more elaborate, and far more expensive, adapters available that have the necessary electronics built in that will permit auto aperture and even AF. But not all EOS lenses are compatible.

      Adapters are available that will permit any number of makes of lenses to be used on an M, but the lenses will have to be focused manually as the adapters do not permit rangefinder coupling.

      I trust this helps.

  33. I like the A7S and 55mm 1.8 here more- no doubt at all. I’ll skip that manual overpriced fancy stuff and go for the Sony. Leica must be feeling the heat from Sony. The rich will still buy the best, but for the rest of us- we really no longer need to lust after Leica glass. Goodbye Leica, it was fun while it lasted.

  34. I vote for the sony…price a big factor and overall it is just a more pleasing picture especially the leaves in the background. much nicer bokeh to me anyway.

      • You are the first person I have ever seen refer to the Sony Zeiss 55/1.8 as a monster…. unless you thought this was the OTUS.

      • Weather sealed, AF, optically outstanding, nicely build 280 gram Zeiss 55 1.8 is a monster? Really?

        • I agree sealed and AF are great pros also. I hope it be better than the A7/A7r with a 12mm voigtlander heliar ultra wide

          • @wessuzawa

            Using the A7/A7R with adapter and Canon EF 14mm F/2,8 (Series I or 2) lens is a sensible option. Way superior to the CV 12mm with M mount – only very little CA and little vignetting correction is required on the Canon even with the lens wide open.

          • mb-de.

            Very interesting to read of another A7 user with a Canon lens.

            I’m not one for the super-crisp sharpness that many find impressive, and which to me is way over the top. I much prefer differential focusing to give the impression of sharpness in that part of the subject that is most important. This, to my eyes, offers a more natural result. Something that Michiel953 alludes to in his post above.

            Although I have some Leica M and R lenses, and indeed some other brands to use on my A7, my everyday fare now comprises two zoom lenses, a Canon 28-105 USM and a very recently acquired Tokina 20-35 in EF mount. Used in conjunction with a Viltrox EF/NEX adapter I get auto aperture with both lenses and AF or sorts, i.e. it is slow at w/a settings, so I mostly manually focus. When AF is confirmed, it is interesting to note it is spot on.

            The results from the Canon lens are very impressive with all the sharpness I need and virtually no chromatic aberration at all that I can see at 28mm and at 200% on screen. I’ve yet to carry out any meaningful tests with the Tokina.

  35. The Sony is a closer to the subject, so will appear sharper in enlargements, and has a higher contrast. The thing to do is not confuse contrast with sharpness or ‘punch’ with subtlety. Lets face it, its not a scientific test.

    • Why do you think the Sony is closer to the subject? Looks to me that they were taken from the same point but the Zeiss 55mm gives you a slightly tighter FOV – and since when does distance to subject relate to level of contrast?

      • It does to focus, which in turn impacts things like contrast, micro or macro.

        • Distance to subject will change your DOF, thus affecting the level of perceived detail within the zone of focus but that has zero to do with the overall contrast of a scene.

          • Chad,

            I think there is some confusion here between the effect of out of focus images and the impact this has on contrast.

            MTF lens testing is based on this very premise, if I’ve understood what I’ve read about the process. With MTF, the ability of a lens to distinguish between line pairs is judged on its ability to resolve the reduction in contrast in the line pairs. Defocusing an image does indeed reduce contrast at the defocused point because the edges become less distinct, or blurred.

            An extreme example of this, using Michiel’s comment, would be to set a lens at, say, 3ft focus, and then look at a subject at 20ft distant. You may not be able to see anything distinctly, but something akin to a very low contrast foggy mist

          • Zero. Allright. In focus image matter “appears” more contrasty than out of focus image matter, all “contrast” factors being equal. It’s not a difficult concept, and sharpness and contrast often get mixed up. Acuity anyone? My D800 produces what I fondly like to call a “soft sharpness”. Something to do with the glass I use and the characteristics of the sensor. Maybe “smooth sharpness” would be more appropriate.

            Anyway, my point was that slight differences in focus in this type of shots might make a noticeable difference in perceived sharpness. Obviously.

  36. The appeal of Sony’s modern 12mp FF sensor is its high superior high ISO performance. The question for me was how much resolution I’d be trading away. Based on this comparison, the answer appears to be “not much.” Wow.

    • It shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Remember, it takes four times the pixels to double the linear resolution, and you need double the resolution to notice a significant difference at normal viewing distances … based on the limits of human vision.

      So, the 24 megapixel Sony A7 doesn’t offer anywhere near twice the resolution of the 12 megapixel A7s.

      None of this, of course, takes into consideration the QUALITY of the pixels, either, which is something the A7s has clearly improved upon.

      • Robert,

        I’m convinced that 24 megapixels is double the resolution of 12 megapixels. At school I was taught that 24 was double/twice 12. lol.

        I believe you are confusing linear progression and area in the same way that, for example, a 100 mm lens is 2x the magnification that of a 50mm lens but the area covered by the 100 mm is just 1/4 of that covered by the 50mm or, to put it another way, the 50mm lens covers a field of view 4x the area of that of the 100 mm lens.

        The perceived difference in resolution in a print is, of course, something entirely different and, as you say, once the limit of the eye’s acuity is reached, at whatever distance this is for any individual, increasing the pixel content (resolution) in the print won’t make the slightest difference.

        I can’t lay my hands on it now, but there is a formula for assessing the human eye’s ability to resolve detail and depending upon the image information there is a point beyond which the eye simply can not resolve any more detail. And the distance at which this happens is relatively short even for individuals who may be said to possess perfect vision.

        • I visited FOAM in Amsterdam once again yesterday, always an intriguing pleasure, and saw some very large and not very sharp prints, made from images produced by digital cameras, that made it to a museum wall.

          It’s all so relative.

          • But, Michiel, what was your response to the images? Were they interesting? What did they provoke in you? Was your mind affected by too much FOAM? :o)

          • Well, it is Amsterdam Terry, so what can you do? Anyway, Larry Clark’s Tulsa and Teenage lust had immense impact, but that’s not what I was referring to. There were a few from FOAM’s own collection, 2007 mainly, very big, pastel colours, no real sharpness anywhere.

            Whenever I visit FOAM or Huis Marseille (also within walking distance of my office) I realize how many “experts” visiting sites like this one, rambling on about sharpness etc, rally don’t have a clue.

            Some, like you, do however. Fortunately.

          • Michiel, it seems that I may have blundered about FOAM. Perhaps I should have looked it up on the internet, but I thought it was your local drinking place where you enjoy a nice wine or two (or even a nice Amstel beer as it is Amsterdam) at lunch and where you could also have an opportunity to view some interesting images on the walls.

            So, just like a bad beer, my pun on FOAM was flat. :o(

          • Thanks, Michiel. Looks like an interesting gallery. And courtesy of google street view, I can even see what it looks like from the street.

          • Robert, so does this mean you don’t accept that a 24 meg sensor does actually have twice the resolution of a 12 meg sensor, and where each point within the image is covered by 2 pixels and not 1? But, using your argument, it requires a quadrupling of the number of pixels for a doubling of resolution?

            If you do, I can only conclude that this is funny math. But if I’m wrong, I’d be more than pleased to be corrected if you, or anyone, will point me towards a learned article that says otherwise. :0)

            Using your linear scale 2x argument would require the sensor size to be increased in area by a factor of 4x, ceteris paribus. In reality, this just doesn’t happen, as sensor sizes are fixed to the most common types and the number of pixels are “crammed in” as necessary.

            Where I believe you slipped up is in using the factor of 2x, whereas to double the area of a square to keep the math easy (it’s a little more complicated for an oblong such as the 3:2 aspect ratio) the factor is actually root/2 or 1.414. But, this only applies where pixel pitch remains constant in going from, say, 12 meg up to 24 meg.

            But, as already stated, we know that pixel pitch actually gets smaller as resolution increases because of the size constraint of the sensors used.

            A good example is the Sony A7 series of cameras as Sony has 3 FF sensors with linear progressions in resolution – 12, 24, 36.

  37. OMG, Steve, you’re threatening the entire financial basis of the photo industry! If people don’t continue to believe that 24 megapixels is automatically twice as good as 12 megapixels, photography is doomed!! I hope there aren’t black helicopters full of Canon and Nikon ninjas hovering over your house right now…

  38. Well, I’m pretty sure that the A7S is going to be my next camera – but to tell the truth, if i had to pick which of these photos is more pleasing to my eye (not pixel peeping) I prefer the Leica.

  39. Just a general comment about the color in each of these photos. As a Sony shooter for the past 3 years, coming off 10 in Canon land, the A7s shot feels like home with a neutral to slightly blue/green cast while the Leica has a clear yellow cast. Not sure if this is lens, sensor, or both but I prefer the Sony color.

  40. Hahaha, that Sony is looking to be one astonishing camera indeed. Sees in the dark, sublime resolution and produces wonderful images. What’s not to like?

    My one concern on buying anything Sony again would be thee lack of regular firmware updates to fix faults, once bitten twice shy I guess.

    BTW Steve, what’s the shutter sounding like? Is it any quieter than the previous A7 cameras?

  41. I like the Sony’s image better but my heart is with Leica. The colours are more vivid but I do not know which image is more close to reality. However, this comparison is nearly pointless because the point should be what can you do with the camera to get the best results and not compare settings because there are diffs from camera to camera. Lets not forget that cameras manipulate the sensor readings.

  42. I was surprised to see the Sony take SUCH a beating in sharpness and resolution!

    I know there is a substantial difference in price but I am not really convinced that the Leica is worth it.

    I would get the A7s and the 50 APO.

    • (To be repeated like a mantra, hoping it becomes true).

      I disagree, btw.

      “Smaken verschillen”, the Dutch say -> Tastes differ…

  43. Actually, it’s a bit astonishing just how MUCH better the A7s + Zeiss is in this comparison.

    Proves once again that the Sony sensors — even with fewer megapixels — kick the pants off the CMOSIS sensors all day long.

  44. How about the same scene with the same lens on the A6000 vs the A7s?
    Two Sonys
    That would be really interesting!

    24mp APS-C vs 12mp FF

  45. BUT there is BIG difference!! The Sony isn´t a rangefinder camera. It´s a electronic gadget:)

      • @kuspen

        >BUT there is BIG difference!! The Sony isn´t a rangefinder camera.
        >It´s a electronic gadget:)

        Being a 30+ year analogue Leica M (M4P + M6 + CL) owner and user (I have five Leica M and two Leica C lenses in regular use), I respectfully disagree:

        I _LOVE_ my analogue Leicas.

        But – having used the NEX-7 for two years and the A7 and RX1 (with EVF) for ± half a year – with no regrets – I can state that these cameras are every bit as serious as the Leicas. And for me, the total package beats what the M240 offers… at much lower cost.

    • Remove the electronics from the M and it, too, will be dead in the water. Or do you believe it runs on hot air?

    • Pretty sure your M240 has a few electronic doohickeys in it. 🙂

      Sounds like snobbery. A tool is a tool. In capable hands, either of these cameras can create masterpieces and the shooter can enjoy the experience while doing it.

  46. Both these images have so much POP! I’m going to call one Coke, and the other Pepsi.

    POP: I think the Sony has very slightly more pop,

    EXPOSURE: looks like the Leica exposure is slightly brighter. I prefer the Sony one (nicely rendered highlights)

    COLOUR: hmmm… this one is a toss-up for me.

    SHARPNESS: Sony has better centre sharpness. Can’t really judge edge sharpness at f2 but my guess is the Leica would win there.

    BOKEH: hmm… again another very close call. Maybe a slight advantage to the Leica?

    Really, I’d say the differences here are so minute there’s no clear winner. Therefore… Sony is the new Leica! (just kidding… partly) 😀

    • I always have problems with the “pop” what is this pop, a Zeiss pop or a Leica pop? Is this the limitted DOF so the contrast of sharp and unsharp? I never could see a Zeiss pop in my pictures. And for sure, when you do the same pictures with a Nikon 50 mm, you will not see any difference hanging on the wall.
      And I think that is a very important point, all the forums are full of pixelpeepers who talk about microcontrast and resolution. Don’t judge a picture in 100% view. Get a print, put it on the wall and compare. And then you should think about if it makes sense to invest a certain amount of money 🙂

  47. Aww Steve, I can’t believe you didn’t bring your A7r with you as well! Guess we will have to continue to speculate. As far as this comparison, thank you. Every time someone tries to pit another camera against the Sony, pixel for pixel, it always performs exceedingly well. Still enjoying mine to the fullest, with or without comparisons 😉

  48. The only difference worth noting is the price difference. It would be fun to do another similar test and not tell us which image is which.

  49. Leica has better or maybe just warmer colors. That’s easily fixed in post.
    Sony wins in contrast. Leica has a slight veiling to the images.
    Sony has better bokeh imo. Leica has more an outer ring giving it a little nervous feel.

    Thanks so much for comparing this though.

    I would love to see same camera and same processing. The two difference cameras make it too variable of a comparison.

    • @jkwang:

      >Leica M’s background is too yellowish.

      +1 – or “I totally agree”.

      But – this can be easily fixed in post-processing.

      Shooting RAW, this is a one-time issue to set up automatic correction, and could therefore be _in principle_ negligible. However, OOC the M240 JPG colour rendering is – at least for me – a clear show-stopper.

  50. Sony and Zeiss combo is lovely, no question, but I think the Leica is still better. The colour rendition looks more natural, specifically the greens. I agree with Huss, the A7 would have been a better comparison purely from a sensor resolution point of view. Yes, Leica is prohibitively expensive but if you can afford it, why not? Build quality is so much better than Sony and I’d put money on the manual APO Cron working as flawlessly 10 or 20 years down the line as opposed to auto Zeiss. But hey, what the hell do I know?

    • For me, I prefer the rendering of the Sony/Zeiss combo, and the resolution of the Leica set-up – the colour issue was mentioned by others (M240 image having a tad yellowish hue to it – can be easily corrected in post if shot raw – the Sony image here being more neutral and more pleasing to me colour-wise…).

      All in all, and given the price difference, unless one _must_ have a digital rangefinder camera and its feel (I love my analogue M6 and my M4P for their ‘user interface/user experience)), the price difference should drive the decision (it has for me, instead of M240 + new Leica M lenses I use analogue Leica + “old” Leica M lenses (mainly Mandler-designed Summicron 50 and 90, Summilux 35 and Elmarit 28 and 90 mm) + Sony A7 + Sony RX1 with EVF + Leica R Lenses (50/60/90/135/180) + FDn Lenses (17/20/24L/28/35/85L + Sony Zeiss 55 f/1,8 + Sony Zeiss 85 f/1,4 with LA-EA4 – and I still have saved money towards an M240+35 Lux ASPH /50 Lux ASPH/75 or 90 mm APO set-up)…

      It would have been very interesting indeed to have the A7 or A7R plus Sony/Zeiss 55 f/1,8 compared to the M240+Apo Summicron… then there would no be the discussion about the resolution.

      The handling of Leica M cameras, analogue or digital, is something special, and so are many of the lenses (my shopping list for next year is topped by an Apo Summicron 90 or 75, which one I am undecided about yet – I tried both on the A7, and the results are stunning, with a slight usability and performance advantage for the 75 – on the M6 on 50 ASA film Apo 75 and Apo 90 are great, too, but I do not care for the barely useable frame for the 75 in the M6 finder, swaying me back to the Apo Summicron 90)… but when it comes to price-to-performance ratio, the M240 becomes problematic.

      PS: Enough waffling. And many thanks to Steve for posing this comparison…

  51. Although the A7 was a great camera for IQ, I found the operation of my M240 much more pleasing to use. I like the M240 because it’s a rangefinder and the experience it provides is nicer to me. I have a Alpha6000 as a backup and find it much nicer to use than the A7. IQ for most of these cameras is negligible so use the camera that has the features and experience that you want.

    • I totally agree with you…..I am constantly drooling over the sensors in the A7/A7R but the camera itself…it sucks IMO. It’s too small, awkward to use and needs an external viewfinder. I much prefer my old M8 or my X-Pro1 even though both do not come close to the quality that the A7 can put out.

      • An external viewfinder? They have excellent ones built in. Unless you have mistakenly commented on another camera, I don’t follow you.

        • Terry, yes you are right…I had a brain fart….was thinking about the RX1. Either way, the size is still too small…but I realize I am in the minority on that opinion.

          • Clint, easily done. Wait till you get older, you’ll get even better at it. lol.

            And there’s nothing wrong with being in a minority; look upon it as a more exclusive club. :D)

          • Yeah, the fact that a camera that fits easily into your pocket might be an ergonomical nightmare is for many a very difficult to grasp concept.

  52. I admit I like the lower contrast with comparable (that is very good) micro contrast of the Leica but not $11k more! Also macro contrast is something that is relatively easy to adjust. Considering the pixel count difference the A7S doesn’t seems to suffer too much in real world resolution—though again the Leica edges out ahead here.

  53. Not Bad from the Sony One.

    But Leica is a clear winner. Just more Depth, 3D, Microcontrast. The Sony Looks flat compared.


    • whaaaaat? 😉

      I’ll give you “micro contrast” because I think you are referring to resolved detail – which the larger mp camera would obviously do, but “depth” and 3D? That’s crazy talk. If anything the more yellow cast of the Leica file gives it a flatter rendering.

  54. I imagine the comparison with the A7 would be basically a draw between these two. The results are very close…ceertainly not worth the $11500 difference. Then again…shooting digital Leicas has never been about ultimate image quality…it’s the experience of using a Leica. Kind of like how a $24 Timex outperforms a $7000 Panerai.

    • Do you mean M is a jewelry like Panerai? If so it’s not the experience but the vanity, maybe…

    • I’m with you on that one. The bokeh on the Apo does not look great in the leaves. It is similar to other Summicrons that I’ve used. If you want killer bokeh, then you need the Summilux 50 Asph. It also happens to be about 1/2 the price of the Apo.

    • I’m curious about the comments that say the Sony is better. Why? I can understand that colour rendering may be subjective, but the close up of the writing clearly shows the Leica is much sharper.
      Look at the fine print above the 50c in the 100% crop.

      That Zeiss 55mm lens is really good but actually does not perform as well as it can on the A7s, it out resolves the 12mp sensor. I’ve seen much sharper results with it on the A7 and A7R.

      For me what is left with the test of the A7s is how it performs with wide angles lenses, and if it also has sensor reflections off highlights the way the A7 and A7r do.

      • It looks like it’s shot with a different camera. less megapixels in the 55mm 1.8 than the leica crop. Also the sony seems to have sharpening artifacts.

      • Because people are looking at more than micro resolution. The Sony Zeiss is rendering a more appealing (to some) scene. I would argue that at normal viewing size and distance (not pixel peeping) the Sony looks sharper overall.

        Color differences aside, bokeh rendering is very similar between the APO and the Zeiss, although in these examples I prefer the Zeiss.

        The differences in color and contrast are all easily manipulated in post so it really comes down to whether you need the extra resolution or would prefer the sensitivity and dollars saved with the 7s.

      • have alook at the top of the right wooden pole. more detail/sharpness in the sony file. same goes for the top of the metal plate, the shiny metal parts and the ‘thank you’ flaps…

      • Because for many people, sharpness is about the 3rd or 4th thing I look at in an image. I much.prefer good color and contrast. And sometimes bokeh. Sharpness is nice and all, but once a certain level of sharpness is reached, I am satisfied.

        • The reality is that a lower MP image can be perceived as very sharp, sharper even than a higher MP image. It is only when you pixel peep or print at very large sizes that those extra MP show their worth.

  55. Wow, there is a stunning difference in resolution/sharpness between the Sony and the Leica.
    With the Leica the clear winner. Just look at the 100% crop and the copyright writing above the 50c. Sony is blurry, Leica is sharp and contrasty.

    A better comparison would be the A7 24mp or A7R 36 mp vs the Leica. The 12mp A7s shows its limitations here.

    Best regards

    • uh, yeah, what did you expect?

      When you pixel peep details then of course the higher MP camera is going to show more resolution.

      However, the Zeiss looks to be visibly more contrasty than the APO. You are confusing resolution for contrast.

    • I really think slight mismatches in the point exact focus are the real reasonfor the differences we’re seeing here. This close, with that aperture, it’s very very critical. A few millimetres, which your focusing will never detect, can make a lot of difference.

      • Michiel,

        Differential focusing points in the two images could have an effect, but I’m more inclined to conclude that the resolving power of the Zeiss lens is not be matched by the modest pixel count of the A7s sensor, whereas the sensor in the M240 is more able to resolve the detail produced by the Leica lens.

        This type of comparison involving two high quality optics and sensors will always favour the higher resolution sensor.

  56. I’d say the difference negligible if even that. This is probably the closest comparison I’ve seen on your site.

    • I prefer Sony ZEISS here. Better bokeh, better color. Interesting to see everyone has different opinion.

    • Bokeh – agree.

      Better Colors? What defines better in your opinion? In the pictures to me, the Sony combo has a more saturated green profile which is more pleasing to my eye, however, a minor color correction in post would could make either image look like the other. I would agree with more natural or realistic.

      More Pop, Maybe, but they are close and again, may be something you could affect in post. I think there is a better clarity with the Lecia.

    • There’s no such thing as nicer bokeh. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some prefer busy bokeh, some prefer smooth bokeh. You obviously prefer busy bokeh. I much prefer the calm bokeh of the Zeiss 55.

      • I see your comment pop up in these discussions all the time, only to be overwhelmed by people ignoring the sentiment of your comment. Perhaps it’s time to just accept that “bokeh” has come to mean something different than you think.

    • The test is unfair.

      You can compare both a Honda and a Ferrari on a trip to the grocery store and come away with the conclusion that the two cars are pretty much even in performance for the task at hand. Take the Ferrari on the open road, unrestrained and the differences would be greater.

      If this were a landscape sunset in Sedona, would the comparison be as close?

      If there were people in the shot, which setup conveys the emotion better?

      • If you compared a Honda to a Ferrari you would find that the performance is not in the same league with the advantage going to the Ferrari. Very poor analogy to this lens test where the cheaper lens is actually outperforming the much more expensive one.

    • This Sony should be one of the best IQ combo for now.

      Look at the silver metal part. Sony has more convincing metal texture, better contrast, better detail. The same part looks somewhat washed out and dull with Leica. Some may prefer Leica’s vintage Kodak-like tint, though.

      • Yeah, there is an interesting post over at TOP about color casts and how most people are forgiving of yellow casts because it makes an image look warmer, even though that warmth robs the image of contrast. I’ve become fond of Sony’s more neutral color – I’ve seen it since the A900 – it makes for a nicer base to work with in post for sure.

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