Quick Comparison: Sony RX1rII, Sony A7RII, Leica SL..all at 35mm

Quick Comparison: Sony RX1rII, Sony A7RII, Leica SL..all at 35mm

Just for fun, a quick comparison between the Sony RX1RII, the Sony A7RII and the Leica SL. All at 35mm! My review is in the works for the RX1RII and Leica SL but some have asked me to do a quick comparison to see the color differences or any detail differences. Below are three test shots. Which do you prefer for color, detail and overall vibe?

YOU MUST click on these shots to see them larger and with true 100% crop. 

1st up, RX1R Mark II at f/3.5, ISO 640 – TRIPOD mounted. FROM RAW


Sony A7RII, 35 Zeiss 2.8 at 3.5, ISO 640, from RAW


Leica SL, 24-90 at 35mm and f/3.5 – ISO 640, from RAW



  1. With this Apple 13″ thin notebook with poor monitor – I don’t know … the Leica image is larger, but no sharper … on my monitor, its more blue. But … that can be fixed, easily. Several ways.

    The only way for me to have an opinion, is to use my Eizo calibrated monitor, and do so after adjusting the images.

    Without doing so, this test is a waste of time.

    Surprising for me though, that the 35mm F/2.8 lens on the A7 camera appears to have lots of potential.

  2. I’m viewing this on a 2014 27″ Retina 5k iMac

    RX1RMKII and Leica SL are my two favorites. The RX1RMKII is a wider 35mm than the Leica. The Leica has a warmer AWB(more accurate according to Steve). Since it’s RAW I personally wouldn’t be concerned about the AWB on the Sony since everything would be tweaked anyway.

    I would rank them in the following order but the Leica and RX1R are very close. I am throughly impressed by Leica’s zoom at 35mm. Good job Leica.

    Leica SL

  3. Perhaps it’s the bokeh of its lens, but the SL seems to have a bit more 3-dimensionality; it also is a bit warmer…but I really like the RX1RII’s product here overall…that said the SL seems to POP with the 3-D that Leica lenses are well-known for. To my eyes it’s not a subtle difference with the SL in this regard. The Sony has a greater DOF in these images than the Leica. Look at the right side of the Lampshade and see the colored jewels like colored bumps on the edge… the Sony’s rendering is clearer, with the Leica they show a bit blurred. Both the SL and RX1RII have their merits. Since you were there personally, Steve, only you can vouch for how accurate the color was in which camera- I take your word for it. Thanks for your examples here.

  4. Stunning that people say there’s a “clear” winner, or that one camera came out on top “by far”. Seriously? They’re all astonishingly excellent, and the differences in quality are overstated by describing them as “marginal”.

    It is incredible to me that people imagine such differences in quality.

  5. Was the Sony RX1Rii the only camera mounted on a tripod for the comparison? If so, was it necessary because the Sony is small for 42MP and lacks IBIS?

  6. D says:
    November 24, 2015 at 4:23 pm
    on the A7RII you have put 35 f2.8, why not 35 f1.4? not the best to best comparison, even between sony cameras

    Because at f/3.5, A7RII with 35/1.4 will top them all! This is not the intended info to convey.

    Steve: I know you will not let this one to go through 🙂 excellent work though.

  7. The clear winner here, IMO, is the RX1RMKII. If one is enamored with the Leica colors, then one need only create a color profile. The rendering and detail I’m seeing on my 32″ hi-rez screen is sublime coming from the RX1R Mark II. I’d sure like to see another QC between the A7RII with the 35FE ZA and the RX1RII both at f2. Thank you! 🙂

  8. @Steve. As much as I value your work and opinions (you know that – It’s not without reason that this is the site that I visit first and most), every once in a while we differ in opinion. Nothing wrong with that.
    I just wonder: if there’s nothing more to it, then the 2.8/35 would be a superior lens than the Loxia (which is 100% Zeiss) and at a much cheaper price. Everybody has the right to believe that. But there are many that see differences and prefer Loxia. Me being one of them.

  9. surprised nobody mentions that this is a zoom lense wide open compared to prime lenses stoped down. from this point of view the leica lense rocks. of course it should, at that price. i guess a fair price would be 4500usd for body and 3000usd for the lense. the rest you pay for the red dot.

  10. The SL is the winner for me with the most pop and resolution. Its color rendition is much warmer than the other two, but I don’t know which is the closest one to the actual subject. The differences are quite apparent in the blues, with the SL rendering them as really different, like lilac or purple, for example, that patch at 7 o’clock left of the blue circle, which is below the base of the lamp.

  11. SL then RX1rII then A7rII. Look at the dragonfly wings on a large monitor.
    SL is sublime. And, this is only a zoom lens.

  12. Steve: your reply’s are coming in numerical sequence instead of below the original post. It’s maddening trying to figure out who your replying to. Secondly, please do a similar comparison only this time use a lens in the same league as the Leica and the f2 Sonnar. The 35 f2.8 wasn’t a good choice IMO as there is much more to a lens than it’s sharpness at 3.5. Thank you! 🙂

    • The 35 2.8 Zeiss is superb. No issues or problems with that lens, at all. Its just as good at 3.5 as the 35 1.4 Zeiss/Sony and bests the bokeh of the Loxia.

  13. Sorry, Steve, but IMHO there’s a lot more than sharpness. Even when zone focusing, this Loxia Biogon shows exceptional character, I believe – in a way I never experienced with any 35mm I ever tried (Leica, Voigtländer, Canon). That is in color character as well as distortion, detail all over the dof, without ever being harsh, etc…

  14. I notice that the top right corner of each image is a little different; SL being lighter, A7 darker, RX in the middle. Since exposure is the same can this difference be attributed to the light transmission differences of the lenses, or something else?

    For images like this from my A7 I would process a little and arrive at something like the SL, therefore the SL is perhaps better for me in that area, since I would rather not do any post. However, the light on the wall, and the shadow above, from the SL, are too orange for me … but perhaps that is accurate, in which case great!

  15. SL is blooming on the highlights top left, you can’t see the lead divider between the 2 stained glass pieces on the SL image. You can see it both the Sonys.

  16. The SL gives colors more natural (the blue of the lamp is really different, Steve you must know what is the real color…). What seems curious ids the bokeh, the SL bokeh specially on the shades, is nicer but seems not to be at 3,5 but more at 2.8, Nevertheless, I wonder on this picture if the price difference is justified.

  17. Easy. SL. Color and rendering. How does the SL compare to the Q? Would love to see a 28mm f/2.8 comparison. Thanks!

  18. Hi Steve,

    thank you very much for the short comparison, especially between the Sony RX 35/2 Sonnar and the FE 35 f2.8 Sonnar at f3.5. I have a little kind request for your upcoming review of the RXII. Wherever I read about the difference between these two Zeiss-branded lenses, it seems to be a “consensus” of the community that the RX 35 f2 Sonnar clearly “outclasses” the FE 35 on any A7-body when it comes to rendering, especially at fast apertures. However, after searching the web for quite a while, I cannot find any proper direct comparison between these two lenses (RX1 at f2 vs. FE35 at f2.8 or both at 2.8). Is it possible to add a short comparison to your RXII review? Many thanks!!!

  19. Steve: Good quick comparison. They all look darn good, which means people can pick the camera that best suits their shooting style and needs.

  20. It would be nice to have the Leica Q in the mix? I am hoping to purchase a fixed lens, its between the RX1RII and the Leica Q? The SL wins in this comparison.

  21. I love the Leica’s color the best, those blues are just fantastic. And I’m really surprised at the amount of detail being pulled off that 24mp sensor, looking equal to the Sony images. It looks like the RX is having some issues with highlights whereas the SL rolls them off so so gently. Overall, the Leica wins for me, especially in regards to color. Which camera is producing the most accurate color in your opinion? It would be awesome to see the Q and/or the 645z in this lineup as well!

  22. Steve,

    Actually you should post three photos numbered as “sample 1,2,and 3”, and leave all the readers to comment them unbiased.

    After some open and free discussion, you may tell our guys which is which.

    Maybe that’s a completely new experience for many of us.

  23. To me the Leica SL picture is preferable because of it’s colour rendition. I use Canon cameras because of their colour rendition and the pictures I’ve seen taken with Sony cameras are always a bit too cool for my tastes.

    The Leica appeals but the huge downsides are the price and lack of IS.

  24. At max. enlargement on my Mac,there is little difference – mainly a personal preference;but for the thumbnails,the SL seems the best.Strange… keep up the good work,Steve!

  25. Hi Steve. SL image looks the sharpest to me. Still, I wonder if RX1RII image is a little off-focus at the cropped area, because A7RII image looks a bit sharper and SL is much sharper. Looking at top of ramp shade, RX1RII image looks rather focused than others. Anyway, I cannot wait for your full review! Thank you v much, TZC

  26. I like the Leica SL. It has more natural tones and a better dynamic range it seems. All 3 look nice though.

  27. Very close between Rx1Rii and Leica SL, in the end I prefer the colour of the SL especially the amber close up. But that Rx1Rii is amazing. Not sure why but the A7Rii was last each time I ran through them. I interested to see how warm the Leica is for Caucasian Skin Tones, and not even the Florida or California sun kissed look but the Northern Europe remind me what the sun looks like, pale as milk skin tones. The M is too reddish and its darn near impossible to correct without looking muddy. You can add warmth but its hard to take away. I think for landscapes etc its all poetic license regarding colour reproduction, its about making it look good. But skin tones need to be accurate some times.

  28. Nice comparison there – and from my phone it looked like the SL was the run-away winner. Looking at this on my 4k monitor (Dell, Calibrated) it’s not as black and white as people make it out to be.

    The SL shot appears to be shot marginally closer than the RX1R II image, which explains why the SL appears to have softer out of focus areas behind the lamp. White balance is subjective, and we can only go by Steve’s comments because he was the only one there. The only other way would be a colour checker card and we’d get a more accurate comparison. Viewing these full size, side-by-side the RX1R II (as previously mentioned) was shot a touch further back, which (personally) makes it appear sharper.

    White balance aside, and colour rendition in mind – it’s again, subjective. I’ve always been a fan of neutral tones, and personally the RX1R II, though I realise this is against popular opinion here. Case in point, the white panels at the top of the light are a lovely crisp white, compared to the red / orange of the Leica.

    What may also contribute to the apparent “pop” of the SL file is what appears to be heavier vignetting on the RX1R II. I know the Leica Q has some brilliant in-camera lens correction baked into the RAW files, so I’m not sure if this is the case here too with the SL lenses? I don’t think there is an exposure difference, but removing a touch of vignetting from the RX1R II file would match it with the SL closely. In-camera sharpening might be at play here too (not microcontrast) because I can spot some signs of aggressive sharpening around the high contrast edges in the SL shot. The RX1R II has a smoother transition – then again, subjective. Barely noticeable on regular prints. I’ve flipped it over onto my regular 1080p monitor with the same conclusion.

    Just my 2 cents, all three are brilliant – but my love for cooler, neutral colour renditions give the nod to the Sony.

  29. Hello Steve, I just regret that you only put the cheeper 2.8/35 on the A7RII. I understand that the three lenses are all AF, but there are many amongst your readers that are into MF – think of all the (former) M-shooters. This comparison could only intrest me personally, if you’d have also integrated the Loxia 2/35. It would have been four pictures. That’s not too bad isn’t it? 🙂
    IMO to make a fair comparison about the A7RII body, the lens choice needs to be Loxia and Batis.

  30. Do you think it will it be possible to adapt the SL lens to sony e-mount or f-e mount? may be a technical question not for this site but the quality of that lens makes me think about this…

  31. The RX1RII has somehow alot more depth of field.
    If you look at the side of the lamp curving backward you will see it is sharp farther out.
    The Edge of the table is very sharp too.
    If you look at the leica the edge looks like you are drunk;) and the sharpness drops of sooner.
    The A7 is somewhere in between.
    No idea what is better and i am not shure what characteristics of the body/lens combination you’re trying to show with this images.

  32. The files all look great. The SL appeals to most I suspect because it is a hair brighter.
    As for color, all are pleasing and could be brought into extremely close alignment with custom camera profiles.
    So, in the end, personal preferences and shooting styles would dictate the “best”.

  33. All three pictures looks fantastic to me. But since the lenses are different, it’s no way to tell which camera is better than others.

    A7RII and RX1RII have the same 42MP BSI CMOS sensor. RX1RII has LPF. Both pictures look similar(RX1Rii showed deeper DOV). Leica SL is 24MP CMOS sensor. Each photo cell is almost twice as big as Sony’s cameras. It has big advantage than Sony’s cameras on this comparison. But doesn’t show much difference to SONY’S. BSI technology does help.

    LEICA’S Zoom lens looks quite good in comparison to Zeiss prime lenses. No wonder it cost a lot of money.

  34. Wow all three look fantastically good to me.. surely none of these results would disappoint! I think the choice of camera will come down to other factors, such as handling, portability, versatility, useful features and cost.

  35. Hey Steve. I like all of them, but there’s more color pop on the SL.

    By the way there’s a typo in your new banner at the top, it reads: “REVEIWS”.

  36. I AM a semi Sony fanboy actually but the Leica is night and day BETTER than both Sonys as to resolution. It’s not even subtle. From the crop, look at the black area, the Leica is full of detail, both Sonys are mush. Look at the white area bottom left of the Crop, again the Leica is MILES better than both Sonys. I happen to own the A7RII and own a Leica q too which I LOVE!. Too bad you don’t have a Q to compare against the RX1Rii. That said the SL is CRAZY TOO expensive, IMO, so taking price into consideration the Sonys are GREAT. Taking PRICE OUT, the SL is the winner, NOT even CLOSE!! I am talking resolution only, There is a lot more to a camera obviously than shooting a lamp shade, so not saying the Sonys are bad,LOL . I guess Steve the SL wins on color too but we would not know that had you not said the SL was closest to the real color. Fun comparison Thanks for doing it.

  37. Would love to see the Q in this comparison as well. Two Sony’s and two Leica’s showing each company’s fixed lens option and ILC option.

  38. The color on the Leica is dramatically different. If the color is accurate, then it is the best camera by a wide margin. If they cranked up the saturation, then I am not sure that is “better”…

  39. Let’s see:

    24mp vs. 42mp
    Zoom lens vs. primes

    …and still the Leica held up. Yeah, I get that the SL is more than double the cost of either of the other two cameras, and Sony is the premier sensor designer/maker at the moment, yet everyone wants to compare their brand against Leica. Funny.

    Anyway, what is interesting is how different these cameras are. Each is almost a niche camera, and all with amazing image quality.

  40. WB is subjective. In terms of iq, all 3 arr good enough. Barely any diff. But as with everything, taking into consideration the price and size and all other buying factors,I’ll still go for the 7r2. The SL is still too niche for almost everyone.

  41. I don’t know the technical term for what I’m seeing in the SL’s image. Better microcontrast?

  42. The white-balance on the Leica seems to be shifted a little warm compared to the two Sony’s. It might be interesting if you just manually set the white-balance to the same across all cameras as you did aperture and ISO, etc. The slightly different angle and distance probably made about as much difference as the senors / glass at this level. The slight angle difference changes how light is catching some of those reflective surfaces, etc. It would be difficult keeping all the variables equal but these are fun nonetheless.

    … also, it would be interesting to try one of these without making it obvious which camera they came from. It’s hard not to be biased after you know which image came from which camera. All three are fantastic cameras of course. (maybe try that Loxia 35mm as well if you still have it…)

  43. on the A7RII you have put 35 f2.8, why not 35 f1.4? not the best to best comparison, even between sony cameras

      • That fact alone, that it is f2.8 at widest focal length, and already f3.5 at only 35mm focal length, takes it out of real consideration. That’s ignoring the size of the camera+lens and the weight.

  44. Maybe I’m just so used to Sony colors and AWB but I am not digging the SL at all. Too warm for my taste. RX!R!! Rules this trio 🙂 But then again you cannot expect the Sony/Zeiss 35 2.8 to compete with the mighty Zeiss f2 Sonnar on the RX1RII.

  45. Hi Steve, As always thanks for the efforts you go through to update your audience on these three marvellous cameras. I can’t wait for your full reviews.
    To my eyes, i definitely prefer the colours from the Leica. There are some other subtle differences also. I note that the 2 images from the Sony appear to have a different exposure. If you compare the bottom left sections of the lamp in the 3 images it looks like (to my eyes) that the two Sony images are slightly darker than the Leica.
    Do you think this difference arises from the differences in AWB or are the Sony’s reading exposure differently to the Leica?

  46. Personal preference aside, for me the real question is: Which colours are accurate? Not knowing the lamp, I don’t know the answer. BTW: Maybe it’s just me, but that 100% crop is pretty erotic.

  47. Steve, seems there’s a typo on the Leica image label – it says 2.5 instead of 3.5, thus the comment of Po above…

  48. An aqua-ish hue from the Sony shots (looking at the table) and, to my eye, the Leica has a warmer almost pink-ish tone on the light cast against the wall. Yet the Blue glass on the Leica is definitely a much deeper and rich with color saturation, you can see in the inset the Leica is clearly showing deeper color. Clearly all great systems though and since I enjoy working on my RAW files it wouldn’t be a bother to bump the temp of the Sony up a few K on import to correct for. Thanks for the compare.

  49. The Leica wins. It’s almost like the image comes loose from the screen. Sony RX1 also very good, the A7 a bit flat in comparison. I wonder what it is that gives this 3-dimensionality to the Leica image? Is that just color rendition and contrast?

  50. Hi Steve, Thanks for the comparison, I like the SL.
    You can compare Leica MP, SL, and A7S a7RII or a7SII all with 50 f1.4 Summilux APSH?

  51. FINALLY! I can see the RX1R/Zeiss rendering magic. Really noticeable where the dragon fly wings transition to the out of focus area…SWEET! Great little quick comparison Steve, thank you.

  52. Make it a blind test and I bet the opinions would be different. There is a lot of brand bias to contributors on your blog, regardless of how unbiased the poster tries to be.

    • Facts are facts. Each image is a RAW from each camera. You can clearly see the Sony’s have a certain color reproduction as does the Leica. AWB works best on the Leica in this image, and in general. No bias here, just three images from three cameras of the same subject using 35mm and f/3.5 and iso 640 for all. It is what it is, simple. NO brand bias here as I love all cameras I write about and review wether they are from Sony, Olympus, Leica, Panasonic or whoever. Me, I prefer the SL shot due to the color, which is the most accurate of the three.

  53. Finn Henry says:
    They are all very good, not to say excellent.I vote fro a draw between SL and RX1Rii.

  54. I prefer the SL too even that I was used to be a Sony fanboy.
    The exposure level for the three samples doesn’t looks to be the same.The A7RII is clearly darker than the two others.
    I would love to see the Q in the loop as well. 🙂

  55. They are very similar in IQ. Love the RX1r2 out of focus areas most, but the difference is not this big to choose one over another solely by IQ. That big SL zoom lens i would not buy because the IQ is similar with small primes. Don’t really see the need for zoom.

  56. Best of three Rx1R II. SL shows some tendency to burn highlights, although gradually. It has some whitish gradual tinge on the high lights. I have seen this in prior pics you posted. Fun as always, Steve.

  57. The Sony’s have blue-green where the Leica has blue. I’m guessing the lamp is really blue? Is one company doing better at auto-white-balance? Or did you manual white balance? Or is the fact the the blues differ and the yellows do not show something else?

  58. The Leica SL image looks the nicest by far. Even the bokeh is really nice. Surprising given its the only one made using a zoom lens.

Comments are closed.