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Author Topic: M9 Review Discussion  (Read 46096 times)
michael
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« on: September 10, 2009, 08:00:53 AM »
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On Thursday morning I posted my Leica M9 review. I'd like to suggest that general discussion about the review and the M9 be made here rather than in multiple threads.

Of course if you have a specific new topic or question, go ahead and start one.

Michael
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woof75
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2009, 08:46:54 AM »
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Quote from: michael
On Thursday morning I posted my Leica M9 review. I'd like to suggest that general discussion about the review and the M9 be made here rather than in multiple threads.

Of course if you have a specific new topic or question, go ahead and start one.

Michael

Hi Michael, I know it's hard to make any statement on image quality on the net without being ripped to pieces but can you tell us any more about the characteristics of the files at all, color accuracy, vibrancy, bite of the file, anything? Do they remind you more of a Phase file or a canon file?
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michael
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2009, 09:00:56 AM »
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Good question, but I don't want to go there yet, as a couple of hundred frames just isn't enough to base a firm opinion on.

I'm hoping to have my own M9 next week, and will start shooting with it in earnest under all sorts of conditions. I expect that I'll have a lot more to say and show here in a few weeks time.

For now, I'll just say that these are some of the sweetest images I've seen from anything short of a Phase back.

Michael
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woof75
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2009, 09:15:15 AM »
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Quote from: michael
Good question, but I don't want to go there yet, as a couple of hundred frames just isn't enough to base a firm opinion on.

I'm hoping to have my own M9 next week, and will start shooting with it in earnest under all sorts of conditions. I expect that I'll have a lot more to say and show here in a few weeks time.

For now, I'll just say that these are some of the sweetest images I've seen from anything short of a Phase back.

Michael

Cool, thanks Michael.
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peegeenyc
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2009, 11:07:09 AM »
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It seems Leica has indeed delivered the product it should have delivered with the M8.

the one issue it now has it that here are clear full frame competitors to go head to head with, at similar, or much lower prices. Direct comparisons are now a lot easier to make, if still clouded by Red Dot Fever on occasions.

I suspect the following simple truths will come to bear:

No AA filter will mean good sharp images at base ISO.

No AA filter will also mean Moire issues on occasions (test it in sunshine in an urban setting, ideally with people in suits etc, at optimal aperture) Landscape workers should have little to worry about, but by no means is this an issue confined to textiles.

Poor high ISO performance, which does matter as working in low light with faster films, was one of Leica's strengths. All the competitors have good fast lenses too, but if they can do 800 or 1600+ ISO cleanly, and the M9 can't, then the Leica will not be the first choice in challenging light conditions - which will be a turn around from how it used to be.


 
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KevinA
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2009, 11:38:04 AM »
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Quote from: peegeenyc
It seems Leica has indeed delivered the product it should have delivered with the M8.

the one issue it now has it that here are clear full frame competitors to go head to head with, at similar, or much lower prices. Direct comparisons are now a lot easier to make, if still clouded by Red Dot Fever on occasions.

I suspect the following simple truths will come to bear:

No AA filter will mean good sharp images at base ISO.

No AA filter will also mean Moire issues on occasions (test it in sunshine in an urban setting, ideally with people in suits etc, at optimal aperture) Landscape workers should have little to worry about, but by no means is this an issue confined to textiles.

Poor high ISO performance, which does matter as working in low light with faster films, was one of Leica's strengths. All the competitors have good fast lenses too, but if they can do 800 or 1600+ ISO cleanly, and the M9 can't, then the Leica will not be the first choice in challenging light conditions - which will be a turn around from how it used to be.

It looks like I will need a new set of excuses for not buying a Leica with the introduction of the M9, what it boils down to is I can't spare the money right now, not until the World starts spinning again anyway.
I hope Leica sells bucket loads. The one thing that would scare me is the potential moire, I still have nightmares about that and my old SLR/n. Nitpicking a bit more, I like having two card slots so i can mirror each image for safety. Weather seal omission I think is a big mistake. And having to dismantle the camera to fit a new battery or card is just daft.
I would still have one given the chance.

Kevin.
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MarkL
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2009, 01:18:02 PM »
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From the review it is very encouraging that it appears leica are actually listening to people that use their products; something Canon and Nikon don't seem to want to do (direct to print button/mirror lockup comes to mind). They rushed a very critical product out of the door that simply wasn't ready for market which was a big mistake given the profile, price tag and the company's size but although their reputation has (rightly) taken a beating they say it still sold well. I don't know what the push was, perhaps to start to recoup the big r&d costs that must have been sunk into it due to cash flow issues.

It does sound like that this is the camera the M8 should have been and I hope for their sake they tested it properly this time! Great to see it is full frame, great to see 14 bit, great to see an iso button. Disappointing to see the silly bottom plate arrangement is still there, I'd also like to hear something about the turn on time was was a real deal breaker with the M8 - how are you meant to capture 'the decisive moment' (this is plastered all over their marketing) when it takes many seconds for the camera to turn on or you need to remove the bottom of the camera periodically?

For the kind of shooting this camera will be used for I'd take high iso performance over super sharpness which is probably never seen since the camera is used handheld but with lenses as good as theirs I can see why they did it. Fast lenses are NOT a substitute for high iso performance, just because I can get 2 eyelashes in focus doesn't mean all my low light problems are solved  

The price is silly as expected. I still get the feel from their marketing they are cashing in on the brand and a slightly tarnished one at that. I guess the old leicas were a professional tool for PJs, press and some wedding photogs while the M series now probably fills the role of expensive plaything. I'd love to see Epson get back in the game and deliver something great at a reasonable price.

It is one heck of a good looking camera though, it must be said.
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2009, 01:52:53 PM »
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Quote from: peegeenyc
No AA filter will also mean Moire issues on occasions (test it in sunshine in an urban setting, ideally with people in suits etc, at optimal aperture) Landscape workers should have little to worry about, but by no means is this an issue confined to textiles.

What is not mentioned if their DSP Moire removal is chroma moire or luma moire. Chroma moire is mostly removable by analysis of a higher resolution green image. However, luma, ie green moire is not removable, and that's what the OLPF is designed to reduce / eliminate. It's nice to think that a DSP could deal with luma moire, but according to basic sampling theory, it can't.

Graeme
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michael
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« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2009, 02:23:39 PM »
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Graeme,

How this work's out in practice remains to be seen. I haven't seen any moire yet, but that doesn't mean it's not lurking somewhere.

I think the approach though is that it's better to have it somewhat there occasionally, and have to deal with it in post, than to penalize every image just to make sure that it's completely squashed.

M
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2009, 03:06:57 PM »
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On some digital cinema cameras, they have a removable OLPF which suits that need. The penalty for an OLPF is very small though (other than in manufacturer cost), but the pain of removing moire it when it occurs can be high indeed, and it's not always removable (and I'm talking luma here moire not chroma moire). I really wish OLPFs were not necessary.... With any sampled system it's always a balance of softness, ringing and aliasing. OLPFs don't ring, so you're balancing softness and aliasing. Softness is always a subtractive fault. Aliasing is an additive fault, so I always prefer the balance to be on the side of the softness as that looks more natural. There's also no need to have the pitch on the OLPF so strong as to make an overly soft image and never allow any aliasing at all. You can sensibly set the pitch so that under practical conditions you don't ever get a problem, but you still may see some on a brutally sharp test chart.

If the camera does not have an OLPF, there are (at least) three solutions when there may be an issue: 1) slightly defocus, 2) stop down until you're diffraction limited, or 3) shoot wide open where the lens might be a bit soft, and any background that may cause a problem is thrown out of the DOF.

Graeme
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michael
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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2009, 03:36:46 PM »
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I of course defer to you on matters technical, but I've always found that when there's a bit of moire the tool in Capture One does a decent job, and in a pinch a slight blurring brush in LR or PS does a nice job.

I just don't like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

M

Ps: I guess we now know the approach that Scarlet / Epic are going to take.  
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marcs
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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2009, 03:52:32 PM »
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I am no engineer, but I think the lack of an AA filter on an 18mp FF sensor should produce richer files than even the D3X (factoring in pixel pitch, etc).

Remains to be seen, naturally.
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woof75
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« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2009, 04:58:52 PM »
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I get very little Moire from my 18mp P21 and if I do then I use the tools in Capture One, it's never been a problem and I shoot all fashion. Moire is always a combo of aperture, shutter speed, lighting, how steady you hold your camera, sharpness of lens and subject distance so it's only natural that some people rarely see moire where as others see it all the time. Because I rarely see  moire I naturally don't want my camera smudging my files for me. I'm really excited by this M9. I hate having such a big heavy cumbersome camera as my Mamiya and 18mp is perfect for my editorial work and if an advertising client wants something bigger then I'll do what I usually do and thats rent a P30.
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narikin
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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2009, 05:07:51 PM »
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Quote from: Graeme Nattress
On some digital cinema cameras, they have a removable OLPF which suits that need. The penalty for an OLPF is very small though (other than in manufacturer cost), but the pain of removing moire it when it occurs can be high indeed, and it's not always removable (and I'm talking luma here moire not chroma moire). I really wish OLPFs were not necessary.... With any sampled system it's always a balance of softness, ringing and aliasing. OLPFs don't ring, so you're balancing softness and aliasing. Softness is always a subtractive fault. Aliasing is an additive fault, so I always prefer the balance to be on the side of the softness as that looks more natural. There's also no need to have the pitch on the OLPF so strong as to make an overly soft image and never allow any aliasing at all. You can sensibly set the pitch so that under practical conditions you don't ever get a problem, but you still may see some on a brutally sharp test chart.

If the camera does not have an OLPF, there are (at least) three solutions when there may be an issue: 1) slightly defocus, 2) stop down until you're diffraction limited, or 3) shoot wide open where the lens might be a bit soft, and any background that may cause a problem is thrown out of the DOF.

Graeme
good points Graeme, thanks

I love this general assumption that Canon and Nikon and Sony have stuck AA filters on their top range Full Frame sensors for no particular reason whatsoever!
- they are there because of moire, plain and simple.
Yes, they all balance the filter strength differently according to their decisions and trade offs, much as Graeme implies, what Nikon decides is a fair balance of softeness:moire, Canon may err differently, and Sony yet another, but they all seem to feel one is required.

I doubt Leica has come up with a magic formula that eluded everyone in Japan, but lets see. we can all hope for miracles.
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2009, 05:43:25 PM »
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They probably can't put an OLPF in because it would be very close to the sensor and they might have real issues with defects in the OLPF being visible - just a guess.

An OLPF is a factor you have to juggle - it all goes into the decisions you make when designing a camera. And I'm not just taking an engineering stance that says "must be in there", but from an IQ pov, I really don't like edges that are unnaturally sharp that you can get with inadequate filtering. To me, that's unnatural. But it is a compromise, as is all design issues.

I reckon people would be very surprised at how little an OLPF actually effects the sharpness of an image. It's darn subtle. Put an OLPF up to your eye and it's like looking through glass - you just don't see the difference. I was shocked the first time I did that.

What is important though is that we all understand what they're for, why they're there and the design considerations that come into it. Then you can make an educated decision, rather than the "sharper = better" you get on some forums, without adequate understanding of the negative aspects.

Sharpness is also a factor of fill factor (and of how the micro-lenses work) because point sampling would give you a higher MTF at full resolution than the area sample of a photosite with 0% fill factor.

Graeme
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2009, 06:02:32 PM »
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Quote from: Graeme Nattress
They probably can't put an OLPF in because it would be very close to the sensor and they might have real issues with defects in the OLPF being visible - just a guess.

An OLPF is a factor you have to juggle - it all goes into the decisions you make when designing a camera. And I'm not just taking an engineering stance that says "must be in there", but from an IQ pov, I really don't like edges that are unnaturally sharp that you can get with inadequate filtering. To me, that's unnatural. But it is a compromise, as is all design issues.

I reckon people would be very surprised at how little an OLPF actually effects the sharpness of an image. It's darn subtle. Put an OLPF up to your eye and it's like looking through glass - you just don't see the difference. I was shocked the first time I did that.

What is important though is that we all understand what they're for, why they're there and the design considerations that come into it. Then you can make an educated decision, rather than the "sharper = better" you get on some forums, without adequate understanding of the negative aspects.

Sharpness is also a factor of fill factor (and of how the micro-lenses work) because point sampling would give you a higher MTF at full resolution than the area sample of a photosite with 0% fill factor.

Graeme

Hi Graeme,

do you know why there aren't any OLPF screw on filters? (Or are there any?) I guess it has to occur after the optics, but why?

Christian
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2009, 06:11:16 PM »
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Hi,

AFAIK the AA filter works as a finely controlled beam splitter, it splits the incoming light in a few paths a few microns apart. So it needs to be close to the sensor and also aligned with the Bayer pattern.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Christian Miersch
Hi Graeme,

do you know why there aren't any OLPF screw on filters? (Or are there any?) I guess it has to occur after the optics, but why?

Christian
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« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2009, 06:11:33 PM »
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i got the m8 when i compared its files to the 5d files.....and got a 5dII when i compared them to the m8 files....
i would love to "switch" over again....i have collected several raw dngs from the m9 so far from the web...but the files don't seem to have that obvious advantage over the canon files at lower iso....the canon is obviously in a different league in terms of noise and price (and video, af,.....)

the DR of the m8 was a little less then the 5DII and fell off pretty quickly (unlike the 5DII).....

i would really like to know if the m9 shows more DR at lower iso and how it falls off at higher iso....

there is nothing like actually seeing the moment you take the shot.....RF rules....also with manual focus....

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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2009, 06:53:03 PM »
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OLPF is basically two layers of crystals. The first splits the light in two vertically, the second horizontall, making each ray of light into 4 slightly spread out rays of light. The thickness of the OLPF governs the spread of the 4 beams. That thickness is usually related to the spacing of the photostites (and should also take into account micro-lenses and fill factor).

There seems to be very little measured effect, if any, from moving the OLPF closer to the sensor or further away - because the current RED Ones have the OLPF much further away from the sensor, so as to ensure any dust or dirt that gets on the OLPF is usually completely out of focus and practically invisible. If the OLPF was much closer to the sensor, it would be much easier to see any dust or dirt on it. Similarly, if the OLPF or coatings on it have any defects, they are much more visible if the OLPF is close to the sensor. So no, it doesn't need to be close to the sensor - just between the back of the lens and the sensor is fine.

Graeme


Quote from: ErikKaffehr
Hi,

AFAIK the AA filter works as a finely controlled beam splitter, it splits the incoming light in a few paths a few microns apart. So it needs to be close to the sensor and also aligned with the Bayer pattern.

Best regards
Erik
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« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2009, 06:59:58 PM »
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Thanks Erik and Graeme!
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