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Author Topic: What Leica needs to do...  (Read 9737 times)
Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2010, 03:05:31 PM »
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With regret I sold my M6 after owning it for about 6 months. For professional work I was missing shots I could not afford to lose. Maybe the French have a gene the rest of us missed out on.  As Cartier-Bresson and the rest so superbly demonstrated the Leica is at it's best as a hand-held street , dingy interior and theatre camera.  What the M10 needs is live view, high ISO with minimum noise, in body image stabilization  and auto sensor cleaning. Whether this could be achieved without increasing bulk I don't know, but Leica has demonstrated genius before. If they do it my order is in.
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Brian
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Charles Bragg
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« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2010, 04:28:11 PM »
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I've always been a price-conscious buyer, but once, just once, I splurged. I bought a Questar. I did this because it presented the best image to my eyes (past tense - the world has caught up). It was quirky and a bit difficult to operate, but it delivered the goods.

Michael says, "I wanted to use a system that offered the highest image quality possible combined with the smallest size and lightest weight." When you add the price tag, that's a compromise I am unwilling to make. For the price, the Leica had better make the highest image quality - period, paragraph. Until then, talking about features is fun, but pointless.
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Dan Wells
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2010, 09:12:11 PM »
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Take the M9, add a decent rear screen - Nikon's best will be fine (the existing one, at least on my M8, is a disgrace that shouldn't be on a $1000 camera, let alone a $6000 one) and live view, and you're done. This does require CMOS (D3x sensor?), but no major redesign.

Assuming you don't redesign the camera and lenses completely (e.g. autofocus on every lens), the rangefinder is ESSENTIAL to keep in addition to live view.

Even as a newcomer to Leica - I have a "loaner" M8 that arrived last week while I wait for my M9 that is still months away - I can already focus my Leica better than I can live-view focus my D3x without using magnification. With magnified live view, the D3x becomes an extremely precise focuser, but also requires a tripod. For handheld focus, a rangefinder is better than live view.

The real attraction of live view on a Leica is twofold, at least for me. One is to replace external viewfinders for very wide lenses (and permit very long lenses to be used at all), and the second is to provide ultra-precise focus on a tripod (with magnification).

Even if the M10 supports a hypothetical line of M-AF mount lenses (assuming they had motors in the lens, that wouldn't be all that hard to do - it's a matter of contrast AF in firmware plus a few electronic contacts in the body, which existing lenses would simply ignore), you STILL need the rangefinder - without it, you are stuck with imprecise live-view focus on all existing lenses, unless you are on a tripod and can magnify for accuracy.

I like the idea of digitally projected frame lines (possibly in a zooming finder, with finder zoom as an optional feature, much as you can switch on "wrong" frame lines on a current M). Zoom finders are not THAT hard to build - the old Contax G1 and G2 had a good one, and every zoom compact in film days had a lousy one. I don't know if there's a technical problem with putting a rangefinder in a zoom finder - if there is, forget the zoom finder. Digital frame lines allow the frame lines to move with focal distance, and are not a problem at all - Leica themselves already project shutter speed (and all sorts of companies project different sorts of reticles for different applications).

                                                                               -Dan





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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2010, 02:22:51 PM »
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The one thimg I haven't seen mentioned in this thread or in Michael's open letter is pixel count. I have an intuition that if they produce an M10, the key feature will be an up-grade to 24 MP. If they can pull that off with the IQ they are getting from the current sensor, (incl. no low-pass filter), that would be a real coup, possibly sustaining the market for the up-grade. This would put them in the same resolution horse-race as the best of the DSLRs, but besting them on IQ because of the absence of the the low pass filter and the quality of their lenses. Not to say that some of the other features suggested in the article and this thread wouldn't be good to have, but I think it remains to be seen whether Leitz would consider them sufficiently important.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2010, 03:40:20 PM »
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I would be most interested in seeing a "blind" comparison of images taken under the exact same lighting conditions with the same focal length lenses and "processed" the same way in LR/PS and see if anyone can reliably tell the difference under normal viewing conditions (say Leica vs Canon vs Nikon).  I've been around the block long enough to know that perception can be biased quite easily.  Maybe Michael can host such an experiment in his studio.  It would tempt me to come up to Toronto for a viewing.  I suspect that as in the case of high or low end stereo equipment that it will be difficult to tell the difference.  To me Leica's premium pricing has always been problematic.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2010, 03:46:47 PM »
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My only comment is really somewhat sentimental. Why ruin everything by dragging it into this "Must have electronic viewfinder" era
Range finders are unique, Leica are a company that sells finely crafted tools to relatively few buyers, old hat or not..that's the way it was, and is.

Change is a dangerous thing for a company like Leica.

I see this demand for EVF's even on DSLR's, frankly, I don't care for them much. I want a clean view, and a non processed one is utterly essential. There will always be some asking for extras, histograms in the VF, enlarged areas for fine manual focus. But you miss the fun part here, and range finders are that in some ways, free from snazzy features and extra bits SLR users love so much. Why spoil a good thing??
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2010, 04:42:08 PM »
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Quote from: Alan Goldhammer
I would be most interested in seeing a "blind" comparison of images taken under the exact same lighting conditions with the same focal length lenses and "processed" the same way in LR/PS and see if anyone can reliably tell the difference under normal viewing conditions (say Leica vs Canon vs Nikon).  I've been around the block long enough to know that perception can be biased quite easily.  Maybe Michael can host such an experiment in his studio.  It would tempt me to come up to Toronto for a viewing.  I suspect that as in the case of high or low end stereo equipment that it will be difficult to tell the difference.  To me Leica's premium pricing has always been problematic.

Alan, I haven't seen the kind of comparison you are recommending - and indeed if properly structured it could be interesting; but it is a non-trivial exercise. One must define the approach, the parameters and the outcomes in a way that is both meaningful and scientifcally valid. It can be done, but having been involved in comparison exercises of various kinds in the past, I have no illusion about it being "easy" - takes time. So then there is really a question of how worthwhile it is. For those of us who have already "seen the answer", it's almost a non-issue - Leica wins. The images are sharper and richer off the card than what you'll get from a Canon 1DsMk3 with an L lens. The latter is no slouch - that's what I'm using, but on a not-apples:apples basis, from what I've seen, the Leica images are just better. And you would expect that; there's no AA filter, Leica's best lenses are superior, and the pixel pitch is moderately larger.

And Leica's pricing - at least for the body - is definitely not out of line with other high end digital imagers. Their lenses are expensive. Michael says they may have substantial margins - perhaps - but it may also be the case that their manufacturing and QC processes just end-up producing expensive lenses, because the good ones must be priced to recover ALL the costs of what goes on under the hood and what never makes it to market. So there could be a chicken-egg business here where the prices are high because the volume is low, and the volume is low because the prices are hgh because the best quality just costs more to make. Anyhow, yes, a 1DsMk3 vs Leica M9 vs Nikon shootout may be a neat idea for the benefit of those who haven't seen M9 images. Two closing thoughts, however: (a) it would be pretty useless trying to convey these differences using JPEGs on a computer display,and ( don't know whether there will be any takers for actually doing the work!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2010, 07:53:25 PM »
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Why not a more radical design in the spirit of the Ricoh GRX?
I mean, Ricoh had a brillant idea: intechangeable unit; half way genius, half way silly to have included the lens in it;
but Leica could make it with of course interchangeable lenses and full frame.
This is perfectly adaptable without having to reinvent the wheel of M design and it would give it a UNIQUE position
in the market. It wouldn't be so hard for a brand like Leica, in fact not at all.
Imagine: You buy one time an M (x) body and you have an interchangeable unit sensor, like in medium format.
When a technology is obsolete, you just have to buy a new sensor unit so you have always the best with the same camera.
A camera for life, like its optics. That would be a winner!
You could have special units for special purposes, ones more orientated for movies etc...
I also agree:  the electronic viewfinder is the future.
So, a modular Leica M ?

Fred
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2010, 11:37:46 PM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
My only comment is really somewhat sentimental. Why ruin everything by dragging it into this "Must have electronic viewfinder" era
Range finders are unique, Leica are a company that sells finely crafted tools to relatively few buyers, old hat or not..that's the way it was, and is.

Change is a dangerous thing for a company like Leica.

I see this demand for EVF's even on DSLR's, frankly, I don't care for them much. I want a clean view, and a non processed one is utterly essential. There will always be some asking for extras, histograms in the VF, enlarged areas for fine manual focus. But you miss the fun part here, and range finders are that in some ways, free from snazzy features and extra bits SLR users love so much. Why spoil a good thing??


Exactly, and very well stated!

Why should Leica follow a rat race of adding new tech features? What they have is a much appreciated niche, and a well proven such. All they have to do is slight polish the same M scheme... adding some pixels and most important further improving sensor quality and image quality.

At current age of 'photography' the aim is for companies to sell us upgrades by adding electronic features that really do not lead to better photos, only snaps. Lecia follows a longer cycle, and one to lead us to good photos.  

My M8? Far easier to use and focus than any DSLR I used. Albeit, some have preference for DSLRs, fine but when one understands a rangefinder it is a special tool which for its purpose cannot be beaten.

Regards
Anders
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2010, 01:01:52 AM »
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Hi,

One issue that always is with us is post processing. For instance, sharpening would be different with an AA-filtered image, but also other factors influence sharpening. Comparing different system with the same parameters is simply not correct.

Another issue is that achieving critical focus is not easy, with any system lacking live view.

Erwin Puts has published a comparison like the one you are talking about here:

http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/camera/page157/page157.html

It may give some insight on the effort needed doing a comparison between the Lens-Camera-Sensor systems. There may be some objections to Mr. Puts's tests, but it goes with the territory.

Finally, it is very hard to compare images from different sensors on a computer screen. If the sensors are the same size, no problems but if they even are slightly different you need to rescale one or both. The resizing also has issues.

Now, pixel peeping is in a way a stupid exercise, the image you see in actual pixels on screen is a way real pictures are almost never seen. The best way to compare images from different cameras are probably fairly large prints. In my view the prints should be larger than A2 (16"x23") for a meaningful comparison.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Mark D Segal
Alan, I haven't seen the kind of comparison you are recommending - and indeed if properly structured it could be interesting; but it is a non-trivial exercise. One must define the approach, the parameters and the outcomes in a way that is both meaningful and scientifcally valid. It can be done, but having been involved in comparison exercises of various kinds in the past, I have no illusion about it being "easy" - takes time. So then there is really a question of how worthwhile it is. For those of us who have already "seen the answer", it's almost a non-issue - Leica wins. The images are sharper and richer off the card than what you'll get from a Canon 1DsMk3 with an L lens. The latter is no slouch - that's what I'm using, but on a not-apples:apples basis, from what I've seen, the Leica images are just better. And you would expect that; there's no AA filter, Leica's best lenses are superior, and the pixel pitch is moderately larger.

And Leica's pricing - at least for the body - is definitely not out of line with other high end digital imagers. Their lenses are expensive. Michael says they may have substantial margins - perhaps - but it may also be the case that their manufacturing and QC processes just end-up producing expensive lenses, because the good ones must be priced to recover ALL the costs of what goes on under the hood and what never makes it to market. So there could be a chicken-egg business here where the prices are high because the volume is low, and the volume is low because the prices are hgh because the best quality just costs more to make. Anyhow, yes, a 1DsMk3 vs Leica M9 vs Nikon shootout may be a neat idea for the benefit of those who haven't seen M9 images. Two closing thoughts, however: (a) it would be pretty useless trying to convey these differences using JPEGs on a computer display,and ( don't know whether there will be any takers for actually doing the work!
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2010, 02:08:10 AM »
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Hi,

What Leica needs to do is simply enough to make cameras that earn enough money to keep the company afloat. This has historically been a major issue for Leica, they are essentially loosing money all the time. What's keeping Leica afloat to my best knowledge are rebadged Panasonics.

Obviously, M9 are selling very well but that may relate to a piled up demand for a FF digital RF-Leica for RF-Leica aficionados, once that market is filled what is going to happen? The S2 is a bold step in a new direction, I hope it will work out for Leica but I have some doubt. It's really a question of cost and benefit. For lovers of image quality cost may not be an objection, but I guess that in the professional market you need a return on investment. It may materialize in one of those ways:

- Customers pay more money because of higher quality
- Photographer can sell more pictures because of higher quality
- The tool is more efficient so productivity is increased (Photographer can sell more pictures because of better productivity.)

One of the great attractions of Leica is it's small size, another is their excellent lenses. One path for Leica to take may be to build a simpler camera, without rangefinder. The RF is a complex mechanical device needing a lot of workmanship. Replacing RF with an EVF may push cost down so Leica could sell about the same price as a lower cost full frame digital camera (like the Sony A 900 or the Canon 5DII). Image quality would be exactly the same as the M9, would that sensor be used. I don't think this camera should be called M9, it would be MD One (M-series Digital first model).

The idea with this suggestion is really that it's to eat the cake and still have it. The user base would be wider, more lenses would be sold, prices for old lenses would increase and no M-series aficionados would be offended.

Finally, just an explanation. Making a "live-view" only camera is much simpler than any other construct. The only thing that needs to be achieved is that the sensor is parallell to the focal plane of the lens. Even flange to sensor distance is less critical even if it may be desirable that infinity focus is at infinity stop. There is no mechanical linkage, relay prisms or pelicular mirrors for focusing.

As a side note. It seems obvious that critical focusing on the Leica is not really easy. Lloyd Chambers has done some extensive shooting with the M9 and had issues with focusing accuracy with the 70 mm lens. He also indicated that some of the Leica lenses did not achieve infinity focus at the infinity mark. Lloyd Chamber tested both Leica and Zeiss lenses and in some cases he found the Zeiss lenses superior (My understanding is that Zeiss has a focus on high MTF in the center of the image but allows more fall of on MTF in the corners. Leica lenses are better corrected in the corners but tend to have a complex field curvature, wavy, to achieve this. Zeiss also seems to have more focus on keeping flare down.)

Erwin Puts also indicated that a viewfinder magnifier is really needed to critically focus the M9.

Mr. Lloyd Chambers Leica pages are here: http://www.diglloyd.com/prem/prot/DAP/LeicaM9/index.html , this is a pay site but I'd suggest that spending a few dollars on excellent info is a good idea before shelling out seven grand.

Mr. Puts writing on the Leica is here: http://www.imx.nl/photo/

Mr. Puts is both a Leica expert and a Leica aficionado. He owns the first Leica M9 sold to a customer and has built his own Leica M8 which has "zero tolerance". His writing tends to be a bit complex but definitively worth reading.


Best regards
Erik


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While I agree with many of Michael's thoughts for a future rangefinder, it is interesting that Leica cannot keep up with current demand for the M9 and S2. I suppose there are enough of us old farts who actually like the anachronistic qualities or at least don't find them to be a hindrance.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2010, 02:46:19 AM »
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Hi!

This may be easier done than you think. It's just to download some relevant test images from one of the usual test sites like DPReview or imaging resource (http://www.imaging-resource.com/), unfortunately, DPReview does not have a review of the M9 yet, and Imaging Review doesn't seem to test M-series Leica's. Both sites have well thought out subjects they photograph under controlled conditions. DPReview will publish test and samples on the M9. I really prefer Imaging Resource as a source of test images but they may not test the M9.

You can print the test images your self or send to a lab. Visiting Michael's gallery would be a great experience, for sure, but you would make your own prints and not send them to Michael for printing?

I think that Michael could do this test but he is also aware of the perils involved. Also I'd suggest that Michael prefers to use his stuff for taking real pictures in real conditions and let other sites do the testing in the lab.

Best regards
Erik



Quote from: Alan Goldhammer
I would be most interested in seeing a "blind" comparison of images taken under the exact same lighting conditions with the same focal length lenses and "processed" the same way in LR/PS and see if anyone can reliably tell the difference under normal viewing conditions (say Leica vs Canon vs Nikon).  I've been around the block long enough to know that perception can be biased quite easily.  Maybe Michael can host such an experiment in his studio.  It would tempt me to come up to Toronto for a viewing.  I suspect that as in the case of high or low end stereo equipment that it will be difficult to tell the difference.  To me Leica's premium pricing has always been problematic.
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« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2010, 02:58:02 AM »
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Quote from: Alan Goldhammer
I would be most interested in seeing a "blind" comparison of images taken under the exact same lighting conditions with the same focal length lenses and "processed" the same way in LR/PS and see if anyone can reliably tell the difference under normal viewing conditions (say Leica vs Canon vs Nikon).  I've been around the block long enough to know that perception can be biased quite easily.  Maybe Michael can host such an experiment in his studio.  It would tempt me to come up to Toronto for a viewing.  I suspect that as in the case of high or low end stereo equipment that it will be difficult to tell the difference.  To me Leica's premium pricing has always been problematic.

+1

Addendum: I'd like to have a PhaseOne P25+ and other MFDB systems added to that test (With downsampling to the same size like the Leica / DSLRs)
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fredjeang
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« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2010, 05:16:19 AM »
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Quote from: Alan Goldhammer
I would be most interested in seeing a "blind" comparison of images taken under the exact same lighting conditions with the same focal length lenses and "processed" the same way in LR/PS and see if anyone can reliably tell the difference under normal viewing conditions (say Leica vs Canon vs Nikon).  I've been around the block long enough to know that perception can be biased quite easily.  Maybe Michael can host such an experiment in his studio.  It would tempt me to come up to Toronto for a viewing.  I suspect that as in the case of high or low end stereo equipment that it will be difficult to tell the difference.  To me Leica's premium pricing has always been problematic.

Alan,
An interesting test I found here and here seems serious enough to at least answer in part to your suggestion.
It is more a lens comparaison but it tells you a lot more about M capability. Now, as you said, a physical comparison in a gallery would be interesting.

Fred.
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Nemo
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« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2010, 06:41:37 AM »
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Keep things simple. Improve things without revolutions. Don't put all the eggs in the same basket. Etc.

I see the M10 very similar to the M9 but with a better LCD screen (not necessarily larger, but AMOLED and with more resolution), CMOS sensor (without AA filter and Kodak color filters), Live View, a rangefinder with a larger base (you can push the viewfinder to the extreme corner now), an improved viewfinder and a port for a clip-on electronic viewfinder (you can buy and use it... or not). That is all. Several of these changes may be introduced separately in several iterations of the M9 (M9.2, M9.3... whatever), before all of them configure a M10 camera.

I think a clip-on EVF is a great idea, but it does not exclude the optical viewfinder. The EVF would be mount on the hot shoe, just like the Olympus E-P2. Using a EVF you can frame and focus, if you want it. It would be an alternative to the optical viewfinder for "normal" focals (28-90) but the only option for extreme wide angles (16-24), tri-elmars, teles (135 or even longer), macro lenses, etc. At this moment you have to buy many accessory optical viewfinders and googles, if you have wide-angles, tri-elmars, macro lenses... etc... A simple EVF will perform all those functions, if you want it, or need it.

Leica may develop a different camera as a complementary (different) product. A cheaper and smaller M camera without optical viewfinder-rangefinder, keeping all the remaining elements the same. Call it a CL digital camera if you like it. Different size, materials and ergonomics... same mount. This EVF-only M camera is a really good idea, maybe not for the traditional M user, certainly not for me, but it would open many possibilities for the M system and new users... even if the lenses are MF lenses (from Leica, Zeiss and Voigtländer). Reichmann suggestions for assisted MF are really good ideas... specially for a system based on manual focus lenses!

« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 07:13:59 AM by Nemo » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2010, 08:02:21 AM »
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Hi,

There are a lot of perils in lens testing. In the second test quite a few of the Canon samples are clearly out of focus. It is also a bit odd to put up a Leica prime against a 16-35/2.8 zoom that is known not to be a very good lens. That said, the articles are interesting. Pitting a 30 years old lens against new ones is also a somewhat odd enterprise.

Regarding the second test to me the Nikon image at f/1.4 looks less appalling than the Summilux f/1.4 and this applies also to f/2. The Canon images are not appalling but simple horrible at f/1.4. My own Minolta 50/1.4 is nothing I'd consider using at f/1.4 either.

One point I may point out that there are excellent lenses from Zeiss for the Nikon F and the Canon EOS.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: fredjeang
Alan,
An interesting test I found here and here seems serious enough to at least answer in part to your suggestion.
It is more a lens comparaison but it tells you a lot more about M capability. Now, as you said, a physical comparison in a gallery would be interesting.

Fred.
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« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2010, 09:16:04 AM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
Hi,

One issue that always is with us is post processing. For instance, sharpening would be different with an AA-filtered image, but also other factors influence sharpening. Comparing different system with the same parameters is simply not correct.

Another issue is that achieving critical focus is not easy, with any system lacking live view.

Erwin Puts has published a comparison like the one you are talking about here:

http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/camera/page157/page157.html

It may give some insight on the effort needed doing a comparison between the Lens-Camera-Sensor systems. There may be some objections to Mr. Puts's tests, but it goes with the territory.

Finally, it is very hard to compare images from different sensors on a computer screen. If the sensors are the same size, no problems but if they even are slightly different you need to rescale one or both. The resizing also has issues.

Now, pixel peeping is in a way a stupid exercise, the image you see in actual pixels on screen is a way real pictures are almost never seen. The best way to compare images from different cameras are probably fairly large prints. In my view the prints should be larger than A2 (16"x23") for a meaningful comparison.

Best regards
Erik

Erik, thanks for this post and the reference. They do underscore the key issues I and others have encountered doing comparisons. It is often difficult to normalize all the conditions for the reasons stated, and that is why I told Alan that it is a non-trivial exercise if one wants to get it right. Nonetheless, I'd maintain that done carefully and sensibly, it is an interesting and insightful comparison to make if one wants to satisfy one's curiosity. As for the necessary print size, here one gets right to the heart of the purpose. If one is trying to objectively determine which system has sharper detail and better luminosity, then yes, print up to the maximum native resolution of the image file at no less than 240 PPI from the printer driver. If one is trying to determine subjectively how these systems compare for prints sized to what I the photographer need thorugh the life-cycle of my camera, then use those dimensions, remembering that one often crops. So yes, comparisons are related to purpose and one needs to be very clear about that from the get go. The value of the objective test, is that you know - more or less - whatever the purpose, this is what the systems can do under the conditions for which they've been tested.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2010, 09:21:29 AM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
Hi!

This may be easier done than you think. It's just to download some relevant test images from one of the usual test sites like DPReview or imaging resource (http://www.imaging-resource.com/), unfortunately, DPReview does not have a review of the M9 yet, and Imaging Review doesn't seem to test M-series Leica's. Both sites have well thought out subjects they photograph under controlled conditions. DPReview will publish test and samples on the M9. I really prefer Imaging Resource as a source of test images but they may not test the M9.

You can print the test images your self or send to a lab. Visiting Michael's gallery would be a great experience, for sure, but you would make your own prints and not send them to Michael for printing?

I think that Michael could do this test but he is also aware of the perils involved. Also I'd suggest that Michael prefers to use his stuff for taking real pictures in real conditions and let other sites do the testing in the lab.

Best regards
Erik

Erik, I'm not crazy about this approach. I think the surest way or doing good comparisons is to do all the work oneself from the bottom-up with the full res raw images at hand from all the systems being compared. This means aggregating some folks with the right stuff, laying out the parameters and doing the work. It's all doable, but it all takes time, so its a question of priorities.

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2010, 10:40:24 AM »
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I'm responding to multiple posts above.  I saw the Ken Rockwell stuff a while back; given the source, I don't put much credence in it.  I also saw the comparison between the M9 and Nikon D3 which was interesting in that the Nikon seemed to be better at certain things.  I'm also familiar with all types of lens testing but those are what I categorize as "laboratory" tests and may or may not have anything to do with the real world.  My original proposal was quite simple, same real life scene taken with a Leica, Canon, and or Nikon with the same focal length prime lens.  To make this a true test, RAW files from all the shots would be blinded and given to a third party to process and print.  The processor/printer would try to match prints regarding color, sharpening, etc. but no cropping of the image would be permitted.  Mark's point about a standard size print to the maximum capability of the printer is what I had in mind.  Prints would then be viewed and compared.  We wouldn't be doing any pixel peeping though perhaps at a later stage files could be released for anyone who wanted to do this (I'm not terribly interested in looking at small sections of images to see details that are irrelevant to viewing prints).

Clearly there would be some time investment from the photographer(s) and the processor/printer.  Maybe it never happens but it sure would be interesting to have the prints for comparison.  Maybe there is a Leica/Canon/Nikon (pick 'em) mystique; maybe not.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2010, 11:00:26 AM »
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Quote from: Alan Goldhammer
I'm responding to multiple posts above.  I saw the Ken Rockwell stuff a while back; given the source, I don't put much credence in it.  I also saw the comparison between the M9 and Nikon D3 which was interesting in that the Nikon seemed to be better at certain things.  I'm also familiar with all types of lens testing but those are what I categorize as "laboratory" tests and may or may not have anything to do with the real world.  My original proposal was quite simple, same real life scene taken with a Leica, Canon, and or Nikon with the same focal length prime lens.  To make this a true test, RAW files from all the shots would be blinded and given to a third party to process and print.  The processor/printer would try to match prints regarding color, sharpening, etc. but no cropping of the image would be permitted.  Mark's point about a standard size print to the maximum capability of the printer is what I had in mind.  Prints would then be viewed and compared.  We wouldn't be doing any pixel peeping though perhaps at a later stage files could be released for anyone who wanted to do this (I'm not terribly interested in looking at small sections of images to see details that are irrelevant to viewing prints).

Clearly there would be some time investment from the photographer(s) and the processor/printer.  Maybe it never happens but it sure would be interesting to have the prints for comparison.  Maybe there is a Leica/Canon/Nikon (pick 'em) mystique; maybe not.

Alan, we're on the same page both about Rockwell's testing and the kind of thing that would be interesting to do. But I don't think we need a third party to process and print. That should be done by the testers using totally transparent and replicable procedures that are identical as feasible for all shots. Where the third-party blind testing comes in is viewing the prints.

As an aside - my earliest experience with this sort of thing happened back in the late 1960s when I was teaching at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine Trinidad. A plant biologist and I were on the Exec of the Faculty Club and we kept getting complaints about how we were stocking the bar. So we set-up a blind-tasting at the Faculty Club of rums produced in the various islands to see whether members knew what they were drinking and what brand they really liked best. It was VERY rigorously set-up as that guy knew how to do from his various technical experiments with pigeon peas - multiple replications, good statistical procedure - the whole nine-yards. It turned out that the cheapest stuff on the market - a brand called "VAT 19" produced in Trinidad, and which most club members turned-up their noses at - was by far the preferred drink. So beware, this can be a dangerous and disconcerting enterprise!

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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