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Author Topic: Leica vs. Sony RX1  (Read 13824 times)
Geoffreyg
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« on: March 31, 2013, 10:53:35 PM »
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After using an M8 for several years, it seemed time to see how would the M(240) would compare. And how would the new Sony RX1 stack up? Having been spoiled by MFDB, standards had been raised pretty high - but would the new kids on the block make the grade?

The first step was to go to the local Leica dealer and check out an M9 and M(240) against the M8. After taking a few shots home to compare, the M9 seemed very much like the M8, but with larger files. Little difference. The big change was the M(240) with  a lovely sensor. The images had the desired "snap" at 100% viewing, and really nice dynamic range - much like a MFDB.

There were other things about the M(240) that some may like and others not: it had the EVF option, but that wasn't doing much for me. Using that to focus on the move was difficult - although it would work well enough on a tripod. Its video was not of much interest to me, and the camera was a bit thicker and seemed heavier. The rear buttons were  more sensible and easier to use, which was impressive. It took good shots in low light, and had very good dynamic range. The sensor was quite impressive. A simpler M(240) would be appealing, and a real giant killer.

A friend lent me his Sony RX1. I hadn't paid much attention to this camera, thinking it overpriced, but recent press was suggesting it was worth another look. Its combination of a full sized sensor, a nice Zeiss 35 mm lens and low light capability was intriguing. So an RX1 was taken on a two week trip - and  after a field test here are some impressions: overall, this is one very decent lightweight camera. With more years than I'd like to admit, that has become an issue when travelling. The Sony is good for walking around.

The RX1 files are also very good. They represent an reasonable acceptable minimum in a lightweight portable.The jpgs are fine for web, and can be printed, the raw files have good dynamic range. While not quite as flexible as MFDB, they are decent enough. It has impressive dynamic range.

The camera has simple electronic functions, easy to use and to adjust - I never even looked at the manual, and made it do many of its tricks. It also has good power management - I changed batteries twice in 10 days. The leveling indicators (yaw and pitch) are very easy to use.

Downsides? Composition can be a bit tough as its a bit small and doesn't fit the hand like a Leica. But with the large rear screen, it can be good to compose with if you take your time. Probably my biggest gripe is that  the lens suffers from barrel distortion, making it a bit odd for documentation. Some of that can be corrected in camera and additionally in C1 Pro, but its irritating. The overall feel of the camera is very good, practically as if Leica had made it. While MFDB files still win the day, the RX1 shots are good, very good.

And the Leica? The M240 offers a good deal more than the RX1, but the offerings are not in areas needed by this user. The M(240) is a bit bigger and heavier, and while its optical finder is preferred to the rear screen of the Sony, the RX1 rear screen is workable. In fact, its often more fun to use, especially if you have glasses. The manual focus on the Leica is preferred, but the AF on the Sony works well, with a supplemental usable MF system -  not the same nor as charming as the Leica by any means, but it sure is simple. Anyone for automatics over manuals?

The Leica has much greater system capabilities, but this user will use other gear for those needs, so that's not an advantage. The fixed 35 mm lens on the Sony is just fine - having shot early on for years with an M2 and a 35 mm lens, it feels quite comfortable. And the Sony, while pricey, is a lot less than the M(240).

The RX1 works curiously works well for casual shots and also for more considered  landscapes. Its 35 mm lens is sealed so there is no dust. And the Zeiss lens is has sweet color rendition, delicate. Easy to use manual aperture stops, although when configured with auto ISO,  1/80 shutter speed is the default which is too slow. In the end, the RX1 is a keeper, while the M(240) is appreciated but not pursued.

Some RX1 shots:
- the kitchen shot is at 800 iso, at Bennington Pottery. Nice light tones.
- the shot of the sails is taken in a museum through a case, at 6400 iso. Nice detail.
- the shot through the window is showcasing DR, with detail in the shadows at 100 iso.

These are unsharpened; the window shot utilized Aperture's shadow recovery. 
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Geoff
hasselbladfan
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 02:35:32 AM »
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In MHO, your list of pros and cons is much too large. Both are great cameras. Let's not over-analyse. The real differences in MHO are :

1. Are you really "happy" to work only with a 35mm (just comfortable is not enough). I always go out with my favorite Summicrons (the 28mm, the 50mm and the 75mm)? That's the real Leica advantage.

2. Shooting without a viewfinder is a totally different way of shooting. Are you fine with that? Because if you have to add the external EVP and the oversized lens, the RX1 becomes a very bulky camera.

If you want to compare a camera with the M, I would say the X-Pro is closer than the RX1.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 02:45:18 AM »
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Hi,

The X-Pro is APS-C and the RX100 RX1 is full frame.

Best regards
Erik

In MHO, your list of pros and cons is much too large. Both are great cameras. Let's not over-analyse. The real differences in MHO are :

1. Are you really "happy" to work only with a 35mm (just comfortable is not enough). I always go out with my favorite Summicrons (the 28mm, the 50mm and the 75mm)? That's the real Leica advantage.

2. Shooting without a viewfinder is a totally different way of shooting. Are you fine with that? Because if you have to add the external EVP and the oversized lens, the RX1 becomes a very bulky camera.

If you want to compare a camera with the M, I would say the X-Pro is closer than the RX1.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 02:46:11 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Hulyss
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 04:08:32 AM »
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In MHO, your list of pros and cons is much too large. Both are great cameras. Let's not over-analyse. The real differences in MHO are :

1. Are you really "happy" to work only with a 35mm (just comfortable is not enough). I always go out with my favorite Summicrons (the 28mm, the 50mm and the 75mm)? That's the real Leica advantage.

2. Shooting without a viewfinder is a totally different way of shooting. Are you fine with that? Because if you have to add the external EVP and the oversized lens, the RX1 becomes a very bulky camera.

If you want to compare a camera with the M, I would say the X-Pro is closer than the RX1.

Sorry hasselbladfan, but the RX1 with the Zeiss VF is still less bulky than the last M and pretty usable. Just to say.
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TMARK
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 08:26:56 AM »
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I was lent an M240 for a few days.  In my opinion the files look very much like the D800e, but with less resolution.  The files are maliable like the D800 and MF files.  The M lenses of course render differently than Nikon and Zeiss ZF, and the way you shoot a RF camera is of course different which is a major differentiating factor.  Higehr ISO's are great. 

My issues, and why I passed, are that the B&W conversions aren't better than the D800 conversions in any way (in fact, the D800e's DR makes really nice B&W, especially with the Zeiss ZF and adapted Zeiss Hass. V lenses), and the files, while nice, really do look more like a Nikon or Sony. 


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KLaban
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 08:34:37 AM »
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My issues, and why I passed, are that the B&W conversions aren't better than the D800 conversions in any way (in fact, the D800e's DR makes really nice B&W, especially with the Zeiss ZF and adapted Zeiss Hass. V lenses), and the files, while nice, really do look more like a Nikon or Sony. 

My own issues and why I passed are the outdated and poorly implemented additional features.
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KLaban
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 08:55:08 AM »
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I should add, I may well buy the Sony.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2013, 09:30:28 AM »
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Hi,

If you can live with an add on viewfinder and with a fixed lens. Personally I would never buy a camera with a fixed lens or an auxiliary viewfinder.

Best regards
Erik

I should add, I may well buy the Sony.
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KLaban
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 09:49:37 AM »
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If you can live with an add on viewfinder and with a fixed lens. Personally I would never buy a camera with a fixed lens or an auxiliary viewfinder.

Sure, in a perfect world neither would I.

But I can buy the Sony together with the lens for a third of the price of the Leica M with an equivalent lens. It's far lighter and more compact. The EVF and the implementation of liveview are better. Just what I'm looking for.

The Leica M is a great rangefinder with less than great additions. Not at all what I'm looking for.
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TMARK
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 01:29:15 PM »
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Sure, in a perfect world neither would I.

But I can buy the Sony together with the lens for a third of the price of the Leica M with an equivalent lens. It's far lighter and more compact. The EVF and the implementation of liveview are better. Just what I'm looking for.

The Leica M is a great rangefinder with less than great additions. Not at all what I'm looking for.

I think Keith is correct.  The add-ons are nice, and actually make the M much more flexible, more than a one trick pony.  I'm looking at an M to use in the traditional manner, with the optical RF.  I also like the CCD files better.

The new M does address many of the issues I had in the past with acurate framing by using LV, but that horse left the barn, so to speak, when I went back to DSLRs, particularly the D800e.  Since the sensor's output is more akin to the Sony sensors, the files look like D800 files but are not as meaty.  I like the look, but now, as opposed to before the D800, I compare the M files to the D800 and find the D800 files to be better and not different enough to pay $7k.  That being said, the M9/M-E files, while limited, have a different look to them.  The MM, which is what I think I'm going to buy, is incredible.  The files can look exactly like TMax 100, or TriX, or Delta 100, or even PanX32.

The RX1 files are nice but no optical RF kills it for me.  Others may like it, but I can't seem to make the RX1 perform in teh same way I can the Leicas.   
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hasselbladfan
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 03:25:26 PM »
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Sorry hasselbladfan, but the RX1 with the Zeiss VF is still less bulky than the last M and pretty usable.

I am sure it is useable, but I like to get a Leica M with a 28 in the pockets of my jacket.

An external viewfinder is not living long in that condition, nor the Sony nor the Leica ones.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2013, 03:35:50 PM »
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I don't think the comparison can really be made. The cameras are really too different.

Still, my companion camera to my Pentax 645D, which is full-frame Wink , is an RX-1, which is also full frame. It has a great lens and a great sensor. I really like the RX-1 and does what it does really, really well.
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scooby70
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« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 06:11:16 PM »
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The RX1 files are also very good. They represent an reasonable acceptable minimum in a lightweight portable.The jpgs are fine for web, and can be printed, the raw files have good dynamic range. While not quite as flexible as MFDB, they are decent enough. It has impressive dynamic range.

I find the idea that the RX1 represents the minimum acceptable image quality for a carry camera interesting when most people can't tell a H1+P45+ from a Canon G10.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

I've not done that test myself but my own test to A3 (never mind on screen images) have told me that the people I tested couldn't tell a Panasonic G1 from a 5D.

Of course we should be surprised that the RX1 gives very good results as it has a leading edge FF sensor and a good lens. I remain unconvinced however that these things really matter to most people  Grin
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 06:13:34 PM by scooby70 » Logged
Geoffreyg
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« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 11:43:58 PM »
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The comment on "minimum acceptable" needs to be explained: this comment wasn't aimed for the general public, or even for most photographers. It was a personal call as to what I'd accdept, made in the context of living and loving MFDB quality, after finding most small cameras, as good as they are, simply didn't cut it.

The criteria to be of acceptable usefulness is that a good shot, that special shot, found and  taken, has sufficient flexibility, resolution and dynamic range so that a fine 16 x20 print can be made. And that the files, when looked at on the screen with magnification, hold up to careful scrutiny and don't fall apart. Granted, these are subjective criteria, but hey, that's what makes horse races.
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Geoff
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 01:48:21 AM »
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Hi,

The X-Pro is APS-C and the RX100 is full frame.

Best regards
Erik


RX1 = full frame
RX100 = smaller than APS-C but bigger than any other point and shoot + it has zoom
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scooby70
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2013, 06:43:13 AM »
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The comment on "minimum acceptable" needs to be explained: this comment wasn't aimed for the general public, or even for most photographers. It was a personal call as to what I'd accdept, made in the context of living and loving MFDB quality, after finding most small cameras, as good as they are, simply didn't cut it.

I see. We all have to make our own minds up. The RX1 isn't a small camera in the sense of the small cameras we've had to date. It has a leading edge chip, one that wouldn't be out of place in a top end DSLR and may actually be used in one for all I know, and it has a nice lens too. The Leica is also a small camera and like the RX1 the image quality coming off the chip isn't beyond question. The difference is I suppose that you can fit different lenses to the Leica and that together with its FF sensor and compact size makes it unique for the time being.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2013, 06:49:24 AM »
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Thanx! Spelling error!

Erik


RX1 = full frame
RX100 = smaller than APS-C but bigger than any other point and shoot + it has zoom
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Geoffreyg
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2013, 08:35:35 AM »
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The Leica is also a small camera and like the RX1 the image quality coming off the chip isn't beyond question.

You meant "...is beyond question.", yes?  Smiley
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Geoff
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2013, 08:59:37 AM »
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I see. We all have to make our own minds up. The RX1 isn't a small camera in the sense of the small cameras we've had to date. It has a leading edge chip, one that wouldn't be out of place in a top end DSLR and may actually be used in one for all I know, and it has a nice lens too. The Leica is also a small camera and like the RX1 the image quality coming off the chip isn't beyond question. The difference is I suppose that you can fit different lenses to the Leica and that together with its FF sensor and compact size makes it unique for the time being.

You make it sound like a Leica M is the same size as an RX-1. The RX-1 is the same size as an Olympus E-P1. It is larger than a Pentax Q, but I don't think that would be a great size for any format. A Leica M is significantly larger. But the Leica M/RX-1 comparison does not really make sense. They are different cameras.
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douglasf13
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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2013, 08:02:07 AM »
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I am sure it is useable, but I like to get a Leica M with a 28 in the pockets of my jacket.

An external viewfinder is not living long in that condition, nor the Sony nor the Leica ones.

Just take the VF off and put it in another pocket.
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