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Author Topic: Leica M240 review  (Read 56525 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: April 13, 2013, 04:38:29 PM »
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the Leica write up.

There is just one thing I was very surprised about, perhaps you can clarify the claim. You wrote that the Leica print was superior "Less noise (particularly in the shadows)".

I am just puzzled by this, since I have made countless prints from D800 of scenes much more challenging that your outdoor shots, scenes in which I did lift shadows very significantly, and I am yet to see a print where shadow noise is visible at all. I am not saying noise is invisible on screen, it can be if significant lifting is done, but I have never seen it in print.

Would you mind adding scans of the 2 prints to the article to clarify these findings?

One more thing regarding detail, you write the 2 following sentences a few paragraphs away:
- The Leica prints and the Nikon prints were tied in terms of resolution
- The Leica  outperforms the D800E by a good margin


Which is it?

Thanks.

Regards,
Bernard
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 04:43:29 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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Osprey
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2013, 04:49:00 PM »
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I would love to see this exercise repeated with you blinded to which image came from which camera.   As in someone else goes and takes some pictures of the same thing and hands you renamed DNGs to work on and compare.
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KLaban
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2013, 04:56:42 PM »
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Here we go, here we go, here we go...
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MHMG
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2013, 07:59:28 PM »
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Oh, please don't get me started. As a Nikon D800E owner for about a year now, I've been on a demonic chase for good glass for this camera. Why?  Because the sensor in the D800/D800E is so demanding of good glass that many lenses fall short. So, when someone comes along and says a 24 MP sensor with perhaps very good glass can outperform a 36MP sensor with perhaps OK glass, I couldn't agree more. But to be glowing and effusive in a way that implies the Leica M240 bests the D800E image quality at every turn requires far more analysis than is evident in this article. Maybe it does, but don't strongly suggest it's true based on comparing two camera sensors paired up with only one lens per camera!!!

That said, the fact that the author is impressed with the new Leica M240 is a good start in a good direction.

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 08:36:35 PM by MHMG » Logged
DaveCurtis
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2013, 08:22:29 PM »
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I will keep out of the M 240 vs D800e debate as I own neither, however the important aspect here is Leica have done very well and without using a Sony sensor. The DXO numbers look very good as well.

The camera has moved from the extremes of rangefinder only system  to rangefinder + evf + lcd live view and focus peeking.

The system has become more versatile and appealing to me. Probably still priced slightly above my budget when you start to through in a couple of luxes and  I would still have a requirement for an AF DSLR system.

I was street shooting in Europe last year with a 5D3 and 4 Zeiss primes and was thinking to myself a Leica M 240 plus three or so Leica lenses would be the ticket! however I'm not brave enough to bring the subject up with "er indoors"  Wink



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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2013, 10:55:50 PM »
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I have no serious concern regarding either Nikon 800 or M240 resolution, but I'm concerned about another 240 issue that wasn't a focus of the review.  IMO resolution and high ISO aren't the overwhelming criteria; tonal rendering is just as important in considering lens/sensor/firmware interaction.  So if we can have another installment, please, Mark, focus on color rendition?  It's in this respect that the 240 might be a step back from the M9. 

I've been trying to decide whether or not I want a 240 in addition to my M9, and I've sought out 240 images on the Internet.  Of course one doesn't know how much they were post-processed; but my overall impression has been that the primary colors, especially R, are unpleasantly over-saturated.  A friend who received an early 240 claims he can generate a gentler palette in LR/PS, but I have yet to see this in posted images. 

Beyond this over-saturaton, however, I'm afraid some of the subtle tonal transitions of the M9 have been lost. When I changed from Canon DSLRs to M8, I felt one of my main gains was the delicate movement from one hue and one degree of saturation to another.  Moving from M8 to M9 seemed to produce another increment of gain in this respect. 

I understand that a firmware upgrade might correct the hyper-color, and that the new Adobe profile is better than the embedded one.  Nevertheless the most recent images done in LR4.4 aren't looking as good as let alone better than M9 to me. 

So now that the M240 is a permanent possession, perhaps color issues can be reviewed in the same depth as were resolution and noise?

Kirk

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dubomac
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2013, 11:12:22 PM »
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Hi everyone.

Let me try to respond in the hope that we can clarify a few things.  First of all, as I said many times in the article, this is not a scientific study or a rigorous technical comparison, so to all reading this forum I want to emphasize again that any debate about scientific minutiae or specific technical measurements that to my knowledge no one has performed is not a productive discussion.

Please lighten up and take this article as a short history of why I purchased the camera and why it is so good. Nothing more, nothing less. 

If someone wants to spend the next 3 years figuring out all the scientific issues, please go for it and have fun. And please, share the results with us once you are done. In the meantime, I would much rather spend my time making good images with the great machines I am lucky enough to own and by the time the scientific study is completed, I will probably be buying the next generation camera. 

Just so everyone knows, my current camera arsenal consists of 3 systems:

1. An ALPA FPS system with a bunch of Rodenstock HR lenses and a PhaseOne IQ 180 back. This system beats everything I have ever tried in terms of image quality and is fantastic in terms of versatility and usability in the field.

2. A Nikon D800E system with two bodies and a bunch of lenses. I have praised this camera very highly in all my articles.  It is one heck of a fine machine when it comes to image quality. 

3. And most recently The new Leica M with the lenses mentioned below.

Please note that these systems work for me and for my type of photography.  If I was doing something very different, I might opt for different equipment.

Regarding the comments about the D800E sensor, just because DxO rates a sensor higher than another does not mean that the camera using the higher rated sensor will deliver a better image versus a camera that uses a sensor with a lower rating. Even DxO will confirm this to you. I suggest that those of you interested in really going deep on this subject contact them in order to discuss their measurement criteria further and how they correlate (and sometimes do not correlate) with actual image quality in the field. Also, please note again that there are TWO filters in front of the Nikon sensor and none in the Leica. Intellectually and intuitively, this has to make a difference in resolution although we do not know how much.

It was because of these kinds of issues that I quoted one of the top Chief Technical Officers in the industry when he told me that the sensor is 10 % of the equation and the rest of the system is the other 90%, particularly the electronics in the camera and the algorithms to recover the image, This is even before the lens, shutters, etc. are taken into consideration. As I think I expressed very strongly in the article, one needs to evaluate THE WHOLE SYSTEM: Not just the sensor, but also the rest of the electronics in the camera, the optical path, the image recovery algorithms, the processor, the mechanical components and their tolerances, the software,, the shutter, the lenses, etc. This is a very complicated problem!

I have shot the Leica with the 16-18-21, the 24 Summilux, the 35 Summicron, the 50 Noctilux and the 90.  I have used the equivalent closest focal length prime lenses in the Nikon as well as a few zooms.  All I say in the article is true for any of the above combinations of lenses. I believe one person made a comment that a few shots with one lens were not enough.  Correct indeed.  The fact that I showed only a few shots was not to bore the readers to death and miss the important thread of the article.

Regarding Bernard's questions (Hi Bernard.  How are things in Tokyo?  Good to hear from you!  Smiley), I see noise in every image from every camera I use.  Noise is pervasive.  We can get used to it and even immune to it, but it is always there.  I used to think that the PhaseOne P65+ was noiseless, until I saw an IQ 180 file. Every now and then I get a bit of a wake up call like this. The D800E is very low in noise, but the Leica is lower. At all ISO settings from ISO 200 (native on the Leica) to 3200. If you look at the shadows in the screen shot in the article, you can clearly see more noise in the Nikon.  I rest my case.  I am very glad to hear you get extremely low noise in your images.  Fantastic, be happy and continue to do what you do; you are a great photographer and if it works, do not mess with it!  In terms of my two statements you ask about, they are both correct: ON THE TRIPOD I see basically the same resolution and pretty much identical dynamic range.  BUT, HANDHELD the Leica out-resolves the Nikon.  Also, notice I said throughout that the color accuracy, saturation, local contrast, accutance etc., etc., etc. meaning everything else is better with the Leica SYSTEM.  This is why I stated that the Leica wins. Visually, the Leica images simply stand out and look better. It is not super subtle either, it is quite noticeable.

Regarding how I view my prints, I always view them in a calibrated GTI viewing station, and I always shuffle the prints and have someone else place them on the viewing station.  Perhaps this does not completely qualify as a double blind test, but I think it is a good habit to get into in order to avoid biases. By the way, just this morning my good friend and photography aficionado Geoff Baehr came to the house.  I told him I bought the Leica and he rolled his eyes upwards and laughed saying "you are incorrigible".  Yes, I am, I said.  Then I told him I would show him some prints.  I put a 24x30 Nikon print (shot at ISO 100) and a 24x30 Leica print  (shot at ISO 200) of the same image I published in the article next to each other. Geoff knew nothing about the prints.  He did not even know that they came from two different cameras.

He immediately remarked that they were both very good, but then he walked towards the Nikon image and said that he could see some chromatic aberration or other similar anomaly in the fine branches and he thought the sky looked "blotchy" (his word) and magenta contaminated. He said the sky did not look real. He then walked over to the Leica print and said that they sky looked fantastic and totally realistic. He also said he could see no chromatic aberration and more detail in the trunk of the trees (Geoff thought the Leica print out-resolved the Nikon print in the bark on the tree trunks and was about equal in other areas of the image). More importantly he remarked that he could see "tons more color information" in the Leica image.  Not knowing which print was which, in fact not even knowing that the prints came from different cameras, he concluded very quickly that the Leica image was "quite a bit better".

I hope this addresses the questions and comments brought up in this discussion.

May the Photons be with all of you!

Mark Dubovoy
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dubomac
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2013, 11:31:12 PM »
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Hi Kirk.

So now you want to put me to work again?

No promises, but the color of the M 240 is something I will try to look into in more detail in the future. First blush, after a couple of weeks of playing with it, the color using my my M 240 is outstanding. I have not seen the hypercolor issue you mention. I wonder if the published stuff comes from early pre-production samples or older firmware than the one shipping with the cameras at this point?

Mark
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 02:09:10 AM »
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If someone wants to spend the next 3 years figuring out all the scientific issues, please go for it and have fun. And please, share the results with us once you are done. In the meantime, I would much rather spend my time making good images with the great machines I am lucky enough to own and by the time the scientific study is completed, I will probably be buying the next generation camera.  
I believe that someone with the inclination and know-how can figure out important measurable characteristics in far less than 3 years.
Quote
Also, please note again that there are TWO filters in front of the Nikon sensor and none in the Leica. Intellectually and intuitively, this has to make a difference in resolution although we do not know how much.
Not sure how good our intuition is for such questions. The proof of the pudding...
Quote
It was because of these kinds of issues that I quoted one of the top Chief Technical Officers in the industry when he told me that the sensor is 10 % of the equation and the rest of the system is the other 90%, particularly the electronics in the camera and the algorithms to recover the image, This is even before the lens, shutters, etc. are taken into consideration. As I think I expressed very strongly in the article, one needs to evaluate THE WHOLE SYSTEM: Not just the sensor, but also the rest of the electronics in the camera, the optical path, the image recovery algorithms, the processor, the mechanical components and their tolerances, the software,, the shutter, the lenses, etc. This is a very complicated problem!
Did he mean that in-camera image processing was relevant when shooting raw (as most of us do)?

-h
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 02:15:35 AM by hjulenissen » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 02:50:50 AM »
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Hi,

Just a few observations:

I presume that we are discussing raw images. So camera firmware would play a lesser role. The data sent to the raw files would ideally be unprocessed digital signals from the sensor, tagged with CGA characteristics and color balance information. The raw processing is done in the raw processor.

A major influence on color rendition is the white balance. Which white balance was used?

Comparing resolution between different size sensors is a bit tricky. Making large prints and compare is a good way, but a very good tonal match is needed, as our perception of image quality is sensitive to both contrast and color. Including a color checker and match white and black patch can work as a great equilizer.

Doing actual pixel comparisons is tricky. My view is that downscaling is basically incorrect as it removes any resolution advantages the higher resolving systems has. Downscaling also introduces artifacts, proper downscaling needs a pre blur followed by downscale and sharpening to compensate for the pre blur.

Tim Ashley published two real world reviews of the Leica M, here:
http://tashley1.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/the-m-typ-240---leicas-very-grown-up-new-baby-reviewed
http://tashley1.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/leica-m-240-with-35mm-f1-4-fle---some-observations

Tim also owns a Nikon D800E and also owned an IQ180 and previous generation of digital Leicas. I am much surprised at some of his findings on the Sumilux, but I expect more writing to come on other lenses.

Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 06:18:10 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 05:36:13 AM »
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Regarding Bernard's questions (Hi Bernard.  How are things in Tokyo?  Good to hear from you!  Smiley), I see noise in every image from every camera I use.  Noise is pervasive.  We can get used to it and even immune to it, but it is always there.  I used to think that the PhaseOne P65+ was noiseless, until I saw an IQ 180 file. Every now and then I get a bit of a wake up call like this. The D800E is very low in noise, but the Leica is lower. At all ISO settings from ISO 200 (native on the Leica) to 3200. If you look at the shadows in the screen shot in the article, you can clearly see more noise in the Nikon.  I rest my case.  I am very glad to hear you get extremely low noise in your images.  Fantastic, be happy and continue to do what you do; you are a great photographer and if it works, do not mess with it!  In terms of my two statements you ask about, they are both correct: ON THE TRIPOD I see basically the same resolution and pretty much identical dynamic range.  BUT, HANDHELD the Leica out-resolves the Nikon.  Also, notice I said throughout that the color accuracy, saturation, local contrast, accutance etc., etc., etc. meaning everything else is better with the Leica SYSTEM.  This is why I stated that the Leica wins. Visually, the Leica images simply stand out and look better. It is not super subtle either, it is quite noticeable.

Hello Mark,

Thanks for the clarification. Doing good, thanks.  Wink

I hope that everything is fine with you as well.

Just one comment, I do see some noise in lifted deep shadows on screen, but not in print.

Sorry if I missed that piece of info, but what lens did you shoot the Nikon samples with?

Thanks.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Quentin
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2013, 06:02:33 AM »
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Mark's conclusions regarding noise are radically different from Tim Ashley's, whose overall conclusions in his very thorough comparison were less complimentary about the M240's noise performance, conclusions that seemed to be supported by the examples he posted.  

I believe the biggest issue with the D800/E is finding lenses that do its sensor justice, and when you have found them ( and there are a few) avoiding mirror slap induced vibration affecting sharpness.  That means high shutter speeds or tripod mounting to get the best from the Nikon.  I have seen mirror/shutter vibration on D800E shots with short focal lengths at shutter speeds at high a 1/160 sec.  I therefore aim for a shutter speed of around 1/200 sec or faster with the D800E

This is clearly an area where the rangefinder design of the Leica is going to give it an advantage in many situations, just as a camera like the Sigma DP2M also has.  

« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 06:05:29 AM by Quentin » Logged

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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2013, 06:44:57 AM »
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Hi,

Yes, I have seen Tim's articles and I noted that he draws different conclusions from Mark. I would also add that I have some confidence in Tim's testing, although I am in part puzzled by his findings about the Sumilux.

Best regards
Erik


Mark's conclusions regarding noise are radically different from Tim Ashley's, whose overall conclusions in his very thorough comparison were less complimentary about the M240's noise performance, conclusions that seemed to be supported by the examples he posted.  

I believe the biggest issue with the D800/E is finding lenses that do its sensor justice, and when you have found them ( and there are a few) avoiding mirror slap induced vibration affecting sharpness.  That means high shutter speeds or tripod mounting to get the best from the Nikon.  I have seen mirror/shutter vibration on D800E shots with short focal lengths at shutter speeds at high a 1/160 sec.  I therefore aim for a shutter speed of around 1/200 sec or faster with the D800E

This is clearly an area where the rangefinder design of the Leica is going to give it an advantage in many situations, just as a camera like the Sigma DP2M also has.  


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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2013, 10:26:29 AM »
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Well, the noise comparison given in the review clearly shows the D800 as having better resolution and sharpness. The noise is close, but given the higher pixel density, the D800 should simply pull away. Nothing can really be said of color. As the reviewer states, this is not a scientific review. Pleasing color is not accurate color. The same can be said for DR--there simply is no test here beyond what the reviewer "feels."
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Aravind
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2013, 01:18:54 AM »
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I found Mark's comments on the usability to be rather interesting as well.  I have a new M and though I think IQ wise it is an improvement over the M9, in terms of usability I think it has regressed in a couple of areas.  One Mark mentioned is the M button.  The other is the ridiculously tiny, hard to press button to set EC.  Lastly, the thing that drives me crazy is something that so far only Tim Ashley has mentioned and its how Leica has broken Auto ISO when shutter speed is not set to auto.  This worked beautiful on the M9 and was great for low light work and no longer does.  Now if you set a shutter speed and ISO is set to Auto, it just picks 200. 
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ysengrain
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2013, 02:02:27 AM »
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Hi everybody,

I just want to express a few "untechnical" considerations.
Looking for the best tool to make something is honourable.
This search could have no limit until reaching indecency.

Leica, as PhaseOne and so on, are very big tools with very high quality.
But buying a M240 and a valuable fitting lens exceeds indecency in my own limits.
I'm very admirative of these tools, but very cautious concerning this indecency
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2013, 04:28:43 AM »
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Hi everybody,

I just want to express a few "untechnical" considerations.
Looking for the best tool to make something is honourable.
This search could have no limit until reaching indecency.

Leica, as PhaseOne and so on, are very big tools with very high quality.
But buying a M240 and a valuable fitting lens exceeds indecency in my own limits.
I'm very admirative of these tools, but very cautious concerning this indecency

There is enough debate out there and very diverging opinions about the respective performance of the Leica M240+lenses vs D800e+lenses to be at least sure that the Leica cannot be superior by much (if it is at all, Mark seems pretty alone in his view).

It may still be a superior tool for street photography for those who like viewfinder and the Leica for sure went from "inexplicably expensive for its level of performance" to "a good alternative if you can afford it".

I am personally more chocked by the price of the Leica 50mm APO than I am by the price of the Leica M. The Zeiss 55mm f1.4 is likely to be at the same level of performance at 40% of the cost and is still considered as insanely expensive for a 50mm lens and in absolute figures also...

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 07:12:31 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2013, 04:31:43 AM »
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+1 about what theguywitha645d said about colors:

Mr Dubovoy is pleased with the colors that Lightroom4 produces from M240 files and likes them better than those that the same software produces from D800E files. Which IMO says a lot more about the Adobe-Leica cooperation than about the qualities of the Leica sensor.

I am seeing a red tint all over my D800E files when I develop them in CaptureOne 7. That is quite compareable to what the example of Mr Dubovoy is showing. NX2 on the other hand produces more pleasing (I am tempted to say "realistic") colors from my D800E files. And RPP is - again: IMO - also more accurate, at least at low ISOs.

Why this is, I cannot explain. My thinking would be that every software company should produce a really good profile for each camera before shipping their updates, so that the color accuracy should be indistinguishable between softwares. But it seems that the software companies that work in closer cooperation with certain camera producers always have an edge in color rendition.

Which is a pity, since CaptureOne surely has an edge over NX2 in terms of rendering details from D800E files
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2013, 06:22:16 AM »
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There are PLENTY of photographers producing good work with "bad and mediocre" M8's and M9's. Mark just sounds like another gearhead with a new camera. It's in their DNA to rhapsodize over the new and diss the old.
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2013, 06:27:54 AM »
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Making the M-button on top programmable is a nice idea, like on the BMW M-cars in which there is a button on the steering wheel under which you can store your favourite engine and suspension settings. The problem is that a Leica M shouldn't need a button like that. There shouldn't be enough settings on the camera that a button like that is warranted. The M should be like the S, a camera with about four settings. Just put in your aperture and maybe your shutter speed and go.
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