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Sean Reid's M240 review raises a question


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#1 thompsonkirk

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:27

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Sean Reid's review of the forthcoming M is based on pre-production firmware, but he had Leica's permission to publish comparative M9-M240 images:

Welcome to ReidReviews

The comparison images put me in a bit of a quandary.

Admittedly Sean's sample images aren't the final word, because he didn't have the final firmware, nor an Adobe M profile to use in LR/ACR; so refinements may later reveal more difference. But viewing his samples, I was surprised that IQ is so very close for the different sensors, at least when viewing detailed crops on a monitor. The main difference is, as expected, higher ISO performance from the CMOS sensor – but little or nothing else that seems important to image quality. Just a tiny increase in resolution in the same-size images, and some color-rendering differences that are probably profile-dependent and/or easily balanced in post-processing.

Here's the difficulty for me: I've already acquired Summiluxes in the focal lengths I use (or Summicron for 28), and I was 'raised' on Tri-X; so an ISO limit of 400 or so has never bothered me much. Indoors, F1.4 at 1/30 or 1/60 is just a habit. In low light I use ISO 320 with M9, and only rarely 640 (because of shadow noise that can show up in medium-large prints).

But in Sean's samples, 1250 is a fully acceptable M240 ISO; maybe 1600, before I'd notice any noise in 14x21" prints.

So here's the hard choice for me:
--Keep M9 and use the fastest lenses (as is a habit); or
--Move into 'modern times' with the M240 sensor, and then be able to stick with the pre-aspherical Summicrons that I like best? (Most of my shooting is with 35 Cron v4 or 40 Summicron-C. I've never really bonded with my 35FLE, because it's heavier and IMO 'clinical' in rendering.)

The irony is that there's really no cost involved, because the M240 would be 'free' if I sold the Summiluxes – only the inconvenience of Internet buying/selling.

This is a toss-up for me. I don't know if anyone else is looking at sensors and lenses from the same perspective, but I'd like to hear about similar/different responses to Sean's review.

Kirk

Edited by thompsonkirk, 24 February 2013 - 19:42.


#2 geotrupede

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:35

value of lenses is constant (or even increases).
value of cameras goes down in the drain...
my suggestion is to be happy with your gear, and see how you can improve the noise by making it a feature.
otherwise, of course, the upgrade is the most obvious thing to do, but to be fair if we were happy 4 years ago, how can be not satisfied now?

film is the same for the last 100 years and people still use it and make great photos...
I would keep the M9 and maybe pay some more in a nice new lens.
G
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#3 thompsonkirk

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:36

But if one's preference were a nice old lens?

K

#4 k-hawinkler

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:43

But if one's preference were a nice old lens?

K



Then I would get that nice old lens!
Which ones do you have in mind?

I like the 50 rigid Summicron and 90 three-element Elmar! :)
With best regards, K-H.

#5 luigi bertolotti

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:44

Well, yours is one of the ways in which one can justify and/or finance, totally or in part, the acquistion of the new M (*) , but in my opinion, you consider only a PART of the scenario : basically, you say "with M240 I can set, say, always 2x the ISO setting I use on M9, so I can use f2 instead of f1,4" : this can be true but THERE are, if you shot regularly, situations in which f 1,4 is ANYWAY better or even necessary to take a fine picture. And there are other deatils to look at in the M240/M9 comparision... in terms of noise the equation "m9_640 = M240_1250" can be right... but what about dynamic range and color balance ? In general my idea ist that should I have a M9, I were not so sure to change with the M240, based on present samples and reviews.

It is also true that if one LIKES A LOT to use old lenses... M240 does offer, probably, the possibility to use them a bit more...

(*) For instance, I am toying with the idea that, if I switch from my M8 to the M240 I'll probably won't use anymore my Elmarit asph 24 (having 21 and 28)... I could sell it... clearly, it's a mindset related to my tentative of self-justification to afford the expense... ;)

Edited by luigi bertolotti, 24 February 2013 - 19:47.

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#6 4X5B&W

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 19:53

Although I have not read Sean's review I have a good feel of what the content is, as well as the other sites that have impressions of the pre-released M240 performance.

There does seem to be a common observation that the IQ is not dramatically different with the possible exception of high ISO performance, and possibly a more CMOS look at lower ISO's.

I really like the new features of the M240, and improved IQ at all ISO's would do the trick for me to change to the new M. But frankly high ISO shooting is probably less than 10% of my shooting, so for me I am somewhat concerned that the M240 may be an expensive way to pick up features such as the ability to use some of my lovely R glass on a Leica digital sensor.

All this from a pre-released camera, so I am certainly waiting for the final product to get a better feel for what Leica is offering.

Certainly an interesting design, Leica has almost started with a clean sheet of paper, while retaining a M9 look alike.
let's hope we do not have to sacrifice some low ISO IQ to buy into this new product.

Oh, and I have no intention of giving up my Summilux's, there is more going on there than just speed.

Edited by 4X5B&W, 24 February 2013 - 19:56.

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#7 macjonny1

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 20:01

value of lenses is constant (or even increases).

G


Maybe not quite as much anymore. Used prices of summilux 50mm ASPH are about $800 less than last year!

#8 IWC Doppel

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 21:05

A one stop advantage for the Summilux's is sometimes very helpful and I can see the advantage of an additional 1.3 stops for the M240 (assuming Sean is right) but if I din't like the rendering of a lens (say the 35 1.4FLE) I'd cherry pick 500 ISO and not 320 and drop to 1/24th or 1/25 with a different lens at f2.0 in any case like the MkIV (I don't actually like this at F2.0 and prefer at F4, but that will be a bridge too far I'm sure)

I think one and a bit stop opens things up but isn't life changing for very low light circumstances. I have got away with 1/8th on occasion using a 35mm F2.8 Summaron and would prefer to continue to do so (because I like this lens, and have a truly lovely 35 summilux aspherical, but the summaron is different and I like a change). But even when accepting noise at ISO 1600 and 1/8 with an M9, this would only be 1/15th and perhaps 1250 with the 'M'

In your dilemma I'd choose the lenses you prefer and wait until the final view on ISO is confirmed. 1.3 stops helps but doesn't change the world for me.

Edited by IWC Doppel, 24 February 2013 - 21:07.

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#9 Robert Seeney

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 21:23

I am in a similar, albeit slightly different, position - I had really hoped for 2 extra usable stops of ISO from the M240 for low light capability.(ie 1/90 to 1/125 to stop motion in low light) - I would have pre-ordered right then and there. I read Sean's review and the others that have been posted and the shots are great but I am struggling to see (for my shooting) the advantage of going from the M9 to the M240. I shoot with summicrons and reach for the Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 when I need available light shots at really low levels. I wonder if my money is better spent on getting summiluxes although that just gives me broadly the same upgrade as the M240 in terms of low light.

I do wonder about the advances in Lightroom too - I haven't done any tests but it feels as though I can push an extra stop compared to a year ago with dark dank church shots.

I will wait for the production bodies to come out and look at the ISO then with all the right firmware - really hoping it will give 2 stops in the real world.

#10 250swb

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 22:20

You know what I think? If 1.5 stops of 'better' ISO range from the M240 is so critical to everything you do such that it needs a group discussion, buy a Nikon. Honestly, get the ISO sorted how you want it sorted if that is the top priority, but 1.5 stops isn't worth worrying about. You could buy a really great tripod for less than gaining 1.5 stops costs with Leica, and not worry about ISO with any camera ever again.

;)

Steve
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#11 algrove

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 22:48

Don't sell fast lenses to buy a digital body. Keep the lenses and save for the buying the body in the next year. Sell your car and ride a bicycle.
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#12 IWC Doppel

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 23:11

Don't sell fast lenses to buy a digital body. Keep the lenses and save for the buying the body in the next year. Sell your car and ride a bicycle.


:)

#13 Photoskeptic

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 23:32

You know what I think? If 1.5 stops of 'better' ISO range from the M240 is so critical to everything you do such that it needs a group discussion, buy a Nikon. Honestly, get the ISO sorted how you want it sorted if that is the top priority, but 1.5 stops isn't worth worrying about. You could buy a really great tripod for less than gaining 1.5 stops costs with Leica, and not worry about ISO with any camera ever again.

;)

Steve


Good call, Steve. It seems as if all of a sudden many cannot live with their lower ISO bodies.
At first I believed I would buy this body, but after a fairly good think I'm almost certain to wait for the next iteration. I would like an FF to use some WA Leica lenses, but I'm very satisfied with my current D800/Zeiss 21 setup.
www.johnbrewton.zenfolio.com

#14 tgm

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 23:50

At first I believed I would buy this body, but after a fairly good think I'm almost certain to wait for the next iteration.


What do you expect that the next iteration will give? Are you expecting further improvements in image quality or are other aspects more important for you?

Thomas

#15 dalfrednix

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 23:51

value of lenses is constant (or even increases).
value of cameras goes down in the drain...
my suggestion is to be happy with your gear, and see how you can improve the noise by making it a feature.
otherwise, of course, the upgrade is the most obvious thing to do, but to be fair if we were happy 4 years ago, how can be not satisfied now?

film is the same for the last 100 years and people still use it and make great photos...
I would keep the M9 and maybe pay some more in a nice new lens.
G


I have found that even the lens loose some value over time, but then reach a point where their value then remains constant unlike the digital bodies which continue to slowly loose value over time. This observation from watching lenses and camera bodies on eBay over the last six months.

#16 thrid

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 23:59

Why don't we just wait until the camera is released with final firmware and RAW support, before drawing final conclusions? At this point everything is just speculation.
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#17 IkarusJohn

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 00:14

I'd have to say I'm with Steve, and Kirk, actually.

I don't really get this obsession with high ISO performance and shooting in low light. My background is slide film (ASA 25, 50 & 64) and Tri-X (ASA 400). The most common ISO limitation for me is that 160 (M9-P) and 320 (Monochrom) has me reaching for ND filters, which are a bit of a pain, but a necessity.

As for lenses, I have a collection of Summicrons, Summiluxes and a Noctilux. I don't have those out of any low light desire, but for the qualities of the lenses and the options they give me for depth of field. Since (finally) getting my Monochrom, I select my lenses for the field of view (and their inherent character, I guess); shutter speed so I get a sharp image; aperture for depth of field; and I leave the ISO setting to sort itself out.

ISO is rarely a problem.

I would choose the M240 if I felt the need for weather sealing (I haven't yet, but I'll get back to you when my electronics get fried); if I had R lenses (longer telephoto, zooms or macro); if focus shift was a problem for me (it hasn't been so far); if I was into video (I'm not); if the IQ from the CMOSIS sensor was markedly better (I'm not yet maximising the output from the CCD sensors I have); or if my M9-P was knackered (it is pristine). This camera is just the latest M camera - it will be very good, but it is still just the latest iteration.

The thing is, for most of us, the M9 is perfectly good - actually, better than that. But, if you want the M240, buy it. Speaking purely for myself, I wouldn't use high ISO performance as an excuse - it's rarely a problem in practice.

Cheers
John
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#18 jonoslack

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 00:44

So here's the hard choice for me:
--Keep M9 and use the fastest lenses (as is a habit); or
--Move into 'modern times' with the M240 sensor, and then be able to stick with the pre-aspherical Summicrons that I like best? (Most of my shooting is with 35 Cron v4 or 40 Summicron-C. I've never really bonded with my 35FLE, because it's heavier and IMO 'clinical' in rendering.) k


Hi there Kirk. I can really see where you're coming from here. I'm also considering an all 'corn setup and suddenly it's possible.
There's all the other advantages of the M as well
All the best
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#19 thighslapper

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 00:48

Yes ...... improvement is incremental and hardly a quantum leap.....

..... but the same has applied to each iteration of Canon & Nikons pro level cameras and I, like the rest of the sheep, merrily changed my gear at 2-3 yearly intervals when no sane person would have done it from a cost-effectiveness point of view.

Boys have always wanted new toys and always will......:P

If I was completely under the control of the female in the house I would still be using my Nikon D300 (which is hidden under the desk where I am typing - she thinks I sold it when I got my D700 .... which in turn is now hidden in the safe as I promised to liquidate this as well.... but 'needed' to keep it as a 'spare') and not finding self delusional excuses to part with 5k GBP for a 'better' camera to add to the pile of Leica stuff that she is only hazily aware of...... :o

Edited by thighslapper, 25 February 2013 - 00:56.


#20 jonoslack

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 00:52

Hi there Robert
I hope you're well!

I am in a similar, albeit slightly different, position - I had really hoped for 2 extra usable stops of ISO from the M240 for low light capability.(ie 1/90 to 1/125 to stop motion in low light)

Was that a typo, or are you misunderstanding Sean's 1.3 stops
1/90 goes to 1/250th.
more to the point 1/15th goes to 1/45th
Added to which were all being rather cautious!

But I agree, the high ISO alone probably isn't enough (great if you ever shoot parties or concerts though)
The weather sealing and ergonomic improvements aren't either
The ability to use macro and telephoto lenses aren't good enough alone either
Nor is the possibility of using extension tubes with your M lenses for macro
Even the fact that finally the shutter is as quiet as an M6 doesn't excuse the expense

Just don't add it all together :)


All the best

Edited by jonoslack, 25 February 2013 - 01:01.

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