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Jared

Image Quality--CL vs SL vs M10

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OK, and here are crops from the far left side of the image but in (or near) the plane of focus.  They aren't the same because the perspective was different depending on whether I was using (22mm APS-C distance/35mm full frame distance) or (35mm APS-C distance/50mm full frame distance).  Nothing I can do about that.  Still, it should give you an idea as to whether there are major differences in performance at the edges as long as you are within the plane of focus.

 

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Here is the 2nd set of crops...

 

 

I think there may have been a bit of motion blur on the 11-23 shot from a slight breeze.  The f/5.6 shot is much better, and the leaves are in a slightly different location.  So take that one image from the set above with a grain of salt.

Edited by Jared

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The edge of field, obviously, is not quite as good as the center.  It's also not exactly in the plane of focus, though it's pretty close.  Again the SL did well.  The 21mm SEM looks a lot better in this picture than it did in the extreme corner--presumably the wind wasn't identical across the frame; I was able to use the f/4 image rather than having to grab the f/5.6 so no tricks on this one.  

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Interesting to see differences at medium apertures yet. If time permits i will check at full aperture but i'm pretty sure differences are more obvious then. Thanks for sharing.

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Yeah, controlling the variables in this sort of testing is nearly impossible.  I'd need to be shooting a brick wall, for example, rather than a 3D scene if I really wanted to figure out how the camera/lens handled corner sharpness.  I'd have to use a flat frame if I wanted to correct for differences in vignetting (or purposely decide not to).  I'd have to use more controlled lighting rather than variable cloud cover.  Sheesh.

Highlight mine... For my own tests, I shoot outside and look at the tree branches for sharpness. With wides and at f/4-5.6 there is enough DOF to cover for focusing errors. This is also a practical test for me since I use wides at these apertures for nature pictures. Close enough brick wall has no practical usefuleness for me.

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BTW, as you and others also noted, the result is kind of expected in the sense that for practical usage, they are all same (as in good). I am also glad I didn't see any smearing anywhere (as I recall from M wides on Sony FF pictures).

Edited by jmahto

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The 50 APO on the M10 stands out, to my eye (admittedly low res at my age).  What a lens.

 

All the others seem similar enough that I shouldn't worry.  At wider apertures, I'm usually in low light where slight differences in corner sharpness won't matter.  My CL is enroute.  I will use it with my 50 lux as the 75mm partner to my Q.  Yum.

Edited by mctuomey

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Interesting to see differences at medium apertures yet. If time permits i will check at full aperture but i'm pretty sure differences are more obvious then. Thanks for sharing.

 

 

The differences are larger at full aperture, certainly, but it's not really possible to do a fair comparison.  21mm Summilux M @ f/1.4 vs 21mm Super Elmar M at f/3.4?  The 11-23 is at f/4.5 at 22mm!  The 18-56 is at f/4.9 by the time you reach 35mm, while the 35mm TL opens up all the way to f/1.4 at the same focal length.  I'm really not sure what I would compare below f/4.  I can imaging being interested in the individual performance of my lenses wide open, but not in a comparison.

 

And speaking of performance wide open... The number of situations where I need or even want good edge or corner definition when the lens is opened up to f/1.4 or f/2 is vanishingly small.  I can think of a couple, but not many.  Generally I want wide apertures for one of two reasons:  either I want to isolate my subject or I don't have enough light to stop the action and/or handhold my camera.  In the first case the more blurry the edges the better.  In the second case, I'm not using a tripod and I'm pushing the boundaries of motion blur (either camera motion or subject motion) so I'm certainly not going to be anywhere near the limits of what the lens and camera can resolve.  This type of photograph is dependent on content for its power, not technical image quality.  If I had a static subject, I'd use a tripod and stop down.

 

End result is still the same.  I found my exercise interesting from an academic perspective, but ultimately I can't think of a situation where I would choose one of my lenses over another at the same focal length because of technical image quality.  Other factors will be much more significant.  I'm not going to cary my Leica SL and 24-90 when backpacking. It just isn't going to happen.  Doesn't matter how good the resolution is, I'm still taking a smaller camera or at least a smaller, lighter lens.  Likewise, I wouldn't choose the CL and 11-23 for astrophotography no matter how appropriate the focal length is for nightscapes.  Travel photography or street photography, absolutely, but not astrophotography.  Between the speed of the lens (or lack thereof) and the poor high ISO performance of any APS-C camera when compared to something like the M10 it just wouldn't be the right choice.   I'm going to grab that 21mm 'Lux and M10 every time!  Even though, at f/1.4, it is probably my worst performing lens of everything I own.  Coma and astigmatism galore in the corners at maximum aperture!  But I'll deal with it because of other attributes.  

 

My point is other attributes are almost always going to determine my lens and camera choice, not sharpness wide open or even sharpness stopped down.

Edited by Jared

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The 50 APO on the M10 stands out, to my eye (admittedly low res at my age).  What a lens.

 

All the others seem similar enough that I shouldn't worry.  At wider apertures, I'm usually in low light where slight differences in corner sharpness won't matter.  My CL is enroute.  I will use it with my 50 lux as the 75mm partner to my Q.  Yum.

 

Yeah, the 50 APO is a really, really nice lens.  Small, light, fun to use, and really good results no matter how hard you push it.  Makes a great portrait lens on the CL as long as you are comfortable focusing manually.  The 50 Summilux M is no slouch either, though I no longer own one.  I expect you will be happy with the combination.

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The differences are larger at full aperture, certainly, but it's not really possible to do a fair comparison.  21mm Summilux M @ f/1.4 vs 21mm Super Elmar M at f/3.4?  The 11-23 is at f/4.5 at 22mm!  The 18-56 is at f/4.9 by the time you reach 35mm, while the 35mm TL opens up all the way to f/1.4 at the same focal length.  I'm really not sure what I would compare below f/4.  I can imaging being interested in the individual performance of my lenses wide open, but not in a comparison. [...]

 

Sounds like my question is not the same as yours sorry. Mine is to know how the same lens behaves in the same conditions on two different bodies i.e. at the same apertures including at full aperture which is of paramount importance to me. Just to take an example, i would like to check how a full frame lens like the Elmarit 28/2.8 asph v1 behaves on the two leaves below (top right corner) when used at f/2.8 and f/5.6 on a digital CL and a FF body cropped to APS-C format. Boring test i'm afraid but it should demonstrate than the leaves are sharper when shot with the FF body i suspect, i mean at full aperture at least but also to a lesser extent at f/5.6 but i may be totally wrong.

 

 

 
 

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@lct:

 

Same lens shot on FF then cropped versus shot on APS-C at same aperture should perform pretty much the same except for (a) slightly different DOF and (9) any sensor-related variation e.g. cover thickness.

 

Stopping down should proportionately improved performance on either body allowing for DOF differences.

 

Am I missing something?

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Sounds like my question is not the same as yours sorry. Mine is to know how the same lens behaves in the same conditions on two different bodies i.e. at the same apertures including at full aperture which is of paramount importance to me. Just to take an example, i would like to check how a full frame lens like the Elmarit 28/2.8 asph v1 behaves on the two leaves below (top right corner) when used at f/2.8 and f/5.6 on a digital CL and a FF body cropped to APS-C format. Boring test i'm afraid but it should demonstrate than the leaves are sharper when shot with the FF body i suspect, i mean at full aperture at least but also to a lesser extent at f/5.6 but i may be totally wrong.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Here is a challenge for you, LCT.  And I hope you'll take it as a good natured/light hearted one since that is how it's intended.  Look through your last, say, 100 pics taken with the 28mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8.  Pictures and subjects you actually like, not carefully selected, flat test targets like the lawn you showed above.  In what percentage of those images would corner softness detract from the overall result? Specifically, corner softness having to do with lens quality; I'm not talking about corner softness from being outside the plane of focus.  In other words, if you had a theoretically perfect lens--right at the diffraction limit at all apertures across the entire image circle with zero distortion and zero vignetting and zero chromatic aberration--how many of your pictures would be improved by that lens vs. your current 28mm f/2.8?

 

In my case, if I'm taking an astrophoto I care about corner performance with the lens wide open.  That's about it.  I can think of lots of situations where I would care about corner performance when I stop down.  But wide open?  

 

Portraits? Nope.  I want the background soft.  

Travel?  Maybe a stained glass window in a church or something, but generally nope.

Landscapes?  Nope.  Wouldn't shoot them wide open.

Widlife?  Nope.  

Architecture?  Nope.  Wouldn't shoot wide open.

Sports? Nope.

Street?  Nope.  Wouldn't shoot wide open unless forced to, and depth of field will blur everything but my main subject anyway.

 

This is my overall point.  We often worry about and test for these things.  Heck, I do as much pixel peeping as the next guy, so I'm not exactly the right person to complain about this.  But it's important we keep in mind what really plays a dominant role in technical image quality.  Instead of putting our attention into subtleties of lens sharpness and rendering discussions most of us would be better served putting that energy into figuring out how much resolution we are losing to camera movement from hand holding.  Or to shutter shock.  Or mirror slap (if shooting DSLR's). Or to focus errors.  Or how to balance the effects of decreased dynamic range from bumping up the ISO against the loss of resolution from shooting at too slow a shutter speed.  Or any of a hundred other factors that probably play a larger role in technical image quality than lens corner sharpness wide open.

Edited by Jared

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Why bothering about performance then? Why spending little fortunes on Leica bodies and lenses if the way they behave at full aperture and/or in corners and edges is not relevant? I may find a lot of pleasure in shooting with non-Leica gear personally but i'm interested in facts. Call this knowledge, curiosity or whatever. Now my only problem will be to find the time and the courage to perform such  comparisons. Some reviewers will be curious enough to take up the challenge hopefully

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I'll argue against Jared a bit.  I like to see little extraneous details in the edges and corners of the frame, and sometimes consciously frame things that way.  The categories that this effects might be called environmental portraits (as opposed to headshots), street, and landscape.  I also fairly often find a scene that exceeds my frame and requires an ad hoc panorama.  In that case I don't know where the two or three frames will be merged and need details to be resolved everywhere.  The 28/2.8 (both v1, now sold, and v2) is a favorite on my M10.  If possible, I use it at f/5.6 where everything works perfectly, but with the v2 I can go down to f/2.8 without concern about edge sharpness.  This would be rare for midday landscapes, but travel often runs into shadowy or end of the day scenes. 

Edited by scott kirkpatrick

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I'll argue against Jared a bit.  I like to see little extraneous details in the edges and corners of the frame, and sometimes consciously frame things that way.  The categories that this effects might be called environmental portraits (as opposed to headshots), street, and landscape.  I also fairly often find a scene that exceeds my frame and requires an ad hoc panorama.  In that case I don't know where the two or three frames will be merged and need details to be resolved everywhere.  The 28/2.8 (both v1, now sold, and v2) is a favorite on my M10.  If possible, I use it at f/5.6 where everything works perfectly, but with the v2 I can go down to f/2.8 without concern about edge sharpness.  This would be rare for midday landscapes, but travel often runs into shadowy or end of the day scenes. 

 

 

For panoramas I certainly agree that edge sharpness matters.  But would you be making a panorama with the lens wide open?  I don't think I ever have, but you may be different.  Keep in mind, I'm not arguing about the relevance of corner sharpness in general, just about its relevance with a large aperture.  Generally the narrow depth of field is going to do more to damage corner sharpness than the lens quality ever would--even with a 28mm f/2.8  I don't know.  I looked through my own images (the challenge I gave to LCT), and after about five minutes of work (not exhaustive, obviously) I could only find two classes of my own photographs where I was shooting wide open and would care about corner performance.  The first is astrophotography, of which I do a lot.  Obviously, with an astrophoto everything is at infinity, so you effectively have a flat subject.  It's also, essentially, a landscape image where lots of fine detail distributed across the frame is desirable.  And the light is very low, of course, so you would want to shoot wide open if possible  Plus, you minimize diffraction spikes if you don't have the aperture diaphragm in the way.  So for this use case, definitely it matters.  The second use case I could find in my own pictures was pictures I have taken of my daughter's theater performances.  When shooting from the audience, again there is effectively a flat stage or very nearly so.  Depending on the scene, edge and corner performance could be relevant.  Most of the pictures it wouldn't have mattered, but there were definitely a few where it did.

 

That's it.  I couldn't find anything else.  I'm not saying there aren't other situations, just that I can't think of them.

 

I'll offer you the same challenge as I did LCT.  Spend five minutes going through your own pictures and see if you can find one that was shot wide open (even a panorama would be fine) where edge/corner sharpness mattered.  At least with my photographs it's hard.  Everyone has their own style, though, so your needs may be different from mine.

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Why bothering about performance then? Why spending little fortunes on Leica bodies and lenses if the way they behave at full aperture and/or in corners and edges is not relevant? I may find a lot of pleasure in shooting with non-Leica gear personally but i'm interested in facts. Call this knowledge, curiosity or whatever. Now my only problem will be to find the time and the courage to perform such  comparisons. Some reviewers will be curious enough to take up the challenge hopefully

 

Hey, if getting facts about the lens performance makes you happy, by all means do it.  Nothing wrong with that.  There are tons of things I do in my life for intellectual curiosity alone.

 

As far as why we spend little fortunes on Leica bodies and lenses... It probably varies from person to person.  And there is no question that Leica lenses are invariably of very good quality.  They are among the best available whether you are talking about build quality, image quality, or speed.  I just don't want us kidding ourselves that the results necessarily show in the pictures if you compare Leica to other similarly high-end products.

 

I spend lots of money on Leica gear because it brings me pleasure.  Simple as that.  I derive pleasure from the handling.  I like the way the menus and buttons are laid out and the cameras are organized, and that gives me pleasure since it keeps me focused on the image not on the camera controls.  I enjoy focusing manually in situations where AF is not required.  I like the fact that my camera gear is "different."  I like the history--it helps inspire me to get out there and use my camera.  But I don't for a second think there is a single photograph I have taken in the last ten years that is materially better because it was taken with a Leica.  Thirty years ago, when lens quality across brands and models was much more variable, maybe.  Now?  A high-end Canon, Nikon, or Fuji lens can do everything my Leica glass can do.  There are certainly some design choice differences.  But could I have captured every single picture I have taken with equal quality with Nikon gear?  I think so if I were familiar with and effective with the equipment.  I just wouldn't have had as much fun.

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I'll offer you the same challenge as I did LCT.  Spend five minutes going through your own pictures and see if you can find one that was shot wide open (even a panorama would be fine) where edge/corner sharpness mattered.  At least with my photographs it's hard.  Everyone has their own style, though, so your needs may be different from mine.

 It's a very strange photographer who puts the main compositional interest in the corners of photos ..... and an even stranger viewer who concentrates on the peripheries in preference to the mostly central subject matter. 

 

Like you I can think of very few situations using a lens wide open where poor corner performance would impact on a photo. Anything technical and you would be using a tripod and f11 to get optimum sharpness and DOF. 

 

However ...... poor corner performance IS often an indication of design compromises and a possible indication of other less than wonderful general lens performance .....

Edited by thighslapper

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 It's a very strange photographer who puts the main compositional interest in the corners of photos ..... and an even stranger viewer who concentrates on the peripheries in preference to the mostly central subject matter. 

 

I didn't say "main subject" in the corners, just interesting stuff that contributes to the whole picture.  Here's an example that popped up in the first five frames of my Photostream that I looked at:

 

C1010612 by scott kirkpatrick, on Flickr

 

I agree that shooting wide open and looking for a full deep image is a contradiction.  Of course i set aperture for the depth of field I will need.  I was shooting with some Fuji X2s in the past year that never quite got sharp to my satisfaction in their corners, even at my preferred f/5.6.  I don't have that problem with the CL's lenses.

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