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M10 vs. M9 for big prints


NZDavid
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Thanks all for your helpful replies, sounds like you've had some very pleasing results at large size, and Erl, very interesting about the Panasonic and Leica lens. No, megapixels aren't everything and I agree choice of optics really does make a big difference. I've been pleased with a big print (in low light) from an X1 and also with enlargements from slide and negative film. So, being able to produce bigger pictures isn't justification in itself for splashing out on an M10!

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For me I would say 180ppi is the limit for a good quality print with small details on plastic paper. I did a test with the same scene taken with both M9 and M240 printed on 17" paper. With borders the paper is 16,75". M9: 207ppi, M240: 238ppi. I am nearsighted and can put my nose to the paper, and I can see that the one from M240 are sharper, and maybe more important, have less moire.

 

I have also done testing between 360ppi and 720ppi. I have let myself to believe that I can see a difference. More MP is better (for me).

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The M10 will give you more to work with than the M9, of course.

The limit for the M10, for me, for most images, is somewhere between 20"x30" and 28"x42" - I've printed up to 42"x63" just to see, and for most images that isn't gonna work, it really starts to fall apart up close and even at viewing distance isn't amazing. The 28x42 is a stretch for images that rely on detail but may work for some images. The 20"x30" requires a bit of enlargement but it still looks pretty good. 

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I found the prints I was talking about. They are not my pictures, I downloaded the DNG from somewhere (on this forum?).

At the time of the M240 introduction I looked at these prints and found the M9 "good enough". It still is when I look at the prints today.

I sugest that you find some DNG files like this and do your own printing.

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I also did some test printing simulating a larger print. I tried resampling in PS and sharpening in NIK and different sharpening in LR, but they could only mach default sharpening in LR (or radius reduced from 1,0 to 0,5) and Print Sharpening High in the Print module. This gives less artefacts, and good detail.

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M240 left, M9 right. The M9 print is the best of several, M240 is default. Not much between them really. I did not buy a M240.

 

(on the back of one of the M9 prints I have written 58ppi. That would make this 60" x 90" if printing the whole picture)

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  • 6 months later...

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Beyond the limitation of print size from a single image, what about stitching together multiple images from a tripod mounted M10 using a  leveling/panoramic head and a nodal adjustment plate to minimize parallax.  I haven't done this yet, but I'm interested in trying it with an M10 in portrait orientation.  I'm considering a RRS panoramic set for this purpose.

 

I searched for this type of work with the M10, but have not found any images on the web.  I suppose most photographers specializing in multiple image panoramic work use DSLRs, not rangefinders.  But with the EVF and Live View, it should be possible with the digital Leicas.  

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I've printed files from M240 40x60" with no degradation whatsoever.  The tiniest details are tack sharp (Summi 50, ver 4, f:5,6).  The files were up-rezzed to 720ppi @ the print's final size 100% in small increments in Photoshop.  Be sure to select 'save details' in image size when enlarging.  Deepening the blacks a bit also helped.

 

You can learn a lot at 4 day workshop!

 

PS:  Printing time was about an hour & a half

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I've printed files from M240 40x60" with no degradation whatsoever.  The tiniest details are tack sharp (Summi 50, ver 4, f:5,6).  The files were up-rezzed to 720ppi @ the print's final size 100% in small increments in Photoshop.  Be sure to select 'save details' in image size when enlarging.  Deepening the blacks a bit also helped.

 

You can learn a lot at 4 day workshop!

 

PS:  Printing time was about an hour & a half

Having printed the same size with various 24 mp sensors (M10 most recently, which is essentially the same as M240 sensor) I call nonsense. It depends how far away you stand, but there is degradation on printing that size even from the 42 mp Sony. Take the same image with both cameras (shot at base ISO, aperture sweet spot etc etc), print at that size - the difference is visible. It may work for your purposes, but there is degradation. The math says so, but more importantly the results do too - even with incremental uprezzing etc. You're just making up pixels one way or another, and they're not going to be the same as having actual information from the capture. 

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Not questioning the existence of degradation, but the relevance. Are you going to see it at normal viewing distance?

Another question is acuity. Having a higher number of details (higher resolution) is not going to help if they are rendered worse than the lower number of details.

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Not questioning the existence of degradation, but the relevance. Are you going to see it at normal viewing distance?

Another question is acuity. Having a higher number of details (higher resolution) is not going to help if they are rendered worse than the lower number of details.

 

The relevance of it is a fair question, and is ultimately up to the photographer.

Higher resolution images from full frame cameras have a higher acuity ("hold up better") in similar scenes in my experience. For some pictures this really isn't relevant, but for some it is. For (some of) my work, personally - I find it a limiting factor - which is why I even own the higher resolution options. If I could make higher res files with an M I would sell the rest of my kit. That's here nor there - but I've certainly seen lower resolution images printed that large that blew me away as they were strong pieces of art where that kind of detail didn't matter. 

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There never used to be a problem with very large prints, even from 35mm, and it was because you didn't see the bland mush that a digital file degenerates into when seen close up. Grain added the 'bite' that the eye needs for the brain to translate it into acutance, and when you got even closer and detail was lost the pleasure of the grain itself was reward. So add some grain to the image.

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There never used to be a problem with very large prints, even from 35mm, and it was because you didn't see the bland mush that a digital file degenerates into when seen close up. Grain added the 'bite' that the eye needs for the brain to translate it into acutance, and when you got even closer and detail was lost the pleasure of the grain itself was reward. So add some grain to the image.

True! Look at the paintings of Lucian Freud, he added clots of paint at places where the centre of attention lies in the painting. From a distance that spots give more sharpness impression.

Edited by otto.f
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There never used to be a problem with very large prints, even from 35mm, and it was because you didn't see the bland mush that a digital file degenerates into when seen close up. Grain added the 'bite' that the eye needs for the brain to translate it into acutance, and when you got even closer and detail was lost the pleasure of the grain itself was reward. So add some grain to the image.

+1

 

Film enlarges much more gracefully than digital. The latter falls off a cliff when enlarged too much, turning into a fake and plastic-looking digital mush. Film clearly gets more and more grainy as the print sizes go up, but it seems to maintain a different integrity that I find more pleasing at huge sizes.

 

I often print very large, and I don’t like the M240 + 50 APO + tripod at 60x40 (at 300dpi). I think it’s pushed too hard there. That’s especially the case for scenes of very fine “natural” detail like landscapes, where grass and fine branches start to look fake more quickly than other scenes. Even if fine detail is there, it’s the blur (presumably from the Bayer array filter, and/or crosstalk) that I really notice - it destroys the bite of the image, and to me, simply makes the image look fake and plasticy.

 

I think the SL and the new Summicron primes get you closer .....to me, the SL appears to be a higher resolution “chain”, and it’s higher acuity lenses/sensor combo reduces that blur I hate and provide more bite to the image when I compare them at very large print sizes to the M. Whilst my M 50 APO is great when considering its small size, the image quality isn’t in the same league at all as what I see in the chain of SL + SL Summicron primes.

 

For a real jump up, though, I think the M Monochrom gets one to the closest to a decent print at 60x40. The benefit of a much more lossless chain (no Bayer array filter) helps considerably at these print sizes, and I think the image has both higher recording of fine detail and bite compared to the M240 (or M10).

Edited by Jon Warwick
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That brings me to my second point - the acuity (or bite)  varies from camera to camera, even at the same MP.

That means that purely looking at resolution is too limited. Better a lower resolution at high acuity than a higher one that looks soft. The viewer won't know which details he is missing, but he will know when the detail looks bad.

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Yes, i agree, the differences in acuity (or bite) is really key here. It makes a substantial difference for huge prints in terms of image quality.

 

It was something that is really obvious with the Monochroms being superior in this regard versus the M240/M10 ....for obvious reasons due to the lack of Bayer array filter.

 

What i had not expected was the SL (especially with the SL Summicron primes) being far ahead in terms of acuity ("bite") versus the M240 / M10 ....i think the SL has a distinct difference in clarity at large print sizes compared to the Ms.

 

This might not be catalysed by the SL's ability to record substantially more fine detail, per se ..... but rather from the much higher acuity.  To me, when looking at very large print sizes, the difference is almost like a sheet of plastic that has been removed from in front of the lens.

 

What i found interesting is adding sharpness in post doesn't really act as a decent substitute to in-camera acuity ...if anything, it can make the "blur" look even odder.

 

Why the SL is superior for acuity ("bite") versus the M240 / M10 for huge prints, i have no idea! .....maybe it's something to do with the longer SL lenses being able to target the light rays in a more direct angle onto the sensor, compared to what occurs with the very small M lenses??  And maybe with an associated impact on the SL having less crosstalk on the sensor?

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It has to do with the microlens array and well depth (crosstalk), I suppose. 

Actually, I suspect the CL is closer to the SL than the M10 in this respect.

 

As for adding sharpness in post, it is really manipulating/increasing edge contrast. As such it does not add acuity, but it does exaggerate any nasties on a contrast transition. 

In practice I tend to oversharpen slightly and then add a touch of gaussian blur to reduce the artefacts.

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You are in the range of print sizes where medium format has an advantage. I've seen equivalently sized prints made from RAW files shot with the Fuji GFX and the fine detail and micro contrast was amazing.

 

You might also want to explore On1 Photo's Resize function. I have used this to create nice contrast and details to print larger images than the native resolution would suggest.

 

Regards,

Bud James
 
Please check out my fine art and travel photography at www.budjames.photography or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/budjamesphoto.
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Reason I asked was a request for a large panoramic image for a boardroom. I guess the M9 should be fine up to 36 inches. M10 probably has other advantages, like better higher ISO, possibly easier rangefinder focusing, etc.

 

 

 

 

I am not trying to be clever but if the photo is eye-catching then it wont matter which camera you use. However, if quality of the finished images is paramount and you feel that the M9 is not good enough I would suggest that you hire a Leica S. Medium format will generally surpass full frame.

 

What is the subject matter? If it is an inanimate object then you can take multiple shots and layer them in Photoshop to remove grain (https://petapixel.com/2016/03/09/heres-trick-removing-noise-photoshop-keeping-details/) or improve resolution. https://petapixel.com/2015/02/21/a-practical-guide-to-creating-superresolution-photos-with-photoshop/

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