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I put my M8 aside for a few years as I was a little disappointed in it. Its  ISO limits and poor dynamic range plus the limits of an optical finder with an old fashioned rangefinder were becoming increasingly apparent to me. But lately I have been giving it another go and have been using it, getting good results and enjoying it. Especially its color rendition. I always shoot in uncompressed RAW by the way. 

Looking back through my older images downloaded to my PC I noticed that many were not terribly sharp  - despite the supposed benefits of having a sensor without an AA filter. I am not talking about the apparent sharpness when viewed on the camera's LCD which of course is terrible for this purpose, I am speaking about the images saved on my PC explicitly. I initially put this down to focus errors (mine) and its one reason I became discouraged from using the camera. But then recently I started seriously post processing many of these images with Adobe Lightroom rather than just leaving them on the PC. The thing I noticed is how well the M8 images which started out a tiny bit soft - or in some cases quite soft, sharpened up nicely without artifacts. In fact in my view they sharpen up much better than those of any other cameras and lenses I regularly use (and I use cameras by Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus).  I should add that I am presently mainly using Lightroom for this and other processing. 

It set me thinking. Is this what they mean by the sharpness benefit of not having an AA filter over the sensor? I had expected that without an AA filter the images would be sharp right out of the camera even though the DNG images presumably get no in camera sharpening. But not so in my experience. 

Is this consistent with other people's experience of image  sharpness from an M8. Do you find the M8 images respond to sensitive and well executed sharpening better than other cameras which presumably have an AA filter. BTW I used to use the Nik Sharpening Efex filter but now generally just use Lightroom's filter. 

This image started out a little soft out of camera but now looks quite acceptable for portrait purposes.

The Look That Says it All by Life in Shadows, on Flickr Edited by peterm1_Leica

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I have never had sharpness issues with my M8.  I routinely print 17 in x 25 in.  And I don't use any different sharpness settings in the workflow for my M8, M9 and Nikon DSLRs.  I normally use 25% Clarity in Adobe Camera Raw (Develop Module for Lightroom users) for all files.  I have found that some image viewing software, including Bridge, do not display the full resolution of the image.  But this is the same for me regardless of the raw format being input to the viewer.

You do not say what lenses you are using.  Also you do not say if you have ever had the rangefinder and lenses checked.  My M8 was perfect from new and has remained perfect; I had to have my M9 adjusted after it was delivered.  That is, my M9 was out of adjustment when new.  You can check the focus by taking pictures of rulers (yard sticks or meter sticks).  Just note what mark you focused on and the see what mark is the sharpest in the image when viewed.  They should be the same.

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Thanks for your response. It's appreciated. I did not state the following in my original post as I did not wish to over complicate it. But since you ask....... I have had the rangefinder corrected as, at one stage, it was quite significantly back focusing with any lens I threw at it. I confirmed this by doing exactly as you suggest by shooting a wooden rule,  marked with a distance scale in front of and behind the marked focus point which itself was a measured distance from the plane of the sensor. So I knew exactly how much and in which direction the focus error was.   It is now, after correction, much better. I presently use various lenses as I am in the fortunate position of having been able to build up a small collection of "using" lenses over many years. If I find any are obviously "off" in their focus I cease using that lens with the M8 and instead use it with a mirrorless camera. Or I have the lens adjusted if it is clear that this is where the problem lays. BTW when I had the camera's rangefinder adjusted professionally  I provided my Summicron 50mm f2 ver 3 to the technician who did the work so that lens at least was properly calibrated.  

The lenses I more commonly use with the M8 are:  Voigtlander lenses - 35mm f1.2 ver 1; 50mm f1.1; 75mm f1.8  and some other Leica glass: Summicron 90mm f2, Tele Elmarit 90mm f2.8 and ELmarit 90mm f2.8. I accept that shooting with any lens wide open may account for some softness in images for obvious reasons.

But with respect, that is not really my point - my point is more to ask if others agree that images from the M8 seem more amenable to sharpening than images that come from other system's cameras that have an AA filter (which is what I suspect may be the reason).  I am also interested to see if people have found this applies even when the original DNG seems a little unsharp straight from the camera. 

Edited by peterm1_Leica

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I never had a sharpness problem with my M8.  

Suggest you use a tripod or lean on a building to steady the camera.  My experience is there is considerable shake induced by the shutter.

M8 & 9 are not smooth like a film Leica. I really need to hang on semi tight to get sharp images.

You may need to use  tight strap , i.e. one that goes under right arm, across back, under left arm.  Adjust length of strap so that when you push your head forward there is tension on the strap.  This is amazing technique if done correctly.  

No AA filter does not make it as sharp as film camera.  Use .8 radius and 25 sharpness in LR as default correction.   I have a pair of D800`s, one is E with no AA.  There is a difference,  but I still need the default sharpness.  

Try a focus bracket to see if things sharpen up.   I find digital  intolerent of any errors , RF or lens 

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If you NEVER get false colours or other artefacts, there is a problem with movement and/or focus. Or your lens is not good enough.

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20 hours ago, peterm1_Leica said:

Thanks for your response. It's appreciated. I did not state the following in my original post as I did not wish to over complicate it. But since you ask....... I have had the rangefinder corrected as, at one stage, it was quite significantly back focusing with any lens I threw at it. I confirmed this by doing exactly as you suggest by shooting a wooden rule,  marked with a distance scale in front of and behind the marked focus point which itself was a measured distance from the plane of the sensor. So I knew exactly how much and in which direction the focus error was.   It is now, after correction, much better. I presently use various lenses as I am in the fortunate position of having been able to build up a small collection of "using" lenses over many years. If I find any are obviously "off" in their focus I cease using that lens with the M8 and instead use it with a mirrorless camera. Or I have the lens adjusted if it is clear that this is where the problem lays. BTW when I had the camera's rangefinder adjusted professionally  I provided my Summicron 50mm f2 ver 3 to the technician who did the work so that lens at least was properly calibrated.  

The lenses I more commonly use with the M8 are:  Voigtlander lenses - 35mm f1.2 ver 1; 50mm f1.1; 75mm f1.8  and some other Leica glass: Summicron 90mm f2, Tele Elmarit 90mm f2.8 and ELmarit 90mm f2.8. I accept that shooting with any lens wide open may account for some softness in images for obvious reasons.

But with respect, that is not really my point - my point is more to ask if others agree that images from the M8 seem more amenable to sharpening than images that come from other system's cameras that have an AA filter (which is what I suspect may be the reason).  I am also interested to see if people have found this applies even when the original DNG seems a little unsharp straight from the camera. 

It depends entirely on your sharpening technique. There is a long post on it in the M FAQ.
A book to read (old, but not obsolete ) is Fraser and Schewe: Real World Image Sharpening. That is just one method, there are a host of others.
I have settled on capture sharpening in ACR, creative sharpening by the sharpening brush, and output sharpening by a number of ways, either on a layer and high-pass filter, using one of the Topaz plugins, Focus Magic plugin, or the Photoshop options. It all depends on the subject matter and subject frequency, the type of blur I want to sharpen, residual image noise and whether it is for print -and print size- or web.

Just slamming a single sharpening pass over your image will never work optimally. Guilty of doing so from time to time, M'lud ;)

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Cameras with thin sensor stacks like the M8 need little sharpening in PP if any. If your pics are soft there is something faulty in your technique :eek: or more probably the lens and/or the rangefinder.

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On 9/24/2019 at 8:29 AM, peterm1_Leica said:

I put my M8 aside for a few years as I was a little disappointed in it. Its  ISO limits and poor dynamic range plus the limits of an optical finder with an old fashioned rangefinder were becoming increasingly apparent to me. But lately I have been giving it another go and have been using it, getting good results and enjoying it. Especially its color rendition. I always shoot in uncompressed RAW by the way. 

Looking back through my older images downloaded to my PC I noticed that many were not terribly sharp  - despite the supposed benefits of having a sensor without an AA filter. I am not talking about the apparent sharpness when viewed on the camera's LCD which of course is terrible for this purpose, I am speaking about the images saved on my PC explicitly. I initially put this down to focus errors (mine) and its one reason I became discouraged from using the camera. But then recently I started seriously post processing many of these images with Adobe Lightroom rather than just leaving them on the PC. The thing I noticed is how well the M8 images which started out a tiny bit soft - or in some cases quite soft, sharpened up nicely without artifacts. In fact in my view they sharpen up much better than those of any other cameras and lenses I regularly use (and I use cameras by Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus).  I should add that I am presently mainly using Lightroom for this and other processing. 

It set me thinking. Is this what they mean by the sharpness benefit of not having an AA filter over the sensor? I had expected that without an AA filter the images would be sharp right out of the camera even though the DNG images presumably get no in camera sharpening. But not so in my experience. 

Is this consistent with other people's experience of image  sharpness from an M8. Do you find the M8 images respond to sensitive and well executed sharpening better than other cameras which presumably have an AA filter. BTW I used to use the Nik Sharpening Efex filter but now generally just use Lightroom's filter. 

This image started out a little soft out of camera but now looks quite acceptable for portrait purposes.

The Look That Says it All by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Images from the M8 should be razor sharp provided you have done everything else correctly, and are using a decent lens.

I continue to be amazed by the level of detail and clarity I see in photographs of people: literally every wrinkle and hair can be seen.

Mount the camera on a tripod and see if its poor technique that is causing the problem.  Your rangefinder could be out as well.

I've never had to sharpen any of my images. If it's not sharp, I usually know it's because I've missed focus or used too slow a shutter speed.

 

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I think we need to drag the old issue of what is meant by the term "sharpness" out of the cupboard again, which is a combination of resolution and acutance (or contrast).  The resolution is controlled by how much the sensor in a digital camera and its camera can resolve, ie the smallest dot(s) the pair can produce.  The contrast is the transition from light to dark or vice versa and is most easily seen around lines.  When both are optimised then objects in an image appear sharp.

The first thing I noticed about the picture you posted is the low contrast - it looks slightly washed-out to me because there are no true whites and few true blacks, ie the shadows and highlights are clipped.  This means that the dynamic range is restricted which could be the result of veiling glare (aka flare) caused by multiple light sources in the image and a lens that might not handle them well.

It is not my intent to denigrate your picture and my apologies if it seemed so but to point out the low contrast, which ultimately will affect the perception of 'sharpness' in the image.  I suspect that if you were to increase the Contrast or Clarity sliders in LR or PS then your pictures might appear sharper to you.

Pete.

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58 minutes ago, farnz said:

I think we need to drag the old issue of what is meant by the term "sharpness" out of the cupboard again, which is a combination of resolution and acutance (or contrast).

To dive deeper, depending upon the subject, our brain creates detail where it does not exist.

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With respect I don't  think anyone here has understood what I am asking and everyone appears to be bringing their own perspective to their response.  Perhaps that is my fault and I have not been sufficiently clear.  So I will restate my question as simply as I possibly can.
Since I came back to shooting my M8 again it has been my impression that the files straight out of the camera are less sharp than I had thought they might be given the lack of an AA filter. Having said this though, I have also found that these files can be sharpened very successfully in post. In fact (and this is the key point I am asking about) it is my impression that unless I have cocked up the taking of the image and caused some blur myself (which sometimes does happen when my technique momentarily fails me) the files out of the M8 are in general much more amenable to sharpening than files from other cameras I have been shooting (which include Nikon DSLR; Olympus M4/3; Panasonic M4/3 and Sony NEX even when using the same Leica M glass). I tentatively put this down to the lack of an  AA filter on the M8. I was inquiring if this is other people's experience. In other words I guess I am saying that M8 files certainly need sharpening  - but in my experience seem usually to require  lower sharpening settings and hence give better results (without a risk of dodgy artifacts etc) than many files from other cameras. PS I always shoot in RAW and hence with no in-camera sharpening unless some cameras apply some sharpening in firmware without disclosing it.

PS Furthermore, I am not talking about contrast ot acutance of images as posted above as the image I posted is one that has already  been quite extensively post processed. It is low contrast by design - because that is the effect I sought to give it when I post processed it. In any event I am happy with the degree of sharpness in the image especially given its a people shot. 

Edited by peterm1_Leica

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(The short version of this is that you are right - removing the AA filter in the first place helps in the sharpening process later).

One question would be, which specific lenses are you using?

It is definitely true that Leica lenses "of a certain age"  - let us say before 1995 - often have some spherical-aberration blur that slightly softens edges. For example pre-ASPH/APO 35, 50 and 90 Summicrons or the 90mm Tele-Elmarit II. Today's non-APO 50mm f/2 is the exact same lens designed in 1980, just with more modern housing and coatings.

BUT - that blur is almost perfectly a Gaussian Blur that is the mathematical inverse of basic sharpening algorithms, and thus sharpens up extremely well. IF they are recorded with an AA-free sensor.

Another factor is that while removing an AA filter improves sharpness, it is not the whole ball of wax.

A color digital image made with a Bayer color filter pattern (e.g. all full-color digital Leicas including the M8, and most others as well) still has to swap some data between adjoining pixels to render all the pixels in full color (de-Bayerizing/demosaicing) - effectively blurring the image a bit. I.E. a pixel that is filtered red and only responds to red light has to "borrow" brightness data in blue and green from neighboring pixels, and that slightly fuzzes things, with or without an AA filter.

The demosaicing math is in effect a faint AA filter - although that's not its goal, just a by-product of getting full color in all pixels that did not originally record it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demosaicing

Without such swapping of data, digital Bayer-filtered pictures would come out as nice, sharp checkerboards of grays, whites and blacks, rather than full-color.

This is, of course, why Leica introduced the Monochrom cameras - they require zero borrowing of data between pixels, since all the pixels record the same color of light (white). And thus are even sharper than a color sensor with the AA filter removed. But of course then you don't get color pictures.... ;)

Again, the computer math to borrow brightness/luminance data from neighboring pixels is roughly an inverse of the sharpening math - you have a "halo" of surrounding colored pixels as sources for the first transform, and the sharpening math then introduces an opposite tonal "halo" to make edge transitions more distinct (more edge contrast).

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Adan thank you. That explains it well. 

I think that I was laboring under the misapprehension that the removal of the AA filter should result in sharp images OOC. And this contributed to my earlier disappointment with my M8 files (though there were other more well founded reasons too).  This was further confounded by the fact that the rangefinder did need recalibrating when I bought it second hand. But even when that was done I did not think I was quite getting the results I expected. And did not even bother processing some files until quite recently. 

Edited by peterm1_Leica

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55 minutes ago, peterm1_Leica said:

I think that I was laboring under the misapprehension that the removal of the AA filter should result in sharp images OOC [...]

It does in my experience, but i don't know if it is the removal of the AA filter or the fineness (is that english?) i mean the lack of thickness of the sensor stack. Perhaps both i don't know but i have the same feeling about the even thinner sensor stack of my Kolari modded Sony A7s. Not to say that i disagree with what adan wrote above, i'm sure he's right although i did not understand everything to be honest but it's just me :cool:

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1 hour ago, peterm1_Leica said:

Adan thank you. That explains it well. 

I think that I was laboring under the misapprehension that the removal of the AA filter should result in sharp images OOC. And this contributed to my earlier disappointment with my M8 files (though there were other more well founded reasons too).  This was further confounded by the fact that the rangefinder did need recalibrating when I bought it second hand. But even when that was done I did not think I was quite getting the results I expected. And did not even bother processing some files until quite recently. 

It appears to me that you are talking about low contrast, both micro and overall, not about acuity. Lack of acuity would hardly respond to postprocessing (i.e. you cannot fix an out of focus image)
An AA filter will not affect contrast. That will be down to the lens you use. Having said that, a very high dynamic range sensor will produce a flat OOC image, but that does not apply here.

I think you should look at your lenses. Are they lenses from before 2006? If so, they may need calibration. Or there might be some haze present on the internal  elements. Or they may be low-contrast.

An M8 should show very high acuity and well-defined contrast, plus rich colour (provided you use an IR filter).
Lack of an IR filter may also blur black-and-white images to some extent.

If all this doesn't apply, have a look at the default settings in your postprocessing program. Capture sharpening might be zeroed, contrast  may be all over the place.

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Just realize that your pic has been shot at 640 iso, f/4, -0.3 EV exposure bias. Bit too much for the M8 if you did not use DFine or same for noise reduction. Judging by the crop below i would think that noise is mainly the culprit and suggest choosing lower iso values if noise reduction in PP is not your cup of tea. Happy snaps :).

 

Edited by lct

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