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Just curious - how much of a difference does it make?

The sharpness of the lens is not the reason I bought my M2 a lifetime ago, or my Fuji X100, X100s, then X100f a few years back, or my M10 a month ago.  It was because of the camera, the way the camera works in my hands, and what I could/can do with it.  

The Leica M10 has things none of the Fuji cameras can do/be, and vice versa.  

 

Thinking back to a lifetime ago, when so many news photographers during wars were capturing war images, "sharpness" wasn't my criteria for evaluating the photos.  

The Leica also seems to take a lot more dedication and precision.  The Fuji X100f could create a beautiful image if I shot it blindfolded.  In fact, the Fuji makes me lazy even today.  With the Leica, I don't yet do the needful automatically.

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Do keep in mind that on-screen 100% crops are one thing, and blowing up an APS-C image and a full 24x36 (M9/240/10) image to the same final print size is another. The Fuji XF lenses have to be at least ~50% "better" than lenses for FF (full-frame) cameras - in terms of the absolute MTF they produce - just to keep up. E.G. a given Leica lens for FF that gets 50% contrast at 50 lpmm will only be beat by a Fuji lens that gets 50% contrast at 75 lpmm. (Approximately). This is true acr

Either camera system can produce great photos - I’d argue a pro with a Fuji could make nicer photos than me with a Leica.   Photography is about so much more than graphs and charts and quantifiable data. If buying an M makes you want to go out and take more photos, then buy one.

There are a many reasons to want a Leica M, but only one, in my view, that justifies the cost.  One has to prefer to manually focus with a rangefinder over the other methods of achieving focus.  If that is not the case then the M won't be a practical purchase.  Put another way, if my digital Ms were autofocus bodies I would not own them. For the same reason I have no interest in Leica's other offerings in the 35mm (and smaller) formats. Regarding Leica M-Mount lenses.  In order to see and f

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15 hours ago, MikeMyers said:

Just curious - how much of a difference does it make?

The sharpness of the lens is not the reason I bought my M2 a lifetime ago, or my Fuji X100, X100s, then X100f a few years back, or my M10 a month ago.  It was because of the camera, the way the camera works in my hands, and what I could/can do with it.  

The Leica M10 has things none of the Fuji cameras can do/be, and vice versa.  

 

Thinking back to a lifetime ago, when so many news photographers during wars were capturing war images, "sharpness" wasn't my criteria for evaluating the photos.  

The Leica also seems to take a lot more dedication and precision.  The Fuji X100f could create a beautiful image if I shot it blindfolded.  In fact, the Fuji makes me lazy even today.  With the Leica, I don't yet do the needful automatically.

There's always quite an amount of "processing" that needs to be done in order to take a (good) picture. With a fully manual camera almost all of this must take place inside the photographer's head. With a fully automatic camera much more of it takes place in the camera. Because cameras are not (yet) as intelligent nor as experienced as a good photographer, using automation either means:

1. That the photographer just has to accept the decisions made by camera automation, as is often the case in consumer grade cameras and particularly in smartphones, or:

2. "Tweak" automation in order to achieve the desired results. This is the reason for the huge numbers of menu settings and often also many dials, buttons, wheels and other controls found in "advanced" cameras. More manual cameras like M Leicas have much fewer controls.

AI is coming also in cameras, particularly in smartphones. Maybe we will one day have fully autonomous robot cameras we just send out with a given task to photograph, e.g. landscapes or street, or we just carry them around and they take whatever types of pictures we have instructed them to. Personally, I very much prefer the maybe less perfect "human intelligence" alternative.

 

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On 3/18/2020 at 9:07 AM, jaapv said:

You could try for instance, Sean Reid's site.

Well, on that site, as well as on the site of Steve Huff, there are tests of lenses not produced by Leica, with a result of: as good as Leica, sometimes even better or in the same class. A good example is the Voigtlander 21 mm 1,8. Huff wrote: 95% of the summilux 21(that's the same class), while one sixth of the Leica price!! Reid also said this lens was excellent. I do agree. Can hardly see any difference between it and the Leica. In some aspects it's even better. There are more examples. Nowadays it's no longer the case that every Leica lens is always better than those from other brands. Besides of that: some modern, 'perfect' Leica lenses can have less character than somewhat less perfect ones.  And that is also something to consider. 

Kind regards, Roel Visser. http://www.roelvisser.nl 

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A common theme that’s emerged over the course of this discussion has been the enjoyment of using a Leica. That enjoyment seems to centre on it’s technical simplicity and back to basics appeal. 
However the original subject was centred on the respective Optical quality of Leica and Fuji lenses. Aden’s point previously that the Fuji lenses have to work 1.5 times harder than Leica lenses due to the APSC format is well made. The more recent Fuji lenses (over the past 6 years) do indeed exceed that margin and exceed the performance of corresponding Leica lenses by 60%. I am relying on the data provided on Lenstip and as has been pointed out there is a real paucity of data on Leica lenses generally. That in itself is surprising as a manufacturer that charges up to 10 times more than Fuji would hopefully have nothing to lose by demonstrating their superiority.

The fact that lens design has been substantially improved over the years by the ability of designers to crunch the millions of calculations by computer programmes may well provide a clue. The simplicity of Leica lens design, particularly pre ASPH, is in no small part due to the pre computer age  technology with which  they evolved. They were top of the pops up to the 50s and 60s but over the past 60 years their ability to compete with Japanese manufacturers has not kept pace  

All the available evidence would seem to suggest that Leica lenses are solid and well made but so are Fuji  Fuji have the advantage that they are optically superior  

 

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1 hour ago, roelv1 said:

Well, on that site, as well as on the site of Steve Huff, there are tests of lenses not produced by Leica, with a result of: as good as Leica, sometimes even better or in the same class. A good example is the Voigtlander 21 mm 1,8. Huff wrote: 95% of the summilux 21(that's the same class), while one sixth of the Leica price!! Reid also said this lens was excellent. I do agree. Can hardly see any difference between it and the Leica. In some aspects it's even better. There are more examples. Nowadays it's no longer the case that every Leica lens is always better than those from other brands. Besides of that: some modern, 'perfect' Leica lenses can have less character than somewhat less perfect ones.  And that is also something to consider. 

Kind regards, Roel Visser. http://www.roelvisser.nl 

Exactly -  but Sean, at least, uses proper testing methodology, even if his onions are smelly. I like Steve, he is a very nice bloke, but somehow every new piece of gear makes him behave like a puppy wagging its tail and licking your face.

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12 minutes ago, Mike Hawley said:

A common theme that’s emerged over the course of this discussion has been the enjoyment of using a Leica. That enjoyment seems to centre on it’s technical simplicity and back to basics appeal. 
However the original subject was centred on the respective Optical quality of Leica and Fuji lenses. Aden’s point previously that the Fuji lenses have to work 1.5 times harder than Leica lenses due to the APSC format is well made. The more recent Fuji lenses (over the past 6 years) do indeed exceed that margin and exceed the performance of corresponding Leica lenses by 60%. I am relying on the data provided on Lenstip and as has been pointed out there is a real paucity of data on Leica lenses generally. That in itself is surprising as a manufacturer that charges up to 10 times more than Fuji would hopefully have nothing to lose by demonstrating their superiority.

The fact that lens design has been substantially improved over the years by the ability of designers to crunch the millions of calculations by computer programmes may well provide a clue. The simplicity of Leica lens design, particularly pre ASPH, is in no small part due to the pre computer age  technology with which  they evolved. They were top of the pops up to the 50s and 60s but over the past 60 years their ability to compete with Japanese manufacturers has not kept pace  

All the available evidence would seem to suggest that Leica lenses are solid and well made but so are Fuji  Fuji have the advantage that they are optically superior  

 

Not really, the measurements you rely on are in the plane of focus only - that is only half the quality of the lens, if not less. To quantify the quality you would need to use the OTF, much more informative.

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On the one hand, I think the Karbe video continues the practice of "making excuses" for Leica lens IQ - "it's about the (hand-made) build quality, it's about the experience, it's about the feel (like a fine fountain pen ;) )". I don't think that will persuade Mike much. Does a Patek Philippe keep better time than my $30 desk-clock linked wirelessly to the atomic clock in Boulder?

I would note, however, that Leica was using computerized lens design in the 1950's, and did not design any of today's lenses in the 50s-60s, so that argument doesn't wash either. They are as up-to-date as everyone else in using that tool (Exceptions: the plain-vanilla 50 Summicron, designed around 1980, and the intentionally-retro 90 Thambar and 28 Summaron).

A few other points:

1) MTF or measured resolution/contrast is but one measure of a lens' imaging quality. There are others. Some can be quantified: distortion, vignetting, colo(u)r accuracy, maybe color or other aberrations (which may or may not be reflected in black-and-white MTF measurements). Others are more a matter of subjective impression or experience - they can't be charted: flare tendency, gross contrast (does lens A exceed a sensor's dynamic range more readily than lens B?), OOF rendering (bokeh) and so on.

2) MTF is tested on an optical bench. Unless one will habitually use one's camera bolted to a couple of hundred kilos of marble and steel, one will never actually see the tested results anyway. A 1/125th of a second, hand-held, with either a Fuji or Leica lens is enough to turn a real MTF of 70% to <20%. And except perhaps in the case of bokeh, there is no prize for "best blurry pictures."

I use MTF charts as a rough guide, because I came into the business when resolution was measured and charted separately from "contrast." You could know that a lens resolved, say, 80 lpmm - and it wasn't that important at what contrast. BTW - so much for MTF tests that top out at 50 or 40 lpmm. Nowhere near the resolutions that interest me.

If and when I want to compare two lenses, I want to count the "pickets in the fence" (actual resolving power) and don't care that much about the contrast between the white pickets and the black woods beyond, so long as it is visible at all. Kodak made graded paper, and Adobe provides a contrast slider or unsharp-masking, to adjust that "accutance" when desired.

I leave us with two quotes, for perspective:

"Never confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice-cream cone, and licking razor blades." - Bill Pierce.

Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?
Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price MTF of everything, and the value of nothing.
Cecil Graham: And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price MTF of any single thing. - Oscar Wilde.

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4 hours ago, jaapv said:

Exactly -  but Sean, at least, uses proper testing methodology, even if his onions are smelly. I like Steve, he is a very nice bloke, but somehow every new piece of gear makes him behave like a puppy wagging its tail and licking your face.

Perhaps what you say about Huff  is true, I don't know. But the outcome of Huff's test of that CV 21 was in its conclusion about the same as Reids test. In the meantime Leica is getting more and more expensive. With such a very little difference in quality one can wonder if those prices still can be justified. 

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6 minutes ago, roelv1 said:

Perhaps what you say about Huff  is true, I don't know. But the outcome of Huff's test of that CV 21 was in its conclusion about the same as Reids test. In the meantime Leica is getting more and more expensive. With such a very little difference in quality one can wonder if those prices still can be justified. 

It might be worthwhile to compare the quality of Mr. Huff's photographic equipment tests with the quality of his results in communicating with the dead :)

As far as his testing results resembling Mr. Reid's results, it might be interesting to see who published first, but then I'm a suspicious SOB by nature :)

But I am somewhat in agreement that world class optics are available from a variety of sources in addition to Leica.

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I took some test photos this morning, and then took a similar photo with my Nikon.  After editing the photos, which I always do, I didn't notice a a big difference either way between my (old) Leica lenses, and my (basic, non-zoom) Nikon lenses.  M10, vs. D750.

Maybe the Fuji is too different for this kind of comparison, but it seems to me that I can create the same images with either the M10 or the D750, the difference being that the Nikon corrects for things I might have done incorrectly.    

The Nikon was still configured for JPG, not NEF, and I had the quality settings at "medium", as the previous time I used the Nikon, that's all I needed.  Other than for this virus issue which is very much limiting my photography, I intend to do a lot more comparison shooting.  The D750 cost me around $2700 a few years back, and the M10 sold for a little over double that.  I had my reasons for buying my M8.2 ten years ago (around $5000 to 6000), and for buying the M10 now ($6500), but now that my photographic efforts are being reduced to next to nothing, I wonder if I made the right choice.  

I do have a Fuji X100f, but now there's a newer model.

One thing that hasn't changed - when I take a photo with the Nikon, I feel like I have a machine in my hands that is doing most of the work.  With the Leica, it's more like *I* am doing everything.  I get more satisfaction from using the Leica, or did..........   Maybe if I live through all this, life will eventually get back to normal, and I can continue to enjoy my photography.

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10 hours ago, MikeMyers said:

One thing that hasn't changed - when I take a photo with the Nikon, I feel like I have a machine in my hands that is doing most of the work.  With the Leica, it's more like *I* am doing everything.  I get more satisfaction from using the Leica, or did..........   

John F Kennedy famously said "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … "  There is satisfaction in doing difficult things.

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2 hours ago, Luke_Miller said:

 

John F Kennedy famously said "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … "  There is satisfaction in doing difficult things.

Not to mention when you have done it so many times that the difficult thing becomes easy.

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On 3/21/2020 at 8:55 PM, adan said:

On the one hand, I think the Karbe video continues the practice of "making excuses" for Leica lens IQ - "it's about the (hand-made) build quality, it's about the experience, it's about the feel (like a fine fountain pen ;) )". I don't think that will persuade Mike much. Does a Patek Philippe keep better time than my $30 desk-clock linked wirelessly to the atomic clock in Boulder?

I would note, however, that Leica was using computerized lens design in the 1950's, and did not design any of today's lenses in the 50s-60s, so that argument doesn't wash either. They are as up-to-date as everyone else in using that tool (Exceptions: the plain-vanilla 50 Summicron, designed around 1980, and the intentionally-retro 90 Thambar and 28 Summaron).

A few other points:

1) MTF or measured resolution/contrast is but one measure of a lens' imaging quality. There are others. Some can be quantified: distortion, vignetting, colo(u)r accuracy, maybe color or other aberrations (which may or may not be reflected in black-and-white MTF measurements). Others are more a matter of subjective impression or experience - they can't be charted: flare tendency, gross contrast (does lens A exceed a sensor's dynamic range more readily than lens B?), OOF rendering (bokeh) and so on.

2) MTF is tested on an optical bench. Unless one will habitually use one's camera bolted to a couple of hundred kilos of marble and steel, one will never actually see the tested results anyway. A 1/125th of a second, hand-held, with either a Fuji or Leica lens is enough to turn a real MTF of 70% to <20%. And except perhaps in the case of bokeh, there is no prize for "best blurry pictures."

I use MTF charts as a rough guide, because I came into the business when resolution was measured and charted separately from "contrast." You could know that a lens resolved, say, 80 lpmm - and it wasn't that important at what contrast. BTW - so much for MTF tests that top out at 50 or 40 lpmm. Nowhere near the resolutions that interest me.

If and when I want to compare two lenses, I want to count the "pickets in the fence" (actual resolving power) and don't care that much about the contrast between the white pickets and the black woods beyond, so long as it is visible at all. Kodak made graded paper, and Adobe provides a contrast slider or unsharp-masking, to adjust that "accutance" when desired.

I leave us with two quotes, for perspective:

"Never confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice-cream cone, and licking razor blades." - Bill Pierce.

Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?
Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price MTF of everything, and the value of nothing.
Cecil Graham: And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price MTF of any single thing. - Oscar Wilde.

Actually, Andy, Leica's MTF curves are not measured but computer-generated on basis of the lens design. It is well known that comparing MTF curves between brands is not very productive, because of the differences in generating them.

i love your quotes - especially the razor blades-ice cream one.

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Surely the data provided by Lenstip uses a common testing methodology or their wouldn’t be a point in testing. They are the only site I have been able to locate that does just that. They publish an article “How we do our tests” on their site. It doesn’t include a ‘hundred kilos of marble and steel’ Andy. But it does use a tripod and common methodology. 
Even though Fuji cameras are handicapped by their APSC sensors their lenses would appear to knock Leica lenses into a cocked hat. I still can’t see a justification for spending 10 Times the cash to purchase a lens that struggles to compete in terms of resolution capability. 
I can see why Leica have a proud heritage they led the field for many years but I suspect they now rely on a “Kings suit of clothes” mentality generated by a marketing department that relies on hyperbole rather than hard data. 
I have been racking my brains to think of a literary quote in reply to your Oscar Wilde Andy but the best I can do is:

‘The King is in the altogether, the altogether, he’s altogether as naked as.........”. ( Walt Disney )

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Am 22.3.2020 um 04:04 schrieb MikeMyers:

I took some test photos this morning, and then took a similar photo with my Nikon.  After editing the photos, which I always do, I didn't notice a a big difference either way between my (old) Leica lenses, and my (basic, non-zoom) Nikon lenses.  M10, vs. D750.

Maybe the Fuji is too different for this kind of comparison, but it seems to me that I can create the same images with either the M10 or the D750, the difference being that the Nikon corrects for things I might have done incorrectly.    

The Nikon was still configured for JPG, not NEF, and I had the quality settings at "medium", as the previous time I used the Nikon, that's all I needed.  Other than for this virus issue which is very much limiting my photography, I intend to do a lot more comparison shooting.  The D750 cost me around $2700 a few years back, and the M10 sold for a little over double that.  I had my reasons for buying my M8.2 ten years ago (around $5000 to 6000), and for buying the M10 now ($6500), but now that my photographic efforts are being reduced to next to nothing, I wonder if I made the right choice.  

I do have a Fuji X100f, but now there's a newer model.

One thing that hasn't changed - when I take a photo with the Nikon, I feel like I have a machine in my hands that is doing most of the work.  With the Leica, it's more like *I* am doing everything.  I get more satisfaction from using the Leica, or did..........   Maybe if I live through all this, life will eventually get back to normal, and I can continue to enjoy my photography.

I think that you do the best thing: Just test the competitors yourself and work with the files in Lightroom or whatever you use. Look at the colors the lenses/sensors render and that then is the base for your decision rather than the MTF curves that are a lot questioned here. I see that even within the Leica products there are big differences in rendering. The Q2 is different to the M10 with 28 Summicron and different to Canon 5D Mk IV (I own these 3 cameras). I prefer the rendering of the 2 Leica cameras OOC. But with some work in Lightroom CC with the Canon I come very near and at the end the look is just a bit different. That might have little to do with MTF curves but that is what is relevant to me in real life. And most important: I do a lot of landscape and would not like to carry around the Canon gear. That is why I switched to Leica. If I wanted to spend less money I would have bought Fuji.

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9 hours ago, Mike Hawley said:


Even though Fuji cameras are handicapped by their APSC sensors their lenses would appear to knock Leica lenses into a cocked hat. I still can’t see a justification for spending 10 Times the cash to purchase a lens that struggles to compete in terms of resolution capability. 

To start with Leica make lenses that can be used on both film and digital cameras interchangeably, and there are a vast number of M mount film cameras still being used. So why is this 'an excuse'? Well Leica digital cameras make software adjustments via lens coding because of the sensors characteristics in dealing with traditional non-digital lens designs, not because the lens is a poor design.

Not so with Fuji lenses, but yes, they are very sharp. But to make them cheaper and smaller there are fundamental faults in the lens design that are compensated for with the camera software. Fuji lenses wouldn't work, or at best they'd be very disappointing if you could mount them on another camera that didn't have the software to correct the faults. As such I don't see how you can say they are better lenses when a lot of the 'quality' comes from software boffins and not ingenious lens designers who are correcting curvature etc. in the lens itself. Fuji did make extremely good film camera lenses, but this isn't the same thing at all. Many manufacturers do the software trick, Leica included with non-M lenses. The amazing Nikon Z mount lenses have software corrections, they are a testament to ambitious packaging and ultimate quality, but a perfect collection of lenses interacting with each other inside a tube, no.

Edited by 250swb
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Just now, M10 for me said:

Is there anything wrong with software correction as does the Q2 by the way? That indeed makes lenses smaller, lighter and cheaper.

Nothing wrong with software correction, just don't confuse it with the expense of designing and manufacturing a lens that doesn't need software correction.

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