[LRflex] Re: leicareflex Digest V7 #21

  • From: Doug Herr <wildlightphoto@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: leicareflex@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 09:10:57 -0500 (EST)

Herman Kempers wrote:

How would you describe DMR image quality compared with the new high resolution 
Nikon & Canon cams and their new high definition lenses??

No personal experience with the latest N&C cameras, but in this post on the 
Leica Users Group, Tom Lianza compares his R9/DMR with his D3:


As far as lenses go, resolution is only a part of the package and in some cases 
the CaNikon lenses are quite good, particularly when stopped down one or two 
stops.  The industry as a whole seems to be putting more emphasis on 
convenience features like wide zoom ranges and optical camera shake control.  
There's an optical cost for these conveniences that many purchasers either are 
not aware of or are willing to accept.  Leica's lens design and manufacture 
typically puts more emphasis on color quality, flare resistance, bokeh and 
consistent performance over the entire aperture range in addition to 
resolution.  Comparing lens designs, even prime lenses, it's not unusual to 
find that Canon and Nikon lens designs use many more lens elements and have 
significantly more air/glass surfaces than a comparable Leica lens does.  The 
Leica design more than likely will require higher-precision manufacture 
compared with the CaNikon lens to reach its design potential, thus the cost.

As a very quick example comparing the Leica 280mm f/4 APO with the Canon and 
Nikon 300mm f/4 lenses, the APO has 7 elements in six groups, resulting in 12 
reflective surfaces.  The Nikon (AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4D IF-ED) has 10 elements 
in six groups (also 12 reflective surfaces), and the Canon (EF 300mm f/4 L IS) 
has 15 elements in 10 groups (20 reflective surfaces).  This aspect of lens 
design is only one of many, but it indicates some of Leica's design philosophy. 
  Comparing the performance of these lenses, one photographer who owns all 
three, using them on his Canon 1DsII body, says the Canon and Nikon lenses are 
a cruel joke compared with the "divine" 280mm f/4 APO (his words, not mine).

For image quality can be -apart from facts you can measure- also a bit 
subjective, I understand that this can be a personal thing. You may -please do- 
keep it very personal; why do you keep working with a DMR and not using the new 
generation digi cams. Is it  image quality, or the the ' R '  feeling?

The APO lenses combined with the DMR produce rich colors with excellent dynamic 
range and color/tonal gradation and seemingly endless detail.

For what you're doing I can imagine that a fast reacting camera with usable 
high iso can do the job more easily.

More easily, yes.  But they don't produce the image quality I want in my photos.

Doug Herr
Birdman of Sacramento

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