I've been undertaking a long term project concerning a local landmark, the Ampthill Estate, in Camden Town, London. For that reason, over the years I have had the opportunity to shoot the same view on several different cameras. I decided to go back yesterday and shoot this view with the GH-2 and 7-14, set to 12mm, roughly equivalent to a 24mm fov.
This is the result:
Two years ago when I tested the D700 using a Nikkor 24/2.8 against my Leica M8 with the fantastically designed 16-18-21 Wide Angle Tele Elmar I conceded to myself that the Leica only just pipped the Nikon. Now, I am not so sure. Incidentally, I made a mistake on the description of the Leica shot, it is at 18mm (equivalent to 24mm) and not 16mm. I think I convinced myself that the Leica shot elicited slightly more detail. I did concede that the D700 and the ridiculously good-value-for-money Nikkor 24/2.8 was to all intents and purposes as good as the ridiculously expensive WATE (which I eventually sold at a profit and invested a fraction of the amount in the CV 15/4.5 - and never looked back).
Of course, the interest here is in the comparison shot I took yesterday using a camera which is a third the price of a D700 (I can't even begin to bring myself to calculate how much cheaper than what I paid for my M8) and a lens which is at least double the price of a Nikkor 24/2.8 (but a quarter the price of the WATE).
There is far more, sharper detail shown in the GH-2/7-14 capture at 100% crop than the other two pictures. It could be I took a better picture yesterday, of course. One thing which is noticeable in the GH-2 shots is that the RAW images tend to have more noise even at iso160 compared to the D700 which has none and the M8 which has very little. The M8 has created more texture in the overcast but that may be the conditions on that particular day.
I think the unfair comparison here may well be in the density of the sensor. I think it shows that 16mpx outclasses the less dense sensors of the D700 and M8 regardless of actual sensor size. I may be wrong but that is my judgement. Of course, I am not reviewing the colouration or contrast of the overall picture where the outcomes may be different.
Of course, it may just be that the GH-2 sensor is just plain better than that of the D700 or the M8 in terms of resolution. I'm not trolling the D700, which is a camera I sincerely admire, or the M8 which is a camera I very much enjoy using. However, as a walkabout camera I have absolutely no reservations about recommending the lighter, cheaper GH-2.
Another point concerns the lenses. A lot has been said about the 7-14, especially the price which is regarded as too high and not value-for-money. Well, this shows you get what you pay for. It is worth the money.
Bottom line, I am really having a difficult time convincing myself of the need for either my M8 or my D700 for general web based work. And in fact, given that the largest print size for my photographs is unlikely to bigger than a coffee table book (say 16x12) I also question the need for a M8 or D700. In fact, my next investment is far more likely to be more Hass MF kit.
Hope this comparison is of interest.