diglloyd.com blog - 36 Megapixel Shootout: Nikon D800 vs Leica S2
Discuss, as they used to say at school...
diglloyd.com blog - 36 Megapixel Shootout: Nikon D800 vs Leica S2
Discuss, as they used to say at school...
For those of us who are not subscribers, can you give us a clue?
Have to be a subscriber to DAP @ $77. No thanks.
I let my subscription lapse after Lloyd trashed the S2 AF, which I couldn't replicate with mine, and he continues to do so, and I still can't replicate it.
If the camera to subject distance is say less than 20-30FT its pretty easy to master the technique and place the measurement so that you get accurate focus points . But at distance as in a landscape I frequently have to check focus point (not so easy at dawn) .
I found the AF once it locks on a focus point to be exceptional ..its the missing the focus point you intended that makes it questionable.
His point about focus accuracy is dead on ..if you miss at all you lose the IQ that the system can produce . The AF system on my D3S is as good as it gets (I can track a polo ball and keep the ball in focus for a dozen shots ). But DL is correct the wide angles (24/35 ) will catch a high contrast element and front focus on occasion. The conclusion is that for optium IQ you need to go with live view and thus whats the advantage of AF ?
This is the best test out so far on the D800 . It focuses squarely on the benchmark of the Leica S2 . DL uses the superb Zeiss 100/2.0 ZF.2 and compares it to the Leica S 120/2.5 . This is a test of pure IQ and he does a good job of holding the variables constant in post processing . Even the color is amazingly consistent .
When the S2 came out I did the same type of tests using the D3X and the Zeiss glass verse the S2 . Both were superb but the S2 had much better color tone separation and color depth . This was apparent in photographs of the ocean or the beach . But if I shot a flat subject (like a building) all you could see was the resolution. Its in this area that I find most tests lacking .
There's really not much to discuss. This is a no brainer for anyone with a brain. The 800 is a true breakthrough and matches or beats the S2. The comparison was very fair and very revealing.
It going to be nice here today, maybe I'll play around shooting more at distance and learn a thing or three.
Don't disagree that focus accuracy is key to extracting max IQ ... who would?
Sorry to anyone who can't see it... I thought the blog part was open to all.
In short he seems to be saying that the d800 is about as good, sometimes better, depending on where in the frame you look, but has less (though still some) moire...
The S2 killer.
The test is easy to understand. On the blog he shows the target ... a building with great detail . He shoots the same crop factor at essentially the same time with as close to the same process as possible . Even the color matching was excellent .
The results are hard to tell apart .
The test does not show in anyway the subtle tone separation and color saturation normally associated with MF .
What do the other pay-per-view sites say?
Krockwell has a more detailed comparison (open site) starting from D1 on, I heard.
I am not sure but is this test about one image with 1 lens at 1 distance and 1 f-stop? I found it interesting and impressive how good the resolution of the D800 and also of the Zeiss lens is, but drawing final conclusion is very early.
What I would be interested are 10 real world images shot with both cameras.
Including some portrait to see skin tones, including some subjects with subtile colors and tones, and some in "flat light" and some in harsh light.
I still dont believe in the "MF-killer-theory" but I get more and more interested in the D800 and maybe I will want one just to find out myself how/if it compares.
My guess, having owned an S2, is that with the best glass the two will be so closely matched in most lower ISO situations that any differences will be trivial but that the smaller sensor will make it easier for good glass to give sharper corners (I was very, but not hugely, impressed with the lenses I tried on the s2). However in a tight corner the D800 will have better DR. At higher ISO the D800 will win more clearly. If I was in the market for about this number of pixels I'd rather have a D800 (probably E but yet to be proven) than anything else. But if you want the absolute best and you have the right technique, obviously an IQ 180 wins. Just on pure resolution.
My guess is that even the D800(E) is a substantial step forward we can read a lot of wishful thinking nowadays. Does the difference in IQ, which gets smaller and smaller, still justifies the price difference - a very personal question.
I dont believe in (technical) wonders.
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
I'm apologetic to even want to ask this at this point, but given the full realm of both 35mm format D800 and ~36 megapixel medium format capabilities, do the tonal gradations and color qualities still hold one above the other? NB, I'm trying to draw a fair line at this resolution level - no IQ80 you can't be a contender. Medium format has meant many things prior to your existence.
That is the $64,000 question (almost literally!) that each individual needs to answer for themselves.
The reality is there is a difference. But just like with high-end stereo gear and audiophiles, not everybody can justify the geometric increase in expense for the diminishing percentage of gains in that pursuit of perfection.
I would add that my experience in photography is that superior image content and composition trumps technical perfection nearly every time. Yet at the same time, content and composition when combined with high technical acuity is always the slam-dunk winner.
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."1 Member(s) liked this post
Once you have pretty much mastered the technical aspects as applied to the content you want to convey, (the "art" so to speak), the steep upward curve of technical acuity starts flattening ... and it takes a combination of smaller incremental improvements all along the image chain to push on ... of course, depending on what your artistic objectives actually are.
I think the D800 is proving to be an outstanding technical achievement especially at the surprising price point. I'd hazard a guess that Nikon could have priced the camera higher and still captured a hugh market share.
This specific test holds little interest for me not because of the technical aspects, which seem from reports to be well done, but because the content has no relevance to my work ... i.e., the subject matter, nor approach to the subject matter (at least, the subject matter indicated on the non-paid blog post).
The D800 verses 5D-III shoot-out video was of more interest to me because it concentrated on portraiture. The results where such that there wasn't a compelling reason to swap systems from Canon to Nikon (also an expensive proposition). The end results were very similar, yet, there were visible differences between the D800 gradations and shadow detail at most used print sizes ... noticeable only when placed side-by-side.
One relevant question that came to my mind when all these head-to-head comparison's begin emerging is:
"would I buy the S2 NOW?",
That is a tough question ... but one I contemplated prior to purchase knowing full well that either Sony or someone would break the 30 meg FF barrier with the next gen sensor technology.
The most honest answer is that if it were earlier in my photo trek, NO!. I didn't have that kind of money to indulge in such extravagances, and would have been grateful for something like the D800 to accomplish the work at hand. However, at this stage, I can indulge most anything photographic, and prefer Leica products for their design, aesthetic appeal, and general look and feel of the images ... specifically being attracted to the S2 form factor and ergonomics, large bright viewfinder and speed of use ... as it applies to my artistic focus. At this point in life, I want to love the camera in hand, not just what it can do (which is a given). In that regard, nothing is a S2 Killer
So, the S2 is an indulgence, pure and simple. I never saw it as anything else ... my H4D/60 can murder it for IQ, and the 60's Dalsa sensor is killer for skin tones ... not to mention the back can be put on a tech camera with full movements using lens IQ unavailable for a D800 or S2.
Why I have my tech cam and IQ 160 than I have my Nikon for work. Nothing is going to kill my tech cam , back and lenses. All I wanted to do in this Nikon purchase was to get close enough. What makes me laugh in all this is I already ran over 1k in images and tested it against the 160 and now cause it topples a S2 in one test it's now a S2 killer. Sorry Im not biting so hard here. I have worked the files enough to know better from the S2 , Nikon and just about every MF there is. You won't see me making statements with killer in it . It's damn good but I go right back to what Jack just said and here is my analogy the D800 for the pixel peeping folks is a wow at 67 percent image size but my 160 is a wow at 100 percent. It's really that simple
Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.
www.guymancusophotography.com1 Member(s) liked this post
I am hoping the Nokia pure view is at least a 10% Wow.
You seem to have come with a new scale here, Guy! I like it!
It's a new world that we live in. In the past, the masters of a craft would spend years working with equipment and technique to develop their own style and to get the best out of their tools. For some, it was an organic process and for others, it was something that they discovered along the way by using new vehicles for advancing their creative vision. The common thread was the artist spending time with his equipment to learn its nuances to push himself forward. But now in the age of the Internet, we're lucky as we can forget about all of that because we have 'experts' who have used the gear for all of ten minutes shooting walls, doing crazy lens and camera shoot-outs to tell us what's best for us. I get the excitement for new gear (and this isn't meant as a slam against those who love talking about gear as I'm greatful for the time they take to review what's interesting to them) but the more that I shoot, the more that I respect those that talk about what they don't know.
I think it's important to note, that most here are not buying cameras to indulge. To me that seems to imply more of a hobby or passion; or those at a point in their careers that can justify the purchase and roll it into the cost of doing business. That's a position I hope to obtain...someday. The fact is, the D800 has completely changed the the options and thinking of many potential MFD customers. Subtle tone, and color saturation differences, are less important now, to the not so subtle price difference! That's what these comparisons have ultimately evolved to now when comparing these two models, and we haven't even reviewed the D800E yet.
Unfortunately the industry has taken a fair dose of lowest common denominator since the original 5D- at one time editors would not even look at 35mm no matter what the flavour, with the exception of news outlets and nat geo, 35 was not the go to assignment cam, medium format and larger was what was expected. I'm talking primarily about magazine work. Editors wouldn't even look at 35mm contacts even if you sent them enlarged contact, which I did on regular basis.
Since digital has come along most of that has been ameliorated since you are looking at a screen, the original capture format does not matter as much, and we have all down shifted to the toyota camry of cameras, the 5D and successors.
What has been lost is the look of larger formats, the drawing, the spatial rendering. In terms of the editorial photographers that I follow now, and specifically in the younger generation, under 30 or near that mark, the ones who came into the industry post-film, they are very very interested in differentiating themselves and have really gone in for medium and large format film capture. Even 35mm neg has come back very strong since it all gets scanned and edited on screen, so editors who themselves are of a new generation have none of that bias towards 35mm film and see it as expressive and fresh.
The 5Detc still is used for a very large majority of work, and no doubt the d800 will so as well, I just wanted to relate what I am seeing on the magazine side. We like to compare these things but formats still matter, and no, cropping your 35 to 4x5 or 6x7 in post is just not the same. It looks completely different. Not to mention the working methods of digital vs. film, the results are very different.
You could argue the logic some have argued about the hybrid or alt-powered car, as the car freed the horse from manual labour, the hybrid or gas-less car might save gasoline powered super cars, etc, so the digital camera might free the film based camera to do really expressive and creative work. I just hope kodak sticks around long enough....
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I agree with that.
For some new photographers who find inspiration in a particular artist, might try to purchase the same gear and develop a technique that closely matches what inspired them, and ultimately find their own style along the way! That's not changed, but with technology being the ultimate marketing tool, as a direct link to becoming a professional photographer, many have become complacent in that way of thinking. After viewing FredBGG's images taken with an 11mp camera, I've decided to bring my old 10D out of mothballs and re-connect. I think the internet is an important tool to gauge the incredible amount of information that's available for camera technology, and am grateful for those that take the time to do it. This is not meant to offend S2 owners, but these comparisons are a result of the close relationship in MP's. The results of these two cameras is surprising, and honestly, the D800 has done more than anticipated.
Just a side note on the MF thing when talking about the S2: IMHO, the S2 can hardly be considered MF, and would definitely not have been considered as such back in the day. Leica S2's sensor is 45 X 30 mm, while the D800's is 35.9 X 24 mm. We are talking of something not even close to twice the area of the other, when back in the day even 645 (which on the other hand is exactly twice the area of the S2's sensor) was considered "small" compared to 6x6, 6x7 or 6x9. It is only natural to see that with the development in technology the D800's slightly smaller sensor outperforms the S2's. On the glass side of the equation, while the latest Nikkors are doing very well by themselves I am not in the least surprised to see that using Zeiss glass the gap with the S2, as Lloyd showed, is tipped in favor of the D800.
This, of course, not even putting into the equation price, flexibility, number/range etc of lenses natively available (and not with a crippling adaptor), native flash system, AF, operating speed, performance, accessories, etc etc makes a no-brainer IMHO when having to choose between the D800 and the S2.
On an IQ-only base, and especially on certain subject matter/photographical applications, of course high-megapixel DMF still has (and will for some time have) the edge. Again, not considering price, flexibility, number/range etc of lenses natively available (and not with a crippling adaptor), native flash system, AF, operating speed, performance, accessories, etc etc...
And may I add - showing a large print - even A0 size - to a client, I really doubt any of them could tell the difference between a D800(E), S2, HB40, 50, 60 or IQ140, 160 or even 180!
Have seen prints form a D200 larger than A0 and I was just speechless of the IQ. So we are getting into areas where we compare not percents, but much smaller numbers ....
One thing which was mentioned I find still pretty accurate - how much one likes a certain camera in their hands. And here the S2 is anyway a clear winner. Anything else - just forget. Or simply try to ignore to justify already down investment.
Life is an ever changing journey
Actually for me it was the thing that really bothered me on the S2 was the wide grip at the bottom. Just felt very uncomfortable.
I'm with you Guy: I liked it for a while but in the end it felt like a camera, only bigger...
Most here DO engage in photography as a passion or hobby (hate that word) ... are enthusiasts and get what they want. Besides, if someone wants to buy a $7,000. Olympic sports camera to shoot the grandkids running on the beach, who cares?
Not arguing the fact that some if not many potential MFD buyers will opt for the D800 ... if close enough is good enough then why not?
The price difference is relevant to some, probably many, but not all. Depends. Who cares about pixel count if you don't like the camera? I could easily afford a IQ180 and DF system at twice+ the pixels of the S2 for about the same $ ... I like the IQ back, don't like the camera. End of discussion.
I DO NOT like Nikon cameras or their lenses, and I'm sure not stepping back to MF Zeiss lenses either. I would NOT care if the D800 was 54 meg, and $2,000.
I prefer sticking with a camera I like for a while to learn about all I can do with it ... without making universal pronouncements in comparison after a few shoots ... especially shots of walls.
BTW, I also played with the Nikon RAWs, and the D800 ain't no S2 ... being the same sort of different spatial and rendering aesthetic relationship between smaller cameras and 35mm DSLRs ... as someone pointed out earlier, format still matters ... creatively.
Besides, since when do clients dictate (speaking of the lowest common denominator) ... they don't have any more say in my aesthetic expression, than an internet blogger that charges $76 for his opinion.
The "down investment" quip is endemic of photography today ... more suited to wall street or the banking industry. The "justification" chestnut is the usual charge levied against almost any Leica product, as if we are to quiver in our boots and be remorseful of our purchase. The only justification anyone has to worry about is to themselves ... are you creating with the tools you use, do they hamper or help? Not how much they cost and whether someone else thinks differently ... who cares what others think? ... that's a mental instincts of a Lemming, not someone creating something.
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Like some others here, I don't buy your absolute pronouncement of superiority no matter how many times you repeat the mantra. I don't like the look, and I don't like the Manual ZF lenses. "Like" still has a LOT of leverage in any creative endeavor, and the absolutism of technological pronouncements can't change that and never should.
I had to delete my last 2 messages because I now think I should stay out of the discussion.
I know what works best for me and I am happy for those would found something that works as good for them for 1/3 of the price.
So why discuss back and forth.
Last edited by Paratom; 9th April 2012 at 13:24.
I think it's just fine to discuss it back and forth: no-one is telling anyone else what to buy or what to keep and I think we pretty much all know that the wall shots in the Diglloyd test are revealing of only one particular relative aspect of the combinations of two particular cameras and lenses. It takes a lot more data points than that to build a subtle and complex picture of the relative strength and weaknesses of systems.
As far as I can see, most people here aren't thinking that the days of the MF system are over - whatever Diglloyd might claim. I know for a fact that I will get better pictures, assuming good technique, from my IQ180 than I will from my upcoming D800E but I also know that there are many occasions when I will likely choose the D800E because it'll give x% of the same quality for only y% of the effort. That's a reasonable calculation to be trying to make - it is the one that Guy has already made in fact.
And as for Marc, I think he is exactly right to shoot the system with which he feels most 'right' and not to chase rainbows. If I had yet found a system that felt that way for me, I wouldn't be chasing said rainbows myself! But as it is, I do take quite a lot of pictures, some of them successful I hope, with a range of cameras none of which is exactly what I imagine I really want but all of which are more capable than I am!
All I can say is that Leica best get the Leaf shutter lenses out before another body. The dual shutter was one key reason I bought into the system in the first place ... high sync speed is very important to me.
Then again, the S2 would make a great back-up ... one set of lenses and all that.
I especially agree that most of what I currently use is more capable than I ... which is why sticking to something longer than a May fly's life span isn't a bad idea.
Let's see. Is the S2 less fast/has a lesser AF/etc etc than other cameras? It is and it has, whether you need or not the features that the S2 lacks. Does it have a very limited native lens array compared to other cameras, whether you need these lenses or not? It does. Is it way more expensive than any 35 mm camera? It is. Is it a MF camera, which by the way was the point of my reply? No, it isn't, it "slides in between 35 mm and 645" as you said. Does it have a lesser flash system than Nikon or Canon? It does, whether you need it or not. And so on.
That said, if what the S2 offers is good for you, wonderful, I am not and haven't ever been trying to convince you otherwise. Other than that, let other people think what they want without being accused of "repeating things like a mantra" and such, which is exactly the same thing you do, except for the small fact that what I am listing are features and actual facts/truths (again, whether you need these features and stuff or not is a completely different matter, completely personal and out of any discussion), while you talk about "like", which I never mentioned, discussed nor disparaged in any way and which, obviously, I respect completely; what I don't understand is why you think that what you "like" is equivalent to universal, factual truth.
So, you like the S2 over the D800. Wonderful. Does that make it the best camera for everyone? "like some (many, I suspect) others here" I don't think so, no matter how many times you will try to sell your personal preferences as universal truth.
That said, I am off these silly brand wars. Feel free to have the last word on this
Lets for example consider the number of automobile brands and models that are sold.
Each buyer considers what aspects are appropriate for his needs and purchases accordingly.
Soccer moms do not necessarily seek the cars with the fastest acceleration. Racing enthusiasts rarely buy SUVs.
It is pretty much the same for cameras.
Reviewers pretty much express their own biases, the one cited by the OP is no exception.
À chacun son goût.
No, it wasn't me, not at least if you quoted me completely rather than extrapolating a phrase out of context. What I said is:
"This, of course, not even putting into the equation price, flexibility, number/range etc of lenses natively available (and not with a crippling adaptor), native flash system, AF, operating speed, performance, accessories, etc etc makes a no-brainer IMHO when having to choose between the D800 and the S2."
Please note the reasons I mention for saying what I say, meaning that if you don't need all that I list above (or if you base your choice on camera aesthetics, camera's feeling when using it, camera's specific IQ and so on, all very respectable reasons in choosing a tool of course) then the recommendation would be nil. More, and especially, please note the IMHO.
It is, in my humble opinion and for the reasons I cited above, a no-brainer choice. That said, everyone's need are different, everyone taste is different, YMMV and so on
go gently folks...
Bob, your avatar is amazing: it manages to look either kindly or gently strict depending on the context of the post. Was it taken on a Lytro Mood Camera?
With that said...Yea, digital sucks and you're a weeny if you use it! Long live film!!
(Now where's my D800E...LOL!)
Last edited by D&A; 11th April 2012 at 05:41.
Hey believe me even after 37 years in this business you think I would know to stay in the center of the field. Hell I hit many line drives straight to left field and I even scratch my own head wondering what the hell I just bought. Guess what I'm still alive after it and who cares. LOL