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Thread: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

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    Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Another Leica journey begins only this time it is a different chapter in Leica's long history of camera and lens design. The S2 is a cross between a traditional MF camera system and a 35mm DSLR. It basically has most the attributes of a 35mm DSLR with a much bigger CCD non AA filter sensor like the MF cousins, although the smallest sensor in MF but still packs a 37mpx with a 6 micron sensor from Kodak. This sensor is a new breed from Kodaks 6.8 and 9 micron sensors. On the other side of the coin we have Dalsa sensors that share the same 6 micron technology. Notably in the MF sector we have the Phase One P40+ which is the next size up in physical sensor size by 8 percent larger than the S2 and carries a 40 mpx and end result with a 6 micron sensor. The P40+ basically is considered a crop factor compared to it's bigger brother and largest sensor size Full Frame ( or extremely close) to the P65+ which has a whooping 60 mpx sensor which is the largest in the industry at this time. Of note here Hasseblad has a 50 mpx Kodak sensors the same as the S2 and I believe coming a 60 mpx Dalsa sensor coming.

    Now for one of our disclaimers here . Jack and I both shoot the Phase systems and in this review will be based on our extensive knowledge of this system and used for comparisons. This does not mean anything less of the Hassy, Leaf or Sinar backs but this is what we know well and we are not going to guess or test those other systems here on this test. Simple case of test what you know and not what you can guess at. Major KEY point here is the correct information that is reliable to make head to head comparisons between the systems and see what the new S2 system can do against some gold standards in the industry. Just for clarity we are not being paid nor receive ANYTHING from either company.

    This is out of our pocket to produce this review but we will give credit to our friends in the industry that supplied some of the gear. Obviously Christian Erhardt from Leica is here during most of our testing and hand delivered the gear to us. Also of note during our testing is two of Leica's finest Sales Reps who just happen to serve my territory Linda Leslie Butler and James Butler. Also of note is the owner of Capture Integration Dave Gallagher who sent us the Phase gear we needed to make these comparisons the new DF body and the P40+ back,. Please note CI just reviewed the new S2 as well and look at there site for even more information and testing on their site. It should be noted the CI is not only a Phase dealer but just recently became a Leica dealer as well. So CI does enjoy selling both very high end systems in the market place today. So thanks to Leica and also to Capture Integration for supporting this review and also as well supporting the GetDPI workshops. These are our friends and we called upon them to supply the gear necessary for this review. Let the fun begin


    Like to add a special thanks to my daughter Cali Mancuso for her excellent work on hair and makeup. Also a plug for her for hiring on Photo shoots. Just call her manager ME. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Note that Guy and I are building this initial thread in a hidden forum, writing and posting from different locations at essentially the same time, so some of our comments may be repetitive while others may run contrary to each other. We decided not to edit it for uniformity, but rather allow you to have both of our original thoughts combined in a single thread.

    While the S2 is billed as a "Medium Format Digital Camera," it fills a unique slot in the MF digital market. It has the form-factor of a DSLR yet contains an MF-sized sensor. That fact alone makes for difficulty in comparing the S2 to other MF alternatives, but because of the sensor size direct comparisons are invariably going to be made. Our goal here is not to pick a "winner," but rather first to share our impressions after working with the S2 as a camera system as compared to working with a more conventional modular MF system, and second showing how its files compare to other contemporary MF digital backs. We chose the Phase P40+ because it is a contemporary back that is very close in resolution to the S2, and the P65+ because we feel it is representative of the current set of "top end" backs in the MF digital market. We could have just as easily used another high-end digital brand for the back comparisons, but Phase backs are what we shoot and what we have available.

    Testing higher end camera gear is not an easy task. While the tester’s goals are usually as simple as wanting to get useful data to potential purchasers, invariably the motives and testing procedures are always brought into question. Guy mentioned that we get no compensation in any form for performing these tests. What we do get is dealer and manufacturer support in the form of temporary loaner equipment for our workshop participants to demo, as well for us to demo and test (like for this test). The two entities that support our workshops most directly are Leica USA and Capture Integration, which happens to be both a Phase and Leica dealer. So I'd like to add my thank's to both Leica USA and Capture Integration for their support and helping make this review possible!

    The largest single pitfall in performing a comparison review or test is the inability to control all variables to the point they remain scientifically neutral. First off there is personal bias, and we usually prefer what we already own. Next there is proficiency with the gear itself, and here again we all are likely to be most proficient with the gear we already own. Next is familiarity with a camera’s suggested raw conversion software, or whatever is perceived as the most beneficial conversion software; and just because we use the manufacturer’s suggested software, does not mean we are proficient enough to produce optimal results with it. There is also new product maturity, where the newest products may have glitches that escaped beta testing and still need to be addressed with future firmware or hardware revisions. Moreover these glitches may be unknown at the time of testing, yet may be negatively impacting the results. Next there is always the possibility of sample variation in specific pieces of equipment. As anybody who has tested lenses seriously can tell you, you regularly come across both good and bad copies of the same lens from any given manufacturer. We may know our own lenses are good, but we have to use whatever we're sent for the demo camera. Finally, there is the issue of trying to illustrate subtle image quality differences in an online environment. The current crop of digital cameras and backs is of such high quality, that subtle distinctions clearly visible in a print or on a high-end color-managed monitor often get lost in the web-conversion/compression process.

    Which brings up another common criticism. In many reviews – and because of the pitfalls outlined above – you’ll often see responses that point to the specs from the sensor manufacturer or outside test facility that disagree with the reviewer’s actual results, thus resulting in claims that the tester was obviously in error or biased. So please understand this: We are photographers first and foremost, not scientists. Our goal is to share results as photographers and we openly admit that for the most part we ignore detailed technical specs and comment on the image results we obtain though our normal imaging process. So the “results” we share here are our perceptions based on viewing images created from the manufacturer’s lens and camera projecting an image on the sensor they chose to use, that raw sensor data then being pushed through somebody’s A/D converter with associated manufacturer and/or third-party firmware driving it, then through raw conversion software we choose to use, and then ultimately to pixels on our monitors and prints in our hands.

    With that said, here is our promise to you: We know we’re not perfect, but will endeavor to do our best to remain neutral despite acknowledged biases and report on the results we obtained as accurately as possible; do our best to make each capture optimally to neutralize technique irregularities; attempt to make each file look as good as possible, or as close to each other as possible, depending on the comparison we’re trying to illustrate; and finally give as detailed descriptions of our capture or processing methodology as possible. We will also make sets of raw files available for download to allow you to explore them fully in whatever manner suits your comparison criteria.

    With that out of the way, let’s get on with the comparison!

    To start here is a pdf copy of the S2 user manual for you to review:
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    To start we will be going through many tests here that deal with and not limited to noise, bokeh , detail , tonal range , dynamic range , sharpness , color fidelity , raw processors, ergonomics etc. etc. and one of my all time favorites the UGLY test. It's ugly but very powerful information on several levels. We will be loading up Raws in folders for each test so when you download a folder that for example is marked noise it will have the Phase and leica files in that folder for you to also process and do head to head comparisons on your system and your preferred processor and workflow, they will be the same files that we are posting as well. Now word of caution as of this date in time we are limited to the Raw processors that do not have a profile or a plugin ready for the S2 . We will be using C1 and LR3 beta but neither one is fully optimized for the S2 just yet, word of advice save these raws for a later date when the software becomes optimized for the S2 for more accurate results. we can only do so much today in this regard as far as results so nothing is totally absolute.

    Also we have two lovely models Tori and Dennise from Barbizon Southwest Model and Talent agency to help us with this review. Also let it be stated these images are all the exclusive copyright of GetDPI.com and not to be used in any media without the express written permission from the owners of GetDPI. You are allowed to process and post on this forum ONLY any results you may want to show in regards to processing techniques. Any deviation from that and my friends from NJ will be visiting you than our attorneys.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Here's some initial handling and usage thoughts and a few quick snaps to show the relative physical sizes.

    Out of the gate, I think it's interesting to note the actual weights of each camera as shown below, with it's normal lens, strap and battery mounted:

    Leica S2 -- lighter body, heavier lens -- total = 4.65 pounds; Phase One -- heavier body/back, lighter lens -- total = 5.00 pounds.

    I found the ergos on the S2 overall to be very good; the camera feels like a pro-DSLR with a fast, short tele lens mounted. Compared to a conventional MF camera, the center of balance is somewhat ahead of the grip. Also, my hands are large and thus grips are usually too small for me and here the S2 is no exception -- but then neither is the Phase. One issue for me is the top of the S2 grip is smaller than the base, so it feels somehow backwards and like it could drop out of the bottom of your hand -- it never did, just felt like it could.

    I'll start with nits:

    * The top OLED display: while very cool and sexy to be seen in color, is small and difficult to read in outdoor light. During the outdoor shooting I needed to pull the camera to my chest and shade the OLED with my free hand to read it.

    * Rear LCD navigation: For the most part navigation is intuitive and very well arranged, however a few commonly-used items are buried a few menus deep and require multiple presses of multiple buttons to activate a function, setting MLU is one example. Obviously time with camera familiarity will alleviate a lot of these, as would future firmware updates as Leica receives feedback from users. (Hint-hint!)

    * Selected ISO is not visible in viewfinder.

    * Manual focusing of lenses while typical Leica butter smooth, was relatively stiff with longer throws. This is good for precision when you have the time, bad for speed when you don't.

    * Buffer is good only for 6 shots in raw. Unfortunately, when working with the moving models and grabbing the great looks, you can hit the buffer wall pretty easily.

    That's about it for nits, and there really isn't much NOT to like about this camera


    Plusses:

    * The S2 is intuitive to use. Anybody coming from the DSLR world to MF goes through some kind of camera-handling transition period before everything starts to feel normal. For those folks, the S2 is going to feel instantly familiar, just heavier. In actual shooting sessions with moving models in an outdoor setting, the camera became invisible and I was able to make images without thinking.

    * The rear LCD is gorgeous, large, clear and bright. MF back manufacturers please take notice.

    * The finder is bright and clear.

    * I already mentioned menu layout. My Phase back has a similar 4-button arrangement, and for my money this is my preferred menu navigation solution, being fast, simple and elegant.

    * Shutter is quieter than most other MF cameras I have used. Not as quiet as the typical DSLR, but close.

    * Speed(s). Image review speed is lightning fast; AF is fast; shutter-lag is short. (However, I should note the new Mamiya DF body with a P40+ or P65+ back attached with latency set to zero is pretty darn close on both AF speed and shutter lag.)

    * Battery charger. Small item here, but the current single charger is basically a cord with a small plug on the end that fits into the battery. Done, and this will be great for travel. I understand there will be a base that holds 2 batteries coming soon, another plus for the studio. Good thinking.

    * Sex appeal. No argument here, the S2 is a very sexy looking piece of gear!


    Open Issues:

    * The RAW DNG's are uncompressed so very large (~75MB each on average). This slows down file transfer times. I suspect Leica will want to have a lossless, compressed format available in the future.

    * Exposure comp is not visible in the VF except in M mode. I would think (hope?) a firmware upgrade could use that same bar-graph readout for M mode exposure as the +/- readout for exposure comp.

    * Color is off, but that is a capture profile issue and not the camera's fault, time will correct that. For right now, it appears LR/ACR is the best raw converter to use from a color standpoint. (I did build a quickie daylight profile for the S2 which is significantly better than C1's DNG standard, and will spend some time making that hopefully a bit better.)

    * We noticed some weird exposure anomalies during the studio captures. Exposures seemed to vary by over a stop between pops with the S2, running from the proper exposure to nearly a stop over. Cameras were on manual, ISO 100 for P, 160 for the S2, shutter speeds were set to 1/125th, and the strobes are Guy's normal Elinchrom units and known to be very stable in their output. We did vary the total light output and/or aperture to accommodate the S2's ISO difference. We switched between the S2, P40+ and P65+ regularly, and only had this anomaly with the S2, and virtually in every set from it. My only guess is the aperture was sticking on stop-down, but then we never noticed that behavior when shooting under natural light after the studio shoot. So a question mark.

    * We also noticed some tiny color artifacts in small specular highlights from C1 in the outdoor shooting sessions with the models, usually around the hair or shiny flecks in the eye make-up. They were very minor, but noticeable at 100%. We confirm these are not visible in LR/ACR, so please keep this in mind if you open the raws in C1.

    * Lens line-up is currently shallow. Obviously, another item that will be rectified over time, but may require some patience on behalf of an early adopter.


    Some shots of the cameras side-by-side:









    Nothin like having about 50 grand hanging off your neck at one time -- and I suspect exactly why Guy is grinning like the Cheshire Cat :

    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Ditto pretty much on everything Jack brought up here on the functionality of the S2 . I will add something I found I really disliked but found a very unique way of working that proved to be a much better solution and i think many folks might like this setup and it's all about AF and it's use.

    Let's see if I can explain this clearly . In the AFS mode you have the ability to use the cross hair center focus point which is fairly accurate than recompose and shoot . So for example shooting a model you can pin point the focus on her eye than while still holding the half press release you can than recompose the framing and shoot. Now if you want to manual focus a little here you just hit the focusing ring and MF takes over. Now what bothered me here is if i did that and let go of the release in the process and than hit the half press again well now I am focusing on a area that is obviously not her eye but much lower. Pretty typical of most AF systems like this. On the Phase system I can use AF than hit the clutch and go right to MF and adjust which actually works great once you get the hang of it.

    On the S2 the normal AFS mode really got to me and made me miss the focus a lot. So next day Christian shows me what this one rear button does closer to the view finder. Put the camera settings in the menu item in Manual focus mode so this makes the lens completely manual focus but but but if you hit that button it does AF for you and the half press AF is disengaged on release. So either hit the AF button and than fine tune and recompose than it STAYS at that focusing point regardless of lift your release finger. I found this works really well and in fact made the whole system to me much more intuitive. That alone was HUGE.

    My other issue was the grip. The base end towards the bottom i felt to big and for small hands hard to hold and thumb indent not deep enough. Now on the Phase one current body I am not that comfortable either but the new DF the grip was made more to a point than a flowing round base and it is easier now. Regardless both systems need hand straps for better balance and security. For small hands with arthritis i need to take the pressure off my fingers and the hand straps redistribute the weight to the back of your hand with them. Leica needs to make a hand strap for the S2 for with and without the vertical grip coming.

    Also we need to see them get on board with RRS or Kirk and start working on camera plates or develop them with the Arca plate style


    Let me add to this the issue about tethering and when folks say i don't need it. WELL

    We have remember shooting tethered is part of the system regardless if you use it or not it has to be there for the market and it has to work effectively. We have to stop thinking about your individual needs when OEM's are building new boxes it has to fit the market wide Pro shooter. This goes for all camera design even like Canon or Nikon with a million menu items you personally may never need half of them but the guy shooting sports or something else may use a completely different set of menu items.

    On the topic of tethered forget the damn model it is not always about them and how they look. It has everything to do with having your lighting set the way you want and making those corrections can rarely be done on a LCD screen. Having not only a digital tech on hand but stylist that see certain problems like labels , hair, makeup come up that cause problems. Even if it is at the start of a shoot to get everything they way you want or need than pull the damn cord if you want or it's a swarm of bee's around the computer causing all kinds of commotion . I do this all the time after I get setup and everything is perfect on set is pull the cord if I want too. But I will tell you this shooting this S2 review along with my P40 Phase system which was tethered shooting. The P40 was working perfectly doing tethered work and shooting a 150 lens close up for detail in the models eye we can check focus and exposure to get everything dead on sharp ( You will see how thin the DOF is). Now the S2 part we did NOT tether and we had to guess at the sharpness of the files and exposure where off and we could not see it until downloading a card and waiting to see what was going on, in the meantime everyone standing around with hands in there pockets. Now we got it all straightened out and we where using meters and the whole gamut of tools to nail everything down perfectly but **** happens and tethered can save your bacon. It is needed and if a system does not have it than it is a limited system and already people are giving the S2 a hard time because tethering right now is slow and buffer is 6 frames. Try shooting fashion with those limits or a wedding. Leica has a little work left to do and they know that you can't put out a system to the Pro market handicapped coming out of the gate. This is MF reality folks and it is not about individual needs what happens if you need it down the road and you don't have it.

    Now Leica's tethered program is in beta so i don't want people to be mislead that this is final going out the door and they are working it but everyone has to have realistic expectations on what market this camera will serve. It's very good and I will be the first to tell you that but it's new and it needs to age as well.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    I mentioned earlier I feel all of these cameras deliver stunning results. Here are some crops from the studio session of Tori's left eye. Here the 180 was mounted on the S2 and shot at f13.5, the 150 D was mounted on the P40+ and shot at f11, and the 75-150 D zoom was mounted on the P65+ and shot at f11. I processed all of these in C1 as it renders better detail for me than LR/ACR, but the color is off for the S2 so please ignore that here. First, note how shallow DoF is at portrait distances with mid tele lenses -- in most cases the pupil is in focus and the tips of the eyelashes and/or eyebrows are already going soft. The model was about 5 or 6 feet from the camera. If you look carefully, you can actually see the edge of the grid mounted in the mola in the reflection in the model's pupil in each crop. I'll leave the resolution ranking up to you, but frankly the lens I think is impressive is the lowly zoom, doing a fair job of holding its own with the primes:

    S2 with 180 -- again, ignore the iris color as it is not correct. Skin is closer, but not perfect either:



    P40+ with 150 D -- here the skintone and eye color are pretty dead on to the model's true colors:



    P65+ with 75-150 D -- pretty close in tones to the P40+, and again, true to what the model's real coloring was:

    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    This is the S2 processed in LR:



    Here is the same file processed in C1 with a quickie S2 custom profile Jack made using C1's color editor -- not too shabby:



    Here is a similar shot from the P40+ processed in C1:

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    S2 file in LR:



    Same S2 file processed in C1 with my quick profile -- skin and neutrals are better, yellow is off -- will work on that:



    And a similar shot from the P40+ out of C1:

    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Hot cross lighting with deep shadows: Note here the next proceeding posts of the models are all shot at the same identical apertures for each cam.

    S2 in LR:



    Similar shot from the P40+ and C1:

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    S2 files processed in LR for first two:





    The above S2 file in C1 with the profile. The profile is far from perfect as the S2 is still having issues with saturated red/pinks and yellows, but at least the skin, sky and neutrals are better:



    And here is the similar shot from the P40+ done in C1 for comparison:

    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    S2 with 70 wide open in LR:

    As you may notice these two images are both shot with the 70 and 80mm lenses at wide open apertures so you can see the bokeh as well



    P40+ with 80D at f2.8 from C1:

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    NOISE

    Okay we are at the noise test here and we certainly will have the raws for both camera's available, the lighting is under tungsten with a slight amount of daylight coming from the left and both cams are set for tungsten ( as we all know tungsten is the worst for noise so that is how to test is the worst case scenario, no powder puffing going on here real working environment that we hit everyday) . For the S2 we have the Pulled 80 , 160, 320, 640 and 1250 ISO. The P40 + we have the whole series but not posting the whole set here but I did include the Sensor + raws in the folder as well. The P40+ we have 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 full resolution files posted plus I did a ISO 1600 Binned or Sensor Plus file uprezed back to 40 mpx in C1 posted as well.

    I processed the whole series in C1 and WB for the P40 + and S2 on each series. Interesting note here as they are brought into C1 the P40 and S2 the Default is 25 luminance and the color starts at around 33 and than the color increases in value as the ISO go up. You need to watch this in C1 to see the increase in value. Now also the sharpness in C1 for the P40 goes down as the ISO goes up . So for this section i just let it do it's thing BUT you have the raws for both and I suggest you try it in C1 or LR for the S2 and actually maybe both to see how the noise falls. I can't simulate everyones work flow but can just give you a good basic idea what is going on. Please download and play around . I also took a pretty big section to show certain area's to look at so they are a little bigger than I wanted to go but get them to 100 percent in CS4 and look at but not limited to the corner of the mirror. The detail gets lost as the ISO goes up.

    Another area to watch look under the top of the counter the wood and watch the noise increase. Also certainly watch the Color Checker in the grey tone area and finally I marked each file exactly the camera the ISO and than C1 as the processing software. I highly suggest this test in particular to download the raws and play in your favorite program at 100 percent and make evaluations yourself. My noise level of acceptance maybe different than yours .

    Okay first the Full Frame Base ISO for the S2 ISO 160



    Pulled ISO 80 . Here I had to decrease the exposure by 1 stop











    Now let's move on to the P40+ Full frame image Base ISO 50









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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com






    This image is a Binned or Sensor + ISO 1600 image which is a 10 mpx file than in C1 i increased the percentage by 200 percent to equal a 40 mpx file

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Well I decided to be complete that I would also do the S2 in Light Room as well. As we have mentioned just not sure what we will see later on with raw processing final versions of LR beta and Profiles for C1 , so again save the raws for a later date to reprocess again to see if there are any changes in the noise dept. as well.

    Here is the full frame Base ISO 160












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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Well that is it for the official testing of the S2 and i do have some extra images from the S2 that I will just post here as i was playing around a little. I did load the raws as well on the .me account and you can get the Exif data and such from those. Obviously Jack and I did some serious testing here and we certainly did not put forth the creative side of shooting for real. Obviously short amount of time with the S2 and i blame myself for that. Yes i could have had it longer when I reserved it for the review and I also waited to do the test later as I thought we would have profiles and such and maybe a 35mm lens for testing. In any case we are planning some workshops in February and i am sure i can get the S2 again for the workshops and play around some more. We did not get a chance to get to everything and honestly Jack and I focused squarely on image quality than anything else. Specs and debates about this and that have been beaten to death so we focused in this area and mainly to get you folks Raws to try stuff yourself. Now we have images that you can try yourself and we now have some meat to talk about. As the old commerical goes "Where's the beef" . Well here it is folks . Enjoy it.













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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    My conclusion, speaking for myself...

    First off, one needs to get their arms around the fact this is a brand new camera, and assume the little nits like body firmware and processing profiles will all get worked out. Also, one needs to be patient while the lens line deepens. But I'll move forward assuming all of those conditions are met in the near future.

    That out of the way, Leica made an early claim that the S2 will compete head-to-head with the 50MP backs from the other guys. On one hand, it certainly will: A 6 micron, 50MP back at 4:3 aspect ratio will have about identical linear resolution along the long axis of the image as the 6u S2 sensor does along its long axis. Given the lenses are capable of rendering detail at the 6u level -- which I think most modern lenses are -- then the two cameras will be comparable. However on the other hand, that doesn't allow for the fact that the S2 will give up image height and total image area to the 50MP back. Which brings up the point of aspect ratio, which I'll get to in a minute.

    The other thing that needs to be considered here is pixel quality itself, or more specifically, inter-pixel contrast. The S2's appears high for sure, and if you download and process the raws we put up, you'll likely notice the S2 files do not take sharpening very well -- it is almost as though they come out of the camera pre-sharpened. Also, the files appear generally higher contrast than normal, like they have 8 or 10 points of contrast pre-dialed in, and maybe 15 to 20 points of clarity pre-dialed in. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just something I noted and something one needs to take into account when processing the S2 files. I did find myself wanting to tone these settings down on occasion, which isn't really possible, so if I bought the camera one of the first things I'd be building is a gentler capture curve.

    Back to aspect ratios. And everybody is going to be different here. Some folks have a favorite aspect ratio, while others don't care and simply compose to the lines, while still others shoot loose and crop later. There is no right or wrong, just differences of opinion and style. Me, I shoot to the lines (or maybe a teensy bit loose) and definitely prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio over 3:2. To my thinking it is the perfect compromise in horizontal or vertical orientation, being neither too tall or too wide, nor too short or too skinny. And I often crop my DSLR shots to 4:3 for that reason. The other format I like is 1:1 or square, but that is probably best left for a different discussion in a different thread. So if you happen to be like me, a 4:3 proponent, keep in mind that means you may often be tossing out around 4-1/4 million of the S2's total pixels.

    Next there is the issue of modularity. For me, I want to be able to mount my back on a tech camera. I realize not everybody has this concern, but it remains a pretty significant priority for me, so the S2 becomes less attractive.

    What about it being a DSLR replacement? Here the S2 fills a void by delivering MF quality in a DSLR package. Kind of along the lines of the Pentax 6x7 when it came out, a DSLR with bigger, heavier glass, that isn't quite as fast shooting as conventional DSLR's, but where the benefits of image quality may outweigh those shortcomings for many shooters. And this is where I think the Leica S2's strongest suit is: delivering stunning image quality in a DSLR form-factor with DSLR conveniences, all in a package with the typically outstanding Leica build-quality.

    Finally, I would like to thank my business partner Guy for all of his efforts here. We both spent tons of time online and on the phone discussing, processing and uploading files -- it was a lot of work and frankly I would not have wanted to take this one on by myself!
    Jack
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Thanks Jack for your conclusions . I am going to wait and follow the thread and add input on my conclusions as we go along. Little brain dead at the moment but I did want to thank everyone involved in this review and I especially want to thank my dear friend Jack Flesher for coming to Phoenix and helping me with this review. Besides his tremendous knowledge and friendship , he is truly my right hand. Thanks bud luv ya. Guy

    I also want to apologize for NOT getting to the X1 as we hoped , just not enough time but want to thank Don Libby for giving it a quick spin. We will get that X1 back in our hands for a proper review.


    As PROMISED here is the link to the RAW FILES

    http://idisk.mac.com/guymancuso-Public?view=web

    WARNING they are really BIG files
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Wow!! Now that was surely a hand full, ha ha!!

    First and foremost, THANKS Guy and Jack for the amount of time and effort put in to this.

    Superb review, file sharing is like nothing I have had on any other review ever written BRAVO!! ( both of you )

    Now two things in my mind reinforce the already known factors, I will surely give the S2 a good try comes next year with the reopening of KETCHFRAME, and second C1 5 PRO rules.

    BTW, I also found out why it tucked so long for the entire thread to load, haha, love it, once again great job, it was a great read and entertaining in going thru the files provided.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Yes sorry the traffic is pretty heavy right now. Hope folks enjoy it and when downloading files be PATIENT. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    An unbelievably difficult review to do ... done well and super informative.

    You two are a treasure.

    Lots to think about here. Lots of playing to do in post.

    Thanks so much,


    -Marc

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Well first of all thanks a lot. It looks like a great camera and perhaps a S3 or the S2 in a year oh so once the lens lineup is more complete sounds interesting. However the buffer things really kills it for me. There is nothing worse than running out of buffer when shooting panoramics and 6 frames are, by far not enough. I'm also quite surprised how huge the S2 looks, or should I say how small the phase body looks ?

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Nice with very fair conclusions.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Okay, played with some of the files.

    Basically you guys have confirmed my initial impressions from shooting the S2 a few weeks ago.

    I repeat ... I think it was a mistake to jump ISOs from 160 to 320 to 640 to 1250 ... The noise would be far more controllable with finer steps to select from.

    I did discover that because the S2 files seem to be sharper (for whatever reason), you can add more color noise reduction than normal in LR3 when working on the 1250 file. I took it to 80 and the edge detail to zero. This reduced the color blotching in the shadows under the sink top a bit also.

    The buffer HAS to be dealt with.

    -Marc

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Excellent review Guy and Jack very prestigious . I hope one day I will be able to afford one of these gems.
    In the mean time I am looking forward on attending your next workshop since I missed the last one.

    -Steven
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    They both look very very nice. Thank you for the interesting review! I find that if I had to go for one, regardless of money, I would go for the S2 just because the form factor is so much more appealing to me, but the P40+ has beautiful results too, and the new Mamiya lenses have a very nice look.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Okay, played with some of the files.

    Basically you guys have confirmed my initial impressions from shooting the S2 a few weeks ago.

    I repeat ... I think it was a mistake to jump ISOs from 160 to 320 to 640 to 1250 ... The noise would be far more controllable with finer steps to select from.

    I did discover that because the S2 files seem to be sharper (for whatever reason), you can add more color noise reduction than normal in LR3 when working on the 1250 file. I took it to 80 and the edge detail to zero. This reduced the color blotching in the shadows under the sink top a bit also.

    The buffer HAS to be dealt with.

    -Marc
    Yea for some reason in C1 and maybe due to profile and such but the limit on sharpening is extremely narrow , you can over sharpen very fast here. I did not play too much in LR on that but I would be real careful on it's range of sharpening until LR is out of beta and even the color is not dead on in LR. Unfortunately we are limited to what is available today. Now having said that Raw developer just came out with a update that supports the S2 . Brian does a nice job in RD so maybe worth a look but the workflow is not to my taste. Again play around see what happens . The P40+ is a good standard to go by in C1 because it is fine tuned. So play around that a little
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    ditto to the kudos for going through all this..
    I was surprised at the different look between the p40 and p65, I thought the p40 was just a downsized p65. I guess I will have to down load and process the raws to see what is up with that.. just the thought of downloading is daunting..can't imagine all the work you guys put in the last few days.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by paulmoore View Post
    ditto to the kudos for going through all this..
    I was surprised at the different look between the p40 and p65, I thought the p40 was just a downsized p65.
    Thanks everybody!

    Paul,

    The interesting thing is the P40+ and P65+ are essentially the same sensors except for size, but they require different WB's and profiles. For most images, you have no trouble matching the P40+ to the P65+ -- especially easy in the studio -- but when you are trying to match them to another camera, it gets more problematic. As I said at the beginning, in some of these comparisons we were trying to match the S2 look, in others we are going for what we think is the best look. Also, Guy is processing some of them on his computer in Arizona, while I'm processing others on my machine in California, so I wouldn't read too much into the differences between the P65+ and P40+ posted here.
    Jack
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Thank you for the review Guy and Jack. The S2 is very customizable and, as such, there are settings available that address a couple of the things you pointed out.

    First off, I found that setting the autofocus to Manual worked considerably better for me. This puts the autofocus on the rear button and removes it from the shutter button. In this mode, the autofocus is engaged only when the rear button is pressed. For example, hold the rear button to focus on the eye, then let off the button and recompose the frame.

    Three of the four buttons on the rear display are programable to just about any function you want. If you set one of those buttons as drive mode all you have to do is press and hold the button to bring up the sub menu and then use the rear thumbwheel to select self timer. When self timer is selected and the shutter button is pressed, the mirror will automatically flip up and the self timer countdown begins. This is super simple.

    Another thing that may have happened which caused your exposure variations in studio is the camera mode was inadvertently changed. For example, if you are in A mode (aperture priority), pressing the thumbwheel in will change the camera to P mode (program). Likewise, pressing the thumbwheel when it T mode (shutter priority) will change to m mode (manual). I had this happen to me a couple times and it took a while to figure out what happened. I commented about this and a couple other nits when I posted my experience using the S2 a couple weeks ago.

    Mark Gowin

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    This is great. Really useful stuff. Thanks for the extraordinary effort you guys!

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    I wanted to jump in here and speak a bit about Capture One processing.

    Any software can do a fair-to-good job of processing any raw DNG using generic internal-settings. Here I'm not talking about the settings which the user controls (e.g. contrast, luminance noise reduction amount, sharpening etc) but rather the under-the-hood adjustments to the deconvolution, demosaicing, sharpening, noise etc algorithms.

    However, if the processing of the DNG is tweaked to the specific camera which generated it the results can improve greatly. The most obvious example is camera-specific ICC color profile which ensures that cameras which capture color in slightly different ways still render on screen with pleasant and/or natural colors.

    However there are other less-obvious examples; for instance when tweaking the processing for a P40+ vs a P45+ for instance the Capture One math-wizards may find that one of them benefits from a a slightly different type of noise reduction because of the type/distribution/amount/style of of the Dalsa-Sensor-P40+ is different than the Kodak-Sensor-P45+.

    Since the S2 is not released yet it is reasonable to expect both Phase One's Capture One software and Adobe's LightRoom's software will improve in their handling of the S2 files. Very notably the firmware of the S2 (like all cameras I have been part of the launch of) is not yet final, and firmware makes a big difference - especially at high ISO, strongly color cast lighting (e.g. tungsten) and long exposures. So it is hard for Adobe/Phase-One to justify doing the real fine tuning of the processing when tomorrow the firmware could change and their fine tuning would be moot. Once the firmware of the system is finalized for launch it is reasonable to expect improvements in the quality of processing of both systems.

    As a very pertinent example: when the P65+ was first shown in pre-release form the quality of the processing (which was clearly labeled in the release notes as "preliminary support") was fair-to-good; it showed occasional specular single-pixel noise and the color, especially in shadows was not very accurate. The day of the release of the P65+ Phase One released "official" processing support in Capture One which was a big improvement in both noise, micro-detail, and color. The funny thing is that subsequent releases (e.g. C1 5.0) have further improved noise/micro-detail/color nearly a year since release.

    I won't deny that there are some politics involved here as, in some ways, Leica and Phase One are now competitors. However, I can tell you that Phase One's Image Core team (the math wizards whose sole job is to increase quality of image processing) contacted us (Capture Integration) for a variety of test files when we had the S2 with the most recent firmware here for testing with the goal of increasing the quality of processing.

    I guess there's a lot of conclusions you can take away. If you want to be positive you can say that if you like the quality you see now it is only going to increase (how much no one can say - not even Leica/Phase/Adobe) and the joy of raw processing is that you can benefit from future increases in processing quality/options. If you want to be negative you can say that the system is not mature and therefore may not be as well suited for immediate professional use as a system like the P40+ or H3D-II-50 which has been shipping for a while and has had it's image-processing-quality break-in period already.

    For sure one conclusion you should take away, and I think Guy and Jack were very clear on this, is that you should ignore for now color accuracy issues in C1.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    First off, I found that setting the autofocus to Manual worked considerably better for me. This puts the autofocus on the rear button and removes it from the shutter button. In this mode, the autofocus is engaged only when the rear button is pressed. For example, hold the rear button to focus on the eye, then let off the button and recompose the frame.
    I don't know why I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, but, at least in the firmware version that was used on the S2 we had Dec 3, the rear button can be used for autofocus, but only for CONTINUOUS autofocus. I found this very very frustrating in that one of the situations where I LOVE split shutter/autofocus situations is low light. In this situation the autofocus-continuous (even of a canon or nikon) may search back and forth even when you hold to a static subject point where an autofocus-single is more likely to find a point it is happy with and lock down. I enquired with this with the Leica reps and was told they would take my suggestion for a choice of the AF mode used on the rear button "very seriously" for the final firmware.
    [/QUOTE]



    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    Another thing that may have happened which caused your exposure variations in studio is the camera mode was inadvertently changed. For example, if you are in A mode (aperture priority), pressing the thumbwheel in will change the camera to P mode (program). Likewise, pressing the thumbwheel when it T mode (shutter priority) will change to m mode (manual). I had this happen to me a couple times and it took a while to figure out what happened. I commented about this and a couple other nits when I posted my experience using the S2 a couple weeks ago.
    During our December 3 test, in the studio I noticed several times when the aperture did not stop down to the requested/displayed aperture despite the OLED, viewfinder, and metadata indicating that aperture was used*. This ruined one of our diffraction tests as all camera/metadata indications were that the aperture was stopping down to progressively higher f-stops but the shutter speed and raw exposure clearly indicated the aperture stopped increasing after f/13.5. This sort of quirk is 100% expected in pre-release firmware. In fact if they had no such quirks I would wonder why they hadn't released it yet!! Leica does mechanical precision very well and has a long heritage of making great quality lenses so one can reasonably expect that by the time of general shipping the precision of exposure will be phenomenal.

    *the giveaway to this was when shooting ambient light in aperture priority mode and having the same shutter speed and final exposure despite apertures several stops apart being dialed in.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    We (Capture Integration) will be posting our tests/thoughts on the S2 to our website soon, but I wanted to emphasize my *VERY PERSONAL* feelings on ergonomics. A camera spends a lot of time in your hands, and the feeling of holding the camera, making adjustments (e.g. shutter speed), and composing/focusing is critical (IMO).

    The S2 body was a surprise to me; FOR ME the fit in my hand was one of the best I've experienced from any camera. At the same time the Phase One DF body surprised me - it was a marked improvement in my hands from a Phase One AF body about which I had very few complaints when it came to ergonomics. This to me is really great news as it indicates an increased emphasis on hand-feel. Both Phase One and Leica have announced Vertical Grips shipping "soon" (both companies have given estimates but until I see a working one I'd rather say "soon") and I think it's critical they get them out the door.

    Also ditto on the sex appeal. The darn looks hot.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Thanks for posting all these images. I shoot mostly with the M9 and M7 and scarcely use my Contax 645 for Studio Portraiture especially in B&W, so I really cannot justify the expense of one of these two fantastic camera systems. If I was to buy anything, it would have to be a Phase One back to go with my Contax system. Fortunately, the differences are not screaming, but here are two observations and I would like to hear how you guys feel about this.

    It seems to me as if the Leica S2 creates the most "film-like" images I have ever seen from a digital camera. What I mean by that is that the color is not completely neutral, which is probably just a calibration issue, but also the mid-tone contrast seems to really pop in a very pleasing and natural way. My observation of this is mostly based on the skin detail surrounding the close-ups of the eyes. Now this may not always be a good thing, and I think a Zeiss Softar filter might be a good addition to the kit for these kinds of models. Yet, for portraiture of men in particular, I always find that the micro-contrast on skin shown in these S2 images is very difficult to achieve digitally and the clarity function makes thinks look artificial quickly.

    My second observation is that the bokeh of the Leica lenses seems to be more pleasing at least to my eyes. The Mamyia lens creates a sort of grid-like double image of straight lines (fences and boards etc. in the background) that reads harsher than the very soft bokeh of the Leica lenses.

    I would love to hear your comments.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Jack and Guy,

    Many thanks for the fine review and from the perspective of real photographers! Will watch and wait to see how the lens line comes along, but it COULD be a DSLR replacement, even if a very expensive one ! However, like you Jack, I wouldn't give up my P65+ because of its flexibility. Enjoy the Alpa cameras too much!

    Congrats again on a job well done.

    Jim

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    I don't know why I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, but, at least in the firmware version that was used on the S2 we had Dec 3, the rear button can be used for autofocus, but only for CONTINUOUS autofocus. I found this very very frustrating in that one of the situations where I LOVE split shutter/autofocus situations is low light. In this situation the autofocus-continuous (even of a canon or nikon) may search back and forth even when you hold to a static subject point where an autofocus-single is more likely to find a point it is happy with and lock down. I enquired with this with the Leica reps and was told they would take my suggestion for a choice of the AF mode used on the rear button "very seriously" for the final firmware.

    Just to clarify, with the autofocus mode set to manual the rear button activates the autofocus the entire time the button is depressed (continuous autofocus), but autofocus stops when the button is released. This is the same behavior as the af button on my Canon (I forget which custom function setting I have set to get this on my Canon).

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    .....and the new Mamiya lenses have a very nice look.
    Agreed. From what I've seen, there is nothing unique or special, nothing "Wow!" about the Leica S2 lenses. Yes, they are very good....but so is the competition these days. Mamiya, Hasselblad, Leica....they all make some great lenses. To my eyes at least, nothing special about the Leica glass here.

    Re ergos (a personal preference, for sure), just looking at the comparison photos and reading what Jack wrote, I think I would prefer the Phase One, traditional MFD style body/back, a setup with a good sized grip that is not foward weighted, lens heavy. I've never liked the feel of my DSLRs without the optional vertical/battery grip, which adds a bit more heft to the body.

    Gary
    Last edited by bensonga; 14th December 2009 at 20:16.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    why are the 40 files not showing full size in LR? The S2 are, but looks like Im only getting big thumbnails of the phase
    my LR says it has ACR 6.0?

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    not supported ?

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    Just to clarify, with the autofocus mode set to manual the rear button activates the autofocus the entire time the button is depressed (continuous autofocus), but autofocus stops when the button is released. This is the same behavior as the af button on my Canon (I forget which custom function setting I have set to get this on my Canon).
    Custom Function IV-1 on the 5D Mark II.

    On the pro and semi pro Canons the AF-ON turns on the autofocus system, but uses whatever AF-Drive Mode the AF-Drive is set to. So if you have the AF-Drive set to One-Shot the AF-On will obey and search for focus and as soon as it finds it it will lock focus even if your thumb remains on the button. If you have AF-Drive set to AF-Servo (continuous) then the AF-On button will turn on focus and continue to search for focus until you release it.

    The S2 does not (in the firmware as of Dec 3) allow you to use the rear button with AF-One-Shot.

    One drawback to using AF-Servo (on either Canon or the S2 or Phase) on the rear button is that AF-Servo does not give the photographer a obvious indication that it has found the proper focus, and since it is always searching, if it has not acquired proper focus then it may be "mid search" when you release the shutter. With AF-One-Shot the system flashes (and/or beeps) and locks once it has found focus, ensuring that the photographer knows that the focus has locked and they can release the shutter.

    The point is AF-One-Shot on the rear AF-On button with the shutter set so that it does not activate AF is how the high-end digital techs that we work with in Miami set Canon cameras to for the fashion rental market. This is one of the markets that Leica wants to compete in.

    I think it's reasonable to expect this to be added to the firmware before it's released.

    Learn more about Canon's implementation of the rear-button AF. http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/control...articleID=2286

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    Just to clarify, with the autofocus mode set to manual the rear button activates the autofocus the entire time the button is depressed (continuous autofocus), but autofocus stops when the button is released. This is the same behavior as the af button on my Canon (I forget which custom function setting I have set to get this on my Canon).
    When you have the back button AF set on the Canon, it still used continuous or single AF depending on the AF mode set on the camera. On the big Canon glass you can use a CF to program the little rubber buttons near the hood to change AF mode to single.

    In the case of shooting sports, using continuous mode on static objects such as a player on the bench gave more out of focus shots than using Single AF mode. This is because in continuous the AF is always in a hunt mode and if your subject is not moving, you just may fire the shutter when the focus is hunting.

    This not using continuous AF on static objects may cause some focus problems when using the back button on the S2 if you cannot select single AF while in back button mode.

    Doug: Just noticed your post above saying about the same thing.

    Robert

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by BerndReini View Post
    Thanks for posting all these images. I shoot mostly with the M9 and M7 and scarcely use my Contax 645 for Studio Portraiture especially in B&W, so I really cannot justify the expense of one of these two fantastic camera systems. If I was to buy anything, it would have to be a Phase One back to go with my Contax system. Fortunately, the differences are not screaming, but here are two observations and I would like to hear how you guys feel about this.

    It seems to me as if the Leica S2 creates the most "film-like" images I have ever seen from a digital camera. What I mean by that is that the color is not completely neutral, which is probably just a calibration issue, but also the mid-tone contrast seems to really pop in a very pleasing and natural way. My observation of this is mostly based on the skin detail surrounding the close-ups of the eyes. Now this may not always be a good thing, and I think a Zeiss Softar filter might be a good addition to the kit for these kinds of models. Yet, for portraiture of men in particular, I always find that the micro-contrast on skin shown in these S2 images is very difficult to achieve digitally and the clarity function makes thinks look artificial quickly.

    My second observation is that the bokeh of the Leica lenses seems to be more pleasing at least to my eyes. The Mamyia lens creates a sort of grid-like double image of straight lines (fences and boards etc. in the background) that reads harsher than the very soft bokeh of the Leica lenses.

    I would love to hear your comments.

    Part of this is we are processing these files dumb and what I mean by that we are not going beyond the defaults. If you try clarity in C1 this will boost the mid tone contrast and such. So really not all the available tools or our processing in this review is beyond the defaults. We did NOT take creative license in this review because it just is not controlled enough to be a reliable fair test. As a tester or reviewer you just can't give out non repeatable tests so we have to be careful in these tests. On the S2 files I would actually add black in and watch LR it adds 5 points of black coming in to start. Reason get a few files and work them to your needs. In my Phase P40 back I would add maybe 15 on clarity. So outside this test we will do some things differently and that we did not explore here. At least not yet
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    I don't know why I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, but, at least in the firmware version that was used on the S2 we had Dec 3, the rear button can be used for autofocus, but only for CONTINUOUS autofocus. I found this very very frustrating in that one of the situations where I LOVE split shutter/autofocus situations is low light. In this situation the autofocus-continuous (even of a canon or nikon) may search back and forth even when you hold to a static subject point where an autofocus-single is more likely to find a point it is happy with and lock down. I enquired with this with the Leica reps and was told they would take my suggestion for a choice of the AF mode used on the rear button "very seriously" for the final firmware.


    During our December 3 test, in the studio I noticed several times when the aperture did not stop down to the requested/displayed aperture despite the OLED, viewfinder, and metadata indicating that aperture was used*. This ruined one of our diffraction tests as all camera/metadata indications were that the aperture was stopping down to progressively higher f-stops but the shutter speed and raw exposure clearly indicated the aperture stopped increasing after f/13.5. This sort of quirk is 100% expected in pre-release firmware. In fact if they had no such quirks I would wonder why they hadn't released it yet!! Leica does mechanical precision very well and has a long heritage of making great quality lenses so one can reasonably expect that by the time of general shipping the precision of exposure will be phenomenal.

    *the giveaway to this was when shooting ambient light in aperture priority mode and having the same shutter speed and final exposure despite apertures several stops apart being dialed in.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Yes Doug we ran into some issues in the studio for sure on exposure when everything is set in stone here. Left us scratching our heads because lights, metering and the P40 tethered results was showing us we are dead on the money and our exposures on the s2 went over sometimes which left us short handed on those studio shots of the models. Luckily I shot a lot
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gowin View Post
    Thank you for the review Guy and Jack. The S2 is very customizable and, as such, there are settings available that address a couple of the things you pointed out.

    First off, I found that setting the autofocus to Manual worked considerably better for me. This puts the autofocus on the rear button and removes it from the shutter button. In this mode, the autofocus is engaged only when the rear button is pressed. For example, hold the rear button to focus on the eye, then let off the button and recompose the frame.

    Three of the four buttons on the rear display are programable to just about any function you want. If you set one of those buttons as drive mode all you have to do is press and hold the button to bring up the sub menu and then use the rear thumbwheel to select self timer. When self timer is selected and the shutter button is pressed, the mirror will automatically flip up and the self timer countdown begins. This is super simple.

    Another thing that may have happened which caused your exposure variations in studio is the camera mode was inadvertently changed. For example, if you are in A mode (aperture priority), pressing the thumbwheel in will change the camera to P mode (program). Likewise, pressing the thumbwheel when it T mode (shutter priority) will change to m mode (manual). I had this happen to me a couple times and it took a while to figure out what happened. I commented about this and a couple other nits when I posted my experience using the S2 a couple weeks ago.

    Mark Gowin
    Thanks Mark yes the focusing I had issues with when just on AFS with the shutter release when I put the lens on manual and used the rear AF button it was a world of difference to me. I missed a lot in the beginning until I switched that up and I don't miss hardly ever with focus. Part of this was my fault as well we did not have the camera long enough to explore everything . I asked for two days with it and should have got it for a week so I could spend more time with it and partly reason we have not talked to much about the functions of the s2. Here i don't want to guess at anything so rather not get to much into it functionally until I had more time with it. I never want to mislead anyone and at the same time we had a new DF Phase body on hand so getting to know two cams at the same time was a little tricky.

    The change of exposures was a mystery to us since we are in the studio and everything is locked down. As Doug mentioned with early firmware this may have been the case.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Stone View Post
    Jack and Guy,

    Many thanks for the fine review and from the perspective of real photographers! Will watch and wait to see how the lens line comes along, but it COULD be a DSLR replacement, even if a very expensive one ! However, like you Jack, I wouldn't give up my P65+ because of its flexibility. Enjoy the Alpa cameras too much!

    Congrats again on a job well done.

    Jim
    Jim, I would seriously try the S2 before thinking of it as a DSLR replacement.

    That was my idea also until I actually shot with the S2. Not saying you will come to the same conclusion as I did ... just try it first.

    -Marc

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Many thanks Jack and Guy for this excellent and down to earth review!

    Well, I actually did not expect anything less from you

    Coming to the S2 and the results I saw here and in other reviews, I must say that it seems to be an excellent camera IQ wise, although NOT better than other systems. So for me the words from Leica that it will produce much better IQ because of magic of Leica glass etc etc is definitely not true.

    I personally find all those MF lenses pretty much on par and YES, I am NOT going into pixel comparisons here, but the impression of the whole images. Definitely the S System needs to grow in the lens area and also needs to show future steps from the camera side like S3 or what else.

    Having said that, Phase and Haselblad are today somewhere in their 4th or 5th generation of backs / cameras and this is definitely a huge advantage, as they have obviously already eliminated lot of issues and flaws of their systems. Leica has a long way to go there, although I want to recognize here that they did a very good job for their first iteration!

    Now coming back to colors - I really need to mention this one here as a Hasselblad user now and with some experience of Phase and C1 and also other cameras in C1: the output from the Hasselblad files is so close to reality that I wonder how I could survive with all that WB tricks befor I started using Hasselblad and Phocus - meanwhile Phocus 2.0.

    Almost every image out of the camera is PERFECT in terms of color and needs NO adjustments. Also not in terms of exposure and shadow highlights and levels, if some adjustment it is really a minor one. I think this needs to be mentioned as I see this as a clear advantage over the other MF systems, definitely over the S System, which still needs a long way to go, but also over any Phase back, even if processed wit the Phase C1 SW.

    My 5c here, but end of the day all are great systems and none of them is light years ahead of its competitors. So finally a personal decision which one you like best ....

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    IMO the differences in IQ are so minor that the choice of a MF-system should be mostly a question about the whole system,user interface, software.
    Sometimes I love the handling of my Hy6, but sometimes I do not bring it because it is big.
    For me thats the appealing point of the s2 system - less obstrusive, and smaller (not much lighter though) plus it seems pretty rugged/weatherproof.

    On the other side the M9 delievers so fine IQ that I sometimes question if I do need MF at all. And one thing is sure - the M9 is much more portable than the S2

    If the S2 system (body and lenses) was 60% of the price it would be more intersting to me. And if they will have a T/S lens with high quality it might make the system even more interesting. I think thats the thing which other MF-brands do not really offer today.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    guy and jack,
    excellent review, finally after a lot of rather boring stuff. thank you guys a lot for your efforts.
    as far as i am concerned, it became clear that leica has learned a lot so far but still has a long a long way to go as far as digital technology goes. even the lens comparism isn't clearly in leica's favour. my conclusion is: interesting, with potential, not bettter (slightly worse actually) than the competition but much more expensive and inflexible system. canikon will be there at their next iteration, with live view, sensor cleaning, video and you name.
    you gus have just saved me a lot of money, happy to wine&dine you at our first personal meeting. i am off the S2 list (btw i have held first place there completely uncontested....this also tells a story i suppose...).
    peter

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    Thank you for all the work Jack and Guy.

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    Re: Leica S2 Review by Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher/ GetDPI.com

    One other thing I would add from my experiments with the S2 ... especially after re-processing my RAW files and some of those provided here a couple of times ... and sharing them with other photographer friends with a good eye like Irakly (who also played a bit with my S2 DNGs):

    While most of the characteristics of the two S2 lenses are consistent, they aren't equal in my eyes ... I remain unconvinced about the 70mm compared to the 180mm. Lenses in the 180mm range from almost every lens maker are usually stellar.

    This makes me wonder about other lenses coming. It is nearly impossible to evaluate a systems camera that's lacking ANY wide angle lens as part of the evaluative mix. Buying into the S2 now would be a leap of faith. I wonder why the camera was launched into the very obvious "public test market" without the 35mm?

    Also, I tend to disagree with the poster that felt the S2 mid-tones tend to pop more. Maybe compared to how the Phase One shots were provided for this review, but in working with S2 files for some weeks now ... I tried doing S2 B&W conversions and IMO that is where mid-tone "POP" reveals itself more clearly ... or lack of. I still feel the S2 files are a bit flat and lack some aspects of Leica 3D character one would expect.

    A question for Doug Peterson: are you sure using the focus button on the back of the S2 camera always mandates Continuous Focus? When I used the S2 some time before your Dec. hands on, it was single focus when using the back button ... or so I thought.

    Marc

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