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Thread: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    With all the discussion of the new M9 and the logical comparisons to the M8 s, it seems that evaluations of image quality are "all over the place". Normally I rely on the proven equipment testers like Sean Reid for not only the details but also the practical discussions of how you might perceive the result. e.g. can t be seen unless you print big.

    Some things we know for sure just from the press release. The Leica glass will be great and since some have used the lenses on film ..even the edge sharpness etc has been evaluated to death. Plus the quality of the individual M lenses is so good that differences between lens A and lens B ..can only be in the eye of the beholder. You would have to be one fine photographer and a processing guru before the M glass could be considered an issue.(IMHO).

    The new sensor though offers significantly more MP (18 verse 10)..so we know that if the IQ per pixel is the same (and we didn t make the pixels smaller so you could guess this to true) , you can make larger prints with less grain/noise . Or you can crop your image down to the size of the M8 sensor and have the same IQ. At the same size image the M9 should show more detail resolution (or is this not true).

    The real differences would seem to be in three areas (I am asking ):

    (1)dynamic range which varies by the ISO utilized. If you are happy with using 640 on the M8 then your images aren t requiring the full DR potential. I mention this because you need both the best DR possible and how it changes with increasing ISO. The practical ISO limit could be viewed as that point where dynamic range goes below you needs. This is why I never want to use the M8 above 320 even if you can massage out enough grain to have an acceptable image.

    (2)color saturation....what I understand as the 16bit magic(again asking). Its not only the saturation but the ability to see the fine shading of color in .e.g. a red scarf .

    (3) NOISE... the description of that grainy look you get when you pump up the ISO. I really don t know where the clumpy stuff that appears when part of an image is underexposed goes in this discussion.....is it noise or just lack of dynamic range . I just know it happens frequently at high ISOs and I rarely see it at 160 or 320.


    I understand that the CPU used in the M9 is better and we have new firmware to process the output of sensor.


    These appear to quite subtle differences. Of the test images I have seen ..they look great and a little better than the M8 . Like someone said maybe closer to the DMR. To make any sense out of the results I believe we need side by side comparisons ...with an expert description.

    I intended this post as an open ended series of observations..maybe worthy of insights from the forum.

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    I've been thinking about this as well. Depth of field is also another factor that could affect pics from M8 vs. M9.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Roger I will just touch on the raw processors . First none of them are even tuned yet to the M9 except for C1 as of late yesterday. LR and ACR are just about worthless at this time since the software does not really know the algorithms. I said this from 10 am on launch day and went completely ignored and I said it 6 times on different forums. I give up people are more excited about getting one than paying attention to the details . Also imperative everyone is in the new firmware as well. It shipped with.0992 and there is a update 1.02 . I don't know what they did but as a beta tester on the M8 a lot of changes could have occurred from shipping to the update. Why this is not public is beyond me. Thirdly Leica worked the color filters to increase the red and lower the green and blue channels and one reason you are seeing RED in almost every image I have seen so far. Again back to the raw processing finally C1 has the profile that the red is now gone , LR and ACR still have it. And until a update is out they still will. Folks are wasting there time right now with those programs until a update comes. This also has to do with Noise by lowering the green and blue channels it takes less amplification in those channels which reduce noise. Again back to the software it does not know this so really until those updates come your shooting in the dark per say. All that data is wrapped in the DNG and until a software program recognizes it than it does not know what to do.

    Not sure why no one has not picked up on this but I don't even have one in my hands and it is painfully obvious it comes down to the raw processing software but the jpegs are probably just perfect.

    My advice use C1 or wait it out until LR and ACR come out with updates before comparing it to the M8. Frankly at the end of the day they should be just about dead equal except for better resolution and better noise levels
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Roger BTW not directed at you. But you know that

    You can get decent results from LR and ACR but it takes some work
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    David Farkus said in his review as far as IQ differences between the M8 and M9 it is only slightly better in holding highlights and a little better with higher iso for prints up to 20X30. So really it comes into play if your printing than bigger than 20X30 or cropping. Just more resolution. His comments.

    http://dfarkas.blogspot.com/2009/09/...n-wetzlar.html
    Last edited by mwalker; 11th September 2009 at 15:17.
    Mike

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Guy: I hear you loud and clear and appreciate your pointing this out (again). One thing that I think is a little strange: Leica ships the camera with LR --> I'm surprised that LR didn't have a profile ready at launch.

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Quote Originally Posted by mwalker View Post
    David Farkus said in his review as far as IQ differences between the M8 and M9 it is only slightly better in holding highlights and a little better with higher iso for prints up to 20X30. So really it comes into play if your printing than bigger than 20X30 or cropping. Just more resolution. His comments.

    http://dfarkas.blogspot.com/2009/09/...n-wetzlar.html
    At normal print sizes high ISO will favor the M9 as you have a lot more pixels to play with as you downsize.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    I'm actually surprised myself. Now I did get a question and not using LR in a little while someone asked to try camera standard or adobe standard for the profile and I am thinking maybe camera standard since the the plug in for the M9 is not there but I'm not quite sure. Searching now
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    My point was maybe before ..the what causes the differences and can the you make it better issues. Its ....."what are you looking for in image quality differences". For example ...when people describe MF verse FF ..they talk about higher resolution,increased dynamic range and color saturation(tone separation). Noise at different ISO s and shooting conditions impacts all three areas..and is generally described as acceptable or not.

    But with the M9 verse M8 they have quite number of elements in common. Frankly looking at Jpegs on the web will hardly bring out the differences. But again....what differences would you expect to see ..given we know alot about the sensor , the lenses etc.

    I think an example like Davids .."holds the high lights about 1 EV better" ..ok ...I can see that and look for it. Better ISO performance at the middle range .....640 looks like 320 ...again makes sense.

    Those improvements make sense to me and I know what to look for.......so my question is really ....."what are you looking for " and second "why do you expect the M9 to be better than the M8" .



    Guy i understand your points that it may take some time to get the raw conversions etc fine tuned to produce the best possible image quality. without this the M9 may be handicapped .

    A separate point about the LR/CameraRaw profiles....it has been my understanding that the adobe standard profile is "adobe preferred profile for your camera/file" and that the camera standard is "calibrated to produce a rendering similar to the cameras Jpeg process" as seen on the screen. Would be interested in knowing if this is correct.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    I have Mike and Bob on the case with LR for a answer.

    I'm still struggling with the DR being better . Essentially the same sensor just bigger, not sure how that relates to the DR. I know Leica tweaked the color to reduce the noise but I have yet to see anything talking about the DR. Have to go back and read something to see what they say about that.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    David is used to looking at M8 files in C1 which applies the "Film Standard" curve as the default setting. This is a very aggressive S-curve which boosts highlights by at least a stop. Selecting "Linear Response" will drop the highlights (and other stuff) back to normal (so to speak). LR's base line response with the standard DNG is pretty linear. My guess is that David is seeing a difference in the raw editors' respective tone curves and mistaking that for a difference in sensor DR.

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Quote Originally Posted by John Black View Post
    David is used to looking at M8 files in C1 which applies the "Film Standard" curve as the default setting. This is a very aggressive S-curve which boosts highlights by at least a stop. Selecting "Linear Response" will drop the highlights (and other stuff) back to normal (so to speak). LR's base line response with the standard DNG is pretty linear. My guess is that David is seeing a difference in the raw editors' respective tone curves and mistaking that for a difference in sensor DR.
    John,

    Before I used LR for my M9 review images, I warmed up for a month working with previously developed (in C1) M8 files. The extra DR in the highlights is there. You can even see it on the LCD when you take a shot. I wasn't the only one who saw this. We were all walking around shooting and discussing the camera, and everyone pretty much saw the same thing very quickly.

    The increased DR can be atributed mainly to a better/cleaner A/D conversion pathway. This is also why the high ISO performance is improved. Keep the S/N ratio up and you increase DR and decrease noise.

    David
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    btw excellent review david on your blog-I really appreciated you going into the operational differences from the M8, the soft release, the new menu options, bracketing, exposure comp, etc. It kind of stunned me that Leica has put all that new stuff in there, it is really a different camera than the 8.

    I had read all the other reviews but you told me some things that put the camera high on my GAS List.

    Taking the GAS-X now.

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    Re: Evaluating Image Quality Differences..M9 vs M8

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    John,

    Before I used LR for my M9 review images, I warmed up for a month working with previously developed (in C1) M8 files. The extra DR in the highlights is there. You can even see it on the LCD when you take a shot. I wasn't the only one who saw this. We were all walking around shooting and discussing the camera, and everyone pretty much saw the same thing very quickly.

    The increased DR can be atributed mainly to a better/cleaner A/D conversion pathway. This is also why the high ISO performance is improved. Keep the S/N ratio up and you increase DR and decrease noise.

    David
    I assume you were recording uncompressed RAW. The extra DR may lie there. It would be interesting to compare DR in compressed and uncompressed shots.

    Henning

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