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Thread: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

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    Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    I am addicted to the quality of R lenses and have an option to acquire a used DMR. Any opinions about the relative merits of using R glass on a DMR vs. a 5DII, with special emphasis on image quality and on usability factors? I am using R lenses currently on a G1 and on a 5DII but have never shot with a DMR. What can the DMR do with R lenses (at least for those that fit a 5DII) that a Canon (with optional focusing screen and focus confirmation adapter) cannot do? Does the DMRs dynamic range offer improved image quality over the 5DII?

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    While I can not speak to the 5DII ...on the 5D vs the DMR ...the DMR provides significantly better IQ in sharpness,dynamic range and color (separation and saturation). I am sure that the 5DII is improved but will still not match the DMR. I converted a few of my older R lenses to the Nikon mount and use them on a D3. (Guy had a thread on the DMR Bibble which covered this in detailed tests ..but unfortunately its long gone).

    The Canon would also have to be used in "stopped down mode" which I find ..no issue in normal daylight shooting but in lower light it can be a problem. The metering is also off when stopping down and you gradually learn to make small adjustments of 1/3 to 2/3 stop (this varies by f stop and lens) for most shooting it wasn t a problem for me but its a factor. Finally the 5DII will not accept some of the best R wide angles without shaving the mirror. The newest 19/2.8 and 35/1.4 will not clear without shaving the mirror. There is a ton of stuff on this at Fred Miranda s alternative lenses forum.

    The DMR itself is not without its problems..(1) sensor factor of 1.37 vs FF for the Canon (2) poor ISO performance even at 400 its only OK ...800 forget . Use it at 100 or 200. (3) old style batteries only last maybe 200 images and they are bulky. (4) questionable long term service with Leica s problems and discontinuing the R line.

    Still when I use my DMR ..I am generally very happy and the IQ never stops amazing me ...its a notch better than the M series .

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    I have owned a DMR and 5D and second that the DMR IQ at low ISO beats the 5D. Its the best low-ISO-SLR Sensor I have seen so far. I liked the results better than those from the D3x.

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Thanks very much for the helpful feedback.

    Do either of you (or anyone else) have experience with the new Canon 5DII in terms of image quality vs. the R9/DMR, particularly the 5DMII's sensor, dynamic range, etc. compared to the DMR? Do your comments about superior image quality apply as well against the latest 5DII?

    I have taken approximately 500 shots using the 5DII and a variety of R lenses (100 Macro 2.8, 90 ASPH, 50 2.0) and have seen what a pleasure it is to use a high ISO and lenses stopped down to their recommended maximum level of performance--even handheld. Does the DMR's greater dynamic range compensate for this clear advantage of the Canon?

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    Subscriber Member jaapv's Avatar
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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    I should think that if you want to stop down, the stop-down metering of the 5DII/R combination would degrade your viewfinder brightness.
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Quote Originally Posted by rweissman View Post
    Thanks very much for the helpful feedback.

    Do either of you (or anyone else) have experience with the new Canon 5DII in terms of image quality vs. the R9/DMR, particularly the 5DMII's sensor, dynamic range, etc. compared to the DMR? Do your comments about superior image quality apply as well against the latest 5DII?

    I have taken approximately 500 shots using the 5DII and a variety of R lenses (100 Macro 2.8, 90 ASPH, 50 2.0) and have seen what a pleasure it is to use a high ISO and lenses stopped down to their recommended maximum level of performance--even handheld. Does the DMR's greater dynamic range compensate for this clear advantage of the Canon?
    Two websites you may want to research .....(1)diglloyd.com and (2) DxO. The DxO site has comparison s of sensor capabilities against several criteria . (resolution,dynamic range,color saturation,noise etc). While you can not see the DMR you can see the 5D against the 5DII or the Sony or the D3X .etc. What I found important where the charts that show how performance varies with ISO. I can compare my M8s against the D3 or the canon 5D and the results look relevant . The M8 sensor suffers against the Nikon,Sony or Canon sensors as ISO increases. A penalty is assessed even going from 160 to 320 on the M8. The DMR shines in color saturation and dynamic range at the lowest ISO settings. It has a richness in its renderings that I have not seen in any other DSLR.

    Diglloyd favors the D3X with Zeiss ZF or converted Leica R lenses and covers the differences in detail. He also shoots with a 5DII and compares the results to the D3X. Would seem like a relevant comparison.

    I think of the DMR as the equivalent of Kodachrome in digital. Absolutely beautiful images but requiring great care to work with low ISO and wide open shooting or a tripod. Very limiting compared to the 5DII or D3 but amazing results.

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    I used to own the DMR, but I have not shot the 5DII. I use the D3 now, occasionally with R lenses. While I like the color better on the DMR, I don't think there is a large difference in sharpness. The advantage of full frame and dramatically better ISO performance mean that the D3 was a better choice for me. The DMR was and is a great camera for shooting R lenses in the standard focal lengths at ISO 100-200. In almost all other aspects, it is hugely outclassed by later SLR's. If you are happy using the 5DII now, I don't think you will gain much in the way of real world advantages (other than not having to stop down meter).

    Advantages for DMR/R9, in my mind:
    1. No stop-down metering
    2. 16 bit color
    3. No AA filter means very sharp files out of the sensor.
    4. No messing with adapters.
    5. Can use the R9 with film, where it really is best.
    6. Can use all the R lenses.
    7. Nice ergonomics, made for manual focus, good, solid camera forms its basis.

    R9/DMR disadvantages
    1. Big, heavy, still expensive and ending its repairable life -- Leica is only using donor DMR's for repair at this point. At some point in the not too distant future, they will run out of certain parts. This may be fine if yours does not break, but if it does, you might be out of luck.
    2. Dismal ISO performance compared to cameras like the D3, 5DII. 800 is the upper limit.
    3. Outdated technology -- tiny, low rez LCD. Poor battery life. No feature set with things like live view, custom functions, and so on.
    4. 1.37x crop, uses framelines in the viewfinder, so you don't have 100% exact framing (at least mine didn't). Wide angles become normal, superwides become moderate wides. Like the 19mm becomes a 26mm. That is a big difference.
    5. The camera is modular, so the weather sealing is non-existant, you can have registration problems (the sensor not being in the right place), the focusing screen framelines might not be perfectly aligned to what the sensor records, it is a much larger camera than integrated cameras...it has a rather weird shape as well.
    6. Slow, slow, slow. The frame rate is slow, the images take a long time to show up on the LCD, scrolling through images is slow. Looking at detail is very slow. Even changing ISO takes a few seconds!
    7. Only one card slot, and it is SD -- I believe it is limited to 2 or 4gb, but they may have updated. I do not recall.
    8. There will not be any more firmware updates -- what you have now is the best it will be.
    9. The newest cameras are now several years old.
    10. The camera is temperamental. My first one developed a sensor line problem after only a few thousand shots. It went for repair, came back with a different problem. It was replaced, then the replacement had outrageous (even for the DMR) noise at all ISO's. This was repaired and it did fine for 2 years. Then it decided to temporarily stop working while I was photographing in a helicopter -- the worst possible time. That was the final straw for me.
    11. Lower resolution than the 5DII. The D3 and DMR are essentially equal in real resolution...the DMR files are sharper out of the camera, but if you do minor sharpening to the D3, you will see equal sharpness and about the same amount of true resolution.

    Overall, I think the DMR was a good camera at the time, and it still does things well, but it had many things going against it, from the firmware wars (between Imacon and Leica) to the sort of cobbled together nature of the design. This camera came out in 2005, was conceived in 2003-4, and I am sorry to say that it is now showing its age. If you are happy with the 5dII, and don't already have a full R system (and you shoot film with it), then I would recommend against getting a DMR unless you can get it with the camera for less than 2000 USD.
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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Stuart's point are all valid on the DMR . Don t even think about a DMR for a professional application...its just not competitive. However the IQ differences are real . IMHO for most applications resolution isn t the issue. The sparkle in the water, the beauty in a skin tone , the color in the sky at dusk...doesn t come from resolution. Its really about the color saturation,tone separation and dynamic range. Its not about sharpness....you can get probably as much as you can use with a D700 and a 5DII will be plenty unless you specialize in large prints.

    Also I would not buy a DMR if this is to be your primary camera as the maintenance issues are real....its quirky like a vintage sports car. You have to love the image quality to want to go this route.

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    R9/DMR disadvantages
    1. Big, heavy, still expensive and ending its repairable life -- Leica is only using donor DMR's for repair at this point. At some point in the not too distant future, they will run out of certain parts. This may be fine if yours does not break, but if it does, you might be out of luck.
    That problem has been solved for the time being. Dr. Kaufmann has reached an agreement with Imacon and all service can now be carried out in Solms. Leica foresees servicability "for a sufficient number of years"()
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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    To all who have replied, thanks very much for this extremely useful information. Since Dr. Kaufmann has guaranteed continued servicing (the biggest issue raised here), I am probably going to give the DMR a try.

    Thanks again for this very useful set of positives and cautionary negatives.

    Ron Weissman

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Just remember that it was Dr Kauffman who essentially guaranteed there would be a new body for the R system along with AF lenses. Now where are we with the R?

    Woody

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    +1 on Woody's comments.

    Take what Dr K/Leica management says/doesn't say, is reputed to have said, etc., ad naseum with a BIG grain of salt.

    For planning purposes, I'd make your decision using a worst-case scenario. If you go fwd and keep it for any length of time, you WILL eventually be owning an unserviceable/partable (new word) collectors item. The only question is WHEN that point is reached, not IF.

    Given Solm's track record so far (despite public/rumored comments from management) on wanting to keep it's R base happy (or keeping them at all) - I'd plan on that point being (much) sooner vs later.
    Last edited by robmac; 23rd June 2009 at 08:50.

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    Re: Exploiting R Lenses: Canon 5DII with adapter or used DMR?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    +1 on Woody's comments.

    Take what Dr K/Leica management says/doesn't say, is reputed to have said, etc., ad naseum with a BIG grain of salt.

    For planning purposes, I'd make your decision using a worst-case scenario. If you go fwd and keep it for any length of time, you WILL eventually be owning an unserviceable/partable (new word) collectors item. The only question is WHEN that point is reached, not IF.

    Given Solm's track record so far (despite public/rumored comments from management) on wanting to keep it's R base happy (or keeping them at all) - I'd plan on that point being (much) sooner vs later.
    I gave up on the DMR this year after the failure of Leica to ever present a clear path for R users, actually just a few weeks before they sort of announced the end of the line. I grew increasingly anxious about the ability to find a replacement should the DMR fail.

    Many of Dr. Kaufman's comments appear to be closely guarded near-secrets, reserved for "special customers". Therefore I have no knowledge of any ability for the DMR to be serviced in a timely fashion. Since I've not spent $100,000 USD on Leica equipment over the years (only two-thirds that), I am not privy to these privileged communications.

    Although I was fairly happy with the DMR overall, it really doesn't offer a clear benefit over the 5Dmk2/1DsIII/D3x cameras. For what I do, I get superior results with the 5Dmk2 and 1DsIII, hands-down. If my body goes down, I know I can get a replacement the same day--with Leica I can't guarantee I'll get a replacement in the same year. With a little bit of work, even files from the 1DsII were ultimately superior for my work. I've kept a few of the gems from the Leica R line for use with my Canon full-frame bodies but sold the zooms, fast-teles and "ordinary" lenses.

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