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Thread: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

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    Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    (apologies for the cross post but there's a MF digital/Leica forum split here)

    I am currently a reasonably long term Phase One/Mamiya AFD/DF shooter using various P+, Aptus and now IQ backs. I'm strictly amateur although I'd like to consider myself quality driven as far as my imaging is concerned. Which all leads me to the following:

    Over time I've become increasingly frustrated with the DF system and have been considering a change. I do like the Schneider glass although I've grown to loathe certain aspects of the DF system such as occasional unreliability and overal system integration. This has made me curious about the S2 system, especially now that Leica actually have a reasonable spread of usable focal lengths available (ok, in theory at least!).

    I'm pretty au fait with the S2 camera system capabilities but I was wondering if anyone has qualitatively compared the Phase LS 55/80/110/150 against the equivalent S lenses?

    Now I realize that if I ask this question on the Leica forum that I'll get the Leica bias and likewise here probably the Phase One (or Hassy) bias but I'm curious if anyone has compared these objectively or could comment or point me to any previous comparisons.

    In due course I'll arrange a rental/demo but in the meantime any feedback from phase one / S2 users who've maybe made this switch or comparison would be welcomed.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I am picking up my S2 today or tomorrow, having recently sold my Hy6/Sinar75LV system. Once I've done some shooting with it, I'll be happy to share my observations.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    We have at various points compared Phase D and LS lenses and Leica S lenses.

    The Leica 35mm lens is the sharpest we've seen. Mind you that since it's a 1.3 crop sensor this is comparable to the 45D (rather than the weaker Phase 35D).

    The Leica 70mm is very sharp but so is the Schneider 80mm LS and Schneider 110mm LS that you'd compare it to. There might be some modest difference wide open but I'd call it nit-picking, and the Leica goes to f/2.4 rather than f/2.8 but this is offset by the smaller sensor if your goal is shallow DOF (though still provides the benefit of faster shutter speeds when handholding wide open).

    The Leica 180mm is quite long on the shallow sensor and would most closely compare to the Mamiya 210mm which it beats handily wide open. The Phase One 150mm D (which is wider, especially on a full frame sensor) is a bit faster (f/2.8 rather than f/3.5) and is every bit a match for the Leica 180mm and, dare I say it (lest the Leica gods strike me down), even a bit better. The Schneider 240LS is out next year so I have no hands-on testing for it.

    Leica 120mm Macro is significantly faster (f/2.5 vs f/4); though wide open usually isn't used in macro photography it still helps with manual focusing and composition (brightness on the focus screen) and allows that lens to be used for non-macro shallow-DOF shots. Leica's macro only goes to 1:2 rather than the Phase One 120D Macro MF and AF lenses which go to 1:1 which isn't important for most users but for the users who do very close up photography is a deal killer.

    Blooming and fringing on the S2 was significantly higher on all lenses we've tried.

    Overall I'd say the 35mm is the only big difference, and as good as it is, is still not as good as a tech camera lens. Leica's lenses are all a good bit more expensive (in some cases way more expensive) than the closest Phase/Mamiya glass. Unless I've missed the announcement still have not figured out the Leaf Shutter issues. They do all have a good ergonomic feel (most of the Phase/Schneider do as well, but for instance the Mamiya 210mm feels plasticy and the manual focusing is only "ok" in feeling).

    If you have an infinite supply of money, don't want/need to ever use a tech camera or alternative body with your sensor, don't mind the smaller sensor size and resolution (granted 40mp is still a LOT of resolution for most applications), and don't need leaf shutter lenses today nor fast tethering, and are ok with the lens selection as it stands today (no mid-wide, no very long, no mid-long portrait lens, no shift lens) then the S2 will give you great lens quality on the available lenses and a very nice ergonomic all-in-one medium format system with a long lasting battery.

    Here is some aperture-variance testing:
    http://www.captureintegration.com/tests/leica/

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    Last edited by dougpeterson; 30th November 2011 at 06:29.
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I now have a Leica S2. When trying to decide, I tried the Hassy and also the Phase One (IQ140 on DF body with the Phase One digital lenses).

    I went to the same spot where I could photograph the skyline of the
    city of Richmond. I used the 70mm on the S2, 80 mm on the Phase.

    The conditions were essentially the same, but the two images were
    taken on two separate days.

    I printed 20x30 prints. I processed the Leica via Lightroom. I used
    capture 1 for the Phase (per their instructions).

    There was no comparison. The fine detail, the micro-contrast, the
    resolution, was clearly better on the Leica. I could read the words
    on highway signs probably 2 miles away. I could see furniture in
    buildings, with the Leica.

    But there were other reasons that dominated my decision. First,
    two tweak autofocus on the phase, you have to disengage the
    clutch and then can fine tune with the lens' ring. On the leica (like
    on my Nikon) I can merely reach forward and fine tune. On MF this
    is often necessary unless you are very careful with recomposing
    after focusing (remember-- you don't have 51 focus points like 35mm
    nikons). Also, the form factor is totally different between the phase
    and the leica. Coming from Nikon, I found that the Leica just felt
    better, was easier to carry and handle. It "fitted like a glove" and
    was "just natural". I recently went to Death Valley and the Sierras.
    I carried the S2 all day, miles, and never felt it was a burden. I
    carried the Phase One just a couple of miles when I was trying it and
    felt more than burdened. The Leica's viewfinder appeared clearer,
    brighter than the phase.

    Rent a Leica S2 and try it. Since you are use to the DF body, it might
    feel "different" at first and you may or may not like the different
    form factor.

    But for lenses... Leica's glass is simply the best (and the most
    expensive!)

    OK, this is NOT a scientific study. It is strictly an observation and
    perhaps from limited data.

    Note I compared with the Phase One branded "digital" lenses.

    Hope this helps
    craig

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I did the same 70 and 80 test with the correct sharpening controls for each lens and no difference. Problem is the S2 over sharpens by a truck load with the defaults in C1 and LR at least it did back than. Today i still don't expect it to be any better. If anything I would think the S2 35mm would be better than Phase 35mm D lens that I have no doubts about. You can still see our review on this in the digital review section. The S2 has come a long way since than but its still the same 70 which i found not so hot at all, the 180 I thought was much better by comparison to the 70mm.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Guy, are you sure about the new AF120 D lens only doing 1:2? I am looking at getting this lens and just went back and checked the Phase website and it says the AF is 1.00x magnification:

    http://www.phaseone.com/en/Lenses/Di...TechSpecs.aspx

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    That was actually I, not Guy, that misstated the 120AF max magnification. I've edited the post for accuracy.

  8. #8
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Another benefit of the S2 lenses that should not be discounted is they are all fully weather and dust sealed, and allow for full time, clutchless manual focusing. Leica uses an optical sensor on the manual focus ring to disengage the clutch automatically and allow for perfectly geared and incredibly smooth manual focus operation.

    I would respectfully disagree that there is any Phase One lens that would beat the quality of the S2-180mm lens. The 180mm is essentially perfect. Abobe worked with Leica to provide lens profiles for Adobe Lightroom 3, users will note there is no lens profile for the 180mm lens. When we asked them about this, their reply was simply "no profile is needed."

    It is popular to say that the S2 is a "crop sensor." This is a misnomer, as the S2 and its lenses were built from scratch, so there is no comparable predecessor. The benefit of using a "full frame" medium format digital camera such as the IQ180 is so that lenses (many of which were designed in the film era), for example the 80mm, are actually 80mm instead of something a bit longer due to a crop factor. On the S2, the 70mm lens is a 70mm lens, and will always be as such.

    The S2 performs minimal in-camera corrections, which is why we have Lightroom profiles that eliminate some of the minor chromatic aberration that might present itself. Similar to working with a Phase One back in Capture One, Lightroom and the S2 are paired together specifically so that image quality can be maximized using camera-specific post-processing.

    Doug, to comment on the tethering speed, the S2's tethering speed has improved considerably since its introduction. I will agree that early on, the tethering was very slow. With improvements in camera firmware and Lightroom, tethering speed is now a non-issue. Additionally, Leica Image Shuttle provides an instant preview using a small, 2 megapixel jpeg that comes up in about 1 second while the main DNG file is transferred over the wire.

    I would strongly advise against using Capture One to process S2 files, as the default sharpening is far too high and I find that it tends to quickly introduce sharpening artifacts. Using Adobe Lightroom's sharpening settings will give you the perfect balance of detail and smoothness. As we have figured out the perfect recipe for S2 sharpening at all ISO settings, we have Lightroom presets for every ISO that we happily share.

    Guy, I am not sure what you mean when you say you "don't expect it to be any better." Naturally, if you simply import an S2 file into Lightroom and use default settings, the file will not be perfect. I would imagine this is the case with any camera/software combination. This is why we use our presets upon import, so the file looks just the way we like it upon initial review. The S2 has in fact come a very long way from your review, many firmware and software revisions have addressed all of the major points of contention that initial reviewers raised.

    Ultimately, I recommend testing out every system you are interested in. Perhaps you can even arrange getting both a Phase One back and an S2 at the same time, and do the head to head comparisons yourself.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I only have used some older Mamiya AF lenses (35/45/80/150) on an older ZD back, then some Schneider and Zeiss Rollei lenses on Hy6 and for the last months the S2 with the 4 available lenses.
    In my limited experience I never found lenses the limiting factor.
    I use the S2 lenses ver often in the 2.5-5.6 range and even wide open the IQ is stunning.
    The S 120/2.5 is a very flexible lens, and while it is very sharp it still also works very well for portraits.
    I dont excpect the Leica lenses to blow other lenses away, but I am also feeling (and seeing) that those lenses for sure perform very well and are not the limit in my photography.

  10. #10
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Does anyone want to speak about drawing style of the lenses (that has used both)... one of several factors that has me using an RZ now, instead of an AFD, is that I like the drawing style of the lenses better.

    We speak of resolution to no end... and I guess we have to if we're going to shoot ultra high-res... but do the Schneiders have a special "something" that I found lacking in the non-LS Mamiya 645 glass? A few of the s2 lenses do seem to have a nicer drawing style than the non-ls mammy glass. I have not investigated the LS lenses enough to have a credible opinion.

    I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on this... and not just on resolution.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I would love to see real samples comparison

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    Another benefit of the S2 lenses that should not be discounted is they are all fully weather and dust sealed, and allow for full time, clutchless manual focusing. Leica uses an optical sensor on the manual focus ring to disengage the clutch automatically and allow for perfectly geared and incredibly smooth manual focus operation.
    Weather sealing - no argument. A strength. Though in four years I've only seen two customers with water damage to a Mamiya, Phase One, or Hasselblad and one of those was dropped in the ocean during a beach shoot. So the incremental value may not be extraordinary, but no doubt there.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    I would respectfully disagree that there is any Phase One lens that would beat the quality of the S2-180mm lens. The 180mm is essentially perfect.
    How does the S2 180mm perform at f/2.8?

    Seriously - both the 150D and S2 180 are extraordinarily good lenses. Nitpicking between them would only be for bragging rights. The only real difference to me is the extra half a stop can come in handy for hand holding and ultra-thin DOF effects (especially considering the enhanced thin-DOF-effect provided by a full frame sensor).

    In any case they are really not directly comparable as the 150D on a FF sensor is significantly wider than the S2 180 on the smaller S2 sensor. A fast portrait S2 lens would fill this gap if and when it ships.

    Abobe worked with Leica to provide lens profiles for Adobe Lightroom 3, users will note there is no lens profile for the 180mm lens. When we asked them about this, their reply was simply "no profile is needed."

    P.S. the Phase One 150mm D is also not provided any lens corrections in C1 (unlike e.g. the 45mm D and most of the other lenses) for the same reason. Not much to correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    It is popular to say that the S2 is a "crop sensor." This is a misnomer, as the S2 and its lenses were built from scratch, so there is no comparable predecessor. The benefit of using a "full frame" medium format digital camera such as the IQ180 is so that lenses (many of which were designed in the film era), for example the 80mm, are actually 80mm instead of something a bit longer due to a crop factor. On the S2, the 70mm lens is a 70mm lens, and will always be as such.
    ...?

    I think you're misnomering a bit yourself. But I guess it depends on your point of reference.

    "crop" probably is unfair though as it does not recognize - as you state - that Leica picked this sensor size for this platform forever. "mid-sized" would work better except it could be confused with medium format which traditionally started at 6x4.5. What would you suggest we call it when comparing things like DOF and effective focal length? (keep in mind the forum will be viewed by a wide range of people with/without specific previous experience/knowledge about the various sensor sizes).

    And just so we're clear there are four - four - lenses shipping for the S2, so the fact that some of the Phase/Mamiya lenses are older designs (e.g. the 35D which is only an "ok" lens) is not as important as the fact that there are no less than 8 (upwards of 10 depending on definition of "designed in the film era") lenses that were designed for modern digital backs and perform very well. So I don't think you want to make too fine a point of that :-).

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    Doug, to comment on the tethering speed, the S2's tethering speed has improved considerably since its introduction. I will agree that early on, the tethering was very slow. With improvements in camera firmware and Lightroom, tethering speed is now a non-issue. Additionally, Leica Image Shuttle provides an instant preview using a small, 2 megapixel jpeg that comes up in about 1 second while the main DNG file is transferred over the wire.
    ...Tethering speed is a "non issue"? I think you want to be careful of marketing versus real world. I'll assume you meant "works very well for many photographers".

    S2 Tethering has improved greatly and the Image Shuttle system is a great idea. Notably you cannot currently get this sort of low-res fast-preview using any other medium format system (though a near-full res preview on a fast computer with an IQ140 is available), and there are good camera controls from the computer which is useful in a small but important number of specific tethered uses (e.g. shooting a camera from a lift).

    However, given that many photographers, used to Canon 5DII speeds, find the IQ140 and DM40 "slow" when shooting tethered despite being capable of 70+ frames (at 40mp) I don't think I'd ever say tethering speed is a "non issue". Speak to digital techs in LA, NYC, and Miami and they'll tell you that some (certainly not all) photographers can't possibly get enough speed.

    Last time we tested S2 tethering it could not come anywhere close to the 70+ frames/minute of the IQ140 (or 70ish frames of the P40+ or even the 55+ frames/minute of the IQ160 at 60 megapixels). This test was run after the firmware update that provided compressed raws and the release of a few revisions of Image Shuttle. Perhaps you can provide a number of frames captured per minute with the absolute latest firmware on the S2 and a screaming computer?


    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    I would strongly advise against using Capture One to process S2 files, as the default sharpening is far too high and I find that it tends to quickly introduce sharpening artifacts. Using Adobe Lightroom's sharpening settings will give you the perfect balance of detail and smoothness. As we have figured out the perfect recipe for S2 sharpening at all ISO settings, we have Lightroom presets for every ISO that we happily share.
    The default sharpening in C1 is too high for the S2. I'd suggest creating you own set of presets. But it seems you feel that LR default settings are also not ideal and suggest creating custom presets (or using yours). So... why would "strongly suggest against" C1 on this basis?

    S2 lens profiles and a better default color profile, along with great DAM and down-stream features (e.g. web galleries) are good reasons to use LR rather than C1.

    HDR-Tonemapping (without leaving raw) to take advantage of the S2's great DR, a great interface to correct perspective to help with the lack of a Leica PC lens, the color editor (great for working with skin tones), and great mass-editing features (copying/applying to hundreds of images is much faster to fully render than in LR) are good reasons to use C1 rather than LR.

    I'm not convinced default sharpening is a reason to use either for the S2.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    Ultimately, I recommend testing out every system you are interested in. Perhaps you can even arrange getting both a Phase One back and an S2 at the same time, and do the head to head comparisons yourself.
    Couldn't agree more! :-) Though in his post he stated he already has a Phase system. Josh, us, or a variety of other Leica dealers can get you a demo of the S2 if you want to see how it works for you.

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    Last edited by dougpeterson; 30th November 2011 at 08:41.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Talking about drawing... I really liked the 80 Xenotar Rollei and even more the 110/2.0 Zeiss.
    When I got the S2 I was afraid the Leica lenss might look a little too "clinical" for portait and bought the Hassy version of the 110/2.0 and an adapter.
    But the 120/2.5 works so good for me that I just dont touch the 110/2.0.

  14. #14
    jlehrer
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Doug, if the Phase One 150mm is much wider than the 180mm on the S2, then perhaps the S2 120mm is a better comparison. In that case, I would say how does the Phase One 150mm D perform at f/2.5?

    If we are talking about "crop" on medium format, than even the revered IQ180 is a crop sensor. What is full frame medium format exactly? 6x4.5? 6x6? 6x7? 6x9? In the end, I usually find that most people relate to focal lengths as to how they compare to 35mm full frame lenses. That is a reference point that just about every photography enthusiast can understand clearly.

    Yes, there are 4 lenses (soon to be 5) that are currently shipping for the S2. The system is new and certainly will take time to mature. Thankfully, there are a wealth of alternative lenses, including many Mamiya/Phase One mount lenses, that will work on the S2 via an adapter. Although I feel that the current S2 lens lineup is nicely filled out, I am not against more lenses. I will say that I would rather have four fantastic lenses than 8 lenses that range from decent to excellent. I have read too many times on various forums about needing to procure multiple copies of Phase One lenses in order to get a "good" one.

    My statement about tethering speed in fact comes from the feedback I get from our professional clients in LA and New York. I don't shoot tethered myself too often, so I rely on their feedback in conjunction with my own testing to make sure that the system is performing as expected. We work with a number of high-end rental studios around the country, and they have been very pleased with the camera's tethering performance. Which is why it is a non-issue.

    A quick test here in the office with an S2 and a 2010 MacBook Pro shows that I can capture 63 shots in 1 minute of shooting tethered. With a newer computer I would not be surprised if that number would approach 70 shots.

    My concern with default settings is unrelated to my suggestion that S2 owners avoid Capture One for file processing. The CFA interpolation and sharpening for S2 files is better in Lightroom, regardless of your settings in Capture One. I have found that, especially for images with fine detail, any amount of sharpening from Capture One on S2 files tends to create unusual artifacting in high frequency areas.

    Lightroom offers perspective control. You are correct that there is not a PC lens that Leica makes, however we often use the Schneider 120mm T/S or an Arca Swiss 6x9 with an S2 adapter when we need to use movement. Lightroom also has a feature similar to Capture One's color editor, and it allows you to mass-edit files as well.

    And again, definitely try out a demo of the S2. Our rental kit includes all 4 lenses, every accessory Leica makes, and a number of custom-made accessories as well.
    Last edited by jlehrer; 30th November 2011 at 10:44.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Although I am an incurable pixel peeper, here is a lens test I love to do.

    Shoot your favorite kind of subject with both A and B framed to be approximately equivalent and shot with lenses to provide similar FOVs..

    Post process them to what you think are their optimal results with whatever tools you use. I usually go flat in the raw converter and "unsharpened" then bring both A and B into photoshop.
    So far incidentally, I am following my typical workflow...
    Now make 24 by 30 inch prints of both A and B on the same paper with the same paper profile.
    now look at the prints from both nose distance (or whatever you can focus unassisted) and about a foot. Non photographers will look at the print from about 3-4 feet so try that too.
    ok, now look at the differences you see at the one foot and three foot distances and decide for yourself if the nose distance view (if it is any better) is worth the difference in money to you assuming that the more expensive alternative provides better results. If it comes out the other way round, then great.

    If you normally shoot for the web, then convert them to about 1000px on their longest edges and compare them after down-rezzing side by side on the screen.

    If you can't tell A and B apart, then pick your system for some other reason.
    -bob
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by jlehrer View Post
    Doug, if the Phase One 150mm is much wider than the 180mm on the S2, then perhaps the S2 120mm is a better comparison. In that case, I would say how does the Phase One 150mm D perform at f/2.5?
    A perfectly fair point

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Thanks everyone for the helpful information. Very useful discussion and even a little friendly dealer rivalry going on there I think!

    I need to arrange for a demo test between my IQ/DF and the S2 at some point obviously, preferably several sessions so maybe rental is the best way to approach this.

    Has anyone performed side by side testing of the LS and S2 glass to compare OOF roll off and bokeh? Basically how each lens draws?

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Although I am an incurable pixel peeper, here is a lens test I love to do.

    Shoot your favorite kind of subject with both A and B framed to be approximately equivalent and shot with lenses to provide similar FOVs..

    Post process them to what you think are their optimal results with whatever tools you use. I usually go flat in the raw converter and "unsharpened" then bring both A and B into photoshop.
    So far incidentally, I am following my typical workflow...
    Now make 24 by 30 inch prints of both A and B on the same paper with the same paper profile.
    now look at the prints from both nose distance (or whatever you can focus unassisted) and about a foot. Non photographers will look at the print from about 3-4 feet so try that too.
    ok, now look at the differences you see at the one foot and three foot distances and decide for yourself if the nose distance view (if it is any better) is worth the difference in money to you assuming that the more expensive alternative provides better results. If it comes out the other way round, then great.

    If you normally shoot for the web, then convert them to about 1000px on their longest edges and compare them after down-rezzing side by side on the screen.

    If you can't tell A and B apart, then pick your system for some other reason.
    -bob
    Bob, this makes absolute sense. I suspect that most of us would save a LOT of money avoiding "upgrades" if we went through this process religiously. Of course though there are other considerations such as the workflow both with the camera and in post processing. These are part of what is motivating me to consider the system change with the full realization that it could just be a change to address the camera shortcomings vs necessarily any noticeable image quality differences in the end result.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    Does anyone want to speak about drawing style of the lenses (that has used both)... one of several factors that has me using an RZ now, instead of an AFD, is that I like the drawing style of the lenses better.

    We speak of resolution to no end... and I guess we have to if we're going to shoot ultra high-res... but do the Schneiders have a special "something" that I found lacking in the non-LS Mamiya 645 glass? A few of the s2 lenses do seem to have a nicer drawing style than the non-ls mammy glass. I have not investigated the LS lenses enough to have a credible opinion.

    I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on this... and not just on resolution.
    Best question asked all month. The LS glass has a very nice smooth graduated look over the non Schneider glass, reason why I have the schnieders . It draws much nicer at least with the 40 , 60 and 80 mpx sensors that I have or tried. Now the S glass to me is nothing like the Leica M summiluxes that had a really nice look on them. Actually both R and M but the S class is more modeled after the M summarits if you ask me or more summricron look. Now it is beautiful but on the sterile side for drawing but they do have nice bokeh. It's nice sharp good looking glass not buttery smooth from what I see. I'm sure some may disagree which is fine but know my history I shot every piece of glass around on almost every system so to me it is a feel thing. Could I buy that system and be happy sure it's not the lenses that would hold me back and it is a very critical eye that notices these things which not everyone has the experience in to see it. This is what I see so its no ding on anyone but maybe why this question does not get asked often enough as well. Also software will play a roll here as well as sensor algorithms on how the output to each OEM should look. Really one should test this stuff and do comparisons to what each system does in it's own dedicated software and make the files look normal which is how I test. Than see how each system really compares without bias and without pre notions of what it should be. I'm waiting for Leica to send me there CS lenses to test and look forward to it. All these systems are good is the bottom line the best one is the one you like to shoot the end of the day.

    Right now I like shooting my Cambo, tomorrow it maybe my Phase and Saturday maybe my Sony. Another words it don't matter as long as your happy with it.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Has anyone done a Schneider comparison of LS glass vs. their lenses for Rollei? Or Schneider Rollei lenses vs. Leica S2?

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Has anyone done a Schneider comparison of LS glass vs. their lenses for Rollei? Or Schneider Rollei lenses vs. Leica S2?
    I havent done direct comparison, but had Hy6 with Schneider (40mm, 50/2.8, 80mm, 180/2.8) lenses before and now have the S2.
    Overall I would say the Rollei glass draws maybe somewhat smoother while the Leica glass "pops" a little more and looks a little more 3d by having a very sharp subject kind of popping out of the image.

    Out of the 4 Leica lenses I find the 120/2.5 to be closestto the Schneider lenses.
    If you are ineterested I can send you some images, but no direct comparisons
    I stay with my comment that I believe the handling and user interface between the systems make a much bigger difference.

    By the way I dont agree regarding S-glass being less special than Leica M lenses. It is a slightly different look but having used the S system for some time now I dont miss anything compared to my M-lenses, it is more that now images from the M sometimes do look slightly to smooth/dreamy for my taste.
    But I guess thats a matter of personal taste.
    Regards, Tom

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    Does anyone want to speak about drawing style of the lenses (that has used both)... one of several factors that has me using an RZ now, instead of an AFD, is that I like the drawing style of the lenses better.
    Shelby,

    I agree that we are at a point where ultimate resolution is great to look at on our monitors at 100% views, but for the most part when you are over 40MP of data, most of the critical resolution is academic in terms of what it adds to overall image "quality," especially in a print. In fact, I have found digital technology has removed so many intrinsic classic lens rendering traits that I selectively add some back during post via a few simple "secret sauce" processing techniques.

    In a simple summary, I would say the LS lenses draw similarly to the later-gen RZ lenses. However, the LS lenses are critically sharper, while retaining a classic smoothness, definitely have more micro-contrast than RZ glass does, like 40 points of clarity in C1 more. In Leica parlance, I would say the RZ lenses render more like Pre-Asph M Summilux's, while the LS lenses more like Apsh Summilux's. To my eyes, the Leica S lenses are much more brittle and more sterile, and like Guy said, render more like Summicron M lenses.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

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

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    I havent done direct comparison, but had Hy6 with Schneider (40mm, 50/2.8, 80mm, 180/2.8) lenses before and now have the S2.
    Overall I would say the Rollei glass draws maybe somewhat smoother while the Leica glass "pops" a little more and looks a little more 3d by having a very sharp subject kind of popping out of the image.

    Out of the 4 Leica lenses I find the 120/2.5 to be closestto the Schneider lenses.
    If you are ineterested I can send you some images, but no direct comparisons
    I stay with my comment that I believe the handling and user interface between the systems make a much bigger difference.

    By the way I dont agree regarding S-glass being less special than Leica M lenses. It is a slightly different look but having used the S system for some time now I dont miss anything compared to my M-lenses, it is more that now images from the M sometimes do look slightly to smooth/dreamy for my taste.
    But I guess thats a matter of personal taste.
    Regards, Tom
    Tom lets be careful I never said less special i said more looking like a summarit or summicron which is special in itself but they don't have the dreamy draw of a summilux. This goes for both the M and R which are very similar in how they render.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Starting with an 80mm LS or a 70mmS it is a simple task to make their "looks" fairly interchangeable.
    I have a action for "dreamy"
    Most of the difference that you cannot "reconcile" by adjustments is in the extreme OOF areas The design of the lens is much more visible there, so if the element diagram is very close to matching, the OOF areas are too but it is tough to fake a double gauss out of a retrofocal with an aspheric element
    -bob

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    As far as lens design goes, the 70mm S uses a modified double Gauss design with a floating element, extremely similar to the 50 Lux ASPH for the M. The longer lenses are based on R designs. The 120 APO Macro S is essentially the same design as the 100 APO Macro R but has the addition of a floating element and ups the resolution. The 180 APO S is based on the design for the 180 f/2 APO R, just in a much more compact package.

    So, as far as the look of the lenses go, I'd say they are quite similar to their M and R counterparts just with less aberrations, less distortion and higher contrast and resolution (especially wide-open). For the 120, the addition of a floating element allows it to outperform its R ancestor as the performance is more consistent from close focus all the way to infinity.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Love these popcorn reading threads that stir passions and preferences up once in awhile. At least it temporarily steers the conversation away from all of the boring tech camera discussions.

    The bottom line is still testing out the different choices and seeing how each of the total systems match up with what and how you like to shoot.

    And, like Shelby and Guy have mentioned, take a look at what the rendering of the images look like with the different lenses available with the various systems. We're all very lucky as there are quite a few more excellent medium format glass options out there than there were just a few years ago. It's still a head-scratcher as to why it took so long for a variety of the manufacturers to offer better glass.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    You got popcorn , hello . You need to share dude. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Popcorn is all any of us can afford after jumping into medium format.

    Seriously though, once you work with bigger sensors for awhile, I don't know how you could ever go back. The detail and richness of the files is really quite amazing. On a daily basis, I open up files on my computer and am blown away at how good these bigger files look.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    That is so true, and for me it is more the detail and the color depth that makes the image to a large degree more than the lens.
    -bob

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post
    Popcorn is all any of us can afford after jumping into medium format.

    Seriously though, once you work with bigger sensors for awhile, I don't know how you could ever go back. The detail and richness of the files is really quite amazing. On a daily basis, I open up files on my computer and am blown away at how good these bigger files look.
    I do agree! (On both the affordability of popcorn and the quality of the files!)
    Bill

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    That is so true, and for me it is more the detail and the color depth that makes the image to a large degree more than the lens.
    -bob
    Could not agree more and it makes me wonder why these silly comparison are even brought up . Your in MF land it simply does not get any better.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  32. #32
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Shelby,

    (snip)

    In a simple summary, I would say the LS lenses draw similarly to the later-gen RZ lenses. However, the LS lenses are critically sharper, while retaining a classic smoothness, definitely have more micro-contrast than RZ glass does, like 40 points of clarity in C1 more. In Leica parlance, I would say the RZ lenses render more like Pre-Asph M Summilux's, while the LS lenses more like Apsh Summilux's. To my eyes, the Leica S lenses are much more brittle and more sterile, and like Guy said, render more like Summicron M lenses.
    This is a great explanation... and I'll take your word on it. I am noticing with my 110/2.8 I'm getting a TON of detail and smoothness, but it hangs ever so slightly more towards the pre-asph "glow" than the non-schneider 645 mammy glass did. I love the look for portraits. I have all the detail I want (more than I need), but skin isn't rendered quite so brutally as it could be.

    One of these days, I'll catch up with you guys and try those LS lenses alongside my RZ and get some like-subject comparisons. It would be nice to have an S2 alongside as well!

  33. #33
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Best question asked all month. The LS glass has a very nice smooth graduated look over the non Schneider glass, reason why I have the schnieders . It draws much nicer at least with the 40 , 60 and 80 mpx sensors that I have or tried... (snip)

    Right now I like shooting my Cambo, tomorrow it maybe my Phase and Saturday maybe my Sony. Another words it don't matter as long as your happy with it.
    Thanks for the in-depth and thoughtful reply, Guy.

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    Senior Member bensonga's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    One of these days, I'll catch up with you guys and try those LS lenses alongside my RZ and get some like-subject comparisons. It would be nice to have an S2 alongside as well!
    Hi Shelby,

    I think you should bring your RZ/Leaf to one of the GetDPI workshops where all that LS and S2 glass will be found in one convenient location.....and then post the comparison images here for all of us to enjoy!

    Gary

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    That is so true, and for me it is more the detail and the color depth that makes the image to a large degree more than the lens.
    -bob
    Since the image is rendered optically onto a sensor, it would beg to reason that the detail and depth in an image is created by the lens, is it not?

    A better lens will render more detail across the entire image from center to edge, offer excellent wide-open sharpness and contrast, have smooth transition from in focus to OOF areas, and perform well close up and at infinity. It will also minimize veiling flare, ghosting, coma, astigmatism, chromatic aberrations, spherical aberrations and vignetting. All of these factors combine to produce the depth, detail and 3D rendering of a lens. Balancing all of these design goals and excelling at most/all of them is extremely difficult (and costly).

    Speaking to the Leica S lenses, the current range meets these criteria in spades and as a result, combined with the fact that they are designed specifically for use with digital sensors (computing the cover glass as part of the optical path), offer exceptional performance under almost every shooting situation. To quote Peter Karbe, head of optics at Leica (and designer of the famed 50 Lux ASPH), "The S lenses are the best lenses we have ever made... for any system... ever."

    David
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  36. #36
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    Since the image is rendered optically onto a sensor, it would beg to reason that the detail and depth in an image is created by the lens, is it not?
    Only if the sensor and the in-camera processing--and RAW images are processed in-camera--are not a factor, which they are. Spacial filtering alone will do a lot to change the look and feel of an image never mind the color controls.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    Since the image is rendered optically onto a sensor, it would beg to reason that the detail and depth in an image is created by the lens, is it not?

    --snip--.



    David
    wrong mostly. The lens has nothing to do with the color depth
    and please, enough vendor hawking.
    -bob

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    If I am not mistaken and my memory serves me correctly, most sensors have micro-lenses immediately above the "wells" that direct the photons into the wells. For most sensors, the array of micro-lenses is uniform.

    For the Leica S2, the microlenses are actually NOT uniform, in that they are designed such that the "power" or directionality of each micro-lens varies as a function of the distance from the center. Thus, as you move toward the periphery, the lenses change so that the photons which in the periphery would be coming toward the sensor's wells at a more acute angle, are properly "bent" and directed into the wells. This may also have an impact on the "clarity" and "sharpness" of the image.

    David can address this more precisely.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by craigrudlin View Post
    If I am not mistaken and my memory serves me correctly, most sensors have micro-lenses immediately above the "wells" that direct the photons into the wells. For most sensors, the array of micro-lenses is uniform.

    For the Leica S2, the microlenses are actually NOT uniform, in that they are designed such that the "power" or directionality of each micro-lens varies as a function of the distance from the center. Thus, as you move toward the periphery, the lenses change so that the photons which in the periphery would be coming toward the sensor's wells at a more acute angle, are properly "bent" and directed into the wells. This may also have an impact on the "clarity" and "sharpness" of the image.

    David can address this more precisely.

    That is not unique to the S2 sensor.
    What is effected is color cast due to oblique angles as well as fall-off, not sharpness since that is limited by the sensor cell pitch.
    It assumes that all lenses have the same rear nodal distance from the sensor and is at best a compromise. Since the S2 is a traditional dslr design, the lens to sensor distance is larger than the M system for example. Wide angles need a retro-telephoto design which tends to make the microprisms less important.
    All this is often accomplished by in-camera or out of camera post-processing.

    -bob

  40. #40
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    wrong mostly. The lens has nothing to do with the color depth
    and please, enough vendor hawking.
    -bob
    Boooo.... thread killing 'tude in action.

  41. #41
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by MFCurious View Post
    I am currently a reasonably long term Phase One/Mamiya AFD/DF shooter using various P+, Aptus and now IQ backs.
    Did you consider Rolleiflex Hy6 and upgrading to Leaf AFi-II 12 ?

    Arguably the Hy6 is the most modern MF camera out there and to top German perfection. I am an advanced amateur as well, having dropped AFD/AFDIII system with a list of lenses for Hy6 w/ AFi-II 12. There is no comparison between the systems to me. It is not about having latest gear to me, but simply a tool that is extension of mind to my photographic eye and delivers with simplicity, reliability and high quality. I love the 6x6 waist lever finder, ergonomics, balance and simplicity. Sure, certain Mamiya lenses can be just as sharp, e.g. the 45mm D that is perfect sharp across the frame, but when comes to characters my Xenotar 80/2.8 AFD PQ and Distagon 50 FLE beats ANY of Mamiya's I have owned and are sheer magic in renderig, and no less sharp. Not only that the Rollei's are also known by names same as Hassy for us to know what type of lens they are and what character they will bring...

    Add to that the 80MP Leaf which I like not first most for the pixels (although I do like those too), but for its better colors, finer gradation, DR and frank making me stop slides (which rendering I loved, Velvia). And, unlike Aptus-II it comes without iPhone interface but in more modern Leaf housing with tilt screen and rotating sensor that are darn perfect with the Hy6.

    To me it is about photography, and a tool enabling to see and visualize the image through the camera. This is one of most impressive tools for photography I have owned.

    Thanks Leaf + DHW

    Best Regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Anders,

    Thank you for the reminder about the HY6/Leaf solution. I've looked at this system for a long time but basically it seems to have little or no vendor support these days. (In the US at least). I think that technically it is probably superior to the DF system and the Zeiss/Schneider glass has always looked to be outstanding, again no doubt with it's own character. If it were a current system then I could consider it but you almost never see gear for sale or anyone other than DHW supporting it.

    The AFI based backs seem to have the best of all worlds too - eg. the articulated screen & rotating sensor support being two of the really nice options with that platform.

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    Boooo.... thread killing 'tude in action.
    I guess so.
    <summary>
    Hey the stuff I sell has more cowbell than that other junk.
    </summary>

    go shoot it then take your pick

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I guess so.
    <summary>
    Hey the stuff I sell has more cowbell than that other junk.
    </summary>

    go shoot it then take your pick
    Bob,

    I never once drew any conclusion about any competitive product. I was merely exploring the factors that can effect optical performance of lenses. Yes, the S lenses excel on these metrics, but I'm sure other lenses from other manufactures do as well.

    Since the OP was asking about performance characteristics of S lenses, I think this is pretty relevant and on-topic.

    Also, respectfully, I have to disagree that lenses don't contribute to image detail, apparent depth or color. Yes, image processing algorithms can be applied to adjust characteristics to taste, but you will always be better off starting with as good an original image as possible. If lenses didn't matter, we'd all be shooting with pinhole cameras or coke-bottle lenses.

    David
    David Farkas
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Dear Mr, Farkas.
    1) you are persistently changing the subject. The issue was color depth. It is measured by the signal to noise ratio of the least significant bit.
    2) It has nothing to do with lenses.
    3) Do not argue with a scientist who also happens to be a moderator unless you have facts and not opinion or perhaps desire to spend some time in the penalty box.
    4) Folks have been trying to define better for years and have mostly ended up confused
    have a nice day
    -bob
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    Bob,

    I never once drew any conclusion about any competitive product. I was merely exploring the factors that can effect optical performance of lenses. Yes, the S lenses excel on these metrics, but I'm sure other lenses from other manufactures do as well.

    Since the OP was asking about performance characteristics of S lenses, I think this is pretty relevant and on-topic.
    David,

    Well I certainly appreciated your input on the S lens characteristics.

    I'll ping you as follow up when it makes sense to set up a demo/rental trial. I'm still mulling over options right now but maybe in the new year.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by MFCurious View Post
    David,

    Well I certainly appreciated your input on the S lens characteristics.

    I'll ping you as follow up when it makes sense to set up a demo/rental trial. I'm still mulling over options right now but maybe in the new year.
    THAT makes sense.
    Try one, try several, but do try them out.
    -bob

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Dear Mr, Farkas.
    1) you are persistently changing the subject. The issue was color depth. It is measured by the signal to noise ratio of the least significant bit.
    2) It has nothing to do with lenses.
    3) Do not argue with a scientist who also happens to be a moderator unless you have facts and not opinion or perhaps desire to spend some time in the penalty box.
    4) Folks have been trying to define better for years and have mostly ended up confused
    have a nice day
    -bob
    Bob

    In the interest in not being confused...maybe you could explain what I am seeing. Lets eliminate the debate Leica verse other vendors and focus on the issue of does the glass affect color....because I would draw from your comments that glass does t affect the IQ color .

    Lets say I use a Leica R lens on a Nikon or Canon body . If I compare the file with a similar Nikon or Canon lens ...I see a significant difference . Its more than resolution and micro contrast ...the color transmission is cleaner with the leica glass. The blues and greens look deeper and more saturated . Same as we found when it was film and there were no differences in he cameras .

    If I understand your explanation ...glass does not affect color saturation (or what we might incorrectly perceive as color saturation). Are we confusing contrast with saturation.

    I ask because this just doesn t reconcile with my experience with the Leica glass....I often choose my lenses based on the contrast of the light and expectation of how color will be rendered .

    I see a significant difference when I look at a Noctilux 0.95 verse a pre asph summilux shooting both at 5.6 where the bokeh will not confuse the issue. And I am speaking of the saturation and clarity of the color.

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    If I may jump in: "Color Depth" is a technical term referring to a measurable quantity and has nothing to do with saturation, or, indeed, quality. It is a function of the sensor/software, and could only be limited by the glass in the most extreme situations (I'm making a guess on this last point, but it's probably accurate).

    Unfortunately, "depth" is also a word used to describe image quality, and so there is frequent confusion when the words "color" and "depth" get too close together in a sentence.

    --Matt

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    Re: Phase One LS vs Leica S glass comparisons

    I know that when I've used lenses from Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander etc on the same camera platform (and film before that), there definitely were rendering differences as far as colour was concerned, plus also contrast or at least perceived contrast. All things being equal at the sensor, some glass renders warmer or cooler or so on and not just based on the vendor but also the particular lenses as mentioned.

    I'm sure that David's Leica descriptions were more along the lines of how the glass rendered vs perhaps a more scientifically accurate description or aspect of the imaging pipeline.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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