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Thread: Another quick comparison -- Leica 19mm f/2.8 3 cam versus 17-35/2.8

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    Another quick comparison -- Leica 19mm f/2.8 3 cam versus 17-35/2.8

    Hello all. This is just another quick bit from the testing I did the other day. Please see the other thread for a more wordy summary of my testing. Briefly, I shot these on an F6 and an R9 on Astia 100. I scanned them at 3200dpi on an Imacon 646, just bringing the black and white points to the edge of the histogram. I made no other attempt to color balance or correct the images. There is no sharpening other than the default Imacon sharpening. I converted the images to sRGB before I output them to the web. I shot these images on a tripod, letting the cameras choose their own exposures in aperture priority mode. The R9 was obviously focused manually, while I let the Nikon autofocus.

    The 19mm elmarit is the most recent optical formula with the internal filter turret, but it is a non-ROM version. It is in user shape with some dust in the internal elements (which I am willing to admit may play a role in its flare performance here. The 19mm had its stock hood, while the 17-35mm had no hood.

    Well, enough talk, here are the images. I will comment, but leave the viewers to decide which works best for them.

    Leica 19mm f/2.8:


    Nikon 17-35mm at 19mm and f/2.8



    Leica center crop:



    Nikon center crop:



    Leica upper left crop:



    Nikon crop upper left:



    To my eyes, Leica has a slight edge on center sharpness, as well as a more notable and easily visible advantage in the far corners wide open. The difference in center sharpness is rather minor. The most notable difference is that the Leica has rather more pronounced vignetting.

    Here are the overall shots at f/8:

    Leica at f/8



    and the Nikon at f/8:


    Both of the lenses now give a more or less even illumination over the entire image, with the Leica pulling ahead here. The nikon has a bit more vignetting at this aperture. Rather than post the crops, please take my word for it -- Leica's advantage in center resolution has increased, and the Nikon, while crisper than at f/2.8, has not improved all that much. That said, it holds this improved resolution over the entire image area. It is as good at the edges as it is on center. Curiously, while the Leica improves across the field, it is now noticeably behind the Nikon in the corners at f/8. Very odd.

    Distortion -- I am going to leave this to the view. The Nikon seems to have a more pronounced barrel distortion. The Leica does not have barrel distortion to the same extent, but it still looks "off" to me for some reason. It is almost like a wave -- it is slightly barrel in the center then pincushion at the edges of the frame. I see this mostly in the railing by the windows. It could be a feature of the building, but I doubt it. I have been looking at it awhile now and I am going cross-eyed, so I will let you all figure it out.

    Flare: Here are two images shot into the sun. Unfortunately, I must have been growing careless, and the focal points are totally different. So please do not look at these for resolution, just for flare susceptibility. For whatever reason, in this picture the Nikon shows a better flare resitance. The Leica lens is showing very slight ghosting and secondary reflections (neither had a filter -- other than the filter built into the 19mm's body). Overall, the Leica image suffers from being washed out on center, and dark at the edges from the vignetting. The Nikon seems to hold the contrast better. I cannot rule out that the sun moved in favor of the Nikon in the brief time between the tests. This may have played a role in the worse performance of the Leica. I took the Nikon shot about 4-5 minutes after the Leica one.

    Leica 19mm at f/2.8:



    Nikon 17-35mm at 19mm and f/2.8



    Well, I hope this is useful to someone. It is basically just to satisfy my curiosity. I make no claims as to the rigor of my testing...these are just how they came out for me using my own equipment. Others' results may come out differently.

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    Re: Another quick comparison -- Leica 19mm f/2.8 3 cam versus 17-35/2.8

    Oh, for anyone wondering, at this point, if I had to choose a winner it would be the Nikon. The superiority in vignetting is a real issue that is seen on the macroscopic level in all pictures (though easily corrected in digital...), my copy is sharp edge to edge at working apertures, and it has the advantage of being autofocus, not to mention also being a 17mm lens, an 18mm lens, a 20mm lens, a 21mm lens, a 24mm lens a 25mm lens a 28mm lens and a 35mm lens. If Leica beat the pants off of the Nikon lens in the first test, in this test I would have to give it to Nikon, despite Leica's superior sharpness on center and in the far corners wide open.

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    Re: Another quick comparison -- Leica 19mm f/2.8 3 cam versus 17-35/2.8

    Stuart,

    Thanks for posting these comparisons. They are very interesting and useful to me. Like you I always feel that Leica R lenses are very special (I am still shooting film with an R8 with 35-70/4, 60/2,8, 100/2,8 Apo, and 180/3,4 Apo). For digital, I have been using an D200 with 17-35 and 70-200 VR for two years. I am on the verge to completely switch to Nikon. The new D3, 24-70 and 105 VR, Zeiss 50/2, and 100/2 are very temping. But somehow, I still feel ambivalent to let go of Leica R system.

    Back to your comparisons, I agree that Nikon 17-35 AFS is a very special lens. It really holds its own against some of best Leica and Zeiss lenses. For your previous comparison, I am not surprised that Leica 100/2,8 Apo is way ahead of Nikon 100/2 DC.

    BTW, how do you like Imacon 646? I have been using a Nikon 9000ED and thinking about upgrading. Thanks!

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