The M8 is supplied with two CD-ROM's containing the following:
Disc one - Leica Digital Capture 1.0 (Windows / Mac OS X), PDF user manuals (various languages)
Disc two - Capture One LE RAW Workflow Software (Windows / Mac OS X)
Leica Digital Capture 1.0
Leica Digital Capture is a USB tethered shooting application which allows you to capture single or multiple exposures by simply clicking on the 'Capture' button (or pressing the spacebar). You can select predefined camera user profiles, change ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, compression and resolution. When using Digital Capture images are saved to the computer and not the SD card. Click here to see an example of the display after exposure.
Capture One LE
Phase One's Capture One LE (version 3) is a sophisticated image workflow and RAW conversion application which provides for a fairly good range of RAW parameter adjustment such as digital exposure compensation, white balance, sharpening, noise reduction and color saturation.
Normally in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software with in-camera JPEG and any third party converters. In this case we will be using Capture One LE 3.7.7 and Adobe Camera RAW 4.1.
Capture One 'Noise Suppression' setting
Fairly early into our first tests with Capture One LE we noted the improvement in overall detail and sharpness when setting the 'Noise Suppression' setting to zero (or off). This setting appears to be designed to suppress bayer interpolation 'maze' artifacts as well as some moire, however it also has the side-effect of removing a great detail of fine detail which only a camera without an anti-alias filter (like the M8) is capable of capturing. Hence in the examples below we have also included examples with this setting and have chosen to use this configuration in our samples gallery (available at the end of this review).
JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
C1 - Capture One LE 3.7.7
C1 NS0 - Capture One LE 3.7.7 (Noise Suppression 0)
ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 4.1
Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter. As you can see there's a noticeable difference between camera JPEG and RAW converted in Capture One LE (in hue and brightness). Adobe Camera RAW delivers an image of similar brightness but with slightly 'muddier' (browner) greens.
Sharpness and Detail
I won't linger on the M8's internal JPEG engine as I will be talking about that a little more later in this review. Sufficient to say that you can see the significant improvement shooting RAW and using either Capture One LE or Adobe Camera RAW to convert the images. As noted above the optimum conversion (for clean low ISO images) is to set Noise Suppression to zero which delivers very good detail and texture, arguably better than Adobe Camera RAW, which to be fair does produce good results in 'default' mode.
See above for my previous comments on the internal JPEG engine and Capture One with its Noise Suppression option. As you can see moire becomes an issue for the internal JPEG engine above 2400 LPH, and even more so for Capture One from around 2000 LPH. Frankly the default output here from C1 is pretty nasty with some color fringing on high contrast edges. Capture One with Noise Suppression off and also Adobe Camera RAW deliver plenty of detail beyond 'absolute resolution', however the C1 image still shows some moire.
It's clear that with the right RAW conversion engine (or the right settings) you can get extremely good levels of resolution out of the M8, but it also appears that the built-in JPEG engine is applying some kind of software anti-alias filter (as the M8 doesn't have a physical AA filter).