Raw comparison (Adobe Camera Raw)
Studio scene comparison (RAW)
For a (more) level playing field for comparison we also shot our studio scene in RAW mode with each camera and converted it using Adobe Camera RAW. Because Adobe Camera RAW applies different levels of sharpening to different cameras (this confirmed) we had to use the following workflow for these conversions:
- Set Sharpness to zero (all other settings default)
- Open file to Photoshop
- Apply a Unsharp mask: 80%, Radius 1.0, Threshold 0
- Save as a TIFF (for cropping) and as a JPEG quality 11 for download
Leica X1 vs Nikon D300S
- Leica X1: Manual exposure, ISO 100, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
- Nikon D300S: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50 mm F1.4G lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 200 (default base), Manual WB, Default Parameters (Normal), Self-Timer (with exposure delay), ADL off
4.8 MB JPEG (4272 x 2856)
4.6 MB JPEG (4288 x 2848)
Equalizing the image processing from raw in this fashion (and especially the sharpening) shows just how close the X1's output actually is to that of the D300S. ACR is producing output from the X1's DNG files which is both more detailed, and visually more appealing, than the camera's JPEGs, due to the punchier contrast and less muted color. Both cameras benefit from the switch to raw in terms of detail rendition, with the finer sharpening bringing out more actual detail in the images (for example the horizontal lines of the coins on the Martini bottle label). Overall the X1 renders the very finest detail maybe a little more crisply, perhaps suggesting a slightly lighter anti-aliasing filter (it also seems more prone to moiré in return), but meaningful differences are few and far between.
One lens-based artifact we do see creeping into this comparison, however, is a little red-cyan fringing towards the edges of the frame, as the lateral chromatic aberration which is corrected by both cameras during JPEG processing re-appears in raw. It's very mild at these apertures though.