D800E vs Leica S2

Started Mar 14, 2012 | Discussions
shaunly Contributing Member • Posts: 542
D800E vs Leica S2

I've been reviewing these recent samples of the D800(E) and I'm shocked on how amazing the IQ are. Even on high ISO the detail is just really amazing. So out of curiosity I wanted to see how it compares with the 37.5MP Leica S2 MF camera.

Lucky for us, the same site that posted these also tested the S2.

Upon reviewing the S2, I am absolutely shocked! How can this be? How can this 35mm sensor $3300 camera look this good against the $23,000 S2! Even more shocking is that the D800E is at ISO1600, while the Leica is at ISO160!

Judge for yourself.

Here are the link to the S2 review

http://www.fotopolis.pl/index.php?n=10532

And the D800E

http://www.fotopolis.pl/index.php?n=14571&p=1

These are both Jpeg samples from the site. Crop at 100%

I did however smart sharpen the D800E (25 @ 1.0) and bump the brightness slight to get the exposure to match a little better.

D800E

S2

D800E

S2

D800E

S2

How is this possible? There must a fault in the test right? The D800 1600ISO looks cleaner and just as sharp if not sharper than the S2 at ISO160.

I did the same test but with the D800 and you can see that the D800 is slightly softer, even after a small bump in smart sharpening but this was only seen at 100%.

Any thoughts?

Can't wait for my D800!!

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Panasonic Lumix DMC-S2
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Boxbrownie Contributing Member • Posts: 509
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

Although being a dyed in the wool Nikon user for over 40 years I think the Leica still has the edge, albeit very slight......and no where near that many dollars worth of difference.

Probably more down to the lens quality than sensor detail looking at the low contrast printing in the first pictures of the bank note?

Still masively impressive though.

Best regards David

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danharperphotography.com
danharperphotography.com Senior Member • Posts: 1,139
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

Wow if all your numbers are right (not that I doubt you, just that it's so incredible) that's amazing!

There does seem to be some differences especially when you mention you sharpened and changed the exposures a bit. It would have been good to leave them as they were for a side by side comparison. I'll have to check it out on their site.

Those large sensors just aren't meant to go into the high ISOs I guess. I know with an old 20MP Phase back that I would rarely bring it above ISO200 so...I guess it makes sense.

Good for Nikon! Great for Nikoners like us!
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Astrophotographer 10 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,885
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

Gee, that's really impressive. Right from the start I was wowed by the D800 sample images.

It also seems from more recent posts that its low light performance is also very very good and perhaps close to or the same as Canon 5D mark iii in RAW.

Nikon has really kicked a goal with this camera. I ordered one and I was really waiting for the 5D mark iii but I did not hesitate when I saw the sample images and list of features.

The only question remains if 800E is the better choice. Nikon could have released more information about this to be clearer.

For example moire is presented as a potential problem. How often? Some posts with other Leica non AA filter cameras indicate perhap only 1-2% of the time.

Ok, what about moire in video which seems to be more of an issue with the 5D mark ii.

So much so you can buy a 3rd part extra AA filter for the Mark ii to prevent video moire.

Plus a noted expert on DSLR videography made a post early on about D800E being moire hell in video. Its an opinion without any backed up evidence but do you really want to go against that in the face of lack of Nikon data to evaluate it?

D800 would be the safer option. Also there are 3rd party companies who offer replacing the AA filter with optical flat glass with antireflection coatings. So you can still do that to your D800 later on if you feel the need for more sharpness (unlikely).

Perhaps the ideal camera would have been a detachable AA and UV/IR block filter so the camera would be maximised for veratility. Or I expect 3rd party AA filters that plug into the front of the camera body to be available for 800E owners. A bit of a market there I reckon.

Greg.

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rondhamalam
rondhamalam Senior Member • Posts: 2,582
Leica S2 is just a Joke

it's for celebrities.
They don't know camera but they do no the price.

James Van Artsdalen Regular Member • Posts: 319
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

The images have been through Photoshop and have had the EXIF data stripped? What were the exposure settings? Why were the ISO settings chosen that way?

These are studio cameras where the lighting will be controlled: You can use whatever ISO setting you want in the camera to get the best quality.

shaunly wrote:

Upon reviewing the S2, I am absolutely shocked! How can this be?

Well, the S2 is a couple of years old (and based on even older technology). If you consider how far Nikon has come in two years, I'd say it is not at all shocking.

I did however smart sharpen the D800E (25 @ 1.0) and bump the brightness slight to get the exposure to match a little better.

...

How is this possible? There must a fault in the test right? The D800 1600ISO looks cleaner and just as sharp if not sharper than the S2 at ISO160.

The fact that you processed the image from one camera but not the other may have something to do with it. The fact you were worked from JPEG images rather than RAW adds further processing to muddle things.

I did the same test but with the D800 and you can see that the D800 is slightly softer, even after a small bump in smart sharpening but this was only seen at 100%.

I haven't received my D800 yet.

Remember that the point of using an S2 is to use the S lenses. To compare the two systems , not just the bodies, you need to look at the entire image. The S system should look best in the corners & with the lens wide open. I would expect little difference in the middle stopped down.

One interesting thing: some of the "noise" in the last S2 image on the black background looks like lint or debris on the target, not camera noise? Was this processed out, either in-camera or externally? A RAW image from the D800E, taken so as to preclude in-camera processing (base ISO) would be revealing.

Jon Rty Veteran Member • Posts: 3,838
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

The RAWs are there in the link for anyone to download. There are shots at every ISO.

The fact that you can control lighting in a studio has nothing to do with the performance of the cameras.

And the sensor is even older technology than a couple of years. MF lags behind APS-C and FF more and more.

You're right about the lenses. Like the M series, you buy a Leica for the lenses as much as for anything else.

You can't judge much based upon non-permanent detail like lint or dust. The images were taken months apart, so whatever debris was on the S2 target won't be there on the D800E target, and vice versa.

James Van Artsdalen wrote:

The images have been through Photoshop and have had the EXIF data stripped? What were the exposure settings? Why were the ISO settings chosen that way?

These are studio cameras where the lighting will be controlled: You can use whatever ISO setting you want in the camera to get the best quality.

Well, the S2 is a couple of years old (and based on even older technology). If you consider how far Nikon has come in two years, I'd say it is not at all shocking.

...

The fact that you processed the image from one camera but not the other may have something to do with it. The fact you were worked from JPEG images rather than RAW adds further processing to muddle things.

I haven't received my D800 yet.

Remember that the point of using an S2 is to use the S lenses. To compare the two systems , not just the bodies, you need to look at the entire image. The S system should look best in the corners & with the lens wide open. I would expect little difference in the middle stopped down.

One interesting thing: some of the "noise" in the last S2 image on the black background looks like lint or debris on the target, not camera noise? Was this processed out, either in-camera or externally? A RAW image from the D800E, taken so as to preclude in-camera processing (base ISO) would be revealing.

goosel
goosel Senior Member • Posts: 1,873
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

I know the WB is different, but where did the tonality of the D800E go??

BobYIL Contributing Member • Posts: 940
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

James Van Artsdalen wrote:

Remember that the point of using an S2 is to use the S lenses. To compare the two systems , not just the bodies, you need to look at the entire image. The S system should look best in the corners & with the lens wide open. I would expect little difference in the middle stopped down.

To check the corner performance I compared the low-ISO pictures; after all the lenses of the Leica S2 are regarded as to be the reference class (and each costing over $5K) against the 85/1.8G costing 1/10th as much. Checked all four corners and the D800E shows nothing short of the S2 in the corners too; check them and be surprised.

This was a pleasant confirmation for me as I was wondering of whether I have done the right thing by ordering the D800E but not the Pentax 645D while having some 645 lenses at hand. IMHO, a lot of professionals will prefer to work with the D800E rather than their existing MF gear due to hi-ISO, live view and the extremely wide range of lenses and accessories with affordable prices besides size and portability.

Regards,

Bob
--
BobYIL

James Van Artsdalen Regular Member • Posts: 319
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

BobYIL wrote:

Checked all four corners and the D800E shows nothing short of the S2 in the corners too; check them and be surprised.

Neither my D800 nor my 8mm f/1.8 orders have shipped. Where are you guys getting this stuff to test?

knickerhawk Veteran Member • Posts: 6,094
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

goosel wrote:

I know the WB is different, but where did the tonality of the D800E go??

I was wondering the same, but bear in mind that you're comparing here an ISO 160 shot (S2) against an ISO 1600 shot (D800e). Tonal subtleties certainly get whacked as you ramp up ISO. Would love to see a fairer fight by comparing an ISO 200 version of the D800 shot against the S2.

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BobYIL Contributing Member • Posts: 940
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

James Van Artsdalen wrote:

BobYIL wrote:

Checked all four corners and the D800E shows nothing short of the S2 in the corners too; check them and be surprised.

Neither my D800 nor my 8mm f/1.8 orders have shipped. Where are you guys getting this stuff to test?

(See the first post of the thread.. You can even download the RAW files from the same site. To have an idea about the sensor's capability one does not need to test 5 different lenses as the 85/1.8G has been tested as being excellent corner to corner- Photozone-. BTW, the MF sensor being the subject is only 44 x 33mm; not that far from 36 x 24mm, both almost the same MP..)
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BobYIL

Jon Rty Veteran Member • Posts: 3,838
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

Poland.

James Van Artsdalen wrote:

Neither my D800 nor my 8mm f/1.8 orders have shipped. Where are you guys getting this stuff to test?

goosel
goosel Senior Member • Posts: 1,873
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

the iso 100 shot is just as 'flat'.

After looking at some of tests on the site, it could be that the bank note has faded over time.

OP shaunly Contributing Member • Posts: 542
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

I guess Nikon wasnt kidding when they claim to compete with MF level.

BobYIL Contributing Member • Posts: 940
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

shaunly wrote:

I guess Nikon wasnt kidding when they claim to compete with MF level.

It's too early to come to definite conclusions about color rendition, tonality, etc., as a CMOS sensor was put to test against a CCD one; after all this was the first comparison and concentrated mainly on resolution and noise. Once the D800s become available for some professional hands already owning the MF gear then I am sure we will have plenty of insightful commentary on the subject. The most interesting ones would be over the DR comparisons and don't be surprised if the D800/E come out having superior DR than anything existing even in the MF range (hint: the latest DXO ratings..)
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BobYIL

MadManAce Regular Member • Posts: 236
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

goosel wrote:

the iso 100 shot is just as 'flat'.

After looking at some of tests on the site, it could be that the bank note has faded over time.

Download the raw file and see for yourself. The bank note is different (serial No.) and the D800 is slightly underexposed.

tony field Forum Pro • Posts: 10,151
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

Looking at the D800E (iso 100) and S2 (iso 160) raw files, the D800E is pretty fine indeed. Certainly the S2 images are obviously sharper and crisper - probably due, in part, to the absolute quality of the lens.

None-the-less, the D800E holds up very well and will certainly be a force in the fashion, studio, scenic genres which (by popular demand) prefer high megapixel images.
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DvD5 Contributing Member • Posts: 831
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

tony field wrote:

Looking at the D800E (iso 100) and S2 (iso 160) raw files, the D800E is pretty fine indeed. Certainly the S2 images are obviously sharper and crisper - probably due, in part, to the absolute quality of the lens.

None-the-less, the D800E holds up very well and will certainly be a force in the fashion, studio, scenic genres which (by popular demand) prefer high megapixel images.
--

If you open the D800E file with Capture NX2, and the Leica file with PS, (no additional sharpening on either), the D800E is at least as sharp as the S2. In the S2 image, the entire upper right corner is blurry. Perhaps it is just OOF in the S2 shot.

Don
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Julian Vrieslander Senior Member • Posts: 1,069
Re: D800E vs Leica S2

James Van Artsdalen wrote:

shaunly wrote:

How is this possible? There must a fault in the test right? The D800 1600ISO looks cleaner and just as sharp if not sharper than the S2 at ISO160.

The fact that you processed the image from one camera but not the other may have something to do with it. The fact you were worked from JPEG images rather than RAW adds further processing to muddle things.

I did a similar comparison last night, using the RAW files from the Polish website for both cameras (there was a DNG for the Leica). I compared the lowest ISO RAW file available for each camera. I opened both files in Photoshop CS5 and ACR 6.7rc1, using default settings for sharpening. My impressions were essentially the same as those of shaunly. S2 was a bit sharper in some areas, but the D800E was clearly better in others.

I was surprised to see that the S2 was quite soft in the corners. I expected better performance from Leica glass. But I did not check to see what lens was used.

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