Just how good is the Nikon D7000 image quality? - Comparison with Leica M9

Nikon D7000 35mm f/1.8 DX lens Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar

Ever since I bought the Nikon D7000 and D5100 cameras a few weeks ago, I've been very impressed with the image quality. Particularly using the cameras with prime lenses. I decided to test this. I compared the D7000 fitted with a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens with my Leica M9 fitted with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar.

Both cameras were tripod mounted, set to aperture priority and I took pictures at f/2, f/5.6 & F/11. ISO 160 was used since this is the base ISO of the Leica.

Here are the results. If you click them through to flickr > Actions > View all sizes you can see the files at full size / resolution.

A comparison between a Nikon D7000 fitted with a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens and a Leica M9 fitted with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar lens.

A comparison between a Nikon D7000 fitted with a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens and a Leica M9 fitted with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar lens.

A comparison between a Nikon D7000 fitted with a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens and a Leica M9 fitted with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar lens.

Both files were shot raw and processed via ACR in Photoshop, using that programmes basic Raw default settings. The images were processed together using exactly the same settings. As you can see there's a difference in colour balance. Neither incidentally is 100% accurate though the Nikon is closer in terms of the blue wall.

The surprise was just how close they are in terms of sharpness. When you take into consideration the fact that the Nikon's Sony Exmor sensor has an anti-aliasing filter and the M9 doesn't, I was VERY impressed by the Nikon files. I was also very impressed by the performance of the 35mm f/1.8 lens. I've always liked the lens and in fact used one on a D3X for a while, as it didn't vignette much at wide apertures on that full-frame camera.

For me, it shows just how much sensor technology is improving, and just how good these latest APS-C Nikons are compared to previous models. From yesterdays post - /soundimageplus/2011/07/more-nikon-d7000-high-resolution-multi.html with the multi-image stitches, I believe I'm getting results every bit as good as from the D3X and Sony a850 cameras I used. Getting these results from a smaller, lighter, cheaper, more versatile and better specified camera is a bonus. 

I think the Leica / Zeiss combination just shades it in terms of sharpness, but not by much. The Leica has other virtues in terms of colour depth and overall punch. See - /soundimageplus/2011/07/leica-m9-late-evening-light.html but the D7000, and by virtue of the fact it uses the same sensor, the D5100, are very impressive indeed. When you take into consideration the price of the D5100, you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Nikon D7000 35mm f/1.8 DX lens Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar