There's an article on Dpreview about the Leica X. Now I'm not about to launch into another 'robust' article about how that site has changed, but it threw up 'concerns' about the image quality from that cameras files. (And raised my blood pressure considerably!!) Now as far as I'm aware Leica use pretty much the same Sony 16MP sensor in all their APS-C X series cameras and the Leica T. Since unfavourable comments were made comparing the camera to other mirrorless alternatives I thought I'd have a look at how the Leica T compares to the Fuji X100s. Nothing on price, handling design etc. Just how the two compare against each in terms of image quality from the files.
First off I have to say these are two of my favourite cameras ever. I like using both enormously. If I could only keep one camera, it would be the Leica T. If I could keep two it would be that and the Fuji. And no matter what these tests reveal, that won't change.
Secondly, it isn't quite like for like. The Leica is an interchangeable lens camera, though currently that choice is a grand total of two. The Fuji has two converter options, which turn the 23mm lens into a 19mm and a 33mm. For the purpose of this test I'm going to be using the 23mm lens that's fixed onto the Fuji camera and the 18-56mm on the Leica set at 23mm as well. Since I'm putting this post together in real time, I'm off to do the tests.
First thing I found that is obvious, is the amount of distortion in the Fuji image. This is after the lens profile is factored in as well.
Just look at the table edge. It should of course be straight.
In terms of sharpness the Leica (bottom image above) is also superior. Just look at the dimples on the golf ball. This is from an out of camera jpg. People go on about how good Fuji jpgs. are, but there is a softness and lack of detail here compared to the Leica.
Finally two images at ISO 1600. The Leica is on the left the Fuji on the right. The Fuji has marginally less noise, but is softer. Again from jpg. It is true that I can get a sharper image from the Fuji from raw using either Photo Ninja or Iridient developer but then the same is true of the Leica, which also produces sharper files via PN or IR.
Now I have no axe to grind here other than to actually show what the files look like that come out of both cameras. The Leica + 18-56mm lens has less distortion and produces sharper results than the Fuji X100s. Now I knew that already, but it seems "Leica Bashing' shows no sign of abating, so I thought it useful to show that particular 'internet sport' has about as much basis in reality as leprechauns.
I guess this goes down as just another Fuji bashing post as far as some are concerned and certain Fuji fanboys can often be somewhat selective in the ways they assess their favourite. But then I'm a Fuji fanboy too. I still use my Fuji X cameras and will continue to do so. And my Nikon Df, Sony A7r and A7s, FZ1000, m4/3 and my smartphones. Because all of them offer me something different and something I like, something I can use and something that inspires me.
I realise that I'm fighting an uphill battle in trying to post articles that question the ongoing lazy thinking and commentating that pervades much of the photographic internet. The fact is that when I see an upcoming review of a camera or lens, I pretty much know what is going to be the content these days. Because a lot of sites just feed the prejudices of their audience. The fact that these prejudices are based on nothing more than constant repetition seems to go unnoticed. The idea that if you say or write something often enough it becomes true. And of course reality is often rather inconveniently something different.
Does it matter? Probably not, unless you dislike the idea of inaccuracy. But what is undeniably true is that all of this is secondary to the the making of photographs and the creation of images that please us and / or others. And my Fuji X100s is just as capable of doing that as my Leica T. Are the advantages the Leica has important enough to spend more money? Well each of us can only decide that for ourselves. I've made my decision and my 'catholic taste' in cameras, lenses and camera gear will carry on in the haphazard way it always has done. I didn't think I was unusual in treating camera ownership as a pleasure rather than an exercise in demonstrating my wisdom in terms of my purchasing decisions, but then I see so many articles justifying peoples choices that I wonder just how many of us there are, who can see past the dogma and the supporters club mentality of a lot of so-called photographers.
I can listen to Miles Davis one day and the Ramones the next and I can use my Sony A7r one day and my Blackberry smartphone the day after. To me that's part and parcel of my exploration of the many kinds of creativity that I can enjoy and explore myself. And just because one camera is marginally better than another doesn't stop me exploring the possibilities of the purported 'loser.'
However, I see no reason to dismiss accuracy for some kind of prepaid agenda that influences the writing in much of what I read about my passion, photography. Unfortunately the kind of pandering to some kind of lowest common denominator tabloid photographic journalism seems to be on the increase rather than diminishing and for me that just makes the whole experience of exploring photographic writing on the internet a more dispiriting experience than it should be. And that's a shame. Isn't it?
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There is an interesting article on the BBC website HERE, which deals with many of the issues above.