Sony a7R vs. Leica M9 infinity test with 20+ Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander rangefinder lenses

January 26th, 2014


UPDATE: I’ve moved this post to a permanent page. Click HERE to go to it.


As a follow-up to my overwhelmingly popular October 2013 infinity test with a preproduction Sony a7 and various rangefinder lenses, here’s the infinity shootout I really wanted to do back then… between a regular production Sony a7R and Leica M9, with a similar, though not identical, collection of a couple dozen mostly rangefinder lenses… Unfortunately, this time I’m not one of the first in the world with the results! Please refer to the a7 shootout for an explanation why infinity focus is such a ‘torture test’ for these lenses and cameras.

As with the a7 test, I’m making this information and the high resolution files freely available for personal, non-commercial use only. If you find this useful, please consider making a donation through the Paypal button below, or making your next purchase through B&H using the indicated links throughout the article. Any amount is appreciated!

Leica M9 comparison images for Sony a7 and rangefinder lens test

November 13th, 2013

Just a quick post to mention I had a chance to quickly shoot a handful of mostly Leica lenses on the M9 from the same vantage point and in similar weather conditions as a basic comparison against the “infinity” images from the Sony a7 and rangefinder lenses test.

Lenses used on the M9:

Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6
Leica 21mm f/1.4 ASPH.
Leica 21mm f/3.4 ASPH.
Leica 28mm f/2 ASPH.
Leica 50mm f/1.4 ASPH.
Leica 90mm f/2.5

All are available as a single zipped file hosted on Google Drive. It’s about 235MB.

Of course, because these were done at a different time, they’re not the exact same framing (sorry about the tilted horizon) or visual aesthetic due to differences in light and weather. That said, the basic technical considerations of sharpness and edge detail rendition can be observed and compared. The M9 images were captured as DNG files and converted in Lightroom 4.4 with generally the basic settings. No additional noise reduction, CA correction or lens profile correction was applied. The default sharpening setting was left as is. White balance was tweaked and the tone curve was adjusted to open up the darker mid and shadow tones somewhat to better reveal image sharpness. Therefore these don’t have the overall heavy look seen in the A7 images.

Maybe, given time, when I upgrade to Lightroom 5, I’ll reprocess the A7 RAW files to see how much of an improvement there is over the in-camera Jpegs.

Here are some basic thoughts about the similarities and differences of these lenses on both cameras…

The most similar results for a given lens on each camera are with the CV12 and 90 Summarit. All of the other lenses generate considerably better edge zone detail on the M9. Even the 21 Lux, that seems to be pretty good on the A7, and certainly would be usable and most aperture settings, is visibly better on the M9. The 21 SEM is sharp across the frame wide open, whereas it’s not on the A7. While the 28 Cron needs a couple stops to improve the edges on the M9, it’s not blatantly soft (along the edges) shot wide open. The 50 Lux ASPH also exhibits better edge performance, which makes its mid zone sharpness dip, especially around f/2.8, all that much more obvious.

Still hoping to get my hands on an a7R and running a test with the full set of lenses I did with the a7…

Sony a7 buffer and card write times

October 20th, 2013

During my brief time with a preproduction Sony a7 camera, I ran a quick test to determine buffer depth and clear times. This detail always interests me about new cameras and I was curious to see how the a7 stacked up, in part because I couldn’t find any information about buffer depth in the initial reports.

With a Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 10 card:

RAW: 28 frames and 25 seconds to fully clear the buffer.
RAW + JPEG: 24 frames and 35 seconds to clear.
JPEG extra fine: 55 frames and 47 seconds to clear.

With a Panasonic Gold 32GB SDHC UHS-1 Class 10 card:

RAW: 35 frames and 18 seconds to clear.
RAW + JEPG: 28 frames and 22 seconds to clear.
JPEG extra fine: 78 frames and 32 seconds to clear.

Keep in mind this was with a preproduction camera (firmware version 0.90). Therefore, results may differ once the camera starts shipping.

Considering the relatively slow fps rate, at least the camera isn’t going to hit a buffer limit quickly. If there is an annoyance, it took a few seconds before a just-shot image could be fully reviewed on the camera. Based on at least these two cards, the camera will benefit from a faster card. And as with all modern digital cameras, the a7 will continue to operate and allow you to shoot additional frames as buffer space clears.

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