#177. Fun test : Leica glass on CCD vs Kit lens on CMOS, anyone ?

By pascaljappy | News

Nov 15

Many discontented Leica aficionados argued that the new (M240) couldn’t match the image quality from the M9 and attributed the regression to the CMOS sensor of the newer model being inferior to the older CCD sensor in the M9. Note that the same sort of argument were levelled at the M9 as it hit the stores (not a match for the M8, the M8 is the only true digital Leica …)

Sunset over Le Defens in provence - Nikon D80 and Summicron-R 35 at f/5.6 (ISO 400)

Sunset over Le Defens – Nikon D80 and Summicron-R 35 at f/5.6 (ISO 400)

This gave me the idea for this whacky but not so dissimilar contest between a 4-year-old Nikon D80 (not D800 ;)) donning a Leica R Summicron R 35 and my daughter’s Sony NEX-5r and kit 16-50 OSS lens.

Technically, it isn’t even close. The NEX thrashes the old trooper in every way that matters (dynamic range, noise, resolution …). But that also means I had much more work to get the clouds as dark in the second photograph. Version 1 is almost straight out of camera (apart from some colour warming and contrast enhancements and noise reduction and framing. Almost OOC ;))

Sunset over Le Defens 2 - Sony NEX-5n & 16-0 OSS kit lens

Sunset over Le Defens 2 – Sony NEX-5n & 16-0 OSS kit lens

It’s hard to make a scientific comment, particularly after I tampered with the files via post processing. However, apart from stronger global contrast enhancement on the bottom file, both were processed almost identically. What do you think of the results ?

To me, the differences are there and plainly visible. I see a more digital look at the bottom, with much greater local contrast and clarity but a less painterly look (the lens might be playing a big role here).

I think what’s more important here is that the Nikon has a viewfinder and the Sony doesn’t, which resulted in really crappy framing from yours truly …

But let’s end this with the real insight : technology is unimportant, the test was just for fun. It was the glorious light that really made these two images sing.

But in the end, which version do you prefer ?

  • mb-de says:

    Dear Pascal,

    from my own experience, I would go for a mix – the Summicron adapted to the NEX, using a Novoflex-adapter – which will bring you the best of both worlds – the superior sensor and processing of the NEX-5R combined with the Summicron which is far better than the Sony kit zoom when it comes to rendering and colours…


    (OK – I am biased – for ages, I am using legacy (manual focus and diaphragm) glass on NEX bodies… only for very special situations, autofocus primes come to play. The kit zooms (both 16..50 and 18..55 rely on in-body-correction and remain mediocre even with this in-body post-processing.)

    • pascaljappy says:

      Dear Michael, thank you for the recommendation. I will shortly be ordering an adapter for my Sony A7r that will also be used on the NEX-5r. I’ve also used and loved many legacy lenses on NEX, a really wonderful combination. All the best,

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