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Nice Leica but lacking much...
on February 9, 2011
I purchased this camera a few weeks ago to try it out after hearing much about it. Quite frankly I'm not sure what the hoopla is all about -- other than it has a red dot on it. First of all I AM a photogapher. I shoot with a Nikon D700, d300, a bevy of Nikon glass, as well as medium format Mamiya film and digital. So yes, I do know what I'm talking about and this is not a casual review.
The Leica is an incredible piece of metal. I love the heft, and the feel of it. The lens is superb at F2.0. Love it. I LOVED the 1:1 ratio which gave me square images -- one of the reasons I still shoot 2/14 film on occasion. The video option was also awesome. I shot several movies in B&W which was so neat and also in the 1:1 ratio I loved it. They were crystal clear in HD.
My problem, and this could only be my problem, not yours was the image quality. I shot a total of 263 images with the little gem and was extremely disappointed in the image quality. I shot mostly at ISO 80 which is the lowest; I also chose an aperture between the F2, and F4.5 or 5.6 depending on the light. I used a tripod for many of the shots but I just couldn't get over the smudging of the noise reduction. Oh, I shot in both jpeg and raw format, which is how I shoot my D700, and D300 100% of the time.
Anyway I shot and I shot away. I had several designers I work with look at prints I made (11 x 14) and at 13 x 19 and they noticed the noise and/or the smudging. Since I shoot for stock, working with several on line sites, as well as "real" agencies I submitted a batch of images to them all. Each and every image was rejected from three online sites, and my agents due to "overall lack of focus and detail due to excessive noise reduction" (which smudged the images). Even when viewing them on screen in Lightroom at 100% they were awful. I did submit the out of camera jpegs, as well as jpegs that I processed from the raw files in LR3. Neither was accepted by anyone. Since that is pretty much my bread and butter I decided to return the camera. At $799.00 it's way overpriced (IMHO) as a piece of equipment that I can carry wherever for "the shot" when I don't have my dSLR's with me. I believe the Panasonc Lumix, which is essentially the same camera without the red dot, is $300.00 less. Even at the Panasonic's $399 or $499 price point it's still way overpriced due to the lack of resolution/sharpness even at the lowest ISO of 80. I don't get it. I played with every option in the menu's trying to get it to shoot correctly; shot the highest quality jpegs, and simultaneous raw file to no avail. At this point I'm 99.9% certain it wasn't me causing this.
If I were an amateur, and just wanted to capture atypical "I was here" shots, and videos I might be tempted. It is a gorgeous camera. But my being so nit picky about noise, grain, and image quality I just could not bring myself to keep this camera.
On a side note Amazon and J&R Music World were fabulous to deal with. Shipping was fast, return processing was fast as well and I was given my full credit as of last night.