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Comparing 36 Megapixels: Nikon D800 vs Leica S2?

Assuming I can get hold of a Leica S2 for testing, it would be illuminating to see how the 36-megapixel D800E compares to the 36 megapixel Leica S2.

The two cameras have the same 3:2 sensor aspect ratio, except that the Leica S2 has a sensor that is 25% larger linearly (56% larger in area). However, the Nikon D800 has another 2 years of sensor technology advances in its favor.

With better lenses and a larger sensor with larger photosites, we might expect the S2 to easily win the contest, at least at lower ISO values. But that is not a given with top-notch lenses on the D800, and what happens at ISO 400 on up?

The Leica camera + lens would be about $30K. The D800E with Zeiss 100/2 would be about $5K. Hardly fair on the price front, but what do the images look like?

The following comparison would be appropriate:

  • Nikon D800E + Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar or the Leica 100mm f/2.8 APO-Macro-Elmarit-R (the Zeiss has a flatter field, so it might be a better choice).
  • Leica S2 + 120mm f/2.5 APO-Macro-Summarit-S.

Alternately for a wide angle comparison:

  • Nikon D800E + Nikon 24mm f/1.4G or Zeiss ZF.2 25/2 Distagon.
  • Leica S2 + 30mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH.
Two cameras both with 36 megapixels: Nikon D800/D800E and Leica S2

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