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Compared: 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom vs 36-megapixel Nikon D800E — UPSAMPLED

On the heels of my comparison in which I downsampled the Nikon D800E to match the Leica M Monochrome, this follow on comparison compares the Leica M Monochrome to the Nikon D800E by upsampling to simulate enlargement via printing.

This carefully crafted comparison has all but sealed the deal for me on whether I’d want a Leica M Monochrom.

Leica M Monochrom (actual pixels)

Winfried H writes:

Wrong lens on the Leica. You should have used the new 50mm/2.0 APO ASPH. Different story then.

DIGLLOYD: I “should” have used a $7200 lens (on an $8000 camera, add that up) that is not available yet in this country because at f/5.6 - f/8 it will by magic outperform the 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH. And both lenses are limited by diffraction at f/8. And at less than f/8 (indeed even at f/8), the tiniest focus deviation of a 4-5mm renders the whole exercise moot.

See the 50mm MTF comparisons in my Guide to Leica and observe that at f5.6, differences are minor between the two lenses. So small that it’s questionable whether one could focus match the two exactly without 2mm focus bracketing via nodal slider. Which is more precise than one can even judge on an 18-megapixel sensor; the Leica MM just does not have the resolving power, which begs the question of why have exotic glass for a sensor that is low resolution by today’s standards?

At wider apertures I do expect the 50/2 APO ASPH to outperform the 50/1.4 Summilux. And that it will be hit and miss to get that resolution because of focus deviations. But a perfect lens could not overcome the resolution difference of an 18 megapixel sensor to beat a 36 megapixel sensor, as the comparison shows clearly; any squint and stare differences between the 50/1.4 and 50/2 AA that might appear are wholly irrelevant when we look at the dramatically superior crispness of the Nikon D800E image.

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