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SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

re: Field Curvature for Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, Mirrorless Cameras vs M-Cameras
re: MTF on Mirrorless Cameras, Sensor Cover Glass

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is color shading, along with accentuated field curvature and astigmatism.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding for M-Mount lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the SL2/S1R for M-mount rangefinder lenses, including sharpness and color shading and field curvature.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/8, plus crops.

Piper Mountain Wilderness abutting Death Valley Road
f1.4 @ 1/6400 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-18 12:24:03
LEICA SL2 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
ENV: Piper Mountain Wilderness, altitude 5600 ft / 1707 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 0.17 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

DEFINITIVE SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with Leica SL Lenses: View North Over Puppy Dome

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is the color rendition, which can depend both on the sensor itself, its IR-blocking layer, and the electronic processing of the camera.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding: Leica SL lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the two cameras for Leica SL lenses, sharpness in particular.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R, View North Over Puppy Dome

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

View north over Puppy Dome
f2.8 @ 1/1250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 17:31:04
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8650 ft / 2637 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.56 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Comment: Leica SL2 and Leica SL Prime Lenses for a 2-Lens Kit

Eeraj Q writes:

Excellent coverage of the SL primes with compelling evidence. Even having owned a few of the SL primes for some time now, your observations brought forth new ideas and information. But then, this is expected from you!

Two questions:

1. What is your take on a SL 28 / SL 90 as a two lens kit for landscapes and call it a day?

2. What do you think of cropping on a high MP camera in general? Especially, if not printing and only viewing images on a high res monitor. With 47MP on SL2 or S1R on tap, cropping gives a lot of leeway so the SL 28 could be 35mm after crop if needed. 50MM perhaps a bit much, so assume a max crop of 28mm --> 35mm. Is this a viable strategy for field usage?

I think you know where I am coming from - your earlier post about a two lens with a max of three lens kit being most optimal for most use cases continues to make a lot of sense. Obviously, talking about primes here.

Finally, with SL lenses costing down payment for a decent car, it is well worth the price of subscription to your site.

For anyone on the fence, here is what no other reviewer has covered in this minute detail:
•  Issues with unstable focus marring IQ that you covered in your earlier S1R / SL prime series
• One of the most compelling examples I have seen on multi-shot mode not only increasing resolution but also decreasing noise. Eye opening. (S1R)
•  Hits and misses with the SL 90 / SL 50 Summilux for portraits on the S1R

DIGLLOYD: each to his own, but I’d go 28/75 instead of 28/90. But that’s a stretch in coverage, so 28/50 might make more sense all-around, less of a gap. The combination of 21/35 makes sense too, assuming a 21mm prime appears.

Dry Waterfall
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Forest Fire Smoke Plagues the Eastern Sierra and Yosemite

Planning on a trip to the Eastern Sierra or Yosemite? It might be hit-or-miss.

Entering Yosemite on September 17, smoke veiled the Yosemite high country, but by late afternoon it has partially cleared, and that resulted in the images posted a few days ago, from Tenaya Canyon.

On September 18, a monstrous black smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra from Lone Pine to Lee Vining, so thick that it completely obscured the entire range from view. AQI went from near zero (crystal clear) to extremely unhealthy in a matter of a few hours, inducing burning eyes and a headache as just some of the obvious problems.

Below, I drove south towards Big Pine and thence into the Inyo range near Eureke Dunes in order to try to escape the rapidly advancing smoke plume which sent AQI from crustal clear to extremely unhealthy within an hour.

Smoke plume advancing rapidly over Eastern Sierra to Hwy 395
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 25; 2021-09-17 18:45:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 4080 ft / 1244 m

[low-res image for bot]

I drove towards Eureka Dunes to escape it, and camped overnight with clean air, but by morning the yuck surrounded me and the entire White Mountains area and I spent the next day and night sealed up in my van with nowhere to escape the smoke.

Below, by early morning there was no escape even east of the White Mountains into northern Death Valley.

Smoky conditions in Piper Mountain Wilderness area, just north of Death Valley
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-18 17:21:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 5434 ft / 1656 m

[low-res image for bot]

On September 19, a northwest front blew away the thick choking smoke from the Eastern Sierra, resulting in the cleanest air in years that I can recall—stunningly crisp views to even far-away peaks, totally free of haze. That lasted all day and part of September 20, when smoke breached the Tuolumne Meadows area.

By the morning of September 21, another massive smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra. Peaks began disappearing from view and the acrid choking smoke was out of the question. So I drove east into Nevada for clean air, which as I write this is still clean, but half the sky eastwards to the Sierra is a massive grayish-white mess. Supposedly it might clear out tomorrow.

Below, the temporarily stratified smoke plume rapidly would fill all the air within a few hours with dense choking smoke. I could see it fill Glacier Canyon (near Mt Dana) and other nearby areas, so I left in haste.

Smoke plume early in its advance, Lee Vining Canyon
f1.8 @ 1/1800 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-21 09:12:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 9339 ft / 2847 m

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks

I’m really enjoying field-shooting the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL*. It just seems to fit so many scenes so well and delivery spectacular results. And this sample has showed no build-quality issues.

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

*Not so the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL, which has an obvious optical swing that leaves the left edge soft —all distance scenes noticeably weak on the left until f/5.6. I will be showing its lens skew which is obvious and a practical disaster, as I only have two Leica SL lenses to work with on this trip. It goes to show that claims of “hand assembly” and “MTF testing” blah blah blah are invariably marekting bullshit when a suitable distance scene immediately shows a problem. The 50/2 is also a pratical nightmare when shooting towards the sun—very difficult to shade the front lens element adequately to avoid its awful flare problems . The 28/2 has flare issues also, but is is much easier to shade it, perhaps because of its superior rectangular lens shade (inadequate round shade for the 50/2).

Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks
f2 @ 1/13 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 19:01:19
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7600 ft / 2316 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.85 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/200 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:44:42
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 63°F / 17°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +30 Shadows, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Last light on glacial polish, Tenaya Creek
f2 @ 1/2500 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:06:01
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 66°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the general imaging performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near-far scene that is typical of landscape photography

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Autumn Meadow, near Tenaya Lake
f2 @ 1/1000 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 16:41:06
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Lake area, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the sharpness of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a subject with extemely fine detail.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

I started visiting this area 30 years prior, so I know this area well. This waterfall (n spring!) in Tenaya Creek is dry every year in September barring an early storm. But the upper drainage in this area was dry enough from the 2021 drought to kill all larger trout in pools that had survived past droughts, except for some 2-inch minnow here and there. They should repopulate, barring several consecutive years of drought this bad.

Dry Waterfall, Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Some National Forests in California Closed for Fire Concerns to Reopen Thursday Sept 16, Inyo National Forest soon OPEN

re: Where to Photograph in a State Largely Veiled in Smoke?
re: National Forest Service Closes All Southwest Region National Forests in California
re: Alternative to Closed California National Forests: Yosemite Day Pass System

Some of the National Forests in California are reopening two days prior to the end of the order, as of 00:00 Thursday September 16. So you are good to go on Thursday.

Hooray! That means I can visit my favorite places in the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains, both in the Inyo National Forest.

Other more southerly national forests remain closed and the closure is extended to Sept 22.

Forest Service Ending Regional Closure Order Two Days Early; Five Forests to Remain Closed Under Local Orders

VALLEJO, Calif., — Sept. 14, 2021. The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will end the regional closure order affecting National Forests in California at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 15, two days prior to the original end date of Sept. 17. However, forest-wide closures will remain in place and be extended until midnight on September 22nd on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.

In addition to the four National Forests that will remain closed in Southern California, some National Forest System lands throughout the state will be closed under local closure orders in areas of ongoing wildfires to ensure public safety. This includes the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California, which has a forest closure order until Sept. 30. Fire restrictions also remain in place across all National Forests in California to prevent new fire starts. Please refer to the local National Forest that you plan to visit to obtain specific information on closures and restrictions.

...

Never made sense for Inyo National Forest.


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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL: Veiling Flare, Ghosting Flare, Ray Flare

Another flaring disaster in the APO-Summicron-SL line. The results are beautiful when the front lens element is shaded. Otherwise, they are piss-poor.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Flare

Includes pairs of images, with and without shading the front lens element (lens hood always attached).

In my opinion, the Leica APO-Summicron-SL line needs to be recalled, with the design fixed to address the piss-poor flare performance. The ray flare with the 50/2 APO-SL looks like an outright obvious design defect, just for starters.

Severe flare with Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
f5.6 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:13:13
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

These examples at f/2 (mostly) were shot handheld with IBIS on the Leica SL2.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Performance is about a lot more than sharpness—it includes bokeh, correction for secondary color, distortion, etc. The combined effect is what counts, and the 50/2 APO-SL delivers the good.

Along with its 35mm sibling, the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH is a spectacular performer with apparently zero or near-zero distortion. Get yours today!

Two-tone pumpkin, first light
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:30:49
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode vs Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode: Pumpkin Vines

re: Workflow for Multi-Shot High-Res Mode Images in Adobe Camera Raw

I’ve extended this page about the Leica SL2 multi-shot high-res mode to include a comparison with many crops to Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode.

Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode vs ACR Super Resolution Mode

Both Multi-Shot High-Res mode and Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode have significant image quality flaws, which I detail/show. And when I went looking, I found some very serious flaws in ACR SuperRes mode in other images—ugly stuff that would preclude its use.

I’m disappointed in the Leica SL2 implementation of multi-shot high-res mode because it appears to be the crappy Mode1 style of the Panasonic S1R, which generates lots of motion artifacts when there is subject motion. The result is the opposite of what you want in MultiShot mode: ugly color artifacts, double images, staircasing, etc.

Pumpkin and Vines
f8 @ 1/5 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 100; 2021-09-09 19:10:39
LEICA SL2 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
RAW: +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {6,50,0}, SmartSharpen{30,0.7,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]
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Alternative to Closed California National Forests: Yosemite Day Pass System

re: National Forest Service Closes All Southwest Region National Forests in California

Unicorn Peak, Yosemite

UPDATE, September 14 2021: now mostly open, see Forest Service Ending Regional Closure Order Two Days Early; Five Forests to Remain Closed Under Local Orders

...

The weather has turned beautiful and the air is crystal-clear here and in the Eastern Sierra. Or at least very good (varies a little). Most beautiful time of the year, IMO.

From mid-September on, the Eastern Sierra offers its world-class charms, what with advancing season turning aspen golden and scub blueberries bright red, and the wonderful slanting light of autumn and the generally favorable temperature range. But you can’t go there* this year! Except for Yosemite.

I have long loved shooting in the Eastern Sierra from late September through mid November, but with the national forest closures, it cannot be done unless and until the closures are lifted. Nor can I plan for a trip to leave on the day the bureaucrats make up their minds to open or close for another two weeks (closure ends Sept 17, but might be extended).

* The mid and southern national forests in California are closed to all recreational use through September 17. At the time I wrote this, it’s unknown if the closures will be extended (presumably into October), or whether the order will lapse.

Workaround — Yosemite

I found a workaround to the national forest closures: vising the high country within Yosemite National Park itself, which is not affected by the forest closures—Yosemite is managed by the National Park Service, not the National Forest Service—entirely different management entities.

While normally I visit just outside the park in wilderness areas abutting it, the park itself is a great location, albeit usually overcrowded, which is why over the past decade I have increasingly avoided the park itself until mid/late October. But with the restricted number of day use entries, most of which will end up in Yosemite Valley, people and traffic should be very light—a bonus!

Yosemite day pass system

The Yosemite day-use entry pass system at recreation.gov allows purchasing a 3 day entry pass. The pass is good for a vehicle, whether it be yourself or half a dozen of your friends/family. Cyclists need no pass as I understand it, so pedal on in if you can. Which I might do on this next weekend, parking near the entrance.

Plan in advance since Fri/Sat/Sun go very fast upon “release”. Multiple passes can be purchased abutting each other in dates, covering a week or more.

I did not snag a pass for the weekend of Sept 18/19, but I have my entry through the park covered on Sept 17, as well as the entire next week, and I plan on fleshing that out some more once the passes are released for purchase.

If visiting more than one 2/3 day period, I recommend purchasing an annual pass ($80), or the lifetime pass if you are 62 or older. With the annual/lifetime pass, the day-use fee drops to just $2 for three days— $0.67 per day.

Recreation.gov: Yosemite day-use pass reservations

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Infrared Leakage to 850nm with Leica SL2?

re: Infrared Contamination: Good Color Gone Bad
re: infrared

I was chatting with Graham Clark of Breakthrough Photography (terrific filters and polarizers) and we got on about their new “Black Magic” filter, which solves the infrared pollution problem seen on certain video cameras, and does so without loss of T-stop. For a camera that leaks infrared and thus captures it, the results can range from subtle to seriously yucky with an awful magenta cast and degraded sharpness too.

Leica cameras have had various infrared pollution issues over the years (the Leica M8 was so bad it made a decent infrared camera, unmodified), so I wondered if the Leica SL2 might have an issue. Flipping on my Hooga Health infrared panel 850nm LEDs, I found that indeed the Leica SL2 passes 850nm light, as shown.

850nm light is WAY beyond the appropriate infrared cutoff of 720nm, used by all the Japanese camera brands in their sensor cover glass filter stack. My speculation is that the Leica SL2 (and other models) pass more infrared because of the much thinner sensor cover glass sandwich.

Using the Breakthrough Photography Black Magic filter almost entirely eliminates the infrared leakage at 850nm. The filter is designed for complete blockage of both UV and infrared at 720nm and beyond—I’ll share a spectral transmission graph soon.

Spectral transmission for Breakthrough Photography “Black Magic” filter
Full visible light transmission with no color cast, complete sharp cut of UV and IR

I confirmed this finding both with images on the SL2 as well as with the naked eye also—I can plainly see the 850nm lights by naked eye as much brighter and more red than shown below*, but I can barely seen them when viewed through the filter.

I am hoping to get a Breakthrough Photography 'Black Magic' filter in 67mm before my trip so I can see whether cutting out infrared past 720nm makes a difference to Leica SL2 color rendition. Maybe, maybe not; it all will depend on the relative proportion of visible light vs infrared. But in sunlight, about half the energy is infrared (not sure how much of that is in the 720-1100nm range that a digital sensor responds to). So it could be that the SL2 cuts out 5 or 6 stops of infrared (or less or more) and that it might affect the color balance (and sharpness!) when more infrared is in the mix.

I cannot judge whether the leakage proven below is of sufficient degree to alter color rendition. But if the SL2 is leaky, then it is surely leaking from 720nm out to 850nm and likely way out to 1100nm. That cannot be good for color rendition in some conditions.

* Never stare at any intense lighting. While they don’t seem that bright to my eyes at 850nm, they are fairly powerful LEDs and won’t make your retinas happy—this is why blocking goggles are supplied.

Infrared pollution with Leica SL2 at 850nm
f2 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-11 14:59:59
LEICA SL2 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH

[low-res image for bot]

Turns out that the Sony A1 also leaks a little 850nm light, as shown below. It appears to be quite a lot less leakage than the Leica SL2.

Infrared light leakage at 850nm with Sony A1 at 850nm
f2 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-11 15:54:27
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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First Look at Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode (Updated.v2 with comments)

re: Workflow for Multi-Shot High-Res Mode Images in Adobe Camera Raw

This page looks at multi-shot high-res mode (“HiRes” mode) of the Leica SL2.

Leica SL2 Multi-Shot High-Res Mode

Includes example image sizes up to 187 megapixels.

Triple jackass gold medal to Leica for the usability-destroying “Vibration Detected” warning.

Pumpkin and Vines
f8 @ 1/5 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 100; 2021-09-09 19:10:39
LEICA SL2 + Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
RAW: +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {6,50,0}, SmartSharpen{30,0.7,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Andrej K writes:

As a Leica SL2 user from the end of 2020 (being a current Nikon D850/Z 7II shooter and with Nikon for the last 20 years) I tried MS for a few times and just used it on a payed project a few weeks ago.

I'll keep it short - Adobe's new "Enhance" feature in Lightroom consistently gave me better results than MS! I also went with the enhanced version being the image that was given to my client. I made the shot with my SL2 at ISO 100 with the Sigma 65/2 (not perfect, but a nice lens indeed!) at f/8 and when comparing MS vs Enhanced images, the latter was way better; more detail, less moire, less color artifacts ... simply better in most if not all aspects. It was basically a landscape shot; a large grass field with forest-covered hills in the background with blue sky covered with white clouds - nothing special with some kind of weird textures ... a pretty basic shot, really.

Both features are giving results with the same 187 Mpix, so can be easily and fairly compared. Please, do try the comparison on your own, I'm sure you'll end up with similar results. Also beware the strong and destructive posterizing when using MS at ISO 50 - in most if not all cases impossible to be used on images including any significant part of the sky.

If you're interested, I can send you the files I'm talking about, but I'm sure you'll get the same results ... unless my copy of SL2 is somehow defective...

DIGLLOYD: valid concerns of course. And it is on my to-do list to look at Enhance Details for single-shot Leica SL2 files (I included one in the series above). Certainly if a shot looks better, then it is better. But let me point out some doubts about what is stated above.

Enhance Details has had pattern noise problems in the past, namely crosshatching pattern noise. I have documented unpleasant artifacts from Enhance Details with 3 or 4 different cameras over some years. However, I have not seen if it's an issue with the Leica SL2, and I have not rechecked to see if anything has been fixed in recent updates—Adobe had promised an improvement to me (privately) well over a year ago but said there might be a long delay. There is also Adobe Camera Raw SuperRes mode, which incorporates Enhance Details and does smart upscaling.

UPDATE: ACR SuperRes mode looks great on the pumpkin shot and in some ways better (as Andrej K stated), such as on the fine prickly hairs on the pumpkin vine.   However, a single-shot frame with SuperRes has notably more noise in some areas than with HiRes mode. OTOH, the noise actually looks good in some areas, spurious detail though it is. It makes me wonder if ACR SuperRes mode could be hand-tailored to HiRes captures, but only Enhance Details work, and I did not see any improvement on HiRes files.

UPDATE2: closer inspect reveals that both Multi-Shot High-Res mode and Adobe Camera Raw Super Resolution Mode have significant image quality flaws, which I detail/show. And when I went looking, I found some serious artifacting flaws in ACR SuperRes mode in other images—ugly stuff that would preclude its use because it looks very unnatural.

It’s clear that HiRes mode has strictly limited benefits in a depth of field zone half as deep as single-shot, and I'd agree that it has no advantage outside that narrow zone at f/8, a little more at f/5.6. So you have to find benefits that exceed single-shot mode + Enhanced Details.

HiRes mode seems to dull the image such as on surfaces catching the light. I don’t know if this is a diffraction dulling effect or a side-effect of the merging of the 8 frames—maybe both.

I have never seen moiré or color aliasing in HiRes mode on the Panasonic S1R at least, and that should be true on the Leica SL2 also. So the “less moiré, less color artifacts” comment seems nonsensical to me. I'd bet that the comment has something to do with motion artifacts, not moiré or color aliasing. And those definitely exist with the SL2 HiRes mode, though I hadn’t shown it yet. A HiRes DNG that shows moiré or color aliasing would be a surprise to me, but bring it on. BTW, Enhance Details is not always successful in removing all moiré.

UPDATE: I processed Andrej’s DNG files. There is no moiré or color aliasing. But there are ugly effects which are the result of subject motion. See my detailed analysis of MultiShot motion artifact problems with the Leica SL2.

Enhance Details absolutely cannot deliver the ultra-low noise of HiRes mode. Those 8 shots means sqrt(8) less noise ~2.8X less, equivalent to ISO 35 (vs ISO 100). OTOH, a little noise gives the perceptual effect of looking sharper.

Multi-shot and ISO 50

The Leica SL2 has incompetent metering in general (way too many blown-out items compared to my Sony A1). And at ISO 50 it meters a full stop slower when in fact ISO 50 is not a real ISO and has only 2/3 stop more latitude. If using ISO 50, always dial in -1/3 stop for auto metering. The SL2 makes matters far worse by at not having an RGB histogram, which would make it obvious that a color channel is blown out. That is critically important for my work in the outdoors; I check exposure with the RGB histogram just about ever shot to make sure I nailed it. IMO the SL2 fails as a professional camera if only because of the lack of the RGB histogram——it’s that important—unbelievably stupid design for real-world photography.

TESTED: with proper exposure, there is no issue in using ISO 50 with MultiShot on the Leica SL2.

Posterization at ISO 50 is due to exposure error, the proof of that shown below. Leica SL2 metering blows out the sky in MultiShot mode (probably due to the way the 8 frames are assembled), thus posterizing the result.

As shown below, the posterization is eliminated by dialing in -1/3 stop exposure compensation (shutter speed of 1/160 second instead of 1/125). A camera RGB histogram would show instantly that this area was blown-out, but the Leica SL2 doesn’t have one, making it an absurdity for professional use, IMO.

With the lack of an RGB histogram and the metering error, it is probably best to not use ISO 50 on the Leica SL2; it’s too hard to know if the image is blown out. No other mirrorless camera is this brain-dead.

Leica SL2 blue sky posterization in MultiShot mode with overexposure at ISO 50
f6.3 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 50; 2021-09-13 11:34:56
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected

[low-res image for bot]



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Panasonic S1R on the Way, so I can Compare Lens Performance on the Leica SL2

re: Panasonic S1R vs Other Cameras for Landscape — Transition Camera for Zeiss Otus/Zeiss Milvus 'glass'?
re: Panasonic S1R vs Leica SL2: Sensor Cover Glass Thickness vs Performance for Leica M Lenses, L-Mount Lenses

The Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R are two cameras of the L-Mount alliance. There is also the 61-megapixel Sigma fp L and Sigma fp.

CLICK TO VIEW: L-Mount System

Thanks to a generous reader, I will have use of a Panasonic S1R for 30 days, along with the Leica SL2. I aim to answer at least these two questions:

  • Do Leica M lenses perform the same on the Leica SL2 as on the Panasonic S1R?
  • Do Leica SL lenses perform the same on the Leica SL2 as on the Panasonic S1R?
  • Is the Leica SL2 multi-shot high-res mode as effective with motion as the Panasonic S1R multi-shot high-res mode “Mode 2” (because Mode 1 is not so nice).

The L-Mount platform is far more attractive if we observe camera/lens interoperability, that is, no loss of optical performance on one versus the other. If not, it’s a marketing ploy—you’re de facto back to independent platforms.

AFAIK, the Panasonic S1R has no support for color shading correction with Leica M lenses (or EXIF support), but I at least hope that the sharpness matches. It might not. But that’s a big strike against the S1R if you plan on shooting M lenses.

And it might prove out that it’s just better or more compatible to use Leica SL lenses on the Leica SL2 only. And given the cost of the lenses, maybe that’s the wisest course anyway.

Still, the Panasonic S1R has a far lower price and IMO a better haptic/button/feature set. Setting aside its lack of M-lens support, it could be an attractive alternative to the Leica SL2 if Leica SL lenses work equally well.

It might also be useful to look at performance of the Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH on the SL2/S1R (it has the same optical design as the M version). Ditto for the Leica 100mm f/2.8 APO-Macro-Elmarit-R ASPH. As time allows.


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Sigma Releases Two More DG DN Contemporary Lenses for Sony mirrorless, Leica L-Mount

Sigma DG DN Contempory lenses are Sigma’s value line of lenses and might appeal to many shooters on a budget. All have pleasing bokeh and compact size and low weight. Available in Sony FE and L-Mount lens mounts, and so I wonder if the mount-specific lenses are tweaked for the differing sensor cover glass thickness.

Newly released are the Sigma 24mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary and Sigma 90mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary. Sigma has chosen to release 24mm lenses in both f/2 and and f/3.5 lens speeds—perhaps worth testing at some point; the f/3.5 ought to be ultra low distortion and very sharp by giving up 5/3 stop of lens speed, but perhaps not.

F/2 instead of f/1.4 is highly appealing in saving considerable weight and bulk since most of the time f/1.4 lens speed is only an awkward burden and hassle that also brings optical compromises (focus shift, field curvature, distortion all suck).

But Sigma’s f/2 “Contemporary” lineup is not aimed at best performance, but at economical pricing and pleasing image rendition.

With the exception of the world-class and extremely expensive Leica Summicron-SL ASPH designs, no manufacturer has yet targeted class-leading performance at modest lens speed.

What I’d rather see is f/2 and f/2.8 are additions to the Sigma DG DN Art lineup. Significantly better performance to the f/1.4 lineup should be readily achievable at the same price point, which for me would be far preferable to about-as-good performance for less money. I want to see as good or better sharpness, zero focus shift and very low distortion in an f/2 offering because those things have direct impacts on getting optimal results reliably.


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