Social Media Icons

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Google PlusCheck Our FeedVisit Us On Youtube

Subscribe by Email


Leica M High ISO Comparison

February 13, 2013 — Published by

The Leica M9 files are loved for their feel and look. The camera’s undisputed Achilles heel, however, is the high ISO output; a deal-breaker for some since day one as the M9′s IQ wasn’t too much of an advancement compared to the M8′s. It is easy to live with the M9′s noise, but frustrating when seeing what imaging technology is up to since long ago with ISO 800 looking like base ISO. So will the next generation M (240) negatively or positively surprise? Maybe two stops of additional usable ISO space, offering more usable information? Let images speak for themselves:

According to Dr. Ulrich Rohde, who kindly provides these test images and can’t emphasize enough the superiority of the new generation M, the Leica Typ 240 offers bigger dynamic range, therefore more latitude for varying the exposure and more flexibility for post-processing. Well a 6 dB improvement in signal to noise corresponds to about one stop improvement in dynamic range.

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1 Leica M High ISO Comparison

Our test object (some 50% cropped) | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

Many reasons why the M keeps noise lower, our earlier article The Leica M Max Sensor Explained goes into the details with Leica and the sensor chip producer summing up to what lengths they went to get the required sensitivity and performance.

Metric-wise, this is easily becoming THEME’s longest post so far. For the sake of completeness, at the expense of brevity, below you get all the incremental ISO steps from base to 6,400; out of camera, untouched, so variations apply.

Sample images taken with the Summilux 35mm F1.4; converted and slightly compressed in CS, firmware revision 0.1.9.0, that’s still pre-release code at this point, so things only get (even!) better. Promising, to say the least, with smoother noise than the M9 and less of those chrominance noise clumps..

DNGs look more saturated, JPEGs flatter, but the often belittled format is certainly catching up. You can tell from washed out JPEG detail that conversion engine is not final. Also, the ISO 100 DNG sample seems overexposed while simultaneous JPEG looks alright. Don’t forget it’s the “Pull 100″ setting.

Crops below are 100%. Full resolution DNG files are available for download, simply click these ISO 5,000, ISO 3,200, ISO 1,600, ISO 800 or ISO 200 links.

Download a full resolution and check the slightly prominent banding across the glass doors in highest ISO settings. I’m sure this will be ironed out when the M receives serial production firmware.

Differences between ISO 100 and 400 are not too drastic. ISO 400 looks like a sweet spot. ISO 640 still provides nice texture and detail. ISO 1,000 holds reasonable detail, ISO 1,600 seems usable, the more so for prints. What do you guys think? Aside from character, speed of a lens matters less? Maybe a Cron instead of a Lux will do?

BTW, and it’s never too late to like us on Facebook, subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter and Google+.

Last but not least, for the sake of completeness, with emphasis on unscientific, comparable interpretations of the flower subject by the D600 @ ISO 6,400 (NEF, JPEG) and Leica M9 @ ISO 2,500 (JPEG).

+++ You can order the Leica M from Amazon (black/silver), B&H (black/silver) or Adorama (black/silver).

leica m m240 high iso comparison 100 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO Pull 100 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 100 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO Pull 100 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 200 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 200 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 200 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 200 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 250 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 250 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 250 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 250 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 320 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 320 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 320 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 320 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 400 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 400 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 400 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 400 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 500 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 500 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 500 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 500 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 640 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 640 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 640 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 640 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 800 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 800 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 800 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 800 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1000 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,000 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1000 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,000 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1250 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,250 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1250 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,250 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1600 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,600 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 1600 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 1,600 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 2000 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 2,000 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 2000 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 2,000 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 2500 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 2,500 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 2500 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 2,500 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 3200 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 3,200 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 3200 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 3,200 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 4000 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 4,000 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 4000 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 4,000 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 5000 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 5,000 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 5000 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 5,000 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 6400 dng Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 6,400 DNG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

leica m m240 high iso comparison 6400 jpg Leica M High ISO Comparison

ISO 6,400 JPEG | Dr. Ulrich Rohde

share it!facebook Leica M High ISO Comparisontwitter Leica M High ISO Comparisongoogle Leica M High ISO Comparisonstumbleupon Leica M High ISO Comparisonlinkedin Leica M High ISO Comparisonpinterest Leica M High ISO Comparisonemail Leica M High ISO Comparison
Posted by on February 13, 2013. Filed under Review. A word on our own regarding comments: Please practice mutual respect and nice grammar is never wrong. And why not support THEME. We love what we do and hope you enjoy our takes on photography. If you get new gear — or anything else for that matter —, please do so by clicking our AMAZON affiliate link — or shop via our trusted partners. Doesn't cost a cent more. Appreciate!
  • http://www.facebook.com/wilson.laidlaw Wilson Laidlaw

    A nightscape would have been a far better test than this. This is where the chrominance noise of the M8/9 is a real nuisance. On this test with the intense orange and green colours, it is difficult to distinguish between chrominance and luminance noise. Looks however to be a distinct improvement over the M9, with at least up to 3200 ISO usable, against the M9′s real life limit of 1250 ISO in colour or 1600 monochrome.

    • http://the.me/ DanTHEME

      Download a full res DNG file and you’ll find some darker spots to better distinguish between the two.

  • genotypewriter

    Horrible noise above ISO 1000.
    I sometimes wonder why are people still hung-up on the “Leica-thing” when clearly lags behind other cameras in many departments.
    It’s all about the Leica camera ‘mojo’ isn’t it? Or the fact that the Leica is ‘so much better’ than any other camera?
    Yeah right.

  • Trackback

    M 240 High ISO Comparison – Leica User Forum

    [...] 240 High ISO Comparison Leica M High ISO Comparison | THEME THX to [...]

    http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-m9-forum/272108-m-240-high-iso-comparison.html#post2314425