I don’t really like the camera vs camera titles for my posts but I haven’t found yet a more descriptive title for comparing two cameras.
Lately, I am trying to do some simple comparisons between the cameras I own, since I am planning to let go part of my gear. It’s a decision based on practical terms. I am planning to update to the Nikon D800E, so its only natural that some of my cameras and lenses will have to go. Also, as times passes by, I find myself using some of my cameras less, and since I am not a collector there’s no reason to keep gear gathering dust.
One of the first candidates for selling is the Fuji X100 (I have already ditched the Nikon D300 with all my DX lenses). This a camera that has created quite a stir when it arrived and it’s considered a top quality image maker. The 35mm focal length is my favorite so I thought that would be the small camera with super IQ I could have with me all day in a small bag. Well, it didn’t turned exactly this way !!
I also own the Leica M8, so someone could ask, why was I bothered to also purchase the X100 ?
The reason was simple, ISO performance of the M8 is just terrible, it barely goes up to ISO 640. The Elmarit 28m f2.8 (37mm equivalent) is two stops behind an f1.4 lens (and the Summilux 35mm costs a fortune). Even at f1.4 the ISO performance was a problem. Its not the same with film where I can shoot at 3200 ISO with a Ilford Delta film, there’s a huge difference between film grain and sensor noise.
So, the X100 was much cheaper than the Summilux, furthermore it had a fantastic hybrid viewfinder, auto focus, great IQ and of course fantastic ISO performance combined with a f2 lens. But with the addition of the Sony NEX 5N, which can also take my VOigtlander and Leica lenses was there a reason to keep the X100? So, I just made some test images to compare the X100 and the M8, to see if there were benefits on image quality in favor to the X100.
This is not by any means a scientific test, as with my previous tests, I compare these cameras based on the way I take image. The images are all handheld at f5.6 and focused at the same spot, but that’s all, the rest involves my personal way of shooting. I did these comparisons for myself, but I thought I could share them on my blog, after all, some people may notice things I didn’t, or even better, find these images useful.
So, here are the images and my personal comments.
The M8 file is definitely sharper, after all this old camera still produces the sharpest images I have ever seen (even sharper than the M9). The lack of the AA filter sure helps for that, but also the amazing quality of the Elmarit 28mm. What I also observed, was that the M8 file looks more “gentle” (I couldn’t find another word) and the tones seems more subtle. Probably, the CCD sensor has a look of its own (there are no other cameras today with a CCD sensor, just the M8, M9 and medium format digital backs). I much prefer the M8 picture in this occasion.
The same conclusion for this image also, the M8 file is sharper and provides better tones.
So, my personal conclusion is that the X100 is not going to stay with me for a long time. The M8 is still an excellent camera with superb image quality, it’s a rangefinder and also provides better images at base ISO. For landscapes it sure beats the X100 and for street shooting of course it’s a landmark camera. Furthermore, its a fantastic camera for infrared photography.
Now, this is my conclusions based on the fact that one camera overlaps the other (for available light photography I much prefer the NEX 5N over the X100, so one more advantage of the Fuji is not needed for me). But, if we take away my personal bias, there’s of course a great difference between the two cameras.
The M8 is a rangefinder which can change lenses, the X100 is a 35mm focal length camera. The Elmarit 28 alone will cost more than the X100, so there’s no really price comparison between them. An an all around camera, the X100 will serve better as long as someone is satisfied with shooting just a 35mm lens. But keeping both is not really an option for me even. For a backup camera I would much prefer the Sony NEX 5N since it can take all rangefinder lenses, and its really a superb mirrorless camera. At this time, the Fuji alternative (the XPRO-1) maybe be a state of the art camera but it’s price is way up.
Well, that’s all for today, one more last photo with the two cameras side by side (taken with the iPhone since I didn’t have a third camera with me!)
(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All rights reserved.