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Nikon D800e Leica S2 Gear & Apps

Unfair Fight? Nikon D800e vs Leica S2-P medium format!

By fotosiamo on May 9th 2012

Nikon D800e Leica S2

With a 36 megapixel sensor, it is only inevitable that someone would test the Nikon D800 and D800E cameras against a medium format cameras. The D800, of course, has the Anti-Aliasing filter, which puts it at a disadvantage in regards to sharpness because none of the current medium format cameras uses AA filter.

The Nikon D800e, however does have its AA filter neutralized, effectively increasing its sharpness at the risk of moire and color shift.

Ming Thein at is an incredible photographer who specializes in watches and jewelry photography, as well as architectural photography.

Being the “official partner and brand ambassador by Leica Camera in Asia” (Lucky!) and owner of the Leica S2-P medium format camera (same camera as the S2 except for the sapphire cover over the screen and professional service), Ming decided to see how his Leica S2-P will compare to the new Nikon D800e.

So the contenders here are the 36.3MP Nikon D800E vs the 37.5MP Leica S2-P. He used are the Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon and Nikon 85/2.8 PCE Micro-Nikkor lenses on the D800E and the Leica 35/2.8 Summarit-S and 120/2.5 APO-Macro-Summarit-S lenses on the S2.

Here is an example of one of the tests he put both cameras through: Dynamic Range and Resolution Test

Nikon D800e with Zeiss 2/28 Distagon

Leica S2 with 35/2.5 Summarit-S

Leica S2 with 35/2.5 Summarit-S

And his assessment:

The D800E’s file looks quite natural but is a touch too warm; the S2 is very blue-green biased and would make for great landscapes, however it doesn’t get the color right either. Both cameras could be corrected to be accurate (as their sensors’ tonal response is broad enough) however neither gets it right out of the box. The S2 has slightly better dynamic range – perhaps half a stop or so – but there isn’t a lot in it. Neither camera has blown areas or blocked up shadows.

And here are a couple 100% crops at f8:

D800E 100% center crop, at f8

S2 100% center crop, at f8

S2 100% center crop, at f8

Be sure to read the rest of his test comparison between the Nikon D800e and the Leica S2-P!

Stay creative!

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    thanks for the comparison

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  2. Ricardo

    I fully agree with the comments of jk

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  3. Callmealiar2

    For 20 thousand dollars more you get a 5% better image. Also try using the d800 e instead for the comparison next time as that will slightly boost thw shapness and detail resolution of the nikon. Finally try using a leica summarit lens on the d800 as well. Differnce then would be about 2% or so.

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    • Rh boks

      The d800e is not raly different then the DX mediumformat Leica S2, Hasselblad H with 31 or 40 MP or the pentax 645d and the smaller sized mamiya leaf en phase one.
      The quality difference is only performedmby the lenses and by 16 bit workflow.

      Only real mediumformat digital camera’ s are better, because they have a really bigger sensor and higher resolution.

      So don’t spend useless money on a DX medium format camera and certinly not on an amateur format Leica S2, buy instead the excellent Leica M9 ore M10

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    • jk

      kinda agreed on the last part when you said ,”do not spend useless money on a DX medium format camera” but I do not agree on buy a M instead part.

      I think Medium format cameras like Pentax and Leica are ally doomed after the D800e out ,but Phase Hassy and Leaf are all much better than the S2 ,which is a just kind ofboutique brand camera, not meant to be any kind of real pro tool. Hassy Phase Leaf all allow you to swap the back part anytime you need to.

      so I ‘d say do not buy the S2 but get a Hassy H5 or any of Phase IQ backs.

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    • jk

      actually it is not like that since the Zeiss 100 f2MP is a sharper lens than the Leica S 125mm f2.5

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