My M-E vs M240 test
Old 12-21-2014   #1
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My M-E vs M240 test

aka why I do not want an M240.

I was in the Leica Store LA, and sampled the M240, alongside my M-E and took a couple of snaps with each using a Summicron Asph 35 lens.
Shot at f2.0, metered on auto pointed at the floor in order to get the highlighted look that I use in my work. I then imported them to LR, and made them look as close to each other as possible. All I did was make sure the white balance was the same (3400, +16), increased the shadow brightness to match and decreased the highlight slider to -100.
And here is the big surprise. I was able to recover far more information in the highlights with the M-E than the M240. I did notice that while the skin tones were the same, the cabinets were slightly blue in the M-E shot, while more neutral in the M240 shot. Maybe I could have played with the colour sliders to adjust that, but I wanted to do as little to these images as possible while still getting a result that I would consider satisfactory for a comparison.

I asked a couple of people to judge which photo they preferred without telling them what camera took what picture and all of them picked the M-E image.

Yes, the M240 has a deeper ISO range, but for the majority of my shooting that is not needed. Yes the M240 has a nicer screen, video and quieter shutter. But that matters not one bit for the final image.

Note. All this is purely subjective. If you prefer the M240 image, great. But for me, I do not.





M-E image is on top. Excuse the lousy photo bucket compression of the images.
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Old 12-21-2014   #2
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do you think maybe the first picture was more interesting ? just a thought. nice shots though.
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Old 12-21-2014   #3
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I don't really get the comparison. The photos looks a bit weird with low image quality (almost "HDR") and not that sharp. It's really hard for me to compare because they both look bad (in image quality, not the photo itself). Why show the results with "lousy photo bucket compression of the images."?

It could be my iPad that shows the photos completely wrong and if so I apologize.
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Old 12-21-2014   #4
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do you think maybe the first picture was more interesting ? just a thought. nice shots though.
Not really as they were meant to be test snaps. But if you look behind the right shoulder (our left) of the first image you can see there is far more detail in the highlights. Plus the rendering of the image just seems more pleasing (to my eye).

Landberg - the photo bucket compression that I used to post has taken away sharpness. But it has done so equally for both, so the idea of a straight comparison of a test shot is still valid.
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Old 12-21-2014   #5
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In controlled lighting (ie, a shopping mall with constant lighting) shouldn't you set the aperture, shutter speed, and iso manually to get a fair comparison? If the M240 overexposed because of a different metering mode, then the comparison isn't fair to begin with (given that you seem to be most interested in highlight recovery)

But I'm procrastinating and should be doing other things and likely missed some important detail in your post.
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Old 12-21-2014   #6
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Yeah, I agree with the above. This doesn't seem like a well done test at all.
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Old 12-21-2014   #7
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I don't even bother doing tests any longer except for my own purposes. Everyone seem to be an expert on how best they should be done and the entire exercise turns into manifesto on how to do tests. Particularly when the test appears to show something that runs counter to what the forum "experts" believe should have happened.

Besides, I've learned that the camera, film/sensor and lens mean far less than what I myself am able to do with them...or not.
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Old 12-21-2014   #8
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I agree with the comments that I should have made sure the ISO/shutter speed/fstop should have been the same for an exacting test. As it was very impromptu, I just used the same lens on both cameras, shot them both at f2, and let the camera choose the ISO and shutter speed.
But.. that is how I shoot normally, away from this pseudo test. I have my camera set at auto ISO with top ISO set at 1250, min shutter speed lens dependent so what I am controlling 'directly' is aperture and focus. Of course there would be times where I would deviate from this but usually I do not.

So, for me, this comparison is valid in as much as that is how I would pick up and use the cameras in a real world situation. There's my girl, grab camera, pick f stop, focus, shoot. Grab other camera, put same lens on it, focus, shoot.
If that was not satisfying for some on a technical level, then so be it. I'm sure there are those out there happy to mount the camera on a tripod and take a static shot of an arbitrary target.
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Old 12-21-2014   #9
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I think you qualified the parameters, which some won't bother to read or respect.

however: while I love the M9 and don't want a 240, I would not expect to be able to get proper result with it without quite a bit of practice. So I'm not sure you are really fair to the 240 here.

Next, making shots from 240 look like M9 and viceversa is perilous. That kind of pushing and pulling is bound to muddy waters, and of course add to that photobucket, which seems inferior to flickr in my experience.

All that said: I think you make some really valid points which a lot of folks don't realize. Mainly the M9 RAW can take some major pushing before noise appears. Regarding highlights: I'd be surprised if the M9 can really recover better than the 240, because it recovers way worse than the Sony A7: but again the blacks push way better than A7. I often shoot in A with exposure -2/3 and don't blow highlights except with extremes.

But I've never shot with 240 so for all I know you may be right.

I do know the M9 has a very touchy meter and WB is hyper sensitive to light angle. M240 is meant to be less so.

Nevertheless I think it's an interesting exercise.
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Old 12-22-2014   #10
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Your test is okay - the best you could do in the circumstances of a shop. It mimics your shooting style, so, if anything, it is a good test for you.

Like the others I was wondering if the settings of the M240 did result in this look. The EXIF isn't in the pictures, so that makes it difficult to make definitive conclusions from this test. But lloking at these two pictures, I must agree with you, the M-E shot looks better. Looking at the DXO Mark measurements the dynamic range difference between the M-E and M240 isn't earth shattering, and this is a test of dynamic range imo. Slight lighting difference will negate the difference.

This all doesn't matter btw, if you consider the M-E to be better for you, it will be better for you as it will make you more confident.
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Old 12-22-2014   #11
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I would guess that your audience picked the M-E image because it's a more compelling image in respect to its content, not because of the camera used.

This nitpicking of gear is pretty much a futile exercise, imho. People like to look at photographs because of what's in the frame and not just its surface. Granted, one needs to attract the attention of the audience in the first place which is why photographers are competent with the basic technique and know what's considered visually acceptable. But after that, it's all about content and context. Just look at the most compelling photographs throughout history. They were taken with a wide range of cameras/lenses/media, etc.. And a lot of it was cheap whatever gear that the photographer could get their hands on (most weren't wealthy.) In the end nobody really cares (except for maybe the gear fanatics.) We know this but never seem to be able to accept it. So instead we keep on trying to rationalize the equipment itself.
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Old 12-22-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VertovSvilova View Post
I would guess that your audience picked the M-E image because it's a more compelling image in respect to its content, not because of the camera used.
What makes you say that? Why is it a more compelling image in your opinion? Isn't that because it doesn't have blown highlights? And that means were full circle....
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Old 12-22-2014   #13
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What makes you say that? Why is it a more compelling image in your opinion? Isn't that because it doesn't have blown highlights? And that means were full circle....
Not really. Get exposure wrong and you can blow highlights with any camera.
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Old 12-22-2014   #14
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What makes you say that? Why is it a more compelling image in your opinion? Isn't that because it doesn't have blown highlights? And that means were full circle....
Better overall composition; the woman's face is titled at an angle and fills the frame. Not concerned about the highlights, just looking at the content. Audiences aren't going to be concerned either, unless it's extreme to be annoying and distracts from the content. You're way too concerned with the surface of the image and the technique. Audiences get excited by the image's content (and context.) Trust me on that one.....
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Old 12-22-2014   #15
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The brighter highlights in the M240 image could be explained by something as simple as a car passing by outside the window that reflected a glint of sunlight at that particular moment in time.
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Old 12-22-2014   #16
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Thanks for the comparison.

I don't own either, and with my budget, probably never will. But if I were to buy one, it would be the M-E. I already have my Nikon work cameras that have CMOS sensors and I can make CMOS images. The M-E has the CCD sensor, and from my experience, it just has a different "look" compared to a CMOS. Some think better, some think worse. I happened to like the CCD look, especially when mated to my Leica glass.

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Old 12-22-2014   #17
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Interesting comparison, but one shot is not really enough to make it a valid test.

The first photo is much preferable for composition.

Not really a fan of trendy overexposure...
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Old 12-22-2014   #18
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Thanks for posting. I've seen a number of competent shooters indicate a preference for the skin tones and range of the CCD-based digi M's versus the M240, even some who have considerable post-processing skills, so no surprise for me here. Out of respect for your conditions, I've tried to ignore the compositional difference, and find the color and contrast from the M-E file preferable. I'm sure we could get different results from different workflows, but it's your workflow, not mine, and in your shoes I'd choose the M-E on this basis too.
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Old 12-22-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VertovSvilova View Post
Better overall composition; the woman's face is titled at an angle and fills the frame. Not concerned about the highlights, just looking at the content. Audiences aren't going to be concerned either, unless it's extreme to be annoying and distracts from the content. You're way too concerned with the surface of the image and the technique. Audiences get excited by the image's content (and context.) Trust me on that one.....
I don't have to trust you on that, I know that most people are more into content and context. The problem with the M240 picture is that a part of the surroundings is gone while it is there with the M-E, making the M-E picture better. This effect is bigger imho then the slight difference in composition. When you say that I'm "way too concerned with the surface of the image and the technique" you're not aware enough of the impact technical quality can have on look and feel of a picture. Just MHO of course. The truth probably is somewhere in the middle...
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Old 12-22-2014   #20
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Did you clone/heal the white sensor spots from the M-E photos before you posted them?
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Old 12-22-2014   #21
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Thanks for the comparison. Here we have a case of weather the CCD has more dynamic range in the highlights or if the CMOS overexposed. Based on similar comparisons, it may very well be the former.

I think if you are a low ISO shooter, the M9/ME is a fantastic choice. My case was completely the opposite. I'm frequently hitting the ISO 4000 limit I set on my m240 (while the ME sensor starts to fall apart at about ISO1600). However, I agonized between the ME and M240 because of the wonderful low ISO CCD photos I saw. In the end the High ISO performance, live view, and battery life led me to the M240. I've been absolutely delighted.
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Old 12-22-2014   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonart View Post
I think if you are a low ISO shooter, the M9/ME is a fantastic choice. My case was completely the opposite. I'm frequently hitting the ISO 4000 limit I set on my m240 (while the ME sensor starts to fall apart at about ISO1600). However, I agonized between the ME and M240 because of the wonderful low ISO CCD photos I saw. In the end the High ISO performance, live view, and battery life led me to the M240. I've been absolutely delighted.
OT: so, you find the M240's iso 4000 acceptable, color as well as B&W converted? i agree about the M9/ME limit of about iso 1600, so i'd be interested in your thoughts on the m240's reach above that limit.
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Old 12-22-2014   #23
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Based on these, keep the ME.

Not the first place it was stated the highlights are much less recoverable.

240 has some IR contamination and I can not leave the filters from the M8 in place.
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Old 12-23-2014   #24
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Huss

I think it would be a mistake to buy either camera based on a couple of quick snaps taken in the shop. If you are really torn between the two you will be much better off renting both for a couple of weeks and shooting them extensively , then draw your conclusion.

Good luck.
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Old 12-23-2014   #25
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IMO a good test for you, but not for those among us who avoid fried highlights.
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Old 12-24-2014   #26
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Here is my M-E/M240 comparison. I purchased my M-E before the M240 was available to purchase and it was almost a year after my purchase before someone not on a list could get the M240.

However, I attended the Leica Miami store grand opening in March of 2013 and they had a M240. These two photos below are taken with different lenses and slightly different ISO speeds. But recently I decided if I could see enough similarities that I would have no problem "upgrading" to the M240 for the quieter shutter and a little bit better ISO speed.

I'll let you all figure out which is which.



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Old 12-24-2014   #27
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The thing about overexposure is the artifacts/loss of IQ due to exceeding the full-well capacity of sensor sites is impossible to reproduce in a test such as this. A small difference in the number of saturated sites can have a huge impact on the IQ.

It loos as though one of these images has more flare than the other. The angle between the plane of the sensor and the light is different. The total exposure in the lower image is greater.

I suspect the results could have easily been reversed by a strikingly small change in camera positions and even shutter calibrations. To be fair, it is a challenging to do meaningful testing in a camera store.

The OP certainly did the right thing by testing for conditions that match his style. Still, these images have extremely high signal-to-noise ratios because the exposure is high. The dominant source of noise is photon (shot) noise. The superior read noise of the CMOSIS sensor is marginalized by the signal-to-noise ratio chosen for the test.
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Old 12-25-2014   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCTuomey View Post
OT: so, you find the M240's iso 4000 acceptable, color as well as B&W converted? i agree about the M9/ME limit of about iso 1600, so i'd be interested in your thoughts on the m240's reach above that limit.
Yes, while not every exposure at ISO4000 is perfectly acceptable, I can work with most. Having owned an RX1R (great in low light) just prior to the M240 I did not feel restricted by the M240.

Here are some samples at High ISO. You can judge for yourself. I'm pleased with the results...

ISO4000 ~f4.5 1/15th (Planar 50)


ISO6400 ~f2 1/125th (Sonnar 50)


ISO4000 ~f3.5 1/45th (Biogon 35)


ISO4000 ~f1.4 1/45th (Nokton 40)
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Old 12-25-2014   #29
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Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
Here is my M-E/M240 comparison. .... These two photos below are taken with different lenses and slightly different ISO speeds.
Different lenses will give a different look on the same body!
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Old 12-25-2014   #30
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Yes, while not every exposure at ISO4000 is perfectly acceptable, I can work with most. Having owned an RX1R (great in low light) just prior to the M240 I did not feel restricted by the M240.
Credit where credit is due.

That ISO performance at 4000 blows the M-E out of the water at 1600.

If you need this ISO level, then the M240 definitely is the choice.
I shoot mostly at base to 640.
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Old 12-25-2014   #31
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Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post
Here is my M-E/M240 comparison. I purchased my M-E before the M240 was available to purchase and it was almost a year after my purchase before someone not on a list could get the M240.

However, I attended the Leica Miami store grand opening in March of 2013 and they had a M240. These two photos below are taken with different lenses and slightly different ISO speeds. But recently I decided if I could see enough similarities that I would have no problem "upgrading" to the M240 for the quieter shutter and a little bit better ISO speed.

I'll let you all figure out which is which.



I'm going to go ut on a limb here and say the top image is the M240 file with the bottom being the M-E. My main reason being that overall the M240 files have a warmer color balance that the M-E and M9. The difference seems most apparent in the flowers
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Old 12-25-2014   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonart View Post
Yes, while not every exposure at ISO4000 is perfectly acceptable, I can work with most. Having owned an RX1R (great in low light) just prior to the M240 I did not feel restricted by the M240.

Here are some samples at High ISO. You can judge for yourself. I'm pleased with the results...

ISO4000 ~f4.5 1/15th (Planar 50)


ISO6400 ~f2 1/125th (Sonnar 50)


ISO4000 ~f3.5 1/45th (Biogon 35)


ISO4000 ~f1.4 1/45th (Nokton 40)
I would be very pleased with these results at iso 4000 (and above), whether color or converted. Thanks for taking the time to respond, very helpful.
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Old 12-25-2014   #33
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These are all wonderful photos. I really don't think you need to worry about your cameras. They seem to be working great. Of course, if you really want to buy a new one then feel free. Based on what I can see you will be able to take terrific photographs with the new one as well.

And BTW Neonart, my compliments. Your wife makes a stunning model.
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Old 12-25-2014   #34
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Credit where credit is due.

That ISO performance at 4000 blows the M-E out of the water at 1600.

If you need this ISO level, then the M240 definitely is the choice.
I shoot mostly at base to 640.
Thats kinda what I came to realize. I wanted a camera that could be my only camera, and I shoot in these conditions often.

However, for those who shoot low ISO, or who are ok with multiple bodies, then the CCD based leicas have a magic hard to reproduce.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCTuomey View Post
I would be very pleased with these results at iso 4000 (and above), whether color or converted. Thanks for taking the time to respond, very helpful.
You bet. Glad they were helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
And BTW Neonart, my compliments. Your wife makes a stunning model.
Thank you. I'm just glad she puts up with me chasing her around [with the camera].
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Old 01-06-2015   #35
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I'm going to go ut on a limb here and say the top image is the M240 file with the bottom being the M-E. My main reason being that overall the M240 files have a warmer color balance that the M-E and M9. The difference seems most apparent in the flowers

You may be correct but lenses also have their own colour signature.
A comparison test of two different bodies using different lenses is meaningless. My impromptu test wasn't great, but at least I used the same lens on each body.
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Old 01-06-2015   #36
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If I had an M240, I would do a battery of tests with the M9.
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Old 01-06-2015   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Pandorf View Post

I'll let you all figure out which is which.



I'd love to be told I'm wrong, so I could realize I can't tell the difference between a CCD file and a CMOS file, and I could get on with 'the future', but just a quick glance at the overall picture with no consideration of anything than the overall look led me to say within two seconds that the second shot is the M-E. Nothing at all to do with color balance or highlight detail, just the overall look.
So, which is it? And please tell me I'm wrong, because I'd rather be.
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Old 01-06-2015   #38
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I've also noticed the elasticity of the highlights in my M9. This is a good thing. On the flip side, I imagine the 240's shadows have more info. It seems the MO of modern digital is to underexpose by a stop or so and bring up the shadows. To me that adds a certain "look" to the image that I do not like.

The snarky folks will comment that you should "get the exposure right" instead of relying on highlight recovery. Well any photographer should know that not every scene you photograph will have a perfect contrast range that fits nice and neat into the cameras DR range (or print DR, for that matter!) so that's a really pointless statement. Exposure is subjective, according to intent.

There are certainly some things I don't like about the M9 but the highlight recovery is one of the things I really like about the camera. I prefer to shoot +2/3 or even 1 stop on the M9 (compared to the "metered" exposure) usually.
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Old 01-06-2015   #39
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If I push the highlights as close to the right as I can get, sometime even just a bit over, I get some amazing results in post process, even at higher ISOs. I actually don't think people are exposing far enough right most of the time because they are relying too much on that tiny little display screen to tell them the photo looks good. If it looks good on that little camera screen you probably will not be really happy with the print.
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Old 01-06-2015   #40
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ISO6400 ~f2 1/125th (Sonnar 50)
Very nice photos, but the banding is unacceptable to me, personally.

I'd think it would be better to shoot at a lower ISO and push in post, same as with the M9.
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