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Canon 5D Mk III vs. Sony A7 vs. LEICA M typ 240
Image Quality Comparison
© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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December 2013   Better Pictures   Nikon   Canon    Fuji    LEICA   All Reviews

Canon 5D Mark III review

LEICA M typ 240 review

Sony A7 Review


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Let's compare a Canon 5D Mark III, LEICA M typ 240 and Sony A7, shooting the same thing: a tree. What could be so difficult?


50mm Comparison

First let's snap away with a 50mm lens.

The Canon 5D Mark III was shot with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L with a lens profile.

The LEICA M typ 240 was shot with a LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 with a lens profile.

The Sony A7 was shot with the same LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 with no lens profile.

Each was set how I shoot my normal landscape shooting. The Canon was set to Standard Picture Style with 7 sharpening and +4 saturation with A3 white balance trim. The LEICA was shot at HIGH saturation. The Sony was shot at +3 saturation.

All were shot in Auto White Balance at f/11.

Click any image to get the © camera-original JPG file.

Canon 5D Mark III sample image

LEICA M typ 240 sample image

Sony A7 sample image


50mm Analysis

What I see here is how each interprets color. You can download the original files and look for yourself; click each image.

The Canon is as it should be; it's my go-to camera when I actually want a good picture.

The LEICA is OK. It's actually a little too yellow green, and that helps it in this case since it's a yellow-green tree. If I had shown a white object, the LEICA wouldn't have been so pretty. I see no ability to trim the white balance (amber-blue and green-magenta) in the LEICA, an amusing flaw, since the LEICA is the only camera that needs this adjustment , and the only camera here that lacks it.

The Sony looks horrible. It's Auto White Balance was fooled by the green tree, and tinted the entire image way too magenta. Ooops! This might be easy to overlook, but if that was your money shot, you'd go hungry.


21mm Comparison

The Canon 5D Mark III was shot with the Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM ($500) with an in-camera lens profile.

The LEICA M typ 240 was shot with a LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH ($3,000) with an in-camera lens profile.

The Sony A7 was shot with the same LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH, but with no lens profile.

Canon 5D Mark III Image Quality Comparison

LEICA M typ 240 Image Quality Comparison

Sony A7 Image Quality Comparison


21mm Analysis

Here we see the same color issues. We also see falloff from the Sony, which has no lens profile to help correct the natural falloff inherent in wide-angle lenses.


21mm Corner Performance

Let's see what happens in the lower right corner. These are crops from the 100% images above:

Canon 5D Mk III corner performance

Leica M typ 240 corner performance

Sony A7 corner performance

21mm Corner Analysis

The $500 Canon lens shot on the $3,500 5D Mark III is a little better than the $3,000 LEICA lens shot on the $7,000 LEICA M. How can this be? Simple: most Canon shooters use the expensive 16-35/2.8 L II or 17-40/4 L zooms, instead of the inexpensive fixed-focal-length 20mm USM, which is both sharper than the Canon zooms and also has Intelligent Field Curvature (IFC) which helps in the real world. I suppose if I tweaked the focus or sharpness settings I could probably get the LEICA to be as sharp as the Canon. Have you ever noticed how no one dares a head-to head shootout versus a LEICA? This LEICA setup usually shines technically, and so does the Canon.

The same $3,000 LEICA lens looks horrible on the Sony. This is because the Sony's sensor is obviously not happy with lenses with their rear nodal points this close to the sensor, while the LEICA cameras are designed to work well with these LEICA lenses. I saw the same thing shooting the LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH on the Sony. This is the world's best 35mm lens, yet it was soft on the sides when shot on the A7. This isn't caused by a bad adapter, which would make things even worse, my adapter is properly calibrated.


21mm Corner Point Sources

Here are the shots that I first saw when photographing Christmas lights with the Sony A7, which is what lead to this investigation.

Here's a crop from a 100% 24 MP image with the LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 21mm as shot on the Sony A7. Am I imagining this, or am I seeing severe internal sensor reflections? There was nothing but air between the A7's sensor and the back of the SUPER-ELMAR-M:

Sony A7 corner performance

LEICA M typ 240 corner performance

AHA!!!! As I thought, something about the Sony A7's sensor is not happy with a real lens. (The sky is darker in the LEICA shot because I shot it the next evening to satisfy my curiosity. I also didn't have the saturation pumped-up in the LEICA as I did in the Sony.)


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

It's always best to shoot the lenses made by your camera maker. It's been that way for decades and decades.

Canon EOS is a real camera system for photographers to make real photos.

The Sony is a toy from one of the world's leaders in video and audio gear. It's fun to put different lenses on it, but it can't compete with real cameras from Nikon and Canon.

The LEICA is a special product for special people. No one buys a Ferrari to get to work, and certainly don't own it as their only car. Much as the Ferrari owner drives one of his other cars if he actually needs to get to an important appointment, the LEICA owner has other cameras, too. The LEICA images look almost as good as the Canon images here, but don't ask me about the LEICA's ergonomics or reliability any more than you'd ask the Ferrari owner how his car compares to a Honda for comfort or reliability.


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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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