An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P

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I want to say upfront that until I did the test, I had no idea how the result was going to turn out. What I suspected wasn’t quite the outcome that occurred; but you’re going to have to read on to find that out 🙂 I apologize in advance, because what was supposed to be a quick A-B image comparison has turned into a 3,500 word dissertation. There are a lot of things that must be said, clarified and put into context when dealing with these cameras.

The best conceived test is completely useless if the methodology isn’t sound; likewise, a seemingly unfair fight can be actually relevant if properly executed. Both cameras are in the high 30MP range; 36.3MP for the Nikon D800E, and 37.5MP for the Leica S2. Close enough to make as near as no difference. (Also, the S2-P is the same camera as the S2 except for the sapphire cover over the screen and professional service.) Everything was shot at base ISO on a sturdy tripod (a heavy Manfrotto 444 Carbon One with Hydrostat head) and mirror lockup. Lossless compressed RAW for both, with files processed via ACR 6.7 final release with equal sharpening, zero noise reduction, and equal shadow/highlight recovery slider settings. Images were then saved as quality 12 jpegs – the full frame shots you see are reference for color only, not resolution of course – and the 100% crops are also quality 12 jpegs. There is some minor quality degradation but not a lot. The first cityscape had both cameras set to the same Kelvin temperature for white balance, however subsequent shots were point balanced in ACR to the same location as this was more representative of real-life workflow.

In addition to outdoor subjects – the dynamic range torture test – I also shot a number of indoor subjects to test both front and back bokeh, sharpness, high ISO performance, lens performance in the macro range, and a trial run for something I’d use both cameras for – watch photography.*

Similarly, I matched lenses as closely as possible; we chose the best for each system. Not difficult with the S2 – all of the lenses are incredible, and nearly flawless. It is simply one of the highlights of the system; there are no lenses worse than excellent. And each lens has its own calibration firmware embedded at the factory, to ensure perfect focus on every camera body – why other manufacturers don’t do this is beyond me. I certainly wouldn’t have had the D800 AF issue if this was the case. I used the Leica 35/2.8 Summarit-S and 120/2.5 APO-Macro-Summarit-S on the S2, and the Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon and Nikon 85/2.8 PCE Micro-Nikkor on the D800E – both lenses I consider to be the best of their focal length in F mount.

Focusing was done either via the AF system (and results checked via live view or manually bracketed) to achieve optimum sharpness. Everything was shot within minutes of each other, so there should be minimal differences in lighting. There will be some differences in the final watch shot as I couldn’t get the tripod to hold in that overhead position with the weight of the S2; the shot was handheld and there are some minor differences in lighting due to watch positioning and reflections.

*I shot part of an architectural assignment recently with the S2, 30mm and 70mm lenses; see an upcoming On Assignment for the rest of that article.

Part one: Cityscape – dynamic range and resolution test. Zeiss 2/28 and Leica 30/2.5

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The full D800E + Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon frame

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The full Leica S2 + 35/2.5 Summarit-S frame

The first obvious thing is that the color response of both sensors is hugely different, despite both being set to the same color temperature; I’m guessing it has to do with many factors, including a) CMOS vs CCD architecture; b) the nature of the Bayer algorithm used and the color filter array layout; c) internal signal processing and ‘company color profile’; d) ACR’s interpretation of the files.

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 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.

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D800E 100% center crop, at f2.5

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D800E 100% center crop, at f8.

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S2 100% center crop, at f2.5

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S2 100% center crop, at f8

In the center, the Zeiss/D800E combination is already excellent at f2.5 (set to match the S2) and barely improves at f8. The Leica, however, is even better at f2.5 (wide open!) and seems to soften a bit at f8. I repeated this test several times with the same result – the lens is best used wide open, it seems.

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D800E 100% edge crop, at f8

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S2 100% edge crop, at f8

The corners tell a very different story; the Zeiss/D800E is very good, but the Leica is outstanding. The former has clear softening due to CA at high contrast edges (note white building) due to field curvature; the Leica shows none of this whatsoever and is sharp enough to show minor evidence of color moire (!). This is best seen in the air conditioning condensers in the windows of the white building.

Note – shadow noise here is high because I’ve run a 50/50 setting for the shadow/highlight slider to maximize dynamic range.

Part two: Indoors, wide-angle bokeh test and flare test

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D800E + Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon full frame

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S2 + 35/2.5 Summarit-S full frame

There’s really not a lot in this one – both images look great. Color is accurate, and bokeh is pleasant – though I’d give the edge to the S2 because the highlight rolloff is a little smoother; which no doubt has much to do with the dynamic range of the sensor. What is noticeable here is vignetting on the D800E/ Zeiss combination; almost a stop. I guess it’s one of the factors that contributes to the cinematic look of the Zeiss. The Leica has zero vignetting, despite being shot wide open. Depth of field is about the same; the D800E/ Zeiss was shot at f2, and the Leica at f2.5.

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D800E 100% center crop, at f2

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S2 100% center crop, at f2.5

Both lenses are commendable in the way they handle the strong backlight with almost no flare; the coatings on both are superb and you see very little of the first few elements. However, on closer inspection at 100%, we see the Zeiss has a definite purple fringe, and the Leica appears almost completely apochromatic. I’d say resolution here is a tie.

Part three: telephoto bokeh and flare test

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D800E + 85/2.8 PCE full frame

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S2 + 120/2.5 APO full frame

We’ve now switched lenses to the short tele macros; the 85/2.8 PCE on the D800E, and the 120/2.5 APO-Macro-Summarit on the S2. The tripod was moved between shots to try to match the angle as the Leica 120 is about 95mm equivalent; I don’t have the AFS 105/2.8 VR handy, and besides, I think the 85/2.8 PCE is a better lens anyway – the micro contrast structure is a lot more refined, and LoCA is lower.

The D800E seems to have a slight dynamic range advantage here, though it could be due to exposure. Bokeh from the S2 is definitely better, as would be expected from a lens that’s both faster and longer. Both lens/ camera combinations deliver a very 3D feel, and pleasant foreground bokeh – something that’s frequently ignored by photographers, but contributes heavily to a workable defocused foreground as part of the composition or not.

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D800E 100% center crop at f4

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S2 100% center crop at f4

On closer inspection, we see both lenses are easily capable of matching the resolving power of the sensor; if forced to choose, I’d give a hair to the Leica, but there’s almost nothing in it. Where there is a difference is in longitudinal chromatic aberration (‘bokeh fringing’) which is very obvious on the Nikon crop, but almost completely absent from the Leica – the 120mm is an APO lens, after all. This may contribute to the overall impression of the Leica being slightly sharper. Interestingly, the micro contrast structure and color transmission between the two lenses is very similar indeed, which is to say very neutral.

Part four: high ISO test

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D800E full frame, ISO 1250

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S2 full frame, ISO 1250

The same scene, again – however, this time at ISO 1250, which is the upper limit for the S2. The D800E can of course go a lot higher – to 25,600 – but I wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole. Notice the reduction in dynamic range for both cameras – more so on the S2, as expected from its CCD sensor architecture. Color transmission is commendably consistent between the two. In case you’re not convinced it’s dark, exposure time was 1/40s at f4 ISO 1250 for both cameras. Although this isn’t pushing the limits of the Nikon with it’s CMOS sensor, it is pretty much forbidden territory for most medium format systems.

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D800E 100% center crop, ISO 1250 f4

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S2 100% center crop, ISO 1250 f4

THe S2 displays a similar noise profile to the M9 at the pixel level; this of course isn’t surprising because they share the same base sensor architecture from Kodak. It is clear that both cameras are showing noise (there is zero NR applied here; it could be much improved by judicious use of the noise reduction tools in ACR). The D800E’s noise pattern is very fine grained luminance noise only; there’s a hint of chroma noise in the S2, but it’s still mostly luminance. I’d put it at being 1.5-2 stops behind the D800E. This is clearly not an available light camera; frankly, neither one is; I’d pick a D3s or D4. Detail retention for both cameras is still excellent, with the edge again going to the Leica – more clearly this time – perhaps the Nikon is applying some noise reduction on its raw files (though I switched this option off in camera.)

Part five: practical applications

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D800E + 85/2.8 PCE full frame

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S2 + 120/2.5 APO full frame

What you see here is a processed (but un-retouched – that would take too long) final photo achieved with multiple Nikon flashes – triggered via CLS on the D800, or via an optical SU4 trigger on the S2 – which is representative of the kind of shoot I’d use either camera for. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the minimum practical frame size on the D800E being about 10x7mm, vs 60x90mm for the S2.

The S2 image pops more – it could be due to a slight change in camera position for reasons mentioned earlier – but I suspect it may be due to the Leica 120mm having slightly higher overall contrast than the Nikon PCE. Both cameras have done outstandingly well; I like both images very much. Color is commendably accurate after adjustment.

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D800E 100% center crop, f5.6

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S2 100% center crop, f5.6

Close up, there’s there’s a bite to the S2 image that’s lacking from the D800E; somehow the finest structures aren’t being completely transmitted by the lens; it seems the S2 lenses have more micro contrast. Once again, both images were shot at the same aperture, but somehow the S2 appears to have a hair more resolution and acuity.

Part six: specific comments on the Leica S2

There are a lot of things I like about this camera. It’s the first Leica system designed from the ground up in a long time, and it shows. There’s DNA from the R9 ‘Hunchback of Solms’ about the way the shoulders of the camera slope, the gigantic shutter dial, and the almost vertical shutter release (which is a great design choice, by the way – squeezing the grip greatly reduces camera shake compared to a vertical plane release). Even the power switch positioning is reminiscent of that lever on the R9 whose function I’d never been able to figure out. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that they managed to fit such an enormous viewfinder inside that prism hump – it’s not much bigger than the D800E’s hump, in fact (though the latter also contains a pop up flash).

Despite the legacy DNA, the control system is well thought out and remarkably simple – four hot keys around the LCD have soft functions; selections and scrolling are taken care of by the thumb wheel, which also clicks in to select or change exposure mode. It’s a very elegant and easy to use system. The camera and lenses are also fully weather sealed, with elaborately precise flanged gaskets that make the Nikon look positively crude by comparison. (Strangely, I was also told that it was probably not a good idea to shoot with the camera in the local monsoon rain). Build quality is excellent; it feels like a solid block of metal (and weighs about the same too, but a lot of this is attributable to the lenses), and there are very few external screws except on the base, which is rubberized; I’d say it’s a level above even the D4. The mirror mechanism is remarkably well damped, and for such a large mirror, blackout time is negligible. The one thing I don’t like about the ergonomics is the hand grip; that odd finger cut just doesn’t seem like it was made for Asian hands.

The viewfinder is enormous – as expected for medium format – and hugely addictive, being both of high magnification and high eye point. In fact, magnification is about 100% with the 70mm, which means you can comfortably shoot with both eyes open. I never thought I’d say this, but it makes the D800E’s finder feel like a dark tunnel. And there’s no comparison when it comes to ease of manual focus – though the D800E does of course have live view. Battery life is excellent, too – in my time shooting with the S2, I’ve never been able to make the charge indicator move more than a small fraction even during a heavy day of shooting with several hundred images. I’d estimate you’d get at least a thousand, possibly even two thousand, images off one charge.

The crown jewel of the system, however, has to be the lenses. The S system lenses are hands down the most impressive optics I’ve ever used; they’re almost flawless wide open, even in the corners, and even more perfect than the best M system lenses. And they focus themselves! Sadly they’re also enormous and heavy – which I suppose is the price paid for perfection. The 120 macro is almost the size of a 70-200 VR.

It’s not all roses, though. The S2 doesn’t work well as an available light camera; it’s very difficult to nail critical focus, stop camera or subject motion, and still stay within the good quality ISO range. I’d go to ISO 640 with reservations, and 1250 in emergencies. But then again, it was never supposed to be. The LCD could be improved, and some parts of the menu just look crude. The reverse-turning (at least relative to Nikon) aperture dial is also immensely confusing; I wish they put an option in the menu to allow users to reverse the direction. Autofocus is precise, but by no means fast; with the 120 APO-Macro it might take a while as the focusing helicoid nearly runs a full 360 degree turn of the barrel.

Part seven: specific comments on the Nikon D800E

You can find plenty of my thoughts on the nearly identical D800’s detailed first impressions review.

After a month of using the sibling of this camera in various ways, my opinion still hasn’t changed: it’s a game changer as far as image quality in the small format goes. There isn’t anything that can touch it, and the D800E stretches that bar even further. I thought the image quality of the M8 was good, but this is like having two M8 sensors welded together side by side – that’s a noticeable increase in resolution.

The D800E does require care with regards to moire; I’ve seen it several times already during my very short time with the camera. Both luminance and chrominance moire are possible; watch carefully with high frequency repeating patterns such as architectural detail or fabrics.

It’s a shame, however, that most of Nikon’s lenses don’t seem up to the task. They have built a monster of a camera body capable of incredible resolution and color that seems to have outstripped the rest of the system somewhat – very, very few Nikkors can do the sensor justice. The PCEs are a safe bet, as are most of the Zeiss lenses; of the AF glass, be careful with the primes. Yes, there were focusing problems, yes, they’re being repaired, and yes, my D800E is much better than the D800 – though still affected to a very slight degree. Enough that I’ll be careful, but not a deal breaker as most of my work with the D800E will be done under controlled studio circumstances with longer lenses.


What I find interesting is that we’re at a convergence point: my complaints of the S2 are because I’m treating it like a normal SLR; on the opposite hand, I’m expecting medium format quality from the D800E. This says a lot: both cameras have achieved and surpassed their design objectives. The Leica S2 was designed to make medium format easy and convenient; it does – to the point where we forget that we’re shooting with medium format. The D800E was supposed to raise 35mm-format DSLRs into the medium format realm; it does. I don’t think I’ll ever take the D800E with me on holiday; I’d certainly pack something lighter, smaller and less demanding to shoot. But I can offer my clients a new level of quality, but without the limitations of medium format (wireless TTL flash, magnification, focal length selection). By the same token, I’m quite happy walking around with the S2 and 70/2.5 (which is my favorite lens for the S system) and treating it as I would my M9-P. Both have a place in the photographer’s arsenal; however, you probably shouldn’t buy either unless you know you’re going to use the resolution – and in that case, the S2 wins on the quality its lens system.

You’ve probably read all the way to the end of this review hoping I’ll pronounce one better than the other; the reality isn’t that clear cut. The Leica S2 wins on lens quality (by a large margin), resolution (by a hair), dynamic range (though this may be debatable) and build; the D800E wins on color, practical usability (ISO 6,400 at medium format resolutions, anybody?), lens selection, speed and portability.

I honestly like both cameras and systems very much; I don’t think I could pick between the two if money weren’t an issue. The reality is that unless you’re going to torture your files and print them at enormous sizes, the D800E does deliver much better value for money. However, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money on lenses to do the sensor justice – that is if you can even find anything suitable; this lens selection is very, very small; and it’s also not cheap. I’d give the edge overall to the S2; because of the matched lenses, it feels like a more complete system, but you’ve got to climb a steep diminishing returns slope to get there. However, with the ever rising pixel densities of lower end cameras – 24MP APS-C, for instance – I’d be surprised if there wasn’t an even higher resolution D4x in the future, and given the undoubtedly huge investment for Leica, this is just the beginning of the S system. MT

Note: I don’t think I’ll be doing a direct comparison with the regular D800 as I no longer have one handy; however what I will do is try to dig out some similar files and do an approximate comparison that way. What I see from the D800E definitely has higher acuity at the pixel level, though I’ve also seen clear evidence of color and luminance moire – much in line with expectations.


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  1. Currently I am using a Sigma SD1. The Foveon sensor delivers fabulous image quality in good light, but it has some serious shortcomings that restrict its versatility. The S2 shots are just amazing. Obviously the lenses have a lot to do with it, though I am sure that the larger photosensitive elements of its huge sensor also play their part. Never have I seen such total freedom from Chromatic Abberation. Add complete freedom from distortion, edge to edge sharpness, the lack of any vignetting and bokeh to die for and I cannot think of anything that comes close to the image quality that the S2 delivers. I want one!

    At its original price of over $20,000 it was out of the questions, but nowadays near-mint S2s can be found second hand for $8000 or less, which makes it almost affordable for the less than extremely wealthy photographer.

    • The problem is you’ve still got to buy lenses, which adds to the total. You’d be better off with a D810 and Zeiss Otuses at the same or slightly lower pricing, or the various Voigtlander APOs at quite a bit less money.

  2. Hello Ming. I’ve just revisited this comparison and (while this may be impossible) would like to know your thoughts on this entire subject considering the Otus on the the Nikon. I’m about ready to shuck my entire Nikon system in favor of the S2. And there are many reasons for this and I can’t quantify all of them. And, fyi, I do have a D800 with all the best Zeiss (yes, including Otus) and Nikon glass. And also I mostly use the Nikon on a tripod for landscape. For anything else, I have my trusty M8.2.
    Quite subjective, I know, but your opinion is valued.
    Thanks, John

    • The gap widens further. The Otuses are at least the equals of S glass or better, and a stop or more faster.

      • That’s an interesting statement Ming. Do you mean that the Otii matches/exceeds the Leica S glass in sharpness? As I see it there is very little to improve on the S glass in terms of CA, distortion etc.

      • Gary Morris says:

        Terrific review. And probably unique on the internet. Well done! I would question the Otus lenses as a comparison to the S glass from the perspective that the Leica S lenses are auto focus while the Otus lenses are manual focus. Not everyone in all circumstances are going to want to manually focus (particularly in a fast moving environment). In my mind, that would give a leg up to the Leica S glass over Otus.

        Do you think that the newer Nikon D810 would level the playing field in this comparison? I guess to be fair one would have to then consider the newer S bodies but just substituting the D810 for the D800E evaluated in this review, do you think your estimation would be moderated any?

        • Firstly, this was written some time before the Otus lenses were available. Secondly, AF on the S2 is slow enough and imprecise enough that I could use LV on the D800 and MF both faster and more accurately. So it’s not quite as clear cut as you might think. The D810 is better than the D800E in just about every way, and yes, better than the S/S2. Try shooting either of those above ISO 400 and expecting any sort of edge acuity or colour fidelity. More critically, I’ve experienced file corruption using the S2. Never with the Nikons. And in the field or on assignment, if a Nikon breaks, you buy another – unless you’re too rich to be a photographer and in a large first world city, that isn’t an option with the S2.

          • Gary Morris says:

            Good answers… thanks! A friend just received his new S (upgrading from the S2). He notes that the S is “crisper” in every aspect. I was trying to get a sense as to whether the D810 could be viewed as a “budget” S (provided comparable glass were used). Great points to use for future consideration. Appreciate the feedback!

  3. This is the first of its kind test I have seen between the S-2 and the D800E. remarkable results, however in my case , until I get a very rich girlfriend” I will happily settle for the Nikon has come a long way though Leica is paramount no doubt.

  4. Danish C says:

    Excellent comparison & writeup Ming, can D800 be used for commercial product photography, mainly for jewellery and small objects?

    • Err…if you’ve read any of my articles you’ll know I do almost all of my work – which is commercial product/ watches/ luxury goods/ architecture – with a D800E…

  5. We just 2 years later, Hasselblad and Phase -one and maybe soon Pentax and possible a Nikon MF camera will enjoy with a CMOS sensor(s) starting with 44×33 size but possble also in 41×56 size. The price for Phase one is around € 24000, Hasselblad price will a little cheaper expected price € 19000 – € 21000. But Pentax maybe will offer it foe € 10000. Sony self or Nikon in the price range of € 7500 till € 8000 that will be more competitive with FullFrames and very interesting for landscape,travel and achitecture photography. MF is coming out of the closet (studio).

  6. Craig Sharrow says:

    You didn’t mention the S2’s performance with portraiture. I’ve seen several different photographers work, and it appears that the S2 does an amazingly flattering job of rendering skin texture and tone. Right up there with the Sinar.

  7. yup. love my D800 but my lenses dont stand up. they were great on a D700 but the extra pixels show up all the issues. still, if big enlargments are required, the central resolution is still pretty outstanding

  8. I am a macro/close-up photography, perhaps best known for my work with focus stacking. I appreciate the thoughtful article on the D800E and Leica systems. I don’t have a Leica system, but I did own a Mamiya RZ67 system, which gave me access to at least one view of medium format. I still have some 11 expensive lenses for the RZ67 sitting around here, but after having to replace the digital back (Leaf Aptus-II 33MP) twice, I happily threw in the towel.

    Nikon (and other) lenses aside (I have lots), what did it for me was the primitive GUI in the digital back. Not only did it not work properly (two of them), but for me both the camera and digital back were like time-traveling back into the distant past of the Nikon GUI.

    It was a terrible experience that made it clear, at least to me, that while the Nikon D800E can’t quite reach the peaks of the MF systems, it comes close enough for my needs and is a WHOLE LOT easier to use, not to mention less expensive. My Mamiya RZ67 systems was over $13,000 and that is without the various lenses, finder, and what-not which added many, many thousands of dollars on top of that. Just a comment.

    • Ouch, replacing a digital back sounds painful. Any chance you could make use of the larger image circle of those lenses with say a Horseman TS pro and D800E? It’s one option I’m seriously looking into, though the new Novoflex TS bellows for M4/3 looks pretty interesting too.

      I’ve not yet had any complaints from my clients about D800E files other than the size of the 16bit TIFFs…

      • Thanks for the response. I have indeed looked into the Horseman TS Pro, but for reasons stated above settled on the fact that the Nikon D800E, all things considered, comes close enough just on its own. I also have a D4 and D7000, but mostly I have been using the D800E. For my work, the D800E, without the AA filter, really does the job. Of course, much of what I do involves stacking focus (100+ images), so worries about autofocus, etc. I just tend to ignore.

        Something I do find important when using the D800E is the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head. I had to stop using my RRS BH-55 because with the D800E, it just was harder to position and sometimes slumped ever so slightly. A sturdy tripod and solid head is important for work with the D800E. Before that I was using the D3x and D3s and had no real problems. The D800 series cameras are harder to focus. Period.

        I am interested in your work because of your Horary close-up photos. I have experimented a lot with macro and close-up lenses, both Nikon, but also Zeiss and Cosina/Voigtlander lens, like the CV 125mm f.2.5 APO-Lanther, which is my all-around favorite macro lens. I also use the Leica Elmarit-R 100mm APO, and the Coastal Optics 60mm APO lenses quite a bit. What do you like for macro?

        • Right now I’m using the 60/2.8 G and the 85/2.8 PCE. Would love to try the CV 125 and the Coastal 60, but the former is impossible to find, and I’d have to buy the latter – they weren’t willing to lend me a review sample. I’m just not that confident about the results to spend that kind of money sight unseen. Having said all of that, I’m very, very impressed with the new Olympus 60/2.8 – just a shame it’s for M4/3, which isn’t quite enough resolution sometimes for the kind of work I do.

      • I can assure you that the CV-125mm and the Coastal Optics 60mm are way beyond anything like the Micro-Nikkor 60mm G and the Micro-Nikkor 85mm PCE. I also like the Zeiss 50mm and 100mm Makro-Planar, but seldom use them, instead using one of the following, because their color is more subtle.

        Aside from the CV-125mm APO and Coastal 60mm APO, the only other lens in that level of quality that I use is the Leica Macro Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8 APO. I guess my motto is “APO is the way to go.”

  9. Thank you for your good work, Ming. When you did these comparisons or used various Nikon lenses with the D800E were you aware at that time of the asymmetric focusing issues with your D800E…or did that camera not have any focusing issues?

    If you discovered the focusing issues after the fact, how would that alter your conclusions as to what would be the best Nikon lenses for the D800E?

    • A non-issue, Nick – the focusing issues are only on AF lenses and when using AF, not if you use live view and manual focus at 10x at the desired point of comparison 🙂

  10. Ming, now you had have enough experience of your D800E. It is well known that E model is slightly sharper then D800. Could you please share how serious the moire problem is with D800E except fabrics? I have noticed that top professionals like you prefer D800E and some are saying that they have yet to see moire and it is not so serious as assumed. I want to know that Is it really a better choice over D800 for someone who does,nt shoot marrige and fashion ?

    • Firstly, I think the resolution is overkill for event work; I’d probably go with a D4 or D3s. I don’t see the problem as being particularly serious for the kinds of things I shoot; if it is, I’ll actually stop down a little further and let diffraction softening cancel out the moire.

  11. Jon Crane says:

    An excellent read, thank you very much MT. I wonder if you have tried any of the R-Series Leica lenses on your D800E. I have owned the Apo-Summicron 180mm, Elmarit 19mm and Apo-Elmarit 100mm, all unsurpassed in my opinion and I truly regret selling them now that there are adaptors available. How do you think the S2 would fair against the D800 with these lenses mounted?

  12. Reblogged this on luxBorealis – Nature & Outdoor Photography by Terry A. McDonald and commented:
    An excellent comparison of the D800e and a truly spectacular medium format DSLR – the Leica S2. Great reading whether you’re considering a D800 or not.

  13. Vincent Xu says:

    Hi, Mingthein,

    I planned to buy a D800. However after read you post, I am now struggling if I should choose D800E. The big concern to me is if D800E really add more Moire and fake color in the photos and especially in the video recording? Could you share with me your view?


    • You don’t see it that much, but yes, it is there in stills, much less so in video because of the downsampling. If you shoot a lot of textured objects or fabric, then buy the D800. If you don’t, buy the D800E. There isn’t a huge difference in resolution between them, but it is noticeable.

  14. RH Boks says:

    Excellent article, but we forget that the Leica S2 has only a 30x45mm sensor with a standard focal of 57mm (instead of 70mm). for me the Leica S2 is not a real MF camera. The Hasselblad H4-50 and H4-60 and the Phase-0ne with 80MP have the size of a real MF format no crop for 6×4,5. What is a really a dream a Leica S3 with a 42x56mm CMOS sensor and only 40MP but with a useable ISO of 6400 and competitive price against Hasselblad and Phase-one.

    • We can all dream…but I doubt we’re going to see any of that because of a) mount and image circle limitations; b) CCD technology limitations…and as for competitive pricing, this is Leica we’re talking about 🙂

  15. Nice comparison, I do like the Leica better, but the price difference is a big factor, so in this case Nikon is the better option price IQ ratio.

  16. Johan Bertels says:

    Nice review! But i don’t agree on the lenses, Nikon has updated all it’s top of the bill lenses, but I didn’t see one of them being used in this review…
    For example the 85 F1.4G.. I use it on the D800E as well as the 70-200 F2.8 V2, the 50mm 1.4G, 24mm 1.4G and these are the lenses to use on the D800/E otherwise it isn’t a quite fair review. I really think the outcome will be different if these were used for comparison.

    • Thanks, but I disagree. The 24/1.4 G and 85/1.4 G don’t perform that well on the D800E – I have both and did extensive testing – I’ve been surprised and disappointed by what works and what doesn’t on the D800/E…

      • According to Nikon hear in Europe, the new 28 mm 1.8 was specially designed for the new Nikon 800. Did you hear anything about serious battery problems with the Nikon 800? That the akku shuts down early?

        • I might have to pick one up at some point, I have a serious 28mm addiction. 😛 Not shot with it other than a couple of tests at the NPS offices, but what I did see looked pretty good.

          No battery problems to report here with either of my cameras. Both will give me somewhere between 1500 and 2000 shots per charge.

  17. Peps K. says:

    “The Leica, however, is even better at f2.5 (wide open!) and seems to soften a bit at f8. I repeated this test several times with the same result – the lens is best used wide open, it seems.”
    According to my experience, this is rather due to diffraction. f/8 is simply too stopped down for the S2 sensor.
    That the f/2.5 is better than the (not severely) diffractioned f/8 is truly a sign of quality of the part of the Summarit-S.
    if, however, you had the same result at f/4 (i.e. being softer than f/2.5), then I’d be surprised. Until then, I tend not to agree with “the lens is best used wide open”.

  18. John Glockmen says:

    Hi Ming, thanks for the truth telling test (I dislike myth), However, for the sam reason, I would like to know what leads you to the assuming that ” The Leica S2 wins on lens quality (by a large margin)” ? Make no mistake , Leica does make wonderful lens, but according to hundreds of lens test, Leica does not always claim the crown. Nikon could outshine Leica , especially in recent years.

    • In MTF terms, maybe. Let’s be clear – we’re at the top of the diminishing returns curve here – I’m seeing more macrocontrast from the Nikon glass, but more microcontrast from Leica. And very few of the Nikon lenses perform in the corners on the D800E, especially at or near maximum aperture – I own or have access to most of the pro glass. All of the S lenses I’ve tested so far have been near flawless – the only one I haven’t used is the 180.

  19. I’m sorry if any Leica owner’s feelings are hurt but, the fact is the Nikon D800 blows the Leica away in each and every one of the samples provided here. They offer the same resolution, but the nikons color management algorithms are superior in every respect. Better contrast, better dynamic range, better color depth. In fact, the Leica’s color rendition is shameful, the blue-green tinge of the first sample photograph is awful! Worse yet, is the last picture comparison where the Leica’s grain and chroma artifacts are horrendous certainly due to the Leica’s nonexistent ISO range. To add insult to injury all this upstaging is being done by a camera that
    costs a tenth of the price!

  20. Robert Nantel says:

    Very good review Mr Thein.
    Reading your article I almost got blind trying to compared pictures taken with D800E and S2.On a large print you would probably need a microscope
    to see a difference between these two not to say that at normal seeing distance differenciation is probably impossible.
    If resolution,contrast and color comparison are subtle, price sure is not. You will pay for the S2-P and the Summarit-S 120mm $35,000us and $5500us for D800E and 85/2.8 pce micro here in USA. Nikon also offers choice of a huge amount of gear compared to Leica.
    Some needs to be fanatic leicaist to sacrifice D800E price and convenience for so little S2 advantage.
    I wouldn’t buy a Porsche 911 but would surely trade my Toyota Corolla for one is price was the same.

    • Thanks Robert! I think the end conclusion is that both are fantastic cameras. The D800E is better value for money, but if you must have perfection, then the diminishing returns slope is steep, and the S2 wins. But it’s really close. I can’t justify the S2 personally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t use it when I have the chance.

  21. Hi Ming, from what I have seen so far all the standard Nikon pro lenses are fully capable of giving stunning results on the D800/E. I.e 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200m together with the newer 24, 35 and 85mm lenses. There may of course be some differences when pixel peeping, but do you think some of these lenses are not good enough for the D800/E?

    • Hi Anders,

      I agree that the 24-70 and 70-200 II do well on the D800/E in terms of overall macro contrast and sharpness; however, there isn’t much in the way of micro contrast structure, and fine detail reproduction could be improved especially compared to the Zeiss lenses. The 14-24 is soft in the corners. The 24/1.4 is not too bad but has the same limitation on micro contrast as the zooms. The 35 is very poor in the corners. Note that I’m talking about wide open conditions for all lenses, here. The 85/1.4 G is not too bad on the D800E (but not the D800, curiously); the best lens on every front is the 85/1.8 G. I’ve tested several samples of all but the 14-24 on several cameras, so I don’t think it’s a sample variation thing. The Zeiss 2/28 Distagon is also excellent at both gross resolution and fine micro contrast even wide open at f2, but suffers on highlight CA; the 85/2.8 PCE is excellent in all respects except spherochromatism and longitudinal CA with specular highlights.

      • Hi Ming, Thanks a lot for the comprehensive answer. It is very good news for me that 85/1.8 is doing so well, because I’m actually thinking about buying that lens (which is also very affordable) – well when my D800 arrives, which may be several months from now, due to the newly discovered problems i guess. The shop where I ordered mine only got 3 or 4 so far and I ordered in februar – but maybe Denmark is low on the list for D800?

        • No problem. I think for the price, that lens is a no-brainer. I need to do some more extensive testing with the D800E, but I might well swap my 85/1.4 G for one of those if I can’t get the results I want.

  22. Sharpness aside, what I notice about the Leica shots is the superior contrast and more pleasing, almost “film-like” rendition of the scene, and this is coming from a long time Nikon owner (FM>F90X>D50>D300>D300s>D3X). I must say, the Leica image definitely draws me in more. The D800 is missing that essential “snap” that gives the “ah ha” moment. For a $3000 camera the D800 does very well, though.

  23. Wow, not bad for Nikon. I look at the pictures and seems good. the only concern is maybe the DR at highlight area, seems little edgy.

    • Agreed – which is why it seems the Leica has a little more in it DR-wise. It could be shadow bias (D800) vs highlight bias (S2) though.

  24. Ron Sprunger says:

    Ming, I’m also impressed with your willingness to tolerate and engage a less-than-courteous commenter. What drew me to your site was the rational, respectful tone of the dialogue here. I think you explained yourself perfectly well in the original piece. It’s possible to take exception to something without engaging in a harangue, and I for one would prefer a more civil discourse, with respect for your and others’ observations and conclusions. We are privileged to be guests in your venue, and ought perhaps to moderate our tone to a more collegial level.

    • Thanks Ron. I believe everybody probably has a valid point somewhere and is entitled to an opinion; that can always be the source of some interesting discussion from which everybody can learn. Legitimate challenges and queries I can tolerate – rudeness I can’t. Anyway, it’s the internet; I try to remain professional even if not everybody else appreciates how much work I do for free for the benefit of the rest of the community here…

  25. My Name Does Not Matter says:

    Well, if anyone cares to look carefully – I do not think your test was exactly fair… Why don’t you correct the obvious CA? This kind of CA is _easily_ and _completely_ correctable…

    My main problem is that how “micro contrast” could be judged from JPEGs with obvious compression artifacts? If you insisit you should have provided PNGs. Especially in the last “watch” example this is very unforgiving.

    AND last but not least: the last comparison you made with the watch. The shot with the D800E is _misfocused_! With the S2 you clearly focused on the letters. With the D800E you focused on the pointer, on the clock hand! The blur is easily seen. But if anyone cares, the green outlines around the white letters are also a tell-tale sign of misfocusing.

    No wonder you do not find micro contrast… so the lens does not transmit fine detail outside the narrow focus plane 😛

    I hope these slip-ups were not intentional. I’m disillusioned however. Your comparisons seemed worthy so far.

    • 1. I didn’t correct the CA because repeated tests of one combination had it, and the other didn’t. Real life workflow: I’d have to remove it from one and not the other. I could process the hell out of both, and they’d look the same – but what would be the point of that? The point of this comparison was to see what your starting material out of the camera would be.

      2. The jpegs are illustrative only, for YOUR viewing. I’m looking at the full uncompressed 16bit RAW files when making my conclusions, and I’ve also shot several thousand frames with both the D800/ D800E and the S2 in the course of my commercial work – what I say is based on both the original files, and a huge number of them. Obviously this is impractical to upload, so we have to work within our bandwidth limitations.

      3. The watch example is a practical comparison, NOT a precise test as with the previous shots of the M9 and lens. I noted that already – there was no possibility to fix the cameras in position because of the angle, and it was meant to be a workflow/ practical example test. Microcontrast differences are visible in the camera crops, which was a controlled tripod-based test.

      I suggest you check your understanding before you criticize my testing methodology, and you could at least have the courtesy of leaving your name.

      • My Name Does Not Matter says:

        As my “name” says, the name is not important… I don’t want it personal and especially do not want to escalate this issue. Not worth it.

        While your answer about the CA is acceptable, it is still misleading. Ticking a single checkbox to correct CA cannot be considered “processing the hell out”, but this is really a personal preference.

        My real problem is with the last comparison. The angle, etc. is very similar – actually, no problem with “camera position”, whatever. The focus is simply off! Or rather, no critical focus was achieved, as photogeeks say. Based on that, you are telling the 85mm PC-E lens is lacking micro-contrast, which is not true. (At least not based on these particular crops.) Your last shot has finally some fine detail at high magnification – but then it is flawed.

        I’m impressed still, that you did not dismissed my opinion. It is commendable. I would not expect e.g. Lloyd do the same. Let’s see what others have to say.

        • What ACR does with CA isn’t equal from camera to camera and lens to lens – without knowing exactly what the software is doing, it might give one camera an advantage over the other – and that wouldn’t be objective.

          Again – the last shots were meant to be a rough comparison of what I would do with the systems. Yes, there may be some minor misses, but again: I cannot suspend the tripod directly over the watch, it wasn’t physically possible for that shot and that is why the angle isn’t identical (and focus might have been slightly off on the D800E shot – manual focusing the 85PCE is tough because the action is very, very stiff.) My comments are based on my observations of both lenses and camera combinations under repeated, controlled conditions. They are also relative. It’s splitting hairs because frankly both lenses are excellent – but I stand by my initial observation that the 85PCE has slightly lower micro contrast than the 120 APO. That’s different to lacking: it definitely isn’t lacking, it just isn’t as good, and the definition of good – especially at this level – is very subjective.

    • The idea that one has to “correct” a bunch of stuff shows a flaw with the camera. Time equals money, and the more time a professional has to spend on correcting CA or having their assistant/retoucher do it, the less money he or she makes. Fiddling with CA after a shot may be something a stay at home pixel peeping amateur has time for but not professionals. (You’re also rude, but I’m assuming you don’t care since you’re “online.” Grab a pair and put your money where your mouth is if you think your game – let’s see your website?)

  26. gustavo. says:

    ming, so interesting, as usual.
    may you share some images taked with the combo d800e/zeiss 21/2.8 and d800e/nikon 24pce?

    • Sorry, I don’t have any. I’ve done some testing but didn’t produce any images I think have any merit…

      • gustavo says:

        Ming, thanks for your attention and answer. I´ve read soma Zeiss lenses have not their best performance with the d800, you´ve tested the 21 2.8 on the d800, is still so amazing?

  27. so conclusions as to what should we keep?

  28. So you have decided on keeping the 800E as opposed to the 800? I thought this was not what you had originally intended? Still undecided now and trying to get input…

    • Yes, I’m keeping the E because I need every bit of extra resolution I can get to combat diffraction for the subjects I shoot.

      • Ming… diffraction kicks in *earlier* the higher in resolution you go. So going from a D800 to a D800E will not help you combat diffraction; it will make it more apparent earlier in the aperture range. It will provide you more sharpness when not diffracted if the lens is sharp.

        • Not quite. Both cameras have the same resolution, so diffraction kicks in at the same point. However, the increased perceptual acuity from the D800E’s pixels due to the lack of AA filter means that it won’t look quite as bad as the D800 for a given aperture. I’ve tested this side by side with both cameras – perceived sharpness after diffraction kicks in is the same at f11 on the D800 vs f13-f16 on the D800E.

  29. Anks Ming, another truly excellent set of observations. I have the 800 and the E (and m9 and IQ 180) and have been running a lot of tests. The things I’d like to bottom out are 1) The 24 PCE: you have found it to be very good, my copy gave great results on centre but the edges and corners were poor at every aperture even unshifted. I have returned it and will try another copy on your good word. 2) The 24-120 can give very good results but so often doesn’t and I think that it is a combination of. The VR system being not as good as that in the 70-200 and some issues with the AF at medium long and long distances. I am still testing to ex-out the variables here. Any opinions you have would be very valuable. BTW I have several threads at GetDPI Nikon forum with test results, and one of them has a stunning example of moiré and examples of how different raw converters cope with it.

    • Thanks Tim.

      1. The 24 PCE I tried was excellent everywhere – easily the best 24mm I’ve used on the F mount. Given how good the PCEs are – the huge image circle should mean that unshifted, they’re all good; shifted sometimes can be borderline especially with extension tubes – I’m a little surprised at your sample. See if you can borrow one from NPS or something to try before you buy another one. It could also be that mine was exceptionally *good* rather than yours being bad.

      2. Sorry, I still haven’t had any time with the 24-120/4 (used the old 3.5-5.6 VR on a D2H, but that doesn’t really count) so it’s hard to say. I only have very brief impressions from trying one on my D700 – it seemed sharp, but also with very high CA.

      Moire is moire. The price we pay for resolution. Not a big deal, just desaturate the area and use the blur brush a little. This is where a good tablet comes in handy – no masking required!

  30. Thank you Ming for taking the time to do this test. One thing I feel a bit differently about is how really good the D800/D800E is in low light. Lloyd Chambers found he preferred the D800 at high ISO (at least up to 12,800) over the D3s. I pretty much concur. The D3s is still better in deep shadows, but everywhere else the file in the D800 appears richer, the noise more grain-like, the overall look more film-like. I’m trying to decide whether to sell my D3s to purchase a second D800.
    Of course the S2 doesn’t even enter the equation here. Though at base ISO with S2 optics…wonderful.

    • I’m looking at the pixel level and finding the D800 not quite as good as the D700/ D3s. Especially if you’re going for pixel-critical sharpness – higher shutter speeds required and all that. But if you’re talking *prints* of equal size, then yes, the D800 will be better than both.

  31. frankie says:

    how are you? where do you return your lenses? the ones you use in rain and bad weather!

    • Sorry, I don’t see how the question is relevant. The lenses I use are either part of the Leica professional loan service, i.e. owned by Leica, or my own.

  32. Really enjoy your test, I’ll be getting the D800E in the near future, long waiting list. According to your comments, Not a lot of the Nikon lens can match the new senor, I am thinking getting the new 28 1.8 and the 85 1.8. Both lens are reasonably price, I don’t want to end up with a good camera and lenses that can’t match the camera capabilities.

  33. Wayne S. says:

    Thanks Ming for your nice work on the comparison between D800E and S2. Your results and Lloyd Chamber’s (Diglloyd) comparison results, (he used a Zeiss 100/2 Planar on the D800) seem to show how well the D800(E) IQ comes close to the S2 IQ using Zeiss lenses. The ZF 28/2 is not even one of the top lenses in their ZF line (has some CA and field curvature), but still held up well here. I was able to rent a D800 and a ZF 21/2.8 to shoot some landscape comparison shots against my 1ds3 and ZE 21/2.8. I liked the extra DR and resolution of the D800 and of course the newer high rez display. The only negative thing for me was the D800’s poor interpolating lines using video mode implementation of LiveView which was fuzzier and had a slight delay vs. my 1ds3’s LiveView. This made manual focusing harder but I think I can live with it if I get the D800E which I probably will, mainly because of the sensor and its better DR, and its better both low and high iso noise performance. Unfortunately, I will have to buy a few more Zeiss lenses with ZF mount and will probably keep my Canon mount ones also for right now and wait to see what Canon will do for their high end IQ DSLR next year. Meanwhile, I would gain AF for my beloved 24/1.4G and 14-24G which I have been using via adapters with MF on my Canon. Also, great job on the nice Swiss watch gallery images using the Leica M9-P.

    • The 2/28 isn’t the top lens technically in the ZF line – agreed – but I couldn’t find anything else to match the Leica 35/2.5 for FOV (it’s a 28mm).

      Try increasing your sharpening (doesn’t affect raw files, but affects the preview) – I find it held LV focusing a lot.


    • gustavo says:

      Wayne, may you comment a little more about your experience with the d800 and the zeiss 21/2.8? I´m considering buying that lens for the d800e but I couldn´t find people has been the opportunity to test it in the d800, and you did it.

  34. Thank you for taking the time to prepare a such a thoughtful comparison. For those of us counting the days until our “E” arrives articles like this make the waiting a little easier. I have a couple questions for you question number 1 is what happened to your camera?
    2. Would it be possible for you to post information about how these 2 cameras compare at different ISOs? a not so much concerned about ridiculously high ISOs but more a standard working range.
    3. As a landscape photographer I’m constantly using long shutter speeds. How the 2 cameras compare with shutter speeds from 15 seconds, to a minute or more?
    Thanks again for all your time and effort, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it’s very much appreciated.

    • No problem.

      1. I had the ‘left side AF’ problem. Actually, I found it. Nikon gave me the option to repair, replace, or upgrade to the D800E. I originally elected for replace, but found that I needed the extra acuity to counter diffraction effects for my macro work, so went for upgrade instead.

      2. Everything was shot at ISO 160 (base for the Leica); there’s a 1250 comparison (highest for the Leica) at the end. Let’s just say it’s not even close. The Leica probably loses two stops or so to the D800, and that doesn’t count the level of the noise floor.

      3. Can’t say as I don’t have the cable release to go >30s. Both are pretty clean for long exposures, with a small handful of hot pixels (I don’t use the frame subtraction on the Nikon, and the Leica does it automatically) – that said, I haven’t gone beyond about 10s on either.

      Hope this helps.

  35. Ron Sprunger says:

    Thanks for the great work — I like your methodology. I don’t expect to see my D800E for a few weeks (or months), and it’s great to see a non-hysterical evaluation using sensible processing and well-controlled shooting. To what do you attribute the purple fringe on the bear’s cheek? That’s not really just simple CA is it? It appears to be on the cheek, rather than extending from the edge. Just wondering if that’s really a color moire effect, or maybe CA on the individual fine “hairs”.

    Listened to your interview yesterday, and enjoyed very much hearing a bit about your background and interests. The scientific and engineering background sure shows in your straightforward approach to evaluating equipment.

    Thanks again,

    • Thanks Ron. Hard to say – I think it’s a combination of sensor blooming, CA and some odd interaction with the micro lenses. The glass wasn’t designed for the sensor (the 2/28 distagon shares its optical formula with the C/Y Hollywood so beloved of filmmakers, hence its name) unlike the S2. I don’t think there’s any pre-RAW encoding processing going on with either camera, either.

  36. Amazing IQ from both cameras! Thank you so much for doing this comparison Ming. I have quickly become a huge fan both of your photography and this blog. I am wondering how lenses like the 200 f2 or 400 2.8 would perform on the d800? Thanks so much for posting this! Jason

    • Thanks! Can’t say, because I haven’t used either 200 or 400 (and have no need to) – however I have no reason to doubt that they would deliver stunning IQ.

  37. nice article , shame on the watch shot you never matched them correctly you have introduced a bias in favour of the leica on that one the nikon one should have been closer to match them up.

    • Sorry, just wasn’t possible to put the over the subject – and the equivalent FLs are a bit different too; the Nikon at 85mm shortens a little at close focus, but the Leica at 95mm equivalent doesn’t. One’s hands are only so accurate.

  38. Karn Lekagul says:

    Thank you for the review. Surreal results.

    Please if possible try comparing optimum sharpened D800 against optimum sharpened D800e. I really can’t decide.

    • I no longer have the D800, so it’s going to be tough. But what I’ll try to do is dig out a couple of similar shots (lighting, subject – not exact content) and see what I can do.

  39. Sensational work, as usual. I hadn’t seen many S2 samples, it really is a remarkable camera. The fine detail in the watch face at 100% is nothing less than stunning. I will say, however, the greenish hue in the outdoor images is a bit off-putting.

    • Thanks Ben. What you’re seeing is if everything is set to the same K temperature – if you manually use the eyedropper to select WB, the difference is much closer – as seen in the other indoor comparisons. I think the hue shift will definitely work in the S2’s favor for landscapes though, which bears out in my experience with the M8 and M9 (that share the same base sensor architecture). The greens and blues are definitely better than with the Nikons.

  40. RH Boks says:

    in my opinion we compere 36x24mm against only 45x30mm not really a big sensor difference, it will be different if the S2 had a common 48x36mm sensor or better a 42x56mm sensor then we talking about real Medium Format. 44×30, 45×30 and 44×33 sensors are something between FF and MF. I call it APS-C MF.
    So Nikon did a fine job and i convinced that they will introduce a view new Nikkors to capture the resolution.

  41. Some of the newer lenses – like the 28/1.8G and 85/1.8G – really do an excellent job, especially the latter. In fact, it’s so good that I’d say it’s on par with the 85/2.8 PCE, which is amongst the best Nikkors ever made. And it’s more than capable of doing an excellent job on the D800E, even in the corners. So we’re getting there, but slowly. And yes, the D800E is useable at ISO 6400, whilst the same cannot be said of the S2 at ISO 1250.

  42. The grain structure in the JPGs here are pretty typical of Lightroom’s handling of sharpening. I find the handling of sharpening in Capture One 7 to be MUCH nicer regarding the grain/noise structure it creates. It would be great to see you take a few of these example files and compare noise reduction, sharpening, and grain structure of Capture One v7 vs LR4.

    We have some comparisons between Capture One v6 and v7 here: It would be impolite (and frankly disenginous given our inherent bias) to post comparisons against LR4. But someone like you could make and share such comparisons from an unbiased point of view.

  43. I don’t use Lightroom, but I presume the results are the same from PS because of the ACR engine. Haven’t bothered with C1 simply because workflow and speed matter to me – the time it’s going to take me to figure out what to do to get what I want is going to be a handicap, in addition to simply not being as familiar with the software – and then having to export into PS to finish anyway. So long as the comparison is fair between cameras, I don’t see what the problem is. Yes, we might get better results from C1 for both cameras – but I’d never use this workflow in practice because it isn’t efficient.


  1. […] no sensor smaller than 36MP and 36x24mm. It’d have been nice to get the Phase One IQ250 and Leica S along for the ride too – sadly there’s no Phase distributor in Malaysia and nobody from […]

  2. […] meantime we’ve dealt with left focusing issues, comparisons with much more expensive cameras (here, and here), the fact that most of the Nikon lens stable doesn’t really match up to the […]

  3. […] disposable instant cameras. Not quite. The differences are there, but they arent THAT huge: An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P ? Ming Thein | Photographer Nikon D600 + AF-S 28mm+50mm f1.8 + AF-S 70-200mm f4 VR Reply With […]

  4. […] with medium format digital on several occasions – pairing the Leica S2 off against the D800E here, for instance; taking the Hasselblad H4D-40 for a trial here. Neither of those cameras did it for […]

  5. […] improvements from generation to generation offset pixel pitch etc.; some time ago, I did a comparison of the Leica S2 against the then-new Nikon D800E. Today, we go one step further to see exactly what kind of gap exists between the various grades of […]

  6. […] BUY THAT CAMERA. I PROMISE… Mir ist auch folgender Test (S2 vs. D800E) in Erinnerung geblieben: An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P – Ming Thein | Photographer Es ist zwar nicht wie in der Mathematik, aber die Unterschiede zwischen der M 240 und der S […]

  7. […] the money. Among the few articles I found today, this one was quite informative and interesting: An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P ? Ming Thein | Photographer Nikon D7000 / Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED DX / Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DX / […]

  8. […] An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P Not sure if this was posted before (sorry if so), but what an amazing comparison. My jaw is still on the floor in regard to how well the D800e (originally $3300) kept up with a $26k camera (and that's body only). D800 w. MB-D12 grip D7000 w. MB-D11 grip 50 mm AF-S f/1.4 G, 18-55mm AF-S VR DX f/3.5-5.6, 55-200mm AF-S VR DX f/4.0-5.6, Coming soon: 100-300mm Ai-S f/5.6 and 180mm f/2.8 Ai-S. Reply   Reply With Quote […]

  9. […] filters; as a result, the amount of detail captured is spectacular. Subjectively, I’d say the D800E and S2 are very, very close in terms of resolving power; the H4D-40′s files seem to be a slight notch above both, with a noticeable increase in […]

  10. […] are a few tests published online that compare the D800 to the S2 (Ming Thein's is excellent, and free to view) and every one of them ends with "but the D800 doesn't have as good lenses".  This lens puts an […]

  11. […] Birnen verglichen. Es gibt aber einen etwas besseren Vergleich beider Systeme auf folgendem Link: An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P – Ming Thein | Photographer Es ist ein Test zwischen einer D800 mit einem Zeiss 2/28 mm Distagon und einer Leica S2-P mit dem […]

  12. […] Ming Thein has compared the Leica S2-P with the new Nikon D800E. In Theins opinion The Battle of the Giants ended in a draw and he doesn’t know which camera he would prefer. […]

  13. […] Dokumentation bei Petapixel aufmerksam machen. Viel Spaß beim Klicken!Test & ReviewsMing Thein hat im Mai die Leica S2-P mit der neuen Nikon D800E verglichen. Der Kampf der Giganten ging nach […]

  14. […] Artikel mit diesen Bildern. Wer sich die Zeit bis zu diesem Artikel verkürzen möchte, dem sei dieser Artikel mit dem Vergleich einer Leica S2-P mit einer Nikon D800E empfohlen. Soviel vorab, der Fotograf schreibt in seinem Fazit, dass er die D800E statt der Leica […]

  15. […] The Magic of Matt Toynbee's Black & White ImagesHow to properly set your cameras ISO speedAn unfair fight var analyticsFileTypes = ['']; var analyticsEventTracking = 'enabled'; var _gaq = _gaq || []; […]

  16. […] ACR 直接转成 JPEG 而没有经过任何其他处理,这个会有特别说明。最后:在 D800E VS S2 […]

  17. […] additional work done on them. Where this is the case, it’s stated. One final thing: after the D800E vs S2 review, I think it’s necessary to also add the caveat that my observations are based on looking at […]

  18. […] An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P […]

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

  20. Anonymous says:

    […] […]

  21. […] Lo veo en “Fotoactualidad” y el análisis lo ha hecho “Ming Thein” […]

  22. […] lens is incredible, certainly better than the Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon used in the test at the mingthein blog. So lets take a look at the cost differences, shall […]

  23. […] another D800E vs S2 report I found this an interesting read: An unfair fight? 35mm vs Medium Format: Nikon D800E and the Leica S2-P […]

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