Leica M vs Pen F? Eh?

Gromit

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I love the Pen F - despite its little quirks (which I fully accept) it's a storming little camera, and as a compact image-making device it's a lot of fun too.

Anyway, yesterday I took both it and my Leica M-P (240) out into the Lincolnshire countryside and did a couple of 'quick'n'dirty' comparison shots - the Pen wearing its forever-welded-to-it P20-1.7, the Leica with the rather wonderful (and 1/5th the price of a 'Cron) new Voigtländer Ultron 35-f2. A lens which has been causing a bit of a storm within Leica circles - a good storm if you ask me. :)

These are both taken from RAW files, no editing apart from using an RNI Film 5 preset (Agfa Optima 200 faded) and matching up WB.

A bit of fun, nothing more, and typically un-scientific...please feel free to pixel-peep but but that's not really in the spirit of the OP.

L1006574.jpg
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PEN10440-3.jpg
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saladin

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Interesting comparison. My instant reaction is that I somewhat prefer the M10 rendering but its likely more about a difference in exposure and white balance.
 

MNm43

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It's always fun to mess around with different cameras and a sobering tonic to remember that enjoyment often has little to do with price. I missed my Pen enough to purchase one again along with a curated set of lenses. I would love a Leica for a number of reasons and almost (almost!) went in for a CL as my compact system.
 
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It is a bit tricky, at first glance I wanted to be butthurt because I don't own a leica which is of course quite a few degree's hipper than the pen which I do have and I found the L photo more pleasing "but". They are two different camera's "and" two different lenses and I think with adding just a bit of contrast to the pen it would be close enough to allow me to feel smug.... but still wish I had a L.:coco:
 

MNm43

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Just curious as to why the EXIF says the leica is using a Leica Summicron M 1:2/35 ASPH or is that how it reports the Voigtlander?
 

Gromit

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Just curious as to why the EXIF says the leica is using a Leica Summicron M 1:2/35 ASPH or is that how it reports the Voigtlander?

Good question - the Voigtlander lenses aren't 6-bit coded so don't communicate with the body, apart from the RF coupling. By entering '35mm f2 aspherical' into the manual lens selection, it defaults to the Leica equivalent. Any small lens corrections seem to apply well to the Voigtlander equivalent.
 

MNm43

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Good question - the Voigtlander lenses aren't 6-bit coded so don't communicate with the body, apart from the RF coupling. By entering '35mm f2 aspherical' into the manual lens selection, it defaults to the Leica equivalent. Any small lens corrections seem to apply well to the Voigtlander equivalent.
Ah. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.
 

LilSebastian

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I like them both. What doesn't come through is the experience of shooting it in your hand and to your eye. I'd venture that you get something special from the Leica experience that keeps it in your stable. For me who owns the Pen-F and 20mm f1.7, I'll have to settle for the DxO Camera profiles that include Leica M body renderings! Have fun on your walks.
 

Gromit

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I like them both. What doesn't come through is the experience of shooting it in your hand and to your eye. I'd venture that you get something special from the Leica experience that keeps it in your stable. For me who owns the Pen-F and 20mm f1.7, I'll have to settle for the DxO Camera profiles that include Leica M body renderings! Have fun on your walks.

Thanks John - you raise an interesting, and entirely valid point.

I've wanted a Leica for many years but was wary of falling into the 'trap' of spending far too much money on very much diminishing returns. However, the M240P came up at the right price, sold by a friend who's fastidious in the care of his kit, so I went for it.

Have I regretted it - or has it been all I'd hoped for? Neither, if I'm honest. IQ is very fine, and it does have a quite delightful rendering in the right conditions but it does absolutely nothing that my Nikon Df can't do (and for high ISO the Nikon positively murders it). It's also beautifully built, having real heft and solidity; every control is weighted perfectly. It's also darn heavy!

You touch upon the experience of using one, and I can say it's a joy. It's not overly easy, but it's incredibly simple and brings photography right down to its basics. 'Manual gearbox, no power steering, no traction control and no ABS' photography. It would be great to have the funds for Leica glass but frankly, even if they are better than the Voigtländers, from what I see the differences are not huge and the prices are horrific...especially for someone with limited means such as myself.

Would I buy it again? No, I don't think so. As an inaminate object, the Pen doesn't have anywhere near the charisma or the feel of the Leica, but it still has that rare quality which makes me want to just pick it up and use it.
 
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John King

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I sold my M2 Leica kit when I bought my OM1 in the early 1970s. Owned an M3 Leica kit (briefly) in the mid 1990s.

The Summicrons were simply not as good as my Olympus lenses.

The 12-100 is simply the best lens I have ever owned. Even better than my f/2.8 Picon.
 

Gromit

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I think I prefer the Leica colors by a tiny margin, but the truth is if they weren't posted directly next to each other no one would know the difference. Kudos to Oly.

Exactly this - didn't really want to mention the point of the exercise in the OP but I completely agree with what you say. I'm not going to say I don't enjoy using the Leica M, but often wonder if the outcome is worth the outlay? I have given thought to selling the Leica on - it won't have cost anything as it will fetch the same as I paid for it. In terms of 'user experience' it is of course a lovely thing, but for physicality, the feeling of using a well-engineered machine, my 500CM kills it. Nothing compares with firing the shutter on a Hasselblad.

Long live the Pen F - 'the little camera that could'. :)
 

PakkyT

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I like the first one better because the details in the stone structure are better but I don't think this is a function of the camera system but rather taking the photo with different focal length lenses giving different framing. I think the second one would improve if it was framed identically so the magnification of the image was the same. Other than that, a casual glance at both neither jumps out as being better than the other. They look like you could have used the same camera and simply stepped back a bit with the second shot. So the Pen holds up nicely against the Leica.
 
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Keep in mind the first image, from the Leica, was shot at f6.8, while the Pen-F was shot wide-open at f1.7 which most likely will also result in different amount of sharpness and details. ISO is also quite different with the Pen being 400 and the M240 being 250.

In any case, I have always been intrigued by the Leica rangefinders, especially their Monochrome versions. However just looking at the prices makes me turn away, without a lens such a camera, at least new, should be about as expensive as my whole Micro Four Thirds kit:laugh:
I like the rangefinder style a lot, being a right eye shooter, my nose doesn't interfere with the camera and I can always open my left eye for a quick look what's going on outside of the viewfinder.

Glad you enjoy your Pen-F, it still is my favourite MFT camera and secretly I'm still hoping for a successor which improves on some cons the current model has. However, even though it might not have the build quality as a Leica, I still enjoy the haptic feel of this camera and the tactile feedback of it's controls and shutter. Especially combined with smaller lenses like the 17mm f1.8 or 75mm f1.8 this camera is really a joy to use and it doesn't need to hide in terms of image quality, be it from the more recent Olympus siblings or, as you have stated, larger sensors.


If you really want to sell your Leica, you might want to take a look at Fujifilms X-Pro line, which often is nicknamed the "poor man's Leica", I have been eyeing one of those myself for quite some time, much more affordable than a Leica, yet like the Pen-F not a traditional rangefinder. It however sports a unique hybrid OVF/EVF, where the optical viewfinder get's assisted (if wished) by a small EVF patch which can be activated in the lower right corner.
 
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tkbslc

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This is a very flat and mostly colorless scene. I think a vibrant scene on a sunny day might be more revealing.

Still most cameras have a lot more overlap than the price or sensor size would reveal.
 

Gromit

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Thanks for the input folks, really appreciate it, and some good points made. I should should address the f-stop issue - as Voigtländer lenses have no electrical comms with the camera body, the camera 'guesses' the aperture and dumps what it thinks the lens is set to in the EXIF. It was more likely around f3.5. Only Leica's 6-bit coded lenses actually talk to the camera.

To be honest, I hadn't even intended to do a comparison whilst I was out, only realising that I had 2 very similar shots on getting home so thought it might be fun to put them side by side. Would certainly be interesting to take a more accurate approach - and on a sunny day with plenty of blue sky/highlight/shadow etc.
 
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