Sunset in Tillamook, Oregon

I'm so used to adjusting photos that it can be difficult for me to just leave well enough alone. I'm accustomed to the idea that a RAW file is flat, by design, with a whole lot of latitude to push and pull the image into submission. It took me quite a long while to conclude that there's very, very little to be done to this Leica photo.

This post has been sitting in draft for quite some time because I had to keep coming back to the photo to decide if I wanted to do more with it. I nearly posted it completely untouched, and then once I finally decided on a very very subtle edit (I basically brightened up the left and increased contrast to compensate for the flattening of the brighten), I was going to post both side by side. But I actually had a hard time seeing the difference between them, to the point where I had to compare screenshots of my own post to confirm that I had in fact uploaded two separate photos!

So what does this all mean? Frankly, that the Leica sensor is pretty dang awesome. I love the images as they're coming out of the camera.

However, it's not all sun and daisies. Look at the screenshot below. this is a 100% zoom of the original, untouched image. Leica shoots DNG, and this was actually opened in Photoshop and saved out as a 16-bit TIF, because Aperture isn't doing such a great job with these Leica DNG files (more on that another time). Check out the noise in this image. Yes this is low light in this part of the frame, but not so low that I couldn't shoot at ISO 160 and 1/1000th of a second! 

Close-up of Leica S2 DNG file as processed in Photoshop (click to view 100%)

Even looking at the brightest part of the image, you can see the noise quite clearly. Now, I didn't shoot this side by side with my Canon, but this seems overly noisy to me.

Even in the brightest parts of the image, you can see the noise (click to view 100%)

Maybe I'm supposed to be applying noise reduction in Photoshop. Maybe not even Photoshop can handle the Leica DNG files properly. I don't know, but what I do feel is that this is a bit too noisy for such an expensive camera.

What is extremely impressive however is how the Leica rendered the transition from the sun to the orange sky around it. I've seen this sort of thing destroy mere mortal cameras. This is pretty awesome.

I don't have many Leica readers here but if anyone has any experience in this, I'd love to hear more about it.

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