Resolution: Sony A7RII vs. Leica SL vs. Nikon D810 vs. Canon 5DS R.

I’ve always found DPREVIEW‘s studio comparison tool useful when evaluating cameras for resolution.

Here is the entire scene (I’ve added the numbers with red circles):

Studio Scene

↑studio comparison tool © DPREVIEW.


Now here is the comparison I ran with four cameras of interest (using RAW files).

I specifically focused on the numbered areas above.

Let me know what you think…










Related:  Leica M9 sharpness vs. Sony RX1R, Nikon D800E, Fuji X100s.

27 thoughts on “Resolution: Sony A7RII vs. Leica SL vs. Nikon D810 vs. Canon 5DS R.

  1. PhotoMatrix says:

    I would be very careful using these comparisons to make general statements about sharpness. From what I remember the SL images were shot with the zoom lens at 90mm which is the weakest focal length for this lens.

    • I agree. If true, clearly the SL is hampered in this comparison by its zoom (as good as it is, it’s still a zoom).

      • Note however that sharpness is different from resolution.

        • PhotoMatrix says:

          Yes, that is why I wrote sharpness. By the way, if you hold an SL in your hands you will be impressed by its built quality and from what I can see the image quality is very good, especially the colour. I am sure if you had one you would make great images with it, but this is the case with any camera for you.

          BTW, I was offered an SL, but I resisted the urge to buy it, as I am trying to focus on the process of taking pictures, rather than buying cameras. I was very happy that I had the strength to resist, so then I went for a walk and somehow I found myself buying an M3… Massive fail, or one of the best things that I ever did? Time will tell, but I do blame you a bit for this random action! 🙂

  2. Dave Uhlig says:

    For me, if you are simply going off these samples here. The 810 does appear to have something going on that is producing a better image in regards to clarity and noise. Also, the colors in the portrait sample appear more normal to me. You have to stop doing this stuff, I’ve just picked up the D610 and don’t need the pull of upgrading already!

  3. Ashwin Rao says:

    Keep in mind the MP count. Every other sensor on the list is 36 MP or greater…may just be a matter of scaling. I have the SL. It’s incredible, and works with our lovely M lenses, whilst the D800, 5DS, etc…do not….Peter, they seem to have gotten the color correct this time! And the sensor is quite nice!

    • Hi Ashwin. The SL proves once again that Leica builds cameras that punch above their weight. I’ve seen the images from it and I would have to say there’s that certain “something” in the rendering that can’t be explained with resolution testing or shooting brick walls.

      As it stands, I no longer have any Leica lenses, and I’ve never — despite the hype — met an EVF I’ve warmed up to (though in truth I haven’t looked at the SL’s), so there is very little attraction for me to this camera.

      • Ashwin Rao says:

        Famous last words, my friend :)….the EVF of the SL is amazing, and may permit more accurate focus than a RF, albeit without the ability to see past the frame. The build and overall feel and operation of the camera, once you have it set up, really promotes a sense of pride in ownership. I am writing up a review for Steve, with many images….I do agree, it’s a good one, and with my M Monochrom, offers me options with my M lenses…

    • gmlane says:

      Ashwin, I read Steve Huff’s review of the SL and to say he’s excited about it would be an understatement. However, although it works with the M lenses, you do lose the benefit of the camera’s autofocus features with M lenses, correct? If so, do you see any disadvantage in using M lenses?

      • Ashwin Rao says:

        HI there, yes, the SL does not confer autofocus upon M lenses, so you’d be using those lenses manually. Leica has been thoughtful about how to implement manual focus using the SL, and it’s a really nice solution. The EVF makes focusing quite easy, I would say…it does not give you the RF feel in the way that an M camera would, but it’s a joy to use, in a compact package

        • gmlane says:

          Ashwin, out of curiosity will your preference be to use M lenses with the SL or lenses developed for the SL? Also, have you tried the 35 mm ASPH FLE with the SL and if so, what do you think? Steve Huff mentioned that the limited edition 50 mm Lux (1959),worked better with the SL than the normal 50 Lux. If you’re familiar with the limited edition, why would this be so. Lastly, do you personally find any difference in focus results with auto focus vs. manual focus on the SL? Lot of questions, but I always find your answers very helpful. As you can probably tell, I’m struggling with whether or not to sell my M9 for the SL and if I do, what I do about lenses since right now I own two: the normal 50 Lux and the 35 Lux. And by the way, up to this point I have not been tempted to sell my M9, which i have had for almost 6 years.

  4. All it does is prove that digital sensors need optical low-pass filters if they’re being used with sharp lenses. No serious digital cinema camera that I know of does without a low-pass filter. The RED, which is IMO the best of the lot, has several types of OLPF – one optimised for low light, one for skin, etc. But you should always use one.

    I chose the A7 over the A7r for several reasons. The OLPF was one of them.

  5. You’ve lost me Peter. I’m not sure where you’re going with this blog post. Whether we’re looking at resolution, sharpness, # of megapixels or whatever, I’m afraid you’re approaching the analogy I’ve recently made about comparing the “polished ends of frog hair split three ways”.

    • Hi Duane,

      Sorry you’re lost. The post has lots of pictures and little text, so I’m afraid I can’t break it down into simpler terms for you.

      If you’re suggesting I’m splitting (frog) hairs, then I agree. But we’ve been doing that since the dawn of photography… so what’s YOUR point?

      • If I were to make a point is that today’s cameras, from your smart phone to the top end medium format camera, are all incredible at what they can do. You’re “style” Peter is what sets you apart from all others and when I come to see your work it has a unique “look” that’s yours and only yours. I think we get too wrapped up in to trying to keep up with the “Jones” in acquiring the next great tech and then spend a great amount of time trying to determine if the choices we made are right. I think it can get in the way as life is passing before our eyes and opportunity is missed.

        You’re work stands on its own Peter and I really enjoy seeing your “Life’s Little Moments” as they give me the motivation to capture the life I see around me. So I do understand the exercise you’ve presented in this post but someone’s “sharpness” compared to someone else’s “resolution” does not always create the emotion and impact that you create everyday with whatever tool you may have in your hand. Its your eye and the image’s emotional impact that’s motivated you to capture the scene in front of you.

        I love what you do Peter and look forward to seeing more “moments” in your life!

        • Duane, regarding all of these cameras being capable: we are actually making the same point.

          The SL is, understandably, getting a lot of praise lately and I wanted to illustrate that very little separates it from the other three cameras when it comes to final output (now, haptics/ergonomics are another issue).

          Thank you for responding graciously to my grouchiness though.

  6. Pi says:

    Can’t really see much difference, all great cameras really.

    Steve Huff’s camera of the year was the Leica SL,

    Ming Thein’s Camera of the year was the Leica Q.

    Peter what’s yours.

  7. gmlane says:

    Peter, if I had to choose which camera demonstrated the best overall resolution based on the samples, I guess it would be the Nikon, but I’d be really splitting hairs as you and others have said. Reading Steve Huff’s review of the SL, makes the camera very inviting, but is it inviting enough to abandon my M9 of five years–I don’t think so. I love the composition and processing of your images regardless of the camera that you use, and they offer inspiration to my own photography. So, the thing that I continue to tell myself is that if with the M9, I can’t produce images that please and satisfy me, then I won’t be able to do it with any other camera. I still love the M9 with all of its strengths and weaknesses. By any measure, it’s still a great camera. And when in the hands of the right photographer, it can produce magic.

  8. Henry says:

    Peter, i guess i find it somewhat difficult to differentiate between resolution and sharpness in images at this scale ( i suffer from the screen size of my ipad). But my eyes are seeing the canon as the best (guess i’m alone), tho the nikon runs a close second. With people, i can hardly be happier than with my 75 apo summicron on the m9p — resulting in superb detail without any harsh edge. But then i havent tried an 810.

  9. Mike says:

    I was looking nearly the same set of comparassion on DPReview the other day. If you click the yellow “i” icon in the lower left of the Leica SL window it pops up a message saying it is pre-production model or prototype..i forget which. This may be a reason why it performs so poorly in this test. I played with an SL in the store and was super impressed with it. If it could only tether with capture one I would be all over it.

  10. David V. says:

    I think that this experiment is about nothing. Buffoonery…

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