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Thread: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

  1. #1

    Default Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Ricoh A12 M mini review

    The poor man's Leica ?

    Ever since the first new generation rangefinder cameras appeared on the market, I was very interested. The idea of traveling light, not carrying my D700 + 3 kg of glass in a backpack sounded great.
    But , am I getting the same quality ? That was always my question.
    My first attempt failed . I bought a Sony Nex-3 , right when it came out.
    I attached a Voigtlander 25mm Super Heliar on a Leica M Mount Adapter.
    Would this be the “poor mans leica” .
    I might be able to afford a leica , if I would have saved all my money that I paid on various cameras , but …I always thought , there must be a better solution .
    After playing around with the Nex, I finally gave up. The quality was just not up to my expectations. Aside form the annoying “ amateur type” menus, the strong color cast in the corners where the biggest trouble. You can always fix this with corner fix, but there is a loss of sharpness and details after doing so.
    In the meantime , I also bought a Fuji X100 , which is a great camera. But the fixed wide angle lens gave me many limitations.

    So, when the Ricoh A12 M Mount came out, I was very interested.
    I finally decided to spent the 1500 Sg$ for the kit , including the viewfinder, and I added a Voigtlander Nokton 40/1.4 . Everything together cost me a little above 2000 SG$ …1/5 of the price if I compare this with a similar Leica Kit. Yes, of course, the Leica has 18 mega pixels and a full frame sensor. But hunting for megapixels was never my thing. I still shoot with my 10 year old Nikon D1x , 5.3 megapixel, and the quality is often sufficient for nice prints.

    The thighs I immediately liked about the ricoh where;
    1) Raw files are stored in Adobe DNG …wow, that’s great. Finally some followed an international standard , and did not create RAW format no. 137.
    2) I can create a lens profile in the camera, which is stored in the DNG file. So I always know which lens I used, and I can apply my Adobe Raw profiles…that saves a lot of manual work.
    3) I have a Leica M Mount, no adapter needed.
    4) The menus are more professional , means I can program almost every button with the function I want. Without going to any menu, I can adjust exposure, ISO, bring up a focus assistant , and much more. Great
    5) The camera feels solid and stable. All metal, no plastic
    6) When you change the lens, the shutter is closed to protect the sensor from dust ( wow, some designer was really smart here)
    7) The focus assistant is fantastic. I read other reviews , and people where complaining abut this feature, but for me , it works great.

    So, I was happy with the features , the hard and software and the handling, but what about the image quality.
    My biggest NEX problem, the color cast , was gone. Only when shooting under artificial light , you can see a bit color coast form time to time, but it is very little, and it only appears under certain type of artificial light with the Voigtlander Ultra Wide Heliar 12mm. The Super Heliar 15mm and the Nokton 40mm are fine.
    I did some sharpness and resolution test with the Nokton, and the lens is a perfect fit to the Ricoh . The lens resolution is far better than the maximum theoretical sensor resolution of 90 lp/mm . There is no noticeable difference in sharpness between the center and the corners, not even at 400% enlargement.
    The nokton might not be as razor sharp as the Zeiss Planar , which I have on my D700, but it is certainly not far behind the Zeiss.

    So, is this be the poor man's Leica ?
    I would say , yes, this is as good as it can get , If you don’t want to spend 10K$

    I will post some sample shoots and more details here, as soon as the weather gets better and I find some time.

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Please find the first pictures with the Ricoh A12 M and Voigtlander Nokton and Ultra Wide Heliar on my Flickr page ( just search for my name).
    I am not allowed to post a link here

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Updated: can now post pictures .

    Here is my resolution test for the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm/ 1.4 .


    [IMG] A12mNokton40mm by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]
    Last edited by Achim Reh; 12th November 2011 at 12:14 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    [IMG] Ricoh12mm2 by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    [IMG] Resolution Test by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Here are 2 images taken with Ricoh A12 M Mount and Voigtlander 12mm/5.6 . The second on is a crop of the center car on the first image, to see the good sharpness and resolution.

    P.S. And I can post images now ...thanks Admin :-)
    Last edited by Achim Reh; 15th December 2011 at 09:18 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Ok here now some samples with the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15/4.5
    This time in Color. As before, fist picture is the original, second one is the enlarged crop.

    [IMG] Boat Batam by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    [IMG] cropBoat Batam by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Sensor design with no Anti-Alias Filter

    As everyone know by now, the GXr A12M module sensor has no Anti-Alias Filter. What does that mean ? In short, the Anti-Alias filter sits in front of a sensor, and creates a certain unsharpness. That will eliminate the appearance of unwanted effects when taking small geometrical patter. On the other side, it takes away some details and sharpness.
    I tried to push the GXR A12M Module to the limit , to show the negative effect of the sensor design.
    [IMG] A12m15mm by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    So, will this affect my picture quality, when I take normal photos ?
    Most certainly , no .
    I was only able to create the above shown effect under very special circumstances that hardly appear during a normal use.
    1) Taking geometrical pattern that are on par air smaller than the maximal physical sensor resolution.
    2) Shooting with an ultra wide angle lens
    3) Shooting under artificial lights ( I was not able to reproduce this effect under normal daylight)
    4) Enlarge the photo to pixel level.

    So, this effect can only be seen, if all 4 of the above conditions are met. On the other hand, a sensor design with no anti alias filter can produce sharper and more detailed pictures than a sensor design with anti-alias filter. The example below shows the positive effect of the Ricoh A12M design

    [IMG] AfterWorkFull by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    This is the original picture, taken with Ricoh GXR A12M and Voigtlander Nokton 40mm ( Aperture almost fully open)

    [IMG] Detail by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]

    End here the enlargement ...razor sharp details

  7. #7

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Thanks for the input. Details are really impressive

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    the bokeh looks strange to me in both shots... lens or processing?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    You mean the last shot ? Shot with the Voigtlander Nokton at 1.4 ..so, very little d o f. Of course, it is shot in color and change dot B&W, unsharpness is processed differently, depending on the conversion process.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Thanks for bringing this camera to my attention. Any experience with Leica lenses? The website also did not mention if Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 can be used. Also with the viewfinder on the hotshoe, where does the flash goes?

    [edit] I have checked on B&H that the price for the body + A12 + VF-2 = ~$1.6k . Is this the price in Sg?
    Last edited by ManWearPants; 5th December 2011 at 01:23 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    The price in Sing is roughly about the same. The viewfinder is a absolute must in my opinion. Without it, the camera is not as good. There are very little limitations on leica lenses you can use. I have tried out some from friends, but not the zoom, sorry. So far, I did not experience any problem , such as color fringing or other strange effects with this camera with any lens I ave tried ( incl some zeiss lenses with Nikon mount over adapter)Very contrary to sonys new series, with I had before, and it gave me all kinds of funny issues with 3rd party lenses. I think thats mostly because it is the only body in the market that is 100% designed for high end 3rd party lens
    Last edited by Achim Reh; 5th December 2011 at 11:10 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Achim Reh View Post
    You mean the last shot ? Shot with the Voigtlander Nokton at 1.4 ..so, very little d o f. Of course, it is shot in color and change dot B&W, unsharpness is processed differently, depending on the conversion process.
    [IMG]http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6226/6...81664dfd_b.jpg AfterWorkFull by AchimReh, on Flickr[/IMG]
    the background bokeh is the appearance of streaks in random directions. i'm used to seeing "roundish" or "geometric" patterns, is this normal for this lens?

    BTW sharpness is amazing - are those 100% crops on the one with the car license plate?
    Last edited by metalgear; 5th December 2011 at 09:41 AM. Reason: a

  13. #13

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    What you see is the grass or traces of it in the background, nothing to do with the lens ( I just know how the scenery looks like, there is a file of grass behind with very long leaves) . Thats where this pattern is coming from. Totally blurred of course, because taken with the Nokton 40mm at 1.4

    Car plates crop is at least 200% or even more ( sorry, don't remember exactly) . I just wanted to show the quality of the voigtlander lenses. Besides a lot of bashing on internet reviews,specially by the leica community, I found that the lenses are exceptional good, and easily cover the requirements of even the most advance digital sensor today.
    Soon, I will get some high res film ( talking about 600 lp/mm + ) to really see how good the lenses are, compare to Zeiss . I searched the whole net, and I could not find the lens resolution data on Voigtlander lenses. Well, there are some data , but these are useless, because people basically publishing the sensor resolution, and sell it as lens resolution ( what a stupid mistake) . Zeiss lenses have the highest resolution in mass production lenses today, normally ranging around 300 to 400 lp/mm. This even outperforms Leica lenses ( this will get me another bashing form the leica community) , but it is a fact . The lens design is just different. Leica lenses are not better or worse the Zeiss, they just have a different " Character" . In therms of resolution in Lp/mm , Zeiss is better than Leica for most lenses. and for me ( as a sharpness and resolution fanatic) , thats what I am looking for.
    Last edited by Achim Reh; 5th December 2011 at 11:31 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ManWearPants View Post
    Thanks for bringing this camera to my attention. Any experience with Leica lenses? The website also did not mention if Leica Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 can be used. Also with the viewfinder on the hotshoe, where does the flash goes?

    [edit] I have checked on B&H that the price for the body + A12 + VF-2 = ~$1.6k . Is this the price in Sg?
    Singapore is cheaper, just make sure you buy the A12 kit (body + A12), it's cheaper than buying separate. It's about 1150 w gst at slrr when I bought, vf2 is 250. so it's 1400 total. When first launched, the kit wasn't available.

    Quote Originally Posted by Achim Reh View Post
    What you see is the grass or traces of it in the background, nothing to do with the lens ( I just know how the scenery looks like, there is a file of grass behind with very long leaves) . Thats where this pattern is coming from. Totally blurred of course, because taken with the Nokton 40mm at 1.4

    Car plates crop is at least 200% or even more ( sorry, don't remember exactly) . I just wanted to show the quality of the voigtlander lenses. Besides a lot of bashing on internet reviews,specially by the leica community, I found that the lenses are exceptional good, and easily cover the requirements of even the most advance digital sensor today.
    Soon, I will get some high res film ( talking about 600 lp/mm + ) to really see how good the lenses are, compare to Zeiss . I searched the whole net, and I could not find the lens resolution data on Voigtlander lenses. Well, there are some data , but these are useless, because people basically publishing the sensor resolution, and sell it as lens resolution ( what a stupid mistake) . Zeiss lenses have the highest resolution in mass production lenses today, normally ranging around 300 to 400 lp/mm. This even outperforms Leica lenses ( this will get me another bashing form the leica community) , but it is a fact . The lens design is just different. Leica lenses are not better or worse the Zeiss, they just have a different " Character" . In therms of resolution in Lp/mm , Zeiss is better than Leica for most lenses. and for me ( as a sharpness and resolution fanatic) , thats what I am looking for.
    Nicely done! Hope to see more lens review from you ; )
    Have you tried any of the slr lenses? I bought the EOS, OM and m42 - M adapter recently, haven't really tested much except with an OM, which gives pretty nice results as well.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Achim Reh View Post
    What you see is the grass or traces of it in the background, nothing to do with the lens ( I just know how the scenery looks like, there is a file of grass behind with very long leaves) . Thats where this pattern is coming from. Totally blurred of course, because taken with the Nokton 40mm at 1.4
    right. that explains it.

    just a wild thought - do you think abstract bokeh patterns can be affected by the (lack of) the AA filter? seeing how nice and sharp these pics are makes me wonder about the usefulness of the AA filter.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Ricoh A12 M Mount , first impressions. The poor man's Leica ?

    This is not so easy to answer. As written earlier in my post, I was only able to create a visible effect of the non existing AA filter under very special circumstances. Of course, it is possible that a bokeh pattern can be effected by the non AA filter, maybe a bit more likely than with an AA filter, but again, it must be a combination of several different circumstances. So, I don't see that it is very likely to happen in normal use , but of course it might happened. Over all , I prefer the non AA design, because of the sharper pictures.

    And, Yes, I plan to test the Zeiss Planar 50 1.4 Nikon Mount on the GXR,, as well as the Voigtlander 20 Color Skopar Nikon Mount and maybe the Voigtlander 12 MMount, probably next week, when I have some time. The high res film tests, I can only do beginning of next year. Going over to Germany for Xmas ( and of course mostly for Film and Developer purchasing ;-) ) Then, we can see the real lens resolution.

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