Oh boy. This thing absolutely blew me away, which seems to be the standard refrain for anyone who buys this camera. I have seen the odd person say they are not that impressed, but maybe they got one of the (seemingly) rare duff units. I will go right in with a bold statement and say this: At A2, this lens is so good, it will show up anything but Leica and Zeiss optics, or the best Canon, Nikon etc that have ben shot at their sweet spot and where everything came together. But the thing is, the GR lens does this every time. Always. With ease. At f2.8 the lens is very sharp indeed out to the near corners. You can detect gentle softening as you approach the extreme corners, but its interesting that the fall off in resolution is so gentle that it fails to stand out. At f4 the lens is razor sharp from corner to corner and the fine detail on centre has just picked up a touch from f2.8 and gains a hair of micro contrast when viewed at 100%. It gets no better really. But make no mistake, wide open it is really, really good. All the hallmarks of a killer lens are there at all times: no excessive macro contrast, but really great micro contrast, where the cracks, lines and tonal variations in brickwork, plant leaves, tree bark, faces… are all shown beautifully, but within a delicate overall tonality.
The sensor lacks an Anti-Aliasing filter and I found I could provoke artifacts quite easily, because this lens clearly provides far more detail than the sensor can swallow. With natural subjects this is not a huge issue, but with city scenes, look out for those distant railings, shutters and textured surfaces.
The output of the camera startled me to such an extent that I compared it to my Leica Monochrom, with 28mm Elmarit-M asph. In terms of outright perceived resolution, it is 95% of the way there. Seriously. Fine detail in very fine structures showed the Monochrom nudge ahead and the GR cannot match the flexibility and tonal subtlety of the monochrome sensor, but in pure lens terms, you can feel confident that the optic on this black box punches in the same league as the $2000 Elmarit-M asph, but is actually better at wide apertures on its respective sensor. Gulp. Where the Monochrom really comes into its own is the lack of artifacts, the ability to uprez files much more that with Bayer cameras and the look/tonality of the files. Here the MM remains unique in my view, but if I were contemplating heading off to do street photography with a Leica M240 and 28mm f2.8 lens, I would almost certainly re-evaluate and end up leaving with the GR.
What else have they done well?
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