Leica CM versus Olympus Stylus Epic

By Carson Wilson, Last updated 17-Jun-2006 09:18 PM

My wife and I recently attended Oak Park's annual Wright Plus Walk, and happened both to photograph the Nathan G. Moore House looking north from the porch of the Hills-DeCaro House during the tour. My wife used her Olympus Stylus Epic with Kodak Gold 400 print film; I used my Leica CM with Kodak Gold 200 print film. Both images were taken almost the same time, from the same location. Both rolls were processed identically. When we received our prints we both noticed the differences right away: the Leica print had notably better color and sharpness.

This is not a precise comparison as we used different films and the cameras have slightly different focal lengths (35 for the Stylus vs 40mm for the Leica). The better color quality in the Leica CM example is probably due in part to the slower film used. However, the faster film should have given the Stylus an advantage in shutter speed, as well as higher contrast. Instead the Leica exposure has superior sharpness, color contrast, and saturation. This is consistent with what I've found generally, and I suppose is to be expected of a camera costing 10 times as much.

Both images below are scanned from the original negatives with my Nikon LS-40, 2900 dpi, identical scan settings except for the scanner's automatic exposure control and my manual white balance adjustment. To see closeups of the original 2900 dpi scans, roll your mouse over the grey rectangles in either image.

Olympus Stylus Epic, Kodak Gold 400

Leica CM, Kodak Gold 200

To demonstrate that the above differences are not due to the scanning process, here's a scan I took with an Epson Perfection 2400 flatbed scanner of both negatives at once (the Leica CM is at the bottom):

stylus400lcm200-1 (72K)

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