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Canon 10D vs Leica M9

The Canon EOS 10D and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2003 and September 2009. The 10D is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (10D) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 18.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 10D versus Leica M9
Canon 10D Leica M9
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
6.3 MP, APS-C Sensor 18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 80-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 118k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
150 x 107 x 75 mm, 850 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 10D and the Leica M9? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Leica M9. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 10D is only available in black.

Size Canon 10D vs Leica M9
Compare 10D versus M9 top
Comparison 10D or M9 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M9 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the M9 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the 10D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 10D nor the M9 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (10D) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 10D 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Leica M9 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Canon T5 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SL1 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549i
 
Canon T4i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T2i 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 7D 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon 20D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon D60 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Leica M10 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica X Vario 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica M Typ 240 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M8 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D100 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 10D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the M9, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 10D features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 152 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 10D and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the 10D (6.3MP), but the M9 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 7.38μm for the 10D). Yet, the M9 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 6 months) than the 10D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M9 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M9 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 10D are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 10D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

10D versus M9 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the M9 offers substantially better image quality than the 10D (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
Neither the 10D nor the M9 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 10D and the M9 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the M9 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 10D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the M9 has a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 10D and Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T2ioptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 10D has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the 10D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 10D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M9 uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 10D and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T2iYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 10D (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 10D and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 10D was replaced by the Canon 20D, while the M9 was followed by the Leica M Typ 240. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 10D better than the Leica M9 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 10D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2003).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 70%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.55x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 118k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 150x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 265g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 10D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the M9 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

10D 07:15 M9

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 10D or the M9. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Canon T5+..4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SL1+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T2i+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 7D+ +84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon D60..+ +o.... Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica X Vario....4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica M Typ 240....4/5.... Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 10D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 10D vs Leica M9

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 10D Leica M9
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2003 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 10D Leica M9
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.7 x 15.1 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 342.77 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.3 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6.3 Megapixels 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3072 x 2048 pixels 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.38 μm 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 1.84 MP/cm2 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 80 - 2,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 57 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.1 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.9 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 571 884
    Screen Specs Canon 10D Leica M9
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x 0.68x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 10D Leica M9
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 10D Leica M9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 10D Leica M9
    Battery Type BP-511 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 150 x 107 x 75 mm
    (5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 850 g (30.0 oz) 585 g (20.6 oz)

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