Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica M9
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2009. The 1Ds Mark III is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 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.
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|21 MP, Full Frame Sensor||18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-1600 (50-3200)||ISO 80-2500|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||2.5" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||2 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|150 x 160 x 80 mm, 1385 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-1Ds Mark III 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Leica M9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 1Ds Mark III is only available in black.
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 (54 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. Moreover, the M9 is substantially lighter (58 percent) than the 1Ds Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1Ds Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the M9 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds Mark III) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9).
As can be seen in the images above, the 1Ds Mark III has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon 1Ds Mark III»||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Leica M9«||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Canon 1D X Mark III« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||50.8 oz||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499||Canon 1D X Mark III|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D C« »||6.2 in||6.5 in||3.3 in||54.5 oz||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||Canon 1D X|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica X Vario« »||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.7 in||24.0 oz||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3X« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||Nikon D3X|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 1Ds Mark III offers a higher resolution of 21 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixels advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 1Ds Mark III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). Moreover, it should be noted that the M9 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the 1Ds Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels. 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 Canon 1Ds Mark III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1Ds Mark III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 28.1 x 18.7 inch or 71.3 x 47.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.5 x 15 inch or 57.1 x 38 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.7 x 12.5 inch or 47.5 x 31.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M9 are 26.1 x 17.4 inch or 66.2 x 44.1 cm for good quality, 20.8 x 13.9 inch or 53 x 35.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.4 x 11.6 inch or 44.1 x 29.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the 1Ds Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the M9, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 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.
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon 1D X Mark III|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82||Canon 1D X|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88||Nikon D3X|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark III 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the 1Ds Mark III has a higher magnification than the one of the M9 (0.76x vs 0.68x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Leica M9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark III|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D X|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D3X|
One feature that is present on the 1Ds Mark III, but is missing on the M9 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The 1Ds Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the M9 uses SDXC cards.
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-1Ds Mark III and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y||Canon 1D X Mark III|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D X||Y||mono||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||Y||none||none||-||-||none||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3X||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3X|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1Ds Mark III (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 1Ds Mark III and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Leica M9? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (21 vs 18.1MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.68x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 150x160mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 800g or 58 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark III launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 1Ds Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 5 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.
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 1Ds Mark III or the M9. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1200D vs Canon 1Ds Mark III
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon SX620
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Fujifilm GFX 50R
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon D6
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon D850
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon P1000
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon P7800
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Olympus E-520
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Panasonic GF6
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Ricoh GR
- Canon T3 vs Leica M9
- Leica M9 vs Panasonic FZ150
Specifications: Canon 1Ds Mark III 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 Model||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 7999||USD 7999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||21 Megapixels||18.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5616 x 3744 pixels||5212 x 3472 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||6.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||2.09 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||80-2500 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-3200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1663||884|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica M9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
150 x 160 x 80 mm
(5.9 x 6.3 x 3.1 in)
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1385 g (48.9 oz)||585 g (20.6 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.