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Canon 40D vs Leica M9

The Canon EOS 40D and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2009. The 40D is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (40D) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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 40D
versus
Leica M9
Canon 40D   Leica M9
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
10.1 MP – APS-C sensor 18.1 MP – Full Frame sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 80-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g
Canon 40D:
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Leica M9:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D 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 40D and the Leica M9. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 40D is only available in black.

Size Canon 40D vs Leica M9
Compare 40D versus M9 top
Comparison 40D 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 notably smaller (29 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the M9 is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D 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 (40D) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can 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
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
6.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
8.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
16.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
17.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 40D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 84 percent) than the M9, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 160 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 40D and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M9 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the 40D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further 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 40D are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 40D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

40D versus M9 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the M9 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 40D (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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
1.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
2.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
3.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
6.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
7.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.478364
8.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
9.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
10.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
11.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
12.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
13.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
14.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
16.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
17.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The 40D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M9 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 40D 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 40D (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 0.59x), 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 40D 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
2.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3/s Y n
5.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3/s Y n
7.
 
Canon XSoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
8.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
9.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
12.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
14.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
16.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0/s n n
17.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the 40D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 40D 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 40D 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon XSY- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
14.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
16.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 40D and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 40D or the Leica M9 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • 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.
  • 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 (6.5 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 (84 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).

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Advantages of the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 34%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 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 0.59x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 237g or 29 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 40D launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M9 comes out slightly ahead of the 40D (10 : 9 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

40D 09:10 M9

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 40D and the M9 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
6.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon XS..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
8.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
15.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
16.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
17.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 40D:
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Leica M9:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 40D 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 40D 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 1,299 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Leica M9
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 MP/cm2 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 2,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 884
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Leica M9
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.68x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 40D Leica M9
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Leica M9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 40D Leica M9
    Battery Type BP-511A BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 585 g (20.6 oz)
    Canon 40D:
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    Leica M9:
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