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Canon 50D vs Leica M8

The Canon EOS 50D and the Leica M8 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and September 2006. The 50D is a DSLR, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (50D) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 50D versus Leica M8
Canon 50D Leica M8
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 160-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D and the Leica M8? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Leica M8 is provided 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 50D is only available in black.

Size Canon 50D vs Leica M8
Compare 50D versus M8 top
Comparison 50D or M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the M8 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the M8 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. 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 (50D) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 90D 141 mm 105 mm 77 mm 701 g 1300 Y Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
13.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
14.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the M8, 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.

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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 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 50D features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 46 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 50D and Leica M8 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 10.4 MP of the Leica M8. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the 50D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the M8, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 50D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 50D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

50D versus M8 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 50D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the M8 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
2.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
3.
 
Canon 90D APS-C 32.3 6960 46404K/30p........
4.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
5.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
6.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
7.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
8.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
9.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
12.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
13.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
14.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
15.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
16.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M8 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 50D and the M8 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 50D and Leica M8 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
1.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
2.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 90Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 11.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
8.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
15.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the M8 does not. While the built-in flash of the 50D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 50D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M8 uses SDXC cards.

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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 50D and Leica M8 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
1.
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 90DYstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
6.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
13.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
14.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
15.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the M8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 50D and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the 50D was followed by the Canon 60D. 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 50D or the Leica M8 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 10.4MP) with a 21% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • 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.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • 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 (76 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the M8).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 231g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

50D 12:05 M8

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the M8 perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 90D4/5+85/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+84/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
13.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
14.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 50D vs Leica M8

    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 50D Leica M8
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 160 - 2,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 663
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Leica M8
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 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 50D Leica M8
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Leica M8
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    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) 591 g (20.8 oz)

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