Canon 50D vs Leica M9
The Canon EOS 50D and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and September 2009. The 50D is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (50D) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D 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 50D 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 notably smaller (29 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the M9 is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D 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. 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 (M9).
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.
|Canon 50D||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Leica M9||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Canon 90D||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||1300||Y||Aug 2019||1,199|
|Canon 80D||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||25.8 oz||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|Canon 7D II||5.9 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||32.1 oz||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 70D||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 60D||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon T2i||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 7D||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon T1i||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|Canon 40D||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.9 in||27.7 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 20D||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica X Vario||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.7 in||24.0 oz||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|Leica M Typ 240||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|Leica M8||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 50D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 84 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 50D 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.
With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the 50D (15.1MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.69μm for the 50D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 50D, and its sensor might 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 50D are 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm for good quality, 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 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 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 consideration, the M9 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 50D (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 50D 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 50D (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 50D and Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 50D has one, while the M9 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 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 50D and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 50D and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, 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 the Canon 50D better than the Leica M9 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 50D:
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- 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 (84 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2008).
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 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: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 50D comes out slightly ahead of the M9 (11 : 10 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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.
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 M9 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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.
|Canon 50D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Canon 90D||+||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2019||1,199|
|Canon 80D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|Canon 7D II||+||84/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 70D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 60D||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon T2i||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon T1i||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||+ +||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 20D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica X Vario||..||..||4/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|Leica M Typ 240||..||..||4/5||..||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|Leica M8||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 50D 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 50D||Leica M9|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2008||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 50D||Leica M9|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||18.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||5212 x 3472 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||6.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 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|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.4||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||696||884|
|Screen Specs||Canon 50D||Leica M9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|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 M9|
|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 M9|
|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 M9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
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)|
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