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Canon 5D Mark II versus Leica M9

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2008 and September 2009. The 5D Mark II 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 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 18.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica M9

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Leica M9 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 5D Mark II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica M9
Compare 5D Mark II versus M9 top
Compare 5D Mark II and 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 (36 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark II. Moreover, the M9 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the 5D Mark II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D Mark II 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark II) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5D Mark II» 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Leica M9« 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica M9

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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.

Canon 5D Mark II and Leica M9 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5D Mark II offers a higher resolution of 21 megapixel, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixel advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5D Mark II 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 a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the 5D Mark II, and its sensor might 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.

5D Mark II versus M9 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 5D Mark II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the M9 (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 5D Mark II» Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Leica M9« Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark II indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark II can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica M9

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark II 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark II, the Leica M9, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 5D Mark II»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Leica M9«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n

Both the 5D Mark II and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark III, while the M9 was followed by the Leica M Typ 240.

Review summary: Canon 5D Mark II vs Leica M9

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 5D Mark II better than the Leica M9 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

  • 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 markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Easier setting verification: Has 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 (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.9 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).

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Arguments in favor 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 152x114mm) 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.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 5D Mark II 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.

5D Mark II 14:05 M9

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D Mark II 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5D Mark II»91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Leica M9«--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon T2i« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i

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. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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