Canon 5DS vs Leica M9
The Canon EOS 5DS and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and September 2009. The 5DS 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 50.3 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 5DS||Leica M9|
|Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|50.3 MP, Full Frame Sensor||18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-6,400 (50 - 12,800)||ISO 80-2,500|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2 LCD, 1040k 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|
|152 x 116 x 76 mm, 930 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 5DS 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 5DS and the Leica M9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 5DS 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 (37 percent) than the Canon 5DS. Moreover, the M9 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the 5DS. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5DS 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 (5DS) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 5DS||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Leica M9||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS R||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5D Mark III||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon T2i||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 5D Mark II||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 5D||6.0 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||31.6 oz||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|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|
|Nikon D850||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D810||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 5DS was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 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 5DS offers a higher resolution of 50.3 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixels advantage translates into a 67 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5DS has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.14μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the 5DS is much more recent (by 5 years and 4 months) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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 5DS implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5DS for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.4 x 29 inches or 110.3 x 73.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.8 x 23.2 inches or 88.3 x 58.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 29 x 19.3 inches or 73.6 x 49 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M9 are 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm for good quality, 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5DS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-12800. 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 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 5DS provides substantially higher image quality than the M9, with an overall score that is 18 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|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|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 5DS indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the 5DS can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5DS 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 5DS has a higher magnification than the one of the M9 (0.71x vs 0.68x), 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 5DS and Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||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|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the 5DS, 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 Canon 5DS has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 5DS writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the M9 uses SDXC cards. The 5DS features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M9 only has one slot. The 5DS supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M9 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 5DS and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5DS (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The 5DS is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the M9 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M9 was succeeded 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 how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5DS 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.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 5DS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (50.3 vs 18.1MP) with a 67% 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 (18 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.68x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- 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.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.
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 152x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 345g or 37 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 around for much longer (launched in September 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5DS is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 5 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5DS or the M9 perform in practice. 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.
This is why expert reviews 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 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5D Mark III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon T2i||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon 5D Mark II||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 5D||88/100||+ +||o||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|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|
|Nikon D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D810||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 5DS 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 5DS||Leica M9|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 3,699||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5DS||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||50.3 Megapixels||18.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8688 x 5792 pixels||5212 x 3472 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.14 μm||6.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.82 MP/cm2||2.09 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||80 - 2,500 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||87||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.7||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2381||884|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5DS||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||3.2inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5DS||Leica M9|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Manual Focus|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5DS||Leica M9|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 5DS||Leica M9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||930 g (32.8 oz)||585 g (20.6 oz)|
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