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Canon M vs Leica M9

The Canon EOS M and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2012 and September 2009. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Canon M) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 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 M versus Leica M9
Canon M Leica M9
Mirrorless system camera Rangefinder camera
Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 80-2,500
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
109 x 66 x 32 mm, 298 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 M 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon M and the Leica M9 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 Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the M9 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).

Size Canon M vs Leica M9
Compare Canon M versus M9 top
Comparison Canon M 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 considerably larger (55 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the M9 is substantially heavier (96 percent) than the Canon M. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Canon M 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
5.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699i
6.
 
Canon 100D 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
12.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
13.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
14.
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599i
Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon M was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 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.

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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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 M 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 M and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the Canon M (17.9MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.31μm for the Canon M) due to its larger sensor. However, the Canon M is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 10 months) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 Canon M has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS M has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

Canon M versus M9 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 Canon M (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.5 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 M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
2.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
3.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
4.
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
5.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
6.
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
7.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
8.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
9.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
10.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
11.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
12.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
13.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
14.
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
15.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The Canon M indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the Canon M can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M9 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Canon M relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M, the Leica M9, and comparable cameras.

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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 Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
2.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
4.
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n
5.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon 100Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
7.
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
9.
 
Canon 550Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
10.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
14.
 
Panasonic GF6none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the M9 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Canon M and the M9 write their files to SDXC cards. The Canon M 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.

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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 M 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon M100-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G7 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon 100DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
9.
 
Canon 550DYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
11.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
13.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GF6-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
15.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the Canon M and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the Canon M was followed by the Canon EOS M3. 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M and the Leica M9? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS M:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • 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 (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (109x66mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 287g or 49 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • 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 individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Canon M is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 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.

Canon M 12:05 M9

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 Canon M or the M9 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

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 M3/5+..4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon M1003/5+..4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon M10........4/5 Oct 2015 499i
5.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
6.
 
Canon 100D4/5+78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon 700D....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon 550D..+ +77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
12.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5....4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
13.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
14.
 
Panasonic GF6..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
17.
 
Sony NEX-F34/5..74/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon M:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M9:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon M 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 M Leica M9
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2012 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon M 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 17.9 Megapixels 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 80 - 2,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 827 884
    Screen Specs Canon M Leica M9
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M Leica M9
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 4.3 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Canon M Leica M9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 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 M Leica M9
    Battery Type LP-E12 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 109 x 66 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 298 g (10.5 oz) 585 g (20.6 oz)

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