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Canon XSi vs Leica M9

The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (called Canon 450D in some regions) and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2008 and September 2009. The XSi is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (XSi) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.2 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 XSi versus Leica M9
Canon XSi Leica M9
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 80-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.5 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 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 Rebel XSi 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 XSi 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 M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the XSi is only available in black.

Size Canon XSi vs Leica M9
Compare XSi versus M9 top
Comparison XSi 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 notably smaller (12 percent) than the Canon XSi. However, the M9 is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the XSi. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XSi 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. 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 (XSi) 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, 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 XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
2.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
7.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
8.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
13.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
16.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
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 XSi was launched at a markedly lower price (by 90 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.

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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. 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 XSi features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 163 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 XSi and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the XSi (12.2MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the XSi, 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 XSi are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XSi has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

XSi 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 XSi (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.

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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 XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
2.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
3.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
6.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
7.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
8.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
9.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
12.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
13.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
14.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
16.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
The XSi offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M9 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 XSi 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 XSi (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 0.54x), 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 XSi and Leica M9 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 XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
2.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon T2ioptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
8.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
9.
 
Canon XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
14.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
16.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XSi has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the XSi is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The XSi writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the M9 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 Rebel XSi 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 XSiY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T2iYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
13.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
14.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
16.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---

Both the XSi and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon XSi better than the Leica M9 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 61g or 10 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (90 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2008).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 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 0.54x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M9 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

XSi 07:10 M9

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the XSi and the M9 in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 XSi..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
2.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon T6i5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon T6s5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon T3..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
7.
 
Canon T2i..+ +77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
8.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon XS..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Canon XT..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
13.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
14.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
15.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5....4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
16.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon XSi:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers

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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon XSi 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 XSi Leica M9
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2008 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon XSi Leica M9
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2848 pixels 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.19 μm 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 3.70 MP/cm2 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 2,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 61 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.9 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 692 884
    Screen Specs Canon XSi Leica M9
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.68x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XSi Leica M9
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 3.5 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon XSi Leica M9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon XSi Leica M9
    Battery Type LP-E5 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 524 g (18.5 oz) 585 g (20.6 oz)

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