Leica C-LUX vs M9
The Leica C-LUX and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2018 and September 2009. The C-LUX is a fixed lens compact, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an one-inch (C-LUX) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The C-LUX has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Rangefinder camera|
|24-360mm f/3.3-6.4||Leica M mount lenses|
|20 MP, 1" Sensor||18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 125-12800 (80-25600)||ISO 80-2500|
|Electronic viewfinder (2330k dots)||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 1240k dots||2.5" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|10 shutter flaps per second||2 shutter flaps per second|
|113 x 67 x 46 mm, 340 g||139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The C-LUX can be obtained in two different colors (gold, blue), while the M9 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
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 (47 percent) than the Leica C-LUX. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the C-LUX nor the M9 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the C-LUX has a lens built in, whereas the M9 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the M9 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the C-LUX can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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, 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.
|Leica C-LUX»||113 mm||67 mm||46 mm||340 g||370||n||Jun 2018||1,049||Leica C-LUX|
|Leica M9«||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Canon G5 X Mark II« »||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899||Canon G5 X Mark II|
|Canon 550D« »||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon 550D|
|Fujifilm X-E3« »||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899||Fujifilm X-E3|
|Fujifilm X-T20« »||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899||Fujifilm X-T20|
|Leica V-LUX 5« »||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||812 g||350||n||Jul 2019||1,249||Leica V-LUX 5|
|Leica D-LUX 7« »||115 mm||66 mm||65 mm||392 g||300||n||Nov 2018||1,195||Leica D-LUX 7|
|Leica CL« »||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795||Leica CL|
|Leica M10« »||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica TL2« »||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950||Leica TL2|
|Leica X Vario« »||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240« »||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8« »||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Panasonic LX100 II« »||115 mm||66 mm||65 mm||392 g||300||n||Aug 2018||999||Panasonic LX100 II|
|Sony RX100 VII« »||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 VI« »||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||301 g||240||n||Jun 2018||1,199||Sony RX100 VI|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 C-LUX was launched at a lower price than the M9, despite having a lens built in. 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. 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. 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 Leica C-LUX features an one-inch sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 645 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica C-LUX offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the Leica M9. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the C-LUX is much more recent (by 8 years and 9 months) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. 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 C-LUX implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the C-LUX for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inch or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inch or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inch or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M9 are 26.1 x 17.4 inch or 66.2 x 44.1 cm for good quality, 20.8 x 13.9 inch or 53 x 35.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.4 x 11.6 inch or 44.1 x 29.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica C-LUX has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 80-25600. 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. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Leica C-LUX||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica C-LUX|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon G5 X Mark II|
|Canon 550D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon 550D|
|Fujifilm X-E3||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X-E3|
|Fujifilm X-T20||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X-T20|
|Leica V-LUX 5||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica V-LUX 5|
|Leica D-LUX 7||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica D-LUX 7|
|Leica CL||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica CL|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica TL2||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica TL2|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Panasonic LX100 II||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Panasonic LX100 II|
|Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 VI||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Sony RX100 VI|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The C-LUX indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the C-LUX can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the C-LUX has an electronic viewfinder (2330k dots), while the M9 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the M9 has a higher magnification than the one of the C-LUX (0.68x vs 0.53x), 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 Leica C-LUX and Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica C-LUX||2330||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Leica C-LUX|
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y||Canon G5 X Mark II|
|Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 550D|
|Fujifilm X-E3||2360||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||n||Fujifilm X-E3|
|Fujifilm X-T20||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||n||Fujifilm X-T20|
|Leica V-LUX 5||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y||Leica V-LUX 5|
|Leica D-LUX 7||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y||Leica D-LUX 7|
|Leica CL||2360||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Leica CL|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica TL2||optional||n||3.7||1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||7.0||n||n||Leica TL2|
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Panasonic LX100 II||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y||Panasonic LX100 II|
|Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 VI||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VI|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The C-LUX has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the C-LUX is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the C-LUX is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Leica C-LUX 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the C-LUX and the M9 write their files to SDXC cards. The C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Leica C-LUX||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Leica C-LUX|
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y||Canon G5 X Mark II|
|Canon 550D||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 550D|
|Fujifilm X-E3||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Fujifilm X-E3|
|Fujifilm X-T20||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X-T20|
|Leica V-LUX 5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Leica V-LUX 5|
|Leica D-LUX 7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Leica D-LUX 7|
|Leica CL||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica CL|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica TL2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica TL2|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Panasonic LX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Panasonic LX100 II|
|Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 VI||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VI|
It is notable that the C-LUX offers wifi support, while the M9 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
The C-LUX is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the M9 has been discontinued (but it 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 Leica website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 18.1MP) with a 5% higher linear resolution.
- 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 4K/30p movies.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (1240k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the M9 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x67mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the M9).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 9 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.53x).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with different optics.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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 C-LUX is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 7 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 C-LUX 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.
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. 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.
- Canon 300D vs Leica C-LUX
- Canon M6 Mark II vs Leica M9
- Fujifilm X-A1 vs Leica M9
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Leica C-LUX
- Fujifilm X-T1 vs Leica M9
- Leica C-LUX vs Olympus E-M10 III
- Leica C-LUX vs Panasonic G9
- Leica M9 vs Leica X Typ 113
- Leica M9 vs Olympus E-410
- Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5
- Leica M9 vs Panasonic GH3
- Leica M9 vs Sony A6100
Specifications: Leica C-LUX 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||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||24-360mm f/3.3-6.4||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2018||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1049||USD 7999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||18.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5212 x 3472 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.41 μm||6.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.18 MP/cm2||2.09 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||125-12800 ISO||80-2500 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80-25600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||884|
|Screen Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2330k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1240k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Manual Focus|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||No Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Build-in 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||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica M9|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
113 x 67 x 46 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8 in)
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||340 g (12.0 oz)||585 g (20.6 oz)|
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