PW

Leica CL versus Leica M9

The Leica CL (Typ 7323) and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2017 and September 2009. The CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (CL) and a full frame sensor. The CL has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Leica CL and the Leica M9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 CL – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Leica CL vs Leica M9 front
CL versus M9 top view
CL and M9 rear side
Body view (CL on the left)

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 larger (9 percent) than the Leica CL. Moreover, the M9 is substantially heavier (45 percent) than the CL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the CL 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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 no 2017 2,795 latest check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. no 2009 7,999discont. check
Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 no 2017 779 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 no 2016 979 latest check
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 no 2010 699discont. check
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 no 2009 799discont. check
Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 no 2016 399 latest check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 no 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 no 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 no 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. YES 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. no 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 no 2016 699 latest check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The CL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 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

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica CL features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica CL and Leica M9 sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 18.1 MP of the Leica M9. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the CL is much more recent (by 8 years and 2 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

CL versus M9 MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica M9 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472 no 22.5 11.7 884 69
Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p .. .. .. ..
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.4 12.4 1262 77
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 784 66
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 1080/20p 21.7 11.5 663 63
Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p - - - -
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no 24.4 13.2 2133 86
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3272 1080/30p 23.4 12.7 1320 78
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 1080/25p 24.0 13.3 1860 84
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.4 3936 2630 no 21.1 11.3 663 59
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1306 84

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The CL indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the CL can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica CL and Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. 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
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) 2360 YES 3.0 1040 fixed YES 8000 10.0 no no
Leica M9 (⇒ lft) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 2.0 no no
Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 4000 9.0 5 no
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 YES no
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.4 YES no
Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 6.0 7 no
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1037 fixed no 4000 5.0 no no
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 7.0 no no
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 2.0 no no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no

The CL is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. 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.

Summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica CL or the Leica M9 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Leica CL (Typ 7323):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 18.1MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
  • 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.
  • 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 (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 182g or 31 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 2 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the CL is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

CL 12:02 M9

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the CL or the M9 handle or 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. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica CL (⇒ rgt) .. .. .. .. 4/5 2017 2,795 latest check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 - 2009 7,999discont. check
Canon 200D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Canon M6 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2017 779 latest check
Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 979 latest check
Canon 550D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 77/100 Gold 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 699discont. check
Canon 500D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 74/100 HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 74/100 4.5/5 - 4/5 2016 399 latest check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4.5/5 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4/5 .. 4/5 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - 4/5 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - - 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 699 latest check

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. 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.

Other comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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