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Leica M10 versus Sony A6500

The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2017 and October 2016. The M10 is a fixed lens compact, while the A6500 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on a full frame (M10) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 23.8 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica M10 vs Sony A6500

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M10 and the Sony A6500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 M10 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica M10 vs Sony A6500
Compare M10 versus A6500 top
Compare M10 and A6500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Leica M10. Moreover, the A6500 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the M10. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust-proof, while the M10 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M10) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500).

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica M10» 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Sony A6500« 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica M Typ 262« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Nov 2015 5,195- i
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M9« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i
Olympus PEN-F« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i

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 A6500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the M10, 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: Leica M10 vs Sony A6500

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 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M10 features a full frame sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M10 and Sony A6500 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the A6500 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 23.8 MP of the M10. 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 3.91μm versus 6.00μm for the M10). Moreover, it should be noted that the M10 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the A6500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M10 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

M10 versus A6500 MP

For most 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica M10» Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica M Typ 262« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976-----
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A6500 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10 does not. The highest resolution format that the A6500 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica M10 vs Sony A6500

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2300k dots), while the M10 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M10, the Sony A6500, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica M10»optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Leica M Typ 262« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica M9« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the M10 and the A6500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The A6500 replaced the earlier Sony A6300, while the M10 followed on from the Leica M Typ 262.

Review summary: Leica M10 vs Sony A6500

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M10 or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M10 (Typ 3656):

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 3 months after the A6500).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 207g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (350 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2016).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 6 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.

M10 06:14 A6500

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the M10 and the A6500 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica M10»--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica M Typ 262« »----- Nov 2015 5,195- i
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i

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 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 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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