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Leica M10 vs Sony A7

The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A7 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2017 and October 2013. The M10 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 23.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica M10 versus Sony A7
Leica M10 Sony A7
Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica M mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
23.8 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-50,000 ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 51,200)
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)
3.0 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 1230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
210 shots per battery charge340 shots per battery charge
139 x 80 x 39 mm, 660 g 127 x 94 x 48 mm, 474 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A7? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M10 and the Sony A7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M10 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7 is only available in black.

Size Leica M10 vs Sony A7
Compare M10 versus A7 top
Comparison M10 or A7 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 is notably larger (7 percent) than the Leica M10. However, the A7 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the M10. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M10) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7).

The power pack in the A7 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Sony A7 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M Typ 262 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Samsung NX1 139 mm 102 mm 66 mm 550 g 500 Y Sep 2014 1,499i
 
Sony A7 II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A7S 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 489 g 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499i
 
Sony A7R 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The A7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 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.

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. 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M10 and Sony A7 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the A7 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 23.8 MP of the M10. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A7 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 6.00μm for the M10). Moreover, it should be noted, that the M10 is much more recent (by 3 years and 3 months) than the A7, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual 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.

The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.

M10 versus A7 MP

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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7 has a markedly higher DXO score than the M10 (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Sony A7 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p........
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none........
 
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 3472none22.511.788469
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
 
Samsung NX1 APS-C 28.0 6480 43204K/30p24.213.2136383
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
 
Sony A7S Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287
 
Sony A7R Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the M10 has a higher magnification than the one of the A7 (0.73x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M10 and Sony A7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A72400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica M10-Poptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica M Typ 262optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Samsung NX12360 Y 3.0 1036 tilting Y 1/8000s 15.0 Y n
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A7S2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A7R2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 4.0 n n

The Leica M10 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.

The M10 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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 Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and Sony Alpha A7 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
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Sony A7YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono----2.0---
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
 
Leica M Typ 262Y-----2.0---
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Samsung NX1YstereomonoYYmicro3.0YYY
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A7SYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A7RYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-

The M10 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the A7 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7 was succeeded by the Sony A7 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Sony websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M10 and the Sony A7? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica M10 (Typ 3656):

  • 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 (0.73x vs 0.71x).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 3 months of technical progress since the A7 launch.

ilogo

Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1037k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 186g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (340 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 6 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 before making a decision on a new camera. 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.

M10 06:14 A7

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M10 or the A7. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Sony A7+ +80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 80D+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240.......... Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M Typ 262.......... Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica Q Typ 116..80/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
 
Leica M Typ 240....4/5.... Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Samsung NX1..87/1005/54.5/55/5 Sep 2014 1,499i
 
Sony A7 II+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A7S..86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499i
 
Sony A7R+ +82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299i
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica M10:
Check Amazon price
Sony A7:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Leica M10 vs Sony A7

    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 Leica M10 Sony A7
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2017 October 2013
    Launch Price USD 6,595 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Leica M10 Sony A7
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.9 mm 35.8 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 855.62 mm2 855.62 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 23.8 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5952 x 3992 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm 5.97 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2 2.80 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 50,000 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 51,200 ISO
    Image Processor Maestro II BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 86 90
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.4 24.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.2 14.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2133 2248
    Screen Specs Leica M10 Sony A7
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.71x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2400k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Leica M10 Sony A7
    Focus System Manual Focus On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Leica M10 Sony A7
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector no USB USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Leica M10 Sony A7
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-SCL5 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)210 shots per charge340 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 39 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    127 x 94 x 48 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
    Camera Weight 660 g (23.3 oz) 474 g (16.7 oz)

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