Leica M10 vs Sony A7R
The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A7R are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2017 and October 2013. The M10 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless, while the A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 23.8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 36.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A7R? 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 physical size and weight of the Leica M10 and the Sony A7R are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M10 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7R is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R is notably larger (7 percent) than the Leica M10. However, the A7R is markedly lighter (30 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 (A7R).
The power pack in the A7R can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|2.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|6.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|9.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|11.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|12.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|14.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|17.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 A7R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7R is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the A7R offers a higher resolution than the M10 (23.8MP), but the A7R has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 6.00μm for the M10). Yet, the M10 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 3 months) than the A7R, and its sensor will 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M10 are 29.8 x 20 inches or 75.6 x 50.7 cm for good quality, 23.8 x 16 inches or 60.5 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 19.8 x 13.3 inches or 50.4 x 33.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7R are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7R has a markedly higher DXO score than the M10 (overall score 9 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|2.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|9.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|12.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|13.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|14.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|17.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A7R indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7R can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R 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 A7R (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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M10, the Sony A7R, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|2.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|5.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|6.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|11.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|14.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|17.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||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 A7R 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.
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 A7R and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|2.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
The M10 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the A7R has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R was succeeded by the Sony A7R 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.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M10 or the Sony A7R – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica M10 (Typ 3656):
- 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).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- 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 A7R launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 23.8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- 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).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- 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 195g or 30 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 (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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.
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 A7R. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.
|1.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|2.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||4/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|6.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|9.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|11.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|12.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|13.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|14.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|17.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 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 make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Leica M10 vs Sony A7R
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 M10||Sony A7R|
|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 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M10||Sony A7R|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||855.62 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||23.8 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5952 x 3992 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA 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||95|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.4||25.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.2||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2133||2746|
|Screen Specs||Leica M10||Sony A7R|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|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 A7R|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no 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 A7R|
|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 A7R|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
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)||465 g (16.4 oz)|
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