Leica M10 vs Sony A9
The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2017 and April 2017. The M10 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the A9 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 24 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 A9? 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 A9 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M10 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A9 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 A9 is notably larger (10 percent) than the Leica M10. Moreover, the A9 is slightly heavier (2 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 (A9).
The power pack in the A9 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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|2.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|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.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|17.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A9 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 32 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A9 is 1 percent smaller. 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.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A9 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 23.8 MP of the M10. 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 5.94μm versus 6.00μm for the M10). However, it should be noted that the A9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 months) than the M10, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. 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 A9 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 A9 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 A9 has a markedly higher DXO score than the M10 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|2.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|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.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|15.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|16.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A9 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10 does not. The highest resolution format that the A9 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A9 has an electronic viewfinder (3686k 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 A9 has a higher magnification than the one of the M10 (0.78x vs 0.73x), 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 A9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|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|
|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|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The A9 has a touchscreen, while the M10 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
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 A9 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 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 A9 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A9 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M10 only has one slot. The A9 supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the M10 can use UHS-I 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 M10 (Typ 3656) and Sony Alpha A9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|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||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 (unlike the M10) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The M10 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the A9 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A9 was succeeded by the Sony A9 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 what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M10 and the Sony A9? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of 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.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2017).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A9:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p 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.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.73x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1037k dots).
- 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 shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (32 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (2 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 5 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 A9. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||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||..||..||..||..||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||..||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||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|17.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 A9
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 A9|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2017||April 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 6,595||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M10||Sony A9|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.9 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||855.62 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||23.8 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5952 x 3992 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro II||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.4||24.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.2||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2133||3517|
|Screen Specs||Leica M10||Sony A9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M10||Sony A9|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M10||Sony A9|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|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|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M10||Sony A9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||650 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 96 x 63 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||660 g (23.3 oz)||673 g (23.7 oz)|
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