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Leica M10 versus Sony A9

The Leica M10 (Typ 3656) and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2017 and April 2017. The M10 is a fixed lens compact, while the A9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame 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 A9

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M10 and the Sony A9. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 – the M10 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica M10 vs Sony A9
M10 versus A9 top view
M10 and A9 rear side
Body view (M10 on the left)

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. It is noteworthy in this context that the A9 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. 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M10) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A9).

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 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 M10 (⇒ rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 no 2017 6,595 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 no 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. YES 2015 5,195discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 no 2015 4,249 latest check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. YES 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. no 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. no 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 YES 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 YES 2018 1,999 latest check
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 YES 2017 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 YES 2015 2,999 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 YES 2014 1,999discont. check

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 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.


Sensor comparison: Leica M10 vs Sony A9

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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.

Leica M10 and Sony A9 sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A9 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 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.

M10 versus A9 MP
Sensor resolution

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 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica M10 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no 24.4 13.2 2133 86
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 26.0 6240 4160 1080/60p 24.4 11.9 2862 85
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 no - - - -
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.7 2221 85
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 1080/25p 24.0 13.3 1860 84
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472 no 22.5 11.7 884 69
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.4 3936 2630 no 21.1 11.3 663 59
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.3 14.0 1483 86
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 25.0 14.7 3730 96
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 14.7 3523 100
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.0 4240 2832 4K/30p 23.6 13.3 2993 85
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A9 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10 does not. The highest resolution format that the A9 can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison: Leica M10 vs Sony A9

Apart from 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 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. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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 M10 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 1037 fixed no 4000 5.0 no no
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.5 no no
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 7.0 no no
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 no no
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 2.0 no no
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 2.0 no no
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 922 tilting YES 8000 8.0 12 no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no
Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 8000 10 no YES
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES

Both the M10 and the A9 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The M10 replaced the earlier Leica M Typ 262, while the A9 does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Leica M10 vs Sony A9

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M10 and the Sony A9? 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.
  • 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).

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Advantages of 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.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • 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 (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • 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 count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A9 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 4 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.

M10 04:15 A9

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 M10 or the A9 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica M10 (⇒ rgt) - - 4/5 - 4.5/5 2017 6,595 latest check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) HiRec 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 4.5/5 4/5 4/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4/5 .. 4/5 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2015 5,195discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2015 4,249 latest check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - - 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 - 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 86/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check
Sony A7 III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 89/100 Gold 5/5 .. 5/5 2018 1,999 latest check
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 2,999 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999discont. check

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. 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, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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