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Leica M8 versus Leica M9

The Leica M8 and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2009. Both the M8 and the M9 are rangefinder-style mirrorless cameras that are based on an APS-H (M8) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The M8 has a resolution of 10.4 megapixel, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 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 M8 vs Leica M9

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Leica M9 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the M8 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica M8 vs Leica M9
Compare M8 versus M9 top
Compare M8 and M9 rear

In this particular case, the Leica M8 and the Leica M9 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the M9 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 nor the M9 are weather-sealed.

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 (as in the M9) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (M8). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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)
Camera
Model
Leica M8» 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Leica M9« 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Nov 2015 5,195- i Leica M Typ 262
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

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 M8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the M9, 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: Leica M8 vs Leica M9

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 78 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors.

Leica M8 and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the M9 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 6.84μm for the M8) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M9 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the M8, 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.

M8 versus M9 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 M9 has a markedly higher DXO score than the M8 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica M8» APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8
Leica M9« Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon XTi
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976-----Leica M Typ 262
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084Leica M Typ 240
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451Olympus E-410
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Neither the M8 nor the M9 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Leica M8 vs Leica M9

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M8 and the M9 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M8, the Leica M9, 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
Model
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
Camera
Model
Leica M8»optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n Leica M8
Leica M9«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n Leica M9
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 262
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 240
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-410
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10

Both the M8 and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the M9 was followed by the Leica M Typ 240.

Review summary: Leica M8 vs Leica M9

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Leica M9 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).


Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 32%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M9 emerges as the winner of the match-up (5 : 3 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.

M8 03:05 M9

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M8 or the M9 handle or perform in practice. 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 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica M8»-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Leica M9«--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Canon T2i« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« »----- Nov 2015 5,195- i Leica M Typ 262
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

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.

 

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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