Leica M8 vs M9
The Leica M8 and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2009. Both the M8 and the M9 are rangefinder-focusing mirrorless cameras that are based on an APS-H (M8) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The M8 has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 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 M8 and the Leica M9? 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.
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.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
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 compare the optics available in the Leica M Lens Catalog.
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 M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|2.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|3.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|6.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|8.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|9.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|10.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|11.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|12.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|13.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|14.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|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 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.
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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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.
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.
The resolution advantage of the Leica M9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M9 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica M8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 2500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|6.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|9.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|14.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Apart from 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M8 and Leica M9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n|
|2.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 400D||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||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 X Vario||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M8 and the M9 write their files to SDXC 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 M8 and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 400D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M8 and the Leica M9? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) 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).
Advantages of 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. 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 M8 or the M9. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|2.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|3.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|6.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|8.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|9.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|10.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|11.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|12.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|13.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|14.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|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 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 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.
Specifications: Leica M8 vs Leica M9
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 M8||Leica M9|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Rangefinder camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Leica M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Leica M9|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||18.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||5212 x 3472 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||6.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||2.09 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||80 - 2,500 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||69|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||11.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||884|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Leica M9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Leica M9|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Manual Focus|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Leica M9|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Leica M9|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||585 g (20.6 oz)|
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