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. 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).
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. 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
|Leica M8 (⇒ rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||no||2006||5,499||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||no||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||no||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||no||2006||799||discont.||check|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||no||2017||6,595||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||YES||2015||5,195||discont.||check|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||no||2014||2,295||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||YES||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||no||2006||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||no||2007||729||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||no||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||no||2007||599||discont.||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 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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.
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.
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.
|Leica M8 (⇒ rgt)||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||no||21.1||11.3||663||59|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||no||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.3||703||64|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.0||664||62|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||no||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||no||-||-||-||-|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.4||11.4||516||63|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.1||11.2||524||61|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.3||10.8||429||55|
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.
|Leica M8 (⇒ rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||2.0||no||no|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||2.0||no||no|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||3.7||13||no|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.4||13||no|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||6.5||12||no|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1037||fixed||no||4000||5.0||no||no|
|Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||17||no|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||swivel||no||4000||3.0||11||no|
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.
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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Leica M8 (⇒ rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2006||5,499||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||-||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||77/100 Gold||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||74/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100 HiRec||HiRec||reviewed||4.5/5||4/5||2006||799||discont.||check|
|Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4.5/5||2017||6,595||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2015||5,195||discont.||check|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||3.5/5||-||4/5||2014||2,295||latest||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||-||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2006||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||79/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4/5||2007||729||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100 Rec||HiRec||reviewed||4.5/5||4.5/5||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||reviewed||4/5||2007||599||discont.||check|
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.
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