Leica M8 vs Olympus E-PL6
The Leica M8 and the Olympus PEN E-PL6 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and May 2013. The M8 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless, while the E-PL6 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a Four Thirds (E-PL6) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 Olympus PEN E-PL6? 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 M8 and the Olympus E-PL6 are illustrated 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.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-PL6 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL6 is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the E-PL6 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 nor the E-PL6 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 will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL6).
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||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL6 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 percent) than the M8, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Olympus E-PL6 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL6 is 54 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 2.0. The sensor in the M8 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL6 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL6 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 10.4 MP of the M8. 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 3.76μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the E-PL6 is much more recent (by 6 years and 7 months) than the M8, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PL6 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL6 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 Olympus PEN E-PL6 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
In terms of underlying technology, the M8 is build around a CCD sensor, while the E-PL6 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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"). 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.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.5||12.0||717||68|
|5.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||24.8||13.7||2478||90|
|7.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.6||1030||73|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|14.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|15.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|16.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL6 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL6 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M8 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL6 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL6 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M8, the Olympus E-PL6, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 400D||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL6 has a touchscreen, while the M8 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The E-PL6 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the M8 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Olympus E-PL6 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M8 and the E-PL6 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL6 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M8 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Olympus PEN E-PL6 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.||Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 400D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the M8 and the E-PL6 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the E-PL6 was followed by the Olympus E-PL7. Further information on the features and operation of the M8 and E-PL6 can be found, respectively, in the Leica M8 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-PL6 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M8 and the Olympus E-PL6? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL6:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 266g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 7 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL6 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
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 E-PL6 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon D30 vs Leica M8
- Fujifilm X-A10 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Fujifilm X-M1 vs Leica M8
- Fujifilm X100T vs Leica M8
- Leica M8 vs Panasonic GH3
- Leica M8 vs Panasonic GH5s
- Leica M8 vs Sony A7S
- Leica V-LUX 5 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Nikon L840 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Nikon Z6 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Olympus E-PL6 vs Sony RX10 III
- Olympus E-PL6 vs Sony RX1R
Specifications: Leica M8 vs Olympus E-PL6
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||Olympus E-PL6|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||May 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL6|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||..|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL6|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL6|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL6|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL6|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||325 g (11.5 oz)|
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