Leica M8 vs Olympus E-PL7
The Leica M8 and the Olympus PEN E-PL7 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2006 and August 2014. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the E-PL7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a Four Thirds (E-PL7) 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-PL7? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Olympus E-PL7. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL7 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the E-PL7 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 nor the E-PL7 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-PL7).
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.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|3.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|7.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|8.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|9.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|10.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|14.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|16.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|17.||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 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-PL7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 percent) than the M8, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Olympus E-PL7 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL7 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-PL7 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL7 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-PL7 is much more recent (by 7 years and 11 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-PL7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL7 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-PL7 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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 E-PL7 offers substantially better image quality than the M8 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|14.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|16.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PL7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL7 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the M8 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL7 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL7 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M8 and Olympus E-PL7 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL7 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-PL7 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-PL7 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-PL7 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL7 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-PL7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-PL7 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the M8 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the M8 and the E-PL7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the E-PL7 was followed by the Olympus E-PL8. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica M8 better than the Olympus E-PL7 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of 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-PL7:
- 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.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- 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 (1037k 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 (115x67mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 234g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- 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 7 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL7 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 5 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M8 and the E-PL7 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|3.||Canon T3||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|7.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|8.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|9.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|10.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|13.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|14.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|16.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. 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 Olympus E-PL7
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-PL7|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||August 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL7|
|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||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||873|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL7|
|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||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL7|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|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|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL7|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-PL7|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
115 x 67 x 38 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||357 g (12.6 oz)|
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