Leica M8 vs Sony A77
The Leica M8 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and August 2011. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the A77 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and an APS-C (A77) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Leica M mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 160-2500||ISO 100-16000 (50-25600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|2.5" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|2 shutter flaps per second||12 shutter flaps per second|
|No shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g||143 x 104 x 81 mm, 732 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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 Sony A77 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A77 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A77 is notably larger (34 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the A77 is markedly heavier (24 percent) than the M8. It is noteworthy in this context that the A77 is splash and dust-proof, while the M8 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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.
|Leica M8»||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Sony A77«||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||Sony A77|
|Canon T3« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi« »||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000« »||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Pentax K-3« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A6500« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399||Sony A6500|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A77 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||22.8 oz||480||Y||May 2014||1,199||Sony A77 II|
|Sony A99« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||Sony A99|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 A77 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 Sony A77 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A77 is 24 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the A77 offers a higher resolution of 24 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 3.91μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the A77 is much more recent (by 4 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 Sony A77 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inch or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inch or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inch 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 Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 A77 offers substantially better image quality than the M8 (overall score 19 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.9 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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.
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Sony A77||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
|Canon T3||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.0||664||62||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.1||11.2||524||61||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
|Pentax K-3||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A6500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85||Sony A6500|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Sony A77 II|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89||Sony A99|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A77 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the A77 can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the M8 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M8 and Sony A77 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
|Canon T3||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
|Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||Y||Y||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y||Sony A6500|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77 II|
|Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y||Sony A99|
One feature that is present on the A77, but is missing on the M8 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The A77 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 M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A77 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A77 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 Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Sony A77||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
|Canon T3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
|Pentax K-3||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A6500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6500|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A77 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A77 II|
|Sony A99||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A99|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A77 (unlike the M8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the M8 and the A77 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the A77 was followed by the Sony A77 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Sony A77 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 141g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- 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).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 52%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (19 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- 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 (921k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A77 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M8 or the A77 perform in practice. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica M8
- Canon G7 X Mark III vs Sony A77
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Sony A77 II
- Canon M5 vs Sony A77 II
- Canon T7 vs Sony A77
- Leica M8 vs Nikon 1 V2
- Leica M8 vs Nikon D40X
- Leica M8 vs Panasonic LF1
- Leica M8 vs Sony RX10 II
- Panasonic FZ100 vs Sony A77 II
- Panasonic LX5 vs Sony A77
- Sony A77 II vs Sony NEX-C3
Specifications: Leica M8 vs Sony A77
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||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 5499||USD 1399|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||160-2500 ISO||100-16000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50-25600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||801|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||No shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
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