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Leica M8 versus Sony A7S II

The Leica M8 and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2015. The M8 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7S II is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a full frame (A7S II) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 12 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 Sony A7S II

The physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Sony A7S II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the M8 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica M8 vs Sony A7S II
Compare M8 versus A7S II top
Compare M8 and A7S II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S II is notably larger (10 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the A7S II is markedly heavier (6 percent) than the M8. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S II).

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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica M8» 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Sony A7S II« 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Canon 1100D« » 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
Canon 400D« » 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
Leica M10« » 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« » 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195- i Leica M Typ 262
Leica M9« » 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Nikon D3000« » 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« » 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D40X« » 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Panasonic L10« » 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Sony A7R III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A9« » 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7R II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 489 g 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 A7S II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica M8 vs Sony A7S II

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 Sony A7S II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S II is 74 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.

Leica M8 and Sony A7S II sensor measures

With 12MP, the A7S II offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the A7S II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.40μm versus 6.84μm for the M8) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7S II is a much more recent model (by 8 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 the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

M8 versus A7S II MP

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 A7S II offers substantially better image quality than the M8 (overall score 26 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica M8» APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8
Sony A7S II« Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Canon 1100D« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562Canon 1100D
Canon 400D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon 400D
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976-----Leica M Typ 262
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
Nikon D3000« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.156362Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A7S II indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S II can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica M8 vs Sony A7S II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 A7S II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Leica M8»optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n Leica M8
Sony A7S II«2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Canon 1100D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 1100D
Canon 400D« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 400D
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 262
Leica M9« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n Leica M9
Nikon D3000« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7R III
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y Sony A9
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S

The M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7S II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica M8»Y-----2.0---Leica M8
Sony A7S II«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
Canon 1100D« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Canon 1100D
Canon 400D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 400D
Leica M10« »Y------Y--Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« »Y-----2.0---Leica M Typ 262
Leica M9« »Y-----2.0---Leica M9
Nikon D3000« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
Nikon D40X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
Panasonic L10« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L10
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
Sony A9« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
Sony A7R II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S

The A7S II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the M8 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M8 was succeeded by the Leica M9.

Review summary: Leica M8 vs Sony A7S II

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Sony A7S II – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages 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 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).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha 7S II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • 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 (1229k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 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 build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 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 A7S II is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 4 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.

M8 04:18 A7S II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M8 or the A7S II. 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica M8»-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Sony A7S II«Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Canon 1100D« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
Canon 400D« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M Typ 262« »----- Nov 2015 5,195- i Leica M Typ 262
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Nikon D3000« »Rec72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
Nikon D5000« »HiRec75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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