Leica M8 vs Sony HX99
The Leica M8 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and August 2018. The M8 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the HX99 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a 1/2.3-inch (HX99) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 18 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99? 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 Sony HX99. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the HX99 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 HX99 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Leica M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 nor the HX99 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the HX99 has a lens built in, whereas the M8 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the M8 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the HX99 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony HX99||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||449||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|8.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony HX95||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony WX800||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||233 g||370||n||Oct 2018||399||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony HX400V||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||660 g||300||n||Feb 2014||499||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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The HX99 was launched at a lower price than the M8, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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 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. 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 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 HX99 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the HX99 is 94 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 5.6. The sensor in the M8 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the HX99 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the HX99 offers a higher resolution of 18 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 1.25μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the HX99 is much more recent (by 11 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony HX99 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the HX99 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.5 x 18.4 inches or 62.2 x 46.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 14.7 inches or 49.7 x 37.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-6400.
In terms of underlying technology, the M8 is build around a CCD sensor, while the HX99 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||24.8||13.7||2478||90|
|8.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|13.||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 HX99 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the HX99 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the HX99 has an electronic viewfinder (638k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M8 and Sony HX99 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Sony HX99||638||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony HX95||638||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony WX800||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony HX90V||638||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony HX400V||210||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|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 HX99 has a touchscreen, while the M8 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The HX99 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 HX99 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The HX99 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 Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 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.||Sony HX99||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony HX95||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony WX800||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony HX90V||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony HX400V||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the M8 has a hotshoe, while the HX99 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The HX99 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the M8 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M8 was succeeded by the Leica M9. Further information on the features and operation of the M8 and HX99 can be found, respectively, in the Leica M8 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony HX99 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica M8 better than the Sony HX99 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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 Cyber-shot DSC-HX99:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 29%.
- 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 (922k 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 (10 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M8 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the M8).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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 file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 11 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 HX99 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 10 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M8 and the HX99 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.||Sony HX99||..||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||449||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|8.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony HX95||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony WX800||..||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||399||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony HX400V||4/5||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||499||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 Sony HX99
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 HX99|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||24-720mm f/3.5-6.4|
|Launch Date||September 2006||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Sony HX99|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||18 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||4896 x 3672 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||1.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||64.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 6,400 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||Sony HX99|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||638k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Sony HX99|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Sony HX99|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Sony HX99|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
102 x 58 x 36 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||242 g (8.5 oz)|
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