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Leica M9 Comparison Review

The Leica M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera that was officially introduced in September 2009 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 18.1 megapixel.

camera

Is the Leica M9 a good camera? The M9 has a Camera Elo of 1278. This rating puts the M9 below average of all rangefinder cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the M9 also ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 2.5-star performance rating. – Well, the Leica M9 is more than 12 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2009.

Headline Specifications
Leica M9
Rangefinder camera
Leica M mount lenses
18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video
ISO 80 - 2 500
Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2 shutter flaps per second
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g

Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Leica M9 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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.

Leica M9 vs credit card front
M9 versus credit card top view
M9 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Leica M9 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
2.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699ebay.com
3.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799ebay.com
4.
 
Leica M11 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 640 g 700 Y Jan 2022 8,995 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M10-R 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jul 2020 8,295 amazon.com
6.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 amazon.com
7.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
10.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950ebay.com
11.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Leica M9 was launched in the US market at a price of $7,999. 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.

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Check M9 offers at
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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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.

The Leica M9 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Leica M9 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Leica M9 sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of alternative cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
2.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
3.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
4.
 
Leica M11 Full Frame 60.3 9528 6328none26.314.83376100
5.
 
Leica M10-R Full Frame 40.9 7864 5200none25.314.3292495
6.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none25.114.1273993
7.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
9.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
10.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
11.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

It should be noted that unlike many modern cameras, the M9 does not provide the possibility to capture videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M9 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.68x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Leica M9 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
2.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
3.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
4.
 
Leica M11optical n3.0 / 2333 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
5.
 
Leica M10-Roptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
6.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
7.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
11.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Connection comparison

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 M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Leica M11Y- / ----3.2Y-Y
5.
 
Leica M10-RY- / -----Y--
6.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
7.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
11.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---

Further information on the features and operation of the M9 can be found in the free online Leica M9 Manual or on the Leica support site.

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M9 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
2.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699ebay.com
3.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799ebay.com
4.
 
Leica M114.5/5..4.5/5..4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2022 8,995 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M10-R4.5/5..4/5....4/5 Jul 2020 8,295 amazon.com
6.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 amazon.com
7.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
10.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950ebay.com
11.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499ebay.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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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Leica M9 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the M9.

What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the M9?

The camera features a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the M9?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 2500.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Leica M9?

Leica does not publish a shutter rating for the M9. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The M9's flash sync speed is 1/180 sec.

Which battery does the M9 use?

The camera gets its power from the BLI-312, which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities with other camera models, 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.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Leica M9
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2009
    Launch Price USD 7 999
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5 212 x 3 472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 2 500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 884
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display
    LCD Size 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input No touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Manual Focus
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support no
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type BLI-312 power pack
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz)

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