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Leica M9 Comparison Review

The Leica M9 is a rangefinder-style 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 1356. 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. – Well, the Leica M9 is more than 9 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 80-2500
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


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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 comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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 comparisons there.

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 M9 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
 
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
 
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Leica M10-P« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
 
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X Vario« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
 
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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.

Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers

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 comparator-cameras.

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 M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
 
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
 
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
 
Leica M10-P« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-----Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
 
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
 
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084Leica M Typ 240
 
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8

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.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n Leica M9
 
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
 
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
 
Leica M10-P« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n Leica M10
 
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
 
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 240
 
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n Leica M8
 

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.

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 M9Y-----2.0---Leica M9
 
Canon T5i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T5i
 
Canon T2i« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i
 
Leica M10-P« »Y------Y--Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« »Y------Y--Leica M10
 
Leica T« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X Vario« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
 
Leica M Typ 240« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica M Typ 240
 
Leica M8« »Y-----2.0---Leica M8
 

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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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 M9--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
 
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
 
Canon T2i« »+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Canon T1i« »+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
 
Leica M10-P« »----4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
 
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
 
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
 
Leica M8« »-+ +--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
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.

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 7999
    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 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video
    ISO Setting 80-2500 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
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF
    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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