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Leica M9 versus Leica M10

The Leica M9 and the Leica M10 (Typ 3656) are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and January 2017. Both the M9 and the M10 are rangefinder-style mirrorless cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The M9 has a resolution of 18.1 megapixel, whereas the M10 provides 23.8 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 M9 vs Leica M10

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Leica M10 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the M9 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica M9 vs Leica M10
Compare M9 versus M10 top
Compare M9 and M10 rear

In this particular case, the Leica M9 and the Leica M10 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the M10 is markedly heavier (13 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the M10 are weather-sealed.

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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

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.

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)
Leica M9» 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica M10« 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 700D« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 650D« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849- i
Canon 550D« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699- i
Canon 500D« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799- i
Leica M Typ 262« » 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195- i
Leica Q Typ 116« » 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica T« » 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Vario« » 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M8« » 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D7500« » 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Panasonic GH2« » 124 mm 90 mm 76 mm 442 g 330 n Sep 2010 1,499- i

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 M10 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the M9, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica M9 vs Leica M10

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the M10 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M9 and Leica M10 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the M10 offers a higher resolution of 23.8 megapixel, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the M10 is much more recent (by 7 years and 4 months) than the M9, 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.

M9 versus M10 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the M10 offers substantially better image quality than the M9 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.9 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica M9» Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469
Leica M10« Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 700D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
Canon 650D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
Canon 550D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
Canon 500D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
Leica M Typ 262« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976-----
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
Panasonic GH2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560
The M10 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M9 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Leica M9 vs Leica M10

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M9 and the M10 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M9, the Leica M10, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Leica M9»optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n
Leica M10«optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 650D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 550D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n
Canon 500D« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n
Leica M Typ 262« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n
Panasonic GH2« »1534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n

The M10 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the M9 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M9 was succeeded by the Leica M Typ 240.

Review summary: Leica M9 vs Leica M10

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M9 or the Leica M10 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 75g or 11 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).


Reasons to prefer the Leica M10 (Typ 3656):

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (23.8 vs 18.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.9 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 (1037k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 4 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M10 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

M9 02:10 M10

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M9 or the M10 handle or 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica M9»--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i
Leica M10«--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 700D« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 650D« »HiRec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849- i
Canon 550D« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i
Canon 500D« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i
Leica M Typ 262« »----- Nov 2015 5,195- i
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Panasonic GH2« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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