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Leica M9 versus Leica T

The Leica M9 and the Leica T (Typ 701) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2009 and April 2014. The M9 is a fixed lens compact, while the T Typ 701 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and an APS-C sensor. The M9 has a resolution of 18.1 megapixel, whereas the T Typ 701 provides 16.2 MP.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Leica T 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 dimensions 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).

Leica M9 vs Leica T front
M9 versus T Typ 701 top view
M9 and T Typ 701 rear side
Body view (M9 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica T is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the T Typ 701 is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the T Typ 701 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. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica M9 (⇒ rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. no 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica T (⇒ lft) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2014 1,850discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 no 2013 649discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 no 2010 699discont. check
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 no 2009 799discont. check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 no 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 no 2015 4,249 latest check
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 no 2014 2,295 latest check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 no 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 no 2012 1,995discont. check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. YES 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. no 2006 5,499discont. check
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 90 mm 76 mm 442 g 330 no 2010 1,499discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The T Typ 701 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 77 percent) than the M9, which puts it into a different market segment. 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

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 tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M9 features a full frame sensor and the Leica T an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the T Typ 701 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M9 and Leica T sensor measures
Sensor size

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the T Typ 701 (16.2MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.79μm for the T Typ 701) due to its larger sensor. However, the T Typ 701 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the M9, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 T Typ 701 MP
Sensor resolution

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 T Typ 701 has a markedly higher DXO score than the M9 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 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
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica M9 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472 no 22.5 11.7 884 69
Leica T (⇒ lft) APS-C 16.2 4944 3278 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 1082 75
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 681 61
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 784 66
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 1080/20p 21.7 11.5 663 63
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no 24.4 13.2 2133 86
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.7 2221 85
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3272 1080/30p 23.4 12.7 1320 78
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 no - - - -
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 1080/25p 24.0 13.3 1860 84
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.4 3936 2630 no 21.1 11.3 663 59
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 15.9 4608 3456 1080/60i 21.2 11.3 655 60

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The T Typ 701 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the T Typ 701 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M9 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the T Typ 701 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M9, the Leica T, 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
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica M9 (⇒ rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 2.0 no no
Leica T (⇒ lft) no no 3.7 1300 fixed YES 4000 5.0 4.5 no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 13 no
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.4 13 no
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1037 fixed no 4000 5.0 no no
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 2000 10.0 no no
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 2.0 no no
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1534 no 3.0 460 swivel no 4000 3.0 15.6 no

Both the M9 and the T Typ 701 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the T Typ 701 was followed by the Leica TL.

Summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M9 or the Leica T – 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:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 16.2MP) with a 6% higher linear resolution.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).

Reasons to prefer the Leica T (Typ 701):

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1300k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 201g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (77 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T Typ 701 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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.

M9 03:12 T Typ 701

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 T Typ 701 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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica M9 (⇒ rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 - 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica T (⇒ lft) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2014 1,850discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 649discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 77/100 Gold 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 699discont. check
Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 74/100 HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4.5/5 2017 6,595 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - 4/5 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2015 4,249 latest check
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 3.5/5 - 4/5 2014 2,295 latest check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 3/5 - 4/5 2012 1,995discont. check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - - 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2006 5,499discont. check
Panasonic GH2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2010 1,499discont. check

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 comparisons

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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