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Leica M9 vs TL

The Leica M9 and the Leica TL are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and November 2016. The M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and an APS-C (TL) sensor. The M9 has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the TL provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica M9
versus
Leica TL
Leica M9   Leica TL
Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica M mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 80-2,500 ISO 100-12,500
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.7 LCD, 1230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
2 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g 134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the Leica TL? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Leica TL. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.

The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the TL is available in three color-versions (black, silver, titanium).

Size Leica M9 vs Leica TL
Compare M9 versus TL top
Comparison M9 or TL rear

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

The power pack in the TL can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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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 7,999i
2.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
3.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
4.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
5.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
6.
 
Fujifilm X70 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799i
7.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
9.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
10.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
11.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
13.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
15.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The TL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend 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 TL an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the TL 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 TL sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the TL (16.1MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.80μm for the TL) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 2 months) than the M9, and its sensor will 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.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M9 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica TL are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica M9 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 2500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica TL are ISO 100 to ISO 12500 (no boost).

M9 versus TL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
3.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
4.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
5.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
6.
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
7.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
8.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
9.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
10.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
11.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
13.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
15.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
16.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The TL indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the TL can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the M9 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M9, the Leica TL, and comparable cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
2.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 700Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
5.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
6.
 
Fujifilm X70optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica CL2360 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
9.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
10.
 
Leica TL2optional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
11.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
15.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The TL has a touchscreen, while the M9 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M9 and the TL write their files to SDXC cards.

Connectivity 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 Leica TL 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.
 
Leica TLYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
3.
 
Canon 700DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Fujifilm X70Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
8.
 
Leica CLYstereo / mono----Y--
9.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
10.
 
Leica TL2Ystereo / mono--micro3.0Y--
11.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
15.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---

It is notable that the TL offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the M9 does not provide wifi capability.

Both the M9 and the TL have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the TL was followed by the Leica TL2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M9 or the Leica TL – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 16.1MP) with a 6% higher linear resolution.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).


Arguments in favor of the Leica TL:

  • 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 (1230k 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 travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • 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.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 2 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

M9 03:12 TL

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M9 and the TL 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     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 7,999i
2.
 
Leica TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
3.
 
Canon 700D......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
4.
 
Canon 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
5.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
6.
 
Fujifilm X704.5/5....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
7.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica CL....4.2/5....4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
9.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
10.
 
Leica TL23.5/5..3/5..4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
11.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
12.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
13.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
14.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
15.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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:
Check Ebay offers
Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers

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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Leica M9 vs Leica TL

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica M9 Leica TL
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 November 2016
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 1,695
    Sensor Specs Leica M9 Leica TL
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 18.1 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5212 x 3472 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 2,500 ISO 100 - 12,500 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 Leica M9 Leica TL
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica M9 Leica TL
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica M9 Leica TL
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Leica M9 Leica TL
    Battery Type BLI-312 BP-DC13
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz) 384 g (13.5 oz)

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