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.
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.
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).
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.
|1.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|2.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|3.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Fujifilm X70||113 mm||64 mm||44 mm||340 g||330||n||Jan 2016||799|
|7.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|9.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|11.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|12.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|13.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|14.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|15.||Leica X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|16.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|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.
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.
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).
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.
|1.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|12.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|14.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
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.
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.
|1.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n|
|2.||Leica TL||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|6.||Fujifilm X70||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica CL||2360||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Leica TL2||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
|11.||Leica T||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|14.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|15.||Leica X2||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|16.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 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.
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.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Leica TL||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Fujifilm X70||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|8.||Leica CL||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica TL2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Leica T||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Leica X2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|2.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|3.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Fujifilm X70||4.5/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||799|
|7.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica CL||..||..||4.2/5||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|9.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||3/5||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|11.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|12.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|13.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|14.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|15.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|16.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|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.
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.
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 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 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|
|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%|
|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|
|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|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
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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