Leica M9 vs Nikon D2H
The Leica M9 and the Nikon D2H are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2009 and July 2003. The M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the D2H is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and an APS-C (D2H) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 4 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 Nikon D2H? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Nikon D2H is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D2H is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2H is considerably larger (113 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the D2H is substantially heavier (83 percent) than the M9. It is noteworthy in this context that the D2H is splash and dust-proof, while the M9 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2H).
As can be seen in the images above, the D2H has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|2.||Nikon D2H||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1070 g||2900||Y||Jul 2003||3,499|
|3.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Leica M10-R||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jul 2020||8,295|
|7.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|9.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|10.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|11.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|12.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|13.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|14.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|15.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|17.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D2H was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M9 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D2H an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D2H is 58 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 D2H (4MP), but the M9 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 9.50μm for the D2H). However, the M9 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 1 month) than the D2H, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M9 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its 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 Nikon D2H are 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.3 x 20.7 cm for good quality, 9.9 x 6.5 inches or 25 x 16.6 cm for very good quality, and 8.2 x 5.4 inches or 20.9 x 13.8 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 Nikon D2H are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the M9 provides substantially higher image quality than the D2H, with an overall score that is 29 points higher. This advantage is based on 3.6 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|6.||Leica M10-R||Full Frame||40.9||7864||5200||none||25.3||14.3||2924||95|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||25.1||14.1||2739||93|
|8.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|9.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||12.8||1491||78|
|10.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|11.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|14.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M9 and the D2H 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the M9 has a higher magnification than the one of the D2H (0.68x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M9 and Nikon D2H in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D2H||optical||Y||2.5 / 211||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||n||n|
|3.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n|
|5.||Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n|
|6.||Leica M10-R||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.5||n||n|
|7.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|12.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon D1H||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||5.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the D2H, but is missing on the M9 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The M9 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D2H uses Compact Flash 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 Nikon D2H 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.||Nikon D2H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon T1i||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica M10-R||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|8.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D1H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D2H (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M9 and the D2H have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2H was replaced by the Nikon D2Hs, while the M9 was followed by the Leica M Typ 240. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M9 and the Nikon D2H? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 4MP) with a 112% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (29 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.57x).
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 158x150mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 485g or 45 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D2H launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D2H:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in July 2003).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M9 emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M9 or the D2H. 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.||Nikon D2H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jul 2003||3,499|
|3.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Leica M10-R||4.5/5||..||4/5||..||..||4/5||Jul 2020||8,295|
|7.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|9.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|10.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|11.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|12.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|13.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|14.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|15.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|17.||Nikon D1H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Leica M9
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Nikon D2H
- Canon SL2 vs Leica M9
- Fujifilm XQ1 vs Nikon D2H
- Leica M9 vs Leica V-LUX 5
- Leica M9 vs Sony NEX-F3
- Leica M9 vs Sony RX10 II
- Leica M9 vs Sony WX800
- Nikon D2H vs Olympus E-600
- Nikon D2H vs Panasonic FZ100
- Nikon D2H vs Panasonic FZ80
- Nikon D2H vs Sony A5000
Specifications: Leica M9 vs Nikon D2H
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||Nikon D2H|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||July 2003|
|Launch Price||USD 7,999||USD 3,499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D2H|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.3 x 15.5 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||361.15 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 Megapixels||4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5212 x 3472 pixels||2464 x 1632 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.91 μm||9.50 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.09 MP/cm2||1.11 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 2,500 ISO||200 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||69||40|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||18.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||10.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||884||352|
|Screen Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D2H|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||211k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D2H|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D2H|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D2H|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||585 g (20.6 oz)||1070 g (37.7 oz)|
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